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Free squats VS. Smith machine Squats after a back injury?

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  1. #1
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    Free squats VS. Smith machine Squats after a back injury?






    Hey everyone, I have recently just started lifting weights again after a lower back injury. I had surgery on my L5S1 vertebrae-they did a microdiscectomy.
    I have gone thru two leg days now, and have tried squats on a smith machine both times, only with one 45lb plate on each side tho. im trying to test myself and gradually increase it so that i can start goin heavy.
    My question is, in my situation, recently recovering from the surgery, would it be ok to do regular BB squats as long as i keep it light weight to start and know my limits? or should I stick to smith machine for a while?
    Is there a real big difference between the two, besides the balance, and obviously you probably use your stabilizing muscles a lil more on squats?

    I never really was able to do squats, honestly i was too scared for injuring my back! but now that i had the surgery, I wonder if this is a chance for a fresh start, to build up to some serious squating and lower body mass!?

    anyone have advice on this subject?
    I think that this is why my back ultimately got injured in the first place!...because i kind of neglected my lower body for a while.

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    I'm sure some of the other folks on here will be more knowledgeable, but here's my $.02:
    I would definitely go for the full back squat, but I'd drop the weight considerably. Hell, In your situation, I'd probably start with just the bar and maybe a couple 25's for a couple weeks and build slowly from there.

    I used to squat on a smith before I bought my power rack, and quite frankly, it sucked. My knees and back would almost invariably hurt after a workout.
    I can't even imagine doing it after coming back from a surgery.

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    It's my understanding that the Smith Machine forces your back and legs into an unnatural path/angle.

    I think that lucifuge is spot on about doing bar-only squats.

    I have to ask, did you get the go-ahead from your doctor to workout again?


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    Quote Originally Posted by DOMS View Post
    It's my understanding that the Smith Machine forces your back and legs into an unnatural path/angle.

    I think that lucifuge is spot on about doing bar-only squats.

    I have to ask, did you get the go-ahead from your doctor to workout again?
    Honestly, I didn't specifically ask to go to the gym again, but its been 8 weeks. I started at about week 5 doing a lot of core work and bodyweight exeercises as well as cardio, and have gradually been moving back into weights and back into a routine again. its been pretty good so far, seeing my body take shape again within one week and already see some mass coming back! feeling more comfortable with weights now. just tryn to realy focus on my form now, and keep my core tight on as many exercises as possible.

    and i also know that my legs, and doing squats, is gonna compliment my core which in turn will compliment my whole body. so, I really want to start doing some squats even if it takes me months to get some weight on the bar!

    Now i have another injury im facing tho, I have a hernia...this is #2 for me so far, had one in high school as well.
    i'm guessing that the squats probably arn't the best thing to do untill i get the hernia taken care of tho huh?

    another qquestion: do weight belts realy do anything to help, or would they hinder a person more than anything? you know to help prevent injury?

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    Don't screw with your back. Wait until the doctor gives the okay.

    Think of it this way: you can either miss out on some workouts for a couple of more months, or you can miss out on heavy squats for the rest of your life.

    It's your call.


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    Okay, lemme get this straight: you screwed up your back so you started doing SMITH squats <shudders> rather than the actual squats you COULD handle, with light weight, while rehabbing your injury.

    Now you want to get a belt so you can continue to train too heavy while injured.

    Now, I realize I'm new here and all but doesn't this sound kinda... irresponsible?

    Trust an old woman with injuries: be good to what's left of your back. Oh, and when you ARE given medical clearance to train again, consider front squats. I switched a few years ago when I was rehabbing a grade-1 anterolisthesis of L5 over S1 and I'm glad I did - I get better quad stimulation with a plate a side fronts than I did with 185 lb backs - and with a lot less lower-back strain (less torque).

    Good luck - and please rehab properly.

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    [QUOTE=Built;1761082]Okay, lemme get this straight: you screwed up your back so you started doing SMITH squats <shudders> rather than the actual squats you COULD handle, with light weight, while rehabbing your injury.

    Now you want to get a belt so you can continue to train too heavy while injured.

    well, no, I have only done two leg workouts so far with the smith squats, very low weight actually, just 45lbs on each side of the smith, but...I guess, for some reason, i was thinking that they would be better and easier to start with because they seemed to be more stable than regular squats...i can see your guys's points tho, i just wasn't thinking right! next time i will try to do regular squats...starting with just the barbell, and work my way up to a comfortable weight and just go from there and see how my body feels.

