Dumbbell deadlift standards not only allow you to benchmark your performance against yourself but also against others.
For the average male, a good dumbbell deadlift weight is above 220 pounds. This weight is for two dumbbells combined and a single repetition. However, an individual’s dumbbell deadlift will also be affected by their training level and body weight.
These benchmarks were important for me when I first started doing the dumbbell deadlift, and they may also benefit you as well.
After all, you want to know if you’re doing a good job with your training right?
My research will give the numbers YOU should be hitting for it to be deemed “respectable”.
You’ll also find out how to improve your dumbbell deadlift if your numbers are below average.
- Factors Affecting Dumbbell Deadlift Weight
- Beginner Dumbbell Deadlift Standards
- Intermediate Dumbbell Deadlift Standards
- Advanced Dumbbell Deadlift Standards
- Average Male Dumbbell Deadlift Weight
- How Good Is Your Dumbbell Deadlift Vs Others?
- Reasons Your Dumbbell Deadlift May Be Below Average
- How To Improve Your Dumbbell Deadlifting
- How These Standards Were Calculated
Factors Affecting Dumbbell Deadlift Weight
3 factors affect how much weight you can lift dumbbell deadlift:
- Training Level. The longer you’ve been practicing the dumbbell deadlift, the more weight you can lift. As a general rule, beginners have been practicing for at least 1 month, intermediates at least 2 years, and advanced lifters at least 5 years.
- Body weight. The heavier you are, the more weight you can deadlift. That’s because body weight has a positive correlation with muscle mass and strength.
- Rep number. The less reps you do, the more weight you can dumbbell deadlift. This post focuses on a 1-10 rep range which is generally accepted to be the best for building muscle strength and size.
Next, you’ll find out how these factors affect dumbbell deadlift standards.
Beginner Dumbbell Deadlift Standards
A beginner has been practicing the dumbbell deadlift for at least 1 month.
Here’s how much weight you should be dumbbell deadlifting as a beginner:
|Bodyweight||1-rep max||6-rep max||7-rep max||8-rep max||9-rep max||10-rep max|
Note: x-rep max is the maximum amount of weight you can lift for x-number of reps. Generally speaking, rep ranges closer to 1 are ideal for strength gains, whilst rep ranges closer to 10 are ideal for size gains (hypertrophy).
Here’s how much weight beginners should be dumbbell deadlifting as a percentage of body weight:
- 120lb body weight – 26 to 35%.
- 150lb body weight- 29 to 40%.
- 200lb body weight- 33 to 45%.
- 250lb body weight- 34 to 46%.
- 300lb body weight- 34 to 47%.
If you’ve been practicing the dumbbell deadlift for 1 month or more, and you’re above these averages, then you’re doing a good job!
Intermediate Dumbbell Deadlift Standards
An intermediate has been practicing the dumbbell deadlift for at least 2 years.
Here’s how much weight you should be dumbbell deadlifting as an intermediate:
|Bodyweight||1-rep max||6-rep max||7-rep max||8-rep max||9-rep max||10-rep max|
Here’s how much weight intermediates should be dumbbell deadlifting as a percentage of body weight:
- 120lb body weight – 85 to 117%.
- 150lb body weight- 85 to 116%.
- 200lb body weight- 80 to 110%.
- 250lb body weight- 76 to 104%.
- 300lb body weight- 72 to 99%.
If you’ve been practicing the dumbbell deadlift for 2 years or more, and you’re above these averages, then you’re doing a great job.
These are very respectable standards for beginners to aim for.
Advanced Dumbbell Deadlift Standards
An advanced lifter has been practicing the dumbbell deadlift for at least 5 years.
Here’s how much weight you should be dumbbell deadlifting as an advanced lifter:
|Bodyweight||1-rep max||6-rep max||7-rep max||8-rep max||9-rep max||10-rep max|
Here’s how much weight advanced lifters should be dumbbell deadlifting as a percentage of body weight:
- 120lb body weight – 130 to 178%.
- 150lb body weight- 124 to 169%.
- 200lb body weight- 113 to 155%.
- 250lb body weight- 104 to 142%.
- 300lb body weight- 97 to 133%.
If you’ve been practicing the dumbbell deadlift for 5 years or more, and you’re above these averages, then you’re doing a fantastic job.
These are also very respectable standards for intermediates to aim for.
Average Male Dumbbell Deadlift Weight
Here’s how much weight the average 200lb male should dumbbell deadlift at different training levels:
|Training Level||1-rep max||6-rep max||7-rep max||8-rep max||9-rep max||10-rep max|
Therefore the average man should be able to dumbbell deadlift 33-155% of his body weight.
The exact weight will depend on training experience and rep number (as seen in the aforementioned standards).
How Good Is Your Dumbbell Deadlift Vs Others?
Determining your current dumbbell deadlift as a fraction of your body weight is a reliable way to compare your performance with others.
To do this, simply divide the weight of both dumbbells combined, by your body weight.
