September 07, 2021 10 min read

Nothing stokes you up like a deadlift does. Deadlifts are a fantastic full-body workout that boosts your core muscles, stability, and posture. Lifters can stimulate a wider variety of muscles with a deadlift than they can with pretty much any other strength training exercise.

But not every deadlift works the same way for everyone. Height and limb length in proportion to other limbs are all likely to impact how well you can deadlift and what deadlift variation you should use to get the most effective workout possible.

Each body type - based on height, weight, and fitness level - has a deadlift variation its best suited to. As such, the average deadlift weight for a given body type differs from one variation to the next.

It also depends on how you perform your deadlift reps. Your one-rep max is completely different from what you can lift to exhaustion. Read on to find out some ballpark figures for average deadlift weight by body type and find out which deadlift style is right for you.

What Defines a Deadlift?

For many lifters, a deadlift is performed with a loaded barbell that’s raised off the ground and up to the hips before being lowered again. The image of a powerlifter hefting a barbell off the ground is a powerful one, but it’s not the only way to deadlift.

athlete doing deadlift n style sumo in gym

To start with, the weight can come from a variety of sources. Kettlebells, dumbbells, and even resistance bands can provide the tension needed to challenge your various muscle groups and build strength in a deadlift.Secondly, you could use a variation like the sumo deadlift.

To perform the sumo, you set up in the same way you would for a deadlift except you place both hands inside your legs. It requires a wider stance that helps reduce the range of motion for shorter limbs and helps reduce pressure on the lumbar spine. 

You can also put blocks under the bar or lift standing on a platform to increase and decrease the overall range of motion. Reverse the lift to do a Romanian deadlift or use dumbbells to do a single-leg variation. All of these are still well within the deadlift classification and you can probably lift more with some of them than with others depending on your body type.

The Perfect Form for Deadlifting

Understanding the ideal deadlift form should help illuminate why different body types tend to have higher average deadlift weights.

Follow these steps to do the perfect deadlift:

  • Stand over a barbell with a wide stance, about shoulder-width apart. The middle of your feet should be directly underneath the bar.
  • Hinge at the hip so that you can grasp the bar with both hands. Place your hands on the bar just on the outside of your legs.
  • Drive your hips forward to power the lift, don’t try to use your lower back. Keep your back straight and your neck in a neutral position.
  • Lift the bar to your knees and then continue rising until the bar is in front of your thighs and you’re standing upright.

At this point, some professional weightlifters who are using heavier weights will drop the bar after they get to the top of the position. But your gym might not allow that so use a more controlled method to reverse the move and put the barbell back in its starting position.

Average Weight for the Conventional Deadlift

The amount of weight you can deadlift is proportional to your weight and varies with the individual’s fitness level. Men and women also tend to have varying levels of body fat and strength levels so their average weight for the conventional deadlift varies as well.

It should come as no surprise that people who practice deadlifting more often are able to lift more. Beginners who have taken the time to learn the proper form for deadlifting and can do them with no mistakes tend to have pretty low averages while people who have spent years deadlifting can do more.

In the tables below, beginners know how to deadlift but haven’t done so more than a month while novices are a few months, intermediate level is a year, advanced is several years, and elite is anything over five years of competitive weightlifting.

Here are some go-to figures for average conventional deadlift weight by body weight and level of experience:

Men’s Conventional Deadlift Averages by Body Weight


Body Weight

Beginner

Novice

Intermediate

Advanced

Elite

110

90

140

200

270

350

120

105

160

220

300

375

130

120

175

240

320

400

140

135

200

260

345

430

150

150

210

280

365

450

160

165

230

300

385

480

170

180

245

320

410

500

180

190

260

340

430

525

190

205

275

355

450

545

200

220

290

375

465

565

210

230

300

390

485

587

220

245

320

405

500

605

230

255

330

420

525

630

240

270

345

435

535

645

250

280

360

450

555

660

260

290

370

465

570

680

270

300

380

480

585

700

280

315

400

495

600

715

290

325

410

505

615

730

300

335

420

520

630

745

310

345

430

530

645

550


As you can see, there is a proportional relationship between body weight and deadlift weight. This is most likely because muscle mass increases your bodyweight. 

