Bodybuilding.com Information Motivation Supplementation
in:
The Ultimate Squat-Free Lower-Body Training Program

The Ultimate Squat-Free Lower-Body Training Program

We love squats. Really, we do. But maybe you don't? In that case, here's your leg workout.

Spend any time around a hardcore bodybuilding gym, or scope out the muscle magazines, and you're likely to hear or read the phrase "squats are king."

Translation: If you're serious about size, you must slide under the bar and drop into the hole. A lot. But are squats really 'all that' when it comes to building prodigious pins, or can you get by without them? That's the question this article seeks to answer.

The question is not rhetorical. Some gym-goers have legit reasons for ditching this move like a bad date. Perhaps squats make their knees snap, crackle and pop. Maybe inflexibility prevents them from achieving a full range of motion. And, let's face it, some people just don't like squatting, and never will. For them, the move feels like some sort of medieval torture technique.

Whatever the case may be, these people would like to rid squats from their workout, but still get results. So is it possible?

Hearing The Arguments

Are squats a requirement for growth? The answer is no. While there's definitely no denying that squats offer numerous advantages to the muscle mass seeker, there are three requirements for building muscle tissue:

  • An overloading stimulus (i.e. more weight on the bar)
  • Enough rest to allow re-growth to occur
  • Consumption of more calories than you burn daily

Get these three requirements in place and you'll see results regardless of the absence of squats from your leg regimen. But it's not easy to build nice quads with a squats-free workout. You need to know what you're doing.

The following guidelines will ensure that you're doing what it takes to build a solid set of wheels, without having to squat a VW bug.

Not hot to squat? You can still build wheels of steel.

Guideline 1: Perform Both Quad- And Hamstring-Dominant Movements

To build lower-body mass effectively, you should perform exercises that will target both the quads and hamstrings together.

Yeah, I hear what you're saying: This is where squats really shine. While the squat is primarily considered a quad-dominant activity, it also zaps your hammies. Because squats utilize so many muscle fibers at once, the exercise evokes its legendary growth response.

However, if you omit squats from your routine, focus on other movements that activate quads and hams to a similar degree. (Otherwise, you'll need to superset two exercises to target these opposing muscle groups separately.) For example:

  1. The leg press is similar to the squat; it serves as a good direct replacement.
  2. Lunges are also a good choice, but they hit quads more than hamstrings. So if lunges become your primary movement, pair them with stiff-legged deadlifts, which are more hamstring/lower-back dominant.
  3. Step-ups are another good lower-body mass builder. They can be adjusted, targeted. To hit the quads, use a lower step and lean forward slightly, thereby placing more emphasis on driving your body up through your toes.

    For more of a hamstring focus, use a higher step and emphasize driving up through your heels.


Lower-body love: pair lunges with deadlifts for great results.

Note: Performing an even (same number on both legs) number of sets for both quad- and hamstring-dominant exercises will help prevent muscular imbalances from developing.

Guideline 2: Use Other Means To Fully Activate Your Glutes

To be successful in your squat-free lower-body mass-building quest, do exercises that allow you to work through a large range of motion. Full ROM will work the greatest number of muscle fibers and emphasize the glutes, which are important for complete leg development.

During squats, a high degree of glute activation occurs when you're at the lowest point of the rep and exploding upward. To achieve the same benefit without doing squats, you'll need to mimic this movement with a different exercise.

Single-leg split squats and single-leg deadlifts are excellent replacements. When performing these exercises, lower yourself all the way down. Then emphasize the contraction of the glutes as you accelerate up to the standing position.

Guideline 3: Perform A Range Of Rep Ranges

Incorporating a variety of different rep ranges into your mass-building lower-body workout is another effective way to grow without help from the almighty squat.

Perform the key compound exercises I mentioned above using a slightly lower rep range than normal, but with as much weight as possible. Then add in a few sets of isolated leg extensions and hamstring curls with lighter weight and more reps to finish off the workout.

Range Rover: Follow compound exercises with lighter weight, higher rep isolation moves.

Doing this will completely deplete muscle glycogen and promote muscle definition.

If done right, this workout can allow you to say "see ya" to squats without sacrificing results in the process. Below you'll find a sample squat-free lower-body mass-gaining workout:

The Squat-Free Workout Program


Recommended Articles


Bookmark and Share

Related Articles

About The Author

I’ve been working in the field of exercise science for the last 8 years. I’ve written a number of online and print articles.

