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Should You Squat, Bench, and Deadlift Heavy in the Same Session?

Anyone who's followed my training ( or has seen me at the gym on Sunday KNOWS that Sunday is my heavy Competition SBD (squat bench deadlift) day. Now, just because I train heavy SBD in the same session doesn't mean that you need to do it too. So, in today's post we'll review some pros, cons, and considerations you should take into account when deciding to incorporate heavy SBD days into your training. For the purpose of this discussion, we'll define "heavy" as weights that are 85% or more of your estimated 1RM.



If you are planning to compete in powerlifting, then incorporating heavy competition SBD days into your training will better prepare you for Meet Day. At a powerlifting meet, you will need to perform 3 heavy squats, followed by 3 heavy bench presses, followed by 3 heavy deadlifts. Nothing will prepare you for a meet better than practicing how you will compete! Now, I'm not saying you need to perform maximal SBD singles every week, and actually I don't recommend that. However, if I could turn back time, I would have definitely incorporated more competition SBD training days prior to my first competition in 2019. I basically ran Wendler's Beyond 5/3/1 and my own variations of it to prepare for my first powerlifting meet. I failed my 3rd deadlift attempt because even though I had pulled that weight before in training, I had not pulled that weight after maxing out on squat and bench :)

Fatigue Management and Consistency

Anecdotally, from my own training experience I noticed that deadlifting 1 or 2 days after heavy squats REALLY hurt my deadlift performance. Conversely, I noticed deadlifting 3 to 4 days after heavy squats improved my deadlift performance, but then hindered my heavy squat performance 2 to 3 days later. Executing heavy deadlifts after heavy S&B has lead to much more predictable training outcomes. I currently train 4 days a week, not including GPP and conditioning days, with my first day being the heavy competition SBD session. Days 2 through 4 also have variations of SBD in the same session, however, they are programmed in a manner that allows me to progress my competition lifts on Day 1 rather than interfere with them.


Training heavy SBD in the same session is time consuming, so why am I saying time is a PRO!?!? Well, hear me out... even though comp SBD day is my longest training session of the week, the rest of my training sessions don't have to be as long as a result.

Due to the overlap between squat and deadlift, I don't have to train as many heavy deadlifts on a competition SBD day to get the required stimulus for adaptation. However, if I trained heavy deadlifts on it's own dedicated day, I would have to add additional sets/reps to achieve the same stimulus I would have received had I combined the two heavy movements on the same day, adding more overall time to my training that week while also compounding the fatigue management issues I encountered in my own training as noted above.

Builds Grit

Training heavy SBD on the same day trains more than your body! Overcoming the urge to leave the gym after heavy squats and bench, and do what you need to do for your long term development builds grit and carries over to many aspects of your life beyond training.


Injury Risk

If you are new to strength training, don't have a good intuition for what your body is telling you, ego lift, or have never trained heavy SBD in the same session, the likelihood of injury will increase, all else being equal. That being said, strength training overall still has some of the lowest injury rates when compared to other sports, even when executing movements with terrible form. A good coach will gradually transition you from training heavy SBD on separate days to all on the same day to minimize your risk of injury.


Although I listed time as a pro, it is certainly a con if 2+ hour long training sessions are not possible. If you are time constrained, then you may want to spread your heavy squats, benches, and deadlifts throughout the week.



If you just want to become generally strong and do not plan on competing in powerlifting, then training heavy SBD in the same session is not necessary. You will still get plenty strong by spreading those movements throughout the week, and is a common approach used in many of the free and paid strength programs available on the internet.

Sleep & Nutrition

I recommend making sure you are eating appropriately and getting enough sleep if you want to optimize performance for a heavy SBD day. While that advice holds true in the general sense for any type of strength training, it is even more important before a heavy SBD day. Depending on how heavy you are training in a specific training cycle, a competition SBD day is essentially a mini-powerlifting meet! If you've competed in a powerlifting meet, and felt like you've been hit by a truck after, imagine how much worse it will feel if you go in already feeling like you were hit by a truck.

If your training sessions are really long, you may want to consider how you fuel yourself during the training session itself. I personally choose Gatorade, but to each their own! Also, if you partake in libations or generous nightcap pours throughout the week, I recommend limiting alcohol consumption a day or two before as well.


The choice to incorporate heavy squat, bench, and deadlift training into a single session has many considerations, so I hope this post helps you make an informed decision. Below is a summary of the things YOU should think about before deciding if heavy SBD days are right for you:


  1. Specificity

  2. Fatigue Management and Consistency

  3. Time

  4. Builds Grit


  1. Injury Risk

  2. Time


  1. Goals

  2. Sleep & Nutrition

Do you have other pros, cons, or considerations!?!? Be sure to share and comment below!


1) Personal experience.

2) Keogh JW, Winwood PW. The Epidemiology of Injuries Across the Weight-Training Sports. Sports Med. 2017 Mar;47(3):479-501. doi: 10.1007/s40279-016-0575-0. PMID: 27328853.

3) Barbell Logic, Don’t Fear the Barbell: Managing Your Mind Under the Bar - The Voluntary Hardship Series (#164)


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