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Squat substitute

ChadashleyChadashley Posts: 8Member Member Posts: 8Member Member
So I'm doing the stronglift 5x5 program and I have a bad back. Squats have always hurt me. Is it acceptable to substitute a leg press, like on a sledgehammer or machine, for the squats?

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  • sgt1372sgt1372 Posts: 3,290Member Member Posts: 3,290Member Member
    A machine leg press isolates the quads and is not a full body lift like a squat.

    But if you can't do a squat, then something is better than nothing. Do what you can.

    But then you are no longer doing Stronglifts but something of your own invention.

    Nothing wrong w/that either. Lots of people modify programs to suit themselves but just don't say that you are doing Stronglifts if you aren't doing it as prescribed.

    FWIW, I modified Stronglifts to suit myself as well.

    I always felt that the program did not make sufficient use of deadlifts. So, I did a lot more of them, including trap bar deadlifts which people w/bad backs do when they can't do barbell shoulder squats.

    So, if you can still do deadlifts, I suggest you do more of them instead.



  • Theoldguy1Theoldguy1 Posts: 597Member Member Posts: 597Member Member
    Can you goblet squat?

    https://www.stack.com/a/goblet-squat

    I have bad shoulders and can't hold a barbell on my back. For me these work great.
  • cupcakesandproteinshakescupcakesandproteinshakes Posts: 325Member Member Posts: 325Member Member
    OP can you give a little detail about where they hurt and what type of pain it is? Is it just while you squat and where is the pain?

    The advice I rely on is from barbell medicine. Look at the pain management resources on their website. There are articles and podcasts. Basically, they say:

    1 reduce weight on the bar until you can tolerate the pain. If this doesn’t work and you are still in sin then
    2, reduce the range of motion on the lift and
    3., if 1 and 2 don’t work then substitute a different exercise. So a leg press may be suitable. Or a different type of squat.

    I may be misquoting though. It’s worth listening to their podcast.
  • Chef_BarbellChef_Barbell Posts: 5,305Member, Premium Member Posts: 5,305Member, Premium Member
    I don't do barbell squats because of a wonky knee. I sub front squats and deadlifts. My physio doc was fine with the sub.
  • wiigelecwiigelec Posts: 242Member Member Posts: 242Member Member
    The flexed spinal position in the bottom of the leg press always aggravated my back worse than properly performed back squats...
  • ChadashleyChadashley Posts: 8Member Member Posts: 8Member Member
    sgt1372 wrote: »
    A machine leg press isolates the quads and is not a full body lift like a squat.

    But if you can't do a squat, then something is better than nothing. Do what you can.

    But then you are no longer doing Stronglifts but something of your own invention.

    Nothing wrong w/that either. Lots of people modify programs to suit themselves but just don't say that you are doing Stronglifts if you aren't doing it as prescribed.

    FWIW, I modified Stronglifts to suit myself as well.

    I always felt that the program did not make sufficient use of deadlifts. So, I did a lot more of them, including trap bar deadlifts which people w/bad backs do when they can't do barbell shoulder squats.

    So, if you can still do deadlifts, I suggest you do more of them instead.



    My injury is from years of abuse on my back. I have a bulging disk at L5 S1 and sciatic pain. It hurts before, during and after. It hurts worse when I squat, but not when I deadlift. So would the deadlift trap bar be ok for squats then?
  • ChieflrgChieflrg Posts: 8,036Member Member Posts: 8,036Member Member
    OP can you give a little detail about where they hurt and what type of pain it is? Is it just while you squat and where is the pain?

    The advice I rely on is from barbell medicine. Look at the pain management resources on their website. There are articles and podcasts. Basically, they say:

    1 reduce weight on the bar until you can tolerate the pain. If this doesn’t work and you are still in sin then
    2, reduce the range of motion on the lift and
    3., if 1 and 2 don’t work then substitute a different exercise. So a leg press may be suitable. Or a different type of squat.

    I may be misquoting though. It’s worth listening to their podcast.

    This.

    Pain isn't always a reason to resist a movement entirely. It's been my experience most people can squat pain free or tolerate some pain with appropriate load, volume, intensity management.

    Leg press can a substitute though I think there might be better options if you plan on running that particular template with that adjustment depending on what details you can give on your "bad back" and "always hurt me". Include training history as well please.
    edited November 14
  • sgt1372sgt1372 Posts: 3,290Member Member Posts: 3,290Member Member
    Chadashley wrote: »
    My injury is from years of abuse on my back. I have a bulging disk at L5 S1 and sciatic pain. It hurts before, during and after. It hurts worse when I squat, but not when I deadlift. So would the deadlift trap bar be ok for squats then?

