How Much Are You Supposed to Deadlift for Your Body Weight?
The deadlift exercise is one of the most popular barbell movements in weight training, as it allows activation of muscle groups such as the hamstrings, glutes, hip flexors, quads, core muscles, upper back muscles, and lower back muscles.
Unlike the bench press and other movements that more so target one specific muscle group, the barbell deadlift’s ability to work both the upper and lower body, build muscle mass, as well as enhance full body strength has made it a staple of most training programs, but it is important to know more about the conventional deadlift before jumping into it.
The amount you deadlift gets determined by more than your body weight. Your strength standards, body type and gender all play a role; for example, a small, novice lifter will deadlift a far less amount of weight than a massive, olympic powerlifter.
When selecting a training weight, remember that you must never compromise technique -- train your body, not your ego.
Untrained and Novice
As an untrained deadlifter, you should not worry about lifting heavy weights for a one-rep max right off the bat; rather, it is important to learn technique first. Once you have a comfortable starting position, are able to easily pull up the bar, and begin building strength, then it is time to gradually increase the weight on the bar. Once they start, the weight increases and increases in level of strength will take care of themselves.
The average deadlift weight for a novice male is approximately 133 percent of his bodyweight, while the average female novice will deadlift 101 percent of her bodyweight, according to Lon Kilgore, Ph.D., one of the authors of "Practical Programming for Strength Training."
An intermediate lifter has been training for nearly one to two years. Technique has been developed, and strength built through many repetitions of the deadlift. If you are a male intermediate deadlifter, on average you will lift approximately 150 percent of your bodyweight.
If you are a female intermediate lifter, you will lift approximately 118 percent of your bodyweight. Many intermediate lifters move on to become novice powerlifters.
As an advanced lifter, you will have clearly defined goals -- all of which are athletic-based. Many powerlifters fall into this category, as well as competitive weightlifters. Some bodybuilders and many strongman competitors remain in the heavier weight classes. As an advanced male, you should deadlift at least 210 percent of your bodyweight. As an advanced female, you should deadlift at least 160 percent of your bodyweight.
Once lifters reach this level of strength and experience with the conditional bar deadlift, personal trainers may begin to incorporate various forms or specific parts of the deadlift movement into training programs. These exercises can look like:
- Rack Pulls
- Romanian Deadlifts
- Sumo Deadlifts
- Dumbbell Deadlift
Elite athletes are long-time strength sport competitors. They have been competing in strength sports for years, including powerlifting, weightlifting, strongman competitions and the highland games. An elite male strength athlete will usually deadlift at least 260 percent of his bodyweight. An elite female strength athlete will usually deadlift at least 200 percent of her bodyweight, on average.
- "Practical Programming for Strength Training"; Mark Rippetoe, et al.; 2009
- "The Westside Barbell Book of Methods"; Louie Simmons; 2008
Grey Evans began writing professionally in 1985. Her work has been published in "Metabolics" and the "Journal of Nutrition." Gibbs holds a Ph.D. in nutrition from Ohio State University and an M.S. in physical therapy from New York University. She has worked at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and currently develops comprehensive nutritional and rehabilitative programs for a neurological team.