replacement for squats and deadlifts?

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VoK
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replacement for squats and deadlifts?

Post by VoK » Sun May 11, 2008 2:46 am

I have a condition called spondylolisthesis. The origins of it aren't exactly known, it might have been genetic, but the final result and prognosis is not good. In the end, I am not able to do any heavy overhead lifting, which is essentially what squats are.

I found out about this condition 5 years ago. As a replacement for weighted squats, I've done unweighted single leg squats (pistols). I've become pretty proficient in them, as I can do 3 sets of 15 with 2 minute breaks or 5 sets of 9 with 1 minute breaks on each leg.

The situation that I am dealing with now is mainly finding something for the posterior chain. I know deadlifts are just as, if not more important that squats. What do you suggest I do to for a replacement, due to the fact that I can't do deadlifts because of my condition? I have been doing reverse hypers on a leg curl machine, but I've been hoping to do something else in addition. So what do you guys suggest?


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Post by pdellorto » Sun May 11, 2008 3:22 am

Yikes. That's really bad news. Can you at least weight your pistols, say with a weighted vest?

Can you do explosive work? If so, I'd suggest dumbbell swings. They're a little hard to do slowly and I'm not sure if you can do explosive work.

Pull-throughs - either with a band or with a dedicated pull-through station - can be good.

Can you drag a tire or push a sled?

Otherwise I'm stumped.

Peter

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Post by Jungledoc » Sun May 11, 2008 7:07 am

What vertebral level(s) are affected? Lumbar? Cervical? Have you attempted any squats or DLs since you've had the spondylolisthesis? If so, what weights did you try? Did you have any symptoms?

Has your spinal surgeon specifically forbidden squats on DL, or have you concluded that through experience? Have you asked him or her for advice about what exercises to use?

I'm just full of questions.

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Post by VoK » Sun May 11, 2008 10:20 am

pdellerto,

Weighted pistols may be an option. I haven't tried them as the 5 sets of 9 have been pretty difficult, but I think it's a good option.

I've been doing explosive lunges, about 5 sets of 20. I also play basketball occasionally, and thankfully, my vertical leap is still there. I've never done dumbbell swings before so I'll take a look at them. Do they target the posterior more or are they more related to the squat?



Jungledoc,

The technical term for what I have is spondylolisthesis l1 s5. Not sure what that means besides my lower back. I have not attempted any squats or deadlifts since I had the x-rays and injury confirmed. There are currently no side effects at all and I have done loads of lower back and abdominal work for rehab.
I did not go to a spinal surgeon. I went to my own general doctor and then to a sports orthopedist. He did not prescribe any lower body exercises. He mainly suggested exercises for rehabilitation, and I haven't seen him since.



This is my current lower body bodyweight workout.
9 reps of pistols on each leg, followed by a 15 second break, then 20 explosive lunge jumps as high as possible, then a 1 minute break. Rinse and repeat 5 times total.

This summer, I'm mainly going to focus on sprinting speed and posterior development. I feel my quads are overdeveloped compared to other leg muscles and I want to get faster.

I'll be happy to answer any other questions. Keep throwin em.

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Post by TimD » Sun May 11, 2008 11:40 am

If you can lunge jump, and also for posterior chain, why not try good old DB swings. Same movement pattern as deadlifts, just done with much lighter weight, and explosively.
Tim


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Post by Ironman » Sun May 11, 2008 1:03 pm

We should see what Jungledoc has to say about it. With your condition the rest of us probably shouldn't recommend things to you.

If Otama comes back again, you should ask him about it. He is some kind of a back specialist.

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Post by Stephen Johnson » Sun May 11, 2008 2:21 pm

@VoK:

You might look at getting a weighted belt, or a belt that you can attach freeweight plates to. That will increase resistance to your exercises without placing stress on your lower back.

But you should design your exercise program with a physical therapist or health professional that you can actually have face time with.

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Post by VoK » Sun May 11, 2008 4:18 pm

TimD,

I'll definitely look at trying dumbbell swings. I'm wondering what you mean by explosive though. As in throwing the weight upwards towards shoulder level?


Stephen Johnson,

I looked into a weight belt. Can you suggest some exercises that I might be able to do with it? I'm thinking about my pistols but I don't think I can go that far down with a weight belt.

