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I do a 3-day split, and work out 3-4 times per week, meaning if I work out 4 days one week, I will have repeated the workout I started with. That is, no auxiliary routine for extra days, just back on the rotation.

My leg days have usually consisted of squats, then deadlift, then some auxiliary exercises. I then decided to alternate which exercise I stared with. Meaning, on the first leg day, I'd do squats then deadlift, and on the next leg day, I'd do deadlift then squats.

Recently, I've noticed that whatever I do second is going to be remarkably diminished, because my nervous system is already fried from the previous exercise, and I'll outright fail on reps at 70-80% of my max.

My new idea, which I need input on is maybe I should just do one of them, each leg day. Meaning if I do squats the first leg day, then I'll do deadlift on the next one.

My reasoning is that the two exercises both engage the lower back and legs, so it's not as if these two muscle groups are going to be resting for 2 weeks in any case.

I've considered maybe just separating squats and deadlifts into separate days in the split all together, but I've found that working these areas twice a week is too much, when I'm lifting weights this close to my max.

Any feedback or other ideas?

Thanks in advance!

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You can alternate like this: First workout is Deadlifts first at normal working weight, then Squats with 50% working weight. Second workout is Squats first (normal working weight) and deadlifts at 50% working weight. This way you can at least add some volume for the second exercise while keeping recovery demands down. I like to use the 50% sets to work on technique, which is an added benefit. –  LarissaGodzilla Jul 10 at 8:58

2 Answers 2

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While the weight you can lift on the second exercise of the day will be "remarkably diminished", the effect of these lighter lifts will not be. Performing these lifts in a fatigued state is a good way to focus on endurance and technique (as LarissaGodzilla mentioned), and is far better than not performing the second lift at all.

Another added benefit I have found is that as you work up to higher weights on the second lift, it provides a mental advantage when trying to hit higher weights on days when you perform that lift fresh. For example, say at the start of this program you do deadlifts first on Day 1 and squats first on Day 2. At the beginning, you can only squat at 70% Day 1 due to deadlift fatigue. After a couple weeks, lets say you manage to do a workout at 75%. Going into your Day 2 squat session that week, you will be extremely mentally prepared to make progress, as the secondary session already confirmed for you an increase in strength.

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When I do a three-day push/pull/legs split, I do squats on leg day and deadlifts on pull day. It's for exactly the reason you're asking about. Squats and deadlifts on the same day would be too much. This way, each of the three days is anchored by a big compound lift at the start: bench press on push day, deadlift on pull day, and squat on leg day.

In a two-day split I still like to keep them separate. There's so much overlap between them and I want to have maximum energy for each, so they belong on separate days. I'd rather combine bench or overhead press with squats since the overlap between them is much less and I can still get good results on bench after killing myself with heavy squats.

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