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Deadlift vs. Squats: Which is Better for Glutes?

Written by the Boostcamp staff
Mar 25,2024|11 min| 621
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Which is better for building your behind? 

When it comes to building your body, the glutes are a very underrated muscle to grow. They are not only there for looks, but the glutes are actually a very functional muscle, helping with not only exercises but also your daily tasks. That being said, when planning your workout routines, two of the most popular exercises for the glutes are deadlifts and squats. These two heavy compound movements can be pretty taxing on your back, so doing them on the same day can be a bit difficult for you. Which one do you choose to throw into your training routine and build your glutes? Squats? Or deadlifts?

Deadlifts vs. Squats

Let’s break down what exactly each of these exercises is and which is exercise more beneficial for building the glutes. 

Deadlifts

The deadlift is a classic compound movement that has been used in bodybuilding and powerlifting training programs alike. In this movement, your hips hinge backward to lower down towards the floor, and you pick up a weighted barbell, dumbbell, or kettlebell from the floor. Your back is flat throughout the movement and you are pulling with your lower body muscles, and the glutes are really targeted throughout the movement, especially where the hamstring tie-in is.

When it comes to building the entire posterior chain, the deadlift is a great movement.

Benefits of the Deadlifts

Some benefits of performing deadlifts include: 

  • Strengthening the posterior chain 

  • Gaining more definition in your posterior chain (hamstrings, back, glutes,)

Squats

The squat is another classic compound movement utilized in bodybuilding, powerlifting, and other strength sports due to its great ability to increase the lifter’s explosive ability, athletic ability, power output, and overall physique, and it is great for building the glutes. When you are squatting, you put the loaded barbell on your back, and bend your knees, lowering your thighs to the floor until they’re parallel while keeping your chest upright. 


Now, while the squat does hit the glutes, there is a much larger focus on the quads and hamstrings, as this is where the tension is put.

Benefits of Squats

  • Strengthening your glutes and quads

  • Improving your overall strength

Squats, like deadlifts, are also a functional exercise, meaning they use movements you may use in your daily life, such as standing up and sitting down, picking up objects on the lower shelf, or leaning and picking up your child or pet. Throwing them into your training routine and performing squats on the regular may make it easier to perform these types of tasks.

So, Which is Better for Building the Glutes?

When it comes down to squats vs. deadlifts for building the glutes, this largely depends on what your routine allows for, as well as your training regimen, and what exactly your goals are. 

For example, if you are looking at building back and core strength in addition to working your leg and glute muscles, deadlifts are a strong option for you to really do just that. 

On the other hand, squats are definitely a movement that is effective for building strength in your legs and hips, as well as the glutes.

When it comes to comparing the two, deadlifts may target your glutes and hamstrings more deeply than a squat. Now it is worth noting that they don’t target your quadriceps as much as the squat, so if you’re looking to build strength in this part of your leg, squats may be a better option. But, we are talking about glutes, and it is no secret that the deadlifts hit the glutes a bit more than the squat.

Incorporating Squats and Deadlifts Into a Program

While it may be hard to include both deadlifts and squats in the same workout, or you can perform them on alternating days. That being said, there are plenty of different workout programs you can choose from that will allow you to hit both the squat and the deadlift in the same week, but still allow you to recover properly and make progress, avoiding injury. Where do you find these programs?

Finding Good Workout Programs

When looking for a program to use while you are trying to find which movement is the best for your glutes (squats or deadlifts), you can surely get a cookie cutter program that a regular trainer will charge you a crazy amount for. But keep in mind that there are plenty of good programs available on Boostcamp to help you make progress with your cutting or bulking or maingaining. A good program will keep you on track, making sure that you are making the most gains and maximizing your time in the gym. If you are looking to stay on track and continue with linear progression with your barbell squat, then finding a good workout program is the key. 

Boostcamp is home to over 50 FREE workout programs that consist of strength, hypertrophy, or functional fitness, or both, from the push pull legs program all the way to upper lower, there are so many programs to choose from that can help fit your needs. However, with Boostcamp, you don’t have to just follow a pre-written program (although each program is written by a professional), you also can create your own program as well, and track your progress to make sure you are on the right track. That being said, when you are looking to incorporate some serious training to further your progress on your squat by bodyweight, then check out Boostcamp.

Squat vs. Deadlift FAQs

You may have a few questions about which movement is the best for building your glutes, squats or deadlifts, and we are here to answer them!

Which Movement is Better for Back Pain?

When it comes to squats vs. deadlifts, the better movement all depends on where your back pain is. For example, if you are someone who is experiencing lower back pain, neither of these movements may suit you, and you may need to find alternatives. When it comes to really targeting the glutes without too much pressure on the lower back, something like hip thrusts or stiff-leg deadlifts are great.

Which Movement is Better for Knee Pain?

When building the glutes through squats and deadlifts, knee pain can really be a nuisance, especially on squats. Squats are actually going to irritate the knees more than deadlifts. That being said, you can always use something like knee sleeves to help, but even so it can still be difficult.

Squats vs. Deadlifts for Glutes Wrap Up

All in all, squats and deadlifts are both going to be effective for building the glutes. However, the deadlift will hit the glutes a bit more than a squat will. So, which exercise is your favorite?


Let us know! And be sure to follow Boostcamp on Instagram and subscribe on YouTube!