The reason why I haven't taken this to a health professional is because it costs quite a bit of money and besides asking them for workout advice, I have no other reason to see them. I'll be working at a medical diagnostics company this summer so maybe I can sneak in some time with a professional, but until then, I'm kind of winging it.

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Post by ironmaiden708 » Sun May 11, 2008 4:21 pm

Can you use a trap bar and stand on some blocks to add more ROM as a replacement?

http://newyorkbarbells.com/im-0063.html

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Post by pdellorto » Sun May 11, 2008 6:00 pm

Ironmind used to sell a hip-hoop for weighting squats. One of my friends used it when recovering from a shoulder injury that kept him from squatting. Put all the weight on the hips, so he could keep his leg strength up for wrestling. They don't seem to have it anymore. But I have people do "ball squats" that seem to be about the same idea:


The Dumbbell Swing is here:
http://www.stumptuous.com/cms/displayarticle.php?aid=82

...and yeah, you basically try to throw the weight overhead but don't let go. After the halfway point up I'm usually trying to *stop* the DB, not keep swinging it. You can do them more squat-like (squat down low and swing) but generally it looks a bit more like an RDL - flat back, hips back, bent over and then explode the hips up.

I'd second the opinion that you should see a good sports doctor and trainer. This is a very serious condition from what I understand and I'd hate to see you get hurt pushing it.

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Post by KPj » Mon May 12, 2008 4:17 am

I'm reluctant to say much as this is more than a typical "I've got a tight and sore lower back" thing.

You could post your question to the likes of Eric Cressey, Mike Robertson, Mike boyle etc who are bound to have some kind of input.

A good specialist that you can always go back to would be invaluable.

One thing I would recommend is learning as much as you can about how lifting can affect your spine in general, but more notably, your lower back. At the very least, it will give you a basis to judge whether or not any 'specialist' you see knows what they're talking about. It's very easy for these guys to turn around and tell you not to do any lifting at all.

I would strongly recommend the following book, Ultimate Back Fitness & Performance, by Dr Stuart McGill. He's one of the worlds leading lower back experts. This book puts what he knows into the context of performance / training. He's the guy that, as far as I know, has pioneered the "super stiff" lower back / core theory and is constantly referenced (and recommended) by Cressey, Roberston, Boyle etc.

Apologies if I sound like a salesman. People like Dr Stuart McGill are unsung heroes in my opinion, as you never really hear about them personally, but more about their methods through well known coaches that apply them.

Ultimate Back Fitness & Performance
http://www.backfitpro.com/html/books.htm

Also, I have a PT friend who can't do bilateral movements due to a leg length discrepancy (quite a big difference in length). He's had all sorts of problems due to this, mainly in his back, too. He does pistols holding a 45lb plate! He also does single leg deadlift variations with BB's or DB's, one or two hands, as well as lunge and step up variations. You would never know the guy was working around numerous injurys as he's got an impressive build. Looks much more like a bodybuilder than 90% of the people I know who are trying to bulk up.


KPj

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Stephen Johnson
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Post by Stephen Johnson » Mon May 12, 2008 8:45 am

VoK wrote:I looked into a weight belt. Can you suggest some exercises that I might be able to do with it? I'm thinking about my pistols but I don't think I can go that far down with a weight belt..
I was thinking about squats, step-ups and lunges.

Glute-ham raises are a good posterior chain exercise, but few places have the apparatus to do it.

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Post by Matt Z » Mon May 12, 2008 2:10 pm

To perform belt squats you need two benches or blocks to stand on. This will allow a full ROM.

Also, as Stephen suggested, you can try glute hamstring raises.

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Post by Jungledoc » Mon May 12, 2008 4:46 pm

Sorry that I've been out of things for a few days. I've had some distracting adventures.

VoK--

I'm still not quite sure what we're dealing with here. I'm not familiar with the classification system for spondylolisthesis (I'm not going to keep typing that out)? Are you saying that the spon. resulted from an injury? Or are you saying that you had Xrays for an injury, and the spon was just in incidental finding? In other words something that was there all along, but you just didn't know? And you have never had any pain, numbness, tingling or any other symptom attributable to the spon?

I would think that the sports orthopedist would be specialized enough. Did he/she actually tell you not to do squats and deads?

Well, I'm not going to advise you what to do. The face-to-face doc should do that. I think you should suggest to him or her that squats and deads, done cautiously, starting low, going slow may actually be protective for your back.


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