Squats Vs Deadlifts – The BEST Lift

3Well, here it finally is. After months of comparing different exercises to either declare a winner or a draw, the ultimate battle of the two most effective exercises is here. The squat is considered by most to be the king of all exercises, making the deadlift at the very least the queen. In this day and age where misogyny and sexism is (hopefully) becoming a thing of the past, I don’t think we can differentiate between king and queen in terms of dominance. Having probably already confused a good many of you (is he writing about weights or equal rights between the sexes?), let’s get this party started. Squats Vs Deadlifts – The BEST Lift.

Let’s start with the reigning champion, the squat. Whether it is a front squat, back squat, smith machine squat or even a hack squat, the squatting movement is going to effectively incorporate hip extension created by the glutes and the hamstrings, knee extension created by the quadriceps, and some plantarflexion created by the gastrocnemius and the soleus.

Regardless of where it is you are coming from and what you are trying to achieve, whether you are a bodybuilder, powerlifter, an athlete coming back from a knee injury or a senior trying to prevent falls or osteoporosis, some form of squatting will likely be an integral part of your program. This is because when a squat is performed correctly it will help to stabilize the three major joints of the lower body and can also assist in improving the mobility and function around the hip-joint.

The determining factor as to whether you should or shouldn’t squat is can you do so without pain? If you can, then the squat when performed with good form will be instrumental in bringing you closer to achieving your fitness, sport, and life goals. trojan-crossfit-wod-amrap-back-squats-running-200m-run-running-clockHaving said that, the squat is not for everyone. For more on this please see the squat vs the leg press article.

To just touch on the basic points; injury, lack of mobility, both leading to an inability to perform the squat with proper technique completely defeats the purpose of the exercise. Any meathead in the gym can declare any exercise as ‘essential’, but there are those who cannot perform certain exercises as they should be executed and under no circumstance should this occur. Everyone has limitations to some degree and alternatives must be looked at if you fall into this category.

This is where the deadlift may be of more value to you. The deadlift is a completely different movement than the squat. Unless the issue is lower back instability, in which case both the squat and deadlift need to be shelved until the underlying issue is dealt with, then the deadlift may be the king of exercises for you. It has been argued that for maximal strength enhancement, sport performance, and in minimizing the impact of lower back pain then a focus on the correct implementation of the deadlift is the answer.

b61d07e4fd93f7c251c9c8ce4d856403The most obvious difference between the squat and the deadlift is that the squat is a sit down and stand up exercise where as the deadlift is a bend down and pick something up exercise. You can pick up a child or bag of groceries using either manner. Both exercises are actually rather complicated in their apparent simplicity, but that is the nuts and bolts of the mechanics.

A closer look at the mechanics shows that the deadlift has almost entirely removed the knee bend from the equation. This means that with less knee extension during the upward phase, there will be less quadriceps recruitment. This can be a key element for those who find discomfort from too much squatting and for those who are too immobile to perform the squat with the necessary range of motion to achieve the desired results.

Seeing as the quadriceps muscles are much less involved, there has to be a much larger contribution coming from elsewhere. Elsewhere in this case is the posterior chain. The deadlift can be thought of as an almost entirely posterior chain exercise. Basically every muscle on the back of your body is involved including the calves, hamstrings, glutes, erector spinae, trapezius, deltoids and forearms. Seeing as the posterior chain or parts of it are often weak in almost every lifter then the deadlift can be considered a more valuable exercise than the squat in these cases.

tumblr_mijlsvcIcl1r2l8fco1_500That’s as far as I’m going to go today. It’s not really possible to cover all I want to with these two exercises in just one or maybe even two articles. Squats Vs Deadlifts is a battle that is set to go many rounds. So far the judges may be leaning towards either contender based on the facts presented thus far or his or her own personal biases. Reading this with an open mind is imperative in order for you to decide what is a more valuable tool to have in your toolbox that you take to the gym so that you can get the most out of your training. Until next time,

Squats Vs Deadlifts – The BEST Lift 2

Squats Vs Deadlifts – The Best Lift 3

Happy Lifting!

