Why Is My Deadlift Weaker Than My Squat? 5 Reasons!

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Written By Philethia Thomas

So you’ve been hitting the gym a lot recently and realised some of your exercises are not on par. To be more specific, your deadlift tends to be weaker than your squats. We know how frustrating that can be.  

It may even lead you to question “why is my deadlift weaker than my squats?”

There could be several reasons for having deadlifts weaker than your squats. Such as – your deadlift technique, your back-leg strength, your grip, your shoes and not squatting properly. Just by improving on these aspects, you can upgrade your deadlift exercises. 

Still not sure if you’ve understood all the causes? Keep on reading for a detailed explanation behind each of these problems and their solutions.

Without wasting any more time, let’s jump right in!

Why is My Deadlift Weaker Than My Squat?

Why is My Deadlift Weaker Than My Squat

Some people find that they can move more weight on a deadlift than on a squat. The deadlift puts a higher moment force on the middle and lower back and you may have a weaker back. 

And maybe you are rounding your back at the bottom of the movement. This could happen if you have relatively long limbs. This means you lack flexibility for performing deadlift

Your problem could be coming from any one of these reasons. Let’s dive deep to see which one could help you in gaining more.

Reason 1: Deadlift Technique

The first reason could be that your deadlift technique is wrong. A lot of us make technical mistakes when doing exercises. This decreases the resulting output.

A common mistake is to adjust the barbell to your position. Whereas you should adjust your position against the barbell.

Remember that the barbell will leave the floor after you balance it over the middle of your foot. Do not put the barbel directly below the shoulder joint. The barbell has to be under the shoulder blades. 

Solution: Following a Proper Deadlift Ritual

We will explain a deadlift technique that you can follow to perfect your deadlift technique even further. Also consider alternate options such as doing rack pulls instead of deadlifts. However, at any time you would want to improve your deadlifts. 

Let us focus on some steps. 

Step 1

The starting position is going to be the same regardless of how you are built physically. The back angle might be different but the approach is going to be the same for everyone. 

Stand next to the barbell with the barbell over your foot. Your shins should be 1 inch away from the barbell. 

Step 2

You have to place your hands on the barbel but the placement will be just outside your legs. Do not lock your knees but also do not bend them when you reach down. 

Step 3

Take your shins closer to the barbell without moving the barbell. This will also help you perfect your hip position. 

Step 4

Next, you have to squeeze out your chest which will help you straighten your arms and flatten your back. You also have to put your knees out by your elbows. Do not let your hips down in this step to squeeze your chest. 

Step 5

For the final step, pull the barbell up your body without letting the barbell swing. The barbell should be pulled up against your body. Finish up the deadlift by standing and putting your chest out. At this point, you need to lock your knees, hips and back. 

Reason 2: Back and Leg Strength

Back and Leg Strength

The second reason could be having low back and leg strength. Having enough strength in the back and legs is crucial for deadlifts. Otherwise, it will hinder your deadlifting goal. 

Solution 1: Back Strengthening

You can do exercises to improve your back strength for better deadlifting. But, you have to focus on some back exercises at first. So that, the back muscles are strengthened through their range of motions. 

Kettlebell swings will help you in conditioning your lower back. This can be done on days you’re not lifting weights. This exercise will train your lower back area but it needs to be done frequently. 

You can do hyperextensions to train the back even further. Do hyperextensions without the hyper part. This will help strengthen your lumbar paraspinal. You have to start by flexing your back. You have to extend till your spine is neutrally positioned. Hold the neutral position for a moment and then return. You can also hold a weight for better conditioning.

Finally, you can try bodyweight supermans or high hip bucks to engage more muscles in your back. Have more volumes in these exercises but with low intensity for better conditioning.

Solution 2: Leg Strengthening

Here are some leg strengthening exercises. These will help you to get your legs built and ready for more deadlifts. 

The leg press is a great exercise to make your legs strong. The exercise works on selected muscle groups and is simpler to do than a lot of quad-based exercises. Among the different types of leg presses, the decline leg press will help you condition your quad muscles. 

