Can You Squat and Deadlift In The Same Workout?

There is an indefinite number of ways you could combine exercises in your training program, which is why programming can be considered as an art rather than a science. 

Whether you are a coach or athlete currently designing your own or someone else’s training programming, you may be asking: 

Can you squat and deadlift in the same workout?  

There are many benefits to squatting and deadlifting in the same workout, including observing how each of your lifts perform in a ‘fatigued state’ and combining muscle groups for maximum hypertrophy. Also, if you are a powerlifter, you need to deadlift after squatting in a meet, so this is how you should train. 

However, the better question that should be asked is, should you squat and deadlift in the same workout?  

Before we dive into the debate…

To answer the question, you may find some usefulness in asking the following questions for yourself and in this article, we will bring some science to support your decision about whether you can or should train squat and deadlift in the same workout session.

You should ask yourself:

  • What do you want to achieve by training squat and deadlift together?
  • Is the training availability dictating your decision to train them together?
  • What is your objective for your current phase of training?

This article will go explore the hypothetical consequences for training the squat and the deadlift in the same session and discuss the benefits and drawbacks. There will also be sample workout structures of how you could combine the two lifts.

Before we explore what happens, it is important to remember these three things:

  • The squat and the deadlift are both hip and knee extensor movements. This means the prime movers of the quadriceps and the gluteal muscles are maximally in demand in both movements.
  • The squat and the deadlift both have almost the same synergist and stabiliser muscles. The hip adductors, the hamstrings, the lats, the spinal extensors and the core muscles are all engaged but to different degrees with each lift and at different points in the range of motion!

How Might You Benefit From Squatting And Deadlifting Together?

There are many useful benefits why you might want to squat and deadlift together

There are many reasons why you might want to squat and deadlift together. Here are some useful reasons why you might want to train them together.

1.  Observing deadlift performance after squat fatigue

You may have come from training squat and deadlifts separately. 

It is highly likely that you may be coming from training deadlifts in a somewhat more recovered state depending on training activities immediately prior to the day you trained deadlift. 

The reason why you might choose to observe deadlift performance after squatting activity is to see how you might execute the deadlift differently after squatting maximally in a competition as you deadlift happens after squatting and benching. 

Having a perspective on how your deadlift might breakdown has strong implications on training programming.

During the off-season or preparatory phase of training, there is usefulness in training squat and deadlift respectively so you can see whether there is any technical or capacity breakdown of the deadlift after squats. 

What technical breakdown means in this case is a failure to execute with good technique and what capacity breakdown means a devolution of technique due to loss of capacity of muscle groups.

The difficulty of the squat training and the squat variations immediately prior to deadlifting are variables that may influence how your deadlift performance. The more difficult the session, the more breakdown you will see in your deadlift. 

If you had a more quad or knee dominant variation of a squat before, you may spot more inefficient movement with execution with the knees extending earlier and more loading onto the posterior chain i.e. the glutes, hamstrings and back muscles. 

The relative loading on the squat may also be a variable. 

Some research has shown that during a squat, with increasing relative loads being lifted; there is an increase in muscle activation among the glutes and hamstrings. These muscle groups are majorly engaged during the deadlift. 

Due to individual differences of varying body proportions, limb lengths and varying weaknesses, the impact may be different between different people. It is likely that you will see an appearance of a more apparent sticking point, which is defined as a region of a lift where there is a disproportionately large experience of difficulty. This often visually appears as a moment of reduced speed or momentary pause. 

Once you find out what happens during the breakdown, you will then have information to make a decision on how future training evolves from that.

It is important to note that research does suggest that exercise order does matter during a training session as it allows for more external loads to be performed earlier on in the session. 

So if you are going to squat before you deadlift, there is a strong possibility that you will be biasing gains in strength towards squat. Training them together is also a double edge sword in the sense that you can also have another training day where you can deadlift first during the day.

