top of page

Squats or Deadlifts, which is better for Athletes?

Blonds or Brunettes?

Bums or Boobs?

Rugby League or Rugby Union? (there's only one answer to that..) Pull Guard or actually learn some takedowns?

There's many many binary questions questions out there.

One that comes up a lot is Squats vs Deads

I've talked a good bit about this in the various workshops I've taught, but I don't think I've ever written about it.

And then S&C God Dan John posts this:

Do I agree with him?


I love the point he brings about keeping the squat for mobility. Especially if we're talking Goblet, Front or Overhead Squats

Having the mobility to squat well does suggest that you're a long way towards having the mobility to do most athletic actions.

But for strength development, why do I think the deadlift is better?

First, we think about why we're doing the lift in the first place. And that is a simple question of CNS overload.

If we overload the Central Nervous System (CNS) then it learns to fire more efficiently. That is is calls more muscles into play quicker and with more force.

That's why we do heavy compound lifts primarily for strength.

This enhanced CNS efficiency does need refined to make it work when you throw a punch or perform a Hari-Goshi, it's not perfect all by itself.

The Deadlift provides this overload. We can deadlift in a variety of ways, from Straight bar to Trap bar, Romanian to Sumo, from blocks or the floor, Snatch Grip or Regular Grip and every damn thing in between!

Meaning it suits most people most of the time. We can very quickly develop CNS effeciency (read strength) While focussing that on: Grip Spinal erectors Lats Traps Hamstrings In other words the biggest, baddest muscles that provide the biggest baddest performance outcomes.

But are also some of the groups that seem to offer the most problems if under trained.

Grey Cook, another legend in the S&C field and top Physio has looked at thousands of people including a great many athletes and likes to say:

"Train the Hinge, Maintain the Squat"

He's a fan of Deads too. He, like myself and Dan John are all fans of Kettlebell Swings.

Mike Boyle who literally wrote the book of Strength and Conditioning created havoc on the internet a few years back when he ditched the Back Squat all together! He has athletes Deadlift with the Trap Bar and perform Bulgarian Split Squats, there's alos goblet squats thrown in there too.


Time and safety. Escaping a back squat gone wrong is a problem. Escaping a deadlift that's not right is simply a case of opening your hands. It's never a case of one or the other. But if I were to say only do one I'd say Deadlift. You can do bodyweight squats, goblet squats etc. to warm up. And if you can't deadlift: Swing Kettlebells Do High Pulls High Pulls from the Hang Broad Jumps Single leg RDLs Bridges And you'll probably be alright


Dave Hedges

22 views0 comments


bottom of page