21, 5'7", 160 lbs, 1.5-2 Years of Work, Critique/Advice Needed

Hi everyone

I’d love to have some kind of a “balance check” to see where I currently stand. I feel like my traps and lower back are lacking but I don’t really know how to target them properly since I can’t do heavy movements (inguinal hernia which has not fully broken my fascia yet and I don’t want to aggravate it any further) so the usual deadlift, farmers walk, bb/yates row is impossible for me.

Could you please suggest some exercises that would work with my current condition?

With a bit of arm pump

No pump

Yeah I know, weird pose haha. I’m not good at it and taking pictures by yourself is really hard!

I’ll take your word for it lel (is you a doctor or did your doctor give you this advice?). I’m assuming squats are on the no go list also?

I’d say go get surgery to repair it sounds a bit extreme I know but, brief rehab later and all your problems are solved ez. Going around worrying about taking a really savage shit sounds terrible as the alternative. Probably faster than trying to work around it and people won’t call you a little bitch for skipping squats and deadlifts.

If nah there’s some options for you. It’s not like you are going to be able to reduce risk of injury to 0 because we can’t really cut out the torso but it’s more about balancing the risk v the rewards. e.g. heavy deadlifts not worth but maybe light deadlifts can be used as they are low risk.

For your spinal erectors back extension variations are what come to mind. You could superset them with light deadlifts if you can only deadlift light. Light front squats for high reps will probably fatigue your back well enough without having you brace until the intra abdominal pressure causes your hernia to explode. “Risky” movements using light weight are actually pretty low risk so it might be possible to work something out that will allow you to get a training stimulus with the lighter weights e.g. high volume, frequency, tempo, intensity techniques etc.

I reckon the traps are alright but if you want to do stuff for them maybe prone shrug variations or row variations (where you’re lying on an incline bench)

Overall looking pretty good. Time to get in a decent massing phase all over but I reckon your arms need a bit of work. If you were a tall dude it wouldn’t be as bad but as a shorter stockier proportioned guy you should be able to get some thick looking arms going.


First off, thank you very much for the advice you’ve given. I really appreciate the effort!

Yeah I actually self-diagnosed at first because I really felt it happen and straining a few times.
However I DID go to a radiologist who specializes in hernias and he found that my fascia is widened and torn about 1cm deep. However, not fully torn yet.

Interestingly enough, he said that he thought the reason for it are my abdominals. Apparently, they’re a little less wide on my left side thus covering a lower amount of my fascia which simply doesn’t allow me to build up pressure. Again, that’s what he said and I can’t fully wrap my head around that idea though.

Anything with intra-abdominal pressure is a no-go.

That’s what I was considering. However both my doc and the radiologist said I’d have to find a crazy surgeon who would operate on a forming hernia
They told me to just try and live with it and if it breaks through, that’s when the surgery will happen.

I’ve tried doing REALLY controlled deadlifts with 225lbs which I would consider very light and yet the day after I really felt discomfort in my groin area. Hell, I even had discomfort after the leg press. So really, even going light or trying to cut out the torso isn’t working which frustrates me to no end…

I’ve been doing those for a few weeks now and I think they’re working well :slight_smile:

I’ve tried front squats before and felt instant pressure. But I’ll try again. How am I supposed to have no intra-abdominal pressure though? I’ll try with just the bar to begin with. Any tips are appreciated.

Thank you! And yeah, you’re right, my arms are only 15" so there’s a lot of room for improvement. I really tend to forget arms because I just don’t enjoy isolating them :stuck_out_tongue: Will definitely hit them a little more now!

Go lift heavy until your guts explode out your abdominal wall. Get surgery. Rehab and return to full function. Lift heavy forever after ez lel. Srs… not srs. Maybe srs.

For performance/function long term/health I’d be lifting. I’d rather lift heavy, get the surgery and continue to lift heavy into later decades and be a strong af old dude than have that shit herniate later anyway when I’m picking up my fat fuck kid cos its a bit pointless to start heavy lifting then.

Like anything else overload your back extension variation over time and you’ll get gains. If 225 is still too much then maybe try one plate or a red either side for stiff leg romanians as a superset. If you still can’t or don’t wanna try than it’s alright just stick with overloading whichever movement you’ve chosen.

If front squats bother you then don’t do them.