The next exercise you can look into is the lying leg curl. You will need a specialized machine for doing it but most of the gyms have a version of the machine. This exercise will help you to train your hamstrings which play a vital role in deadlifting. 

Additionally, you can try to do swiss ball leg curls to build endurance in your hamstrings. This exercise will require high reps on slow tempos to be effective. Both beginners and advanced powerlifters use this exercise to tone up their hamstrings. 

Reason 3: Grip

Having a grip problem while weightlifting is a common phenomenon that may occur for different reasons –

  • Your stance may be too wide which lessens your grip on the barbell. This makes you need to pull the barbell higher in your body; which can cause a loss of balance while doing a deadlift.
  • Your sweat or moisture on your hand can cause grip loss on the barbell. 
  • Another reason could be that you have small fingers. No need to worry as we have given a way to deal with that as well. 

Solution: Gripping the Correct Way

There are different kinds of solutions for each of the grip related problems –

  • Your stance should just be wide enough to let your arms parallelly pull up the barbell. This will increase the grip on the barbell.
  • Using chalk will help you improve your grip on the barbell. Because chalk soaks up moisture and sweat which increases friction on the touchpoints. You can use liquid chalk if your gym has a problem with regular chalk. 
  • You may face problems with hook grips if you have small hands. You can try the over-under grip to compensate for the finger size. You can also use lifting straps or barbell collars for extra grip support.

Reason 4: Shoes

A mistake that some bodybuilders make is wearing shoes with squishy soles or insoles. Squishy shoes absorb power while exercising which automatically makes deadlifting more difficult.

 Any kind of squish will take away pulling power. Even standing on a foamy surface will also absorb pulling power.

Solution: Wearing Flat Shoes

You need to wear flat shoes in order to keep the pulling power intact. If you are having trouble with flat shoes, you can try doing it barefooted. You can also try specialized weightlifting shoes.

Reason 5: Squats

A reason for having higher squats than deadlifts may be due to not doing squats properly. 5 common mistakes in squatting are- 

  • Keeping hips high without doing the full motion of the squat.
  • Bending your keens inward while going down.
  • Lifting heels while going up.
  • Rounding the back.
  • Bar on the neck.

Solution: Doing Proper Squats

You need to perform proper squats to get the full benefit of squatting. This will also lessen the deficit between your squats and deadlifts. 

Precaution

Precaution

Deadlifting can do more harm than good if not done properly. You will not get your expected results with improper techniques. There is also the risk of sustaining injuries if appropriate precautions are not followed.

 Things to look out for while deadlifting- 

  • Keep your arms straight while lifting to avoid arm injuries. 
  • Do not use your lower back until the barbell touches your knees. Use quads to lift the barbell. 
  • Wear flat shoes and stand on a non-squishy surface to get full pulling power and great resistance from the ground.
  • Keep your chest out & lower back straight to avoid back problems. 
  • Bend your knees for about 30 degrees to avoid knee injuries. 
  • Avoid squeezing shoulder blades together until you are done with the movement. 
  • Keep your back straight to lessen back pain possibilities. 

FAQ’s:

  • Is A Deadlift Harder Than A Squat?

Deadlifts are a little complex due to their technique. On the other hand, squats have comparatively less complex techniques and are easy for beginners to imitate.  

  • What should the average man be able to deadlift?

An average man should be able to deadlift a range of around 135-165 pounds. This also depends on the body weight and training experience of the lifter. 

  • How long does it take to add 100lbs to a deadlift?

It takes 6 weeks to add 100lbs to a deadlift without extra sets or cardio. But this can be done by experienced lifters. You also need to make sure to get plenty of rest and nutrition. 

Take Away

Now you know the answer to your question,” Why is my deadlift weaker than my squat ”. If you look out for the explained reasons, you should be able to deadlift more. 

You can consult a personal trainer if you want to be absolutely sure. Each person may have different reasons. It all comes down to leveraging body parts.

All the best.

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