Deadlift On Leg Day
Deadlifts are an ultimate classic exercise to sculpt a number of muscles, yet it remains controversial, whether you should incorporate them into your back day, or leg day workouts. Follow this article to find out how to perform the deadlift correctly, and when exactly it makes more sense to be pulling big numbers off the floor if you want your efforts to translate to a core of steel. Let’s dive in!
What are deadlifts?
These are exercises targeting almost every muscle of your body, yet predominantly focusing on your back. However, deadlifts also activate muscles of your upper and lower body, so they can be useful on a leg day too.
The muscles deadlifts target include:
- Hand, arm and forearm muscles, which sustain the bar, holding it into position throughout the lift.
- Shoulders and traps, which hold the weight and keep it stable.
- Core and back muscles, which keep the whole body tight and stable and help keep your spine secure.
- Legs and posterior chain muscles, which actually lift the weights.
In this exercise, legs are the prime movers, while the rest of your muscles hold on to the bar and keep your body strong and stable.
Thus, deadlifts offer you “more bang for your back” than an isolation exercise. Incorporating deadlifts one or two days a week into a weight training session will develop strength in the hamstrings, glutes, low back, and upper back. They also rely on core strength to stabilize your body throughout the lift, which means you’ll be working your abs on top of everything else. As if you needed more convincing, deadlifts often work your glutes more than squats do. This means you can get faster results on your backside than relying on squats alone.
How to perform a deadlift correctly?
Deadlifts might look like a straining, but technically simple exercise, yet it is extremely important to pay attention to the way you perform them (1).
With your feet flat beneath the barbell, squat down and grasp it with your hands approximately shoulder-width apart.
Keep your chest up, and pull your shoulders back, looking straightforwardly rather than up or down.
Lift the bar, keeping it close to your legs and focus on taking the weight back onto your heels, rather than your toes. Think about pulling the weight towards you on the way up. Lift to thigh level, make a quick pause, then return under control to the starting position.
Let the weight come to a complete rest between each rep. While it’s on the floor, take a second or two to ensure your body is in the correct position. Your chest must be up, upper back tight and eyes looking forward. Now you can repeat the move once more.
Deadlifts on a leg day
When you begin lifting up the bar, you press your feet into the floor and activate your legs. Your hamstrings are tightening up, your quads start burning, your calves are working hard to stabilize everything below the knee, and by the time the weight comes up and you’re ready to lock out, your glutes come into play.
So including deadlifts into your weight training makes sense. Some athletes do exclusively squats and deadlifts for their leg training because they feel that these are the only strength-building moves they’ll ever need.
The opposing view on training this way is that other exercises lower your ability to properly perform the deadlift, as your legs have already been tired, and the deadlift is quite demanding.
In any way, if you decide to do deadlifts on a leg day, you have to arrange your exercises in order. Never begin your leg day with deadlifts, as this is both psychologically and physically exerting exercise. The best option is to place deadlifts later in your workout routine and begin with other exercises that are not so brutally draining, such as leg presses, leg curls, front barbell squats, or barbell lunges.
However, if you incorporate squats into your leg workouts, you should do deadlifts on back days. Deadlifts must be separated from squats as far as possible, usually by three or four days. Squatting heavy on one day and deadlifting heavy the following day is not a good idea for steady and long-term success.
Lean and toned up body isn’t just a far-fetched fantasy. Check out the BetterMe app and watch it propel your weight loss journey into high gear!
Deadlifts on a back day
While the legs are definitely recruited during the deadlift, the back is just as involved, especially during the second half of the movement when the bar passes your knees. Your upper back and shoulders assist in pulling the weight up and are staying tight throughout the movement.
The lower back is the main focus when it comes to bringing the weight to the lockout position. While you’re standing with the weight, the entire back works to provide the strong foundation for you to secure that position without damaging your spine.
Because of this, some trainers and athletes feel that deadlift should be included on back day since the lower back is a part of the back.
While this is great for back, the fact is that legs are still involved so some other trainers feel that doing deadlifts with back creates a second leg day which could lead to a greater chance of getting hurt than simply doing them along with the other major leg moves in one day.
The fear is if you train legs and then work deadlifts without enough time to recover in between, then the hamstrings or knees are more susceptible to being injured.
It is recommended that, when doing deadlifts on back day, you avoid taking the movement to muscle failure. The proper way to incorporate deadlifts for this day is to do lower reps and go heavier. It’s best to do deadlifts only once a week, as the lower back, with its large amount of tendinous tissue, is one of the slowest areas of the body to recover.
Other exercises which might fancy up you back day routine are t-bar rows, dumbbell shrugs, pulley rows and pull ups.
Tips for a stronger deadlift
Before giving the workout all you got your, you absolutely have to warm up first. Warming up properly not only decreases your injury risk, but also increases your performance. Practice dynamic stretching for the best results.
Work on your technique
Whatever type of deadlift you’re executing, you have to ensure you’re following the right technique. A bad, misplaced technique leads to weakness which causes injuries, and no one wants to get an injury instead of a strong body. On the other hand, if you practice enough, your deadlift will become much stronger, and the injury risk will lower immensely.
A few basic key tips on the conventional deadlift technique would be:
- Arms should be straight at all times. Bending them causes biceps tears
- Lower back should be in a neutral position. Rounding your back can be very dangerous and might cause injuries.
- Abs and lats should be tight during the entire duration of the exercise.
- The bar should stay close to your body at all times. Keeping it distanced will put severe strain on your back and will limit the amount of weights you are able to lift.
A remarkably efficient way way to increase your strength for deadlifts is to train explosively. This type of training can also be an easier and less tiring method of weight training.
To sum up, both deadlifts on leg day, and on back day can help you power up your muscles if you adjust to the specificities of performing this exercise on such days. Don’t forget to combine your regular exercising with a well balanced, high-protein (2, 5), and high-fiber (4) diet. Proteins repair damaged tissue, solidify your bones, protect your body from viruses and bacteria, and ensure proper growth, while high-fiber foods improve your digestion, normalize blood sugar levels, and help with weight loss.
You might search through a diversity of protein-enriched snacks, yet there are lots of great proteins mother nature provides such as tofu and seafood, just avoid red meat, as it might cause diabetes and heart disease (3). Look into the Mediterranean, or Keto Diet for examples of nutritious and healthy dietary plans. Guzzle some water before and after your training, as staying hydrated is essential for your health, especially when you’re physically active. A glass of lemon water in the morning will boost your results.
Are you struggling to achieve better and faster results? Check this 20 Min Full Body Workout at Home challenge up!
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- How to Deadlift with Perfect Form (2019, menshealth.com)
- Optimizing Protein Intake in Adults: Interpretation and Application of the Recommended Dietary Allowance Compared with the Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Substituting healthy plant proteins for red meat lowers risk for heart disease (2019, hsph.harvard.edu)
- The impact of soluble dietary fibre on gastric emptying, postprandial blood glucose and insulin in patients with type 2 diabetes. (2014, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The role of protein in weight loss and maintenance (2015, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)