Related: 18 Exercises To Improve Deadlift Technique

2.  Predictability for competition preparation

For the purpose of training towards an upcoming competition, you may be going through a peak and taper phase. 

The purpose of a peak and taper, is to optimise physical preparation for the competition through meaningfully reducing fatigue to maximise performance and also produce a level of predictability for performance. 

The rationale for this is to be able to come up with a game day plan for attempt selection. Through training the squats and deadlifts together, you may be able to establish a sensible opener and subsequent attempts for the deadlift after potential fatigue from squatting. 

3.  Separating muscle groups for hypertrophy

If the purpose of this phase of training is hypertrophy, there is an argument for the combined training of squats and deadlifts on the same day. 

When training is focused on hypertrophy, the training should centre around stimulating muscle groups as opposed to individual disciplines. Since the squat and deadlift target almost the same muscle groups, there may be usefulness in training them on the same day. 

This is not to say that training the lifts on separate days is not optimal but you might actually enjoy completely structuring your training around muscle groups as opposed to individual disciplines. 

Many powerlifters prefer to have training days that completely abstain from certain muscle groups and might experientially prefer a more fully rested state to train the lower body hard. 

Exercise order might not matter as there is some research [2] to show that short term, exercise order does not seem to meaningfully impact the hypertrophy gains made. 

Why You May Not Want To Train Squats And Deadlifts Together

implement the other lift on another day where there is at least a day between training the squat and deadlift

1.  Increasing training experience

If you are a lifter who is becoming more and more experienced, you will need to take advantage of more training volume over time in order to progressively overload. 

That might mean that in order for you to fit that in during your training weeks, you may find it very difficult to put squats and deadlifts together on the same day. 

Regardless, whether you are implementing a higher intensity or higher volume training prescription during the first lift, you may find yourself accumulating enough fatigue for it to majorly impact your capacity to implement a meaningful amount of training for the other lift. 

In this case, it would most likely be wiser to implement the other lift on another day where there is at least a day between training the squat and deadlift.

2.  Previous injury history

One of the bigger predictors of potential injury is the history of previous injury on given sites on the body. 

If it is the case that you have a previous history of injury around any region used by or made worse by squatting and deadlifting, it may be an intelligent programming decision to make sure that the squat and deadlift do not get programmed together. 

After being pre-exhausted after squatting or deadlifting, you may not have as much focus or technical integrity once you train the other lift immediately after which will increase your risk of injury. 

Training each lift fresh will lend itself to allowing you to have mental focus on safe execution of the lifts. 

It is quite often that injuries that occur among powerlifters tend to be chronic overuse type injuries. Most research shows [5][6] that knee and back injuries tend to be the most common type of injuries among powerlifters so there is an inherent risk of high stress on these regions of the body which are also in high demand during squatting and deadlifting. 

This makes a good argument that if they can be trained separately, then they should be trained separately. 

Practical Applications

some intelligent ways of distributing the lifts throughout a training week

Here are some intelligent ways of distributing the lifts throughout a training week.

Training 3 days per week

Squatting and Deadlifting Together

Day 1
Squat (Low difficulty session)
Bench Press
Deadlifts (Low difficulty session)

Day 2
Squats (High difficulty session)
Bench Press

Day 3
Deadlifts (High difficulty session)
Bench Press

Squatting and Deadlifting Separately

Day 1
Squat (High difficulty session)
Bench Press 

Day 2
Deadlifts (High difficulty session)
Bench Press

Day 3
Squats (Low difficulty session)
Bench Press

Training 4 days per week

Squatting and Deadlifting Together

Day 1
Squat (High difficulty session)
Bench Press (Optional)
Deadlifts (Low difficulty session)

Day 2
Bench Press

Day 3
Deadlifts (High difficulty session)
Squats (Low difficulty session)

Day 4
Bench Press

Squatting and Deadlifting Separately

Day 1
Squat (High difficulty session)
Bench Press 

Day 2
Deadlifts (Low difficulty session)
Bench Press (Optional)

Day 3
Deadlifts (High difficulty session)

Day 4
Squats (Low difficulty session)
Bench Press

If you’re looking to learn more about programming, check out my other articles:

Frequently Asked Questions

Should You Squat Or Deadlift First?

