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What Is The Difference Between A Deadlift and A Squat

For the month of October, we’re going to discuss technique tips/tricks, as well as the benefits of some of the exercises you’ll see at TS Fitness. This series will give you more insight into why we pick certain exercises and how we coach them. The more you know about each exercise, the faster you’ll be able to make progress.

This week we’ll discuss the squat and deadlift.

First, let’s examine what makes these movements different:

Difference Between Deadlift and Squat

For the squat, you usually hold a weight above your waist (think of a goblet squat or a front squat). When you squat down, it’s similar to a sitting/standing motion. Your torso remains fairly upright, your knees bend a lot and your hips drop downwards. It’s similar to the motion you’d use to jump vertically.

The squat primarily targets the quadriceps, the muscles that run down the front of your thigh. They also incorporate the glutes and the hamstrings, the muscle that runs down the back of the thigh, to a lesser extent.

When you deadlift, the weight typically starts on the ground or remains below your waist. Your knees don’t bend much, your hips go back and your torso leans over. It’s called a deadlift because when the weight is on the ground, the movement starts from a dead stop. In real life, it’s similar to lifting a heavy box off the ground.

The deadlift primarily works your hamstrings and glutes, while working the quadriceps much less than the squat. Both the squat and deadlift work the lower back muscles.

At TS, you’ll see various squat and deadlift movements. While they’re technically different, there’s still some overlap. For example, in each movement, you want to use your legs to lift the weight. Doing so protects your lower back from excess strain. It’s also important to keep your spine straight and long, as opposed to hunched over and round.

Coaches will give you similar cues for each exercise. “Chest up” is a cue that asks you to lift the chest and flatten your spine. “Corkscrew your feet,” asks you to screw your feet into the ground, activating your hip muscles and keeping your knees from caving inwards. Other tips for both exercises include keeping your weight towards your heels, instead of in your toes. Exhale when you lift the weight, and inhale when the weight is lowered. Other, more specific cues for each exercise are at the coach’s discretion, but these are some of the main tips you’ll hear.

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