I currently only have a bench, a barbell and a heap of weights, no squat rack.

I want to work on Wendler 5-3-1 (without boring but big) in the standard fashion with one change. No squats(due to the lack of squat rack).

  • Tue - ???
  • Wed - Bench
  • Thurs - Deadlift
  • Friday - Shoulder press

What should I replace Squats with? Under the barbell and bench equipment constraints.

Barbell rows might work but are perhaps unnecessary with deadlifts on Thu


Lunges seem to not get a lot of love, but they'd be a good candidate to consider in this case. You could either use dumbbells, hold barbell plates in your hands, or clean the bar up and drop it into squat/lunge position that way (via an overhead press as an intermediate step).

I agree with Dave's answer as well about doing some front squats. All that cleaning will be great practice as well, and a good barbell clean is a terrific skill to have and unlocks a lot of advanced options that require very little equipment.

An experienced lifting friend of mine swears by the hack squat when the power cages in the gym are full, but personally I've never found them that comfortable.

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But between lunges, front squats, and hack squats, you're bound to find something that while not perfect at least gets you closer than you would be if you just ignored the issue entirely.

  • To add to this good answer, I recommend a hex-bar. It will allow you to deadlift in a more backward-seated position, which pretty much emulates a squat. Other than that, hack squats and lunges are very good from-the-floor squats. Variation between the two are definitely a worthy alternative to regular back squats.
    – Alec
    Mar 16 '15 at 20:30

Clean the barbell once for each set of front squats. The squats will be submaximal, but that just means you'll have a chance to kick ass on the AMRAP set.

  • What percentage of a front squat should I be able to clean(obviously very subjective)?
    – user10708
    Mar 8 '15 at 13:39
  • @Committingtoaname I power clean about 85% of my front squat, but I hear there are some people who can clean 100% of their front squat. Mar 8 '15 at 17:25

simple answer: you can't.

So you can of course substitute it for something else but the results probably won't be anything like the results you would get with squats.

I haven't done Wendler myself yet but I'm pretty sure the program is basically written for the big 3.

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