T Nation

Deadlift vs. Squat, Grip?

I noticed a while back that in the lighter weight classes deadlifts virtually always exceed squat poundages. In the heavier weight classes the reverse is almost always true. I asked a friend who has done some powerlifting about this and he said it was because grip strength was the ultimate limiting factor in the deadlift, not leg and back strength. Hence, smaller lifters, having not maxed out their grip yet, lift more in the deadlift (since you have a slight mechanical advantage there) and larger lifters can handle greater loads with their legs than their hands can withstand.

Looking at records, I think the greatest deadlift these days is around 925 and the greatest squat is around 1050, give or take. The grip limiting factor would explain why in WSM and other venues where straps are allowed the deadlift jumps up to around 1050 or more again.

If this is the case I wonder if there is a big push in the powerlifting circles to allow straps so weight will continue to increase.
Any comments on this?

I’m not a big follower of powerlifting, but it would stand to reason, that if the distance of the bar from the floor is a constant, the short guys (ie. the lighter classes) would have a tremendous advantage. If you were short enough, you would only have to deadlift from about your knees, while the taller guys would be deadlifting from just off their shoe laces. For the squat, it doesn’t matter what your height is. So, from my standpoint, it doesn’t make sense that bigger guys could not develop proportionately stronger grip compated to the smaller guys. Usually the grip is a limiting factor for us bodybuilders because it gets exhausted after a couple of sets, but for a one time lift, I doubt that it is a limiter. Just my take.

I don’t think this has all that much to do with grip strength. I’ve trained in powerlifting myself and been around hundreds of powerlifters and attended many meets…I’ve only once or twice seen someone have the bar slip out of their hand due to insufficient grip strength.
There are a few reasons why the discrepancy between the squat and dl though. For one in the lighter weight classes guys are more apt to be thinner and longer and also a lot of times they may not have much experience training…It’s well known that a longer frame is better suited to the deadlift…and a beginning lifter often-times has good deadlift strength from the very beginning where the squat is something that has to be worked on. In the heavier weight classes people are more apt to use supportive equipment. The equipment helps the squat a lot more then it does the deadlift. And another issue is training experience…the longer a guy has trained usually the heavier he is. Since most lifters focus more on squat then deadlift the squat goes up a lot more then the D.L. Throw this in with the supportive equipment and you now have a squat that overshadows the d.l.
In some european countries, Finland I believe, a lifter is not measured by what he benches or squats but by what he deadlifts. So for example in the U.S. the first question everyone asks when they hear you lift is “what do you bench?”…Imagine if everyone said “What do you deadlift?” If this were the case I imagine we’d have a lot of really good deadlifters.

This is how it was explained to me by another powerlifter, who was far more knowledgable than I. As you get heavier, you gain more mass around the midsection, changing your center of gravity. This makes the bar harder to pull because your center of gravity is not right over it. However, this build makes for an excellent squatter. I’m around 200 and my heaviest DL is 100 lbs. greater than my best squat. So that’s my take on it.

This is interesting. Its changed my perception on some things. I had always assumed that the best deadlifters would be short people with short legs and long arms (shorter travel distance) but it seems to favor long limbed people in general. When people fail in the deadlift (in competition) where does that usually occur? Lock-out? Or do they simply fail to get it off the ground?

Straps for deads? Why not, It’ll just go along with the denim suits, the belts and all the other poundage inflating equipment (and drugs). Sigh.

When people fail on the deadlift they fail depending on their style. Typically when the weight gets really heavy a conventional deadlifter will get the bar just about to knee level and fail right there…there are many things one can do such as body positioning, form, keeping the head back, not straightening the legs too fast to try to keep this from occuring but usually when a conventional deadlifter fails they’ll start to shake uncontrollably around the knee level and then the legs will straighten, the back will round and the lift is lost.
On a sumo deadlift usually if they can get it 2 inches off the ground then it’s coming all the way up.