When is your deadlift considered strong
What is considered strong for the deadlift? The numbers and milestones most often talked about are the 225, 400 and 500-pound deadlift. Out of these three 500 pounds is already very impressive. 400 pounds is the right of passage for the average joe. 225 is the first goal post to set.
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Why would you care whether your deadlift is strong
Lifting is always a bit about ego. It is good to know whether you are doing bad or good compared to your peers or international competition. This keeps you focused and sets a goal to strive towards. If you want to plan your lifting in a targeted way keep track of benchmarks and work your way backward from it. In this article, you will find some milestones to aspire to.
This question lacks context
The question of whether your deadlift is strong or not is relative to who you are. If you just ask "Is my deadlift strong" you did not reflect on yourself and how that influences the result. Deadlift strength has to be seen in the context of:
- Training Age
- Actual Age
Training age relates to how long you have been training. If you weigh 120kg, pull 150kg, and have been training away on the deadlift for ten years that would not be a great result, unless you have some limiting factors. If you have been training for two weeks and weigh 50kg this is beast mode. In both examples, the same amount of weight is being lifted from the ground.
Actual age relates to how old you actually are. If you were able to pull 800 pounds+ in your mid-twenties that is all fine and nice. If you can still move that weight at 80 without breaking a bone it is a very impressive feat. This is mainly due to two age effects. The first inhibits your testosterone production with age. The older you get the less you have to go around. This makes it harder to maintain strength and build muscle. The same goes for bone density. The older you get the easier your bones break. This makes the same weight being pulled at 80 or 20 more impressive at the older age.
Gender also plays a role in how strong your deadlift is. Strength for your deadlift is always relative to the group that you are comparing yourself to. The stronger the group you pick, the worse your perceived deadlift result. In the case of women, the average weight pulled is lower than for men at the same bodyweight. This is a statistical fact and I do not mean any disrespect. Women usually have a harder time getting to a certain strength level because of less testosterone to go around. A better metric to compare male and female lifters is weight pulled as multiple of bodyweight. Some women outperform men on this metric by a mile.
The last component to consider is your body weight. The heavier you are the easier it becomes to move weight around. This is basic physics. Someone who squats 100kg for repetitions at 60kg bodyweight is stronger than someone who does the same at 100kg bodyweight.
Please keep these individual differences in mind when reading on. If you are interested in more statistics please read my article on How to prepare for your first powerlifting meet to get more numbers on the question "Is my deadlift strong".
This is the first milestone to get to. This means that you can lift two big plates on each side of the barbell. If you have no prior athletic background it is unlikely that you can pull this right from the start. Work your way towards it.
While this is not a strong deadlift for most men, it is already respectable territory for most women depending on weight. If you only weigh 50kg a 100kg pull is already very impressive. Especially when your main sport is not powerlifting but something else. If you are a senior citizen and can still pull 100kg I quite positive that you partake in everyday life. This in itself is also a great achievement.
Good programs to reach this goal when you start are Stronglifts 5x5 and Starting Strength.
400 pounds is the next hallmark that is often talked about on the internet. Some articles at T-Nation describe this number as "the underbelly of deadlifters" where most people sit. The area from 225 to 400 pounds is wide. In this bracket it depends on whom you compare yourself to whether this deadlift is strong or not.
If you compare yourself to professional athletes like footballers, rugby players, and powerlifters this is a weak deadlift. You will win no competition with this and the NFL pros will probably row this weight instead of deadlifting it. My personal impression from online discussions is that people go a bit overboard with disrespecting a 400-pound pull. Remember, most people do not train for a living.
I personally pull 400 pounds for repetitions. So far this made me one of the strongest people in the gyms I was. Nobody cares about that in the grander scheme of course. Relatively speaking if you have 4 plates on each side of the barbell you are very likely stronger than most in your local gym. Apart from the two guys who consider the gym their living room. If you are in an NFL team you will be picked on.
Once you pull more than 500 pounds most people will acknowledge that you are strong. Even if you frequent a powerlifting gym or hardcore establishment you will be one of the gang. Of course, there is always room for improvement. At this level, you will be able to compete professionally. A woman who pulls 500 pounds+ is most likely already among the elites internationally.
Your deadlift is considered strong from 400 pounds upwards. If you compare yourself to regular gym rats 400 pounds are already respectable. If you compare yourself to professional athletes who care about strength move the needle to 500 pounds. Both of these results are already leaning towards the extreme end. If you only lift for recreational purposes 225 pounds can already suffice.
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