Do you want to add more weight to your squats?
The standard barbell squat is a great exercise for working your lower body and core. It even helps target the lower back muscles.
When combined with the bench press and deadlift, you’ve got a full-body strength training workout.
So how much can you squat?
The average untrained guy can squat about 125 pounds, assuming an average weight of 150 pounds.
Setting a goal of 230 pounds seems reasonable but what about 315 pounds?
Performing a 315 squat is a major feat. For most of us, it’s a pipe dream.
If you want to squat hundreds of pounds, you’ll likely need to train for at least a couple of years.
Weight Training Is a Slow Process
Unfortunately, you can’t expect to dramatically increase the weight that you squat in just a few weeks.
Bulking up takes time. You need to eat at a calorie surplus and work your muscles.
After several months of training, the average novice weight trainer can squat about 230 pounds. An intermediate weightlifter may reach 285 pounds within a couple of years.
With many years of training, advanced lifters average 390 pounds for the squat, 460-pound deadlifts, and 290-pound presses.
Of course, these are just the average numbers based on the average body weight for each experience level.
To see the latest averages for different body weights, you can check out the squat standards table.
Your body weight isn’t the only factor that influences how much you can squat. You also need to consider:
- Previous training
- Current training
- Age and lifestyle
Here’s a closer look at these factors:
If you weigh more, you can typically lift more.
Your height also influences your starting point. Taller people have more mass, resulting in more body weight.
Basically, your weight determines how much your frame can hold based on your current fitness level.
If you’ve never lifted weights, you should still be able to squat about 85% of your body weight.
So if you weigh 160 pounds, you should be able to squat about 136 pounds.
Within a few months, you should be able to squat about 1.2 times your body weight. If you still weigh 160 pounds, you should be able to squat 192 pounds.
After about a year of training, you may start squatting about 1.6 times your body weight. This would put you in the “intermediate” category.
An advanced weightlifter with about one or two years of training should be able to squat about twice his or her body weight.
Of course, after a couple of years of training, your body weight probably won’t be the same as it is now.
If you eat a solid diet and work out about four times per week, you may gain about eight or nine pounds of muscle mass in three months. This may equal about 32 pounds in a year.
You may not pack on 60 or more pounds of muscle in two years but you’ll likely put on at least 20 to 30 pounds before you start squatting 315 pounds, depending on how much you can currently squat.
The stats that I’ve used are for men but women can still reach 315 pounds. It just requires more work.
The average 150-pound man can squat 125 pounds while the average 150-pound woman can squat closer to 72 pounds.
Women typically have smaller frames. On average, women are shorter and weigh less, resulting in lower average body weights.
However, body weight isn’t the only factor related to gender. Women produce less testosterone compared to men.
During adolescence and early adulthood, the levels of testosterone in a male impact puberty. Guys start to develop deeper voices, pubic hair, and facial hair.
At any age, testosterone is a key component for muscle mass and bone density, two factors that play roles in your abilities in the gym.
When you work out, your body repairs muscle tissue with new protein strands. This is protein synthesis.
Various hormones regulate protein synthesis but testosterone is the most important one. Testosterone binds to receptors on muscle cells, affecting the rate of protein synthesis and muscle recovery.
So with more testosterone, you should find it easier to increase muscle size and strength.
After puberty, a healthy male has 20 times the levels of testosterone compared to a healthy female.
Researchers now know that genetics impact your fitness potential and how quickly you can get in shape. Your genes also influence your risk factor for obesity.
Some people are just naturally born with a body type that makes it easier to bulk up. Researchers divide body types into three groups:
Endomorphs are naturally chubby and tend to find it harder to get in shape. Ectomorphs are naturally thin and better suited for endurance exercises such as long-distance running.
Mesomorphs are naturally muscular.
A 2011 study helped verify that your body type influences your fitness. Researchers had 175 sedentary adults complete a 21-week exercise program.
Some of the participants got in better shape while others didn’t.
The main difference between those who experienced better fitness and those that didn’t was their body types.
When it comes to fitness, you can thank your genes for 50% to 60% of your natural ability to get in shape. The remaining 40% to 50% depends on your diet, training, and lifestyle.
You may already experience some of the struggles related to your genes. If you’re constantly hungry and find it difficult to control your appetite, you may have the hunger gene called FTO.
There’s also a handful of genes that impact your ability to keep fat away after losing weight.
Some people also have genetic markers for increased muscle volume — IL15RA. This gene prevents muscle breakdown and allows you to bulk up more quickly.
Those are just a few examples. Researchers have uncovered dozens of genes that impact fitness.
So if you find it impossible to bulk up, blast fat, or get in better shape, you can blame your parents.
If you’re new to weight training, it’ll take you longer to reach 315 pounds compared to someone with the same body weight who used to work out years ago.
