1. #1

    Looking for alternatives to 3 of the big 4 in lifting.

    I'm new to weight lifting and just learning the basics so please keep that in mind. My goals are just over all strength improvements. I'm 64 and have no plans to compete or anything like that.
    I am looking for primary cord strength building exersizes. From my research that means the big 4 as a cord to your workouts.

    I can't do Clean & Press, Deadlifts, Squats or even bend over rows do to a weak lower back. Weak meaning lower spine issues not muscles.


    In the past I have injured my back from just twisting wrong and it can take up to 6 months before the pain goes away. I don't want to risk blowing my back out learning these exersizes. Any suggestions for alternatives to these 4 that does not include the lower spine.

    I am working on strengthing the muscles that support my spine in hopes one day of attempting the big 4.

    Thanks for any advice you are willing to offer.

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  3. #2
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    I love squats, you don't have to use a heavy weight when you are squatting. Squat in a good form and be careful not to go too heavy. I even like to do a few one-legged squats with no weight, squatting all the way down and all the way up. I believe it's great for my knees. I also think leg raises and knee raises from a chin-up bar works the back nicely, I do have an inversion table for stretching out my back and of course hyperextensions are great, I also use them in my workout.

    My favorite four exercises are squats, overhead presses, Pull-Ups and chin ups.
    I am not a medical practitioner. Any suggestions I provide are not medical recommendations and are just my opinions. Please consult with your physician on any matters concerning your health.

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    Does your gym have a prowler sled? If so, get very friendly with it. You can google best prowler exercises. This puts no load on your spine. Farmers walls or loaded carries are great as well. You can pick something up from a rack so you don't have to bend down to pick up the weight. Pull ups and dips are great for strength without loading your back.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nashtide View Post
    Does your gym have a prowler sled? If so, get very friendly with it. You can google best prowler exercises. This puts no load on your spine. Farmers walls or loaded carries are great as well. You can pick something up from a rack so you don't have to bend down to pick up the weight. Pull ups and dips are great for strength without loading your back.
    No prowler sled at least one you push around the floor. They have many machines. I was hoping I could use some of those. As I underrstand it these core 4 work groups of muscles and that is why they are so important.

    This is a shot of my gym I am slowly learning how each of these machines work. Behind me in this picture they have the 4 station cable machines. Latpulls, rows, triceps pushdowns.


  6. #5
    The machines in the gym will give you similar exercises without staining your back.

    A seated squat supports your back while working your quads. You can use a back machine at very light weights to gently work your back. Once you are 65 and get medicare, a doctor can refer you to a physical therapist that will show you what type of exercises are good for you. If you currently have insurance that pays for a physical therapist you could go that route.


    I have used a gym since 3/28/75, which is 43 years. I occasionally uses free weights and think they are superior because they engage secondary muscles and balance. However, for really pushing weight, you need a spotter for some of the free weight exercises. But most of the time I use the machines.

    However, weight machines are safer and easier for a beginner and you can dial in a lesser weight. The barbell itself weights 45 lbs.

    IMO the main problem with machines is they tend to work one isolated muscle and you can get an unbalanced workout. One way to help prevent that is to move to many different machines that are similar but a little different. There must be at least 8+ different machines that all work the chest in slightly different ways. The tendency for most people is to focus on getting stronger on one machine since they can make better progress in lifting higher weights that way.

    You could look to hire a personal trainer, I never have, but if you can find a good one that would be a good idea.

    Free weights or machines, form is the number 1 thing to learn. Slower is always a better work out, many people try and jerk a weight to be able to move a heavier weight, that doesn't help as much to develop muscle and you can injure yourself.

  7. #6
    While we are chatting about squats, has anyone ever used a manta ray squat support?

    One problem I have with free weight squats is the bar hurts when resting behind my head near my upper spine. I have tried moving to different positions, but I was wondering about the manta ray squat support?

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    Quote Originally Posted by DragonBits View Post
    While we are chatting about squats, has anyone ever used a manta ray squat support?

    One problem I have with free weight squats is the bar hurts when resting behind my head near my upper spine. I have tried moving to different positions, but I was wondering about the manta ray squat support?
    Manta ray works great. Super comfortable. The meat heads will laugh at you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FeelingLost View Post
    No prowler sled at least one you push around the floor. They have many machines. I was hoping I could use some of those. As I underrstand it these core 4 work groups of muscles and that is why they are so important.

    This is a shot of my gym I am slowly learning how each of these machines work. Behind me in this picture they have the 4 station cable machines. Latpulls, rows, triceps pushdowns.

    Looks pretty well stocked. Do they have a Pit squat machine?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nashtide View Post
    Looks pretty well stocked. Do they have a Pit squat machine?
    I don't think so. In googling Pit squat machine they use a belt around your waist.
    They have machines you can sit on and push weights up a ramp. That should allow a squat leg movement without using the lower back to support the bar and weights.

    I really do enjoy learning these machines they are fun. At my age there is no ego so I have no problems using little to know weight when I am first learning how the machine works. I even ask other for tips. Lots of little subtle things like elbow placement.

  11. #10
    More things to consider...Hip belt squats put almost no stress on the spine but give a great leg workout. Step-ups are good too, weighted or not. Also, no matter what you are doing, doing much higher rep sets than most people do, like 20 or 30 or more, can be very effective without putting a high peak load on your spine...Check out Stu McGill's podcasts and videos for lots of great spine exercises. He is The man when it comes to spine work and rehab. Things that involve bending backward can also be very helpful, like stretching over a stability ball or lumbar extender. Also, I would be very careful about leg presses as they can actually strain the spine as happened to me if you let your spine "roll-up" at the bottom of the range of motion. I do not agree that machines are "safer" since they lock you into a range of motion and can be very hard on the joints, especially the spine.


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