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Leg Exercises NOT using the low back

I currently can’t do any leg exercises, and even some upper body stuff, that uses the lower back. Yup, that means squats, deadlifts, Oly hybrids, all that is out. And this is during the Hot-Rox contest!!! I’ve come up with quite a few leg exercises I can use until I feel like slowly working back into lower back movements. Can anyone suggest something in addition to these. I know I forgot something.

Hack Squats
Natural GHR’s (no pain with these)
Ball-buster One-leg Static Lunges (Alessi)
DB Step Ups
DB Reverse Step Ups
Seated Leg Curls
One-leg Low Pulley Cable Curls
also doing Reverse Hypers (no weight)

Leg extensions? Leg press? Also you could try using a Smith machine if you have access to one - being able to “throw” your weight into different planes of movement without falling over might give you access to some different training stimuli…

That sucks man. Hope you get better soon.

Skier squats or wall squats, also one legged squats shouldn;t be a problem if natural GHR can be preformed without pain. Also the dreaded open chain leg extensions are an option.

Machine just watch out the load if you are doing the 45 degree leg press. And don’t go down too low espiacally don’t let you ass off the seat. You should be fine on a horizontal leg press machine.

I think you can do pretty much everything in Phase I of the Limping Series. Might want to brush up on that article.

What the hell happened man? Get injured? If so, that blows goats.

Are you still able to sprint?

when i was experiencing back pain the leg press was the absolute worst exercise to do.

I can’t do a leg press. If I did it, I would be using very little weight and it would be useless. I already tried all the leg press machines in my gym and none of them will do. Thanks for the suggestions though guys.

Hey Machine- ditto Ike. What’s the scoop bro?

Have you seen a doc? What’s the diagnosis?

I’m currently slightly under too with a bit of a knee issue, so I know some of where you’re coming from. Injury sucks.
Good luck, and don’t give up! SRS

Machine, I am in the same situation as you. I haven’t been able to back squat heavy in almost 7 months now. However I have been able to lunge. Anyway Ike is right with the Limping program, I followed phase 1 in December and then incorporated many of the exercises then after. For Hip dominant work I prefer single leg GM, Single leg DL, GHR, and a couple of the exercises in Thibaudeau?s painful 7 (scissor hip extensions, etc.). Also for Quad work, many of the other exercises have been mentioned so I won’t repeat however you may want to try single leg press utilizing the 1 1/2 reps ala Ian King. Also I have used Chad?s Jumping box squats without a problem. I also purchased a Hip-Belt squat from Iron Mind recently, too early to tell but I will keep you posted.

Hey Machine…

Whats your actual prognosis?

I would recommend staying with the free weights and not regressing to machines, just “tweaking” the exersize to make them more hard.

can u do pistols or rockup squats? (just bodyweight)
also try the bodyweight one leged DL - thats a killer!

another nice one is the side drag.

also, in the case of most back injuries, the front squat is OK as the stabilizing is done by the abs.

Try to use techniques as rest pause and slow negatives to add resistance with out the weight

if u dont know any of this excersizes or have form questions, feel free to ask.

hope this helps!


Believe me, front squats do involve the lower back. This is how I reaggrevated it for the second time.

Check my response on the DP forum about how it happened.

Ike, I’ve been sprinting and it hasn’t hurt until last night. Pretty sore today as a result but I assume that’s because I reaggrevated it on Monday. My sprint sessions last week were very good and the 400m is becoming a lot easier. I may have to decrease my running volume if this continues though…

Machine does your gym have free Motion machines? Try doing squats on free motion Squat machine or lift machine.


I read about your injury.
First, don’t won’t to sound stupid but will chance it… have u seen a chiroproctor or another specialist? I was injured in the back but trained through it for a month b4 I went 2 c anyone.
Also, a specific prognosis wil help u know what u can do. ceratin lower back injuries by the way can be aggrevated by shocks so if u could tweak your sprints to minimize them (I live on the beach and sand running is a good back friendly solution) it would be best.

About the front squats…
Ofcourse when injured one should be focused on form even more, if they are done with a slight BACKWARD bend to - upright posture, the back is not involved. problem is the slightest bend forward will involve them so in your case I wont recommend them

I will deffinetly recommend pistols and rockup squats on any non functional (Im gentle here) cable/machine stuff.

hope this helps…


I forget the name of it, and it may have already been said, but what about the squats where you hold the bar in the bend of your elbow. It’s like a front squat, but affects your balance differently. It doesn’t really affect your lower back either. If anyone knows the name, please tell it.

Its called vertzer squat

(maybe I misspeled)

just like the FS with any slight bend it will involve the back.
It does involve lesser spinal compression but his injury is in the lower lumbar discs and for him it’s the same.

Where I lift there is a 45 degree leg press. If you put your feet as far down as possible on the sled, you’re back is hardly involved. The higher you put them up, the more back involvement you’ll get. I’ve had low back injuries before, and this and hacks worked for me.

Also, on the vertzer (sp) squats, how is your low back involved? Just wondering, because I’ve never done them.

Zercher Squats.

They probably still have a pretty good (and in this case unacceptable) influence on the lower back.

Two things:

  1. verzer’s:
    whenever weight is placed in your hands/upper body , your lower back is involved. it stabilizes your spine and your center of gravity. the more foreward you lean, the more you load it.

  2. leg press.

since it involves compression of the spine I am stringly against it. also it
“invites” rounding your back and acute vertabrae loading and possible damage. not good.

It’s a ZERCHER squat. Unfortuately I doubt this is a good idea in Machine’s case- the very essence of the essentially UNbalanced movement (bar in crook of the elbow) necessitates a strong and straight back to counterbalance the tendency to lean forward.

Swiss Ball Hip Extension/Leg Curl