The squat is often referred to as “the king of all movements” for building mass. Many assume that this title is earned in reference to the squat’s ability to build huge leg muscles.

It’s more than that. Squatting also helps stimulate growth in all the major muscle groups.

I could go on about the numerous reasons why every person who can, should be squatting but hopefully, you don’t need convincing.

If you want to get big you should be squatting, it’s as simple as that.

For the lone lifter, heavy barbell squats are something that should only be attempted with a good quality power rack with safety bars.

Even with suitable equipment, if you fail to make the squat and drop the bar, there’s still a risk it could go wrong and you end up injuring yourself. At the very least, you’re gonna have to unload, lift the bar back onto the rack and reload. If that’s ever happened to you then you’ll know how much this can knock the steam out of the preceding squats sets.

The Dumbbell Squat – The Safer Alternative

A fantastic and much-underrated alternative to the barbell squat is the dumbbell squat. It is often seen as the poor cousin to the barbell ‘king’ but for some, it can actually be the superior exercise.

For the newbie, home trainer or the experienced trainer without access to a spotter or suitable power rack, the dumbbell squat makes a superb alternative to the barbell squat.

With the dumbbell squat, you have pretty much all of the mass building aspects of the barbell squat minus the safety issues. The exercise begins and ends with the weights on the floor, a far safer alternative to the’ top loaded’ barbell squat.

With the dumbbell squat, if you find yourself struggling to make the final rep then it’s far easier and safer to simply end the rep and return the weights to the floor.

I’ve scoured the net to find you a video that best demonstrates the dumbbell squat and found the short demo below.

Performing The Dumbbell Squat

  • Take a pair of medium weight dumbbells and align them in parallel, either side of you.
  • Position your legs a little over shoulder width apart.
  • Point feet directly forward or slightly out.
  • Kneel down and take a grip of each dumbbell.Once you’re happy with your grip, push up with your legs, keeping your back straight.
  • Once completely upright, pause momentarily before lowering back to the start position.

Top Tips For Performing The Dumbbell Squat

  • Make sure your feet point either directly ahead or slightly outwards but never inwards. An inward turn can place disproportional stress on your knees.
  • It is imperative that you maintain the same angle for both feet. Different angles can place an uneven load on one knee, not good.
  • When lowering, your knees shouldn’t extend ahead any further than the end of your toes.
  • Ensure your back remains at a constant angle to your body during the squat. You want the power to come from your quads (and hip flexors), not your back. Plus altering the angle places extra load on the lower back.
  • Rather than trying to lift the dumbbells, focus instead on pushing your legs down into the ground. You’ll find this actually makes the lift ‘seem’ easier. Plus, this approach also helps you maintain proper form with a straight back by thinking about your legs pushing rather than your body lifting.
  • Given the similarity with the deadlift, you may feel a tendency to lean back slightly at the top of the movement as many people deadlifting do. Don’t do this. Arching backwards places unnecessary stress on the lower back. Arching back is performed by powerlifters in competition to satisfy the judges that a full standing position was reached. Unless you’re a competitive powerlifter, please don’t lean back.

You can also hold a kettlebell in front of you instead of using dumbbells but I hope this article has revealed to you the many safety advantages of the dumbbell squat over the traditional barbell squat, especially for lone trainers. Remember, when it comes to weightlifting, your ability to avoid injury is one of the biggest factors in determining your progress.