T Nation

Give Up Squats and Deadlifts?

I am 69 and have fairly severe osteoarthritis in both knees as diagnosed by at least 3 different orthopedists. I lift 3X weekly.

Every other workout I do the following routine for my legs:
Squat, fairly wide stance, go down about 2/3 of the way to parallel. 150X15, 220X15, 280X15
Dead lift just short of stiff legged. 135X12, 225X10.
I also do Nautilus adductor and abductor machines and single leg calf raises on a step while holding 40 lbs.

I don’t feel pain either while I do these or afterwards. However, my knees hurt while walking and sometimes in the middle of the night. This is the arthritis. I take Naproxen 250mg 2X daily, glucosamine/chondroitin/MSM, and other anti-inflammatory supplements such as Omega 3 oil, curcumin and ginger.

One doctor, a renowned knee specialist, told me to stop the squats and deadlifts because they were hastening the destruction of the cartilage I had left.

Another doctor, a general sports medicine orthopedist, said that since I wasn’t even going to parallel on the squat, I wasn’t hurting my knees, but that for my age I was lifting too heavy on both lifts. The explanation? was that as one ages one’s tissues dry up and become more prone to injury.

He said that I wouldn’t even get any warning of impending injury; it could just happen suddenly even though my form was good and I wasn’t going to failure, and even though I do extensive static stretching after every workout. (I also do stationary biking and elliptical machine 2-3X a week.)

I feel that the squats and deadlifts are of central importance to my weight training and find the idea of abandoning them very disturbing. I’m also not too eager to use less weight. I have worked hard to get my strength to this level.
What is your opinion?

First of all, much respect for being 69 years old, lifting three times a week, and squatting and deadlifting, and your numbers are pretty solid.

If the doctor says to stop doing it, and that your knees are hurting and might give out without notice, then I would stop. Did your doctor give you any alternatives to squatting and deadlifting?

I had reconstructive knee surgery two years ago, and it still hurts my knee when I squat sometimes. Although it’s not as effective, I found the leg press machine and the hack squat machine to give me a good workout without any pain in my knees.

For deadlifts, I do romanian deadlifts, and those seem to be easy on me as well, as well as giving my hamstrings a nice workout.

Hope this helps, and hope your knees get better soon.

I cant offer any advice , so sorry for the quasi-hijack…

but I gotta say EXTREME KUDOS to you . a lot folks your age (and younger) can hardly handle shoveling snow or cutting the grass. Jesus…I hope I can remain active as long as you .

THIS IS A MAJOR INSPIRATION FOLKS !

and a question…

do you train at home …or in a public gym ??

I ask because I would kill to see a 69 year old dude walk into a public “fitness-oriented” facility and start doing deads !

I hope if I reach your age I am still able to squat and deadlift. If the squats and deadlifts don’t bother you while you lift or right after then I’d say they weren’t hurting you. They may be beneficial due to tissue adaptation from the weight training. good luck

You didn’t mention it, but do you take fish oil as a supplement? This could help your situation.

Crazy respect man.

Hard to say but I don’t think there would ever be a need to give them up completely, but lowering intensity might be a good idea.

Machines, like Tmoney1, said would also be an okay option.

Maybe throw in some dynamic stretching or yoga? I’m not even 30, and I know I don’t stretch enough. Yoga has been fantastic for clearing up all of my leg pains - plus I like oogling the hot girls/acheiving inner peace.

[quote]marlboroman wrote:
and a question…

do you train at home …or in a public gym ??

I ask because I would kill to see a 69 year old dude walk into a public “fitness-oriented” facility and start doing deads !

[/quote]

I’m a retired college professor so I can train at my college’s fitness facility. There are 2000 students and about 500 faculty and staff. In the ten years or so that the facility has been up, I’ve seen at most maybe three guys do deadlifts. An added benefit is that you get to look at scantily dressed 18-22 year olds who are taking the mandatory strength training or cardio classes. This works as well as doping.

[quote]jit07 wrote:
You didn’t mention it, but do you take fish oil as a supplement? This could help your situation.[/quote]

I’ve been taking Res-Q 1250 (EPA and DHA)for years along with a ton of other supplements. My diet is so loaded with vegetables and whole grains that I’ve even defeated the supposedly invincible Toto toilet.

My knees went bad after I took up jogging at the age of 39. Years later a doctor told me that my knees don’t track right and I never should have jogged.

Well, I think there are several issues to consider.

First, if your knees are a weak link than one way to retain functionality in that joint is to make sure the surrounding muscles, ligaments, and tendons are as strong as possible. There are no better exercises that I am aware of to build up the musculature around the knees than the squat and deadlift. Strong quads, hammies, and glutes will definitely help support your knees (and also your hips).

Second, you may need to find another doctor or a specialist that can help you. A doctor that simply tells you to stop something that is important to you is usually not the best. A doctor that will listen to you and try to help you keep those important things in your life is best. Don’t settle for a doctor that just says “stop”, but look for a doctor that will try all the various options before saying “no”. You just don’t seem like the type of person that can just stop doing squats and deads without working through all the options. Find someone who will work through the options. The doctor you have may even be a good doctor, just not the best one to deal with this particular problem.

Third, kudos on keeping up an active lifestyle. I hope at 69 I am still doing squats and deads.

[quote]Berchman wrote:
jit07 wrote:
You didn’t mention it, but do you take fish oil as a supplement? This could help your situation.

I’ve been taking Res-Q 1250 (EPA and DHA)for years along with a ton of other supplements. My diet is so loaded with vegetables and whole grains that I’ve even defeated the supposedly invincible Toto toilet.

My knees went bad after I took up jogging at the age of 39. Years later a doctor told me that my knees don’t track right and I never should have jogged. [/quote]

As the other posters of this thread have said, kudos to you for being in such good shape at your age.

