Squat vs deadlift: Which one is a better exercise for strength?

Both squats and deadlifts are compound exercises that target several muscle groups at a time to perform a movement. But is one better than another? Let us find out.
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It is a battle between squats and deadlifts! Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Aayushi Gupta Updated: 3 Jun 2024, 02:34 pm IST

Squats and deadlifts are two of the most popular exercises in strength training. Both target major muscle groups and are essential for building strength, muscle mass, and improving athletic performance. People often incorporate these exercises to enhance overall fitness and achieve goals like toning your body and gaining muscle. Squats primarily target the lower body, especially the quads and glutes, while deadlifts engage a broader range of muscles, including the back, hamstrings, and core. Squat vs deadlift: Both exercises have their own set of benefits, but which one is better? Let’s find out.

What are squats good for?

Squats are a popular exercise that involves bending the knees and lowering the hips from standing, then returning to standing. This movement engages multiple muscle groups, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and core. “One of the most significant benefits of squats is their ability to enhance lower body strength,” explains fitness expert Mukul Nagpaul. Practising this exercise regularly can increase muscle mass, improve mobility, and support joint health.

What are the benefits of squat?

Squats are a highly effective exercise and offer numerous fitness benefits. Here are 5 key benefits of incorporating squats into your workout routine:

1. Helps build muscles

Squats primarily target the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, making them an excellent exercise for lower body strength and building muscle mass. By engaging these major muscle groups, squats help develop toned, strong legs and buttocks, according to a study published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine.

2. Strengthens core muscles

Although squats target the lower body, they also engage the core muscles, including the abdominals and lower back. Maintaining proper form during squats requires significant core stability, which helps strengthen these muscles over time.

Squats can help to strengthen your core. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

3. Burns calories

Squats are a compound movement, meaning they engage multiple muscle groups. “This increases the overall energy expenditure, leading to a higher calorie burn during and after the workout,” says Nagpaul. So, it can also help in weight management and fat loss.

Also Read: 5 best kettlebell exercises to build muscle mass and burn fat

4. Improves joint health

Squats can help strengthen the muscles, tendons, and ligaments surrounding the knees and hips. This support improves joint stability and can prevent injuries, promoting overall joint health and function.

5. Boosts flexibility and mobility

Performing squats regularly can enhance the flexibility in your hips, knees, and ankles. This increased range of motion not only improves athletic performance but also contributes to better posture and reduces the risk of injuries in daily activities.

Also read: Squats vs lunges: Which exercise is better for weight loss?

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What do deadlifts do to your body?

Deadlifts are also a compound exercise that targets multiple muscles at once. When performed regularly, it strengthens the lower back, glutes, hamstrings, and core. “Deadlifts are known to enhance overall muscle mass, boost metabolism, and improve posture by engaging multiple muscle groups,” says Nagpaul. Additionally, deadlifts can improve grip strength and stability, improving balance and reducing the risk of injury.

What are the benefits of deadlift?

Here are 5 key fitness benefits of deadlifts that you gain when performed regularly:

1. Increases full-body strength

Since deadlifts are a compound movement, they engage multiple muscle groups, including the lower back, glutes, hamstrings, quads, core, and even the upper body, according to a study published by Journal of Sport Rehabilitation. This makes them highly effective exercises for building overall strength and muscle mass.

Also read: Here’s how to do deadlifts the right way to avoid painful back injuries

2. Activates your core

The core is heavily engaged during deadlifts to stabilise the spine and prevent injury. This not only enhances core strength but also improves overall stability and balance, which is beneficial for both athletic performance and daily activities.

3. Improves posture

Deadlifts strengthen the muscles responsible for maintaining proper posture. By engaging the back, core, and shoulders, they help correct posture and prevent slouching, leading to a more upright and confident stance.

Deadlifts are one of the most effective exercises for increasing strength. Image courtesy: Adobe stock

4. Boosts metabolism

Deadlifts engage large muscle groups, leading to a high caloric expenditure. This can increase your metabolic rate, helping with weight management and fat loss. The muscle mass gained from performing deadlifts also contributes to a higher resting metabolic rate (the number of calories that your body burns while at rest).

5. Enhances grip strength

Holding and lifting heavy weights during deadlifts significantly boosts grip strength. “This improvement in grip can translate to better performance in other exercises and activities that require strong hands and forearms,” according to Nagpaul.

Also read: Body-weight exercises vs weight lifting: Which is better for you? Let’s find out

Squat vs deadlift: Which one is better?

“Deadlifts are often considered better than squats for overall strength and functional fitness,” says Nagpaul. They engage more muscle groups, including the lower back, glutes, hamstrings, core, and grip muscles. In fact, deadlifts also include the movements of squats, bending, and standing, which means deadlifts include the benefits of both exercises.

They also provide significant benefits for posture and core stability. While squats are excellent for targeting the legs and lower body, deadlifts offer a more comprehensive workout, enhancing both upper and lower body strength.

Aayushi Gupta

Aayushi Gupta is a health writer with a special interest in trends related to diet, fitness, beauty and intimate health. With around 2 years of experience in the wellness industry, she is connected to leading experts and doctors to provide our readers with factually correct information. ...Read More

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