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Why are all of the workouts in the 5x5 Stronglifts program except the deadlifts? If I added an ab exercise to the workout (say Landmine 180s), would how do I know whether it should be 5x5 or 1x5?

  • Pound for pound, back squat is the king of all exercises. Generally, if you can squat it, you can deadlift it (the reverse isn't usually true). You've been provided with great answers. – Kneel-Before-ZOD Sep 8 '15 at 23:50
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After reading your comments to John P's quite accurate answer, I think the question you're really asking is "why are deadlifts so much more taxing than squats" (maybe rename the title if I'm accurate on that).

If that's the case, I'd offer these up:

Deadlifts put much more load on your thoracic spine, arms, shoulders, rhomboids, and hands.

You can see someone back squat with their hands off the bar, but that's obviously not going to happen with a deadlift. There are more muscles engaged in a deadlift than a squat.

Deadlifts are generally heavier than squats.

The weights are heavier, generally to the tune of 20% for most folks. So a person squatting 300 should be in the neighborhood of a 360 deadlift.

Deadlifts lack a viscoelastic element that is found in squats.

From a 2008 study concerning viscoelasticity:

The high resilience of tendon means that it can serve as an effective biological spring.

You get a lot of power from a squat because of the loading up of your hamstrings and associated connective tissue. You can try this for yourself if you're feeling brave: start a backsquat from the bottom (barbell on the safety pins in a power cage). You'll struggle much more than a typical up-and-down squat. In fact, one of Mark Rippetoe's big arguments for squatting as deeply as you (safely) can is because you need that hamstring load up to create the elastic spring.

This of course is lacking in the deadlift, where as the name implies you're starting from zero each time. I'd add this is why deadlifts need to stop completely and you should in fact relax your grip momentarily between reps, to ensure that you are truly dead-lifting and not bouncing around.

CNS Fatigue

This is a loosely understood (and commonly thrown around) statement, that seems to be the catch-all phrase for "you're tired". But if you add up some basic facts:

  • Deadlifts are heavier, and require more power production.
  • Deadlifts require more muscles to be activated.

It seems pretty reasonable that the drain on your CNS's ability to create and organize force production would be more impacted by a 3RM deadlift than a 3RM squat.

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  • Well stated, and probably much more in line with what the OP really meant. Kudos. – JohnP Sep 8 '15 at 22:34
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5×5 stands for five sets of five reps. These are the sets and reps you do on every exercise except Deadlifts. Deadlift is only one set of five reps (1×5) because doing more would beat you up. Plus, Squatting three times a week will get you stronger at Deadlifts since it works similar muscles. Read more: http://stronglifts.com/5x5/

From the page explaining the program.

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  • I don't understand why deadlifts are any different from a squat (or any other workout) in terms of how it taxes a body. – Steven Sep 8 '15 at 20:58
  • @Steven I answered the question below, but I would recommend changing the question title a bit if you like my answer as JohnP's answer really addresses specifically what you're asking here. – Eric Sep 8 '15 at 22:23
  • I should have read this earlier. An year ago, I took deadlift to be any other exercise. Using the weight that would give me 5 reps in a set, I did 3 sets. I didn't feel anything then. The next day my back was so painful, I was unable to sit for 2min continously. Back pain was so severe, I visited doctor and took bed rest of 15 days while taking medicines. After couple of months of suffering without any improvement, I went to a weightlifting coach and he suggested a weightless exercise program for a month. The pain started decreasing gradually. Now my back is perfectly normal. Lesson learnt. – claws Sep 24 '15 at 21:32
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Deadlifts are a very tiring, very strenuous exercise. You also only lift the barbell once during a deadlift, they are not meant to be exercises for repetition, this is part of the reason a deadlift is classified as a deadlift. I would suggest doing 1x5, it will still build muscles, and nothing is wrong with the program. And just to note, if you're performing ab exercises, or not, you still should stick with 1x5.

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