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Thread: Weight lifting substitute for squats and deadlifts page

  1. #1
    atmetal's Avatar
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    Weight lifting substitute for squats and deadlifts

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    I think I've confirmed it. After getting a lower back injury a while ago and continuing to do my squats and deadlifts through the pain, I took the last week off because I believed my muscles needed the recovery time. I go back to squatting today and the pain returns almost instantly. I reached 185 lbs on my warmup before calling it quits. I think it's a spinal injury and the limited research I've done indicates that it will take weeks, maybe months to heal properly.

    I am devastated right now, especially for having to say the phrase "substitute for squats" as I am one of those who believes in no substitute. But I had made a respectable amount of progress using StrongLifts 5x5. Now, all but one of the exercises on that program is off limits to me. My working weight for both squats and deadlifts was supposed to be 215 lbs a couple of weeks ago. My working weight for Pendlay rows was supposed to be 120 lbs. I've managed to continue my overhead press and I'm working at 110 lbs. My working weight for bench press is 160 lbs. All these exercises put significant stress on the lower back except bench press, so this injury has pretty much brought my StrongLifts routine to an end.

    As it were, I was about to start a cut in which I just maintain my strength while losing fat. While I would normally be open to less intense body weight exercises, seeing the above numbers, I'm sure you'll agree that I would still lose strength. I'm not saying those numbers are particularly impressive, but I do weigh only 160 lbs, so they are at least respectable numbers, numbers I would very much like to keep. What I need is a weight lifting substitute for barbell movements.

    According to Mehdi of StrongLifts, weight machines are inferior because the machine supports the weight for you. I completely agree, but still wonder if I should make an exception in this case. Doing overhead press and rows with a machine is better than nothing. But before going to the machine for rows, I'm going to see how pullups feel.

    But I'm still lost as to how to get an acceptable squat/deadlift substitute. Any of those leg machines would isolate my muscles, allowing my legs to be much stronger than the rest of my posterior chain.

    I guess what I'm really after is a way to limit or completely prevent strength loss in my back without actually disturbing the injury for the next several weeks. I would really prefer not to have to start over with the empty bar when I'm finally healed.

  2. #2
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    That sucks :/, only thing I could think of is settle for less weight, if it's even just body weight, or body weight and a bar. Something is better than nothing.
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    mark h's Avatar
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    Be very careful if you suspect a disc and not just muscle injury. 8 1/2 months after my back injury I am just now getting back to real exercising. I originally thought it was minor. You know your body, do all but what might strain your back.
    Keep it going, Mark

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    CE402's Avatar
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    Don't fuck around.


    Ditch the weights for a month. You have the rest of your life to get massive, but if you fuck up your lumbar spine it will get much, much harder.

    Do your cut, do some bodyweight conditioning, give yourself time to heal. If its still bothering you after a month, see a doctor. Not a nature path, a faith healer, or a gypsy. A doctor.

    Good friend of mine "treated" his lower back pain with a chiro for years, until the "treatments" stopped helping. It took 2 months for an MRI to prove he had 1 ruptured, and 1 herniated lumbar disk pinching the sciatic nerve. 4 more months to get surgery. By the end, he spent the last 3 weeks at home on percocet unable to drive and barely able to walk.

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    atmetal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CE402 View Post
    Don't fuck around.


    Ditch the weights for a month. You have the rest of your life to get massive, but if you fuck up your lumbar spine it will get much, much harder.

    Do your cut, do some bodyweight conditioning, give yourself time to heal. If its still bothering you after a month, see a doctor. Not a nature path, a faith healer, or a gypsy. A doctor.

    Good friend of mine "treated" his lower back pain with a chiro for years, until the "treatments" stopped helping. It took 2 months for an MRI to prove he had 1 ruptured, and 1 herniated lumbar disk pinching the sciatic nerve. 4 more months to get surgery. By the end, he spent the last 3 weeks at home on percocet unable to drive and barely able to walk.
    While I scoff at the stereotypical ignorance that people have about weight lifting...always assuming the motivation is to get massive, I had no intention of fucking around. But there are two main issues I'm concerned about. First, weight lifting is an extremely efficient way to gain well-rounded fitness. I know of no other way one can become capable of 100+ pushups at once from doing only a few heavy reps a couple of times a week. It is this level of strength that I wish to limit my losses on. I can continue to do bench press. I can substitute weighted pull ups for my rows. I'll find out if an overhead press machine feels okay (there really aren't many options for shoulder exercises that don't compress the spine). But it's the squats and deadlifts that I need to find substitute for. Sure, I could stick to body weight squats and hyper extensions, but that will only leave me as strong as those movements will allow, which is weaker than I am now.

    As for seeing a doctor, I'm going tomorrow. Probably going to get x-rays. And I haven't even made an appointment. Military healthcare FTW.

  6. #6
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    Split squats don't put any pressure on the lower back.

  7. #7
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    I know where you are coming from. Take your time, and heal.

    While you are healing, take some time for more advanced bodyweight stuff (I like Convict Conditioning, but there's others out there). If you can do 20 pullups, work on your muscle ups, or start working towards a 1-arm. Same thing with pushups. 1-Arm pushups work my obliques more than any other exercise I've found, short of flags. Pistol squats are amazing, even for someone who is only 160 pounds. They are impressive as hell to most people. Bridges will work your glutes and back, though in a different way than deadlift or anything else, really.

    If that's too easy, start looking at gymnastics skills- how long can you hold a handstand? What kinds of levers or planches can you do?

    All of these bodyweight exercises will help strengthen and stabilize your core far more than you think, which will help you hasten your recovery. Yes, you may lose a bit of sheer strength, but not likely very much. Rippetoe's recent article, "Conditioning Is a Sham" talks about how expensive muscle and strength are for your body to build, and anything that is difficult to build is going to be slow to fade.

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    AdamC29's Avatar
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    I will probably get shouted at by the bodybuilders on this thread but I have been told by a pro bodybuilder that deadlifts are pretty bad for your lower back because of the amount of strain that is put on such small muscles in the lower back.

    I don't really deadlift a lot but my back is definitely dodgy when i do but that could be my form.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by AdamC29 View Post
    I will probably get shouted at by the bodybuilders on this thread but I have been told by a pro bodybuilder that deadlifts are pretty bad for your lower back because of the amount of strain that is put on such small muscles in the lower back.
    Small muscles in the lower back? Which ones are those? So it's better for muscles not to be under strain? Is that how he got to be a pro bodybuilder?

    Quote Originally Posted by AdamC29
    I don't really deadlift a lot but my back is definitely dodgy when i do but that could be my form.
    It's probably definitely your form. Also could be that you don't deadlift a lot. Strangely enough, there's a tendency for weak, untrained muscles to be worse at an exercise than strong, well-trained ones. Weird, I know.

  10. #10
    AdamC29's Avatar
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    I think it is called the piriformus.

    Just because I don't deadlift a lot it it is wrong to assume that I do not lift. I just find it hard to deadlift as it always hurts my back and I have had three different trainers look at my form.
    2010 - 5,11 and 101KG

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