Back friendly leg exercises

Back friendly leg exercises.


Gyms all over the country are full of men – and women – lifting heavy weights.

Such strength training is of course great for building muscle and burning fat, and will improve both sporting and everyday performance.

When you look around the gym, you will notice far more people training their upper bodies with bench presses, rows and bicep curls, than people training their lower bodies with squats or deadlifts.

Often the ‘reason’ given for avoiding squats or deadlifts is: “I’ve got a bad back”.

I always thought this was a complete cop out – unlike I injured my own back.

Believe me, when you have a slipped disk, the last thing you want to be doing is loading up the bar for a round of heavy squats.

And merely watching someone perform heavy deadlifts is enough to feel your own back begin to twinge in apprehension.

So – if the staples of leg training are out of the question – then what can someone with back issues do to train their legs?

I would recommend trying bodyweight leg exercises, some machine work if you have access to a gym, and of course plenty of stretching work for the muscles around the spine.

Here is a list of back friendly leg exercises:

Bodyweight: ?squats, lunges, Bulgarian split squats, pistol squats, thrusters, glute-ham raises and standing calf raises.

Machine:?leg presses, leg extensions and leg curls.

These back friendly leg exercises do not ‘load’ the spine like heavy squats or deadlifts do.

You won’t build legs like Tom Platz with these exercises, but you will maintain some strength, muscle tone and muscular endurance until your back issues are resolved.

Performing exercises with only bodyweight (or light machine weights) will also allow you to target higher rep ranges than usual.

Higher reps than usual also means shorter rest periods between exercises – this is a great way to ‘kill two birds with one stone’ and improve your metabolic conditioning whilst also working your leg muscles.

Try this back friendly leg exercises routine for four weeks – check out videos of the exercises on line if you are unsure about any of them – and see how you feel!

Don’t forget to stretch out after each workout.

I have found that single arm and double arm hanging stretches from a bar, plus the apasana pose in yoga, work well for me.


Bodyweight leg routine:

Squats – 1 x 20

Bulgarian split squats – 1 x 10 each leg

Pistol squats – 3 x 5 each leg

Squats – 1 x 20

Thrusters – 3 x 20

Glute-ham raises – 3 x 10

Squats – 1 x 20

Calf raises – 3 x 50

Lunges – 1 x 20 each leg


Rest for 45 seconds between each exercise.

This workout should take around thirty minutes to complete – aim to reduce the time it takes you over the four weeks, without compromising on technique of course.

Good luck with resuming your leg training!

Contact us at more workout ideas, and for more more details about our personal training services in SW London. – back friendly leg exercises – personal training Putney.

Written by 

Sam is a Premier Diploma qualified personal trainer in SW London and is the founder of

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