T Nation

No Power Rack, Squats?


Hi everyone,

Absolute novice question here, and one which I know I shouldn't have to ask, but anyway...

The only gym I presently have access to is one of the standard, run of the mill commercial type joints with pretty pictures on the walls, fat ladies doing pilates and where anytime I start doing deadlifts the instructors start talking about the impending injuries which will almost certainly result...yada yada...

Point is, this gym does not have a power rack/squat rack. I am training to try and gain as much size as possible and I know that I need to be squatting if I want optimal results, so I will be changing gyms as soon as my financial situation permits. The question for now is, what can I do in place of heavy barbell squats? Should I do some work on the gulp smith machine? Or maybe include some heavy incline leg presses?

Any ideas in terms of alternative exercises which I can use in place of squats for the time being would be hugely appreciated.



You could clean the bar and do front squats.


Assuming there's enough weight around to load up a heavy barbell....try deadlifts.



Yep, been doing plenty of deadlifts - just pinch the bar off the bench press, load the sucker up and shove a couple of things to the side to make some room, all to the horror of the gym owner but hey, I pay my membership fees.


try true hack squats...you know the barbell ones? to train yourself in this exercise load up a bar with a 35 pound plate on each side, now stand with of the your back to the bar, squat down and grab the bar behind your back then hold on and stand up. if you need a picture just click on the search feature at the top of this site's page. i would recommend just sticking with the 115 pound bar for several sets and shoot for 10-15 reps, just until you've got the technique down. i would guess that it would take about four or five workouts (just to be on the safe side) ,but basically when you feel comfortable enough to start going heavier


not to start an arguement but deads are not a replacement for squats.


I know.

I assumed he wanted to build mass but couldn't squat. I didn't know he already DL'd.



This is what I do in my garage right now. If you're a beginner, front squats also force you to maintain better form than back squats.

Also try the hack squats (with a barbell as someone mentioned).

A third squat type to try is Zercher squats. You'll need something to set the weight on to start, maybe a couple benches. Try to find a picture somewhere (maybe Elite FTS, unless someone has one around here), but basically you cradle the weight inside your elbows and then squat.

For all of these start light and learn the technique, the weights will come. If you try to add weight first, good luck in trying to learn technique later. Try to find someone who knows what they are doing in your gym to watch your form.

Last comment. Keep working your deads, it's not a replacement for squats, but it is a great compound movement.


If you have access to dumbells:
Dumbell "squats" with dumbells at sides

Squats with dumbells at shoulders

Lunges with dbs

Step ups with dbs

Bodyweight one legged squats

Higher rep back squats with light weight cleaning and pressing the bar to the back of the head, but clearly only for practicing form and no real weight


You could load up the bar on the racks for bench pressing then just stand at the head-end of the bench and sort of "zercher lift" it out of the rack and do zercher squats. Just an idea.


Hey Man,

Some good ideas so far.

You might also want to include "The Bear". Personally I've only done it a couple of times, but you have to work with what you've got.

Here's a description:


Front Squats, Bulgarian Squats, Barbell Lunges, Reverse Lunges, Step Ups, and Pistols also hit the legs hard.


A huge thanks to all of you guys, there's some really good ideas there and I'm sure I've got enough now to keep my going until I can get myself to a better gym...or buy all my own gear so I can work out at home!

Much appreciated.

Cheers, Medz.


Not a true replacement, but while you're doing routines with DLs, hack squats, etc. you can also work some unilateral lifts into your routine. Lunges, step-ups, Bulgarian split squats, regular split squats, etc.