Can You Train Back And Legs On The Same Day?

Can you train back and legs on the same day?

While there are seemingly endless possibilities on how to structure your workouts, one less talked about is training back and legs on the same day.  

Combining back and legs together breaks the typical “bro split” and “upper/lower” split that is commonly used in the bodybuilding and strength training world. 

But, can training back and legs on the same day be effective? 

Yes, training back and legs in the same workout is an effective way to build strength, size, and general fitness. This approach is flexible, allowing you to adjust your workout based on your lifting goals, weak points, the amount of time you have, and the equipment available to you. 

There are some rules, however, that you need to follow if you are going to implement a “back and legs split”.  So in this article, I’ll discuss who should consider this split and how to implement it correctly. 

Is Training Back And Legs On The Same Day Safe?

There is no research I am aware of that says it’s unsafe to train back and legs on the same day, and never in my personal experience have I seen such a workout split deemed dangerous. 

One thing you should be aware of though is whether or not you have a pre-existing back condition or injury.  This is because many lower body movements, like squats, deadlifts, and lunges, use the low and mid-back.  

Therefore, if you are prone to back issues, then training both legs and back muscles on the same day may lead to excess fatigue, which your body may not be able to handle.  

With that said, if you are healthy, there should be no reason to be concerned about building up excess fatigue on your back muscles, as your body will continue to adapt to the stimulus that is presented in training.  

Our resident physio discusses back injuries in the following article: How To Fix Back Issues While Deadlifting.

Is Training Back And Legs On The Same Day Effective?

The efficiency of training the back and legs on the same day

Not only is training back and legs on the same day effective, but it’s also a very common way for a lifter to train their whole body over the course of the week.

By combining muscle groups, like the back and legs, you can train a large portion of your body in a single workout, leaving you more time to train the rest of your body, or even have a second workout dedicated to back and legs later in the week. 

This last point is extremely important, as research has indicated that training each muscle group twice in a single week yields better results when it comes to growing your muscles. 

You may also want to consider your personal goals. 

For example, if you are focused on max strength in your legs in a compound lift, say squatting or deadlifting, you’ll want to train those exercises first before moving on to leg exercises or back exercises that focus on a single muscle in the leg or back. 

Maximal strength gains are more prominent when those exercises are performed with less fatigue and greater work capacity early in the workout. 

Takeaway: So if you’re focused on a big squat or deadlift, warm-up and train those lifts first, then move on to the rest of your leg and back muscles later in the workout. If you’re not too particular about specific strength gains, you can arrange the workout in whatever order you prefer. 

4 Benefits Of Working Out Back And Legs Together

The benefits of working out back and legs together

There are 4 benefits when training legs and back together:

  • You can save time
  • You can effectively train them twice in a week
  • You can train exercises that incorporate both
  • You can improve your work capacity

You Can Save Time

There are two ways that combining back and legs together saves you time – doing more in a single workout, and by incorporating supersets. 

When you combine muscle groups into a single workout, you are able to train your full body in fewer workouts. Combining back and legs (and doing similar pairings in other workouts) is a great way to get this same benefit.

The second way to save time is by alternating muscles with each exercise or super-setting. Instead of training one leg exercise, like Stiff Leg Deadlifts, then resting a few minutes before performing Hamstring Curls, you could skip the rest and follow your Stiff Leg Deadlifts with Lat Pull Downs. 

Because these two exercises use entirely different muscle groups, your hamstrings rest while your lats get trained. After performing the Lat Pull Downs, you can move on to the Hamstring Curls now that your legs are rested and your lats need a break. 

This type of alternation isn’t nearly as possible when you only train a single muscle group because there’s no secondary muscle group to alternate while the primary muscle rests. 

You Can Effectively Train Them Twice in a Week

The research has proven that training muscles twice per week is key to success when training for hypertrophy.  

When you combine muscle groups together for each workout, you have fewer total workouts you need to train your full body (as we illustrated above with various training splits). Because you have more time in the week to train, you can use that extra time to give these muscle groups a second workout, further increasing your gains. 

So use the extra time you’ve saved not to sit around and be glad you already did your 2-3 workouts for the week, use that extra time to get back in and train those muscles again in a second workout. 

Imagine you trained back and legs together in a deadlift-focused workout on Tuesday, then on Friday you went back to the gym and trained legs and back again, but this time with isolated back and leg exercises instead of the compound deadlifting movements you did on Tuesday. 

You Can Train Exercises That Incorporate Both

A common question among new lifters is whether the deadlift is a leg exercise or a back exercise and how do you decide what day to train it? 

Well, training your back and legs on the same day is the perfect answer for how to incorporate deadlifts. 

If you’re only focused on training legs alone, and you train back on another day, you might be hesitant to do deadlifts for fear you might fatigue your back too much before your back workout. 

Or maybe you don’t want to do deadlifts on back day, because your legs are still sore from a leg workout the day before. 

These questions won’t be an issue for the lifter who combines back and legs and is suddenly opened up to train back, legs, deadlifts, compound movements, and isolated movements all in the same day. 

You can train deadlifts, squats, and all their variations without worrying about whether or not it’s in line with your goals for the day and the long term. 

You Can Improve Your Work Capacity

Your work capacity is your ability to do many sets and reps over a period of time. Those with a low work capacity will be tired and winded much faster than a lifter with a high work capacity when performing the same sets and reps with the same load.

By training supersets and limiting (or removing entirely) your rest time between sets, you train your work capacity to improve. Initially, these supersets may leave you winded with a racing heart rate, but over time, just like with muscle growth and cardiovascular capabilities, your body will adapt to this form of exercise and your work capacity will improve. 

