The simple squat is a powerful movement and a favorite among fitness fanatics for a good reason: they work. Squats move the muscles of your lower body (quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, hips, and calves) in unison, and that can translate to real-world strength. Squats also work on hip mobility, which is important in executing daily activities such as getting up from your chair, walking the stairs, or bending to pick up an object. Knee, hip, or back injuries can sometimes make squatting uncomfortable or even painful, but there are alternatives to help you build on your leg strength and still work the major muscles you’re trying to target. Focusing on your lower body (whether it’s squats or squat alternatives) can support increases in your lean muscle mass, which can elevate your resting metabolism and increase your calorie burn outside of your workout.
Five Squat Alternatives
Perform three or four sets of 10 to 15 reps for each exercise. Rest 30 to 45 seconds between sets.
1. Glute Bridge Roll Out with SMART Stability Ball
The how-to: Lie on your back with your knees bent, heels on the ball. Slowly roll the ball away from you while keeping your pelvis elevated and spine aligned. Roll back to start. Repeat
The why: Glute bridges target the glutes without placing any weight on your knees.
2. Romanian Deadlift with SMART Sleeved Tubing
The how-to: Place your feet shoulder-width apart and have the band beneath between the heel and arch. Hold the band snug in an overhand grip, knuckles out, hips back, slight bend in the knee, and maintain a flat back. Lift, contracting your glutes, and push them forward. Pause, then slowly release and smoothly return to start.
The why: The hip hinge motion provides less pressure on the knees while still targeting your glutes.
3. SMART Medicine Ball Swing
The how-to: Place your feet shoulder-width apart and have the ball between your legs, knees slightly bent. Lean forward and push your hips back without bending your back or knees. With weight in the heels, move your hips forward and swing the ball in front of the body, chest height. Keep in mind that the movement comes from the hips, not your upper body. Slowly return and repeat.
The why: This is a dynamic version of a hip hinge motion that produces added power over a Romanian Deadlift and an even bigger glute workout.
4. Lateral Walk with SMART Sleeved Tubing
The how-to: Hold the tubing in your hand about shoulder height and keep it snug as you put the other end of the tubing underneath your feet. Keeping your legs shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, and your core braced, step your right foot out to the side and then follow with your left. Then, step to the side with your left and let your right follow. Repeat.
The why: This is a great way to activate the glutes and work on proper form while moving your hips, knees, and feet in unison.
5. Reverse Lunge with SMART Medicine Ball
The how-to: With your feet hip-width apart, hold a medicine ball in front of your chest. Put your left leg back in a wide backward stride, and lower down, you are at a 90-degree angle while keeping your knee above your ankle. Push through your front foot to stand, then repeat on the opposite leg.
The why: Lunges are a great way to mimic the movement of a squat while reducing pressure on the knees.
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