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To answer your question as to when to incorporate deadlifts into your workouts, you can do both; on a leg day or back day. It really is your choice. It makes sense because deadlifts develop muscles across the entire posterior chain; the glutes, hamstrings, spinal erectors, lats and traps. I primarily follow an upper / lower split routine, which means alternating between workouts that focus on either the upper or lower body only, so I don’t really have a “back” day. So I do deadlifts during my lower body workouts. If you’re following a bodybuilding routine and want to incorporate your deadlifts on your leg or back day, go for it. Just be careful not to schedule deadlifts after squats.
Stiff leg deadlifts are a different story. I would reserve them for your leg day. They are more of a supplemental or accessory lift to help increase your deadlift. But before you go and start crushing these for lots and lots of reps, a word of caution. The pictures you normally see depicting the stiff leg deadlift, where the lifter’s back is rounding over and the barbell is several inches in front of their legs, are kind of misleading. Yes, you would want to follow this technique if your goal is to have your spine snap and shoot out your back and smash against the wall. But if you’re trying to develop your hamstrings and glutes or bring up your deadlift, and do so in a safe manner, a Romanian Deadlift (RDL) is a much better option. RDL’s teach the hip hinge—a fundamental movement in the gym and in life—and can be done in a much more controlled fashion.
Question 2: “Do you have a program that targets each major muscle group twice a week? Thanks!” – Edwin Sinsona
There are many programs that include multiple workouts per week for the same body part. Yes you can do it, but here is the key to real progress. You shouldn’t hit the same muscle group in the same week in the same way.
Meaning that if you hit 3-4 sets of 3-4 exercises for chest on Monday, your Thursday chest workout should be different; different weights, different tempo (moving the weight faster, or slowing down the lowering or eccentric phase of the movement), different exercises, or different rep schemes. This is the fundamental structure of undulating periodization.
Undulating periodization is a very powerful periodization (ongoing workout plan to help you reach your goals) that helps eliminate plateaus in the weightroom and develops some serious strength and muscle mass. So bottom line, if you’re training the same muscle groups twice a week, you should change up the second workout of the week to keep the training intensity high and to continue progressing.
Meet the Lift Doctor
Jim Smith is a highly respected, world-renowned strength and conditioning coach. A member of the LIVESTRONG.com Fitness Advisory Board, Jim has been called one of the most "innovative strength coaches" in the fitness industry. Training athletes, fitness enthusiasts and weekend warriors, Jim has dedicated himself to helping them reach "beyond their potential." He is also the owner of Diesel Strength & Conditioning in Elmira, NY.