Deadlift Standards

You just pulled 405 pounds for the first time and want to know how your own record stacks up to universal deadlift standards?

So you hop on Google for some answers.

The problem with online strength standards is that elite lifters distort what normal people view as realistic. 

500-pound squats and 600-pound deadlifts?

Unattainable to the average guy of average height and weight who lifts to look great with his shirt off, not to step on a powerlifting platform.

As a dabbling sprinter, your 11.5-second 100-meter dash would put you in the top 5-10% of all men on Earth.

But compared to Yohan Blake or Kim Collins, you're slower than a Lada full of elephants going uphill.

It's the same with barbell training.

Someone like Jonnie Candito – who cranks out 10 reps with a weight 99% of men will never touch – skews the numbers to such a degree it makes your jaw drop... 

How can a guy of normal stature pull such massive weights with textbook form? Ridiculous!

Anyway, a few accurate online charts exist that map out what you should be able to lift based on your weight, age, and gender.

Two popular ones (here and here) put me in the elite category.

Do I feel elite?

Nope.

Still got plenty of room to improve.

The best article on natural strength standards I have ever read lands my deadlift in the "Extremely Strong" group: 

"You will be one of the top lifters at most local, natural powerlifting meets. Your strength levels land you in the top 1% of humanity."

I don't have any aspirations to compete in a powerlifting meet. 

But top 1% strength sounds ego-gratifying. I'll take it!

What about you, though?

How do your numbers measure up?

You're about to find out.

This article lays out deadlift standards – and how fast you can expect to reach them – for the regular guy not involved in powerlifting or strongman.

They're based on my experience working with hundreds of clients in a specific niche:

Healthy, athletic men between 20 and 45 years, who may or may not compete in a non-strength sport.

How Much Can the Average Man Deadlift?

How Much Can the Average Man Deadlift

Not much.

Somewhere around 80 kilograms (~180 pounds).

If you think that's pathetically weak, you're right.

The average man today is far from impressive:

He's about 1.78 m (5'10) tall, weighs 90 kg (a whisker shy of 200 pounds), sits at 28% body fat, and doesn't carry a gym membership.

If you were to describe the modern male in four words...

Weak. Fat. Lazy. Untrained.

The average male gym-goer doesn't fare much better.

In my experience, he can pull around 100 kilograms (220 pounds).

Because he's afraid deadlifts will wreck his back (for a good reason... his technique sucks!), they aren't a regular part of his routine.

So he has no clue where his true limits are, nor has he ever pushed hard to find them.

What Is A Good Deadlift Standard For Healthy, Athletic Men?

What Is A Good Deadlift Standard

"Is a 225-pound deadlift good?"

"Is a 315 deadlift respectable?"

Reddit and fitness forums are full of naive noobs posting dumb questions like these.

Answer?

No, and no!

Unless you're a 110-pound female, that 315-pound deadlift is nothing to write home about.

Parading your mediocre numbers around reminds me of this adage:

"It is better to keep silent and be thought a deadlift weakling than to speak and remove all doubts."

For comparison, I reached a 2x bodyweight (150 kg / 330 pounds) pull six months into serious lifting in my early 20s...

And hit 180 kg within 12 months of starting.

Before you ask...

No, I don't have any special talent for strength training. I have horrible muscle-building genetics.

My first deadlift workout in college, I performed six reps with 45 kilos (99 pounds). So when I say I come from humble beginnings, I mean it.

Nailing four plates in my first year of structured training felt like a huge victory back then.

Now, almost 15 years later, I've realized it's just the cut-off point to separate smart, consistent lifters from wannabes.

If you haven't reached 405 yet, you're either a newbie or have been fucking around in the gym for years.

Your genetic ceiling is far beyond what you think is possible.

And big strength jumps take a lot less time than you'd expect.

By following an effective strength program, you should be able to pull 225 pounds within a few weeks from now... and 315 pounds 3-4 months down the line.

You can expect to cross the 405-pound barrier – something beginners picture as a magnificent feat of strength – in around 12-24 months.

The road to 500 pounds will likely be a long and arduous one. If it takes you longer than five years to achieve, we're both in the same boat – not gifted for this lifting heavy weights thing.

Here's one of my pro hockey players pulling 225 kg / 495 pounds with ease:

Most men never come close to achieving a 500-pound deadlift, so I can't give you any accurate info on how fast you should expect to get there.

Conventional and Sumo Deadlift Standards

Having covered realistic timelines for attaining a two-, three-, and four-plate deadlift, let's talk about how much a trained, athletic man should pull a few years into serious training.

Just so you know...

When I say "trained", I'm talking about someone who has picked up a barbell consistently for the past 2+ years.

Not powerlifters or strength competitors gunning for titles.

And by "athletic", I mean regular guys at sub-15% body fat with some sports background.