You can still train traps and lower back well enough without deadlift/squats. How about hamstrings and quads tho?

Well you see it just kind of feels wrong to herniate yourself on purpose. I’m not a masochist :stuck_out_tongue:

Will most probably stay at the back extension and overload. I can really control myself there and reduce intra-abdominal pressure close to zero.

yeah :confused: won’t do them then.

So far I’ve trained my quads with leg extensions but I feel like that’s not enough… Also, I’ve never had knee problems but the last time I did them (slow and controlled, high reps) I felt some pain in my tendon. I’ve heard that leg extensions tend to do that so I’ll be cautious.

I do hamstrings with leg curls and partially use them when doing hyperextensions.

These two are obviously sub-optimal and boring as fuck. My legs will never grow like they would with deads/squats. And I really loved doing those. This is really dragging me down.

I am tho lel.

Its kinda like knee pain / osteoarthritis / degenerative changes to the knee joint. When it first pops up doctors will tell you to fuck off until it becomes a problem. By the time you need the total knee replacement to restore function you are af cos the whole time you didn’t want to be active with the knee.

Anyways whatevs. You do you.

Resistance is resistance and overload is overload I guess but I think leg extensions won’t treat your knees nicely if you really hammer them. Be smart and conservative with it is my non specific advice lel.

Hamstrings are a little better cos you can do GHRs and hamstring curls standing/seated/lying pretty safely.

Well I’m coming from the perspective of a powerlifter so I can relate to being pissy when you can’t do squats or deads.

Here some more suggestions:

Belt Squats
Reverse Hypers
BB Glute Hip Thrusts
Try different leg presses e.g. lying leg press machine (not many gyms have this), different inclines to completely horizontal. Mayb try single leg.

Maybe have a play around with your breathing while you lift e.g. if you are not paying attention and holding your breath throughout the lift it makes things worse

I feel that too. But it’s like a mental barrier. I do that heavy deadlift, I expect my intestine to pierce through my damn fascia lol. And I’m just not into that.
Also, my healthcare surely isn’t going to pay for a surgery that is not necessary in their eyes.

Sorry, what does GHR stand for?

I’ll try, thanks! However holding my breath creates pressure. I mean the point of holding your breath IS to create pressure. This seems counter-productive. What am I missing?

Good call on the BB hip thrusts.

I wonder if doing squat variations on the smith machine may take some pressure off your abdomen while still allowing you to train those movements.?

Also GHR= glute ham raise. Bit like a back hyper but you are bending at the knee instead of hips.

can lead to life-threatening complications so I dunno what qualifies as necessary where you are from lel.

Thats what I meant. Don’t hold your breath. Soz if confusing

what about things like

Cable Pull Throughs
Cable Glute kickbacks
single leg variations, e.g Bulgarian split squats, reverse lunges and other variations
Glute-Ham Raises
Manual Glute-Ham Raises
Kneeling Hip Extensions
Rolling Leg Curls
Sliding Leg Curls
Gliding Leg Curls
Lying Leg Curls
Seated Leg Curls
Standing Leg Curls
Lying dumbbell leg curls
Reverse Hypers
Straight-Leg Bridges
Kettlebell Swings
Nordic Ham Curl
Low Cable One Leg Rdl
Hip Thrust variations
Landmine exercises like reverse landmine lunges
Prowler pushes or pulls
Reverse sled drags
Single leg extensions
Hack Squat machine
Dumbell step up etc
Smith machine lunges
Smith machine front squats
Smith machine Back squats

( iv done smith machine squats for a while in the past, they dont use or abs do a high degree)

everyone hates on it and i used too but its just another tool in the gym. if all i had access to was a smith machine then fuck it i could still grow big legs.

Yeah if I keep lifting abnormal amounts of weight for no reason.
To an insurance company, that’s like wanting them to buy you a parachute because you’re going to jump off a plane.

Sadly we don’t have a smith machine…

THANKS @duketheslaya
I will look into some of these exercises.

Thats a shame man!

Hopefully some of those help.

I’ll try the split squats today and report back.

I’m thinking I can double the load on my quads relative to the intra-abdominal stress.
Afterall, a normal squat distributes the weight to both quads. A 60kg split squat should be as effective as a 120kg squat. I’ll also be able to be more upright giving less load onto my abdominal region and more on my spine/lower back.

1 Like