How Much Should I be Able to Squat?


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“Two-times my bodyweight? 1.5 times my bodyweight? Double bodyweight? What’s a good squat anyway? What’s realistic? What’s a good baseline? And what ultimate goal should I have?”

It’s all very confusing, isn’t it, and the answer will confuse, and possibly even perturb you, even more…(sorry in advance).

As always, it depends. 

It depends on your goals.

Are you training to compete in powerlifting or weightlifting? Are you striving to be an elite CrossFit athlete, or are you just wanting to be strong and functional for life?

  • If you’re a competitive, hoping to get as strong as possible powerlifter, the answer is quite simple: As much as possible. The bigger the better. The sky should be the limit.
  • If you’re a weightlifter, on the other hand, then your squat only needs to be a certain percentage relative to your clean and snatch, so that strength doesn’t limit your ability to improve either of these Olympic lifts. 
  • If you’re a CrossFit athlete striving to hang with the best in the world, then a double bodyweight squat is an appropriate goal. Or if we were to put a number to it, elite CrossFit females should strive to be able to back squat 300 pounds with their male counterparts looking to be able to squat at least 415 pounds.

But for general health, having a double bodyweight, or 415 and 300-pound back squat, is really not required, and it shouldn’t even necessarily be your goal. 

Consider this: The only reason for the lifestyle athlete to hit a double bodyweight squat is because your ego somehow wants to be there. But what might you need to sacrifice in order to get there? Your conditioning? Bodyweight gymnastics strength? Spending time on mobility? Spending too many hours at the gym that your home life and work start to suffer?

Instead, if you’re a lifestyle athlete, consider yourself to be on a continuum, where you’re constantly just trying to improve a little bit.

The path:

  • The first step for a total novice is simply to gain motor control and consistency in the air squat. Read this blog to learn how to assess this squat. 
  • After that, the goal would be to gain strength endurance, which looks something like 20 reps of a goblet squat at 50 to 60 percent of your bodyweight.
  • From there, being able to do a bodyweight squat (likely a back squat) would be a good goal.

Another consideration: Along the way, test your front squat. Your front squat percentage should be somewhere in the range of 85 percent of your back squat. If it’s not, then it might be worth devoting some time to strengthening your front squat.

One more tip: You also want to make sure you don’t have a serious imbalance between your left and right sides, so single leg work also comes into play. A good (challenging) baseline for this is a rear-foot elevated split squat: Can you do 8 reps with one-third (33 percent) of your bodyweight in each hand?

Final Thoughts

Once you achieve:

  • air squat motor control,
  • 20 goblet squats at 50 to 60 percent of your bodyweight,
  • a bodyweight back squat, 
  • a front squat 80 to 90 percent of your back squat, 
  • and 8 rear-foot elevated split squats with 33 percent of your bodyweight in each hand,

then you can create your next, small step goal, which could be as simple as adding 10 pounds to your one rep max back squat or maybe striving to be able to do three or five reps at your current one-rep max. 

The key is to set small, realistic, achievable, and measurable goals to keep you moving along the continuum, rather than setting a long-term, possibly unrealistic goal of achieving a double bodyweight back squat by the end of the year.

Baby steps help you stay the course and respect where you’re at, all the while keeping you on the path to long-term improvements. 


What’s the best exercise program to improve you or your client’s squat? The answer lies in a comprehensive assessment and a deep understanding of exercise principles. 

Sign up for our free Fitness Coaching Course and learn the OPEX Method of personalized fitness program design, so you can write smarter programs that drive better results. 

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