Every good exercise program will most likely incorporate squats at least once a week, but that begs that question:
How much should I squat?
Unfortunately, the answer is a bit complicated.
Determining how much weight you should squat depends on your age, gender, and your body weight. But you also need to take into account what your fitness goals are when it comes to resistance training.
Below, we will overview the average squat weight for males and females along with some basic guidelines on how to perform the squat correctly.
How Much Can the Average Person Squat?
According to statistics collected by Strength Level, the average man can squat 287 lb and the average woman can squat 161 lb. Of course, these numbers come from experienced weight lifters.
Considering an untrained general population, ExRx claims the average squat weight for a man is about 125 lb and the average for a woman is about 65 lb. These claims are still debatable considering most people don’t exercise at all.
Let’s take a closer look at the average squat weight for males and females across different training experience levels.
Average Squat Weight for Men
Depending on a male’s level of strength and current weight, the amount of weight he is expected to squat will vary. The list below includes estimates for what percentage of body weight a male should be able to squat for each strength level.
- Untrained: 60-70% of your body weight
- Novice: 110-130% of your body weight
- Intermediate: 140-160% of your body weight
- Advanced: 190-210% of your body weight
- Elite: 240-280% of your body weight
These are only averages based on the general trend of squat standards. The actual amount a male should be able to squat will be more specific for his actual weight.
Average Squat Weight for Women
The average weight a female should be able to squat depends on how much she weighs and which level of strength she is attempting to reach. With that said, the list below estimates what percentage of body weight a female should be able to squat for each strength level.
- Untrained: 40-50% of your body weight
- Novice: 80-90% of your body weight
- Intermediate: 90-100% of your body weight
- Advanced: 120-130% of your body weight
- Elite: 150-170% of your body weight
Keep in mind that these are averages and each weight class has its own specific standards for the percentage of body weight squatted.
Now, that you understand the average squat weight based on gender, let’s discuss maintaining proper form and how to perform this exercise correctly.
Start with Bodyweight Squats
If you’ve never performed a barbell back squat before, it’s essential that you test your strength and skills using bodyweight squats first. Only after you build a strength base and are able to perform the movement with good form should you test your squatting capacity with a barbell.
Here’s how to perform a bodyweight squat with correct form:
- Assume a comfortable squat position either with your feet separated at shoulder width or hip width. Experiment with different widths to determine what’s best for you. Once you’ve settled on a stance, point your toes out slightly.
- Start the motion by shifting your hips backward and bending your knees like you’re sitting down. Keep your knees aligned with your hips.
- You have the option to keep your arms alongside your body, held across your chest, or stretched forward to help with stability.
- Go down until your thighs align horizontally with the ground or further if possible.
- To rise back up, drive your feet into the ground while distributing the force across your entire foot, not just your heels.
- As you reach an upright position, maintain a gentle bend in your knees to prevent them from fully straightening. Engage your glutes moderately without thrusting your hips excessively forward, to prevent straining your lower back.
Are You Squatting Correctly?
The barbell back squat is a lower-body strength and power exercise that focus on the quadriceps and gluteus maximus, though other muscles are involved as well. The squat is one of the most basic exercises, but it’s extremely important that you use the correct form to prevent injury while building muscle mass.
Additionally, use the help of a spotter to not only check your form, but help you out when things go wrong (sometimes they do). If you want to squat alone, at least do it in a squat rack with the safety pins set to catch the weight.
Here is a step-by-step process of performing a barbell back squat correctly.
- Begin with your feet shoulder width apart with the knees pointing forward and your back straight.
- Keeping the stiffness in your back and your feet flat on the floor, bring your knees to a 90-degree angle.
- Extend the knees and return to a straight standing position.
If you’re performing a barbell squat, you would rest the barbell on the back of your neck/shoulders and support it with both of your hands (unlike the front squat where the bar rests on the front of your shoulders).
