Most think that to build bigger, stronger legs is to crouch on your back with a loaded barbell. While squats are effective, some lifters don’t even have the agility to get into the bar-on-back position.
If traditional squats aren’t for you, it doesn’t mean you can’t squat … nor does it mean you can’t load them with heavy weights. Front squats and cup squats are just a few examples.
And while these are two great alternatives, they have their drawbacks:
- Squats with front frames require even more mobility for the shoulder, wrist and upper back.
- The upper limit of the exercise potential for cup squats is much lower than for barbell squats.
What can you do instead?
Landmine Box Squats
The landmine is one of the most versatile pieces of equipment, but few people use it for box squats. This is a mistake. Here̵
- The box increases the glute engagement. It also takes the strain off your spine and acts as a depth indicator.
- You don’t have to be super mobile to do them. The mobility requirements for landmine squats are much more accessible than for squats. If you can put your hands together in front of your chest and sit on a bench, you can landmine box squats.
- You can increase the loading. The amount of weight you can use is much more than squatting on cups with dumbbells or kettlebells.
That’s how it’s done:
1. Push your hips back first
One of the main advantages of the landmine is that it forces you to push your hips back. Some people push their knees forward first. This usually places too much weight on the front of the feet, lifting the heels off the floor with undesirable stress on the knees.
And while going over your toes isn’t bad for your knees, the first thing you need to do is to push your hips back to use your legs with your feet “rooted” in the floor. You can then ride through your heels and activate your glutes. This will save a lot of stress on your knees.
2. Put half your weight on the box
This strategy will help you maintain your hip and core engagement before going back up. Thanks to Joe DeFranco for this gem.
Think of the box as a scale. Now try to only put half your body weight on it. Don’t just relax on the box.
There are several methods of filling boxes. You will see the “touch and go” method which involves tapping the box with your bum before emerging again. Then there is the Westside method, where the lifter distributes most of its weight back into the box before “arching” forward and crouching.
Both have their merits, but somewhere in the middle will be a sweet spot for most.
3. Spread the floor apart
Imagine standing on a piece of paper trying to tear it apart with your feet while crouching up and down. This will help you maintain an optimal position in your knees and reinforce the insertion of the buttocks.
A common problem with all types of squats is the knee cavity or valgus collapse. This can be attributed to weak knee stabilizers (thighs, VMO), weak / restricted hips, restricted ankle mobility, or incorrect motor patterns. So remember to drive your heels and your little toes into the ground.
Squats aren’t the only way to build legs. If you’re struggling to get into a rear rack position or want to lift more than dumbbells or kettlebells will allow, try Landmine Box Squats.
Related: Fix the Most Common Crouching Mistake
Related: The Best Squat That You Don’t