When you’re designing your workout plan, the first two things you have to think about are what exercises you’ll do and when you’ll do them.
Do you want to do total-body workouts with a bunch of exercises that target different major muscle groups in the body, or do you want to do body part splits and focus on arms, chest, core, back, and legs during separate workouts?
Particularly with the latter approach, when it comes to choosing exercises for leg day, many people are faced with deciding whether “squat and deadlift same day” is the way to go.
Can you squat and deadlift same day? If you do total-body workouts, is it better to squat and deadlift on the same day or split them up during the week with your different workouts?
In this article, we will discuss the pros and cons of deadlifting and squatting same day and the best practices for doing squats and deadlifts on the same day.
We will cover:
- Can You Do Squats and Deadlifts On the Same Day?
- Why Shouldn’t You Do Squats and Deadlifts Together?
- Benefits Of Doing Squats and Deadlifts In the Same Workout
- Should I Squat and Deadlift Same Day?
Let’s jump in!
Can You Do Squats and Deadlifts On the Same Day?
Before we get into the finer details of combining squatting and deadlifting in the same workout, it’s worth answering the basic question, “Can you do squats and deadlifts on the same day?”
Squats and deadlifts are both very demanding exercises that tax some of the same muscle groups and require a lot of neuromuscular coordination, strength, and power generation.
For this reason, many people wonder if they can squat and deadlift same day.
The short answer is yes, you can definitely do squats and deadlifts on the same days, but it may be advisable to split them up, depending on your goals.
Why Shouldn’t You Do Squats and Deadlifts Together?
So, why are squatting and deadlifting in the same workout not usually advisable?
Here are the potential risks of doing squats and deadlifts in the same workout:
#1: Increases the Risk of Injury
The primary risk of doing both squats and deadlifts on the same day is that the combination puts a lot of strain on the body.
As mentioned, squats and deadlifts are both exhausting, taxing exercises.
Even when using proper form and technique, doing both exercises on the same day puts a lot of strain on the tendons, muscles, and ligaments in the lower body and back.
Both exercises entail moving through a large range of motion and rely heavily on the glutes, lower back, and legs (hamstring, quads, and even the calves).
Because these are all large muscle groups that together comprise the majority of the muscle mass in the body—and they are used for nearly all activities of living outside of the gym—it’s important not to overwork these muscles by doing too much in one workout.
This is particularly true of the structures in the posterior chain, which tend to be relatively weak.
Your body needs time to recover after highly-demanding exercises, and if you’re deadlifting and squatting same day, you’re not getting a full recovery between sets.
Doing your squats and deadlifts on the same day is exhausting from a mental, physical, and neuromuscular perspective.
Known as CNS fatigue, or central nervous system fatigue, flu-like symptoms, and poor coordination can occur if you overwork your neuromuscular system by doing both exercises.
This can compromise your form and lead to poor performance, technique errors, and injuries.
#3: Reduced Performance
You may need to use lighter weight or do less volume when you do both squats and deadlifts in the same workout, which can reduce your potential gains.
Benefits Of Doing Squats and Deadlifts In the Same Workout
Doing squats and deadlifts in the same workout isn’t advisable for everyone, but there are benefits to doing both for certain athletes.
The following are some of the potential benefits of doing squats and deadlifts on the same day:
Because squats and deadlifts require many of the same muscle groups, when you perform both exercises in the same workout, you save on warm-up time.
Typically, it takes 15-20 minutes to get properly warmed up for either of these exercises, so if you combine squats and deadlifts in the same workout, you can save on that time during another workout by “double dipping.”
#2: Identifying Weaknesses
Whether you’re a powerlifter, a runner, a triathlete, or partake in some other sport, athletes often gravitate towards focusing on their strengths rather than their weaknesses, even though the converse would be a more effective strategy at improving performance.
When you perform squats and deadlifts on the same day, it’s easier to get direct feedback about where your relative weaknesses lie because you can compare your performances without losing perspective because of gaps in time.
