Squat/deadlift form modifications for leg amputee (below knee) Squat/deadlift form modifications for leg amputee (below knee)

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Thread: Squat/deadlift form modifications for leg amputee (below knee)

  1. #1
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    Default Squat/deadlift form modifications for leg amputee (below knee)

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    Hey all,

    I'm a unilateral below-knee amputee, have been for a few years. I've read SSBBT3 (as well as a lot of other online resources about the topic) but I was hoping that someone with experience coaching amputees or perhaps someone who is an amputee lifter had some input about this topic. One of the things that pretty much every resource on deadlifting and squatting has in common is that they assume you have two legs with working ankle joints. Not a bad assumption, of course, but not the case for myself.

    • In terms of deadlifts, I've been following the procedure in SSBBT3 and have found that with my anthropometry (long legs, long arms), it works OK. The only potential issue is step 3 when the knees come forward. Because I have no ankle joint on my prosthetic side, the heel comes up a little bit. Since the bar is only about 1 inch away from my prosthetic, it doesn't come up a lot but it certainly does come up a little bit. Has anyone had any luck with using slightly different technique when deadlifting? One potential change I am wondering about is perhaps placing the shins right up against the bar from step 1, removing the need to move the knees forward. This is more like an SLDL and I will have to be careful not to move the bar forward of mid-foot when I reach down to grip it.


    • In terms of squats, I haven't actually trained these before but I'm experimenting with them and hoping to be able to introduce them into my training. I've found that the form described in the book as-is doesn't really work for me, specifically the portion about stance width. The heel of the prosthetic side comes up way too much when the knees move forward, placing my hips way out of balance. Not a stable position. I've been playing around with it a bit and the only thing that I've been able to do to get a remotely sane squat is to take a much wider stance than shoulder width. Coupled with the low-bar position, this prevents the knees from coming too far forward, thereby keeping the heels on the ground and the hips level (or almost). This looks a bit like what some of the big powerlifters tend to do when they squat. A separate issue is that I can't really get below parallel due to the prosthetic. But, with a wide stance, I can get TO parallel and that may just be the best I can do.


    Does anyone have any suggestions? Thanks!

    PS: Long post already so I'm leaving out more specific info about myself especially since this is more meant as a generic thread asking for input on form modification for amputees, not asking for programming advice for myself so it shouldn't matter. If it does, I can put it in. I intend to start another programming thread with that info anyways.

  2. #2
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    put a video up of each,
    these guys will figure you out

  3. #3
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    I've been working with a below the knee amputee for a little while now. How much flexion do you have at the knee?

    For the pulls, you should switch to rack pulls. Start the bar at right below your knee and you can have an almost vertical shin. Walking up and putting the shins right up against the bar and doing a SLDL will limit the amount of weight you can do and maybe make the bar swing out as it gets heavier.

    For squats, I'd have you go to a box squat. Go back to a regular stance, keep a vertical shin, and go as low as you can. Pause on the box, especially if you're above parallel. The thing to watch out for here is that you're not rotating away from the prosthetic. That will be your tendency, so pick a weight and a box height that keeps you squatting down symmetrically.

  4. #4
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    For inspiration, you might be interested in KC Mitchell aka That1legmonster on youtube and IG. He is in your exact situation. He also has some pins and screws in his "good" leg. What one man can do, another man can do.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the replies guys.

    Here's a video of 225x5: https://imgur.com/a/cqwwkgd

    I actually think my deadlift form is pretty good but curious what you guys think. Part of what makes it possible for me is that my reach is about 2.5" longer than my height so I don't really need to get down that low to reach the bar. Monkey arms. I'd be surprised if you think I should still only do rack pulls Nick but definitely open to the advice

    Just to clarify: I've actually been training deads for a few years. Squats, I've never touched in any real way. My deadlift 1RM in late 2018 was 435lbs at a bodyweight of about 180lbs so not too terrible. 2020 was a real shitshow for me so I'm really de-trained at this point but really anxious to get back into it but with better form.

    I don't have my power rack set up yet so I don't have a real video of myself squatting. I'll try to post a video (squatting just the bar) of the form I was describing and my understanding of what Nick was describing later today or tomorrow.

    Thanks!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by meowmeow View Post
    Thanks for the replies guys.

