Top 4 Alternatives To Squat Without A Rack

I know how tough this year has been for training.

There have been constant lockdowns, and equipment is incredibly hard to come by these days.

That’s why, when it comes to a home gym, you want to focus on getting a Barbell first. This will allow you to do enough of the main movements without needing a power rack to do them.

You can still deadlift, overhead press, floor press and rowing variations without much difficulty without a rack.

Unfortunately, for something like the squat, it’s a lot harder to barbell squat without a rack, which is why I’ll be going over my top 4 squat alternatives

Lets’ get started!

#1 – Power Clean To Front Squat

The first and most obvious alternative to a regular back squat is a Power Clean into a Front Squat.

You do this by performing a power clean to get the barbell up to your front rack position and doing front squats from there.

The main drawback to this is pretty obvious; you can only squat as much weight as you can clean. And many people aren’t very flexible in the front rack position.

On top of that, nailing down proper power clean form is a lot more difficult than mastering the big four movements.

That’s why it’s important to start with good form and let your power clean form dictate how much weight you’re able to use on your Front Squat.

While doing this, I recommend doing a Pause Front Squat variation. This will make the movement more difficult with less weight. Which is important when your power clean strength limits the weights you can use.

A solid 1-3 second pause squat is all you need to remove the stretch reflex and focus on being explosive out of the bottom position.

The Power Clean to Front Squat Alternative should be used only for those interested in improving their strength.

For muscle growth, you can use far better movements to train your legs effectively without other body parts limiting your overall stimulus.

The best way to work on these are in the 3-8 rep range with 1-2 reps in the tank for maximal strength. Anything higher than this will quickly cause your form to deteriorate and fatigue to accumulate.

Try this variation out, and let me know what you think!

Nailing down the technique for a Power Clean is a must if you do this, so definitely start practicing!

The next two variations are very similar, but they’re just dissimilar enough that they should be considered different exercises entirely.

#2 – Landmine Squat/Hack Squat

A Landmine Squat is one of the best movements you can use to squat if you don’t have a Power Rack.

By setting up a landmine in the corner of your gym, you can effectively load your whole body just like a regular squat.

I shouldn’t have to explain why this should be used for muscle growth.

Going super heavy on an unstable movement where the barbell can swing back and forth isn’t the best idea.

On the other hand, it’s a lot easier on the body compared to a standard barbell. That’s why it’s a great movement for building up muscle mass in the lower body.

You can make this easier to handle by setting up a landmine attachment at the end, so the bar won’t move, and you can also get a Viking Press Landmine Attachment.

Titan Fitness makes an awesome one that’s super cheap. It does the job perfectly of giving you proper stability while doing your reps.

For the main Landmine Squat, you’re facing the landmine, which allows you to load up your glutes and hamstrings a little more.

If you want to work your quads more, you can simply face away from it and do a hack squat variation.

Both have their places, but they should be used for higher reps, emphasizing pausing the reps and controlling the movement for maximum hypertrophy.

Regardless of what you decide, this is one of the easiest ways to train the squat movement pattern without a squat rack.

#3 – Goblet Squat

The goblet squat is one of the harder exercises on this list, if I’m totally honest.

To get up to a respectable weight, you need to be able to hold the weight with your arms and upper back before dying.

This is one of the best exercises for training beginners, especially because it builds muscle through the lower body, core, and the upper body from holding onto the dumbbell.

Once your upper body and core get adapted to this load, you can slowly overload the lower body with heavier weights.

Again, you’re most likely not going to be able to load over 200 lbs on this without the size of the dumbbell getting ridiculous.

That’s why for muscle growth, it’s going to be an awesome option for those with no power rack to do barbell squats.

And like I said before, this is a true full-body movement. 

To get strong at the Goblet Squat, these are the muscle groups you need to develop to get better.

  • Your legs have to be strong to move the weight
  • Your abs and low back need to be strong to maintain your torso position.
  • Finally, your upper body needs to be strong enough to ensure you don’t dump the weight before your legs get the proper stimulus to grow.

Imagine going from a 50 lb dumbbell for 10 reps up to a 150 lb dumbbell for 10 reps. You’re going to build a ton of muscle and strength throughout your entire body.

Try this variation out with light weights to get used to the movement and then slowly add weight just like anything else.

Also, you want to take the time to slow down the eccentric while doing these, using pauses at the bottom, and being explosive out of each rep.

That way, you can still work on strength and muscle growth for the lower body without letting your upper body and torso strength catch up.

And finally, one of the best quad and glute builders there is.

#4 – Bulgarian Split Squat

The Bulgarian Split Squat is technically not a “Squat” in the traditional sense. 

It’s more like a one-legged lunge squat hybrid.

The great thing about this exercise is just how easy it is to make it truly suck to build big glutes and quads along with it.

The worst part about it is how much pain it can generate with almost no effort.

The execution for this is pretty simple; you start with one foot out in front while the back foot rests on a bench.

Then, the descent should be slow and controlled as the temptation to bang your knee off the ground or cut your reps short is just too high.

While lowering, you want to think about letting your knee stretch back toward your foot.

This will give you a ton of mobility through your hips and legs.

The stretch is also going to cause a ton of muscular growth from pretty low rep sets.

The greater the stretch is for certain muscles, the better your chances are for those muscles to grow.

This is also an incredible movement for fixing muscle imbalances in your lower extremities.

It’s pretty extreme with the technical changes you can make to make this exercise even more brutal.

Like everything I’ve mentioned in this article, a controlled descent, slight pause, and an explosive muscular contraction will build more muscle than anything else.

When you don’t have a power rack to allow you to load up heavy weights, you need to make things as hard as possible for yourself.

This limits the loading you can use, which will just make you bigger and stronger down the road.

Try this out and let me know just how messed up your legs and glutes are from one hard set.

If you do this right, you’ll build a huge butt that I know many people find attractive.

And for performance, getting your posterior chain bigger and more powerful with translate into being better at everything.

Conclusion

Now I turn it over to you!

What Squat variations from this list are you interested in trying?

Let me know what you think in the comment section below!

Until next time,

-Dante

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