T Nation

Lifting Heavier, But Bad Back


Its pretty obvious everyone here is high on deadlifts and squats and things like that, but i have three discs that are pretty bad, dried out/bulging/all that fun stuff, they dont bother me near as much now because i have lost 115 pounds now, but i know i cant do deadlifts

i have been training pretty hard for maybe 2 months now, i have two days a week of leg work and it is hard to find stuff i can do, am i really limited to leg extensions/curls? i can do lighter weights on squats but i dont know if that even helps, i really dont dare do deadlifts, my knees are not the greatest either but i can do the leg extenstions without killing them

do leg presses work even close to as well as squats? i am getting tempted to just scrap the leg days and count on my cardio work (40 min/per day) to work the legs

do i even bother with lighter weight squats to be easy on the back or is that worthless?

the rest of my program is working well for me, chest/back one day, biceps/triceps/shoulders another day, with ab work every day (6 days a week) , only thing that sucks is i waited too long to get serious , still-better late than never i guess


sorry, this could probably use another thread, but the only way i can really lose weight is a low carb diet, but i hear great things about Surge, do i just stay away or would the carbs not hurt if i am working out right before?, i still have maybe 15 pounds to lose (yes i was a fat ass 341 pounds at 6 foot 3)


Man congrats on the fat loss. Keep doing what you are doing. However if you want to experiment with the peri-workout and post-workout nutrition there is an author here by the name of Shugart that wrote a very thorough article on this same issue and the results are very promising.

Now with respect to the issue of your bulging disks I also have 3 (S1,L4,T7) and the first thing you should be doing is getting your lower back stronger than any other region in your body. In fact you should look into getting your whole posterior chain stronger than any other parts because they support your spine and it will carry over to everyday tasks.

There are many ways to do this, but I recommend you do a google search for "hip-belt squats". Ironmind carries the one I used at that time. It's a special belt you strap on your waist and can then attach a barbell or cables or pin to it so you can squat and the weight is carried by your hips and not your spine. The position is similar to the squat and will help with getting the groove for using your bodyweight plus whatever amount you strap yourself to.

Aside from that if you can get a hold of 2 other pieces of equipment you will be set. One is called "reverse hyper" and the other is called "glute-ham raise". Do a search here and there are tons of videos with examples. They will build your back, glutes and legs withougt compromising your disks.

At the same time start practicing the movement with an empty bar. Not to add weight but for the movement pattern. See where it hurts and how far down you can go safely. Go down until you feel no "hurting" pain but still feeling the strain of the muscles. Work on your flexibility if this range is higher than the hips being lower than the knees. Do flexibility work 3 or 4 times per week after warming up or doing your cardio.

I don't know how much time it will take you, since all bodies are different. But, you can squat and deadlift safely if you strengthen the muscles, since it's obvious that they are atrophied from lack of use.

Good luck


I concur. You can and should strengthen your back. The important thing is to start slow and make steady progress.

There are many exercises that work the legs that don't involve your back. Running isn't one. Hip squats are good but you can also do split squats, lunges, step ups, etc. Working one leg at a time buts less strain on your back. Don't rely on cardio for strength training. In fact you need the strength training in order to do cardio safely.

Leg presses are a reasonable substitute for squats but for someone back issues I would recommend against it. In the deepest part of the leg press, the back starts to round putting stress on the spine. Since your back is not stabilized as in a squat, you take a huge risk of further injury.


You MUST take carbs and protein after working out, whether it's Surge or chocolate milk. (Surge is better but not the only option) You need it to protect your muscle that you are building. Unless you are a diabetic, you need the insulin spike and the protein at this very vulnerable time for your muscles.


First things first, work on your hip mobility and glute activation drills while still training. This will reduce your pain and strengthen up the posterior chain. IN addition, start doing some barbell lunges and single leg work in general.

After you get stronger, id recommend doing front squats to help create a good upper back arch and then progress into back squats once your front squat form is perfect and your training weight is reasonable(200pds or more).

As always, warm up before you lift with dynamic drills and work on your flexibility at least 3-4 times a week.