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Best Alternatives to Squats & Deadlift?

Inasmuch as I know these are the all around best exercises, it seems that there are some that just can’t do them for health reasons.
In my case I have scoliosis. I am unsure how bad it is really. I don’t know how many degrees it is curved or what the cause is. But I have had to learn the hard way that I don’t need to be doing ANY exercises that compress the spine.

In the hope that it would help some of my alignment issues I tried the awesome routine I found here “Neanderthal No More” and it’s a good set up, but almost as soon as I started putting any decent poundage on the Fsquats, the deads, or the Tbar rows (pivotal movements for the routine) I started noticing pain and discomfort in my back. Then last saturday I was doing my TBar rows and my back went out for the second time in my life. It was dificult even getting to my feet, but once I did I limped out of the gym humiliated and mad as hell.

I still like the routine and all, but I just want to find out the very best alternative movements to those three. I know all to well nothing will work as well as those but I am not giving up weight lifting for ANYTHING. So does anybody know what the very best possible alternatives to those three exercises would be? Any additional advice would be very very much appreciated. Thanks…

I have the same problem you do, but back squats are the only thing that’s ever bothered me so maybe it’s not as bad, deadlifts, BO rows and front squats I can do fine.

Are hand cleans not an option as well? One arm DB rows, Lunges and Bulgarian split squats, back extensions and hyperextensions. Even GHR should cover it pretty well, back is something ya don’t wanna screw around with.

[quote]PF_88 wrote:
I have the same problem you do, but back squats are the only thing that’s ever bothered me so maybe it’s not as bad, deadlifts, BO rows and front squats I can do fine.

Are hand cleans not an option as well? One arm DB rows, Lunges and Bulgarian split squats, back extensions and hyperextensions. Even GHR should cover it pretty well, back is something ya don’t wanna screw around with.[/quote]

I am not real sure what a hand clean is, but any clean is picking that big wight up off the floor, so yeah it probably wouldn’t fly. Also what is GHR?

I guess I could go back to the back extension machine but you know the last time I did that I did the entire stack 5x5. Same with the leg extension machines… I can do the full stack on each.
What about hack slide squats or V squats? are those machines worth a damn? Is there any that are as good as a regular squat or close to it?

Instead of deadlifts:

Glute ham raises
Single leg DB deadlift
HAMSTRING work!

Instead of Squats:

Front squats?
Bodyweight squats
Pistol Squats

Don’t revert to the legpress if you have back problems; it’ll only make it worse.

Good luck!

GHR = glute ham raise. Google it or search this site for further discussion. I use this all the time in my leg routines.

OK just looked it up! WOW that looks sweet. I don’t know if my gym has one of those things, but I know of a good sub for that. Dang I can’t wait to try it. Thanks man!

you can do GHR on two things if your gym doesn’t have one; which most dont…its a dam shame!

1.) ab “crunch” board. where you hook up your feet and can adjust the angle.

2.) a swiss ball

i’ve even done it on a lat pulldown machine, but you need someone there to stop you; or really long arms (which i have)

[quote]force of one wrote:
OK just looked it up! WOW that looks sweet. I don’t know if my gym has one of those things, but I know of a good sub for that. Dang I can’t wait to try it. Thanks man![/quote]

Don’t be surprised if it’s way harder than you think. GHRs are not easy, but go in with the mindset that you’ll nail it and you probably will.

Any problems with doing front squats? It doesn’t have to be the clean/oly style grip, and it might take some pressure off your back. You can stay way more upright with front squats. Goblet squats (with a DB) are also a good option.

The best alternatives to squats and deadlifts are their variations.

The best variations are the squat-rack curls and bosu-ball kickback done with dynamic effort.

i use the super slow technique for my bosu ball kickbacks.
do you think you can do dumbell lunges? that is kind of like a deadlift. so you might not be able to do it. i dont think anybody here would make fun of you for doing leg extension and curls.
i dont know how you feel about the scoliosis, but i could not overhead lift for a week after i had an accident when i was overhead lifting. it was hard.

i hope you get your scoliosis resolved. seriously. weightlifting is really hard if you have trouble with your spine

That’s weird.

I have diagnosed scoliosis too but squats and deads make my back feel BETTER.

I’m gonna second the chants of Lunges and Glute-Ham Raises. Dare I say Leg Curls and Leg Extensions. I don’t know how bad your spine is.

Pistol Squats aren’t very good for building strength or size, once you start to do Lunges with over 200lbs that might be too much for your back and the only lower exercise left for you where you can be challenged without a lot of weight might at some point in time be Pistol Squats.

What about hip belt squats?

[quote]BigKDawg wrote:
What about hip belt squats?[/quote]

wow. i never thought of that. how in the box i am thinking

Ironmind sells some good equipment that can hold up to 3500 lbs + not to mention the fact that hip belt squats dont stress your back (spinal decrompression) plus since the weights on the floor, you really dial up the intensity to the nth degree.

[quote]boyscout wrote:
force of one wrote:
OK just looked it up! WOW that looks sweet. I don’t know if my gym has one of those things, but I know of a good sub for that. Dang I can’t wait to try it. Thanks man!

Don’t be surprised if it’s way harder than you think. GHRs are not easy, but go in with the mindset that you’ll nail it and you probably will.

Any problems with doing front squats? It doesn’t have to be the clean/oly style grip, and it might take some pressure off your back. You can stay way more upright with front squats. Goblet squats (with a DB) are also a good option.
[/quote]

Unfortunately yeah. It seems like ANY exercise that compresses the spine messes up my back. Instead of just handling the load like a normal back does, the s curve in my spine pushes together and can makes the spinal bones herniate and pinch nerves and all kinds of crap. It sucks too because the front squat is my favorite exercise.
I know I need an orthopedic surgeon. Unfortunately I can’t afford that these days.
Anyway thanks for the input!

[quote]FightingScott wrote:
I’m gonna second the chants of Lunges and Glute-Ham Raises. Dare I say Leg Curls and Leg Extensions. I don’t know how bad your spine is.

Pistol Squats aren’t very good for building strength or size, once you start to do Lunges with over 200lbs that might be too much for your back and the only lower exercise left for you where you can be challenged without a lot of weight might at some point in time be Pistol Squats. [/quote]

I am doing walking lunges right now with a pair of 60 lb dumbells, without trouble so far. I will keep on with it, but yeah when I get into heavier poundages even that might end up being trouble. We’ll see. As for pistols, I HATE those. ugh. But if it’s all I can do I will do it. :slight_smile:

[quote]BigKDawg wrote:
Ironmind sells some good equipment that can hold up to 3500 lbs + not to mention the fact that hip belt squats dont stress your back (spinal decrompression) plus since the weights on the floor, you really dial up the intensity to the nth degree.[/quote]

Hip Belt squats huh? Google time… Solid

Also, back on the GHR for a second. If you cannot complete a good rep (on an improvised GHR setup from the ground, I cannot do any) then start in the up position and lower yourself down. Focus on the eccentric (negative) portion of the movement. Your hamstrings will be under extreme tension as your approach the ground. You should be able to endure it longer and longer until you can actually hit the ground somewhat gracefully.