The king of all exercises?  The one exercise to rule them all.  This debate can and likely will rage on.  Is it the deadlift?  Technically easier, but allows for more weight.  Is it the squat?  Less potential weight on the bar, but more technical.

I’m not here to argue which one you should do. I’ll leave that up to you or your trainer/coach, Personally, I prefer squatting, but I incorporate both.

Rather than going through their similarities, let’s address a major difference – the position of the shin.

Let’s start with the deadlift. Why? We generally don’t get caught up in whether your knees should travel past your toes with this lift. Rather, we grab the bar, allow our weight to shift back onto our heels, and pick that thing up.  As a result, our shins remain quite vertical.


Now, let’s take a look at the squat.  Rather than debating on whether your toes should travel past your toes (topic for another post), let us first agree that due to the nature of the movement, the knees will travel further forward than they do during a deadlift.

During the closed kinetic chain movement of the squat, the tibialis anterior contracts, creating dorsiflexion of the ankle. With your foot grounded and firmly planted on the floor, dorsiflexion results in visible movement of the knee.

Closed kinetic chain exercises or closed chain exercises (CKC) are physicalexercises performed where the hand (for arm movement) or foot (for leg movement) is fixed in space and cannot move. The extremity remains in constant contact with the immobile surface, usually the ground or the base of a machine.

Unlike the deadlift, squatting deep and heavy requires adequate strength of the tibialis anterior.  Activate this muscle by focusing on pulling the knee forward while dropping into the hole.   Strengthen the muscle with dorsiflexion exercises, combining isometric holds and rhythmic, metronome-based movements.