If You Squat More Than You Deadlift, This Is A Must Read

April 6th 2019

It boils down to a host of things and if you are wondering whether that is normal or not to squat more than you can deadlift.

The answer is that it is not because most people can deadlift more than they can squat.

Here are a couple of reasons that could be behind you deadlifting less than you squat:

Why do I squat more than I can deadlift?

Improper form, being a quad dominated lifter, body leverages, training experience is just a small list of reasons for why you can squat more than you can deadlift. While there are some world-class lifers (Ray Williams) that can squat more than they deadlift, a majority of lifters should be able to deadlift more than they can squat.

i) You are a quad dominant lifter

What this means is simply that your quadriceps are in way better shape than your hamstrings with the former being the primary muscles behind the squat and the other being among the main target group during deadlifts.

So the problem might just be that you are over-focusing on one exercise more than the others in which case you need to balance things out to give each exercise equal attention.

Another reason may be that your body is more receptive to quad exercises more and are able to grow them at a faster rate than your lower back or hamstrings.

If this is the case, realizing this trend and implementing various exercises to target the weak chains of your body is a good way to start addressing the issue.

ii) You’re not getting enough depth

A proper full squat rep w entails going well below your knee level.

If you are way above the hip plane at the point when your squat ends, as is the case with some people, then your squat figures will be impressive as compared to when you're going really low.

In this case, you are actually performing somewhat of a half rep, which is probably why your squat to deadlift ratio is reversed.

So, squat deeper and see if your squat numbers will still be so high.

iii) An anthropometry related issue

A little lesson in physics 101, the difficulty in lifting a weight depends on the distance of the pivot or fulcrum from the load.

The nearer it is, the easier it is to lift and vice versa.

Consequently, science dictates that those with longer arms may find it harder to deadlift in a particular stance- all relevant factors assumed constant- compared to those with shorter arms.

For instance, longer armed lifters may find conventional deadlifts more easy and shorter armed lifters may find sumo deadlifts easier.

Moreover, those with longer torsos and short legs combinations are excellent at squats and not as good at deadlifts as they can’t quite use hip extensor muscles as well as the normal lifter because of a more open up hip angle.

So, in a nutshell, it could be that your biomechanics favor squats more than they do deadlifts.

iv) Poor deadlift technique

With an improper form, obviously, your deadlift is going to suffer.

And your form starts right at the initial setup where bad technique entails an inappropriate width stance, poor back positioning, improper bracing techniques, and poor bar placement among a number of other things which we shall also be looking at shortly.

v) Are you using a squat suit or knee wraps?

Then, that could be it right there.

Sure you can balance out the equation by also imploring deadlift equipment but they are nowhere near as effective as a squat suit in comparison which significantly bolsters how much you can really squat.

Some even boast impressing carryovers of up to 200 pounds. So take off that squat suit to see much you’re truly worth.

vi) Past experience

The other reason could also be that you’ve already been practicing your squats way before you even decided to hit the gym.

If you have some background in snowboarding, surfing, skateboarding or something similar where you take on a squat-ish form, then your favorite pastime is where the problem’s at.

How to pump up your deadlift

So, your squats are better than your deadlift and from the preceding factors it becomes apparent that the problem could either be a poor squatting or deadlifting technique but the latter is more likely the guilty party.

Consequently, let’s start off with what you could do to up your deadlifting game:

i) Get some grip strength going

With a flawed grip, it’s not just your ability to hold the bar that is strained, it’s also your ease in performing the whole lift in its entirety.

The weaker your grip is, the more difficult it gets and, naturally, the less you deadlift.

It’s an aspect many don’t take seriously and is often overlooked but it’s certainly pivotal to success and here’s how to better yours:

• Ditch the straps

This might seem counterintuitive but it’s better to hone your raw grip strength.

Straps are great no doubt but it’s best you don’t develop an overdependence on them which will shatter your expectations the moment they come off.

