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Can't do squat(s)
Old Thu, April 5th, 2012, 04:43 PM   #1
jeramieb
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Question Can't do squat(s)

I started 'Starting Strength' yesterday and discovered that I don't have the ability to do traditional back squats. I had rotator cuff surgery back in September and now have a limited range of motion in my left shoulder that prohibits me from being to reach back and grab the bar.

Given this information... I was thinking about using the leg press machine (or something else) as a replacement.

By the way I'm new here. I've been reading the forums for some time but never registered until now.

Also, I'm not looking to get "big" or "really strong" as I'm 'past my prime' (40+). I'm just looking to keep fit and also keep my strength up. to give you an idea of where I am, I was able to do 3x5 115lbs bent over rows and a normal workout on my legs prior to starting "Starting Strenght" was 3x10 250lbs on the leg press machine.

What would you recommend I perform in place of the traditional squats? Thanks in advance.
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Old Thu, April 5th, 2012, 04:45 PM   #2
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What would you recommend I perform in place of the traditional squats? Thanks in advance.
Front squats, safety bar squats, Zercher squats.
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Old Thu, April 5th, 2012, 04:50 PM   #3
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I'll have to look into the safety bar squats & Zercher squats. I don't recall seeing a safety bar in the gym I attend but I might have just overlooked it.

On the Zercher squats, I've not seen that before. Thanks for the tip.
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Old Thu, April 5th, 2012, 09:49 PM   #4
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I'll have to look into the safety bar squats & Zercher squats. I don't recall seeing a safety bar in the gym I attend but I might have just overlooked it.

On the Zercher squats, I've not seen that before. Thanks for the tip.
Did you miss the part about front squats? In your position, I would say they are the #1 replacement option. They have all the benefits of a back squat without a lot of the problems. Plus, they will improve your flexibility and are way less stressful for your low back and shoulders when compared to any other variation of squats.
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Old Thu, April 5th, 2012, 11:53 PM   #5
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Dumbbell step ups.

Dumbbell squat.

If you can't hold a barbell then dumbbells are the obvious choice.
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Old Fri, April 6th, 2012, 12:31 AM   #6
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I did see the front squat mention also, just not very familiar with them so I would have to look into those also. Guess I forgot to include that in my last reply.
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Old Fri, April 6th, 2012, 03:20 PM   #7
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Goblet squats.

http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_...let_squats_101
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Old Fri, April 6th, 2012, 09:07 PM   #8
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Bulgarians...
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Old Mon, April 9th, 2012, 09:50 AM   #9
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as I'm 'past my prime' (40+).
I resent that characterization.
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Old Mon, April 9th, 2012, 09:58 AM   #10
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I resent that characterization.
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Old Mon, April 9th, 2012, 12:57 PM   #11
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front squats ... They have all the benefits of a back squat without a lot of the problems.
I would say "most" of the benefits of a back squat. You can't quite carry as much weight and there's something to be said about the neurological effect of sheer weight on the bar.

But I agree with you that they are way better than dumbbell squats or the other suggestions that have been offered for strength building.
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Old Tue, April 10th, 2012, 02:34 PM   #12
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Those goblets look interesting. Actually, I did my first set of fairly light squats two weeks back in years and subsequently spent two days in substantial back pain. I'm more flexible than I was as a teenager when i squatted all the time, but perhaps due to years of sitting in a chair or bad form or whatever I just find the movement risky unless done well. That is always the caveat. For me, it's the "done well" that just doesn't easily work. I've never, ever found the movement very natural and always hated it. I have done a lot of squatting with dumbells, which seems to remove all the weird low-back pain/cheating type nonsense that is possible with squats and what I've done does resemble the goblet squats. Feet pointing out a good bit.
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Old Wed, April 11th, 2012, 01:29 PM   #13
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So I got the squat thing figured out (I think). It appears I can use the smith machine to squat if I also use a 'bar pad'. My gym had one available so I tried it today after doing some (shoulder) stretching the past week. It felt pretty good as I was able to put 215lbs on the bar without much pain in my shoulder at all. I'm going to keep adding weight little by little until I get to a good workout weight. 215 was a little too easy. Thanks again for all the suggestions and support.