    I'm not a doctor or physiotherapist and am in NO position to advise you what to do.

    That said, trap bar deadlifts are used by people who have bad backs and who can't or shouldn't do squats as a result.

    I suggest you do some research on trap bar deadlifts to understand the movement and how it may or may not benefit you as a sub for squats.

    Then, if you think it'll work for you, try it out by subing them for squats in your Stronglifts routine, starting w/low wts and working your way up as is done in the program.

    You can still do the traditional straight bar deadlifts as prescribed as part of the Stronglifts program, which as I recall is only once a cycle, which is why I felt DLs weren't sufficiently incorporated in the program.

    In any event, if you decide that trap bar deadlifts will work for you, just bear in mind that the deeper you squat down in order to initiate the movement, the more like a barbell squat it will be.

    This means that if your trap bar has raised handles, flip them over so you just use the lower bar underneath them and have to squat deeper in order to initiate the movement and more closely replicate the position you'd be in at the bottom of a barbell squat which you would then finish by lifting the barbell (or in this case, the trap bar) up.

    If you are not squatting deep enough to start the trap bar deadlift, you can stand on a something (like 2"x16" board or a platform made w/2x4's and plywood) which is wide enough to stand on securely to raise yourself farther above the bar which will require you to squat deeper when addressing the bar.

    Anyway, if you are following what I'm saying, then you should understand that a trap bar deadlift is basically like doing a barbell squat in reverse.

    The dynamics of the lifts are NOT exactly the same but if you can't do barbell squats, low bar trapbar deadlifts is as close as you'll get to simulating a barbell squat.

    Good luck!
    edited November 14
  • AndyPage2106AndyPage2106 Posts: 2Member Member Posts: 2Member Member
    Belted hip squat machine is the bomb I can’t squat same amount as on barbel isolates quads more and zero strain on back
    Walking lunges or Bulgarian split squats
  • cathipacathipa Posts: 2,923Member Member Posts: 2,923Member Member
    If you can't do back squats what about Zercher or front squats? If back squats hurt your back and it may be your form? Maybe try squatting to bench and working on mobility.
    edited November 14
  • ChieflrgChieflrg Posts: 8,036Member Member Posts: 8,036Member Member
    Chadashley wrote: »
    sgt1372 wrote: »
    A machine leg press isolates the quads and is not a full body lift like a squat.

    But if you can't do a squat, then something is better than nothing. Do what you can.

    But then you are no longer doing Stronglifts but something of your own invention.

    Nothing wrong w/that either. Lots of people modify programs to suit themselves but just don't say that you are doing Stronglifts if you aren't doing it as prescribed.

    FWIW, I modified Stronglifts to suit myself as well.

    I always felt that the program did not make sufficient use of deadlifts. So, I did a lot more of them, including trap bar deadlifts which people w/bad backs do when they can't do barbell shoulder squats.

    So, if you can still do deadlifts, I suggest you do more of them instead.



    My injury is from years of abuse on my back. I have a bulging disk at L5 S1 and sciatic pain. It hurts before, during and after. It hurts worse when I squat, but not when I deadlift. So would the deadlift trap bar be ok for squats then?

    I see. Is the sciatic type pain recent like only noticeable when you squat or did you have recent trama?

    Can you please give training history of all types of squats you performed. How long you squatted, type of squats, range of motion, frequency, volume and intensities you used in relation to the pain you felt? This is very important to know.

    Trap bar deads wouldn't be a suitable replacement within that program.
    edited November 14
  • zoom789zoom789 Posts: 7Member Member Posts: 7Member Member
    An L5/S1 injury is in the lower back. Check with your Dr before switching in deadlifts. The last thing you want to do is make it worse.

    I had one of those several years back. It kept me out of the gym for over two years. I have clearance to go back, but they still want me to avoid heavy DL's and squats. But by "heavy" they've said I can go up to twice what I weigh, so I'm fine with stopping there (heck - that's a long term goal). But they still have me avoiding anything with heavy torquing (like judo).

    Check with your Dr first, s/he knows your situation better than we do. Also, I found the McKenzie Method (a PT program) was really helpful.
  • Ws2016Ws2016 Posts: 431Member Member Posts: 431Member Member
    The single leg exercise in this group is ine I do - but without the weight.
    http://jasonferruggia.com/so-you-cant-squat/
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