Should it be implemented into your leg or back workout?
There is no doubt the Deadlift is a must have in your exercise programme but there seems to be a mass debate towards what training day they should be completed.
I don't believe there is a wrong answer. Due to the amount of muscles engaged, it wouldn't be a mistake to put them into either your leg or back day.
As always, it has to fit into your programme. Depending on whether you're completing full body workouts, split groups or upper lower, deadlifts needs to find its place and rest in between has to be considered.
If we look at muscle usage throughout the exercise, we can evaluate how this exercise best fits into your schedule.
From the moment you approach the bar, your body is preparing, both mentally and physically. Firstly, by squatting down to grip the bar, then the subsequent strain the body is about to experience.
Throughout the movement your grip will be seriously tested, as your hands are the only contact with the bar for the duration of the exercise. This includes wrist flexors, forearms and biceps. This can seriously take its toll due to the isolation on these smaller muscle groups and joints.
Something to think about if your next training session includes multiple pulling exercises, including back and bicep workouts. A chest or shoulder with accompanying triceps workout would be more suitable on the following day as they will not be as fatigued through the dramatic affects deadlifts can have on the body.
During the lifting phase, many powerlifters have explained like a leg press but in the opposite direction. So, you can imagine how much tension the legs will be under in the initial part of the lift.
You could argue that the legs are already being worked so they should be trained amongst other important leg exercises but on the other hand, if they are completed at either end of the week, your main leg workout could allow you to train your lower limbs twice. This may sound daunting to some but if you realised how much your body would benefit, you might seriously think about including this suggestion.
Once we have completed the alternative leg press movement, our lower back takes over and with the help of a strong core, the bar continues to rise in a straight line from it's starting position to the eventual ending, where your body is locked out with shoulders back and chest out proud.
As you will notice, your lower back and upper traps will feel the benefits in the form of muscle soreness so if either of those groups have been planned for the next day, then I would think twice.
Let’s look at how deadlift could be integrated into your legs and back workouts to help you make an informed decision.
When you initiate the lift, your feet should be planted on the floor and legs activated to begin the exercise. Initially, your hamstrings will tighten before the quads engage and produce the power needed to lift the weight. Your calves are also playing their part by stabilising the lower body and the glutes eventually join the party during the hip hinge movement. So this would warrant this exercise to be included on your leg day quite competently.
But on the other hand, by giving the deadlift your all could leave little energy to complete your following leg workout effectively. This would prompt me to introduce this exercise towards the end of a leg workout, so the focus is not taken away from the individual muscles themselves. Completing squats after deadlifts would not be very difficult but could become counterproductive.
As we have mentioned, the legs are majorly recruited during the deadlift, but the back is involved just as much, especially during phase two of the movement, after the bar passes your knees. The upper back and shoulders are assist by staying tight during the movement but the lower back takes the majority of the tension as the weight is taken to the lock out position.
Not only is your back being used throughout the movement, but it is also engaged whilst you are standing in an upright position with the weight. This provides the strong foundation you need give support to your spine, limiting damage and impending injuries.
This is why some individuals prefer to integrate the deadlift into their back day, to limit the amount of pressure on the spine through not using it as much, compared to completing multiple back sessions in a week and increasing the risk of over use.
Listen to your body and take advantage of rest periods
Even though, the back is worked thoroughly, the potential of including another leg day is too tempting. Not just the increased results but the fact it creates extra rest in between to repair your muscles and joints, which can also decrease the risk of injuries.
So, in short;
Deadlift is a necessity in your training programme
Complete it either on leg day or at the opposite end of the week to legs
Train your chest, shoulders or triceps the day after
Stay away from legs, back, traps and biceps the following day