Why the Heck is My Deadlift Much Stronger Than My Squat? (Explained)


Have you asked yourself why my deadlift is much stronger than my squat? Well, you are in for a treat today.

Maybe you’ve heard the old saying, “Squats build muscle; deadlifts build strength.” But why does this happen? And how do we make our deadlifts and squats even stronger?

Most of your muscles work against each other as you lower yourself. When you squat, you’re using gravity to pull yourself down. On the other hand, when you deadlift, you’re pulling yourself up with your legs, meaning that your quads and hamstrings work together to lift you.

This means squats will help you gain size, while deadlifting helps you get strong. In this article, I’ll cover the most common reason why your deadlift may be stronger than your squat, as well as how to fix it (if necessary).


Why is My Deadlift Much Stronger Than My Squat?

Guys with regular strength will always deadlift more than they squad because it’s a more natural movement that involves more overall muscles we use daily. As we get more experienced in the gym, the weight gap between the deadlift and the squat will diminish. The technique is much easier to master as well.

You may think doing a squat is more complex than doing a well-performed deadlift. Logical because the squat has a more extended motion range than the deadlift.

However, diving a bit deeper into the matter, we will discover squats have some mechanical advantages.

  • 1- It’s easier to move the knee forward while doing squats.
  • 2- You will already have built up some momentum when you are at the same point as you would be at the start of a deadlift.
  • 3- If you break through the sticking point of your squat movement, you’re more likely to be able to finish your rep. In a deadlift movement, that’s less the case.

Still, we will generally deadlift more than we can squat. Another reason is that the deadlift will feel like a more natural movement for most of us.

Also, we deadlift more than we squat because the deadlift is less resistant to thoracic flexion.

A funny fact: Beginners will have a much more significant gap between the squats and their deadlifts than the experienced guys. Beginners will notice they have a 25% + gap. With our pros, that wouldn’t be more than 10%.

It is essential to train your core muscles. This will help you improve your movement pattern while performing deadlifts or squats.

However, you will usually never squat as you deadlift; with time, you WILL close the weight gap. Working on your core and strengthening your thoracic spinal erectors will be the main concept to reach this goal.

Is it Normal I Deadlift More Than I Can Squat?

So what is considered normal? An experienced lifter will usually squat at least 90 percent of their deadlift. If you lift 100 pounds, you should be able to squat at least 90 pounds.

If you’re heavy, you’ll probably be able to squat more than you can deadlift. However, the lighter the weight, the more people should be able to deadlift, and the heavier the weight, the more they should be able to squat. At both ends of the spectrum, this effect becomes even more accurate.

Your squats and deadlifts are affected by four factors: a) size, b) arm, torso, leg lengths, and c) your overall technique. We’ll go through each one in greater detail so you can understand which ones might be right for you.

a) It Depends On Body-Weight

The ratio of the squat to the deadlift depends on the athlete’s weight. You’ll do more squats if you’re heavier because it takes less force to lift a heavy barbell than a light one. Conversely, if you’re lighter, you’ll perform more deadlifts since it requires more effort to move a light load.

A study published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research found that lifters performed fewer repetitions per set when lifting heavier weights. In other words, if you want to increase the amount of work you put into each repetition, the best way to do it is to lift heavier loads.

This data was collected from the men’s powerlifting competition held during the 2019 IPF World Championships. This analysis includes the lifts of over 200 competitors, including some of the strongest lifters in the world.


b) It Depends on Leverage

A person with longer legs and shorter arms would be disadvantaged when deadlifting. This could cause your squat numbers to be lower than your deadlift numbers.

If you’ve been involved with powerlifting for any time, you may have heard the term “leverage” used to describe whether someone is well suited toward a specific lift. Leverage determines the range of motion for the barbell.

For example, if someone has shorter arms than most people, they may be able to lift heavier weights in the bench press because their range of motion is shorter. However, they’d likely struggle to lift heavy weights in the deadlift because their range of motion would be longer.

Leverages depends on two factors:

Your genetics — how you’re naturally built

Your technique — how you position your body around the barbell

If your technique isn’t good enough, you won’t be able to take full advantage of any superior genetic advantages that you may have.

If someone with shorter arms doesn’t know where to put their shoulder blades when doing a bench press, they won’t be able to use their full range of motion.

First, learn your technique well. Then worry about leverage. However, at the end of the week, having longer levers in your deadlift will usually affect how much more weight you can lift than your squats. 

c) It Depends On The Technique

The technique comprises two main parts: how we position our bodies to maximize efficiency and how body weight impacts our approach.

Differences Between the Squat and the Deadlift

The squat and the deadlift aren’t similar; they’re pretty different exercises. However, they both target the gluteus maximus muscle group, which helps you maintain balance during movement. And since deadlifts require more core stability than squats, keeping those abs engaged throughout the lifts is important.

Deadlifts focus on your gluteus maximus (butt), hamstrings, and lower back muscles. Squats work your legs (thighs) and quadriceps muscles and your gluteus maximus muscle. Squats also help strengthen your leg muscles, which help stabilize your knees. Deadlifts focus more on strengthening your hips.

The Ideal Squat-to-Deadlift Ratio

There are many ways to approach the question of what constitutes an optimal squat-to-deadlift ratio, but it seems pretty clear that most people who lift weights do better by focusing on the front squat and the deadlift than on both.

For example, here are some numbers based on average lifter performance:

Deadlift: 125 lbs Front squat: 85 lbs Back squat: 100 lbs If we convert those into percentages of your back squat maximum, you’d have something like this:

For most people, the ideal squat-to-deadlift weight ratio is 1:1.25. If you squat 100kg, you should be able to lift 125 kilograms when performing a deadlift. Different factors can affect your squats-to-deadlifts ratio, including your body weight, arm length, torso length, and leg length.

