Monster Exercise Substitution List

Metabolic workout finishers

This has been a long time coming. It’s been something I wanted to send you for quite a long time. Brace yourself.  In fact, you’ll want to print this out as it will be the ultimate reference guide to exercise substitutions whether it’s one of my programs or someone else’s.


… is the ULTIMATE Exercise Substitution List.

Look, not everyone should be doing Jump Squats or Spiderman Climb Pushups. If your form is sloppy, you won’t get the maximum benefit.  I’d rather you nail a set of Total Body Extensions with great form then doing a harder exercise like the Jump Squat with ugly form.

But wait… there’s more! <== Infomercial Cliche’ Here (BOOM!)

You’ll also get some bodyweight alternatives for resistance exercises if you don’t have access to weights. That’s good news, however, it could mean bad news…

Now you have NO EXCUSE to skip your finisher or workout.

I bolded that because it looks louder.

Ha-ha! <== Nelson from The Simpsons said this, not me

Enough. Let’s get serious. We’ll go by muscle group, cool?  On the left you’ll see the exercise and then you’ll see the alternatives to the right. Let’s keep it simple.

Chest Exercises (Bodyweight Alternatives)

  • DB Chest Press ==> Any variety of pushups that you can do with that rep range. For example, if a program calls for 10 DB Chest Presses, you could do Decline Close-Grip Eccentric Pushups to make those 10 pushups harder
  • DB Squeeze Press ==> Close-Grip Pushups
  • Dips/3/4th Rep Dips ==> Close-Grip Pushups or 3/4th Rep Pushups
  • Renegade Pushups ==> Regular Pushups

Easier Alternatives

  • Spiderman/Spiderman Climb Pushups ==> Offset Pushups or Elevated Pushups
  • Decline Pushups ==> Regular Pushups
  • Explosive Pushups ==> Regular Pushups (or use less reps)
  • Pushups ==> Kneeling or Incline Pushups

**Note – don’t be afraid to sub any variety of pushup to fit your fitness level… even if that means doing harder ones!

Back Exercises

  • Chin-ups ==> DB Rows, DB Chest-Supported Row or 1-Arm Row (Bodyweight Alternative- Inverted Row or Strap Row with underhand grip)
  • Pull-ups ==> Overhand Grip DB Row or 1-Arm Row (Bodyweight Alternative – Overhand Inverted Row or Strap Row)
  • Renegade Row ==> Bodyweight Renegade Row (keep the arms tight to the sides and contract your lats HARD)

Other bodyweight alternatives….

When performing leg exercises, you can do them prisoner style, which means you’ll keep your hands behind your head, pulling your elbows back and squeezing the shoulder blades together.

Zero-Equipment Bodyweight Row (don’t knock it until you try it). Stand up with your feet shoulder width apart. Extend your arms out in front of you at shoulder height with palms facing down. Now bring back your arms by bending the elbows and squeezing your shoulder blades as hard as you can. Repeat for 12-15 reps. I had campers that were sore in their back the next day when doing these.

Bodyweight Exercises

Leg Exercises (Equipment Swaps)

  • BB Squat ==> DB Squat, Goblet Squat
  • Deadlift ==> DB Squat OR…. you can superset the DB Row with the Stability Ball Leg Curl
  • BB Lunge (all varieties) ==> DB Lunge (all varieties), Goblet Lunge (great sub for bootcamps that don’t have a lot of DBs)

Leg Exercises (Bodyweight Alternatives)

  • Squat (BB or DB) ==> Bodyweight Squat, Prisoner Squat
  • BB/DB Lunge (all varieties) ==> Bodyweight Lunge (all varieties)

**Note – you can make the bodyweight lunge harder by doing 1-1/2 reps. So you perform a lunge, come halfway up, then back down and then finally all the way up… that’s ONE rep.

  • KB/DB Swings/1-Arm Swings ==> Total Body Extensions
  • Javelin Lunge ==> TD LungeLeg Exercises
  • Goblet Step-ups ==> Bodyweight Step-ups
  • Goblet Sumo Squat ==> Bodyweight Sumo Squat
  • King Press (Bulgarian Squat with Shoulder Press) ==> TD Bulgarian Split Squat

Challenging Exercises

Squat Substitutions (Easer bodyweight moves) ==> Hip Extensions, 1-Leg Hip Extensions, Wall Squat (with a ball behind your back), Bodyweight Step-ups

  • DB/BB Jump Squats or BW Jump Squats ==> Total Body Extension or Bodyweight Squat
  • Lateral Jumps ==> Skater Hops
Bodyweight Exercises

More Bodyweight Alternatives…

  • DB Romanian Deadlift ==> Stability Ball Leg Curl, Bodyweight Romanian Deadlift, 1-Leg Bodyweight RDL or Prisoner Good-Morning
  • DB/BB Bulgarian Split Squat ==> Bodyweight Bulgarian Split Squat

**Note – you can make the bodyweight version harder by doing 1-1/2 reps. Go all the way down, halfway back up, all the way down and finally all the way up – that’s ONE rep

  • Goblet Squat ==> Bodyweight Squat
  • DB Squat, Curl and Press ==> Y-Squat

Bodyweight Exercises

**Note – another way to make bodyweight squats harder is to use eccentric training…. take 4-5 seconds to lower yourself and 1 second to come up. Boom.

