back pain with heavy squats

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Drake Van Steed
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Re: back pain with heavy squats

Post by Drake Van Steed » Fri Jun 22, 2012 11:23 am

Oscar_Actuary wrote:Drake,

What exercises do you do for your legs now?
I vary my leg workouts a lot. My exercises will include lunge variations (reverse lunges, static lunge, bulgarian squat), light dumbell squat variations (sumo squat holding a 50lbs dumbell, dumbell "squats" holding 30s), leg press, and various hamstring exercises such as leg curls, swiss ball leg curls, back extensions. With the exception of the leg press, my leg work is high rep-- 20-30 reps. On leg press and occasional leg extension I will do sets of 10-15. I will sometimes add in some plyo.

An example leg workout:

Static DB lunge supersetted with unweighted plyo lunge x 2.

Sumo DB squat supersetted with unweighted plyo sumo squat x 2.

Swiss Ball Leg curl supersetted with one legged unweighted romanian deadlift x 1 each leg.

Leg press x 1-2.

Calf raises x 1-2.

Here's a quickie I've been doing lately that has been great (sets don't include warm ups). I've been enjoying doing some machines lately. It's a nice change from the mostly free weights I usually do, and the machines allow me to use heavier loads on my legs. I've found that altnernating these type of workouts works well (heavier machine based workouts with lighter free weights workouts like above). I don't have any set alternating schedule. I train instinctively.

Barbell reverse Lunge x 1 (10-15 reps)

Leg Press x 1 (10-15)

Leg Extension x 1 (10-15)

Leg Curl x 1 (10-15)

Calf raises x 1 (20)

When I gave up heavy back and front squats I was really worried about losing mass. Especially coming from a bodybuilding background. I haven't lost any leg mass or function in eight years of training with pretty light weights. I think this is partly because legs tend to respond well to lighter weights and even high reps, and legs get a lot of exercise through activities if you are active, such as biking, running, and even walking. I've known a lot of people over the years who don't work legs in the gym at all, but have awesome legs from their recreational life of wake boarding, biking, running etc... I hike a great deal, and believe that my hikes probably are the most "functional" and productive workouts I do for legs. I used to mountain bike a lot, and would drop leg training during the summer months when I was biking 5 days a week. I say this because there are a lot of people who injure themselves with heavy squats and deadlifts, and when that happens, those people (I've been one of them) will wish they could take back every rep of every squat they did.

Peace

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Re: back pain with heavy squats

Post by Matt Z » Fri Jun 22, 2012 5:36 pm

While it might be possible to maintain muscle mass without heavy squats or deadlifts, it's not exactly ideal from a strength or sports performance point of view. Meanwhile, relying on machine exercises like the leg press may predispose athletes to injury because they develop some muscle groups (target) out of proportion to others. There's also some debate over whether or not leg presses are really any safer to perform than squats.

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Re: back pain with heavy squats

Post by Matt Z » Fri Jun 22, 2012 5:41 pm

All exercise carries some risk of injury, however most training injuries are the result of poor technique, overtraining (I use the term loosely here) and/or ego.

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Re: back pain with heavy squats

Post by xshawnxearthx » Sat Jun 23, 2012 8:23 pm

Matt Z wrote:While it might be possible to maintain muscle mass without heavy squats or deadlifts, it's not exactly ideal from a strength or sports performance point of view. Meanwhile, relying on machine exercises like the leg press may predispose athletes to injury because they develop some muscle groups (target) out of proportion to others. There's also some debate over whether or not leg presses are really any safer to perform than squats.
I was a firm leg press guy. After I would squat I would load it up and go to failure. When I would lower the press down, I noticed my lower back would do that "wink" that sometimes happens with squatting. I stopped doing them, and I haven't had any lower back pain(knock on wood) since.

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Re: back pain with heavy squats

Post by Matt Z » Sun Jun 24, 2012 10:16 am

I've seen a lot of people round on leg presses. Also, not all machines are created equal. Some leg press and hack squat machines have you pressing/squating with your toes pointed, which isn't vey good for the knees. Meanwhile, even well designed machines are build for users of roughly average size. If you're very short or very tall, this could be a problem.

Weight training isn't one size fits all. Some people really can't squat or deadlift due to various physical limitations, but that doesn't mean everyone should give them up. If we did that we wouldn't have any evercises left.

Meanwhile, I've found that MOST of the time when people say they can't squat it's because of one of two reasons.
1) They don't know how to squat properly.
2) They're looking for excuses not to squat because Squats are HARD. It can also be embarasing for some people (especially guys), because they have to start very light. This is also why half-squats and quarter-squats are so popular. Practically anyone to throw on a pile of weight right from the start.

