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Squat versus Deadlift

Howdy folks.

If the question is “What is the best leg exercise?”, more often than not, the answer is “The Squat.”

And I’m not certain that I disagree. But when I think about the number of muscles recruited–both upper body and lower body–I don’t understand why the squat is held in such esteem compared to the deadlift.


I think it’s due to the recruitment of larger muscles, not just more muscle mass. The mass of the quads is far above the hammies. Just a theory. Feel free to tear it apart.

I think they’re both good, and agree the squat moves more mass (quads) but due to msot people’s quad/ham inbalance I prefer the Deadlift… I want bigger hams so I’m replacing the squat with the dead for a while…it’s harder too. Plus it hits the forearms and some upper back, it’s becoming addicting…

a full squat will get all the muscles of the legs. A deadlift though will also recruit upper body muscles extensively. For overall mass the dealift is better. Try the barbell hack squat off an elevated platform so you can get deep motion. this will give all the benefits of the squat and the upper body recruitment of the dealift. laters pk

here is some food for thought…i began weight lifting 10 months ago on a serious basis.i have spent a great deal of time working on the squat and its various styles.i use squatting as my primary leg exercise and find it to be an absolute wonder when it comes to leg development and strength.anyway,my best single squat is 265 lbs and iwould guess that i could go as high as 280 lbs for a single to parallel.yeah i know thats wimpy to all you huge dudes but i am working on it.anwyay,here is what i discovered the other day:i started a new weight lifting program that includes the deadlift.up to this point in my life ihave never tried even one single deadlift of any weight.i mean never at all!so,i began this routine and found that dead lifting at and around my best squat weight was incredibly easy.so is this a normal thing for most people…being able to deadlift more than they squat even if they do not deadlift ?it just seemed too easy with no experience at all.is it the squat workouts that gave me the ability to lift the weight?i know its not a big weight for most of you but i am confident that i could pull 350 for single without much trouble.
as for me,the squat seems to be a much harder lift without a doubt.i am 6’3" 225lbs and have a fairly even leg to torso length.maybe thats a factor?anyway,just wanted to throw that out there for discusion as well.

I’m in the same boat - 6’2" 180 and I have the same kind of experience (same maxes too it seems like, though I haven’t tested squats in a while)

i think squatting recruits more lower body muscles. watch most people deadlift and they will use a lot of back to lift the weight (not that there is anything wrong with that). few people can do reps with deadlifts and not use more and more back on each successive rep. form deteriates more quickly with deadlifts, especially if you lift heavy weights. most people can do reps with squats and still work the quads, hams, glutes.

Hmm, my experience is different than Pete’s. From what I’ve seen people seem to have better deadlift form than squat form. In fact I’ve seen very few people maintain correct full squat form for reps. And if weren’t not talking about full squats, then the ham-glute involvement is much less.

I agree that squats hit the quads more than deads hit them. But I think the real question is whether squats are as superior to deads for quads as deads are superior to squats for hams and glutes.

And for upper body involvement, there’s no contest.

thats interesting that you have the same situtation.maybe the height helps with deadlifting as oppose to it hindering while squatting.as for me i really struggle with squats and spend a great deal of time working on my form and stance etc.its been a slow battle but i have been making progress over the last year or so.i guess i will continue to work on the deadlifts since this may be a way to improve my squat poundage and so forth.anyway,thanx for the follow up.just wanted to see if i was experiencing something unusual.