T Nation

Workout Pain..Exercise Suggestions


A friend of mine and I started lifting about 3 months ago after about a year off. We're going for heavier weights and combo movements but we're a raggedy bunch. I get on the deadlift and if I do enough weight to get something out of it I get a sharp pain and its bad for up to a week, i'm using a lower back machine but don't get the combo benefits.

Next, between the 2 of us we've had ACL tear, broken femurs, and other good stuff. Squats simply can't be done with any real amount of weight due to the back/legs issue. Any exercise suggestions for lifting heavy and safely?


Sounds like excuses. I had my ACL repaired 2 years ago and I do split squats, front squats and am trying to learn overhead squats. I don't have a squat rack or I would do back squats.

I also deadlift heavy. Do your deadlifts one rep at a time and put the weight back on the floor each time.
This has helped me keep good form and stop tweaking my back.

If you are having trouble with these exercises lower your weights.

If you have only been lifting 3 months you should probably be lifting a little lighter in the 10 rep range for a few more months.

And don't forget to work on flexibility.

Good luck.


I agree with Zap...I can't tell you how many times I've talked to people about training and been told..."Oh, I can't do squats because (insert excuse related to an old high school sports injury)."

I just finished up my 10x3 squat day on the Waterbury Method this morning...and I'm hurtin' plenty right now. My entire lower body is pretty much numb. But you HAVE to do them!

The only people who can't do squats are amputees. Even people suffering from paralysis are encouraged to move their legs for rehab purposes. Sounds like you have some form issues. Don't worry about the load. Work on form...even if you're just squatting the bar.


Leg presses are a decent alternative. You'd be better off squatting, and I encourage you two to at least do some ball squats (put one of those Swiss balls against a wall, lean into it with the small of your back, and perform a squat) or some deep knee bends/bodyweight-only squats in addition to heavier work on the leg press.

It could be flexibility issues, it could be bad form, it could be an improperly rehabilitation of your injuries. If it hurts to squat, no matter what your stance and how good your form is, you'd probably be wise to not squat until things get fixed.

Another thing you might try is step-ups on a box or aerobic step. Should help with knee stability and strengthen the glutes/hammies to lessen the strain your knees will take in squatting. Good luck!


"Pistols," or one-legged squats using only your body weight, are also excellent for working up knee stability. Since you're holding your weight on one leg and becuase the pistol takes a great deal of work from stabilizing muscles to keep you balanced, you also get a surprisingly decent work-out and some of the full-body effects of squatting. While working up to getting smooth at the pistol, you can cheat by holding on to a doorframe to balance, or the sink, or helping balance or push a little with your opposite foot.

If it takes you a long time to get the pistol right, it's time well spent. It's the perfect exercise for people who can't or won't do squats, getting your core, hams, glutes, thighs, calves, hip flexors, working on your balance a bit, and your flexibility.


If you have taken a year off from lifting I would suggest that you start out using high reps-Hey that's something you don't read on T-Nation very often!

Build a base of higher reps for about 8 weeks. 10 to 15 reps per set. Get your muscles used to the motions. Once you get used to the movements then add weight and reduce your reps. Your second 8 weeks should be 8 to 10 reps.

Also, don't go to failure!