Serious Alternatives to Squats

Hey guys and gals,

I’m having a dilemma with my squat routine. I have been doing deep squats for the past year or so and in that time have increased my load a good bit. My problem is my lower back isn’t able to handle this load anymore. I’m afraid I’m getting close to blowing my back out and seriously hurting myself in the process.

I work out at home with a squat rack and bench. I don’t have time to drive to a gym. So I don’t have the option of any other equipment than that which is at my home. Is there any way I can keep putting on good muscle even if I have to severely reduce my weight for the deep squat. Can I do quarter squats and get results?

Are there any other exercises besides squats that I can perform with my equipment that would put on good size? I don’t mind having to squat guys. It’s been the staple of my workouts for a long time now. I just can’t keep upping the weight anymore and I’m afraid I won’t be able to put on anymore size because of that. Can anyone throw together a routine or any exercises that will still give me good results for the hard work I put into them?

P.S. if your answer is leg extensions…hahahahahaha

on another note I have good form…that’s not the problem…I’ve taken numerous weightlifting courses in college and worked with numerous strength coaches…I’ve had a lower back problem off and on for years, not related to lifting weights. I don’t think it’s the way I’m lifting the weights. I think it’s just at that point where I’m lifting so much weight it’s taking its toll on my back

squat complex? down, up 3/4, down, up 1/2, down, up 1/4, down, up full. thats one.

or, if your worried about your lower back, do dead lifts and strengthen your back. Front squats even?

maybe a week or two off from squats, also front squats, overhead squats, deadlifts, hack squats(DL with bar behind legs), lunges, split squats etc.

how about not squatting for a while and doing light good mornings and deads and hypers?

1 & 1/2 squats like Ratchet said, split squats, and/or up the reps. If you have a good base then there is no reason you can’t add quality muscle by manipulating your reps and rest times. Also, make sure you strengthen your abs as this could be a contributing factor. Good luck!

So what do you squat?

The answer of what to do will depend on the level you are at. Advice for a 200 lb squatter will be different that that to a 600 lb squatter.

Usually a person would get their back stronger, and lighten the weight.

But who needs a strong back, amirite???

How about taking a break to get your back healed? Then, after you fix your back issues, you can return to squatting.

[quote]kingdpt wrote:
How about taking a break to get your back healed? Then, after you fix your back issues, you can return to squatting.[/quote]

just squat lighter and for god sakes do a dif form of squat. The best program is the one your not doing. I hit a wall with back squats a month back for the 4th time and i did front squats fallowed by lunges and added cleans to my squat day (cleans first) obviously i lowered the weight, but now when i go back to back squats I am 3x4 reping my old max.

change up your routine every few weeks… It doesn’t have to be big, just a small change.


I have a similar situaion as you. I have a degenerative disc in my lower back. I just got this diagnosed after years of problems. Long story short - the doctor says I need to lower the weight and up my reps.

However, my doctor is a giant fat ass and I don’t know how he can tell anyone anything about exercise. It’s like asking diet advice from a guy sucking down cheeseburgers with gravy who has a degree in nutrition. I don’t know the answer, but I’d love to hear it if you get a good one.

Squatting Uber-Deep will force you to round your back if you don’t have adequate flexibility and you’re not actively keeping a tight arch in your back. It’s possible that you would do better to raise your squat height from ATG to Parallel. If you can’t keep a tight back arch at Parallel depth, then you really need to work on your flexibility.

Maybe your back is over-trained from squatting too frequently or from doing too much back work days our hours before you Squat. Look at your program and ask yourself if it’s a good one.

Maybe your back is weak. Back Extensions, RDLs, Good Mornings, Glute-Ham Raises, and Reverse Hypers if possible will prepare your back for heavy squatting.

Maybe your glutes are weak and you’re only using your legs and low back to lift the weight. CV Deadlifts, RDLs, and Olympic Lifts will teach you to activate the Glutes when they are done correctly.

Front Squats, Lunges, and Step-ups should be decent replacements for the King of all Exercises. They’ll get the job done.

Trap Bar Deadlifts off a Block and Zercher Squats off Pins are good ways to use heavy weight and perform almost the same motion as squatting but without having a bar on your back.

Belt squats.

OP, do you use a belt?

I started out back squatting 3 times a week, but after stopping a while and starting again, I noticed that my lower back started to really hurt from the back squats.

Now I do front squats and feel no pain at all. I love them.

WOW…all I can say is thank you guys so much…I clearly see I’m going to start posting all my questions on tnation instead of, the responses I’ve got in this short time on here far exceed all my other posts on…I have thought of a few of those options but I knew there were way more experienced lifters than me and didnt know which route I should take…

I’ll definitely be taking a little time off for my backs sake and when I do back squats I’ll drop the weight but I will change my routine up and do more front squats and lunges…as well as some of the other great ideas…again…thank you all so much