If you have a much more significant difference between the two exercises than usual, this could indicate a muscle imbalance.

Why Are My Ratio Numbers Off?

1. Your Body Type

There are three basic types of bodies: endomorph, mesomorph, and ectomorphic. Endomorphs tend to be shorter than average, whereas ectomorphs are taller. Mesomorphs fall somewhere in the middle.

Endomorphs do well with squatting because their long limbs give them leverage. They also tend to be stronger than ectomorphs since their bones are denser. Ectomorphs struggle with heavy lifting, as their short limbs don’t provide enough leverage to lift heavy weights.

Mesomorphs generally perform better with deadlifting than endomorphs since their larger muscles allow them to lift heavier loads.

2. Your Grip Strength

Another difference between squatting and deadlifting is that they don’t involve the same level of grip strength. Squats require much less than deadlifts.

Even if you’re doing front squats without a barbell, your grip strength will still affect your deadlift weight more than any other lift because virtually every deadlift requires way more grip strength than when you’re doing squats.

When doing squats (even front squats), we use the shoulders and the upper body, in general, to take some load off the barbell. Therefore gripping strength is less critical with squatting.

Squats are a fantastic exercise for building strength in the legs and hips. They’re also an excellent warmup for deadlifts, which are arguably the king of exercises for developing power in the lower body.

How To Improve Your Squatting Numbers?

1- Practise Core Bracing

The question of whether or not “core bracing” actually matters when performing the deadlift came up recently on one of my Facebook groups. A guy asked me what he needed to do differently to improve his form.

He had been doing deadlifts for several months and felt he was getting better at them, but he wasn’t seeing much improvement in his lifts.

I told him that he didn’t need to change anything; he just needed to keep practicing. But I recommended that he learn some basic principles of good lifting techniques.

He responded that he already knew those things but couldn’t figure out why he wasn’t improving despite being able to perform the lifts correctly. So I posed the following hypothetical scenario:

Suppose that you are trying to teach someone else how to deadlift. How could you explain what they need to do to make progress?

My answer was simple: “You need to brace your core.” And then, I went into detail about how necessary, proper core bracing is for good deadlifting form.

Look, Let me explain the term core bracing most simply.

Core bracing focuses on keeping the tension in your core during the squat. That way, your body won’t “collapse” during the exercise. You can also use a belt. Core bracing and using a belt will make you feel more comfortable during your squat, which will, in the end, result in squatting more weight than before.

You will get stronger when you learn to master this technique.

2- Strengthen Your Thoracic Spinal Erectors

The primary function of your spinal erectors is to extend your thoracic spine. This happens during the eccentric phase of a movement like a squat or deadlift and at the beginning of a concentric movement like a pull-up.

The lumbar spine plays a secondary role when performing a squat or deadlift (and many other movements). Its primary purpose is to flex and stabilize the pelvis. To understand why this matters, let’s look at how the lumbar spine functions.

In contrast, the thoracic spine plays a crucial role in keeping the entire body upright. If we want to perform a full range of motion while maintaining good form, our ability to maintain a neutral position of the thoracic spine is critical. That’s why it plays an even more significant role during the squat than during a deadlift.

The plank row is one of the best exercises to strengthen the thoracic spinal erector.

Watch the video below for more exercises to strengthen your thoracic spine.


And not only for improving your squatting, for that matter. It will enhance your style, strength, and technique for more exercises in your fitness workout.

3- Here are some more simple things you can do to improve your squatting:

Get lower, look up, wear flat-bottomed shoes, try different foot positions, try adjusting your grip, have somebody helping you, and build up your weight while you work on perfecting your technique and getting stronger.


Squats are a fantastic exercise for building strength in the legs and hips. They’re also an excellent warmup for deadlifts, which are arguably the king of exercises for developing power in the lower body.

However, if you want to maximize the effectiveness of your squat training, you need to know how to perform them correctly.

Using the tips described in this blog post, you’ll be well on your way to performing the best squats in your gym.

FAQ’S Corner

Do deadlifts build a good physique?

Deadlifts are compound exercises that involve various muscle groups and are usually performed with heavy weights. Performing deadlifts correctly will build muscle in your legs, back, shoulders, arms, and core. So, yes. Well-performed deadlifts build a good physique and strength.


In conclusion, squats are often considered the king of exercises because they target the quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves. However, deadlifts hit almost every muscle group in the entire body. This means that they can give you a workout like nothing else.

The problem is that most people never use their deadlifts properly. They either lift too heavy, or they don’t warm up correctly. Either way, they end up doing themselves more harm than good.

So instead of relying on deadlifts to help you build strength, focus on using them to improve your technique. Once you master proper form, you’ll be able to reap the benefits of these powerful lifts without risking injury.

The deadlift and the squat are 2 essential exercises to include in your fitness routine. We generally will deadlift more than we squat because the ‘deadlift’ movement feels more natural to most of us. As I said earlier, we deadlift more than we squat because the deadlift is less resistant to thoracic flexion.

What are your deadlift-to-squat ratio numbers?

Please let me know in the comment section below.

Stay Healthy and Strong!

Meet Ezra, a former model and actor turned founder of GymTrends365. His no-BS approach to fitness helps men over 40 achieve their best shape. Ezra believes in empowering individuals to take control of their health and fitness through practical, sustainable methods. At GymTrends365, he's committed to providing the resources and support necessary to help everyone achieve their fitness goals.