Dropping Dead and Squats; Advice Needed

So, some recent health issues have required me to reevaluate my goals and routine and I could really use some advice.
To keep it simple, the intensity of some lifts are triggering ocular migraines followed by several days of shittyness health wise.
After heavy deads, squats, Kroc rows and rdl’s I get vision issues and severe headaches, and not only does it ruin that days training but the following days as well. I am very hesitant to drop these from my routine but will not sacrifice my health for these lifts.

For the Deadlift, is there a productive way I can do these with a lower intensity? I’ve been following the 16 week progression as per the Kroc article on T nation with great result, but its becoming too much. These have added good density to my entire back and I don’t want to do a bunch of other exercises to make up for it.

For the squats, these are the biggest cause of the issue. I’ve tried lowering the weight and doing higher reps with some success, but I have to limit number of sets. So far heavy leg presses followed by higher rep high bar squats isn’t too bad, so if I lower the intensity throughout the week I may be able to keep these up.

My biggest concern is dropping these lifts entirely, because I may have to. If that becomes the case what can I add in to make up for these? My goals are pure hypertrophy by the way.

You can get by just fine without them. Single leg work, high rep sets of good mornings or RDLs, all manner of leg machines…

Loads of options for leg training exercises without squatting or deadlifting. I don’t do either.

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Out of curiosity…Are you a male between the ages of 15 and 40? Are you myopic, ie, nearsighted? How was the diagnosis of ‘ocular migraines’ established?

Not gonna lie: when I read the topic title said “dropping dead and squats”, I assumed this was going to be about the aftermath of 20 rep squats.


Dropping dead is better than dropping deadlifts

edit: this is not meant to be serious advice. You should not choose death, or basically anything with negative impacts, over deadlifting if it doesn’t earn you serious money


Seconding this.

I feel like there’s an underlying root cause that needs to be addressed here, whether you choose to continue squatting & pulling heavy or not.

If you choose to stop heavy squats & pulls, as @Yogi1 said, there are many effective ways to train your lower body without them, but I feel like there’s more going on here than heavy squats being so brutal that your entire body feels like shit for days afterwards.


If you want to work your legs hard with drastically reduced weight then tempo single leg work is your new best friend. If you do Bulgarian split squats with the rear foot elevated on a bench, your front foot (i.e. the working leg) on a step platform or a few stacked plates (to increase ROM) & then do all reps with a controlled eccentric & a pause at the bottom you’d be amazed how little weight you need in the form of dumbells and/or weight vests.

On more serious advice, if I couldn’t squat or deadlift anymore, I’d push and pull a prowler. You’d be amazed at the quality of leg pump these things can deliver.

If your gym doesn’t have one, that’s an excellent excuse to buy a light weight version plus some cheap plates. You can do your entire leg session in the park.

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  1. No, my vision is excellent otherwise. And to be honest I haven’t had a diagnosis yet but have a doc appointment next month. From everything I’ve read it makes sense, and they’re not uncommon. Of course, I’m no doctor and it could be some other cause.
    I’ve suffered from more typical migraine symptoms most my life and this is a new thing. I’ve cut the stims out for now as I have a hunch they contributed to this issue.

I think so as well, as I’ve handled intense training well for years but recently its been taking a toll. We’ll see what the doc says next month, hopefully its simply a migraine issue.
I have read the report of another lifter having the exact same issue on another forum, and he was diagnosed with ocular migraines.

Thanks for the tips, tomorrow is leg day and I’m going to be experimenting with some new things, I’ll incorporate this into my training and see how it goes.

My gym has a good one, and an area of about 8 long feet in which to use it.
I’ll look into a more portable version like you mention, I’m becoming a huge fan of this kind of training anyway. Might go great along with farmers carries I’ve been incorporating into the week.

That interpretation isn’t that far off…20 rep squats almost always leave me barely clinging to life

I just read some other user’s post earlier about how to program legs without squats or deads…forgot exactly what he said but he was doing hack squats and lunges as the two main movements. Followed by some leg curls and calf raises I think.

Like some other users said, single leg work and pushing/pulling a prowler is gonna be great. My friend doesn’t squat or deadlift, and he’s got pretty good quads just from split squats and lunges. (Not the strongest, but well defined and fairly big.)

I’m a big fan of training the hamstrings and glutes often so I’d do hip thrusts, with one leg if you want to use less weight (less strain maybe?) and hit the hamstrings especially hard, back extensions for high reps, and maybe do like 4-5 sets of pretty intense lying leg curls prior to your quad work.

John Meadows recommends it, and I don’t do it all that often, but I do feel like my knees just feel good after it. In my experience, single leg work, or just quad work in general, will beat up the knees after a while, so keeping your hamstrings strong for your knee health (and glutes strong for lower back health) is smart.

And then I guess there’s goblet squats, which by definition you can’t go as heavy as you can with a barbell, so you could try those. I don’t know if you have or not, and how you respond to them.

Damn, if only there were like, a doctor here…but like, a special doctor that works on your EYES, man. That’d be crazy. I wonder how he’d feel about google-assisted self diagnosis.


To add to this there’s a couple ways you can use the sled/prowler and I’m not talking about the different ways you can push/pull it.

The first one is what we usually think of and is for conditioning. You take small steps, get some momentum going and keep it going. I won’t go into any more detail because I think the second is more relevant to building muscle.

The other way is to load it real heavy and take longer slower strides that have a little ‘grind’ to them. This will be better for building muscle.

And yeah, sounds like your already doing it but make figuring this thing out a priority. Good luck, hope you get better.