Deadlifts and Squats are staples in any fitness routine for a number of reasons: they're big, compound movements where multiple joints are flexing, extending and holding steady throughout each repetition. They're also functional - we need to be comfortable squatting down and lifting things comfortably throughout our daily lives. Think picking up a baby or pet, rearranging and cleaning your house, doing yard-work, helping a friend move...we're constantly squatting and lifting every day without even realizing it!
So, when it comes to the gym, what's the difference between these two movements? We're here to fill you in so you can get the most out of your next squatting or deadlifting session.
Squats are what we would call a "knee-dominant" movement, meaning we're focusing on flexing at the knee joint. Deadlifts are more of a "hip-dominant" movement with a focus on flexion at the hip joint.
While both of these movements involve many muscles of the body, a correctly performed squat will be felt mainly in the quadriceps and the glutes with help from the muscles of the back and core. A correctly performed deadlift will be felt up the posterior chain of the body: the hamstrings, glutes and back muscles again with support from the core. Sidenote - both of these movements are great ways to build a strong core (no crunches necessary!)
In the squat, the torso is going to remain much more upright in position as you think about sitting back and down, while with the deadlift, the torso will be more angled towards the floor as you hinge at the hip and bow foward. In both movements you want to keep your core braced to maintain a neutral spine.