T Nation

500lb Squats/Deads - How Common Are They?


#1

Saw this article resurface recently, and it got me thinking: how common are 500lb squats & deads? For all you lifters out there who can squat/dead 500, do you feel/know that you’re in the front of the pack? I lift at my community college’s gym, and aside from a few football players who rep 405 on squats, I don’t see many strong people. There is a huge dropoff from the athletes to the regular folks who workout for reasons other than transferring D1.

One of my lifetime goals is to squat 500 and deadlift 600, either in a gym or comp – doesn’t matter to me. Quantify it however you like, but I’m really curious as to where I’m at with my lifts currently, and whether my lifetime goals (assuming I achieve them eventually) will be brag-worthy.

I understand that in the general population, a 315 squat is good. A 315 deadlift can be considered good. A 225 bench for a few reps can be considered good. But in the gym population, how common are 500lb squats & deads, and as a bonus question: what is the threshold that someone has to pass before they can be considered an elite lifter? Answers can be subjective or objective, but since I’m one of the stronger people in my gym and I’m not super strong, I’d like to hear other perspectives on this.


#2

500+ lbs… Hmm

Got no % of the gym population numbers for you but I’d be impressed if I saw 5+ biscuits on a barbell at least at the commercial gym I frequent. Maybe 2 dozen dudes that I’ve seen and more outside the hours I go. Caters more for bodybuilders and your general crowd to be fair so the focus is more on upping the dose than upping the weight. When I’m training with powerlifting buddies, at powerlifting gyms or rocking up to comp tho…

If you think you’re in front of the pack just browse social media for a bit. Short of being an ATWR record holder, holding the all time wilks record (Yury Belkin) or not judging yourself by powerlifting standards e.g. strongman you’ll find it pretty humbling.

Instagram would have you believe everybody is hitting those numbers for lels but it’s probably that the “worst” lifters on Insta are already in the top 1%. On Instagram you have light weight men and women chasing down huge numbers e.g. Stefi Cohen so it certainly does not reflect the general gym population.

To the people unfamiliar with lifting nice big round whole numbers sound impressive enough 400, 500 and on. Probably would make no difference if you told someone you picked up 400 or 600lbs.

I don’t really have lifetime goals (maybe just lift more). Certainly no world record aspirations ala @Vincepac1500. Am closing in on 600lbs DL myself (sumo tho so doesn’t count). Only a matter of time after a good peak and weight cut into the 83kg class.


#3

For what its worth I no longer train in a gym setting as I lift in my garage (better suited for my situation) but I have been strength training for the past two years or so (wont call it powerlifting as I do not compete). I had lifted about 4-5 years before with no real goal or any system of tracking my progress so I was squatting in the upper 200’s for years and didn’t honestly even do deadlifts. After about two years (now) I feel like I am so close to pulling 500 at a BW of 185. And by no means am i built for lifting heavy (thanks to my parents) I believe truly that if you have that goal and you continue to push and have an internal motivation or drive you can get there with a few years of consistency and hard work.


#4

500+ deads/squats aren’t something you normally see in the commercial gyms, but they aren’t a rarity. I definitely would not take these numbers as an elite for a adult normal sized male. They are (from my perspective) kind of dividing line between advanced lifter and intermediate when speaking about average male lifter. Thats why you see people often chasing 500lbs DL or 400lbs squat, since going from 300 to 400 is much easier than going from 500 to 600 and beyond.

It needs to be remembered that there is a HUGE difference between lifting clubs/competitive athletes and general gym goers. For a male PL these numbers are not impressive. But for other people I think they can be pretty good - or not. There is still a lot of variation.

Sorry for the confusing post. But my point is that getting to 500lbs squat/dead is respectable but nothing spectacular for an average lifter who emphasis strength.


#5

I’ll second @Rattus - by competitive powerlifting standards, they are nothing special above the lightest weight classes, but compared to the “general population” it will make you the strongest person in the room the majority of the time, and even in many (non-PL-specialized) gyms you’ll likely be one of the strongest people there.

We had a long thread awhile back discussing whether a 600 pound deadlift was possible for all able-bodied men. You might find some interesting tales there as well.


#6

I was horribly inconsistent with diet and training for several years. Only taken this stuff seriously for a year and even I’m closing in on a 500# pull. That is by no means a world class number, but it represents a good dividing line between beginner and intermediate.

Your average guy can knock out 315 and 405 with half assed efforts and some consistency. 495 takes dialing things in more and taking it a little bit serious.

I’ve seen many guys deadlifting over 500 in commercial gyms. It’s pretty rare to see that much on a squat unless it’s a powerlifter type of place. Having that weight on you for the whole rep is a pain.


#7

The most I’ve ever seen attempted in person was 495 on Squats. Dude got buried in the hole and he was a big muscular dude (one of the nicest lifters I’ve ever lifted with too).

I think it’s pretty rare to see 400/500 squat/dead, but I think it seems more common now because of things like Instagram.


#8

Not common at all unless it’s a powerlifting gym.

Around 450-500 raw Wilks sounds about right, maybe 500-525 with knee wraps.


