My one rep deadlift max is about 50% more than for squat. I can bench almost as much as I squat. I squat best with a fairly narrow stance and always squat deep. What might explain why my squat is lagging behind?

I have now been training roughly 3 times a week for about a year with a 2 day split: deadlift + upper back exercises+ abs / squat + bench + overhead press. That is I squat and deadlift roughly 1.5 times a week and I squat and lift on separate days. I used to train quite actively before but had a few years break.

I now do about 3 main sets each with 6 reps of deadlifts with 140 kg and the same for squats but with a weight of about 95 kg (similar for bench). I am 182cm / 84 kg with a relatively long back. I prefer the sumo deadlift as it feels more natural.

There was also a period before when I avoided both squat and deadlift due to back issues but this should not explain it in full as my deadlift started clearly improving after I included it back to my workout routine.

  • You'll have to go into more detail about your training history, programming, and the weights involved to get an answer that isn't just a generic "sometimes this happens". Commented Aug 13, 2020 at 8:54
  • @DaveLiepmann I added some detail
    – fes
    Commented Aug 13, 2020 at 9:07
  • Still missing some important details. How often do you squat/deadlift? What does your 2-day split look like? Do you squat before or after you deadlift? Could form be an issue?
    – Alec
    Commented Aug 13, 2020 at 9:27
  • @Alec Is it now better? I have a bit hard time finding a squat form that feels comfortable. I think my form looks ok though.
    – fes
    Commented Aug 13, 2020 at 9:36
  • What's your procedure for adding weight? How's your deadlift form, and bar speed? Do you do only one set of each? Commented Aug 13, 2020 at 12:14

2 Answers 2


First off: 140kg deadlift / 95kg squat is slightly unbalanced, but not tremendously so. I have at times had a 100kg squat when able to deadlift 140kg. So it's worth looking at but not necessarily pathological. It's also still not clear where exactly the two lifts diverged in your progression scheme, which is key information.

A few possibilities:


You might have good anthropometry for the deadlift. This seems unlikely - long torso and short femurs is ideal for the squat, whereas the deadlift is easier for those with comparatively long legs. Addressing this simply means squatting more and maybe always squatting relatively less than you deadlift.


Some people consider the deadlift to need less volume to progress than the squat. Since you're doing roughly similar amount of work for each of the deadlift and squat, it's possible that you are simply pushing your deadlift better.

To fix this I'd just try 5 sets of the squat, and optionally dropping the deadlift to 1 set to make room for other exercises, possibly including a brief squat, maybe done light.


You could have a technical error or mobility issue with the squat. Diagnosing this would require form checks.

Mental pressure

With the rate of progress you report I wonder if you're running into a mental block with the squat. It's an intimidating lift. In contrast, the deadlift – perhaps especially sumo style – presents much less psychological pressure, so I wouldn't expect you to be hitting the same wall there yet.

If you worry about the squat, or are hesitant to add weight to the bar in a way that you're not with the deadlift, this could be it, or one element of the problem.

Solving a mental block with the squat demands squatting a lot. Make it your best friend. Make your squat form something people compliment out of the blue. Squat every day, and squat with a bar every time you can. Most importantly, as you approach the bar for every set, conclude decisively that you are going to smash it. And then smash that bar with every rep. Attack the squat with more certainty as it gets heavier each week.

The Wall

Your lifts & bodyweight being what they are, it's also possible you're simply at that stage where adding weight to the squat requires a qualitatively different kind of effort.

I suspect this might be the problem because 95kg is right where relatively athletic men your size often first experience adversity in the squat. It's where the lift stops being a challenge that can be overcome by blindly pushing a little harder. This happens later with the deadlift. But squats with errors (like a good-morning'd squat) often stop working-without-thought around this relative weight (a little more than bodyweight). That's when you have to actually lift the weight correctly or it will not work. I've noticed in myself and other guys roughly my size (80±3kg, 180±5cm) encounter it circa 100kg, maybe 115kg if they're really risk-inclined and stubborn. It's different for everybody but doing it wrong stops working around this stage.

Fixing this requires a mix of basically all the prior fixes. You have to dial in your mobility, and your form, and your mental game, and you have to squat more often. Build a really reliable squat and then you should be able to add weight.

  • Thanks! Really useful advice and points to think about more.
    – fes
    Commented Aug 13, 2020 at 19:12

Some people are afraid of heavy squats mainly due to the fear of being crushed. This mental block on the lift might make some people increase the weight at a slower pace just to make sure they're safe. I don't know if this is your case but if it rings a bell there are a couple of things to try.

  1. Squat in a power rack with safety bars/straps or a squat rack with safety arms, and test them. With safety bars set at a proper height, failing a squat isn't scary at all. Essentially, you squat to depth, realize "Hey, this weight isn't going back up", and then you gently set it on the bars/straps/arms.

  2. Try doing static holds or walkouts with more weight than you can squat. I know some powerlifters that use this as a confidence booster. To do it super safely, set the rack safeties just below shoulder level. Load the bar up with your squat weight plus, say, 100 lb and just unrack the bar. Hold it for 10-15 seconds and put it back down.

My only other comment is you say you squat narrow and very deep. Consider how deep you're going and that maybe you're going too deep. I'd have to see your form to say but once you're deeper than just below parallel you can very easily lose any bracing you had.

  • Yeah, a good squat rack is crucial. Lost my balance one time and the bar hit the rack when my tailbone was about an inch off the floor. Saved my back big time.
    – Stephen R
    Commented Aug 13, 2020 at 20:52

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