Can’t Squat or Deadlift?

Q: “I’m Michael. I’m 41, 5’7” @ 175 lbs. I have 2 lumbar herniations [l4 l5]. I can’t squat or deadlift. I have had this for a long time, so I know my limits. I was wondering are your books good for me. I am a certified personal trainer and certified nutritionist, so I am not a beginner.”

Thank you for your response!
Michael M.


My Answer: If you cannot squat or deadlift, then you will still find my books useful. If not for yourself, then for your clients who are looking to gain so muscle. For your condition, you will still find plenty of tips and strategies for your upper body, if gaining size and muscularity is your goal.

NOTE: The following email was edited for length. I kid you not, the email was longer than this.

Q: “Hi James, my name is Victor. This is a brother in pain reaching out. I recently bought your book Volume 1 a couple of weeks ago. I haven’t started your program yet, but I do have a couple of questions.

“First I am not really sure what swing laterals are. There are also some other exercises in the book that I am not sure how they are performed.

“Now on your quad exercise you mentioned that a sissy squat is a great exercise for the vastus medialis. The only problem with this exercise is I know I can go down, but there’s no way in hell I’m getting back up. This exercise is too much pressure on my knees. Is there another version of this or a simpler one that I can perform, since in your workout #1 it is the 2nd exercise?

“One of the problems I had was my weight. A while back I was around 330 lbs. Now with the help of some medications for weight loss and for my thyroid condition, I am down now to 282 lbs. Even though I have been working out for more than 4 years I’m actually starting to see more muscle gain now than I have before. I have intensified my cardio workouts.

“Also another exercise that I find pretty much impossible is the Gironda dips. I can barely do that one facing forward with my palms facing each other. This one with the palms facing outward, I don’t think its going to happen. I’m not sure how to perform a reverse lunge.

“I really like your idea about hitting every muscle 4x a week, which I always thought was a great idea. I’m not sure how to accomplish that, even though some people said that it was too much exercise and that I would never progress. Everyone says that hitting the muscles once a week is a great way to get big.

“Behind the neck cable curls is also another exercise that I’ve asked about, and no one is really too clear on how that exercise is performed. If you have other routines that you could probably tell me about either a 3-day or 4-day workout that would be great. I would appreciate if you have any information to provide me with. That’s all for right now, hope to hear from you soon.”



My Answer- Victor, you’re a bit of a chatterbox, aren’t you? Seriously though, congratulations on losing 58 pounds. That takes a lot of determination to do that. Now to answer your questions:

This is a swing lateral…

With regards to the sissy squat, just perform the negative portion. When you get to the bottom, shift your body into an upright position, feet flat and do a regular bodyweight squat up. In other words, do a sissy squat for the eccentric portion of each rep, and do a regular bodyweight squat for the concentric portion.

Now for the behind the neck cable curls, simply sit at a lat pulldown machine and grab the lat bar with a palms up grip, shoulder width apart. Your arms should be straight up and grabbing the lat bar overhead with underhand grip. From this position, curl the weight behind your head without moving your upper arms. If you see your elbows moving into your peripheral vision, then you know you’ve done it wrong.


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