There’s no denying that the squat is king of all leg exercises. And while other great moves can add mass to your thighs – leg presses, hack squats, leg curls, deadlifts – they’re just the tip of the iceberg.

Diehard powerlifters have developed some creative alternatives to squats. When you’re sick of doing the same typical leg moves to which all bodybuilders seem confined, throw in a few of these bad boys for majestic gains.

One-Legged Squat

Stand 2-3 feet in front of a bench with a barbell resting across your upper back (shown on a Smith machine). Place the top of one foot on the bench behind you and perform squats. Keep your working leg at or above a 90-degree angle to protect your knees. Switch legs and repeat.

Wall Squat

Place your back against a wall with your feet about 1 foot from it, spaced hip-width apart. Squat until your knees reach a 90-degree angle and hold the position for 15-30 seconds. Slide up a couple of inches to form a 105-degree angle at your knees and hold for 15-30 seconds. Slide up again to a 120-degree angle and hold for 15-30 seconds. Push your back against the wall during each hold. Stand and rest. This is one set.

Between-Legs Deadlift

Straddle a loaded bar on the floor with your feet shoulder-width apart. Squat down and grasp the bar with one hand in front of you and the other hand behind you. Be sure your grip is balanced. Stand erect with the weight, pausing at the top, then return to the start and repeat.

Glute/Ham Raise

Kneel on a pad placed on the floor with your feet behind you and your body erect. Have a partner who weighs at least as much as you hold your ankles down with his hands. Slowly lower your body forward by extending at your knees until you’re close to the floor. Brace yourself with your arms, then return to the start by flexing your knees.


Alternative Leg Workout

This sample routine doesn’t include more traditional exercises like the squat and leg press. Try it to shock your legs past a plateau. A more conservative approach would be to incorporate 1-2 alternative exercises into your current leg program.

Exercise Sets             Reps
One-Legged Squat 3 12
Between-Legs Deadlift            3 8
Wall Squat 3
Glute/Ham Raise 3 6