#9

Looking at the results from this year’s IPF raw worlds open class, out of more than 100 lifters there were 5 whose Wilks was under 400, excluding those who bombed out. It looks like two guys were injured (benched more than squat and dl), another made only 4 out of 9 attempts, and two others had 395 and 399.76 Wilks. So at an international level, 400 is the bottom of the barrel, mid 400’s is about average, and the guys at the top are over 500. To put that into context, here in Canada, in the 105kg men’s open class in the CPU I need a 635kg total to qualify for Nationals, as well as Ontario provincials, which would give me a 379 Wilks. Basically, to win nationals or provincials here you would be able to place well at an international meet.


#10

i would say a 500lb deadlift is pretty common, 500 squat not so much


#11

Yeah that’s true, a majority of gym members are working out to lose weight/build mass, not necessarily to get stronger… So I guess a small portion of gym-goers are powerlifters, and an even smaller % of them are actually GOOD at powerlifting

Yeah that’s one of the reasons I ask this question, because it seems like every person who instagram suggests for me to follow is hitting 400+ on squats for 3-6 reps which is crazy strong. Social media has definitely skewed my perception of what should and shouldn’t be considered strong.

This chick is just crazy. 5 plate deadlift? That’s impressive for a dude. Let alone for a woman. Let alone let alone for a woman who weighs as little as she does lol

Vinny is another one of those crazy strong people. I’m jealous.


#12

Amen.

Makes sense. I’m on track to go from a 325 squat to a 405 squat in about 9 months because I’ve never really squatted before. It is definitely easier to progress through lighter weights. I’ll use Layne Norton as an example: I believe his best squat is mid 600s and he gets pumped up when he squats anything near that in training. It used to confuse me because I would think “um hey Layne you’re not setting any PRs,” but consistently setting PRs in training isn’t realistic once you’re at that level. If I was stalling out in the mid 300s, that would be a problem. Knock on wood.

Definitely gonna check that out. That sounds super interesting

This is what I like to hear lol. I don’t know if I’ll ever achieve elite status in the world of powerlifting but as long as I’m one of the stronger ones, I can live with myself haha

This is very true. I think 405 might take something a little more special but 315lb can be yanked off the floor with poor form by almost any 16+ year old guy who walks in the gym, from what I’ve seen. It’s ugly but I’ve definitely seen it.

I never thought I’d say this, but… I can’t wait to be intermediate.


#13

IMO a 500 lbs pull is pretty common. Squat less so, but far from rare. For myself, when my squat in sleeves is at 500 lbs that’s when I know my squat is going well. DL I just expect 500 lbs to be there, and if it isn’t I’d be worried.


#14

Just to add a bit more than what others have already said, I’d say those numbers are not at all common among the types you’d typically encounter at a local community college gym. How many lifters do you think are there who have more than a year or so of consistent strength training? Speaking for myself, I’ve only seen one guy under 25 put up those kind of numbers, and he was heavily assisted.

I’ve seen quite a few lifters who have years under the bar hit those numbers though, and my local powerlifting gym is packed with dudes in the 26-55 age range who can hit those for reps on their worst day.

I believe both are perfectly attainable without drugs for most healthy, adult males. Good luck and get after it!


#15

I think others have covered The question pretty well.

With hard work, I think 500/600 are attainable numbers for the average Joe. I am 49, 200 pounds, and not a gifted athlete or particularly naturally strong. After almost 4 years of lifting, I’m squatting 500 pulling close to 600.

But i have a good coaching, good programming, And reasonably consistent. you’ll get your numbers, and then something interesting will happen. you will want more. .


#16

Very few. VERY few. Lol

I have only met 2 guys who can do both. One has been powerlifting for 5 years and is 23, the other has been powerlifting for 2 years and is 19, but he’s a freak. Absolutely built to lift heavy shit.

This is scary to me. But that’s exactly where I want to be.

Thanks homie!! Let’s goooo!


#17

It really shouldn’t be scary. A gym like that is just a collection of like-minded people who take their training seriously. Of course that’s what happens when a bunch of serious guys get together to move weight. If you put yourself in a place like that it can totally challenge your ideas of what a normal outcome of serious training should be.

You go on ahead. I’ll stay behind and train martial arts with the geeks.


#18

I did Japanese Ju Jutsu for a semester last year. Easily the most unique and humbling athletic experience i’ve ever had. I was throwing people around because I had 45 pounds on the next heaviest guy in the class, and then during a demonstration on why technique is more important than strength, my 120lb, 63 year old instructor whipped me like a rag doll.

So… “geeks”? No. I know you were joking but seriously. Much respect, sir.


#19

I use that term endearingly, as in someone who is really into a particularly unusual hobby or pursuit. I’ve fit that bill for a good chunk of my life, and that’s the kind of interest in a pursuit that was necessary for me to squat 500 raw and pull 600.

The BJJ guys I’ve been training with for the last 8 months are total geeks too. You almost have to be if you want to be any good at it.


#20

Interesting that the op lists a squat and deadlift of 500. A 500 lb squat is so much harder than a 500 lb deadlift. I’ve seen 2 500 lb squatters at my commercial gym- one was a juiced out 300 lb bodybuilder that did it for reps and the other was a personal trainer that played college ball.