Given up on Dead-lifts & Squats in Your Workout? Try These Alternatives cover

Given up on Dead-lifts & Squats in Your Workout? Try These Alternatives

By


Back in my undergraduate years, as I was learning some judo, I injured by lower back. To be more specific, I had a dislocation at the sacroiliac joint caused by throwing someone over my back when not yet properly warmed up.
Fast-forward some 10 years and at the age of 35 I recently broke my personal best lifts in both deadlifts and squats. How did I do this?
PLoS Blogs
CC BY 4.0





NoteStream NoteStream

NoteStreams are readable online but they’re even better in the free App!

The NoteStream™ app is for learning about things that interest you: from music to history, to classic literature or cocktails. NoteStreams are truly easy to read on your smartphone—so you can learn more about the world around you and start a fresh conversation.

For a list of all authors on NoteStream, click here.




Read the NoteStream below, or download the app and read it on the go!

Save to App


Given up on Dead-lifts & Squats in Your Workout? Try These Alternatives

Back in my undergraduate years, as I was learning some judo, I injured by lower back. To be more specific, I had a dislocation at the sacroiliac joint caused by throwing someone over my back when not yet properly warmed up.

Immediately as it happened, something ‘popped’ and I began walking a bit funny after the practice. Unfortunately, since I was a typical young man, I figured it would pass on its own. But, my odd gait, which included me laterally swinging my left leg to get it in front of me, did not improve over a couple of weeks. I also had trouble getting off couches or bending at the hip.

Rio, 2016 image by Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil, CC BY 3.0 BR

Eventually I ended up in a physio clinic where I found out that my sacrum (lowest portion of the spine) was on one side perpendicular to my pelvis (rather than in line with it). Before I even had the chance to explain what had occurred, the physiotherapist asked: “It was judo, wasn’t it?”

Following a few months of physio and daily exercises, the joint was more or less back to normal. I was once again walking and running, and could even put on my shoes!

But my lower back never quite felt the same way from that day forward.

This became very apparent when in graduate school I started doing more barbell deadlifts and squats as part of my workout. I never felt very stable doing either of these exercises, and despite being able to lift a good amount of weight for my size in most other exercises, these two lifts had eluded me.

Also, on a few occasions where I tried to push myself with the deadlift, I would end up ‘tweaking’ my lower back again. This would put me out of commission for at least a few days during which a steady diet of Robaxocet and my old physio stretches were necessary to get back to working order.

Fast-forward some 10 years and at the age of 35 I recently broke my personal best lifts in both of those exercises. How did I do this?

Well, I’m almost embarrassed to admit this, but one of these tips I picked up from a Men’s Health magazine.

Apparently, a straight barbell deadlift is not a great exercise for many people; especially those who are rather tall or who have poor hip flexibility or an iffy lower back (I’m 2 out of 3). In fact, I know many friends and colleagues who have sustained injuries while performing deadlifts.

As a simple alternative to the straight bar deadlift, you can do a “hex bar” or “trap bar” deadlift. This type of bar basically has a hole in the middle of it for you to stand in, with two handles at the sides that allow your grip to be more natural with your palms facing the sides of your thighs.

For me, this has been a game-changer, allowing me to lift much heavier and with significantly greater comfort than ever before.

Video

The tip regarding squats I picked up on a podcast (Tim Ferriss podcast) as well as from some of the personal trainers at my local gym. They are called “box squats.”

Rather than simply squatting to some ideal angle at the knee joint, you squat to a seat on a low bench or box. Since you are performing a more natural sitting motion, your form is more likely to be good (we all know how to sit on a chair, knowing some support will make contact with your butt). Also, you have a good guide for how low to go on your squat.

Again, a very small change in this exercise has made all the difference.

Video

Of course, before you try either of these exercises, please speak to your healthcare practitioner or a certified personal trainer to ensure they are right for you.

Have you come across some exercise variations that have significantly improved your workouts? Let us know in the comments section below.

Peter