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Leg Day for Seniors

I’m a bit of an older trainer ( about to turn 61). I’ve been lifting weights for many years. Typically train a 4 day split. Squat day, BP day, DL day, shoulders accessories day. I’ve recently developed issues with squats and will probably be limited to squatting above parallel. DL is still fine.
I’m thinking of changing my training to a “leg day” not a squat day. I would typically ramp up to a top set of 2-5 reps, then a few down sets.
I need some help with exercise selection. I train at home and have the following items available to use in my training.
Power rack with straight bar, SSB , harness for front squats, a thick bar for Zercher squats, horizontal leg press ( which also is pretty uncomfortable with a fuller range of motion), seated knee extensions and seated knee flexion,
Do I start with a high squat ( not high bar but depth) a so called 1/4 squat then some additional movements ?
My squatting style was low bar to parallel and I felt it really help with glutes and hamstring strength. I never did much quad work, but always felt my quads were getting work enough with squats.
My goals are to keep my legs strong, avoid further injury by training around my limitations in hip flexion. But mostly continue to enjoy training.
Any thoughts or advice on how to design a leg day is appreciated.

This post is being moved to the over 35 crowd. My home base
Any additional thoughts welcome

If you can hit decent depth right now your relative upright torso, knees traveling forward high bar squats are going to build your quads well.

You don’t have to resign yourself to poor mobility even if you’re 60. Have you gotten checked out by a pro? Issue could be resolved. Work around could be found also e.g. if ankle flexibility is a limiting factor some weightlifting shoes would work wonders

I think at your age mobility strength and everything declines unless you keep training it. So if you quarter squat a while it’ll be harder and harder over time to do deeper squats. I dunno about you but would rather not be stiff and immobile

Quarter squats will still develop your legs just not as well as deep-ish squats.

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I think you forgot a bar. I know you hate it, but it’s really a very useful tool.


I’m not ready to start drinking yet.
I do like a place about 25 minutes away.
I’ll figure it out with time.
Back to a classic straight bar squat is definitely my goal. 100%

I have .
It’s not soft tissue type issues.
Thank you for the help.

Switch to the hack squat machine. Takes hip out of it. Push the prowler. Leg extensions. Leg curls. Reverse hyper. Calf work as they protect knees. Split squats.

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Lol! I have seen alcohol do some amazing things, but pretty sure that won’t help your squat.

I was referring to a trap bar. I thought you mentioned having one but dislike it.

Belted squats are good too if you have boxes to stand on.

I am just curious. Did the hip start hurt before or after the manly yoga?

Sometimes quarter squats can be unsatisfying. One more fun move is to set up the pins in the power rack to a height your hips can handle, wedge yourself under the bar and squat from there. The SSB makes this really comfortable and easy. It’s a dumb, heavy move and it’s pretty natural to do singles or low reps. I’ve also done zerchers from the pins and saw a picture of some Westside Barbell guys using the front squat harness to lift from the power rack too. Its a “new” lift so you could probably progress slow and steady for awhile.

After that you could maybe do some good mornings. With your chest up and your knees bent you could probably get a motion kinda similar to your low bar squat
without the hip flexion. It’s pretty natural to do moderate reps and back-off weights with that move.

After that you could try step ups. When I do them I get more quad involvement with a step that puts my knee below my hip. They can give you that out of breath feeling that you get from squatting.

I don’t know if you want to mess with the leg press, but you might be able to make it more comfortable if you can rig up some resistance bands to push against. They unload at the bottom so maybe it wouldn’t beat your hips up.

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Maybe the trap bar.
I think the yoga definitely aggravated the hip. Trying to gain mobility


Yup heels elevated trap bar is golden especially with a prime solo wedge at 20 or 30 degrees

My “uncle-in-law” is 67 his leg day consists of:

Front Squat
Trap Bar Deadlift
BW Lunges
GHR or Leg Curls

For 67 his legs are pretty strong and defined.

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If you aren’t competing and just enjoy squatting I’d say use the ssb. It’s much more comfortable on the shoulders and will limit the load opposed to low bar squats.

You can even do step ups with a ssb pretty safely if you can position yourself in front of your power rack to hold onto for balance. I’ve do these with 175lb for sets of 8-10 before and they’re brutal and youre limiting the load.

Might I ask what caused the loss of ROM in the hips? Surgery? Injury?

My dad is 74 and has never lifted when he was younger

His leg day is goblet box squats and leg curls. He went off program and did leg extensions and then asked me why his knees hurt :angry:

Im trying to get my dad to do a bench only meet down the road in my super saiyan singlet

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FAI or hip impingement.
I’ve long had limited rom in my hips, but could squat to parallel with a little external rotation and forward lean. I had recently added some yoga / power yoga to my training. I enjoyed the variety. I think a little too much flexibility work, tipped things over the edge. Probably would have happened with time anyway.
I would have a bone click at parallel, and for a long time no pain associated with that. That’s now become quite painful.
Hope some rest and different movements will help.
Time will tell.
I like to still try and lift relatively heavy for what I can do. DL still feel fine.
I’m going to use my SSB and try a front squat harness as things hopefully quiet down. Step up is a great exercise but the hip flexion will be an issue.
Thank you for the thoughts. More advice always welcome.

I’ve done singles like that before. They are good. Placing back on the pins was a tough eccentric or negative to the exercise.

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Good tips here…


I know it is near blasphemy but doing 20-25 minutes of cardio BEFORE leg training seems to have extended my leg training career. Absolute weights are lighter but the intensity is still there. Never discount the value of REALLY warm joints.

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Thank you.
I do about 12 minutes on the elliptical to start , then 10+ minutes of some stretching.
I’ve never tried a “pre exhaustion” approach to really any training.
Do you do the smaller exercises or movements first? Like leg extensions then a squats? Triceps push downs then bench?
Any experience?

If you’re not competing in squat and you’re getting the effect you want as far as muscular development and usable strength, I’m not sure that squat depth is all that important. Squat as deep as you can or as pleases you.

Isometrics at just above pain point will develop strength on the other side of the pain point within 10-15degrees of flexion, if you still want the option of occasionally hitting depth. I had a friend who had completely shattered his pelvis as a kid, couldn’t squat often to depth and used this strategy successfully to compete in powerlifting.

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