6 Alternatives to Your Regular Squats

6 Alternatives to Your Regular Squats

kelowna gym and personal trainer alternatives to squats

Tips & Advice from the professional personal trainers at OneLife training gym in Kelowna.

Drop it like a squat. Do your squats, eat your veggies. When in doubt, squat it out. These sayings seem to be all the rage on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram- you name it! But did you know that they’re not the only leg exercise out there? Yes, that’s right… Your glutes, hammies, inner thighs, buttock, etc. can all get a great workout from different leg training techniques.

At One Life Fitness, we’re all about those unique movements and approaches to getting your best physique possible. Curious about some of our favourites? Then keep on reading.

The Stiff Leg Deadlift 21

First, the 21 method is phenomenal for muscle growth. If it works for biceps, it will do wonders for your biceps femoris and hamstrings, right?

The difference between a stiff leg deadlift and Romanian deadlifts is that it is performed with high hips while trying to target your hamstrings. Ideally, it’s performed out of a rack with a lighter load than your regular deadlift. It’s not an easy movement to master, but the outcome (when done properly) is worth all the (good) pain you’ll suffer the next day.


  1. Start tall, feet shoulder-width apart, hold a loaded barbell/dumbbell/kettlebell, and keep a slight bend in the knees.
  2. Slowly lower to bottom position until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings. Pause- and complete seven reps to the midway point.
  3. Perform another seven from the top position to the midway point.
  4. Perform last seven from the top to bottom position using full motion range.

Lateral Lunge

The best way to change up your regular leg routine? Change up the direction you move in. Lateral lunges are an excellent way to move in a different plane of motion, allowing you to target your abductors, adductors, glutes, and calves.

This simple side to side motion offers benefits to those wanting to improve athletic ability while still giving your muscles a serious after-burn. Depending on your fitness level, choose the correct weight that will give you the most success with this movement.


  1. Start tall, feet together, and hold a kettlebell goblet-style in front of your body.
  2. Slowly step out to your right and bend your right knee while keeping the left leg straight. Keep your right heel grounded and your knee lined up over your foot.
  3. Pause before bursting back to starting position.
  4. Complete your set and then repeat on your left side.

Bulgarian Lunge

Or sometimes referred to as “Bulgarian Split-Squat”, but for the purpose of this article we are sticking with the term lunge. Be sure to prepare yourself because this exercise is a bruiser. The Bulgarian Lunge will work your quadriceps hard, as well as offering a small workout to your calves, glutes, and hams.

Something we want to advise you is to be careful with your balance. This exercise requires more experience, so either have someone spot you or use a lighter weight when practicing the first time at home. Remember, form comes first.


  1. Stand lunge length in front of a bench/sturdy chair.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and place your left foot on the bench/chair behind you.
  3. Lower your body until your rear knee almost touches the floor and your front thigh is parallel to the floor.
  4. Return to starting position with your leg still for you and repeat the movement, finishing a set.
  5. Repeat process on the other side.

Dumbbell Lying Leg Curls

This technique is excellent for muscle growth stimulation. It’s best performed with a partner, but that does not mean you can’t do it alone- you just have to be smart about it. Those looking to work their hamstrings will love this exercise as an efficient alternative to a leg curl machine.

Recommended reps range between 8-15. And calf muscles can also be worked when using a heavier weight.


  1. Lie flat on the bench, stomach facing down and make sure the end of the bench is near your mid-quad area.
  2. Craft fully place (or get a partner to) a dumbbell between the arches of your feet, squeezing them tightly together, and point your feet away from your body.
  3. With the dumbbell in place, slowly perform the lying leg curl.
  4. Return to starting position and repeat

Step ups

Prepare to gain some wind and speed with this lower body exercise. This one is great for strengthening your core and lower body thanks to it’s demanding balancing act.

Try doing three sets of 12 on each side and up the ante by holding dumbbells while performing this marching movement.


  1. Step one foot up onto a box/bench/staircase/or sturdy chair.
  2. Bring your trailing leg up into a 90-degree position in front of your body as you balance on one foot.
  3. Gently return your lifted leg down and repeat on the other side.
  4. Keep your shoulders back and up, with your leg standing in line with your second toe as you perform this movement.

Glute Kickback With Resistance

Consider this your “gentle exercise” during your workout. Resistance training is great when your joints need a break or you’re prone to injury.

Obviously, because of its name, this movement targets glutes. But don’t be fooled by its kneeling stance, you’ll still get a great burn from these kickbacks. Try to perform 15-20 reps each set, performing three sets on each side.


  1. Get down on your mat on all fours and place your distance band around the arch of your foot, holding onto the handles.
  2. Engage your abs and obliques as you slightly shift your weight to the left, keeping your hips steady.
  3. Leading with your heel press your right leg back so it’s parallel to the floor (or slightly higher).
  4. Bring your knee back to starting position slowly and then repeat.
  5. Switch legs once repetitions are finished.

Now, go and complete these lower body busters and tell us how you feel. You’d be surprised at how many different muscle groups you can work with our six favourite alternatives to squats. It’s important to keep working different areas of your body so that your muscles don’t get used to the exercise and have a layman workout.

However, don’t get us wrong- We do love squats, and they are a fantastic technique that can work wonders on your rear; but sometimes, you can’t just stick with what’s comfortable and familiar. At One life, we want you to push yourself and your limits because we can see the potential for how much you really can do.

So, are you ready to get started on your healthiest self? Contact us today and book a personal training session or participate in a group session. You’ll be glad you did.


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