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Quad Hypertrophy with a Bad Lower Back?


I was a competitive powerlifter for many years and between that and a work related injury my lower back has sustained permanent injuries (herniated disks, degenerative disk disease etc). Whenever I aggravate it, I am literally in the fetal position for days. Back specialist told me that compression of the spine should be avoided if I intend to stand upright for the rest of my life (48 years now). WORST exercises for me have been: bent rows, T-Bar rows, squats, cleans, standing calf raise, and deadlifts (all kinds except above the knee rack pullls which seem to cause me no grief). I am still interested in quad HYPERTROPHY. I really don't care too much about power in the lower body as I no longer compete in athletics. This is just an aesthetic thing and I want to pack some mass on my quads. Yesterday I did hip belt squats on a low cable and that torqued my back. The belt seemed to pull my hips out of alignment. Can you recommend some low back friendly exercises that can add some beef onto the quads?
Thanks in advance.


Clear with your doctor but perhaps try lunges .


If it's only quads you want without the lower back involvement, work on knee flexion (rather than hip flexion) quad exercises. Things like sitting and laying leg curls and glute ham raises. Stay away from dead lift variations, which sound like they're not compatible with your condition.


I am a pretty experienced lifter (30+ years in the trenches) and honestly I take my doctors advice into "consideration" but I don't take it a gospel. If he had it his way I (nor just about anybody) would lift heavy. I am simply looking for a work around. Leg extensions are and easy one. I am going trial by feel right now and avoiding the exercises that are obviously tough on the low back.


Try some sled pulls and drags, on sled drag you want to be upright and leaning back on your tip toes, this will fry your calves, quads.make sure you are pulling implement up with constant tension on traps.
As you said high rack pulls dont bother back, sled drag would be perfect complimentary exercise, also try standing with back to wall, in partial squat and try to hold for position for 45 second ouch.

As far as rows and back exercises do them one hand at time, and use other hand to brace with.

At 43 with 31 years of lifting, and 20 years in physical job, i am implementing some of these exact things myself to extend my lifting experience.


go to ironmind.com They sell a hip belt that you can straddle a barbell and attach to it on the front and back. Then straddle and attach to the smith machine bar. Might work


you can also buy some chain and carabiner clips and use pipe lagging duct taped. If you have that type of stuff lying around it's much cheaper. If you get heavy chains , it's stronger. Still their stuff is nice .


Sissy squats, even if you hold a weight, should keep the pressure off of the back.


Nothing hits my quads as well as rear foot elevated split squats. If you hold DBs I'd imagine there is minimal stress on your back.


This (sissy squats). Will keep you upright. Can even do them bilaterally..see below.

All single Leg stuff. Less compression with more intensity.

Good luck.