Here are the percentages of males who can lift their own body weight on the dumbbell deadlift:
|Dumbbell Deadlift 1RM Weight (As A Fraction Of Bodyweight)||% Of People Who Can Do It|
- 75% of men can dumbbell deadlift 0.80x their bodyweight for a single repetition. This represents the lower percentile of males and is a respectable weight for absolute beginners to achieve. But you should aim for higher numbers with more training.
- 50% of men can dumbbell deadlift 1.10x their bodyweight for a single repeptition. This represents the median percentile of males and is a respectable weight for intermediates to achieve. It’s also a good target for beginners to aim for.
- 25% of men can dumbbell deadlift 1.45x their bodyweight for a single repetition. This represents the upper percentile of males and is a respectable weight for advanced lifters. It’s also a good target for intermediates to aim for.
The dumbbell deadlift is a great total-body exercise. But if you’re struggling to build significant muscle mass as a skinny beginner, it may be because you’re missing a few important training and nutrition essentials. You can check out my other article for 17-steps to gaining 10-lbs of muscle!
Reasons Your Dumbbell Deadlift May Be Below Average
Here are 5 reasons why your dumbbell deadlift may be below average:
1) You’re not coordinating upper and lower body movements.
All deadlift variations are highly technical exercises.
They require coordinated movements between the upper and lower body to hoist the weight off the ground.
Furthermore, the dumbbell deadlift in particular requires even more coordination than the traditional barbell deadlift.
That’s because the dumbbells move independently from each other.
And this means your arms, legs, and back need to work together in one synchronous motion.
If this isn’t done correctly, you’ll struggle to transmit all your strength into the dumbbells.
Therefore good form is essential if you want to lift heavy on the dumbbell deadlift.
2) You’re leaning too far forward.
Your head and upper back mustn’t lean too far forward during the deadlift.
If you do this, you’re shifting your center of gravity away from the feet.
As a result, you won’t be able to transmit 100% of your strength into deadlifting the dumbbells.
Instead- try sticking your buttocks out, sit back slightly, and keep a straight back.
This will concentrate your center of mass directly onto your feet.
A good sign that you’re doing this correctly is if you feel balanced at the bottom position of the deadlift.
The opposite is also true.
If you feel unbalanced, then you may be leaning too far forwards or backward.
Additionally, the dumbbell should travel upwards in a straight line rather than curving up.
3) You aren’t driving with your legs.
A common deadlift mistake is not utilizing your leg strength sufficiently.
Remember- the deadlift is primarily a leg and back exercise.
Furthermore, the dumbbell deadlift in particular requires a lot of quadriceps engagement.
Although your arms should be used to help pull the dumbbells up, the majority of the force should be generated from the legs.
This can be achieved by driving your legs into the ground to push out your hips.
If you fail to do this, you’ll find your deadlift strength significantly impacted.
If you’re wondering about the differences between the dumbbell deadlift and squat, you can check out my other article!
4) You lack whole-body strength.
If you’ve just started weight training, then you shouldn’t be too alarmed at a low dumbbell deadlift.
Although this exercise primarily engages the legs and back, your entire body is involved in some way or another to stabilize the movement.
Therefore the dumbbell deadlift is a big compound movement that works the entire body.
And if one or more muscle groups is lacking in strength, then your deadlift weight will be compromised.
5) You’ve got a weak grip.
Grip strength is a major contributor to how much weight you can deadlift.
If you can’t hold the dumbbells, then how can you expect to lift the weight off the floor?
Furthermore, grip strength is particularly important in the dumbbell deadlift, since each dumbbell needs to be stabilized independently from the other.
If you’ve just started weight training, you can check out my other article to find out how long it takes to build muscle as a skinny beginner!
How To Improve Your Dumbbell Deadlifting
Here are 5 tips you can try to improve your dumbbell deadlift weight:
1) Learn and practice the dumbbell deadlift form.
The only way to improve your form and technique is with practice.
Additionally, you should practice with lighter loads.
And once you’ve mastered your form and gained confidence, you can progressively increase weight.
Here’s how to do the dumbbell deadlift with perfect form:
2) Perform deadlift variations and accessory exercises.
Since the dumbbell deadlift is a whole-body exercise, it makes sense to perform a variety of exercises to train all the muscles involved in the movement.
Here are some of my favorite deadlift variations and accessory exercises:
- Suitcase deadlift. The traditional dumbbell deadlift which is a whole-body compound exercise that emphasises the quads and back.
- Stiff-legged deadlift. Shifts emphasis from the quads to the hamstrings to facilitate hip extension in the upper portion of the deadlift movement.
- Dumbbell squat. Places an even higher emphasis on the quads to facilitate leg extension in the lower portion of the deadlift movement.
- Goblet squat. Similar principle to the dumbbell squat but easier to lift heavier dumbbells.
- Dumbbell bent-over-rows. Trains the back muscles which are important for the final phase of the deadlift when your back becomes upright (i.e. the “lockout”).
- Lateral raises. Trains the deltoids which are important for stabilising the dumbbells as you go through the deadlift movement.
