T Nation

Injured. Need Substitute for Squats

Ok…so about three years ago, i suffered a pretty bad neck injury. I did therapy and all kinds of things and was under the impression it was getting better. So, after taking a break from doing squats since they were the only exercise at the time that caused me any type of pain, I tried them last week. After about 7 or 8 reps I got a shooting pain from my neck to the back of my head.

I went back to the doctor and his advice was simple…quit doing squats. The gym I’m a member of only has a smith machine so I don’t have a free barbell to do squats with which is what my doctor said might be part of the culprit. My body is naturally wanting to go or do one thing and the bar is causing me to stress on the track and making the muscle in my neck that was injured react poorly and cause me the pain. Since squats have such an amazing benefit to total body strength, I hate to give them up but it looks as if I don’t have a choice. Is there any variation of a squat (dumbbell, etc.) that might have close to the same benefits? Or, is there another exercise that could take the place of the barbell/smith squat? This does’t unfortunately look to be an option for me. The good thing is, squats are the only exercise that have caused me issues so I don’t have to give up the deadlift or anything else the way it looks.


Do front squats hurt? Other than that, I don’t know anything else other than leg press machine. May not be as great as squats, but it works your quads at least.

Split Squats, Lunges…neither are as complete as the squat but you’ll eventually find that doing single leg work will benefit your squat and other full compounds!

you could try front squats, hack squats, overhead squats

Leg Press. Heavy, too.