The 10 Best Front Squat Alternatives

You’re probably familiar with the front squat, one of the most popular exercises for strengthening the quads and glutes. But what if you’re looking for an alternative that’ll give you even more strength and power?

Here are 10 powerful front squat alternatives that’ll build serious strength:

  1. Box Pistol Squat
  2. Cross-Arm Front Squat
  3. Dumbbell Step-Up
  4. Front Rack Barbell Split Squat
  5. Front Foot Elevated Dumbbell Split Squat
  6. Goblet Squat
  7. High Bar Pause Squat
  8. Narrow Stance Leg Press
  9. Safety Bar Squat
  10. Zercher Squat

What is Front Squat

The front squat is also known as the barbell front squat. It is a fundamental weightlifting exercise that targets the quads, hamstrings, and glutes.

But if you’re not comfortable with the traditional squat, or you want to target other muscle groups, there are plenty of front squat alternative exercises you can try.

This article will focus on the 10 best alternatives to front squats.

Box Pistol Squat

When it comes to squats, the front squat is king. But if you’re finding it tough to do, or don’t have the equipment to do them, don’t worry—there are plenty of other barbell front squat alternatives.

One of my favorites is the box pistol squat. This challenging variation will work your quads and glutes like crazy. 

Here’s how to do it:

  • Place a box or a bench in front of you and stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart.
  • First, go into a squat position and lay both hands on the box; next, do a press-up and leap onto the box.
  • Reverse the motion and jump back down to the ground.
  • Repeat for reps.

Cross-Arm Front Squat

The Cross-Arm Front Squat is a great front squat alternative to the regular Front Squat.

Here’s how to do it:

  • With a weight in your left hand, hold it across your chest.
  • Feet shoulder-width apart, squat down as you would with a regular Front Squat.
  • As you come up, press the weight out straight in front of you.
  • Keep your core engaged and your back straight throughout the entire exercise.

Dumbbell Step-Up

A fantastic alternative to the front squat is the dumbbell step-up, which you may do instead. This exercise can target your quads, glutes, and hamstrings.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Step onto a bench or box with one foot, and hold a dumbbell in your other hand.
  • Keeping your core engaged, press through your heel to raise your body upward.
  • Repeat using the same leg each time you step down.

Dumbbell step-ups are a great way to build single-leg strength and stability. This exercise can also help to improve your balance and coordination.

If you’re new to this exercise, start with a low box or bench. You may also lessen the likelihood of sustaining an injury by propping your foot on a towel.

You can move to a higher box or bench as you get stronger.

Front Rack Barbell Split Squat

One of my favorite front squat alternatives is the front rack barbell split squat. It’s an excellent exercise for building severe strength in your quads, hamstrings, and glutes.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Stand with a barbell on your back and shoulder-width apart.
  • Then, step one foot forward and lower your body until your front thigh is parallel to the ground.
  • It is very pertinent to remember to maintain your abdominal muscles engaged and your back in a straight position.

I like to do this exercise with a heavier weight than I would use for a traditional front squat. It helps to build strength and muscle in my lower body.

If you’re looking for a challenging front barbell squat alternative, give the front rack barbell split squat a try.

Pushing through your front heel, drive back up to the start position and repeat. Be sure to switch legs after each rep. 

Front Foot Elevated Dumbbell Split Squat

Now let’s look at the front foot elevated dumbbell split squat. This is a great exercise to help build strength in your lower body.

To do this exercise:

  • You’ll need to hold a dumbbell in each hand and then stand with one foot in front of the other.
  • Ensure that your leading foot is raised on a bench or box,
  • Then gently lower yourself until your trailing knee is almost touching the ground.
  • Put forth the effort to return to the beginning position, and maintain your core engaged while the exercise is performed.
  • You may make this workout more challenging by increasing the weight you use for the dumbbells.

Goblet Squat

If the front squat is too advanced for you, don’t worry—plenty of other squat variations will help you build serious strength. One of my favorites is the goblet squat. 

To do a goblet squat:

  • Hold a weight (like a dumbbell or kettlebell) in front of your chest, with your elbows pointed down.
  • Next, perform a squat posture by lowering yourself while maintaining a straight back and an upright head position.
  • After pausing at the bottom of the squat, you should push yourself back up to the starting position as quickly as possible.

This exercise is excellent for those who want to build extreme lower-body strength. It’s also an excellent alternative for those who may have trouble with traditional front squats.

This exercise is a perfect alternative to front squat because it’s easier to maintain proper form. And since you’re using a weight, it also helps increase your strength and muscular endurance.

High Bar Pause Squat

So you don’t feel like doing front squats?

Fair enough. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still build serious strength with front squat alternatives.

One of my favorites is the high bar pause squat.

  • Start by standing in front of a barbell set at about shoulder height.
  • Then, place your hands on the bar, and position your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • As you squat down, make sure to keep your back flat and your core engaged.
  • Stop the exercise when your thighs are parallel to the ground, and hold this posture for two seconds while continuing to breathe normally.
  • After that, you should push your way back up to the starting position.
  • Always ensure you actively engage your core during the whole exercise. You’ll feel the burn!

Narrow Stance Leg Press

When it comes to squatting, the front squat is king. But if you’re looking for a barbell front squat alternative that’ll blast your quads and build serious strength, the narrow stance leg press is a great option.

To begin:

  • Choose a comfortable seat on the leg press machine and spread your feet about the same width apart as your shoulders.
  • Then, press your feet firmly into the platform and slowly press the weight upward.
  • As you push the weight up, be sure that the bench securely supports your back and that you don’t let your knees collapse.
  • The narrow stance leg press is a great exercise to target your quads, and since it’s a unilateral exercise,
  • You’ll also be working your core muscles to keep your balance. Try it out the next time you’re at the fitness center!

Safety Bar Squat

Regarding front squat alternatives, one of the best is the Safety Bar Squat. You can use a variety of grips with this one, which will help you target different muscles.

For example:

  • Try using a close grip to focus on your quads.
  • This will put more emphasis on the quadriceps muscles.
  • Use a wider grip to work your glutes and hamstrings more.

The Safety Bar Squat is also great for people who have shoulder problems because it puts less stress on the shoulders than the traditional front squat. Give it a try!

Zercher Squat

Here’s the thing: the Zercher squat is a great barbell front squat alternative exercise for those who want to isolate the quads and promote muscle growth.

It’s a bit more challenging than the regular front squat, but it’s worth it because of the results you’ll see.

To do the Zercher squat:

  • You’ll need to hold a weight in your hands (dumbbells or a barbell work best)
  • Then squat down as expected.
  • The single most essential point to keep in mind is to maintain your back as straight as possible.
  • Ensure that your quadriceps make the most of the effort.

This exercise is for you if you’re looking for an intense quad workout that’ll leave you feeling sore for days. Give it a try!


One of the most effective exercises is the front squat while squatting with a barbell.

However, if you are searching for a challenge or want to cope with an injury, plenty of great front squat alternatives can help you build strength and power.

When you go to the gym next time, give one of these ten exercises a go, and see if any of them may help you reach the fitness objectives you’ve set for yourself.

4/5 - (5 votes)


James Moore
James Moore
James is co-founder of He works as a fitness trainer and nutrition specialist. His main mission is to inspire people to relentlessly pursue their sport goals. He believes staying in shape has an overall positive effect on body, mind, and spirit.

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