We can average all of these limits to find out a very general average conventional deadlift weight for men of any weight class:


Average Deadlift Weight for Males

Expertise:

Beginner

Novice

Intermediate

Advanced

Elite

226

298

380

475

565


Women’s Conventional Deadlift Averages by Body Weight


Body Weight

Beginner

Novice

Intermediate

Advanced

Elite

90

55

90

140

200

265

100

60

100

150

210

280

110

70

110

160

225

295

120

75

115

170

235

305

130

80

125

180

250

320

140

85

130

190

260

330

150

90

140

200

265

345

160

100

150

205

280

355

170

105

150

215

285

365

180

110

160

220

300

375

190

115

165

230

305

385

200

120

170

235

310

395

210

125

180

240

320

400

220

130

185

250

330

410

230

135

190

255

335

415

240

140

200

260

345

420

250

145

210

265

355

430

260

150

215

270

360

435


Although their overall deadlifts average at lower numbers, women demonstrate the same upward trend in their average deadlift ability when they practice it more often.


Average Deadlift Weight for Females

Expertise:

Beginner

Novice

Intermediate

Advanced

Elite

105

155

213

287

362


What Does This Mean for The Average Lifter?

Can we really take anything away from measurements like deadlift average?It helps make a progress structure so you can actually see the strength improvements you’re working so hard for. As long as you stay realistic about your timeline, you can use these to give yourself something to aim for.

You might be progressing to the intermediate level faster than expected, which will give you the inspiration to keep pressing forward.We don’t all have the time to spend endless hours at the gym perfecting our deadlifts and upping our one rep max. So even if you spend one year in the gym, you might not have reached the level of an intermediate lifter.

Sometimes there just isn’t enough time left after work and personal responsibilities to get in high-quality deadlift workouts. The key is to never get exasperated with how your deadlifting progresses.

This is a complicated move and rushing through it out of frustration could easily lead to injuries that will prevent you from deadlifting for months. In that case, you can kiss all that built-up deadlift strength goodbye.

How Can I Improve My Deadlift?

Plateauing is common in all complex exercises. Many people have to spend extensive amounts of time and effort improving their chin-up or pull-up count and bench press max.

If you’re stuck at a certain weight and you think you can get that number up a bit higher, consider using other exercises that will help build strength in important muscles like the hamstrings and glutes. Bodyweight exercises such as push-ups can also help your wrists build stabilizing strength.

Too many people who are trying to improve their deadlift performance focus on upper body exercises like the overhead press. But the deadlift requires far more effort from your core and lower body, so training those areas is the best way to increase your deadweight limit.

You have to be reasonable about your starting strength as well. An advanced lifter plateauing after years of strength training and exercise is completely different from an intermediate lifter hitting a dead end or a novice failing to progress at all.

Take the time to measure how much functional strength you have and get used to performing the deadlift correctly before you start to try and increase the amount of weight you’re working with.One of the best things about the deadlift is that it builds full-body strength.

So if you want to increase the amount you can deadlift, you can use pretty much any exercise to get there. Ask a personal trainer for assistance to find out which muscles will make the greatest amount of difference in your deadlifting. 

Deadlift Variations

One winning strategy is to move away from the bar deadlift and build muscle mass with different weights. Using dumbbells allows you to work one side of your body specifically so you can target particular areas of weakness.

Barbell deadlifts may make you feel like a beast but if you want to feel like a real strongman you should opt for kettlebell deadlifts. They also help improve the strength and function of your posterior chain, which will be crucial if you want to increase your deadlift average.

Trap bar deadlifts also use a different type of weight. They’re easier to do than traditional deadlifts because the placement of the weight is around you on both sides rather than in front of you alone.

Attractive blonde woman doing trap bar deadlift exercise with help of her personal trainer.

