I hear you guys (and pretty much anyone else I would consider worth a shit) constantly talk about the importance of heavy squats for getting bigger. There is one question I keep asking that no one has been able to answer. What is a new lifter to do, if injury and body mechanics make it unsafe to do them? My knee is wrecked, has been for four years, will be the rest of my life according to docs... all the trainers and docs I've spoken with say heavy squats will risk completely tearing my knee apart for good. (At this point I can still walk, and I'd like to keep it that way) I can do body weight/very light dumbell squats, that is it... my fitness goals are currently to burn 30lbs of disgusting fat and replace it with equal weight of muscle. Any help would be SOOOO appreciated...
Start light. I mean extremely light. At least in the beginning. Practice perfect form, if your form breaks down stop the set immediately. I've found moderate to wide box squats to be incredibly helpful to squat without extensive amounts of pressure on the knees. Narrow stances can be problematic in the beginning. Set it up below parallel if you can and if not set it up to where it's comfortable and try and work it lower slowly as you progress. Hope this helps.
Start super light. REALLY REALLY look into yoga/ Pilates. Pilates were created by Joe a Vietnam war vet, who wanted to help wounded soldiers get better. They are amazing for things like this.
You don't have to do heavy back squats for mass, that is bullshit. I haven't done a backsquat in months. I replaced them with zerchers and I can do 300 for reps already.
I think doing nothing is the worst thing you can do though. Maybe just do some farmers walks to keep the legs in shape.
Push/ Pull a prowler. Not sure how your knees wold respond but people even do it for rehab purposes, myself included and works like magic. Perhaps over time you can go heavier and i believe you can build serious muscle & endurance.
Be a deadlift focuser.
Don't get stuck on the doc's opinions as well, people do come through things. Light squats, even bodyweight is a good idea to start. Also give Band TKE Extensions a try, they did wonders for me too.
Can you deadlift instead? Trap bar DL?