Do You Need To Squat And Deadlift To Make Progress?

The squat and deadlift are fundamental in most training programs. But do you need to squat and deadlift to make progress? Or can you do just fine without them? That’s what I’ll be answering in this article.

It All Comes Down To The Amount Of Volume ( Hard Sets) That You’re Doing

Without a shadow of a doubt, the barbell squat and deadlift are up there with the best exercises you can perform. But that doesn’t mean you have to perform them.

To make progress you need to be doing enough volume (hard sets). Dr Eric Helms in the muscle and strength pyramids says you should perform 10- 20 sets per major muscle group per week.


Although you can do just fine with even fewer sets than this if you’re a beginner.
Just look at reverse pyramid training. That’s a very low volume approach but because people are progressively overloading their muscles (getting stronger) they still make progress with RPT.

What Exercises Can You Swap Squats For?

So say you’re currently barbell squatting at the start of your leg workout for 3 sets. As long as you swap this exercise out for one that targets the same muscle group you’ll do fine.


You could swap barbell squats for Bulgarian split squats, or the leg press and you’d do fine as long as you were getting enough volume in and getting stronger.

What Exercises Can You Swap Barbell Deadlifts For?

Although deadlifts and squats are basically full-body exercises, the squat is more of a leg exercise. And I see the Barbell deadlift as more of a back exercise but you could make an argument that it was also a leg exercise.

A perfectly viable option to swap the deadlift with could be a row or a chin-up/ pull up or lat pulldown because these are all back exercises.

To Squat And Deadlift Or Not To Squat And Deadlift

If you can perform the squat and deadlift properly I’d say do them because they’re both amazing exercises. But its not madatory that you perform them.


As long as you’re doing enough hard sets and getting stronger, then you can make progress regardless of whether you squat and deadlift or not.


But just remember to swap them out for one of the aforementioned exercises if you choose not to perform them.


The Bottom Line On Do You Need Squat And Deadlift To Make Progress?

  • As long as you’re getting stronger and doing enough volume you’ll make progress.
  • Try and barbell squat and deadlift in your training if you can. Because they’re great exercises.
  • If you can’t perform squats or deadlifts swap them for another compound exercise for that muscle group, and you’ll do just as well. Provided that you keep getting stronger.

Thanks for reading.

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