The Squat Vs The Leg Press

Traditional Vs Sumo Deadlift

The Pull Up Vs The Pulldown

The Bench Press Vs The Dumbbell Fly

The Standing Vs Seated Overhead Press

tumblr_mvmsa6JhAe1rup8ivo1_500Crunches Vs Planks: The Best Exercise For Ripped Abs

The Deadlift Vs The Pull Up Vs The Barbell Row

EZ Curl Bar And Preacher Curls Vs Barbell And Dumbbell Curls

Compound Vs Isolation Movements

Free Weights Vs Machines

Dips Vs Bench Press: The Best Chest Building Exercise

The Romanian Vs Stiff Leg Deadlift

Whey Vs Casein

Dips Vs Close Grip Bench Press Vs Skullcrushers

Bench Press Vs Pull-Ups Vs Shoulder Press – The Best Upper Body Lift

This article was written and researched by Matt Taylor

All the information contained within these World Wide Web Pages is Copyright LifestyleandStrength.com

17 comments for “Squats Vs Deadlifts – The BEST Lift

  1. gzu
    January 5, 2016 at 7:26 pm

    “In this day and age where misogyny and sexism is (hopefully) becoming a thing of the past”

    Stopped reading here.

    • Lifestyle and Strength
      January 10, 2016 at 5:43 pm

      Thank you so much for commenting. I feel like my life has changed for the better because of your mind blowing, umm, things that you said. Fucking fuck face…

      • Vanitas
        February 27, 2016 at 9:47 pm

        Do they really have to salt political correctness into everything?

        • Matt Taylor
          March 1, 2016 at 1:21 pm

          I’m not even sure I know what’s going on in this comment thread anymore so I 100% agree/disagree with you…

    • john
      March 1, 2016 at 10:55 am

      exactly what I did, too.

      • Matt Taylor
        March 1, 2016 at 1:16 pm

        Whatever makes you feel better about yourself…

    • Skinny
      February 7, 2017 at 4:53 pm

      Says more about you than the person writing the article

  2. June 11, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    Great article, Matt! Because of old injuries, Teri isn’t able to do squats, but by combining bench squats with deadlifts we’ve been able to keep her legs strong and limber. There’s always alternative methodologies to garner the benefits of squats and deads. Looking forward to the next installment!

    • Matt Taylor
      June 11, 2014 at 3:41 pm

      There is always a way around any physical limitation or imbalance/injury even though it may take longer than you’d like to get where you’re going.

  3. June 11, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    “Why not both?”
    *taco commercial music*

    • Matt Taylor
      June 11, 2014 at 3:42 pm

      Of course that’s what most of us do but it makes for a boring read…

  4. John
    June 11, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    What do you think about dead lifts using a trap bar? From my experience that is more of a cross between the squat and traditional dead lift and I liked it better than either, largely it was a comfort thing for me I think. This reminds me I need to get back to doing them again. Thanks!

    • Matt Taylor
      June 11, 2014 at 1:29 pm

      I think if they work for you then they are a good idea. Like you said they aren’t a true deadlift and not quite a squat. You could try them standing on a step or box depending on what your gym has to emphasize the squatting portion. You may also really like snatch grip deadlifts. When done standing on a box so the bar just clears your toes you get a squat combined with a deadlift even more so.

  5. June 9, 2014 at 9:51 pm

    You described some good detail on positives and negatives in the debate of Squat vrs Dead Lift, However, as a Sports Medicine Chiropractor, you fail to illuminate, that both of those exercise involve Axial load to the Lumbar spine. A Smith Machine, Hack machine offer good load to Quad, Glut and Ham, without the axial compression of Sqat or deadlift. Seated motions have far less mechanical repercussions in the long term. I know from experience, as I have had a hip replacement and Spinal Decompression Surgery In the last few years, and axial load over time will cause wear and Tear.

    • Matt Taylor
      June 10, 2014 at 5:49 am

      If a proper loading progression is followed then the stability muscles will strengthen and take the load off of the spine. You can argue that any free weight or machine exercises for that matter place tremendous compressive stresses on joints and therefor will lead to injury. If the form is good and the progression is moderate then there is no risk of injury.

  6. Anonymous
    June 9, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    Seems like deads are a better full body exercise but squats maybe are a better leg exercise.

    • Matt Taylor
      June 10, 2014 at 5:51 am

      You could make that arguement but it’s too early to declare anything. Tune in tomorrow for part 2.

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