So, what are the drawbacks to using a smith machine to squat?
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Old Wed, April 11th, 2012, 01:49 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by jeramieb View Post
So I got the squat thing figured out (I think). It appears I can use the smith machine to squat if I also use a 'bar pad'. My gym had one available so I tried it today after doing some (shoulder) stretching the past week. It felt pretty good as I was able to put 215lbs on the bar without much pain in my shoulder at all. I'm going to keep adding weight little by little until I get to a good workout weight. 215 was a little too easy. Thanks again for all the suggestions and support.

So, what are the drawbacks to using a smith machine to squat?
"Stabilizer muscles" and what not; you don't have to balance. It's still great, though, don't worry about it!
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Old Thu, April 12th, 2012, 02:03 PM   #15
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So, what are the drawbacks to using a smith machine to squat?
You're not necessarily using the safest / most natural bar path. If you're set up improperly, your knees may be taking most of the stress or your lower back or hips. Make sure to research how to use machine properly for squatting, so that you don't end up hurting yourself or putting unnatural stress on your joints or vertebrae. Safe lifting posture is even more important because the consequences of losing it aren't as immediately felt.
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Old Thu, April 12th, 2012, 02:17 PM   #16
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You're not necessarily using the safest / most natural bar path. If you're set up improperly, your knees may be taking most of the stress or your lower back or hips. Make sure to research how to use machine properly for squatting, so that you don't end up hurting yourself or putting unnatural stress on your joints or vertebrae. Safe lifting posture is even more important because the consequences of losing it aren't as immediately felt.
Along this same train of thought, you can intentionally set up with your feet further forward than normal, and do more of a "hack squat" type movement, changing the load balance as it relates to quads vs hamstrings. But as Chico has pointed out, this groove can add extra stress to other areas, so be careful with your weight selection.
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Old Thu, April 12th, 2012, 02:25 PM   #17
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Right now I'm only doing squats on the smith with low weights (215lbs) while I work on my shoulder flexibility. I'm hoping over time (soon) to be able to have enough flexibility (and confidence ) in my left shoulder so I can move to regular squats before adding too much weight.
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Old Thu, April 26th, 2012, 10:26 AM   #18
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Late reply for the original post, but...for someone with similar problems... Regarding rotator cuff pains and aches, I wouldn't do any kinds of squats. This is speaking from experience. Front squats are as bad as back squats - you still have to hold the bar in place, doing front squats you tiit your elbows up and that's not good for recovering shoulder injury.

I'd do leg presses and extensions. And yeah yeah, I know they are considered sissy options.

By the way I've found out that the best way to break your rotator cuff is using chest press machines and pec-decs. Those force you into a move that goes too far back. Just my personal notion.
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Old Thu, April 26th, 2012, 11:15 AM   #19
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Thanks for the feedback Arcus. I have been working on my flexibility in my shoulder hoping that eventually I will not have this problem. An update on my latest... I have found that if I use a bar pad and a wider hand placement on the bar I am able to do traditional back squats with minimal strain on my left shoulder. I think the pad allows the bar to set up off my shoulder blades just enough to get my left arm back without having to go beyond its current flexibility range. Now this is all with lighter weights on the bar (135 max so far). I wanted to start there in order to allow slow gains in flexibility in the shoulder and also to prefect my form. I'm hoping that as I add more and more weight to the bar I will have re-gained most, if not all, of the flexibility back in my shoulder.

Thanks again from everyone who helped me and offered different options for me to try. It was very helpful.
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Old Fri, June 15th, 2012, 11:33 AM   #20
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I know this thread is pretty old but I wanted to updated ya'll.

I've finally got everything working and have been banging out the barbell back squats without issue for a while now. When I went to the gym Wed I was able to knock out 5x5 @ 200lbs.

Due to my shoulder flexibility I'm relegated to doing high-bar back squats for now, but I'm working on getting to the point of being able to do low-bar back squats. Someday...

When I hit the gym today I'll be doing 5x5 @ 205lbs... Inching ever so close to 225 (which is my short term goal at the moment).

Thanks again to everyone who gave me advice on this.
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