For beginners, a safe back squat starting weight is 45 pounds (or just the bar). After you can perform 3 sets of 10 reps with just the bar, you’re ready to add weights in 5 or 10 pound increments to improve your average squat.
4 Squat Tips to Improve Your Form
When you’re performing a squat, the overall technique is pretty simple. With that said, there are a few things you can do to maintain proper form and prevent the development of an injury or strain to muscles and ligaments.
Here are some tips for improving your squat form.
1. Picture yourself sitting down.
Squats look easy to perform from afar, but actually performing them with a heavy barbell or other alternatives can be a different experience. As you’re performing a squat, picture yourself sitting down into a chair during the descent.
This will keep your knees and feet facing forward and limit the angle achieved by your knee to about 90-degrees. In fact, if you’re a beginner to squatting, you can keep a bench behind you to practice the proper form angle.
2. Breathe properly.
One of the biggest mistakes that beginners make when doing heavy lifts is holding their breath throughout the exercise. While, if done correctly, this type of method can substantially increase the amount of weight you can lift, it does pose some dangers.
The general consensus for the squat movement is that you should be taking a deep breath directly before or during the descent. As you’re exerting power to return to your starting position, this is when you would exhale forcefully.
3. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart.
While there are other variations of squats that require you to plant your feet in other positions, proper form for dumbbell and barbells squats call for your feet to be shoulder-width apart. The easiest explanation for this stance is that it provides your body with a wide and supportive base without risking strength.
By building an even wider base than this suggestion, you’re reducing the distance between your upright and final positions. This limits the number of benefits you’ll receive from the squat in terms of strength, power, and range of motion.
4. Push up off the floor.
This piece of advice is more about the visualization of the squat and where to focus your efforts during your performance. In a sense, it might be helpful to picture the motion of using a leg press machine.
When you’re focusing on pushing up off of the floor, you’re focusing more on the motion in your legs than the actual barbell loaded onto your back. If you’re focusing on a squat in this way, your form will adapt and you’ll have greater power in your legs.
Remember, the best thing you can do to improve your squat is practice and improve your squat frequency! To improve your numbers for the long-term, stop asking yourself “How much should you squat”, but instead ask “How often should you squat“.
Is It Hard to Squat Your Bodyweight?
If you’re a beginner, squatting your own weight can be hard. But don’t get discouraged! It’ll take time to reach your ideal squat weight.
To improve your squat, focus on achieving proper form first and don’t push yourself to failure. It’s also a good idea to start with light weights using dumbbells or resistance bands to prevent serious injury attempting a full back squat with a barbell.
Be sure to follow a reliable strength training program like Starting Strength, Fierce Five, or Superhero X12. Since they’re based on progressive overload, you’ll be continuously adding weight over time to force muscle adaptation.
How Much Should I Squat for My Weight?
To determine how much you should squat, you need to consider your body weight and gender. That information can then be used to estimate how much you should be able to squat for each level of strength.
If you can only squat 100 pounds, you’re still considered a beginner (noob) and you should focus on progressive overload to slowly increase your strength.
For intermediate male lifters, a good squat goal is about 150% of your body weight while women are expected to squat about 100% of their body weight.
Obviously, if you’re looking to surpass the intermediate level, you’ll need to be able to squat much more than these recommended values.
If you’re just looking for baseline data for beginners, men should be able to squat about 65% of their body weight while women are expected to squat about 50% of their body weight.
Squat Standards FAQs
What is a good squat weight for a man?
A good squat weight for a man at the intermediate training level is about 150% of their body weight. So, a respectable squat for a man weighing 180 lb is about 270 lb.
Is 225 a good squat for a man?
Yes, 225 lb is a good squat for a man. In reality, most men don’t even exercise or learn proper form so squatting almost any amount of weight over 150 lb is considered a respectable strength milestone.
What is a good squat weight for a woman?
A good squat weight for a woman at the intermediate training level is about 90% of their body weight. So, a respectable squat for a woman weighing 120 lb is about 108 lb.