Squats and deadlifts are two of the most important exercises you can do. Seriously, if you could only do a few exercises in the gym, either one of them plus your favourite upper body exercise would be all you need. Plus you get to make the funniest workout faces.
In all seriousness, why do I love them so much? And why do I make sure everyone does them well? There are a few reasons that I will go over.
1. Proper movement mechanics
In order to do a squat with a bar on your back, your body needs to move properly. This means that your hips are flexible enough, your hamstring aren't to tight, you back feels no pain in it, you can open your shoulders well, lats, the glutes fire properly, and core is strong enough. Believe it or not, that everything I look for when someone does a squat. The deadlift has very similar demands.
Note that most of these are also indicator of good posture.
But hold up, I don't use my lats or shoulders when I do either of these movements?
If you don't do this currently, you should really start doing it. The lats and shoulders serve as stabilizers and brace your upper body for better execution during these two lifts. The squats and deads are true full body exercises.
2. Transfers better to real life
Once you can do these lifts, you can be sure that you will have an awesome posture. This will help you in various aspects of life especially injury prevention and avoiding chronic pain.
The deadlift is a hip hinging movement, which we do ALL THE TIME in real life. Every time we bend over to pick up the news paper, tie our shoes, pick something up from the ground and tons of other tasks we don't think about. How many times did you, or someone you know hurt their backs doing something as simple as that? I know I have. Most often, these small injuries happen because of poor movement mechanic aka technique. We lean forward by bending our spines, core isn't even thinking about working, shoulder are slumped, and the result has your lying in bed for a couple days to recover.
By applying what we learn by deadlifting to our day to day tasks, I can guarantee we limit the chances of these types of injuries.
3. Best return on time invested lifting
The legs muscles are the biggest ones in our bodies, so focusing on them will always give us better results when it comes to efficiency of training.
You also get a better hormonal response from these lifts. Simply put, this means your body will produce more good hormones than doing smaller, isolation exercises.
Squats and deadlifts are amazing full body exercises that have direct impact on our day to day lives. We need to work on having correct posture in order to them properly and this is the biggest advantage I see in them. You don't even need to use crazy heavy weights to reap this benefit. You can simply take a dowel, put it on your shoulder and practice those squats. I can tell you that in most classes I teach, 90% of people aren't squatting properly and even fewer can squat with a dowel on their back. And lo and behold, most people complain about little aches and pains in there back or legs...
The best way to get started with these lifts is with a dowel, just going through the motion. Make sure you have proper form before moving on to heavier weights!