Recently, there was an article posted about how the joints relate to each other. Reading this may help alleviate your knee problems.

http://www.T-Nation.com/readTopic.do?id=1618485

as a man that has had 3 knee surgaries, let me pass the torch.
do treatments in this order.
day one acupuncture I sugest all up the IT band and also around acl and medial ligament.
also hip flexor and adductor.

day two deep tissue massage make sure the guy is russian or german and break apart every adhesion. esp, IT BAND and glutes, hip rotators.

Day three ART especially hamstrings, adductor and psoas, hip flexor.

Day four, stretch relax. UP your fish oil intake.

[quote]Berchman wrote:
marlboroman wrote:
and a question…

do you train at home …or in a public gym ??

I ask because I would kill to see a 69 year old dude walk into a public “fitness-oriented” facility and start doing deads !

I’m a retired college professor so I can train at my college’s fitness facility. There are 2000 students and about 500 faculty and staff. In the ten years or so that the facility has been up, I’ve seen at most maybe three guys do deadlifts. An added benefit is that you get to look at scantily dressed 18-22 year olds who are taking the mandatory strength training or cardio classes. This works as well as doping.[/quote]

Well then, you should definitely take a yoga class. You’ll be surprised at how long you are forced to stare at beautiful asses to properly maintain a pose. Also, I genuinely think it will help you.

[quote]Kill’Em All wrote:
as a man that has had 3 knee surgaries, let me pass the torch.
do treatments in this order.
day one acupuncture I sugest all up the IT band and also around acl and medial ligament.
also hip flexor and adductor.

day two deep tissue massage make sure the guy is russian or german and break apart every adhesion. esp, IT BAND and glutes, hip rotators.

Day three ART especially hamstrings, adductor and psoas, hip flexor.

Day four, stretch relax. UP your fish oil intake. [/quote]

I did recently try deep tissue massage and it helped. I’ll go back whenever the knee pain gets bad enough to warrant a “touchup.” I was thinking of also trying accupuncture. I didn’t realize that there was a difference between active release technique (ART) and therapeutic massage.

And someone just gave me a pass for three free sessions of yoga at the local Y, but this being a fairly small town, I suspect that I’ll be looking at middle-aged asses and not young women’s. This isn’t NY or LA.

The real thing that has been bugging me is being told that I should be reducing the weights about 1/3 for every decade of life over 50 or I am risking injury. The injury the second doctor was referring to was not the knees; it was anywhere on the body.

I have been lifting pretty conservatively on the squats and deadlifts, stopping as soon as I detect the slightest deterioration of form and doing fairly high reps. Granted that the best I can hope for is to slow down the inevitable deterioration that comes with aging, but I would think that if I can handle the weight safely, why should I use less weight?

Part of what keeps weight-lifting from getting boring for me is the challenge of going heavy, overcoming that little twinge of fear.

I should add that the second doctor who told me to cut down is experienced with sports medicine and is active himself, although not in weight lifting. He is a consultant to my college’s athletic teams.

Has anyone reading this suffered a sudden and mysterious injury while lifting which they can attribute to being over 60?

One thing I noticed is that you squat wide, so you are hitting hams and glutes more than quads. If you don’t do enough quad work, you will damage your knee.

I read where Dave Tate had to do an exercise that strengthens the knee due to the lack of quad work PLs do, b/c his was damaged. I’ll try to find it.

I have screwed up knees from having Osgood-Schlatter’s disease as a youth and the ONLY time my knees feel good are when I squat. I don’t know if has to do with blood flow through the area, strengthening of the surrounding structures, or strengthening of the knee structure itself, but time and time again when I stop squatting for one reason or another, my knees hurt.

I’m not a doc (and perhaps that’s a good thing) so take what I say with a grain of salt, but I would: Drop the weight and use the bar only until you can squat below parallel.

The 3/4 squats might actually be causing imbalances and the deeper squat will help stretch/strengthening the connective tissues in that area. Take fish oil, take gelatin, and look into MSM.

My friend suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and I suggested he take glucosamine & chondroitin, he came back several weeks later and said: “You know, all the advice and medicine that the PhD’s gave me, yours was the only one that worked.” Make sure you ice it after working out.

Sure, something could give when you workout, but then again something could give walking down your steps, getting in your car, stepping in you shower because YOU DID NOT strengthen these areas. Use it, or lose it. Either way, kudos on continuing to workout at your age. Old… my ass!

Not sure if it will help but I have screwed up knees as well and what helps me are:
Heating wraps made for the knees
Tiger Balm
Knee wraps when squating

I’m very impressed at your numbers and for lifting! Great job man!

[quote]datta wrote:
One thing I noticed is that you squat wide, so you are hitting hams and glutes more than quads. If you don’t do enough quad work, you will damage your knee.

I read where Dave Tate had to do an exercise that strengthens the knee due to the lack of quad work PLs do, b/c his was damaged. I’ll try to find it.[/quote]

Thanks for the lead. I think I found what you were referring to: Terminal Knee Extensions (done with a band)? I will be trying these today.

When’s the last time you have taken a break? and do you do any running?

If you can recover the knee any you might be able to continue lifting. But you can’t just continue to lift through pain if you have it. Also do you use ice at all?

The knee hasn’t been perfected for everybody so you will have to try and test many things. But I have to tell you stay away from the adductor/abductor machines for a while.

Stop squatting and deadlifting for a week. Try if you can to stop using naproxen also. See how you feel at the end of 1-2 weeks. If the pain goes away then you are fortunate, and you know its how you are training that is hurting your knee and not some other underlying condition such as foot position when you walk, or pre-arthritis setting in.

Also what kind of diet are you eating? Alot of fruits and vegatables, sugars? meats?