T Nation

Legs Without Barbells


I was just wondering what kinda of Leg work those on T-Nation that do not do any Deadlifts,Squats or RDL's.

I did them for a while but honestly always had lower back pain(got pretty painful somedays) from doing them(made great size gains in my legs though) once I stopped it was so relieving on my lower back and I really don't even plan on doing Squats,DL's and RDL again.

Just curious to see people's routines.


So I'm assuming the DB variants of the exercises you hate (probably because your form is wack) are out of the question? If yes, walking/stationary lunges, leg press/curls/extensions are going to become your best friends.


One Leg, leg press

Hack Squat

Lying leg curl

Leg Extentions

RDL with light weight, high reps, very slow negative


do them properly


because of injuries i cant load the spine with said barbell and actually have come up with a pretty decent routine:

Heavy ASSS ONE LEG LEG PRESS (we dont have anormal one :frowning: )
ramp to heavy sets of 6
sets of 10-20
gluteham raise
reverse db lunge, option to stand on plates for extra ROM, these are brutal
walking lunge
db step ups
leg ext.
leg curl.
db stiff legged dl's
goblet squats
stationary lunge

pretty much all i got, not many leg machines at my gym so i pretty much rely on lunge variations


x2. also try to be more awesome when you do them.


your simply a pussy if your not squatting ass 2 grass, no matter the excuse. /sarcasm.

leg ext, leg press, glute ham raise, hack squats, leg curl, db lunges and step ups are good.


I'm in the same boat. Squatting has always felt like complete shit for me.

Leg press: top set around 10-12 then a widowmaker. Increase both sets by a couple hundred and you'll grow

Hack squat, if you have a good one

Leg extensions.

1-leg leg presses

Leg presses with a slow negative (ala john meadows)


then all your typical ham stuff already mentioned


It is certainly possible to build solid legs without squatting. That being said, I think that they are extremely beneficial if done correctly. I'm not sure how advanced you are, but I would strongly urge you to try and get your form down and see if that helps your pain.


Did you try front squats? They're often much kinder to your body than back squats.

But if they're not for you, do what cool T-shirt society told you. Barbells aren't everything.


Personally id check if you have actually some serious problem with your back, if so then obviously the exercises listed above by previous people will help, if not, learn the proper technique and dont make up excuses.

They're obviously not bad for your back if you do them right (providing you don't have something already wrong with your back) otherwise people wouldn't be using them still and to the vast extend and popularity they are being used.

I sense that your being lazy and choosing to simply use machines as a way out of working hard on heavy squats and deadlifts, but prove me wrong and either check out if something is seriously wrong with your back, such as the case with Bignate, or fix up your technique right and go back and do them properly.

Firstly id check your back out if you think its a serious pain, then or if you dont think it is post a video of your squat and deadlift form on here and then we can try to help.


I usually "superset" a heavy set of supra-maximal 1/2 squat from the rack with a lower weight of conventional squats, done ramping up the weight followed by a set or 2 of high rep leg press (10-15 reps). Then a few sets of (usually 4 or 5 sets) of GHR superset with leg curl.

U could give the supersetted 1/2 squat and conventional squat a try. I find that doing partial squat before a sets of normal squat seem to give me lesser knee problem, but then again thats just me.


Whats this got to do with the OP's question? he saying how he can't do squats and your suggestion for him to blatantly do squats. And then your telling him how to ease knee pain while squatting when he clearly stated it was his back that was given him problems.
Did you read the OP's post?


zercher squats is probably something you should try.


One legged split squats with rear foot elevated on a bench (Bulgarian split squats). Rear foot is sole facing up, and mostly used just for balance. These are killers.

One leg straight legged deadlifts. Killers.


DB front squats and DB RDL is what i use,with RDL you can stop just below knee level,it doesn't put much pressure on lower back imo.


front leg elevated bulgarian split squats with max descent while alt leg to leg without rest


Front squat are where it's at if you're having back issues. I don't know the extent of the problems but I have a couple disks that bulge and front squats have been the most supportive for me. I'd go weighted lunges, ghr's, and front squats as the core of my workout and go from there.


do you do any mobility work at all, for the hips and ankles?


leg extension
leg curler
hip extension

db (!=bb):
goblet squat

hill sprints