Squatting used to be THE most important lift on my legs day. It had always been that way since I wrestled in high school. Every leg workout that I had seen online had squatting as the main lift. I thought squatting was the only way to go, but it was one of my least favorite lifts. It wasn’t until later in my lifting career, when I started experimenting with more lifts and machines, that I stopped squatting.
I realized that I didn’t have to squat to get the same results. Leg press and other machines were my replacement to squats, and I liked them so much better.
Over time I eventually did this with all of the lifts that I didn’t like and still got the results that I wanted. Once I realized that I didn’t have to do lifts that I didn’t enjoy, it changed my entire workout. I started to enjoy my leg days much more instead of dreading them.
I think it is important for people to realize that there are alternatives to lifts. With all of the gym equipment that is available, you should try new lifts to see what you like the best. It is important to enjoy going to the gym, otherwise it becomes more of a chore than a lifestyle. Once lifting becomes a chore it is only a matter of time until you lose interest or don’t see the value in going to the gym anymore. This is where experimentation and research into new workouts come into play.
Go try that confusing looking machine in the corner in the gym, it might just be your new favorite lift. I know that it’s intimidating trying new things at the gym. The machines can be down right scary, but you just can’t be afraid to look dumb at the gym. I have definitely had embarrassing moments in the gym, like using a hip flexor machine wrong, but then I looked around I saw no one was even paying attention to me or cared.There is a learning curve to working out and everyone has gone through it. We understand.
To help you get past your gym-timidation and dread of squats.. here are a few squat-rack-alternative lifts.
Kettle Bell Squats: 3×10
Grab a kettle bell (I use a 45lb)— they are usually housed by the free weights– and hold it up to your chest with your elbows into your body. Place your feet shoulder width apart and squat back like you are sitting in a chair. Keep your weight steadily over your feet while you drop to a 90 degree angle. Then and return to standing.
I like this alternative because it is more or less a traditional squat, but with less equipment and pressure. No one is waiting in line for you to finish and you don’t have to rack plates. Just grab your kettle bell and a space in the corner!
Leg Press Machine: 3×10
This is the machine that looks like an inverted chair–kinda? Here is a photo.
Some models require you to use plates. Don’t underestimate yourself.. you may find your legs are much stronger than you think. I can do 3 plates (45*6=270) without too much strain. Preston can load it up with 8 on each side– show-off! Other models have pre-loaded weights that you will simply select the pin.
Sit in the chair with your feet flat against the platform. To protect your knees keep your feet shoulder width apart and closer to the top of the platform. Remember not to let your knees extend past your toes. Release the lock, this is usually the hardest part and varies from machine, and engage your legs and glutes to push the platform up and down.
Lunges: 2×12 each leg
Take a large step forward until your thigh is parallel with the floor but your toes never extends over your knee. Push off of the leading leg until you are back to standing, and then repeat with the alternate leg. You can do this across the gym floor or stay in place. You can also grab a couple dumb bells to increase the difficulty.
I love lunges because you can do them anywhere! If you don’t have time to finish at the gym, lunge down the hallway at home. You will be on your way to a sculpted caboose in no time.
Take some time to find the workouts and lifts that you like. Sweating should be enjoyable.. or at least you shouldn’t HATE it. You will find your groove.
What is your favorite leg day move? Let us know on Facebook @PHhealthylife
Stay consistent out there