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How Much Are You Supposed to Deadlift for Your Body Weight?

author image Grey Evans
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.
How Much Are You Supposed to Deadlift for Your Body Weight?
A man is deadlifting a barbell with plates on it. Photo Credit: Ibrakovic/iStock/Getty Images

The amount you deadlift gets determined by more than your body weight. Your strength levels, skill and gender all play a role. A small, novice lifter will deadlift far less than a massive, elite powerlifter. When selecting a training weight, remember that you must never compromise technique -- train your body, not your ego. Consult a health care practitioner before beginning any strength training program.

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Untrained and Novice

As an untrained deadlifter, you should not worry about poundage; learn technique first. Then practice your technique. The weight increases will take care of themselves. An average male novice will deadllift approximately 133 percent of his bodyweight. An 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 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.


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.

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  • "Practical Programming for Strength Training"; Mark Rippetoe, et al.; 2009
  • "The Westside Barbell Book of Methods"; Louie Simmons; 2008
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