Best Substitute for Squats and Deadlifts

specmike

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Due to a neck injury and 2 surgeries (<<<see avatar) I cannot squat. The bar across my neck causes too much pain for 2-3 days after squatting and I just don't want neck surgery again. I currently do front squats with either a plate or dumbell. Any suggestions on leg exercises to sub for squats? We don't have a traditional sliding leg sled in my gym (thanks Gold's). We have one of those machines where the weight is on a pivot, SIMILAR TO THIS ONE.

I also cannot do heavy deadlifts for the same reason. Anyting past about 185lbs causes a lingering neck pain.

I have lost a lot of my upper leg, lower back, and core strength and I'd like to get some of it back. Any advice is appreciated.
 
Rodja

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Have you tried putting the bar on your rear delts/traps instead of on your neck?
 

uvawahoowa

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Due to a neck injury and 2 surgeries (<<<see avatar) I cannot squat. The bar across my neck causes too much pain for 2-3 days after squatting and I just don't want neck surgery again. I currently do front squats with either a plate or dumbell. Any suggestions on leg exercises to sub for squats? We don't have a traditional sliding leg sled in my gym (thanks Gold's). We have one of those machines where the weight is on a pivot, SIMILAR TO THIS ONE.

I also cannot do heavy deadlifts for the same reason. Anyting past about 185lbs causes a lingering neck pain.

I have lost a lot of my upper leg, lower back, and core strength and I'd like to get some of it back. Any advice is appreciated.
Can you do front squats with a bar?
 
specmike

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Have you tried putting the bar on your rear delts/traps instead of on your neck?
Yeah, I think the cause of the pain is from getting both arms raised and locked in to hold the weight. I've tried from a rehab type standpoint and moved the bar all over the place with only the bar, no weights, very light weights, etc. It's just one of those exercises I have to give up.

Can you do front squats with a bar?
Only up to about 115lbs. Anything above that elicits the same type of pain as the rear position. When I do front squats with a plate or dumbell, I rest the weight on top of my belt. Keep my arms in a lowered position seems to be the key.

Belt squats were a life saver when I was recovering from a back injury. Also split squats, heavy sled drags and lots of jumps.
I'll try some of these and evaluate the pain level. I was doing some jumps but got away from it. I am probably also going to start running bleachers again.

Thanks for the tips guys.
 

uvawahoowa

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Yeah, I think the cause of the pain is from getting both arms raised and locked in to hold the weight. I've tried from a rehab type standpoint and moved the bar all over the place with only the bar, no weights, very light weights, etc. It's just one of those exercises I have to give up.

Only up to about 115lbs. Anything above that elicits the same type of pain as the rear position. When I do front squats with a plate or dumbell, I rest the weight on top of my belt. Keep my arms in a lowered position seems to be the key.

I'll try some of these and evaluate the pain level. I was doing some jumps but got away from it. I am probably also going to start running bleachers again.

Thanks for the tips guys.
YouTube zercher squats, they might be for you.

Leg presses too?
 
specmike

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I can do leg presses and that is definitely my heaviest weight I do now by far. But, I don't like that machine we have as it tends to make my lower back roll up a bit at the bottom of a rep because I go DEEP. No short stroking it to impress the ladies with how many wheels I can load up. I wish we had a real leg press sled.
 

boogyman

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I second the Zercher Squats. Someone in my gym who has had a neck injury does them as a squat replacement.
 
specmike

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You could also look into getting the safety squat bar.

http://www.roguefitness.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/0dc2d03fe217f8c83829496872af24a0/s/a/safety-squat-bar-3.jpg

Next, what are you doing with your head when you squat and dead lift? Do you keep it aligned with the spine (i.e.: chin tucked) or are you looking up (which hyper-extends the cervical spine resulting in disalignment).

What about trap bar dead lifts?

Br
Definitely chin tucked, looking straight ahead. No exaggerated up or down positioning on the head. LOL....my Gold's doesn't have a trap bar either.

Will definitely look into the Zercher squats.
 
specmike

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I'll be evaluating the "clean" grip front squat and Zercher squats this week. I've always done my front squats with the crossed arm grip which seems to be where a majority of the shoulder pressure comes from. This pressure is what causes the neck pain. http://stronglifts.com/how-to-front-squat-with-proper-technique/


Zercher looks good as long as my arms can hold enough weight and hold it long enough to make it worthwhile. Zercher looks like a good exercise.

Again, thanks for the tips.
 
Rodja

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Definitely chin tucked, looking straight ahead. No exaggerated up or down positioning on the head. LOL....my Gold's doesn't have a trap bar either.

Will definitely look into the Zercher squats.
You do not want your chin tucked.
 

uvawahoowa

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I'll be evaluating the "clean" grip front squat and Zercher squats this week. I've always done my front squats with the crossed arm grip which seems to be where a majority of the shoulder pressure comes from. This pressure is what causes the neck pain. http://stronglifts.com/how-to-front-squat-with-proper-technique/

Zercher looks good as long as my arms can hold enough weight and hold it long enough to make it worthwhile. Zercher looks like a good exercise.

Again, thanks for the tips.
That is the best way to do front squats as long as you have good wrist flexibility, which is definitely possible to improve upon. Start light and work your way up.
 
AZMIDLYF

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Kill 2 birds with one stone by doing the Zerchers...legs and back fully involved here. I would use that leg press for some widowmaker finishers. I also love Bulgarian split squats holding the DB in the hand opposite the down foot.
 

uvawahoowa

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Kill 2 birds with one stone by doing the Zerchers...legs and back fully involved here. I would use that leg press for some widowmaker finishers. I also love Bulgarian split squats holding the DB in the hand opposite the down foot.
Good idea with the split squats. Could also hold the Dumbbell with the same grip as goblet squats.
 
asooneyeonig

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you could do lunges, step ups, pistols, bulgarian split squats.
 

Mafesto31

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If you want to really develop your legs without loading your upper back then belt squats are the answer.
 

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