Ever wondered, “Why Do I Squat Less Than I Bench Press?”
Realistically, you should have a 4:3 ratio for squat-to-bench.
The ultimate goal would be to squat 2 x your body weight and to bench 1.5 x your body weight (for reps).
However, many people find that they can bench press more weight than they squat.
So, what exactly is going on here and how can you fix this?
Why Do I Squat Less Than I Bench Press?
The main reason you squat less than you bench press is because you train the bench press more often. Many people will enter the gym environment and immediately start benching regularly, so they will make great strides when it comes to increasing muscle and strength. You should also add some variety to your lower body workouts, which will help you to increase the amount you squat. Plus, there is nothing wrong with squatting more than once a week.
1. You Bench Press More Often Than You Squat
Pure and simple, the main reason you squat less than you bench is because you perform the bench press more often.
Monday is typically viewed as bench day in a “bro-split”.
The first day of the week in the gym is nearly always focused entirely on the bench press.
Basically, many of us will ensure that we get to bench press on a weekly basis without fail.
However, can you realistically say the same for squats?
Unfortunately, sometimes life gets in the way, and we may need to miss a training session or two during the week.
And more often than not it will be “squat day” that takes the hit.
Let’s face facts, squatting is tough, it takes a lot of energy, hits the Central Nervous System hard, and typically takes longer to recover from.
We all view “leg day” with trepidation and not many of us look forward to it as much as “bench day”.
This could even mean that you put much more effort into benching than you do squatting.
You need to take a step back and be honest with yourself.
Does any of this sound familiar?
If so, it’s time for you to put more effort into your squat.
2. You’ve Been Benching Longer Than You’ve Been Squatting
Go on, admit it.
The first time you ever walked into a gym the first thing you did was walk straight over to the bench press area.
Okay, maybe not all of us, but a large majority of people spend their first few weeks, or even months, hitting the bench press with amazing regularity.
Plus, you can also throw in some biceps curls as well.
Basically, many of us spend all our waking gym hours working the “show muscles”.
These are the muscles that we can see in the mirror.
We all want to have a set of pumped up pecs and a great set of guns.
It’s the “bro” thing to do.
In fact, it’s not until we’ve spent a fair amount of time in the gym, learned from others, done our own research, that we finally start to focus on a more rounded workout plan.
The gains we make as a beginner can be pretty amazing.
Our muscles aren’t used to the resistance and they react to it really well.
So, those first few months we find that we’re getting bigger and stronger with nearly every gym session.
And it’s not long before we start sporting the “Johnny Bravo look” – a massive upper body and a seriously undeveloped lower half.
We all know someone who looks the epitome of muscle and strength in the upper half, which is unfortunately supported by a pair of chicken legs.
Basically, once you do get round to training more evenly, your lower body is always playing catch up.
In fact, it could literally take months or years for your legs to get to the same level as your chest in terms of strength and muscular gains.
A good idea would be to have a specialization period of training on your lower body and just the occasional maintenance session for your upper body.
However, you know as well as me that most of us don’t want to lose out on the gains we’ve made with our bench.
Realistically, this wouldn’t actually be the case.
And I’d go as far to say that squatting regularly and getting better and stronger at squats will actually help to improve all your other lifts as well.
Simply due to the fact that squats hit so many muscles, as well as the Central Nervous System, it won’t be long before you start making progress with just about every lift.
So, if you have been benching for a lot longer than you’ve squatted, it’s probably time to shift your focus.
3. You Don’t Have Enough Variety in Your Lower Body Workouts
When you first start training, performing just squats and deadlifts could give you a great base of lower body muscle and strength.
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However, as you move from the beginner to intermediate phase of lifting you should look to add some more variety to your workouts.
In fact, I know of many people who have great variety in the upper body workouts, but when it comes to the lower body there’s the same standard 3-4 exercises performed at every workout.
And to make matters worse there’s little progression in these workouts.
It’s typically the same exercises, for the same reps and sets, with the same weight, and probably at the same time each week.
I would even say that if you do stick with the same exercises all the time, perhaps performing them in a different order, or a different day of the week can actually stimulate new growth.
With that being said, no matter how great squats and deadlifts are, as you mature as a lifter you’ll definitely need to add more exercises into the mix.
Squats are a great all-round exercise.
They typically target the quads, hamstrings, adductors, and glutes (and the calves to some effect).
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However, squats are definitely not the best exercise to perform for each of these respective body parts.
You could add exercises like front squats, hack squats, Romanian deadlifts, and hip thrusts to train these various muscle groups to far greater effect.
Plus, I’ve always been a huge fan of unilateral limb training, especially when it comes to your legs.
In fact, every week I’ll perform Bulgarian split squats, step ups, walking lunges, single-leg hip thrusts, single-leg Swiss ball hamstring curls, etc.
Basically, by getting better and stronger in a variety of lower body lifts you can automatically increase your squat numbers.
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4. Try Squatting More Than Once a Week
I’ve never really been a fan of the “bro-split” workout program.
You know what I mean, train 5 days a week, chest, back, legs, shoulders, and arms.
For me it’s just a little uneven.
Realistically, you should be performing pull-based exercises twice as much as push-based exercises.
And yet this workout split has you doing chest, shoulders, and triceps all on different days.
Plus, the legs house the largest muscles in the body.
So, it makes perfect sense that irrespective of your body composition goals you should train the largest muscle groups more regularly.
This is true whether you want to pack on muscle, get stronger, lose body fat, and even to lose weight.
I’ve already mentioned how squatting can have a knock-on effect to the other exercises you perform.
Therefore, in my mind you should definitely be squatting more than once a week.
I have even gone through a phase of squatting every single day.
Admittedly, I varied the type of squat, the intensity of the workouts, and I kept my volume fairly low.
So, I would typically perform 5×5 of barbell back squats at the beginning of the week, and perhaps 2 sets of 15 reps at the end of the week.
During the week I would also perform a few sets at the beginning of my workouts of other squat variations, such as goblet squats, front squats, bodyweight squats, or Bulgarian split squats.
As I say, because this was a daily occurrence I kept the volume quite low, i.e. never more than 2-3 working sets.
However, the difference it made to my overall muscle, strength, and fitness levels was nothing short of amazing.
And my barbell back squat came on in leaps and bounds.
So, if you want to improve your squat numbers, then simply squat more often.
So, hopefully you have a better idea of why you squat less than you bench press.
Clearly, the most obvious reason is that you focus on the bench press more.
Therefore, in order to fix this you should definitely squat more often.
Plus, it would be a great idea to add more variety to your lower body workouts.
Your legs are made up of the largest muscle groups in the body, so the more often you train them the better your body will become overall.
Hi, I’m Partha, the founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I’m someone who’s been passionate about exercise and nutrition for more years than I care to remember. I’ve studied, researched, and honed my skills for a number of decades now. So, I’ve created this website to hopefully share my knowledge with you. Whether your goal is to lose weight, burn fat, get fitter, or build muscle and strength, I’ve got you covered.