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Training methods to make the most of lower weights

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Firstly, some background. My back is a bit deformed due to breaking a vertebra years ago. I started doing some basic compound lifts again a couple of months ago to try to build up a bit of strength. It has been going OK (my jeans and shirts got really tight :D) and I recently saw a Sports Medicine physician to get a medical opinion on the types of exercise I can do with my condition and what my limits are. After a physical examination, a bunch of questions about my lifts, and admiring the scans that showed how I exploded a really strong bone in the middle of my spine without damaging anything else, he told me that I'm doing the right thing and that lifting weights to build up my muscles and strength is pretty much the best thing I can do for my condition.

I don't need any rehab or special accommodations, and am good to go for all normal lifts up to power cleans.

However, he recommended that a reasonable weight to put on my back for squats is more like 100kg than 200kg. Past 100kg he thinks I would be better served by including other lifts and looking for ways to make the lift more effective, than by cranking the weight up. This is just a precaution and there is probably a bit of room to move, but training for absolute strength is out.

I'm already closing in on 100kg for 5 reps. I definitely have room to drop back and work on form, reps, and muscle control, but beyond that I don't really have any idea how to train my lower body without using more weight. I'm not sure if things like lunges can be programmed like squats, and I read about things like:

  • paused reps
  • slow reps
  • high reps (20+)
  • progressively shortening breaks between sets

But heavier weight is really concrete, measurable and satisfying to train for. I have never progressed beyond a total noob level of training and don't have confidence in my ability to vary standard lifting routines without ending up just fucking about.

Anyway, sorry for the long post. Just wondering if anyone can provide a bit of guidance on effective ways to program for growth without relying so much on heavy and increasing weights.

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Though my reading of random bodybuilding articles, why not increase volume to the extreme?


If you're looking at keeping your weights light, nothing wrong with light weights and doing 100+ squats.

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