Last updated on January 13th, 2023 at 01:19 pm
I think we can all agree that squats and deadlifts are two of the greatest (if not THE greatest) lower-body compound exercises.
But, have you ever wondered how much weight you should be lifting with one exercise when compared to the other?
A good squat to deadlift ratio for the average lifter is 1:1.2. Therefore, if you squat 100kg you should be able to deadlift 120kg. With that being said, there are various factors which can affect your squat and deadlift including your body weight, length of your arms, torso, and legs. However, if you have a much greater difference between the two lifts, this may potentially point to a muscle imbalance.
Comparing Squats & Deadlifts
I will say that there are so many factors that can impact your squat to deadlift ratio.
However, I’ll cover these in more detail in a moment.
But, for now, let’s look at what you should be squatting compared to your deadlift.
In an ideal world you’d want the ratio to be approximately 1:1.2.
Therefore, your deadlift should be around 1.2 times your squat.
So, for someone who squats 100kg you should be able to deadlift 120kg for the same number of reps.
Another way to look at it is that your squat should be approximately 80% of your deadlift.
I will also say that you should never really compare your one-rep max, as this can typically change from day-to-day.
A good average is to take your 3-rep or 5-rep max for each exercise and to see whether you fall into the 1:1.2 or 80% category.
This is actually another way to look at it, although this involves the “Big 3 Lifts”, namely bench press, squat, and deadlift.
It is often said that you should be able to lift a ratio of 3:4:5 for bench, squat, and deadlift respectively.
In fact, multiply each of these by 100 and you get the ideal number of pounds that most trainees aim for during their intermediate years of training.
So, in effect, a great goal to have is a 300lbs bench press, 400lbs squat, and 500lbs deadlift.
Once more, the squat and deadlift are fairly close to the 1:1.2 and 80% figures.
In truth, I believe that 3:4:5 first came about due to the numerical ease of the calculations.
With that being said, it’s not a bad goal to aim for.
Factors That Can Affect Squat to Deadlift Ratio
Okay, I’ve mentioned that there are various factors that can affect the “ideal ratio”, so let’s cover these now.
I would say that the main thing to look at is your current body weight.
Basically, the smaller you are, the more you should be able to deadlift.
Conversely, the bigger you are, the more you should be able to squat.
I can actually attest to this, as a smaller lifter my squat is around 60% of my deadlift for my 5-rep max.
However, this is still much less than it should be, and I’ll cover the reason why I believe this occurs in the next section.
Nevertheless, as a smaller lifter I would expect my ratio and percentages to favour the deadlift more.
When it comes to a larger body weight you should be able to squat much more.
In fact, statistics taken from the World Classic Powerlifting Championships 2015 are actually quite revealing.
It was found that in the lightest weight category of 59kg/130lbs the average squat in comparison to deadlift was 90%.
However, in the heaviest weight category of 120kg+/264lbs+ the average squat in comparison to deadlift was 104%.
In essence, the heavier you are, the more likely you’ll be able to actually squat more than you can deadlift.
Basically, the heavier you are, the better you’ll be able to brace yourself for squats.
Plus, it’s likely that you’ll also have a thicker torso to help you brace for squats.
But unfortunately, the more you weigh, the more difficult it is to find the optimal starting position for deadlifts.
And by the same token, the lighter you are, the further apart you can expect your squat and deadlift to be.
Arms & Legs
Another consideration is the leverages you use for both exercises, namely your arms, legs, and torso.
I’ve already mentioned the effect that a thicker torso can have on both squats and deadlifts.
However, let’s look at your limbs for a moment.
Having long legs actually puts you at a disadvantage for both squats and deadlifts.
When it comes to squats with longer legs you obviously have a further distance to travel, thus making the movement harder and more intense.
Long legs will also mean that you’ll find it harder to get into the correct starting position for deadlifts.
The low-bar squat is actually better for lifters with long legs.
And the sumo deadlift is recommended over conventional deadlift for long-legged trainees.
Arm length has very little impact on squats, but it can make a difference to your deadlift.
Longer arms make it easier to deadlift, whereas short arms make it harder.
So realistically, if you’re of average weight with short legs and long arms, you should be fantastic at both squats and deadlifts.
But, in reality, we are all different shapes and sizes,
So, if you’re not hitting the perfect 1:1.2 ratio then there could be nothing you can do about it.
Unfortunately, you’ll just have to blame genetics.
Do You Have Muscle Imbalances?
Okay, so I mentioned earlier that my squat is approximately 60% of my deadlift for my 5-rep max weight.
Now, initially this falls well below what is considered ideal.
However, then we have to take into consideration that I am fairly small and don’t weigh a great deal.
So, in effect, my deadlift should actually be a lot stronger than my squat.
With that being said, I actually believe this is too much of a discrepancy.
And the main reason for this is exactly the same reason this may occur for any lifter – muscle imbalances.
For me, for many years most of my lower body work revolved around squats, squat variations, and leg press.
I would occasionally deadlift, but there wasn’t much thought that went into training my posterior chain.
And of course, this eventually led to injury, in the form of two herniated discs in my lower spine.
I have completely recovered from this, and I now work on my posterior chain all the time.
In fact, probably too much, and so much so that now my deadlift exceeds my squat by an unproportionate amount.
This is something that you’ll need to be aware of when it comes to your squat to deadlift ratio.
Yes, of course, you must take into consideration some of the other things I’ve mentioned, e.g. overall weight, torso size, limb length, etc.
But still, if the ratio between squats and deadlifts is too far apart, this typically points to a weakness or muscle imbalance.
So, in the grand scheme of things, you’ll need to determine what or where these weaknesses/imbalances are, and then fix them quickly.
Why is My Squat Heavier Than My Deadlift?
Key Takeaway Points
- A good ratio is that your squat is 80% of your deadlift, or your deadlift is 1.2 times your squat.
- A 3:4:5 ratio is often quoted for the “Big 3”, namely bench press, squats, and deadlifts respectively.
- Generally speaking, the heavier you are the better at squats you should be, whereas a lighter person would typically be better at deadlifts. This can affect how much weight you’re lifting with one exercise in comparison to the other.
- Both exercises are harder for trainees with long legs. Low bar squats and sumo deadlifts would be a better option.
- Having long arms makes deadlifts easier, but makes no difference to squats.
- If there is a large discrepancy between your squat and deadlift you may potentially have muscle imbalances.
Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.