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Building Up My Legs Without Squatting (Due to Existing Injury)

Good evening

I’m after ideas on a PPL routine - pretty bog standard really but I have had a groin injury since about June. I have rested it since 10 October and had physio but still not fully clear. I am going out my mind not able to go to the gym, play football or do anything so I’m wanting to start up again. What I’m after is ideas on what to do on the legs days of the PPL. I can do stiff leg deadlift,ham curls,leg extensions, calf raises, glute thrusts all with no problem. Narrow stance leg press is ok but squatting any meaningful weight is unlikely. Lunges and split squats aren’t exactly pain free. Prowler pushes seems to be ok even if i load up the weight.

So any suggestions on a leg routine that doesn’t require squatting or leg pressing? With the aim to put on size overall.

I’d love to squat. I’ve been day dreaming about squatting for 4 months but as I said, I can’t do any meaningful weight without groin pain still.


I know you can’t split squat but I ran a 12 week program using rear foot elevated split squats instead of squats and finished doing an easy single with 225 lbs. My point is that single leg stuff can still work.

I like walking lunges but that might get into the groin a bit. I see no problem just using the lifts you listed. Step ups could be a good option. Don’t load them too much and really try to control the eccentric. I believe if you do them right then you could start without weight and get a good workout. Most people push off their back leg and just fall on the eccentric.

If you can squat light weight then I suggest trying Tabata squats with just the bar. 20 sec of squatting, 10 sec rest, repeat for eight rounds (3:50) and you just stand with the bar on your back during the rest.

It is too bad if the groin pain makes it difficult for you to do squat. But I think you have other options such as elevated splits. I am sure if you try it and you don’t feel any pain, you should know that you are on the right truck and that it will still work for you. I am glad that you are already on prowler pushes. Also, try pushing the back legs a little further and see the kind of results you get.

can you ride a bike? if so go on stationary and turn it to the highest difficulty and cycle as fast as you can, when its hurts alot ( lactate accumulation) turn the difficulty slowly down, and you can do this several times a week. its not the same a s squatting but its very similar. and since quads are slow twitch, mostly with the longer tut you’ll get a nice growth. and later you can just go back to squatting when groin is ok

If by “groin” injury, you mean adductor injury, then I may be able to help.

I have blown out (partial tears) both adductors in the past two years and am still working on my right side which I injured back in august.

What you should do:

Phase 1: Leg extensions, leg curls, hyperextensions - it sucks, I know, but I pretty much just did these twice per week for a while until I felt comfortable enough to try more

Phase 2 - Leg press and walking lunges - both of these hurt at first and I was unable to do them so GO SLOW AND GO LIGHT. I literally started with just a 25 lb plate on each side of the leg press and tried to work through whatever ROM I could pain free. I found that the leg press was actually most responsible for my quick recovery this second time around as it really helped stretch the adductor out and got lots of blood flow to the muscle without making things worse.

Phase 3 - High box squats - only go as deep as you can with NO PAIN. Very mild discomfort due to stretching of the muscle is okay but NO PAIN.

I also found that I could go for light runs 1-2x /week and that seemed to help get blood flow to the area in a non-loaded manner

What you should NOT do:

RDLs/SLDLs - I did them for a while my first time around with this because I had no pain during the movement. BUT, my symptoms were always worse the following couple of days, and after looking into it, stiff leg deads of any kind actually recruit the adductor more than any other exercise - so stay away from these until you are at least 90% better

Regular stretching of the muscle outside of the gym - I found that this made things worse for me, your mileage may vary

Anything else that causes any sort of pain - this is obvious, but we all know its the hardest rule to follow when you want to lift heavy/hard

Currently, I am about 4 months into round 2 and I just did regular deadlifts again for the first time last week. I could have probably done them sooner, but decided it wasn’t worth it. My first time around last year, it took me about 7 months to get to this point. These things take a long while to heal, let them.

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Thanks for the reply. It is indeed adductor injury. I’ve had some physiotherapy and their advice has been rest for 6 weeks and now they told me to try some exercises to see what I can handle but didn’t specify any actual exercises. I think I’m still looking at 6 weeks or so before its working properly. Your approach sounds sensible - I think I’ll give that a try. I’m probably somewhere between phase 1 and 2 as you describe them - I can do quad extensions and ham curls no problem at the moment.

Yeah like the other guy was getting at healing occurs in stages.

It varies a bit but by 6 weeks the injury is partially healed enough to be exposed to light loading and this will actually make it heal better and stronger if done properly. Gradual return to normal activity another 6-12 weeks.

As lifters normal activity might mean loads of 60-75% 1RM but i varies I guess. As long as you don’t max out or go balls to the wall AMRAPs or something.

Minor injuries may heal faster. Bigger ones longer. Unfortunately sounds like yours is on the worse side of things with a bit of mismanagement.

In the mean time do what you can. Experiment. Movement is good (as long as it doesn’t flare up your symptoms) even if there’s little to no loading. Aggressive stretching may be bad depending on what stage your at but moving will accomplish the same thing by stopping you from getting stiff.

It’s frustrating I know but like anything in lifting you gotta be patient, play it smart and conservative and good things will come to you. Good luck

So now that I’m certain you have a muscle injury I can be more helpful. It sounds like you’re ready to start using the injured area again. The usual progression for a muscle injury is rest, isometrics, then full movements. I think you should start with isometric holds at different positions.

You could use the hip adduction machine and squeeze at different positions throughout the regular movement ROM. You could use cables at bands and do iso holds through the straight leg hip adduction movement. I think partial ROM stuff might be okay too.

Do some of this for a couple weeks and then try to return to light, full ROM stuff.

Yes - definitely mismanaged by me. There wasn’t a time that I felt it go ‘pop’ but I think it came from over-use. I was training for a half marathon, playing football (soccer) once a week and still lifting 3-4 times a week. And I’m not 21 anymore! So bought it on myself, then I didn’t rest when the issues first started.

Now I gotta pay the price and be patient.

Thanks, I will try those things out. I think its a combination of muscle and tendon issue as the pain is right at the top of the adductor where it joins into the pelvis.

I did the leg press today. Only 50kg with different foot placements and widths. Placing feet at the bottom of the sled with medium width was ok - managed around 75% ROM.