Squats Vs. Deadlifts

What’s better – squats or deadlifts? This is a question that keeps large part of the lifting population awake. That’s because people tend to associate their self-worth with the exercises they are doing. In order to really determine which one is the king we must analyze the benefits of both lifts.

 Wenhua Cui {squat} and Bob Peoples {deadlift}

Wenhua Cui {squat} and Bob Peoples {deadlift}


Heavy weights and strength carryover. Squats give the lifter an opportunity to test his lower body strength under heavy loads relatively safely. The strength developed from squats is transferable to many other exercise including the deadlift. A strong squat always equal a respectable deadlift. The opposite is not true.

Less stress on the CNS compared to deadlifts. Squats may be a hard exercises to do but they are still less stressful to the nervous system than a deadlift thanks to the existence of negative/eccentric portion. Many olympic lifters who follow the Bulgarian training method do heavy squats on a daily basis. Deadlifts do not offer similar options because you cannot recover as easily.

Large range of motion and more hypertrophy. When done deep squats work the joints of the knee over complete range of motion (ROM). If the exercise is done safely, it will strengthen the joints and prevent injuries. Thanks to the larger range of motion more fibers are being recruited and as a result there’s larger leg hypertrophy compared to regular deadlifts.


One of the best back builders in the universe. The deadlifts has built many strong backs. It creates thickness in the back, especially the spinal erectors, that is hard to match. Even if you squat super heavy weights the deadlifts is still the better and more complete back builder.

Posterior chain strength. While the squat obviously works the posterior chain pretty intensely it focuses more on the glutes and there’s not as much hamstring involvement as there is during heavy deadlifts. That makes the deadlift a more complete posterior chain exercise.

Grip strength. Unlike the squat the deadlift develops strong forearms and fingers. This is not a surprise since you really can’t hold a heavy barbell unless you have a really strong grip.

No need for a spotter. The deadlift does not require a spotter. If something goes wrong, you can just drop the bar. On the other hand heavy squats should never be done without a spotter unless you are very experienced.

All you need is a barbell. The deadlift does not need fancy equipment. All you need is a barbell and chalk. This saves you money, if you train in a home gym.

Functional strength. It’s obvious that the deadlift builds more functional strength than the squat. It’s more likely that you will have to lift some heavy from the ground up rather than having to lower something heavy sitting on your shoulder. However. the term functional strength is very relative and many people are using it wrong.

Harder to cheat. When you do squats they can be high – not deep. People don’t care. They just want to put more weight on the bar. At the same the deadlift keeps you honest – you either lift the weight or you don’t. Of course, the deadlift also allows for poor form and many take advantage of it.

Conclusion: The deadlift is the more complete exercise out of the two since it also builds the upper body. However, the benefits of squats should not be taken lightly and incorporating the exercise in your routine can only help the muscular development of your legs and back – if you do it right.


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