Former college and high school athletes who haven’t worked out in a while can retrain their bodies while beginners need to start from scratch.
People that have trained before also understand what it takes to reach fitness goals. They’ve experienced the hard work and commitment, which gives them an advantage.
Of course, muscles don’t really have memories, but research supports the idea that muscles develop genetic markers that make it easier to grow muscle later.
When you perform strength training exercises, muscle tissues break down. The muscle tissues then repair, resulting in bigger muscles.
To create new muscle tissue to repair the fissures, your body produces more nuclei. The nuclei aid protein synthesis, allowing your body to use protein to repair the muscles.
When your muscles atrophy, the extra nuclei stick around.
Fitness experts argue over how long the nuclei stay but it’s fair to say that former athletes should find it easier to get back in shape.
What about those who have never lifted a barbell? You can still gain muscle and eventually squat several hundred pounds. It just may take longer compared to a former athlete.
For those who are already lifting weights and exercising regularly, your current regimen may influence how quickly you reach 315 pounds.
For example, you’ll need to start bulking up if you’re currently cutting.
Fitness enthusiasts constantly debate body re-composition, which is the art of building strength while losing fat at the same time.
It’s theoretically possible but complicated. If you want to start squatting hundreds of pounds, you’ll need to pack on more muscle and body weight.
Unless you’re a beginner, you’re not going to really be able to lose fat and build muscle at the same time.
What’s this mean for you?
Your training regimen should focus on gaining muscle mass. You may gain some fat or lose some fat but your main concern should be bulking up.
Age and Lifestyle
It’s true that age affects your ability to get in shape.
As you get older, your body may produce less testosterone, decreasing your rate of muscle recovery and ability to gain muscle mass.
For most guys, you’ll start to experience a reduction in testosterone production after the age of 30. By the time you reach 50, you may suffer from low testosterone levels.
Women start to experience a reduction in testosterone production during menopause.
Your lifestyle may also interfere with your fitness goals. Smoking, obesity, major illnesses, high-stress levels, and some medications can result in lower testosterone production.
You can’t change your age but you can change your lifestyle.
If you’re serious about lifting more weight in the gym, you may need to avoid smoking and find ways to combat stress.
How Can You Start Squatting More Weight?
You should first determine your current body weight and max weight for one repetition when performing a squat. You need to know your starting point so you can track your progress.
As mentioned, the average man can squat about 125 pounds and women can typically squat about 72 pounds.
The next step is to determine your daily calorie needs.
Use an online calorie calculator to estimate the number of calories that you need to eat each day to maintain your current weight.
You’ll then want to add roughly 500 calories per day, resulting in a surplus of 3,500 calories for the week.
A 3,500 calorie surplus is equal to one pound, which is a little more than the maximum amount of muscle that you can gain each week.
Of course, you’ll burn a portion of those calories during your workouts so you shouldn’t need to worry about gaining fat.
After performing these calculations, it’s time to hit the gym.
Find an affordable gym membership in your area and start working out four to five times per week.
While performing a squat mostly engages the lower body and lower back, you still need shoulder strength and arm strength.
Follow a workout regimen that includes squats, bench presses, and deadlifts. This allows you to work most of the major muscle groups.
Work different parts of the body on different days. For example, perform squats and other leg exercises on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Focus on your arms and core on Tuesday and Thursday.
Rest and recover on Saturday and Sunday.
Keep track of your progress. If the amount of weight that you’re squatting doesn’t max you out after several repetitions, add 10 pounds to your total.
Hopefully, you should be able to add 10 pounds every few months.
How Long Does It Take to Squat 400 or More Pounds?
You may never reach 315 pounds. So 400 pounds seems even more unrealistic.
400 pounds places you in the “advanced weightlifter” category. This typically requires many years of training.
Again, body weight affects the averages.
According to the male squat standards table, an advanced lifter weighing 200 pounds can squat 407 pounds. An elite lifter weighing 150 pounds averages 395 pounds.
Can women squat 400 pounds? It’s possible but rare.
An advanced female weightlifter weighing 200 pounds can squat an average of 269 pounds. At 260 pounds, an elite female weightlifter may only squat about 389 pounds.
Conclusion: How Much Should You Squat?
After reviewing the information discussed, 315 pounds isn’t a pipe dream after all but it’s not going to happen overnight.
The bottom line is that your body weight and current fitness level determine how long it’ll take. If you can already squat 200 pounds, you’ll reach 315 sooner compared to someone who can only squat 120 pounds.
Don’t become discouraged if you can’t reach your goal.
If you walk into any gym, you’re unlikely to see many people squatting hundreds of pounds.
Instead of shooting for the stars, celebrate small milestones. If you can currently squat 150 pounds, make it your goal to reach 160 pounds.
When you reach 160, try to reach 170 pounds.
It’s a slow climb, but you may eventually reach 315 pounds or more.