    Here's a video of 225x5: https://imgur.com/a/cqwwkgd

    I actually think my deadlift form is pretty good but curious what you guys think. Part of what makes it possible for me is that my reach is about 2.5" longer than my height so I don't really need to get down that low to reach the bar. Monkey arms. I'd be surprised if you think I should still only do rack pulls Nick but definitely open to the advice

    Just to clarify: I've actually been training deads for a few years. Squats, I've never touched in any real way. My deadlift 1RM in late 2018 was 435lbs at a bodyweight of about 180lbs so not too terrible. 2020 was a real shitshow for me so I'm really de-trained at this point but really anxious to get back into it but with better form.

    I don't have my power rack set up yet so I don't have a real video of myself squatting. I'll try to post a video (squatting just the bar) of the form I was describing and my understanding of what Nick was describing later today or tomorrow.

    Thanks!
    Yeah, go ahead and ignore everything I said about rack pulls. These are fine.

    Let's see the squat when you get a video.

  7. #7
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    Hey thanks Nick, glad you think the deadlifts are OK.

    Here are some squat videos with just the bar, like I said.

    Wide squat, my intended for as in the original post:
    https://imgur.com/a/3BwF7l1

    Box squat, wide stance but not as wide as above:
    https://imgur.com/a/Ex5I8Hn

    Box squat, medium stance, my interpretation of your suggestion:
    https://imgur.com/a/WnNBAIi

    Same as above but box set slightly lower:
    https://imgur.com/a/oLfmAQ3

    Squats are really new to me so the movement isn't really ingrained at all so please excuse any obvious errors that I made. In general I've noticed that the narrower the stance the less ROM is possible for me. The top video with the really wide stance gets me pretty darn close to parallel. It's no ATG squat, of course, but I've seen worse things pass of as squats. The box squats, I can't go down nearly as low because my stance is narrower. This causes my heel to kick up much sooner and ruins my balance. Of course, the super wide stance would be somewhat awkward to set up with a lot of weight on my back.

    I'm not sure what you meant when you said to watch out for rotating away from the prosthetic. Can you elaborate? What would be rotating away from it?

    To the question of knee flexion, I'd say that as far as my knee joints are concerned (both good side and prosthetic) there are not really any limitations. With the prosthetic on, I'm able to go about as deep as that first video shows (but only with a really wide stance). Sitting down, I can get the back of my prosthetic pretty close to my hamstring.

    Really interested in your input here, thanks!

  8. #8
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    As far as the stance goes, you'll want to be somewhere between the not-as-wide stance and the medium stance. So just a tiny bit wider than the medium stance and you're good to go there. It's hard to see in the video, but is your heel coming up on the prosthetic? Does it actually flex, because it definitely looks like the prosthetic "ankle" is flexing. If so, that's a good thing.

    The problem with your wide stance is that you're twisting your knee all up in a janky way. Not worth the trade off for depth. I bet you can get to depth on a box based on what I see here. Or if not, really damn close. You should get into some lifting shoes as soon as you can. That will almost completely take away any issue at the ankle.

    As far as the movement goes, you need to bend over WAY more, try to keep a vertical shin - don't let your knees go past your laces, and reach way back with your ass to lightly touch and pause on the box. When you stand up, you have to stay bent over and drive your ass straight up instead of forward like you're doing here.

    Work on range of motion for a while and see how low you can get without things going haywire with the ankle lifting up on the prosthetic. Once you hit depth, or the most depth you can without the heel raising up, start loading the box squat. Make sure you're pausing if the squat is above parallel.

    The caution about rotation may be a factor when the squat starts getting a little heavier. Depending on how much push you get out of your left leg, you may have a tendency to rotate. You will be pushing harder with one side. So try to keep yourself coming up as symmetrically as possible.

  9. #9
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    Also, make sure to watch this:


  10. #10
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    starting strength coach development program
    Hey thanks again Nick! Really appreciate the reply and the video was really helpful too. Sorry for the delay (busy week).

    Here's another video of me doing a box squat with a more stable "box" than that shower stool: https://imgur.com/a/kAmg6f7. I intentionally didn't wear a sock. The previous video's camera angle coupled with black socks on black stall mats made it hard to tell what was going on with the ankle. It does flex but only very little. Maybe a centimeter before the heel starts rising.

    Some questions:

    -Re: lifting shoes, do you mean ones with a taller heel?

    -In terms of programming, would I just treat these as regular squats or not? Mr. Rippetoe says in the video that they're an assistance movement for more advanced lifters but obviously this is a special situation. Since there is no rebound, I wonder if in some ways they're more like a deadlift and thus more taxing in terms of recovery. Of course the weights are lighter so maybe that negates that? Not sure..

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