Not a D1 or pro athlete in his prime.

Sumo Deadlift Standards

Whether you should go conventional or sumo, I don't care. Pick the stance you feel most comfortable with. 

Another important factor I must mention in advance:

These deadlift standards are relative to your body weight – not absolute numbers. 

While a 500-pound deadlift sounds impressive, look at who is standing behind the bar.

Some fat 300-pound dude who waddles over to the platform with his gut spilling out of his pants?

Or a ripped 165-pounder with veiny arms and rock-hard abs?

The former scores a very mediocre 1.67 times body weight lift.

The latter pulls 3x body weight. That is impressive.

Outside of competitive strength sports, you have no reason to let yourself become a fattie to lift bigger loads.

Be the leanest, strongest version of yourself.

Going forward, I've broken relative strength standards in three categories. Quick explanations:

Beginner: Top 10-20% at any public gym. 

To put this in perspective:

Round up nine other male gym members (20-45 years) at random.

Taking each person's body weight into account, you should be able to beat seven or eight of them in a 1RM deadlift contest. 

If you're wondering how a "beginner" could be stronger than ≥80% of men, I explained it already:

Most guys A) don't deadlift B) stay in their comfort zone C) lift with crappy technique D) fuck around.

Any man who dedicates the next 12-24 months to serious lifting will outperform the typical gym bro by a mile.

Although your deadlift will impress the average guy (who sucks, remember?), you're still a novice in the world of real strength training.

Intermediate: Your relative strength puts you in the top 5% at your facility.

Advanced: Pound for pound, you're the strongest non-competitive lifter around. Top 1% strength performance.

With these parameters in place, here are my deadlift standards for in-shape guys between 70 and 90 kilos (~155-200 pounds).

  • Beginner: 2xBW
  • Intermediate: 2.5xBW
  • Advanced: 3xBW

You weigh 80 kilograms (175 pounds) and have been training for at least two years?

You should be able to deadlift 160 kilograms (350 pounds), minimum.

If not?

What the hell have you been doing these past couple of years?!

As we discussed earlier, the average man deadlifts ~80 kilograms.

Doubling what some skinny-fat bastard can do, who has never seen the inside of a weight room, should NOT take you a lifetime to achieve.

Expect more from yourself, dammit!

A 200 kg (440 pounds) deadlift marks your arrival at the intermediate stage. It's a barrier most men will never break.

After busting your ass for years (likely more than a decade), you'll have earned a 240 kg / 530 pounds deadlift through years of sweat equity – and the bright "Advanced" ribbon on your chest that comes with. 

You say these numbers sound too high?

It means YOUR standards are too low.

Time to push pedal to the metal and catch up!

Trap Bar Deadlift Standards

Trap Bar Deadlift

Compared to a straight bar, it's harder to set accurate deadlift standards with a trap for one simple reason:

Handle height varies from bar to bar.

Why should that matter?

Because the higher the handles, the shorter the range of motion... and the heavier you can go.

In a standard trap bar, the handles stand ~4 inches (10 cm) higher than the frame.

With some bars, the difference is even greater. Rogue produces one with 8 inches (20 cm) of elevation. 

Then you also have bars where the handles are in line with the frame, which increases the ROM and makes the lift harder.

Using a bar with ~4 inches (10 cm) of elevation, you can expect to lift about 10% more than conventional or sumo.

This brings our trap bar deadlift standards to...

  • Beginner: 2.2xBW
  • Intermediate: 2.75xBW
  • Advanced: 3.3xBW

Our 80 kg lifter should hit 175 kg / 385 lb to signal he has spent some time in the Iron Game...

220 kg / 485 lb to reach intermediate status... 

And 265 kg / 580 lb to make it to the advanced stage.

Wrapping Up

Using a simple bodyweight multiplier, we can rank your progress as a lifter against common deadlift standards...

Can't deadlift at least 2x body weight? You've got some serious catching up to do.

A 2.5x body weight pull? It's attainable to any healthy, athletic guy who dedicates the next few years to progressive barbell training.

Passed the triple body weight mark? Congrats. It's like amassing a million-dollar net worth; very few men ever get there.

Prefer to use a high-handle trap bar as your main deadlift variation?

Add an extra 10% to your conventional/sumo numbers for accurate targets to aim for.

Now you know what really constitutes strong for hard-training, in-shape men who aren't elite lifters.

Yunus Barisik

Yunus Barisik, CSCS, has coached 500+ competitive athletes. His client list includes NCAA D1 champions, World Champions and NHL players.A former skinny-fat kid struggling to gain strength and muscle, Yunus managed to build a respectable 3x body weight deadlift. He has also helped dozens of scrawny men add muscle, hit lifting PRs they never thought were possible, and saved them from the skinny-fat curse.

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