RATE THIS ARTICLE
POOR
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
EXCELLENT
OVERALL RATING
9.5

Out of 10
Excellent
76 Ratings

21

Comments

Showing 1 - 21 of 21 Comments

(5 characters minimum)

      • notify me when users reply to my comment
cleanman

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
cleanman

looks good

Article Rated:
Dec 3, 2011 4:11pm | report
 
kevinstock

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
kevinstock

Nice! Would recommend a bit more volume for calves though!

Dec 4, 2011 11:21am | report
 
clinfield

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
clinfield

Shannon always provides great articles. She really knows her stuff!

Article Rated:
Dec 5, 2011 9:25pm | report
 
xuma

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
xuma

better workouts nice legs

Dec 6, 2011 3:11am | report
 
mpeluso

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
mpeluso

Great read. My squat form is not so great. Going to keep at it but this might be an alternate avenue for me.

On an unrelated note, who would consciously name an exercise machine (or anything to be taken seriously, for that matter) "Butt Blaster"?

Dec 7, 2011 12:54pm | report
 
SixpackNick

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
SixpackNick

Goly gee wilikers batman! This sounds great!

Dec 7, 2011 8:26pm | report
 
samerym

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
samerym

Sorry, but the leg press is not similar to the squat. The leg press deactivates glutes, core, and most stabilizers, which makes it inferior to the squat.

Dec 9, 2011 3:23pm | report
 
Tonmorra

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
Tonmorra

Not which group of people are targeted here. Hardly seems targeted towards the serious bodybuilder. But I'd say this is a good simplified explanation of an alternative way of hitting the legs , other than traditional squats. Always, change it up alwayzz.~TonyXpress

Dec 15, 2011 9:16pm | report
 
SlapMonkey

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
SlapMonkey

As has been mentioned, I would have highlighted the lack of glute stimulation a bit more, and then also would have mentioned a bit about adding core into the workout since it misses that without doing squats. That said, this is a great article for those like me with lower back disc issues or knee problems.

Dec 18, 2011 7:44pm | report
 
youngdurin

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
youngdurin

What a joke...well written but an age-old falsehood. The weak willed always seek the path of least resistance.
Squats are an established fundamental for any appreciable gains in lean mass.

Dec 18, 2011 8:47pm | report
 
jqbox

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
jqbox

Bro...ever heard of degenerative disc disease? How much mass do you imagine a person is going to gain while practically unable to move because of heavy squats? The joke is assuming that everyone is the same.

Oct 20, 2013 9:36pm | report
jqbox

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
jqbox

Bro...ever heard of degenerative disc disease? How much mass do you imagine a person is going to gain while practically unable to move because of heavy squats? The joke is assuming that everyone is the same.

Oct 20, 2013 9:36pm | report
korvix

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
korvix

squats are overall mass builder, not just legs

Dec 20, 2011 4:49am | report
 
ToxicTofu

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
ToxicTofu

Awesome leg workout!... But I still love my squats.

Aug 6, 2012 9:12pm | report
 
elattar

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
elattar

excellent

Oct 1, 2012 10:08pm | report
 
Walt39

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
Walt39

Im very inexperienced when it comes to squats, but it sounds like I should just start off by learning to love the squat!

Nov 15, 2012 12:18pm | report
 
Sportside311

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
Sportside311

Thanks. This is also for people who's gym doesn't have 1 regular squat rack (Planet Fitness). All smiths. Will never do regular squats or deadlifts on Smith machines, ever!

Mar 18, 2013 3:22pm | report
 
Cinnepin

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
Cinnepin

Excellent! I tried this workout 2 days ago, and my knees were less sore. I'm gonna stick to this routine for sure!

May 9, 2013 1:22pm | report
 
Lbow8

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
Lbow8

Time to work these legs.

May 13, 2013 7:33am | report
 
IllestCreation

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
IllestCreation

needed this article. haha my knees are gone from my football days. my coach was super old school and made *** to grass seem like child's play. it was *** to dirt

Jan 24, 2014 9:16pm | report
 
AlisaRose

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
AlisaRose

AWESOME workout! just killed it!

Mar 13, 2014 8:45am | report
 
Showing 1 - 21 of 21 Comments

Featured Product

Give Us Feedback:
Report A Problem
Site Feedback
Follow Us:
Twitter
Facebook
RSS Feeds
Bodybuilding.com Newsletter

Receive exciting features,
news & special offers from Bodybuilding.com