Ideally, you should also perform deadlifts with different types of equipment to present a variety of stimuli to your muscles.
Now, a home barbell setup is great but it isn’t feasible for everyone.
Resistance band deadlifts are a cheap and convenient way for beginners to add variety to their deadlift.
I use and recommend the Undersun Fitness bands (link for cheapest price).
They cost slightly more than their budget competitors, but they also come with a lifetime warranty.
They’re also comfortable to use and come with all the resistance you would ever need.
But I highly recommend getting gloves to protect your hands.
I personally feel the Undersun gloves are overpriced.
Instead, I use the Ihuan ventilated neoprene gym gloves which do the job perfectly well.
3) Stay within the 6 to 12-rep range to maximize deadlift strength.
To increase your deadlift strength, it’s best to lift within the range of 6-12 reps per set.
If you lift for, say 20+ reps per set, you’re going to train your muscular endurance rather than strength.
And as a result, you’re deadlift weight progression will become slower.
Of course, for this to work, you’ll also need a weight that challenges your muscles for 6-12 reps.
Therefore if you want to keep progressing with the dumbbell deadlift, you must have access to heavy dumbbells.
4) Progressive overload regularly.
Progressive overload involves adding weight to your deadlift.
This is one of the most effective ways to increase strength in any lift.
However, it’s essential that you only add weight when you can perform the lift with good form.
Therefore my advice to improve your deadlift would be to first decrease the weight by 10%, master your form, then proceed with adding 5-10% weight increments each week thereafter.
Indeed, once you’ve mastered your form, you’ll likely find yourself progressing rapidly and making 5-10% weight increases each week without issue.
In fact, you may even outgrow your current dumbbells fairly rapidly.
This makes heavy dumbbells essential for long-term progression if you’re dumbbell deadlifting at home.
I use and recommend the Powerblock Elites (link for cheapest price).
They are some of the most affordable premium dumbbells you can get.
Each dumbbell weighs 50lbs, making them great for beginners to begin deadlifting with.
And this gives you the flexibility to upgrade as your strength progresses.
Moreover, they have small weight increments of 2.5-5lbs per dumbbell, making them ideal for slow but gradual progressive overload.
If money is tight, then the Yes4All spinlock dumbbells make a decent budget option.
They are just as heavy as the Powerblocks.
But their weight increments are quite large.
5) Eat enough daily protein and calories.
The deadlift may be the single biggest exercise you can perform.
And this makes it great for all-around strength and size gains.
But for this to happen, you need to effectively fuel the muscle growth process.
And this means you should be eating enough protein and calories…. every day.
A good target to aim for is 1g of protein per pound of body weight and a 5-15% caloric surplus.
This will allow you to pack on maximum muscle mass with minimal fat gains.
Now, many people (especially beginners) struggle to eat this much food.
That’s where protein powders can help…a lot.
Protein powders are a quick, convenient, and cheap way to supplement your food intake and help you reach your targets.
I use and recommend the MyProtein Impact Whey (link for cheapest price).
Each serving contains 21g of protein and 100 calories, making it perfect for lean muscle gains.
The MyVegan Pea Protein is a good plant alternative and packs the same nutrients. But it doesn’t taste as nice in my opinion.
If you’re very skinny with very little to no appetite, then the Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass may be a better alternative.
Each serving contains 50g of protein and 1250 calories.
It’s a bit more expensive than the Impact Whey, but it’s also more nutritionally dense.
I also like to add a scoop of MyProtein Creatine Monohydrate to my shakes.
Creatine is a molecule that’s found naturally in all our muscles where it helps with energy production.
So keeping your creatine levels topped up will help you deadlift harder and for longer!
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How These Standards Were Calculated
The numbers for my research were sourced from Strength Level’s database of 402 user-generated dumbbell deadlifts.
Average dumbbell deadlift standards.
Dumbbell deadlift 1RMs were taken from the Strength Level database.
These were then multiplied by the following fractions to get the 6-10RM weights:
- x0.84 for 6RM.
- x0.82 for 7RM.
- x0.80 for 8RM.
- x0.78 for 9RM.
- x0.73 for 10RM.
% of people who can dumbbell deadlift their body weight.
The Strength Level database also allows for different dumbbell deadlift weights to be sampled against a total population.
I sampled a variety of weights for a 200-lb male beginner aged 24-39.
I’ve shared with you dumbbell deadlift standards for different training levels and body weights.
If you’re above these averages, then you’re lifting a very respectable weight and you should be proud of yourself.
But if you’re below average, then you can try some of the tips I share to improve your deadlift strength.
How much weight do you currently dumbbell deadlift?
Let me know in the comments!
Or check out my other posts to find out:
- Goblet squat standards.
- Bent-over dumbbell row standards.
- Dumbbell squat standards.
- One-arm dumbbell row standards.
Thanks for reading guys!
(Biochemistry BSc, Biomedical Sciences MSc, Ex-Skinny Guy)