    And I dont usually use a weight belt at all, (did sometimes in high school) but was just wondering what everyones opinion on them is? would i be better off just staying without a belt so that my back can get used to the motion and adapt, forcing the surrounding muscles there to strengthen? or is a belt a good idea all the time, do they even really help prevent injury? i get the concept of them, but do they really even do anything?

    Thanx for your comments!

    also...I am looking for a new good leg routine! I really don't have one right now, I kindof just do something different and change it up everytime, my legs get really sore after my leg workouts<like i can hardly walk or sit on the crapper for about four days!!>so i assume they are working, but like i said earlier, i always kindof neglected my legs, so i never got a chance to really see noticeable results. I think that i could pack on quite a few pounds and help enhance my upper body as well if i can really get a good routine down.
    any suggestions?

    last leg workout i did:
    smith squats(4 of 10)
    hammer strength hack squats(3 of 10-12)very light as well
    extensions(3 of 8-12)
    standing ham curls(3 of 10)
    lunges with db's starting at 30lbs progressing to 45lbs(4 of 8 each leg)
    lying ham curls(3 of 12-10-8 then superset to failure with lighter weight)
    calf raises on hack machine(4 of 10 slow then burnout on 15-20)
    seated calf raises(3 of 10-15)

    Is this workout to much? too little? right order?
    any suggestions or adjustments?

    Sorry for such long posts!!

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    also, so everyone stops asking...I did get a letter from the surgeon TODAY saying that i am good to go! ha! just sucks that i gotta also get a hernia surgery now in two weeks!! really hard to lift legs with that hernia! everytime i been startin to feel good, it seems like something different tryin to hold me down!!!!!!!!!!!!! grrrrrrr!!
    sorry...just wanted to bitch a lil!!

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    k-lock - that's great about getting clearance to train again.

    I'm going to suggest training legs on two different days - one with heavy, quad dominant work and one with heavy hamstring dominant work. I like to toss in a little accessory ham work after heavy quads, and a little accessory quad work after heavy deads.

    Note that hams are predominantly fast twitch, so your rep ranges may be lower than they will be for quads.)

    On each of those days, to fill out the rest of your workout you can do some upper body work - perhaps a little higher-rep chest and biceps on the ham day, and maybe a few sets of unweighted chins and dips on the quad day.

    So, something like this

    Quad dominant day:


    5x5 heavy front squats
    3x8-12 lighter fronts
    3 sets of walking lunges

    Do these as an antagonist pair - set of db bench, rest, set of curls, rest...
    3x8 dumbbell bench
    3x8 standing alternating dumbbell curls


    Ham dominant day

    5x3-5 RDLs
    3x8 GMs OR GHRs
    3x12 front squats or bulgarian split squats

    Also done as antagonist pairs: set of chins, rest, set of dips, rest...
    3x8 chins
    3x8 dips

    ********

    Note - this is not to replace your regular lat or chest work - it's just a way to add a little extra frequency to these parts while spreading out your leg work into two separate workouts so instead of raping your legs once a week, you hit them with less volume but more frequency, which can be extremely effective to stimulate growth - particularly while you're rehabbing and can't go as heavy as you'd like.

    Oh - for calves, do them on non-leg days, between sets of upper body work. No point doing them when you're doing heavy quad and hamstring work.
    Regarding the belt, sure, a belt has a time and a place. If you're going to go that route, Inzer quick release gets my vote. You crank it on VERY tight and press OUT against it to stabilize your core for VERY heavy low-rep work - and release it right after each set (trust me, if you're wearing it right, you'll want to). Don't bother until you're getting back to doing squats and deads in heavy triples and singles.

    Please stay the hell away from smith squats. That thing will destroy your knees. Nothing in nature mimics the plane of movement that thing forces your body into.

  10. #10
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    I agree with DOMS - wait untill your Doc gives the okay before getting back into serious lifting.
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    Smith is no good. Does put you in an unatural position. Front squats will kill your quads. Give them a try.




