The best and most famous physiques weren’t built with deadlifts and squats.
I’ve been training at the gym for two decades and so I speak from experience when I say that there has never been such hype surrounding the squat and the deadlift as there is right now.
If you, like me, have been going to the gym regularly for a long period of time you will surely has noticed this trend yourself. It’s been going on for a few years now, this Squat-fixation and Deadlift-hysteria.
Before I make fun of this trend and proclaim that all physiques that I deem great (at least aesthetically) has been built adhering to a totally different kind of regime than the currently trendy low-reps-of-squatting-and-deadlifting-one, let me just make one thing clear from the beginning: I actually consider these two exercises to be decent ones that absolutely can play a part in a well composed workout routine, especially if your main concern is to build all round strength.
This having been said I will now go on to tell you the purpose of today´s post: to underline that you don´t really need these two exercises to build an aesthetically pleasing physique. They are overrated. Yes, people, I do have the audacity to repeat what I just wrote: the squat and the deadlift are grossly overrated these days.
As with most things in life it comes down to personal taste. Among pro bodybuilders I consider the following three to be the most aesthetically accomplished of all times: Schwarzenegger, Nubret and Zane. The 70s aren't called "The golden era" for nothing. And none of these great bodybuilders built their physiques relying on low numbers of squatting and deadlifting. They would have considered today’s trend a powerlifting/weightlifting trend that misses the target - if, of course, the target is muscle mass and a sculptured and aesthetically pleasing physique.
If we look to the movies (which for many is a source of inspiration when it comes to formulating their workout goals) the same goes for Stallone, Jackman, Reynolds, Hemsworth and so on – none of these famous physiques was sculpted primarily through heavy deadlifts and/or heavy squats.
I don’t presume to know other people’s personal goals, but I’m still willing to bet that the majority of people visiting the gym have at least a few aesthetic goals and ambitions. I simply don’t believe that most people’s primary goal is to increase their deadlift with 20 or 30 pounds, or that their new year’s promises evolves around squatting power abilities. Nope. Let us all stand for it: most of us have what could be called “cosmetic” reasons to follow a regular gym routine.
If this opinion/belief of mine is true, then the current squat and deadlift-trend isn’t doing anybody any favours.
All the above mentioned names are empirical proof that the way to go, if one wants an aesthetically impressive physique, is to mix it up, both when it comes to exercises and the number of sets and reps being performed.
If you love the deadlift and/or the squat, then of course you should keep giving them your attention at the gym. Just do it with open eyes, knowing what all those sets most probably will return to you in form of results: increased overall strength and decently developed legs. If those are your primary goals then it will soon be time to celebrate. If, however, you are in pursuit of a sculpted upper body, with rounded muscular shoulders, a peaking biceps and a well chiselled triceps, then there are better things to do than keep on deadlifting/squatting.