Equipment Swap: Squat Rack

Improve lower-body strength with these alternate exercises.

Timing is everything when you’re fitting in a training session before work, between meetings, or on a lunch break. So when the equipment you need is taken, it can really throw a wrench in your plan. That’s why Furthermore introduced Equipment Swap, a mini-series that offers alternative exercises when your fitness tool of choice is unavailable. 

“The squat is the most functional movement you can perform in the gym,” says Brian Robbins, a Tier 3 trainer at Equinox Darien in Connecticut. It mimics sitting down and standing up, and works your glutes, hamstrings, quads, and core.

The squat rack may be your go-to tool when executing this movement, but you can also do other exercises to work the same muscles. You’ll actually benefit: When you do the same moves all the time, it stalls progress, Robbins says.

On days the rack is occupied, he recommends performing two to three of the below exercises instead. Explosive, plyometric variations improve speed and power while single-leg and isometric squats hone the all-important stabilizer muscles. Instead of adding weight by loading a barbell on your shoulders, the below moves use other forms of resistance like medicine balls, bands, and the ViPR to build strength.  

Weave these substitutes into your routine and you’ll have a stronger squat when you finally get under the bar.