    Disclaimer: All health, fitness, diet, nutrition, anabolic steroid & supplement information posted here is intended for educational and informational purposes only, and is not intended as a substitute for proper medical advice from a medical doctor. We do not condone the use of anabolic steroids (AAS), all information about AAS is for educational and entertainment purposes only. If you choose to use AAS it's your responsibility to know the laws of the country that you live in. Consult your physician or health care professional before performing any of the exercises, or following any diet, nutrition or supplement advice described on this website.

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    Whatever you do, stay away from Mr. Smith.

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    Well, shit, guys, I can't just let this lie. If some of you other jocks want to chime in do so. But I'm detecting problems.

    First of all, you have to work up to deadlifts and squats with precision form (or else you'll hurt yourself --I've been lucky to have good advice and seem to avoid the problems}

    Do not listen to this tread! These guys are experienced weight lifters and don't know about rehabilitation. You're not ready for high weights.

    Take it s-l-o-w. Don't try to push the legs with squats or deadlifts. Concentate on middle body strengh, abdominals, back extersors, obliques. Then graduate to upper body training with presses, lats, traps, etc. Then the legs will come.

    But the major focus is on progression. I know, I've been there. Don't do the squats and dead lifts, yet, get your abs and back ready for the shock -- then hit it.

    IMHO

  14. #14
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    dont use the smith thingy dingy. use the free weight use light weight and work your way back up to heavy really slow so you dont hurt yourself.
    5'7" 173lbsl squat:365x2 11/19/07 bench 225x3 1/11/08
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    all really good advice so far. thanx all yall! ima try them front squats(done em a few times, but never really implemented them into my routine).

    of course, im taking it s-l-o-w! ive been startn to go a lil bit heavier all in all, and I just had an amazing back and biceps workout today! felt so good, it was really motivating! got a few more days till legs, but Ima go light don't worry.

    im a freak about my body...and its so hard for me when i get injured or out of the gym for some reason, i get pretty down and feel shitty bout the way i look! so believe me...its my body...and it tells me what i should or shouldn't be doing...i will be carefull untill i am fully confident! There is no way i want to injure myself again!!

    you know...i used to do deadlifts, but more for my back, and i loved it...thot it was a great workout starter, (made me puke a few times tho,haha, but i like pain...so...) great for hittn my whole back, got a great squeeze at the top!

    do you guys think they are better for back day or leg day? i would assume back!? but thats just me.

    and...honestly, ive been kinda scared to do them(the thought of bending and heavy weights just dont sound good yet)!

    do you think its ok to start doin them again...(very light and s-l-o-w of course)?

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    I had a very serious lower back injury a few years ago and I had a sports medicine physio get me back to function by doing squats, very low weight but free. Lots of stretches for the hip and lower back area, had to get untwisted. But he didn't have me do ANY of my rehab on machines.

    My .02

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    Quote Originally Posted by Built View Post
    I had a very serious lower back injury a few years ago and I had a sports medicine physio get me back to function by doing squats, very low weight but free. Lots of stretches for the hip and lower back area, had to get untwisted. But he didn't have me do ANY of my rehab on machines.

    My .02
    really!? thats interesting, and makes sense! seems like your really taking away from your core muscles when you work on a machine, as compared to really using those core muscles to stabilize and such while using free weights.

    thats it!, ive made up my mind...im gonna start doing them squats, just take it real light and slow!
    I think i will do the same with DL's!

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    No deads. Not yet.

    Try bodyweight squats. Hold a support if need be. I had to do dozens and dozens of them this way, all kinds of rep ranges, mostly 20+ (which I personally found HUMILIATING), then gradually added the Oly bar, then 25 a side... and I cannot emphasize "FRONT SQUATS" more - I don't even DO back squats anymore.

    Once you're front squatting at least a plate a side again, consider moving into deads with just the bar.

    BUT I AM NOT A DOCTOR. Get proper clearance before you do this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Built View Post
    No deads. Not yet.

    Try bodyweight squats. Hold a support if need be. I had to do dozens and dozens of them this way, all kinds of rep ranges, mostly 20+ (which I personally found HUMILIATING), then gradually added the Oly bar, then 25 a side... and I cannot emphasize "FRONT SQUATS" more - I don't even DO back squats anymore.

    Once you're front squatting at least a plate a side again, consider moving into deads with just the bar.

