Both deadlifting and squatting are great lower kinetic chain exercises that can be utilized in strength building programs.
Deadlifting is an exercise that requires the weight being lifted to start on the ground. The hips stay as high as possible forcing there to be a high degree of hinging between the upper and lower body at the hips. Arms are locked out, back stays flat, scapulas are retracted, and the hips come forward at the same time as the back and shoulders come up making the transition to the upright position. Squatting is an exercise that requires the weight being lifted to start in the air being held by the participant of the exercise. Now that the weight is being held by the participant they must drop their hips down as if they were sitting into a chair until the knee is bent at 90 degrees. The upper body should stay as upright as possible keeping the back flat and the chest up. Once this 90 degree bend in the knee has been achieved the participant may now stand back up the original upright position pushing upward through the heels.
When discussing the differences between deadlifts and squats, the first major difference between the two, that is the most obvious to point out, is that deadlifts start with the weight on the ground and require the weight to be lifted up then put back down and squats are the opposite.
Squatting involves having the hips go up and down just like sitting in a chair, but deadlifts involve much less up and down movement of the hips. Instead the hips reach back, causing the upper and lower body to hinge, and then come back through to center as the weight is lifted.
Squatting and deadlifting are very much different from each other, but they still have some similarities as well. Both exercises should be performed with the weight being driven through the heels to limit as much stress at the knees as possible. There should also be an emphasis on controlling the back, bracing the core, and activating the glutes while performing both exercises. Controlling the back means that the scapulas should be retracted and protracted which will keep the upper back tight and strong. Bracing the core involves tightening the abdominal muscles, but still being able to breathe normally. This keeps the core as rigid as possible which will keep the lumbar spine neutral and this is important for reducing the risk of lower back injuries. Activating the glutes is important because they are some of the strongest muscles on the body and not utilizing them can cause weaknesses in other areas. By activating and engaging the glutes, form and technique will improve as well as overall strength and power.
Certain variations of deadlifts and squats are designed to make the exercise easier for beginners and other variations are designed to make it more challenging.
Variations that are used to make squatting a little easier for beginners would be goblet squats or even body weight squats. Goblet squats involve holding a dumbbell or kettlebell under the chin in such a way that the weight rests on the palms while the fingers face out in opposite directions. This puts the weight closer to the participant’s center of mass which will make it easier to maintain balance and lift the weight.
When first trying these exercises start small and work up. It would also be beneficial to utilize the variations that are there to make the exercise less challenging. If anyone is serious about increasing strength in their lower body then incorporating deadlifts and squats is a great way to accomplish this.