You should choose to squat first if you want to prioritize your squat strength on the given training session, or if you want to prioritize deadlift then you should deadlift first. In the case that you believe that either of the lifts is lagging behind a lot, you may find it useful to prioritise that lift through your training week.

Is It Bad To Deadlift Before Squatting?

No, there is nothing inherently bad about deadlifting before you squat. A common myth that goes around is that you become too fatigued and you risk injuring a part of your body such as your back. The important thing that you need to remember is to make sure that you are managing the volume and intensity properly. If the training for the initial deadlifts was difficult, you may want to keep squatting easy afterward. If the training for the initial deadlifts was easy, you may potentially be able to push the squatting harder afterward.

Can You Deadlift Directly After Squatting Or Should There Be Another Exercise In Between?

Yes, you can definitely deadlift directly after squatting. There is nothing inherently bad with deadlift directly after squatting. You will definitely feel a level of fatigue from squatting that may impact the muscles that are used in deadlifting. If you put another exercise in between squats and deadlifts that does not involve muscles that cross over, you may experience more general fatigue rather than localized fatigue on the muscle. If you put another lower body exercise in between squats and deadlifts, there may be even more great fatigue locally on the lower body muscles.

How Many Working Sets Should You Do Of Squats And Deadlifts If You Do Them On The Same Day?

How many working sets you should do of squats and deadlifts depends on multiple factors. Example factors that influence how many working sets are:

  • The proximity to failure the sets are taken. The closer to failure they are, the less sets that you should do.
  • The intensity of the load relative to your 1 rep max ie relative intensity.
  • Whether you are doing any other leg exercises that same day.
  • Your training experience is a big factor as the more experience you have, the more sets that you can handle.
  • Whether you want to prioritise the squat or the deadlift.

The most important thing is that however many sets are chosen for the squats and deadlifts, the recovery and performance should be monitored on a weekly basis to see if you are able to recover from it.

Final Thoughts

If you feel like you have not made up your mind after this article, then you may find usefulness in using conventional wisdom. 

Consistency is key to making long term progress in your training. Adherence is a huge driver for consistency. Your enjoyment with the training processes is important for adherence. If you experientially enjoy training squats and deadlifts together and you continue to make good gains – then continue. 

Vice versa applies to this as well, if you do not enjoy it or if you are plateauing in a lift then it may be worth changing. Do not change things, if it is not broken.

Norman Cheung ASCC, British Powerlifting Team Coach

Norman Cheung

Norman Cheung is a powerlifting coach and an accredited strength and conditioning coach under the UKSCA. He has been coaching powerlifting since 2012 and has been an IPF Team GB coach since 2016. He has experience with coaching a variety of lifters from novices to international medallists and international university teams. Along side coaching, he takes interest in helping powerlifters take their first step into coaching. He currently runs his coaching services at strongambitionscoaching.com

References

Comparison of muscle activation and kinematics during free-weight back squats with different loads. van den Tillaar R et al. PLoS One. (2019)

What influence does resistance exercise order have on muscular strength gains and muscle hypertrophy? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Nunes JP et al. Eur J Sport Sci. (2020)

Understanding and Overcoming the Sticking Point in Resistance Exercise. Kompf J, Arandjelović O.

Effect of Resistance Training Frequency on Gains in Muscular Strength: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Grgic J et al. Sports Med. (2018)

Injury incidence and prevalence among elite weight and power lifters.
Raske A, Norlin R.

Injuries among weightlifters and powerlifters: a systematic review.
Aasa U, Svartholm I, Andersson F, Berglund L.