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I Can't Squat..

…well for a while anyway. I have been getting a pain in my lower back that seems to have stemmed from doing the Stronglifts routine. I’m a total beginner and I got my squat up to 115kg but the 2.5kg constant increases seems to have been to much too soon for my back. I am currently doing the art of Waterbury and am going to take a month of from squatting to let my back (hopefully) get better. What do you recommend doing instead of the front squats? I did leg press with leg extensions as an off the cuff substitute today but would like some advice from the dudes who actually know what they are doing! Advice much appreciated.


Would be useful to see a video but regardless you should probably see a recommended physio. Is it front or back squat or both you have a problem with? Can you do light front and/or back squats? If so maybe just work on form, volume, pauses etc, assuming no pain. Otherwise anything that doesn’t aggravate it is fair game. Can you deadlift, good morning, hold a weight out in front at arms length? If you can do those in conjunction with leg press you should be able to work back up quite quickly, when you’re good and ready.

Hi. Thanks for the reply. I can do light/moderate front and back squats without pain but there is a stiffness in the following days that doesn’t feel right. It has a completely different feeling to DOMS. I wouldn’t say it is painful, but instead a bit of a warning sign that I might need to back off for a bit. I have been doing lighter deadlifts and previously good mornings with no serious problems and holding a weight out in front is not a problem at all, In fact I could probably squat close to the weight I have done previously but I feel it would be in the next few days that I would suffer.

As far as squat form goes I feel I may have been pushing my butt back a little too far and I probably tuck it under a bit when I am going atg. Recently I have been squatting using only the bar so I can use the pain/stiffness as feedback tool to see which portion of the movement is causing me problems. Would you recommend just replacing front squats with leg presses for the meantime?

Thanks, Mike.

Have you tried the box squat???

I’m pretty new to lifting but I had a lot of lower back pain when I first started squatting with the bar in fact i could only do 10 reps with the bar before i would cramp and and have a lot of pain.

I stopped bar squats and used the hammer strength squat machine I got up to about 270kg doing that but at the same time i really focused on strengthening my lower back and back in generally with wide grip rows I also used a wide grip on the t-bar machine as well, really worked my core with a variety of different ab exercises i did that for awhile and then went to the bar.

I now have no pain what so ever and I’ve even started deadlifting which is something I couldn’t do before this may or may not work for you I’m only posting as I went through the same thing as you are.

Yes, give leg press a go, try to position your feet similarly to your squats, another idea is Bulgarian split squat - good range and form, light weights (or squats with a weight belt off blocks). Do try to get to a physio or maybe a good osteopath.

If you can deadlift without pain, your squat form is off. Take a video of yourself - I bet you round your lower back.

Apart from that, try Bulgarian split squats. Seriously.

Btw, when I say belt I mean weighted belt and re split squat probably try dumbbells but obviously can be barbell front or back, depends on your back problem.

Cheers for all the advice guys. I will get somebody to take a video and will upload it for analysis!

Um… advice from a fellow newbie here, but I’m just wondering
Can you squat at all without pain? Like not even an air squat? I’d get that seen to, mate.