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Re: back pain with heavy squats

Post by robertscott » Sun Jun 24, 2012 11:32 am

I find you'll cut down on your back rounding on the leg press if you do it one leg at a time, with the non working leg on the floor

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Re: back pain with heavy squats

Post by Ironman » Sun Jun 24, 2012 10:17 pm

I think most people do leg press wrong. The feet are usually not far enough forward, the seat is slanted up too far, making them bend too far forward, and they go too low (well except for frat brat who has about a 4 inch ROM).

So they stress the knees, hurt their horribly rounded back, and probably stretch some ligaments in the legs a little too far. The way I look at it, if you can't operate something properly, you don't get to use it.

I do leg press the right way, and I never have any problems, and it's a great leg builder.

While I'm at it, if you can't leg press your body weight, and you're are NOT rehabbing out of a wheelchair, then get off the machine and go watch TV or something. That goes double for people my age who are lifting less than my Grandma. You have to wonder why they bother. They do whatever lift half-assed and effortlessly. You would think they would understand you get out of it what you put in, and that if you can just stand there between sets holding the weights, arms swaying casually, chatting with someone, as if you are holding two cans of soup, it's a waste of time.


I also have to echo what Matt is saying. A quality machine is very important.

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Re: back pain with heavy squats

Post by josh60 » Mon Jun 25, 2012 4:22 pm

Ironman wrote:...hurt their horribly rounded back...
I'm not taking sides on the "to leg-press or not to leg-press, this is the question" question, but for the life of me I can't figure out how you can round your back while leg-pressing. Mine, and everyone I've seen pressing, is flat on the back of the seat, being pushed there by the legs that are pressing. Newton third low of motion seems to take care of that.
That goes double for people my age who are lifting less than my Grandma.
Probably me. How much can she press? :scratch:

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Re: back pain with heavy squats

Post by robertscott » Mon Jun 25, 2012 4:40 pm

if your legs come too far back, and your flexibility ain't great, your back'll round.

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Re: back pain with heavy squats

Post by josh60 » Mon Jun 25, 2012 4:51 pm

robertscott wrote:if your legs come too far back, and your flexibility ain't great, your back'll round.
Maybe so. Since I'm really worried about back injury I'll ask someone to take my picture when my legs are curled to the maximum, but anyway this should be easy to control by not going too "deep". One of the advantages of the leg-press position over the squat is that you can use your hands to push the thighs if you've overestimated the weight (or just let go and the machine stops the weight from crushing you. Or so I hope).

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Re: back pain with heavy squats

Post by Matt Z » Mon Jun 25, 2012 6:48 pm

"but for the life of me I can't figure out how you can round your back while leg-pressing. Mine, and everyone I've seen pressing, is flat on the back of the seat, being pushed there by the legs that are pressing." - josh60

As the knees move towards the chest there is a tendancy for the pelvis to tip forward (think reverse crunch), even though the upper back is still flat against the back rest. Most people don't realize they're doing it.

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Re: back pain with heavy squats

Post by Matt Z » Mon Jun 25, 2012 6:55 pm

"(or just let go and the machine stops the weight from crushing you. Or so I hope)." - josh60

That depends on the machine, the settings, how tall you are and whether or not you bothered to use the safety pin(s) (if available). With some machines, it's very possible to get pinned under the sled.

You'll also want to be careful doing calf raises on a Sled Leg Press machine. If your foot slips and there's no safety in place, the sled could smash your knees.
Last edited by Matt Z on Mon Jun 25, 2012 7:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: back pain with heavy squats

Post by Matt Z » Mon Jun 25, 2012 7:01 pm

PS) There was a powerlifter at a gym I used to train at who once broke a foot doing Sled Leg Presses. He was using a lot of weight and placed his feet too low on the sled. As he lowered the weight, his heels came up, shifting the load to the balls of his feet.

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Re: back pain with heavy squats

Post by josh60 » Tue Jun 26, 2012 3:33 am

Matt Z wrote:That depends on the machine, the settings, how tall you are and whether or not you bothered to use the safety pin(s) (if available).
The one I use has a built in safety pin that cannot be adjusted but is higher than me kneecaps, so I guess I'm Ok, assuming it will hold the megatons I press :-)

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Re: back pain with heavy squats

Post by robertscott » Tue Jun 26, 2012 4:29 am

I've been squished by a leg press. The one in my gym has a kind of safety lever that locks it into place that you need to take off when you use it and put back on when you're done. I thought I had it in place but it slipped out and the sled came crashing down, folding me up like an accordion. I wasn't hurt or anything and it was actually pretty funny

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