Trying to figure out when to do certain movements is usually not a huge challenge. Many exercises and movements are designated and designed for a particular muscle group. This is another thing that “sanctifies” deadlifts from other exercises.
Deadlifts in a nutshell work everything, literally. It is a movement that every individual everywhere should be doing at anytime. If you are stranded on a island and only could do one movement, it should be a deadlift. It gets your heart going and builds muscle and strength.
So where does the deadlift fit into a traditional training split? The two days up for debate are usually leg day and back day. This is not even discussing if the exercise should be performed before, during, or after your workout.
Having a basic understanding of what the deadlift focuses on will help answer this question.
The deadlift is a “pull” movement. When pulling anything off the ground, people use the posterior chain group of muscles. These muscles are the back (including shoulders), glutes, hamstrings, and calves. Stabilizer muscles of course are the arms, quads, core, and chest. Is there a group of muscles that was left out? Once again, this exercise works everything.
With that basic understanding, how can one feasibly choose a day to incorporate deadlifts? Here is a suggestion – deadlifts should have their own day. Since they work every muscle and the days that are debated about when it comes to incorporating deadlifts are primary movers of the deadlift, why “dumb it down” by throwing it in somewhere during the week. Or, designate a single day to solely do deadlifts. Deadlifts deserve to be done at full power and energy.
Back day and leg day are exhausting enough as it is because they are big muscle groups to train. You want to make sure you have the energy and strength to perform the movements needed when isolating the muscles in these groups. Feeling like you have to do deadlifts on days like this is like saying you want to eat your favorite meal before you go to Thanksgiving dinner. Chances are you want to fill up on your favorite meal, leaving no room to fill up on the awesome grub at Thanksgiving as well.
Big moves and big training days deserve and need big energy and big strength. Try giving deadlifts their own day of the week and see how that goes for a while.