Deadlift on Back or Leg Day: When It’s The Best Time?

deadlift leg or back day

Once we start going to the gym, most of us have similar experiences. Generally, in the very beginning, we don’t have clear training goals on our minds and we get overwhelmed by the variety of the machines and exercises.  Would you agree?

After a while, however, we begin to differentiate between cardio and strength programs, and we start to be more drawn to one or the other. Those of us more attracted by the idea of building a strong and toned body, naturally understand how to recognize the bodybuilding or powerlifting crew, and have the wish to be welcomed in their group. If you are in this group, then you have probably noticed that all bodybuilders and powerlifters perform deadlifts.

Deadlifts are undoubtedly powerful compound exercises designed to help you build muscle mass, strength, and incredible power. They involve different muscle groups. They offer various variations to accommodate the lifters of all levels.  Everybody agrees deadlift is the king of exercises! But there is some confusion about whether you should deadlift on leg day or back day. For example, if you ask a bodybuilder they will say that it is better to do them on back day. At the same time, every single powerlifter will say deadlifts should strictly be done on leg day.

So what is it, then, should we deadlift leg or back day? When looking for an answer to this question it is essential to know that deadlift involves the extension of hips and knees. Muscles used to achieve this are quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. So if you are wondering do deadlifts work legs, the answer is  yes . However back muscles , such as latissimus dorsi and spinal erectors  get also involved when  you perform a deadlift. Hence, you can also do it on a back day.

Deadlifts on a Leg Day

The force comes from the legs when you do the barbell deadlift. You will feel how the hamstrings and quadriceps flick on and your glutes get tighter. Many people describe this sensation as if you are pushing yourself from the floor using the power of the legs.  If you decided to deadlift on a leg day, keep in mind that order is crucial. The best thing you can do is perform them later in your workout. Experts also advise that you focus on volume and repetitions.   This is especially necessary if you do other demanding leg exercises, such are squats.  Keep in mind that when you are doing this exercise, you are lifting dead weight without momentum. That means that the deadlift workout leaves you pretty exhausted. If you opt to do it at the beginning of the training, you will not have the energy for other workouts.  Many people say that it is also better to do squats before deadlifts because they are excellent warm-up exercises. Remember to follow this advice, as that way you decrease the risk of injury and increase the chances of a successful workout.

Deadlifts on Back Day

Okay,  so when discussing deadlift back or leg day, we also have to ask ourselves ” is deadlift a back exercise?” Indeed, it most certainly is. When thinking about deadlifts people have in mind that they work for only the leg muscle groups. However, this is a myth as we already mentioned.  The back is pretty involved in this movement, especially during the second half when you lift the bar above your knees.  The lower back plays an important role when you are bringing the barbell to the lockout position. But your upper back and shoulders are engaged too, while you are pulling the weight up. Many professionals say that deadlift should be part of a back day particularly because the entire back works hard to provide a strong foundation when you are standing with the weight.

You remember that we said that if you opt for deadlifts on leg day, you should leave them for the end of the workout, right? If you are deadlifting on a back day, it is recommended that you do it at the beginning.  Apart from that, professionals recommend that you avoid pushing to the muscle failure.  The best way to deadlift on a back day is to do lower reps with a heavy load. It is best if you do deadlifts only once a week, as the lower body takes the most time to recover.

When to Do Deadlifts?

So, are you still wondering whether to deadlift on leg day or back day? Honestly, there isn’t a rule of thumb, here. The best is to say that the answer to this question depends on your training goals and regimen. Why did you decide to hit the gym? If you want to build strength or enter the powerlifting competitions, deadlifts are certainly among the most important exercises. In that case, you might want to consider doing them on both days – high reps and low weight on leg days and vice versa on back days. If you are aiming for an athletic body, deadlifts on back day arent your priority.  You will see more benefits if you do them as an accessory movement on leg day.

However, keep in mind that some powerlifters choose to deadlift on a day designated only for that. On that day they do only heavy deadlifts with some accessory exercises. The rest of the week they do squats, etc. Bodybuilders and fitness junkies usually find muscle group split on various days to be pretty useful.


That is all about whether to deadlift on back or leg day for today, guys! As you could see there isn’t a straightforward answer here. As a compound exercise, deadlift involves various muscle groups in the legs and back. Hence, when you are going to incorporate it in your training depends exclusively on your fitness goals. 

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