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Pre-Exhaust Legs with Bad Back?

I have a number of dodgy discs in the lumbar region. After about 8 months I am starting to be able to include front squats and sldls again but I need to be careful not to go too heavy as it can leave me a cripple for a week after. Doing too many reps tends to make my back become tired then sore the next day aswell, so I can’t simply do high reps to ensure a good workout.

A commonly suggested tactic for people with herniated discs is to do single leg movements like lunges and split squats but I find that doing these with enough weight to do anything also leaves me in pain.

So, I am looking for ideas on how I could tire my quads and hams before doing some heavier movements, so that I don’t need/can’t use, as much weight.

Leg curls/extensions are an obvious option, but there’s only so much the knees can take!

Leg press for the win. And screw deadlifts with a bad disk. If there was ever a sign to cut it out…

I’ve had lower back issues since '07, and doing isolation work first has always helped me avoid recurring problems. I still incorporate some squatting work, but always after extensions (single leg work), leg presses or hack squats, and sometimes walking DB lunges. Also, I always keep a belt on hand just in case I feel a little ‘off’. I try never to use it though.

S

Get a sled. Backwards and forward sled drags will murder your legs while keeping your back safe. They even make carpet sleds now that you can use inside commercial gyms.

Listen if you do leg press don’t get carried away with the range of motion. I know it sounds maybe counter-intuitive for a powerlifter to say given our convictions on squat depth, but leg pressing super deep can round out the bottom of your spine unless you have crazy good flexibility and aggravate your lower back issues more. Just go down as far as you can without your butt rounding off the seat.

[quote]The Mighty Stu wrote:
I’ve had lower back issues since '07, and doing isolation work first has always helped me avoid recurring problems. I still incorporate some squatting work, but always after extensions (single leg work), leg presses or hack squats, and sometimes walking DB lunges. Also, I always keep a belt on hand just in case I feel a little ‘off’. I try never to use it though.

S[/quote]

your using leg press, and hack squats to hit hamstrings?

[quote]csulli wrote:
Listen if you do leg press don’t get carried away with the range of motion. I know it sounds maybe counter-intuitive for a powerlifter to say given our convictions on squat depth, but leg pressing super deep can round out the bottom of your spine unless you have crazy good flexibility and aggravate your lower back issues more. Just go down as far as you can without your butt rounding off the seat.[/quote]

I think this advice should be expanded to just about every movement as well. So many folks get caught up in the “full ROM” mentality that the purpose of the movement itself is lost.

Strongly concur with this on the leg press especially.

Second the sled (or a prowler)… You can do some serious work on your legs with one of those things.

sled sled sled!!

the ham curls and extensions are good too, but the sled is just friggin great. You can make circuits too–quad/ham curl with no rest, then sled drag backward and forwards, then lunge or squat, THEN rest. Guarantee you that your legs will be murdered and back much better.

on a semi related note, try working your backs endurance with light stuff. banded good mornings may help as the resistance curve gets harder as you get into a safer position. Meaning no bar, just a band you stand on looped around your neck. Deloads quite a bit at the bottom.

[quote]Aragorn wrote:
sled sled sled!!

the ham curls and extensions are good too, but the sled is just friggin great. You can make circuits too–quad/ham curl with no rest, then sled drag backward and forwards, then lunge or squat, THEN rest. Guarantee you that your legs will be murdered and back much better.

on a semi related note, try working your backs endurance with light stuff. banded good mornings may help as the resistance curve gets harder as you get into a safer position. Meaning no bar, just a band you stand on looped around your neck. Deloads quite a bit at the bottom.[/quote]

Along with circuits, I liked doing sled drop sets, where I would walk forward and backward with the sled, take a plate off and repeat with no rest until it was just the sled. Good way to blackout, haha.

I think I will definitely look into getting/making some sort of sled. Not sure how it would go in my small gym but theres plenty of grass near where I live. It would be good to get in some conditioning other than surfing as well!
Does anyone have experience in tyre dragging? Maybe doing this on the beach would be similar to using a sled.

The comments on ROM are right on. I always set the pins just above the point where things start to feel painful on the front squats now, and I’ve found that while a normal leg press gives me pain, the hammer strength leg press where your body is moving rather than the platform, has a rather limited rom which is perfect for my situation.

I refuse to believe that I will never do another deadlift, I’ve worked my way back up to body weight sldl’s, but I know I can’t push the weight too much. Hopefully some sled drags will tire my legs enough that I can’t go overboard on the big compounds!