In other words, when you separate your squats and deadlifts into two different workouts, it’s fairly difficult to assess which exercise you are better at and which one is lagging behind.
This comparison isn’t as simple as just calculating how much weight you’re lifting for each move and making an apples-to-apples comparison.
Rather, because the two moves are different, the loads you’re using are likely different, but what really matters in determining where your strengths and weaknesses lie is in your movement patterns.
Where is your form breaking down?
When you squat and deadlift in the same workout, you fatigue the same muscles, so you’re challenging your muscular endurance in addition to your muscular strength.
You can compare how you’re feeling and moving during each exercise as you go back and forth between sets, revealing areas of relative weakness where your form is breaking down or you’re hitting limiting factors.
In the powerlifting world, these issues are known as “technical breakdowns.”
For example, if you’re feeling strong in the squats, but you’re finding that your hamstrings are trembling on the deadlifts, you might have a relative weakness in the hamstrings.
If the hip hinge on the deadlift is feeling powerful, but you’re feeling shaky and weak on the eccentric (lowering) portion of the squat, your hip flexors might be weaker than your hip extensors.
Doing squats and deadlifts together in the same workout can help you detect your weaknesses, so you can target your training to correct any imbalances.
#3: Supporting Hypertrophy
Hypertrophy is the process of muscle building or muscle growth.
It’s a two-step process that involves muscle breakdown followed by muscle repair.
It is in the repair process that muscle growth occurs, but the muscle breakdown step is required first in order to trigger the muscle repair process.
Essentially, when you do a hard workout with heavy resistance training, the muscle fibers you worked experience microscopic damage or small tears in the fibers.
This damage signals the body to rush resources to the site of the muscles to repair the damage.
Amino acids (the building blocks of protein) and other nutrients are shuttled to muscle for the process of muscle protein synthesis. This involves assembling new proteins from amino acids and using them to repair the damaged muscle fibers.
By laying down new proteins along the damaged muscle fibers, the existing muscle fibers are thickened and strengthened, leading to muscle growth (hypertrophy) and increases in strength.
All of this is to say that when you do squats and deadlifts on the same day, you activate so many muscle fibers and cause a lot of microscopic muscle damage.
Thus, the stimulus for muscle protein synthesis is much greater, so you’ll get a more potent muscle-reparative response.
When there’s just a little damage—say, a few tiny tears in isolated muscles or certain regions of certain muscles—the impetus for muscle protein synthesis is much weaker.
There will be some amount of muscle protein synthesis that takes place, but you won’t get the groundswell reaction that you do when you squat and deadlift same day.
This is because squatting and deadlifting in the same workout doubles down on the muscle damage in the same muscle groups.
The result is a more dramatic muscle-building response.
You can envision this difference by picturing a baseball pitcher. Here, the windup is like the muscle damage from a workout, and the pitch is the muscle protein synthesis process for muscle building.
If a pitcher throws a ball with very little windup, the ball will go somewhat far.
This is like doing squats and deadlifts in separate workouts. There will be some amount of damage and some amount of repair.
When the pitcher does a whole, big windup routine, the ball is thrown way further. Squatting and deadlifting causes a more dramatic stimulus for muscle growth.
Should I Squat and Deadlift Same Day?
Although you absolutely can squat and deadlift on the same day, whether you should do both exercises in the same workout depends on your fitness level and goals.
It’s recommended that beginners always perform heavy lifting exercises like squats and deadlifts on different days, separating these moves into two workouts that are at least 48-72 hours apart.
If you are going to do squats and deadlifts on the same day, make sure to use a weight for both exercises that you can safely lift with proper technique for all your reps.
This may mean scaling back the weight or reducing the number of reps and sets you do.
Your safety should be your top priority.
Also, make sure you focus on recovering after your workout, getting in plenty of protein, carbohydrates, and calories, and taking at least 72 hours off before hitting the same muscle groups again.