Squats and deadlifts are both exercises performed in a powerlifting competition. They're not just for powerlifters though -- you can benefit from squats and deadlifts if you're training for general strength, bodybuilding, weight loss or athletic performance. While they both appear to be completely different, building a bigger squat can actually help your deadlift enormously.
Both exercises place major emphasis on your posterior chain -- the group of muscles that comprises your hamstrings, glutes, adductors and lower back. Squats are slightly more quadricep-dominant, however, while deadlifts rely more on the hamstrings and also work your upper back, grip and forearm muscles. The American Council on Exercise classifies both squats and deadlifts as full-body integrated exercises, as there are very few muscles that aren't working when performing either exercise.
Because they work so many of the same muscle groups, there is a large carryover from squats to deadlifts. Many popular powerlifting routines include much more squatting than deadlifting. According to former elite powerlifter Louie Simmons, author of "The Westside Barbell Book of Methods," deadlifts are higher risk and more demanding than squats and deadlifting regularly doesn't do too much to improve your squat. Squats, on the other hand, can be performed more frequently with less risk of injury or over-training and help massively with building a bigger deadlift. It's for this reason that powerlifting programs such as Westside, Sheiko and Smolov all prescribe squatting two or more times per week and deadlifting only once a week or once a fortnight.
Any type of raw squatting (squats performed without the aid of powerlifting suits) will help your deadlift in a big way, says strength coach and first man to deadlift more than 1,000 pounds, Andy Bolton. However, box squatting may be the most effective type of squat for boosting your deadlift, according to Eric Cressey, head trainer at Cressey Performance in Massachusetts. To do box squats, place a wooden box or aerobic step behind you and sit back onto it. Pause for a second, then explode up. The box should be just below parallel.
Use squats as a main exercise in your routine and as an ancillary exercise for deadlifts. In one session each week do squats first. Work up to one heavy set of three to six tough repetitions. In your second session, do deadlifts first, again working up to a heavy set of three to six, while still maintaining perfect technique. After deadlifts do four sets of five to eight reps of regular back squats or box squats, using a weight that is tough but manageable. Aim to add an extra rep or two or a little weight to each exercise every week.
- ACE Fitness: Barbell High Back Squat
- ACE Fitness: Barbell Deadlift
- The Westside Barbell Book of Methods; Louie Simmons
- Andy Bolton Strength: How To Master The King Of All Exercises And Squat Like A Champion...
- Precision Nutrition: Defending The Deadlift: An Interview with Coach and Powerlifter Eric Cressey
Mike Samuels started writing for his own fitness website and local publications in 2008. He graduated from Peter Symonds College in the UK with A Levels in law, business and sports science, and is a fully qualified personal trainer, sports massage therapist and corrective exercise specialist with accreditations from Premier Global International.