Here’s the thing, being a beginner is always pretty tough. You expect yourself to be at a particular stage or level pretty quickly and to start off, you should lift the heaviest weight that you can.
This mindset tends to stick because naturally we assume that we should push ourselves to the maximum so we progress quicker. Well, this is not always the case - especially when it comes to deadlift.
You do not want to experience burnout before you even start, and if you lift a weight that is the absolute heaviest for your capability then you risk suffering from muscle injury.
However, you do not want to be wasting your time and lifting weights that are too light to make any kind of difference. So, read on to find out how much is enough, and to learn how to maximize your deadlift capabilities.
How Much Should You Deadlift For Your Weight?
Naturally, there are some guidelines that you should adhere to in order to make sure that you are fully aware of your capabilities.
This will help you work towards your goal in a healthy and safe way, your body will be able to cope with this and it will be able to have time to build muscle memory whilst also having time to recover.
You can work this out by bodyweight, however there are some flaws in doing this. We say this because different people will have different strengths at different body weights. This is not the most accurate marker to go by for this very reason.
The best thing that you can do is to use your training years alongside your own personal goals that you have set for yourself during these years. There are a lot of contributing factors that come into play when you are trying to establish what weight you should start lifting at.
These factors are to do with how you train. For instance, if you do not train as optimally as you should be then this will have an impact on what you can lift.
Additionally, whether you have good genetics or bad genetics will also have an effect on what you should start off lifting. So, although we can give you a guideline this will vary from person to person.
Relative Strength: What Is It And How Can You Use It To Your Advantage?
A suitable alternative that you can use in order to work out how much you should deadlift is relative strength.
What this essentially means is, well, what it says! Relative strength is just strength that is relative to your body weight. Yeah, we really were not kidding when we said it is what it says…
Relative strength is actually key in measuring your body weight in a comparison to your strength, and this is actually used widely across the powerlifting sphere.
Now it is time to get into all the statistics. So, in terms of being a beginner, your basic goal where relative strength is considered should be: 1.4% of your body weight for deadlift, 0.9% of your body weight for squatting, and 0.8% of your body weight for bench pressing.
One thing we want to remind you of is that this can vary in terms of trainers’ standards. This means that different trainers will have their own recommendations for the standards that you should go by.
For a male, we would say that the percentages that we have given are perfect for novices in the deadlift world.
In terms of the percentages for females, these percentages vary slightly.
So, for deadlift the relative strength should be 1% of your body weight, for squatting the relative strength should be 0.8% of your body weight, and for bench pressing the relative strength should be 0.5% of your body weight.
The way that this works is that ultimately, the stronger you get then the more that the ratio will be and so, your body weight will matter less the more that your strength and muscle memory improves.
As far as body weight is considered, actually, the lower your body weight the more impressive a lift can be. Another contributing factor to this is your height. So, essentially being shorter will mean that you will struggle to attain a less lean body mass.
However, the lifting can be more impressive because you can still build yourself up to lifting heavier weights over time.
Overall, the optimal deadlift for you will be the weight that you can lift the most in. This does also depend on your genetic makeup. What we would say in terms of starting out in deadlift is that 1.4% of your body weight for your one rep maximum is a pretty good place to start out.
As far as your working sets are considered, or alternatively for any kind of exercise that you do that is not to test what your maximum strength is, then you should aim for 70-90% of your one rep maximum.
This weight should ultimately be the safest and the most effective weight for you to lift at and also to help you to build muscle. Aiming for this will also help you to build strength in the lower and higher rep ranges.
How Many Deadlifts Should A Beginner Aim For?
As a beginner, we recommend that at first you really perfect your form before you even think about messing with the amount of weight or the amount of sets that you practice. We would say that as a beginner then you should really try to aim for the traditional deadlift.
This is also known as the sumo deadlift and you should try this for a couple of sets, we would say 3 or 4 sets. You should not try this more than say, twice a week, just so you are not pushing your body too hard all at once. This will also ensure that you avoid injured muscles too.
Additionally, lifting in a rep range of 6-8 is more than enough to start lifting heavyweight and this will also ensure that your strength builds up. This should not be too heavy so as to cause any kind of injury.
One key thing to note is that you should not use a heavyweight until you work out how to perfect and master the best form of this kind of lift.
The Risk Of Injury
We have thrown around the phrase ‘risk of injury’ a few times throughout this piece, and that is for good reason. Deadlifting is easy to get wrong and if your form is off, or you lift too heavy for yourself then you can really suffer from a serious injury.
Suffering from injury is the absolute last thing that you want to do - you do not want to push yourself back before you even start on your deadlift journey.
Deadlift is a pretty serious form of fitness, you run the risk of encountering a lot of injuries. You really run the risk of suffering from a fractured disk in your spine, or even tearing a bicep.
The thing about deadlift injuries is that they can take a really long time to heal, and they can also be a deadlift career ending type of injury. This is why we are so stern when it comes to making sure that you have perfected your form.
There is no rush - you should really take your time to make sure that you master the form, especially when you are working with a higher rep range. Afterwards, making sure that you rest accordingly will ensure that you avoid injury.