[quote]Canee03 wrote:

[quote]The Mighty Stu wrote:
I’ve had lower back issues since '07, and doing isolation work first has always helped me avoid recurring problems. I still incorporate some squatting work, but always after extensions (single leg work), leg presses or hack squats, and sometimes walking DB lunges. Also, I always keep a belt on hand just in case I feel a little ‘off’. I try never to use it though.

S[/quote]

your using leg press, and hack squats to hit hamstrings?[/quote]

No, I always focused on keeping my foot placement on the leg press fairly low to target my quads more. When I couldn’t do SLDs or RDLs for fear of tweaking my lower back, I’ll use seated AND laying leg curls, as there are some solid imaging studies that show how they target the inner and outter (respectively) hamstring muscles differently.

S

[quote]The Mighty Stu wrote:

[quote]Canee03 wrote:

[quote]The Mighty Stu wrote:
I’ve had lower back issues since '07, and doing isolation work first has always helped me avoid recurring problems. I still incorporate some squatting work, but always after extensions (single leg work), leg presses or hack squats, and sometimes walking DB lunges. Also, I always keep a belt on hand just in case I feel a little ‘off’. I try never to use it though.

S[/quote]

your using leg press, and hack squats to hit hamstrings?[/quote]

No, I always focused on keeping my foot placement on the leg press fairly low to target my quads more. When I couldn’t do SLDs or RDLs for fear of tweaking my lower back, I’ll use seated AND laying leg curls, as there are some solid imaging studies that show how they target the inner and outter (respectively) hamstring muscles differently.

S[/quote]

But i see that you’re doing leg extensions before you hit your big movements leg hack squats and leg press. what im getting out of this is that u want ur quads to fail first so when you do hacksquats and leg presses ,your hamstrings takeover the load when ur quads fail.

[quote]The Mighty Stu wrote:

[quote]Canee03 wrote:

[quote]The Mighty Stu wrote:
I’ve had lower back issues since '07, and doing isolation work first has always helped me avoid recurring problems. I still incorporate some squatting work, but always after extensions (single leg work), leg presses or hack squats, and sometimes walking DB lunges. Also, I always keep a belt on hand just in case I feel a little ‘off’. I try never to use it though.

S[/quote]

your using leg press, and hack squats to hit hamstrings?[/quote]

No, I always focused on keeping my foot placement on the leg press fairly low to target my quads more. When I couldn’t do SLDs or RDLs for fear of tweaking my lower back, I’ll use seated AND laying leg curls, as there are some solid imaging studies that show how they target the inner and outter (respectively) hamstring muscles differently.

S[/quote]

I definitely feel the seated curls on the inner hamstrings. Can you think of anything you can do to target the outer muscles more in the absence of a lying leg curl machine? I have found depending on how you position yourself for single leg sldl’s you can feel them a bit more, but nothing compared to how well the seated curls isolate the inner muscles.

[quote]whattt wrote:
I think I will definitely look into getting/making some sort of sled. Not sure how it would go in my small gym but theres plenty of grass near where I live. It would be good to get in some conditioning other than surfing as well!
Does anyone have experience in tyre dragging? Maybe doing this on the beach would be similar to using a sled.

The comments on ROM are right on. I always set the pins just above the point where things start to feel painful on the front squats now, and I’ve found that while a normal leg press gives me pain, the hammer strength leg press where your body is moving rather than the platform, has a rather limited rom which is perfect for my situation.

I refuse to believe that I will never do another deadlift, I’ve worked my way back up to body weight sldl’s, but I know I can’t push the weight too much. Hopefully some sled drags will tire my legs enough that I can’t go overboard on the big compounds![/quote]

Treadmill pushing is a decent alternative if you don’t have a sled.

[quote]super saiyan wrote:

[quote]whattt wrote:
I think I will definitely look into getting/making some sort of sled. Not sure how it would go in my small gym but theres plenty of grass near where I live. It would be good to get in some conditioning other than surfing as well!
Does anyone have experience in tyre dragging? Maybe doing this on the beach would be similar to using a sled.

The comments on ROM are right on. I always set the pins just above the point where things start to feel painful on the front squats now, and I’ve found that while a normal leg press gives me pain, the hammer strength leg press where your body is moving rather than the platform, has a rather limited rom which is perfect for my situation.

I refuse to believe that I will never do another deadlift, I’ve worked my way back up to body weight sldl’s, but I know I can’t push the weight too much. Hopefully some sled drags will tire my legs enough that I can’t go overboard on the big compounds![/quote]

Treadmill pushing is a decent alternative if you don’t have a sled.[/quote]

Good call, will be getting onto that in the morning!