I need some good leg exercises that are easy to do, don't require any machines, and won't put strain on my back. Obviously this would rule out exercises like deadlifts, back squats, front squats, etc (It sucks, I know). I'm looking for functional strength, but some hypertrophy would be nice. Any ideas?
Try things like lunges and step ups with dumbbells, glute ham raises or natural glute ham raises to hit the back of the legs. Belt Squats if you have access to that machinery. Im sure others will have suggestions for you.
Pistols, glute-ham raises (as pointed out), pistols on the edge of your foot (well, front edge, fingers, whatevas).
Split squats, front foot elevated split squats, bulgarian split squats.
I second the pistols and ghr's. Those 2 are an absolute must. Also try single leg squats off of a box holding dumbells and single leg split squats (bulgarian i think) where your back leg is resting on a bench, hold dumbells for added resistance. Whatever your back injury may be, address the problem. Lower back and ab work always helps.
Stepups - if you do them correctly, EXTREMELY tough.
I wouldn't do glute-ham raises if you have a back problem. There's a tendency to hyperextend.
And the one-legged stuff people mentioned.
Why don't you want to get your back involved?
At the moment I can't find a way to do natural GHR's. I'll have to look into that. I think I might try out some pistols if I can get my hamstrings flexible enough. DB work might be possible as long as I don't need to hold a ton of weight. Thanks for the ideas.
The reason I'm trying to put minimal strain on my back is because I have scoliosis and it's gotten worse and has started to cause me pain. I made a couple of other topics on this forum about it. I went to a specialist and had an X-ray (that's how I know it's worse), but I think I'm going to try and find a chiropractor or physical therapist. Until I know exactly what the problem is, I'm trying to take it easy on my back. For a month or so I was doing reverse hypers and trying to strengthen my back but it just made the pain worse.
red flag #1 ... not to be an @sshole, but that was poorly worded.
the others have given you some nice ideas ...
($.01) bulgarian split squats - may be the best overall leg exercise that very few ever do ... it really (and literally) kicks my butt and forces recruitment of the quads, hams, and glutes BETTER than standard bilateral movements do.
($.02) single leg RDLs - ok, these will be felt in the back MUSCULARLY but shouldn't strain the spine significantly ... your @ss will be hating you for days
come to think of it, i really need to rotate these back into my routine ... thanks for the reminder
Yeah, "simple" would have been a better word there. I only have basic equipment and no nearby gym so my exercise choices are limited.
I would really like to do some hip-belt squats but the two benches I have are different heights. Hopefully I can rig something up because I would really like to try them out.
If you have enough plates, stand on some stacked 45's or 100's with a bit of rubber between them and tie the belt short.
You could also use bands and hook them up to a normal weight belt then anchor them down. They sell special platforms, but a few plates on top of the benches would probably hold them down. Obviously be careful.