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Substitute For Squats?


I?ve returned to the Iron after a few years of purely bodyweight exercises; hindu squats, hindu push-ups, pistols and the like. I switched to BWE when I hit the half century mark and felt I needed to improve my flexibility, since I have a hip arthritis. My weight has remained constant and I still fell strong in the lifts but my hip does not seem to like deadlifts and back squat. Yesterday I had to interrupt my squat session when I used a load equal to my body weight (90 kg).

Most probably this is due to the compression in the hip joint. I felt a bit sorry for my self since I used to squat 120-140 for 15-25 reps. What do you guys think? Face the fact of no heavy lifting and switch back to BWE stuff again or are there any alternatives to these basic excercises. Thing is, I have made immense improvement in terms of flexibility and normally my hip does not bother me any more.


man...tough break...getting old isn't easy...

you could try seeing a rehabilitation specialist and/or a doctor for possible arthritis medication?

hopefully someone else will be able to give alot better advice...

good luck!


I'm a firm believer in squats. I have a trashed lower back, and my knees sound like a box of rocks, but I sitll can squat without pain. If you can do a BW squat, than you can add weight...although working up very slow. Your form must be perfect and somedays, you need to know when "it don't feel right" and walk away from the rack.


Heavy back squats hurt my knee that i had surgery on, so lately I have been doing overhead squat, so that I lighten the load, and still get a good workout in. I still incorporate back squats and front squats though, just not as often. I also do Deadlifts regularly.


That's rough - there are ways to work around the knee but the hip is pretty much involved in all compound lower body exercises. If BWE doesn't aggravate your hip, then perhaps starting ridiculously light (leave your ego at the door and start with the bar only) and gradually adding weight will slowly build back strength in that joint. I think you made too big a jump from BWE to 90 kg.


Try concentrating on front squats and overhead squats. These are more quad dominant, and less hip dominant. Also, experiment with bar position (e.g., higher on back) and foot position (closer)on the back squats. Maybe you can find a position that does not cause too much hip pain.



This is good advice. I am a fellow hip sufferer (and a fellow Swede?), and the squat is what keeps me from limping. My left hip has no cartilage and I am told that arthritis is just a question of time, but as long as I keep strict form I can still do squats. After being out of the weight room for a while, my load is still below my bodyweight, but it still feels good.

Just do it in front of a mirror and check how your pelvis moves as you go down. When it starts tilting left or right, your back is at risk and you may consider coming up again. I can do parallel but ATG is beyond me.


Many thanks, guys!
Front squats really do hurt less than back squats and there is a point in starting with very light loads. OH squats may take some time to learn...

Are you an emigrated fellow Swede, TQB? I understand you now live in Belgium?
If you feel the same sort of pain in the hip and leg as I used to do I recommend hindu squats. High reps in the 100-200 range, feel the lactic acid building up in the quads, and BAM - the pain disappeared.


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You're taking glucosamine, MSM and chondroitine?


Mats -- I am 46 and also have hip arthritis. Was told 4 weeks ago that I need hip replacement. I have not been able to squat more than 50kg (~ 120 lbs)for years. And can't lunge at all. I also have trouble getting low for deadlifts, though it was one of my favotite exercises.

I was able to do rack pulls (partial deadlifts)from mid-shin level, and could go fairly heavy. Also, I agree with others on OH squat, but keep it light. I also have gone to high rep (25) weighted DB step-ups onto cinderblocks.


Others have given you some good advice relative to training.

Allow me to offer one particular product that might make a difference with your arthritic hip. The product is called "Arthred" manufactured by "Source Naturals."

It is a nutritional support for healthy joint function. And it is a product that I use regularly.

Give it a try and it might make a difference for you.

You might just have many happy years of training ahead of you.



Thanks for the advice. I have been taking glucosamine and it has proved to be a true blessing. It put an end to those sleepless nights.


Have you tried glucosamine? My doctor once suggested hip replacement, but surgery is not an issue any longer.No more pain thanks to glucosamine, and the body weight excercises did wonders for flexibility; esp hindu squats, hindu push-ups and bridges.
When I was 46 I could barely get out from the passengers seat. Today at 54 I am quite close to a full front split and I can touch my nose on the mat in the wrestlers bridge.


Hell, Mats,

Exactly how crippled are you?!!!!!!

Those are some very impressive stats.


Hello there!

You can try Hacksquats. Maybe they are better for you?


well my brother and me have real bad problems with our knees and squats were painful untill i found a way to help rehabilitate my knee i got dunbells in each hand and dids squats and then gradually moved on to bigger weights now i squat 405, big differance hope i helped a bit



No, I am not all that crippled and that it is why I was astonished and annoyed when weighted squats showed to be such a problem. The improvements is mainly due to the bodyweight exercises as described by Mike Mahler:
I did not know about Mahler when I started doing the Furey stuff, but my experiences are quite similar. I strongly recommend these exercises, especially if you got problems with your flexibility.

Now I have backed off and started front squats with an empty bar and am working on the OH squat form.

Thanks for the great advice, guys. I?ll be back with a report.


I like rack pulls. Put about 150% of what you normally DL and enjoy.

I can't squat because of an old ankle injury and my left hip gives me fits. The rack pulls don't seem to aggravate these.


I would recommend you keep trying alternatives: front squat, goblet squat, overhead squat, wide stance, narrow stance, etc. There are squat's near cousins: dead lifts, stiff legged dead lift, pull throughs, etc.

I'm 49 and this past year worked through a couple of painful joint problems; one wrist and one shoulder. My approach was to warm up thoroughly and do what I could. Both conditions have improved considerably and pain has dramatically decreased. Good luck.


I wouldn't scratch squats just yet. Try squating with a smith machine or a hack squat to see if you can get the leg pump you want. I've got a neck injury that makes it difficult to put the bar on my back, but I've been lucky enough to find a hack squat machine that can be modified for front squats and it works beautifully.

If you have nothing else, work some lunges with dumbbells, and they would still help. Superset them with wall-squats, and you'll really feel it too.

Remember - "No pain, no gain" is a myth!