Leg Exercise Substitutions
Whatever your reason for substituting an exercise, whether it’s an injury or lack of equipment, I have lots of options for you. You can use any of these options with any of my workout programs. For a review of ALL my programs go HERE.
If you want great legs, you need to SQUAT. There are a variety of squat variations that you can do. Any of these squatting moves can be used inter-changeably if you need to change it up:
- Plie squats
- Bench Step-ups
- Split squats
- Split squats with your front foot elevated 4-6 inches
- Reverse lunges
- Forward lunges
- Swing lunges
- Bulgarian split squats (with back foot elevated on a bench)
- Reaching lunges
- 1-leg RDL
- Pistol squat (1-leg squat)
For those with sore knees:
Make sure you’re seeking the advice of a doctor and/or physical therapist to diagnose and treat your issue. Once you have the go ahead to train, you can modify leg exercises with these things:
- Lying Hip Extensions (also known as Lying Hip Bridges)
- 1-leg Hip Extensions
- Lying Hip Extensions with your feet on the ball
- Stability Ball Leg Curls
- Wall sit
- RDL (Romanian dead lift)
- 1 leg RDL
Body Weight Alternatives for DB Exercises
Take a look at this video for a ton of variations for ab, chest, back and leg weighted exercises.
For any bench press, chest press, chest fly exercise, you can substitute any number of push up variations. (I’ll have a blog post with lots of variations, stay tuned.)
For pulling exercises for the back, go ahead and substitute any prisoner style squat or lunge, this will engage the upper back in an isometric contraction to activate back muscles. The wall stick up is a great way to open the chest and engage the back as well. (Stay tuned for an entire post on back exercises substitutions.)
Legs can be trained effectively with just body weight by concentrating on the eccentric contraction and maintaining time under tension for longer periods. Using a 1 ½ method of training is helpful; you’ll do a full rep, then a half rep repeated. The point is to try not to lock at the joint, which provides rest for the muscles.
The hamstrings can be effectively worked by doing a reverse hip lift. This can be intensified by doing this in single leg fashion or by elevating the stabilizing leg as well as the other leg to put more tension on the hamstring.
Abdominals are best trained with bodyweight anyway. If a hanging leg raise is required, it can be replaced with a lying leg raise.
- 20 seconds jump squat/10 seconds rest
- 20 seconds jump squat/10 seconds pulsing squat
Repeat this 4 times
40 seconds of work with 10 seconds of rest:
- Swing lunge
- Swing lunge other leg
- Single Leg RDL walk out to push up
- Single Leg RDL walk out to push up other side
Repeat one more time
You’ll get a body weight, heart pounding workout in small space, a short time and with NO equipment. I’d say you have NO excuse NOT to do a workout when it’s as simple as this.
Stay tuned for more exercises substitution blog posts.
You can use these substitutions with any of my Challenge Workout programs that you’ll find right here.