• Loaded carries work wonders

Farmer’s walks, atlas stone carries and static barbell holds are excellent for building grip strength.

Whichever one you opt for, be sure to use quick strides and maintain proper form always.

Proper form encompasses engaged abs, shoulders down and an upright torso.

• Push and Pull

Pulling muscles often remain neglected but you should opt for an equal amount of pulling and pushing exercises.

Pull-downs, deadlifts, and chin-ups are great staple pull exercises to try out.

• Higher rep sets

Grip strength and forearm muscles are not particularly suited for explosive power rather they are favorable for endurance.

So aim for higher rep ranges, between 12-15, with less weight as opposed to lower reps with greater loads.

• Use mixed grips sparingly

Mixed grips are great for overcoming immense deadlifts but they should be the exception.

Habitual mixed griping can cause muscle imbalances.

So, stick to doubled overhand until it is absolutely necessary to switch.

ii) Just deadlift more

Sometimes, the answer is just as simple as practice makes perfect or, more appropriately, your frequency is the key to perfection.

Improving your deadlift by about twice per week ensures you have an extensive mastery of your technique as well as excellent recovery which helps you get even better.

Have a heavy session and a light session and watch your deadlift numbers soar.

iii) Optimize your stance

There is no shortage of opinions on what constitutes the perfect stance so what might work well for one person might not necessarily do the same for your cause.

Right off the bat, no one stance is better than the other and if someone tells you otherwise, run for the hills.

That said, this brings us to the next question which is how to choose your best stance:

  • There a number of stance variations available across the interwebs but generally these are coined from either the sumo or the conventional position.

With the sumo, the gap in between your feet goes well beyond your hip separation distance while with the conventional stance, this distance is an exact hip-width or less.

  • Picking out which one is good for you is akin to buying a car. You need to test drive it first to see if it’s comfortable enough and if you like it.

If you are unsure about which deadlift form to choose, try them both out and see which is more natural for you.

Give love to both deadlifting styles as they are both great to develop strength.

  • The conventional deadlift is desirable for its great off-floor speed, less hip mobility, and ease of multiple sets.

It may be undesirable for its harder lockout and increased lower back strength.

  • On the other hand, the sumo’s upsides can include a shorter motion range, improved quad development, and more hip utilization.

Its shortcomings can include difficulty in performing multiple sets and breaking weight off the floor.

iv) Scrap those knees

If you look up some of the world’s best deadlifters, regardless of technique, you are bound to realize two things.

Their shins, or more accurately tibia, forms almost a perfect right angle with the plane of the floor.

In other words, their shins are exemplary vertical. The other thing is that they have cuts and bruises on their knees.

And these aren’t a simple badge of honor, they are an indication of what they are doing right which is keeping the bar as close to their body as possible.

Even just a slight forward shift can significantly reduce how much you are able to deadlift because you are distributing the total generated pressure across vertical and slanted angles as opposed to only vertically as would be the case with a vertically placed tibia.

v) Kick off your workouts with deadlifts

Present age studies have provided evidence suggesting that the order in which exercises are performed has a say in how effective it is or the overall performance.

Findings argue that fatigue and resistances build up over time so the exercise that follows the first won’t get your full potential.

So, try starting out with your deadlifts in some sessions and let squats take the backseat.

Test this out for a couple of program cycles and see if this has any impact on those numbers.

vi) Prioritize accessory movements

Your hamstrings are just but one of the sets of different muscles that spring to action when executing a deadlift.

Your deadlift ability might not quite yet be up to full stride because of the weak link in your posterior chain.

To alleviate kinks in the armor, also incorporate accessory movements such as calve raises, stiff-legged deadlifts, barbell bent-over rows, Romanian deadlifts, good mornings and pull-ups.

Let’s Wrap it Up

At the end of the day, you squatting more than you deadlift shouldn’t give you sleepless nights.

What you should be worried about is making your deadlift and squat techniques flawless or better yet, improving on what you are doing right.

Everything else will fall into place sooner or later.

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