  • Lunge Jumps ==> Split Shuffle or Alternating LungesBodyweight Exercises
  • Jump Squats ==> Low Box Jumps or Total Body ExtensionsBodyweight Exercises
  • Bulgarian Jump Squats ==> Unless you’re really coordinated, stick with Bulgarian Squats or Split Squats
  • Bulgarian Split Squat ==> Split Squat
  • Long Jump (aka Broad Jump) ==> Low Box Jumps or Total Body Extensions

Ab Exercises (Bodyweight Alternatives)

  • Ab Wheel/Stability Ball Rollout ==> Inchworm
  • DB/Medicine Ball Chops ==> Bodyweight Chops
  • Cable Core Press ==> Stability Ball Plank or Plank
  • Medicine Ball Slams ==> Bodyweight ChopsBodyweight Ab Exercises
  • Spiderman Climb ==> You can make these easier by bringing your foot only halfway towards your hand
  • Squat Thrust ==> You can make this easier by doing Stability Ball Jackknives
  • Stability Ball Stir-the-Pot ==> If you don’t have access to a SB, you can do X-Body Mountain Climbers

Arm Exercises

  • DB Tricep Extensions ==> Close-Grip Pushups

Conditioning Exercise Substitutions 

  • Bench Vault ==> Lateral Hops or Skater Hops Bodyweight Exercises
  • Death Crawl ==> Bodyweight Death Crawl (replace the DB Row with an Extended Arm Pushup)Bodyweight Exercises
  • Burpees ==> Bodyweight Squats
  • Burpee/Pull-up Combo or Chin-up Combo ==> Burpee or BW Squat

Wow, that’s a lot of typing. I’ll add more in the future. In the meantime, if you need another exercise substitution, you can ask me on my facebook page here:

==> Join Me on Facebook

“We must train from the inside out. Using our strengths to attack and nullify any weaknesses. It’s not about denying a weakness that may exist but about denying its right to persist.”–Vince McConnell

Finish this week strong,

Mikey, CTT

P.S. Are you struggling? Yeah, I do that, too. Click here to keep hustlin’. 

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Leave A Reply (21 comments so far)

  1. Annmarie
    11 years ago

    Hi Mikey

    I do my exercises at home and I don’t have a pull up bar so this information is great.

    • Mikey
      11 years ago

      Awesome – so glad you found it useful!


  2. Ann
    10 years ago

    Thanks, need some things that allow motion but not the jumping thing yet! Ha!

    • Mikey
      10 years ago

      You bet Ann – the Total Body Extension is my favorite jump replacement.


  3. Philip
    10 years ago

    Excellent. Just what I needed. One question: say I used these bodyweight only moves as substitutes for the new TT2.0, where you use dumbells etc, how different would the results be?

    • Mikey
      10 years ago

      You’ll still get results, but if you have access to DB’s, definitely use them. If not, do a version of the bodyweight move to match the intensity. In other words, a Bulgarian Split Squat (1-1/2 rep style) is harder than a standard Bulgarian Squat. Doing eight 1-1/2 reps is harder than 8 regular reps 🙂


  4. Philip
    10 years ago

    Thanks for BW advice. How would you do alternative bodyweight moves – e.g. DB squats for 40 seconds. So would you do 1 1/2 squats for 40 seconds or do it for longer?

    I guess without weights I am fairly limited.

  5. Mikey
    10 years ago

    Yep! You can do 1-1/2 style for 40 secs per side.

  6. Philip
    10 years ago

    What could I do as a temporary replacement for SB roll outs, hip extensions, leg curls etc i.e. no stability ball.

    I aim to start the TT2.0 program in a few weeks when I can get to a gym, but until then I will ‘practice’ with bodyweight replacements, but have no stability ball yet.

    • Mikey
      10 years ago

      Rollouts – you can do mountain climbers
      Hip Extension – just keep your feet on a floor instead of the ball
      SB Leg Curls – Just do hip extensions


  7. Philip
    10 years ago

    OK, a couple more – band pulls and DB squat press. I’m thinking leave the band pulls and DB SP replace with burps.

  8. Mikey
    10 years ago

    For the DB Squat and Press, you can do what’s called “Touchdown Squats”. That’s when you extend your arms over your head while doing bodyweight squats.

  9. Philip
    10 years ago

    Great stuff. Should I leave band pulls out until I can by a band?
    How about Suspension exercises such as Ys and curls.
    No equipment rear delt raise (I could do your BW row:)

  10. Vasu
    10 years ago


    I travel a lot and taking DBs along is not an option. But I can carry a band.
    A list giving thera-band substitutions would really help.

    • Mikey
      10 years ago

      Great idea Vasu! Thanks for sharing!


  11. David
    9 years ago

    Thanks Mike This is what I have been looking for. Keep up the good work

    • Mikey
      9 years ago

      You’re welcome David! Happy to help man!

  12. Olga Fuentes
    8 years ago

    I wasn’t able to download the exercise videos on Vimeo

    • Mikey
      8 years ago

      Hey Olga, please send an email to our support team at and tell them what product you’re trying to download the videos from. Thanks!

  13. Kristina
    7 years ago

    Hi Mikey,

    I can’t do any exercises where you kneel or where you knee touches the floor.
    What substitution exercises do you have for this ?

    Thank you.

    • Mikey
      7 years ago

      For push-ups, you can do incline push-ups (where your hands are on a wall, bench or anything at a raised level). For lunges, you can do step-ups, where you step up onto a bench or platform.