Should You Deadlift After Leg Day?

I get this question enough that I figured I would explore it some here.

Deadlifting, like squats and other movements, may be performed multiple times per week (or once per week, and yes, even less frequent than that) if warranted and programmed according. Such factors influencing that decision may be the relative intensity at which deadlifts and other exercise are trained (% of RM), the training volume (sets x repetitions), and the overall training stressors and goals of the program.

Depending on the athlete and their individual goals and abilities, deadlifts may be part of a leg/lower day routine, back day, programmed all by themselves, or seldom done.

Below are some things to consider when determining if doing deadlifts post leg-day (or any day for that matter) is a smart move.

Powerlifters

A video posted by Rachel ☕ 🍩 (@rkp3033) on


Hopefully by now you are not doing daily strength WODs that have randomized daily training routines (as this goes for weightlifters and competitive fitness athletes as well). The sport of powerlifting requires coaches and athletes to follow legitimate strength programming, one that methodically progresses a lifter throughout multiple phases (weeks and months) of training. Because the deadlift is a competition lift in powerlifting, many lifters devote an entire day or more per week (depending on their individual needs and abilities) to pulling. The more advanced the lifter, the greater stress and demand is placed upon the body, making deadlifts an extremely taxing endeavor.

Generally speaking, for strength, technical considerations, and overall performance in the deadlift, powerlifters should strive to separate a few days between squat sessions and deadlift days, since they both require a great maximal central nervous system and muscular abilities.

Weightlifters

A video posted by Jake (@olypleb) on

Deadlifting in weightlifting comes in the forms of snatch and clean pull/deadlifts, with the purpose being to assist in the overall pulling strength of a lifter specific to the snatch and clean and jerk. In weightlifting programming, many athletes snatch, clean, jerk, squat, and pull (deadlift) all in the same session, and do that multiple times per week. The main difference between weightlifting pulls and other deadlifts (powerlifting, functional fitness, strongman) is that they are usually done at lower intensities (% of RM) and volume (sets and repetitions) since they are often based off of a lifters’ snatch, clean, squat, and/or snatch/clean deadlift.

Therefore, generally speaking, weightlifters can perform various days of pulling (in the form of snatch/clean pulls/deadlifts and RDLs) since the overall intensity (both the % of RM and training volume) are typically lower than that of powerlifters.

Function Fitness and Athletes

A video posted by Julio G (@juliusmaximus24) on

For everyone else out there, generally speaking, deadlifts may or may not be advised following leg day. As discussed above, a coach and lifter must understand the physiological stress that is placed upon a human body varies depending upon the relative intensity trained (% of RM), the total volume (sets and repetitions), and any pre-existing fatigue and external stressors that may warrant not doing deadlifts following an aggressive leg day.

Final Thoughts

Without a proper understanding of the stress deadlifting can place upon a lifter (both good and bad stressors), and how successive training bouts can affect a lifter’s performance (strength, technique, and bar acceleration), coaches and athletes may set themselves up for injury and stalled progress. It is important to note that the best athletes and deadlifters progressed their development through a systematic strength, power, and/or training program.

Editors note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein are the authors and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.

Featured Image: @rkp3033 on Instagram

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Mike holds a Master's in Exercise Physiology and a Bachelor's in Exercise Science. Currently, Mike has been with BarBend since 2016, where he covers Olympic weightlifting, sports performance training, and functional fitness. He's a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and is the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at New York University, in which he works primarily with baseball, softball, track and field, cross country. Mike is also the Founder of J2FIT, a strength and conditioning brand in New York City that offers personal training, online programs for sports performance, and has an established USAW Olympic Weightlifting club.In his first two years writing with BarBend, Mike has published over 500+ articles related to strength and conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, strength development, and fitness. Mike’s passion for fitness, strength training, and athletics was inspired by his athletic career in both football and baseball, in which he developed a deep respect for the barbell, speed training, and the acquisition on muscle.Mike has extensive education and real-world experience in the realms of strength development, advanced sports conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, and human movement. He has a deep passion for Olympic weightlifting as well as functional fitness, old-school bodybuilding, and strength sports.Outside of the gym, Mike is an avid outdoorsman and traveller, who takes annual hunting and fishing trips to Canada and other parts of the Midwest, and has made it a personal goal of his to travel to one new country, every year (he has made it to 10 in the past 3 years). Lastly, Mike runs Rugged Self, which is dedicated to enjoying the finer things in life; like a nice glass of whiskey (and a medium to full-bodied cigar) after a hard day of squatting with great conversations with his close friends and family.