Switch up your grip as well. You can perform the sumo deadlift with your hands on the inside of your legs or you can grab onto the bar with a really wide stance to concentrate the strain on your upper back muscles, especially the trapezius.

If you think you’re making form errors (or your trainer and gym buddies are telling you that you are) then you can use deficit deadlifts to correct them. In this deadlift variation, you start low to the ground in an almost crouched position and then perform the deadlift.

Your back has to stay flat and your shoulders are forced to remain engaged so that you can get the bar off the ground in this position.

How Body Type Affects Deadlift Ability

Strength standards aside, some physical attributes make certain kinds of deadlifts easier. That’s not to say that you might not be able to perform certain deadlifts at all or that you’ll be some kind of superhuman at them, but you could likely find certain styles and variations easier because of the way you’re built.

One particularly fascinating study found that an individual with a greater torso length to height ratio is likely to have a higher one rep max when performing the sumo variation.

Short people are likely to have an easier time with the conventional deadlift because the bar is naturally closer to their body and that makes it easier to lift. It puts less stress on the lower back as well. For the same reason, tall people frequently switch to the hex bar deadlift because it’s easier on their entire frame.

If you have shorter arms than legs, you can reduce the range of motion to a manageable degree (and still get the same killer workout) by doing rack pulls or deadlifting with the weight on a platform. Just make sure you can lift and set down the heavy weight without it rolling or falling off whatever is supporting it.

Some people are able to put on muscle more easily than others because their bodies route energy and burn body fat more efficiently. You can encourage this type of high function with the right supplements.

Age also plays a role - most of the time a fifty-year-old won’t be able to outlift a 21-year-old.

Whether you’re short and stocky or lanky and tall, there’s a deadlift style that will give you all the same strength gains and postural benefits that any other person would get from deadlifting. As long as you understand the form, you can push muscle groups all over your body to get that weight up off the ground and steadily increase your max rep amount over time.

Don’t Hyperfocus on Strength Standards

As with all other weight training and powerlifting exercises, deadlifting performance varies by the individual based on experience, focus, body type, and strength level. Not all of these factors will be under your control.That’s not to be defeatist about the prospect of getting your max deadlift to match the numbers in this guide, but it does bear mentioning that these numbers are simply averages.

Many of the lifters who participated in the research to find these averages were lifting much higher or lower than the final average. If you can’t reach that average for your gender and body weight, don’t fret. It should give you something to aim for but it shouldn’t stress you out so much that you become frustrated with your fitness routine. 

Organizing deadlift standards by weight class also has one obvious problem - if your body weight is primarily coming from body fat and not muscle mass, your deadlift weight will probably be much lower than the tables in this guide suggest they should be. You might need to concentrate on a cutting program to reduce body fat before you start building up your deadlift strength.

Or perhaps you have lots of muscle mass from working out and it’s not in the right place. If you concentrate too much on the sexier upper body muscles like the biceps, triceps, and pecs, then your core and stabilizers might be inadequate for deadlifting purposes.

Luckily all you have to do is develop a more well-rounded workout routine and keep with it until those showoff muscles are balanced out with functional strength throughout the entire body. Finally, make sure you’re being honest about your expertise level.

Never assume that you’ve completely mastered the deadlift and will never make an error. Continue to ask for spotters and use deficit deadlifts to reinforce proper technique. It will spare you from possible injury and make your workout that much more effective.

Conclusion:

Deadlifts are one of the most popular powerlifting moves there are, even forming part of the regular program at the Olympic Games. It also holds a much-deserved spot in countless workout routines around the world.You can use the average deadlift weights in this guide to give you some idea of where you should be aiming based on your body weight.

But don’t let them take up an outsized space in your mind. Many factors could make them unrealistically high or far too low for you personally.There’s no “normal” deadlifting amount. Naturally, we all want to get that deadlift weight up as high as we can and then brag to our friends about it.

Even if you aren’t setting out to set a deadlift world record, the average deadlift weights listed in this guide will help you measure your relative strength to see if you’re aiming too high or too low with your deadlifting aspirations.


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