While there are ways to improve work capacity while training a single muscle in a single workout, it’s much easier to do when you combine two or more muscles into a workout and incorporate supersets. 

What Should You Consider When Training Back and Legs Together?

What should you consider when training your back and legs together

There’s certainly no danger or risk in changing up your split to train back and legs together, but there are certainly a few elements you should consider before jumping in. 

What Are Your Weaknesses?

You may want to try this approach as a result of your current weaknesses. If your leg training is consistent, and you feel like your back needs more attention, it might make sense to throw some back exercises on at the end of your leg day. 

Alternatively, if you’ve been guilty of skipping leg day and need to find a way to get it done, maybe you can tack it on to the end of back day, so that you can hold yourself accountable to getting it done while you’re already at the gym. 

Or maybe you just want a change of pace, and training back and legs together will let you do some more deadlift variations that you haven’t had in your workout plan for a while. 

Whatever changes you make, make them with the thought of your weaknesses in mind so you can get better.

What Equipment Is Available to You?

Think of the gym you train at, or the equipment you have at home. If you don’t have the means to effectively train legs or back at home, this could be a good indicator that you can combine those two groups together and train them at a different gym or location on a specific day. 

Additionally, if one of the reasons why you want to do legs and back on the same day is to get the benefits of doing supersets, then you’ll need to consider if you have the space and equipment for moving between two exercises.

 One of my biggest frustrations in a public gym come from leaving one piece of equipment to go to alternate my superset with another piece of equipment, and someone takes it while I’m away, making me wait and negating all my efforts to cut out rest time. 

Plan your supersets with the equipment you have access to, and think through ways you can do it effectively in your own circumstances. 

For example, if the deadlift platform is nowhere near the cable machine, don’t do the Stiff Leg Deadlift/Lat Pull Down superset I mentioned earlier. Instead, try combining Lat Pull Downs with the Hamstring Curl, if they are closer together, or do a Cable Stiff Leg Deadlift with a negative tempo and the Lat Pull Down on the same cable machine. 

How Much Time Do You Have To Train?

If you have ample time, you might split up your back/leg day to train deadlifts first, focused on maximal strength, with long rest times between sets so you can move as much weight with the best form possible. Then move into isolated back and leg exercises after. 

If you’re pressed for time, you might find the superset model to be the most favorable, moving quickly between exercises to get as much done as possible. 

However you change your back and legs workouts, consider the time available to you when you do. 

How Often Do You Train?

Not only should you consider how much time you have in each workout, but how much time do you have in a week to train, and when will you get a chance to train back and legs again?

If you have time to train every day, put together a plan that will let you train back and legs twice in a week. Maybe one workout, you train with maximal effort for strength, doing lots of deadlifts and barbell rows, and then a few days later you come back and use dumbbells, cables, and weight stack machines to do several isolated back and leg movements in supersets. 

If you only have one day a week when you can squeeze in your back and legs work, focus on deadlifts and compound movements, covering as much of your legs and back in the same exercise as you can. Incorporate supersets to get your heart rate up and reduce the time you spend resting between sets. 

Any change you make to your program should include some thought into how often you train.

How Should You Program Your Back And Legs Workouts? (3 Ways)

Think of three ways to build your program – back priority, leg priority, or balanced priority.

Weak Back – Train Back First

These workouts will prioritize your back, and incorporate legs as well. 

Weak Legs – Train Legs First

These workouts will prioritize legs while incorporating your back

  • Barbell Squats – 5 sets of 6
  • Front Squats – 4 sets of 8
  • Leg Press – 4 sets of 5, 5 second negative tempo
  • Superset – Single Arm DB Row – Single Leg Extension – 4 sets of 10
  • Superset – Inverted Incline Bench DB Row and Goblet Squats – 4 sets of 10
  • Superset – Inverted Incline Bench Rear Delt Fly and Bulgarian Split Squat  – 4 sets of 10

Balanced Back/Legs – Alternate Both

If you aren’t too specific about which muscle group needs more work or attention, you can alternate between muscle groups, or do all the work for one muscle and move on to the next muscle.  

While both approaches are good and have their benefits, the alternating method will typically be better for reducing time and improving work capacity, while the sequential method will typically be better for building and maintaining a pump and improving the endurance of the muscle.

Alternating Workout

  • Barbell Deadlift – 5 sets of 5 reps
  • Bent Over BB Row – 4 sets of 12 reps
  • Stiff Leg Deadlift – 5 sets of 8
  • Seated Cable Row – 4 sets of 10
  • Front Squat – 4 sets of 8
  • D-Grip Cable Row – 4 sets of 8
  • Leg Press – 4 sets of 10
  • Rope Face Pulls – 4 sets of 10

Sequential Workout

  • Barbell Deadlift – 5 sets of 5 reps
  • Stiff Leg Deadlift – 5 sets of 8
  • Front Squat – 4 sets of 8
  • Leg Press – 4 sets of 10
  • Bent Over BB Row – 4 sets of 12 reps
  • Seated Cable Row – 4 sets of 10
  • D-Grip Cable Row – 4 sets of 8
  • Rope Face Pulls – 4 sets of 10

Final Thoughts

Because the deadlift incorporates both the back (lower and upper back) and your legs (quads, glutes, and hamstrings), it’s a fantastic example of how these two muscle groups work together and how you can effectively train them at the same time. 

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About The Author

Adam Gardner

Adam Gardner is a proud resident of Utah, where he lives with his wife and two kids. He has been competing in powerlifting since 2016 in both the USPA and the APF. For the past three years, he and his wife, Merrili, have coached beginning lifters to learn the fundamentals of powerlifting and compete in their first powerlifting competitions.