Deadlift Hip Hinge VS Squat; Why would you do one over the other?

I wrote this article for those who see/understand the differences between the dead lift with a hip hinge vs squat and wonder “why would you choose one over the other?”.

The Difference Between a Hip Hinge VS Squat

A hip hinge movement involves:

  • Hip joints; or
  • Hip and knee joints

A squat movement involves:

  • Ankles; and
  • Knees; and
  • Hips

There are more attributes that differentiate the two but my focus in this article is on the joints and prime-movers for the exercise. Prime movers are those that action the movement. Each exercise has more muscles involved but in a different way.


If we compare the hip hinge versus squat deadlift both performed with the same weight. Focus on the prime movers for hip flexion and extension versus the prime movers for the hips, knees, and ankles. We take into consideration that moving the same weight is easier with more muscle groups than with fewer muscle groups involved. With that knowledge, we can deduct that the hip hinge will be harder than the squat deadlift. The stiff-legged (one joint) will be the hardest, followed by the hip hinge (with knees involved), and then the squat.

This does not make one better than the other as they will both have their application for certain goals. Also, harder is what you want in the case of isolating and building strength. When you perform the stiff-legged hip hinge you are working/isolating the gluteus maximum, hamstrings, adductor magnus, more than with any other movement. If you add the knees to the hip hinge you are adding the quadriceps to the prime movers.

The squat with the same weight makes the movement easier as it’s using three joints (ankles, knees, and hips), hence more muscle groups are involved to action the movement. This is great if you want to lift more weight, also, more muscle groups mean more work done (energy spent), hence, also great for a good cardio effect.


The squat movement also allows the back to stay more upright whereas with a hip hinge the torso comes toward being horizontal, which places a lot of load on the back. A lot of load on the back is a good thing if you want to work the back. For explosive power moves like for example the kettlebell dead clean and dead snatch, we know that it’s easier to pull the weight with a squat, pull heavier weight with a squat, and remove load off the back so that the focus can be on power in the legs.


  • You can pull a heavy weight with a hip hinge but the load will be more on the back and upper legs
  • You can pull a heavier weight with a squat movement
  • Use a squat movement to build strength for power moves
  • Use a squat movement to be able to go slightly faster while remaining safer
  • Use a hip hinge movement if you want to focus on the back and upper legs
  • Use a hip hinge movement if you want to improve with your kettlebell swings
  • And the list goes on


Note that a deadlift is not a hip hinge, just like a hip hinge is not a deadlift. A dead lift is lifting dead weight. Yes, the most common/conventional deadlift is performed with a hip hinge but that does not make a deadlift a hip hinge.


I hope this information has shed some light on the matter. I will leave you all with some related videos.


Squat Deadlift Tip


Kettlebell Dead Clean


The Difference Between a Dead Clean and Dead Lift

Kettlebell Deadlift Variations


Slow-Motion Dead Clean into Push Press


Are you enjoying Kettlebell Training and the infinite kettlebell exercises that are possible? Buy yourself a copy of the Kettlebell Exercise Encyclopedia. Are you just at the start of your journey and want to lay a solid kettlebell foundation to safely build upon? Check out our online kettlebell certification which is suitable for at-home users and trainers. For the best kettlebell workouts check out the Kettlebell Workouts And Challenges series.

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