    BUT I AM NOT A DOCTOR. Get proper clearance before you do this.
    I cant think of what they are called, but its a half of a big ball on a flat platform. anyways i turn it upside down so that i am standing on the flat part and i have to balance myself on the half sphere part of the "bouncy ball", then i squat down while holding a medicine ball out in front of me shoulder height and as i rise up i lower the ball. ITs very humiliating as well(feel like a woman!) but it is actually kind of tough, and it really works everything trying to keep your balance. they are getting easier now so i think i will be ok to start some squats with the bar or some real light weight.

    try those out if you ever get a chance, maybe use a dumbell if the med balls arn't heavy enough. i also started doing bodyweight squats on my own at first.

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    Interesting. I never feel humiliated when I feel like a woman. But then, maybe that's because I never do squats standing on a freaking BOSU ball lol!

    I can't see the benefit of doing those. To me, they're just silly, and don't mimic ANY natural movement you are likely to perform. They limit the amount you can lift, thus preventing you from getting stronger.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Built View Post
    Interesting. I never feel humiliated when I feel like a woman. But then, maybe that's because I never do squats standing on a freaking BOSU ball lol!

    I can't see the benefit of doing those. To me, they're just silly, and don't mimic ANY natural movement you are likely to perform. They limit the amount you can lift, thus preventing you from getting stronger.
    sorry, no offense, on the woman comment. you are a woman...correct, judging by the pic?

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    None taken LOL!

    I was in the middle of dissing YOU for doing bosu ball squats!

    <giggles>

    Thick skinned here, don't worry about me lol - I got baptized by fire on WBB!

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    how do you load a pic on here anyway? tried to before, but didn't seem to show up anywhere in my profile?

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    You could photobucket it.

    Your profile pic - was it too big to upload? There's a size limit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Built View Post
    None taken LOL!

    I was in the middle of dissing YOU for doing bosu ball squats!

    <giggles>

    Thick skinned here, don't worry about me lol - I got baptized by fire on WBB!
    when i first was tryn to treat my back injury before the surgery and b4 it got bad, i was seeing a PT and she had me try those out.
    so i thot i would try them after my surgery as well, they never put me thru PT afterward. thot maybe they would help a lil with the core muscle strengthing and stabilizing?

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    So does unweighted regular squats, and they prepare you to add weight. I can't honestly see the advantage of doing them on an unstable surface while rehabbing an injury to an area that is required for stability.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Built View Post
    So does unweighted regular squats, and they prepare you to add weight. I can't honestly see the advantage of doing them on an unstable surface while rehabbing an injury to an area that is required for stability.
    True, True!

    I be back with more weird n crazy questions n comments later. but its beddy time now!

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    Start by incorporating unilateral movements that limit stress on the spine, and avoid direct loading of the spine. If your doctor has given you clearance, I would gradually work my way back into my strenuous bilateral movements. In the meantime: lunges, split squats, Bulgarian squats, 1leg squats, 1leg RDLs, etc.

    Pullthroughs, glute ham raises, and stability ball legs curls are all good options that are easy on the back too.
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    hey again people!

    had a leg workout yesterday and i tried those front squats...they were great, i actually felt more comfortable doing those than back squats, felt like a good fluid motion and not as much bending forward on the lower back!

    I am already pretty sore today...usually it takes about 2 days to really feel it(if i am still at the point of gettin sore). I did notice more of a focus on my quads when i did them as well. kinda hard to tell how good they really worked tho cause i didn't go that heavy:

    1st set with bar-12reps
    #2 set with 25 on each side-12reps
    #3 set with 35 on each side-12reps
    #4 set with 35 on each side-12reps
    on sets with 115lbs i started to feell a 'lil' bit of stress on the lower back(just a little) so i stayed at that weight, as so i can get used to that stress and work up from there. the twelve reps came fairly easy as well, so i think i just need to stay there untill my lower back strengthens a little more still.

    I dedicated that workout to really rapeing my legs again, ha! worked them as a whole, but only because I am getting an inguinal hernia surgery now, on tuesday, and that is the last time i would have for legs before then, so i wanted to fit everything in.

    also, does anyone know recovery time for a hernia surgery? had one in high school as well, but just cant remember, i think it was about a month before i really hit the weights again. they say you should be back to normal activities in a few days. is this true?

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    Hey, you tried 'em!

    SO MUCH MORE COMFORTABLE on the lower spine!

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