T Nation

Should I Be Disappointed? Deadlift Strength

So I’ve never really done deadlifts until the last few weeks. I’ve been hearing about how as a beginner you should be able to deadlift your body weight. I weigh about 220 and tried it and wasn’t happening. I was able to do 185 5 sets of 5. I am on TRT for 3 months. Any advice or suggestions would be appreciate or should I just keep on going until it improves and not worry about it?



A lot of the deadlift IMO is just getting proficient at it. First time I pulled I think I barley got 225 for 1 and it was rough. Few months later I could rep 405. 405 was where I settled on after I had gotten “proficient”. Moving past 405 really took some trying and actually having to build strength. A few months after that I pulled 475 and quit deadlifting after that. Just got bored with the lift and tired of having my soul drained after a session. Squats would crush my body, but heavy dead’s took a little bit of my soul every session.


Meh. It completely depends on your experiences and anthropometry. I started deadlifting on a trap bar, progressed to a straight bar, and slowly built from sets with 185 to (currently) sets in the low-300s. If you like the lift, learn to do it safely, progress intelligently, and enjoy the journey.

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Without watching you lift, my recommendation is to work on lifting the weight the most efficiently as possible. Without a coach the best way of improving efficiency is with sets of 10 or so reps. You have got to get your head out of overthinking the exact form. Your negative rep is more apt to be the most efficient bar path. The most common fault that I see, is the form for the first rep is far worse than every subsequent rep. That is to say, if the guy gets the first rep, the second rep is easier. If that’s the case, your best single will always be disappointing.

You skeleton structure plays a large part in what your form should look like. Whether your femurs are long, or you’re long waisted, plays a role in the best form for you.


How long did it take you to get from 185 to 300?

Same question how long did it take you to progress that much? Months or years?

Edit: nevermind you said months.

Months. I’d have to look at my training log and see but wanna say maybe 6-8 months. I was also living with a food scale. I ate nothing but the right food, and hit my macros everyday, even if I wanted to puke. I never missed a workout either.

Don’t compare yourself to others though. It’s a waste of time.

Learn the lift
Do the lift
If you’re not making progress look at your diet.

I’ll also say this. It was very simple, yet so hard I haven’t been able to bring myself to eat like that again. I literally set some sort of rep or weight PR every time I set foot in the gym. It really opened my eyes to just how import a consistent RIGHT diet is.

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Would you be able to give me if not your full diet plan maybe what you ate in a week? I think it might really help me.

I’ve been hitting over 200 grams of protein a day but still a trash diet overall. I have diabetes (controlled not insulin) and I always have a hard time eating extremely healthy. I’ve been eating a chicken breast a day and some eggs and protein shakes but other times I’ll eat crap like fries and soft tacos.

Not just about protein dog. Need them calories. I ate lots of giant chicken breast, sweet potatoes, oat meal, shakes, speghetti, and a little macaroni and rice. Weighed it all and tracked it all on the paid version of my fitness pal. Even weighed EACH chicken breast raw, and marked them before cooking, weighed every gram of edible things that went inside me, bought a vinyl machine and numbered all of my food prep containers, and wrote down in a notebook what each container had down to the gram. Shit was wild dude. Borderline eating disorder wild.

You’re so new to lifting man, you’ll make progress on that lift just by doing the lift.

There’s no need to go crazy like I did, the only take away that you need from this is food matters just as much as training.

Lifting without food = wasting time
Eating without lifting = wasting time
Eating and lifting = progress.

Let that scale go up a LITTLE every week with good, quality food and enjoy gain city.

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Get this question out of your mind. It’s loaded - you believe if you get some answers as to how long it took us, you can project how long it will take you.

What if you could get it faster?

What if it takes you longer?

Neither of these scenarios matter. If you eat right and lift right, you will get stronger. Between worrying about the arbitrary standard of “bodyweight times x” or “however long it took person A to go from B to C”, you are too concerned with the progress of others.

@T3hPwnisher nailed it - forget everyone else’s results, make your own.

Would you be averse to making a training log on here? I lifted for nearly a decade before coming on here, and I’ve gotten more knowledge in the past 2 years on here than I did in the prior 10 years.


You’ve gotten some good advice. It’s all about time and consistency. Nobody is good at something they haven’t done, so all this stuff about “what beginners should be able to do” makes absolutely no sense to me.

I didn’t mean for that to come off as a dig at you, but rather the people setting some kind of nonsensical standard to compare to. Your starting point is whatever it is and all you own is improving on that.


Proportions matter a lot for deadlifting. I am more built for benching, so deadlifting has been a bit tougher to progress on. If you want to progress, make it your goal to do so. Have a deadlift day in your workouts where the deadlift and deadlift variations make up a good portion of it. Focus on form, and record some of your deadlifts to calibrate how you feel to reality.

For the deadlift, I would stay mostly at 5 or under reps until you get good at it. Many try to do higher rep sets, but lose form due to fatigue.


First time I deadlifted I was in agony on the drive home. Not my back but my hips. It told me that I needed to fix something. That something was inactive glutes and super tight hip flexors. The poor deadlift was a gift, I was hitting middle age with trouble brewing.

I spent weeks doing all sorts of exercises and light rdls. Then I deadlifted just fine

My point is that the weak deadlift may be highlighting that something isn’t right rather than just not strong enough. Either way, you’ve got some gains coming if you’re attentive, which is great. So don’t be disappointed, you’ve been given something to work at that will move you forward.


I don’t quite remember, but it seems like a couple of years. It took me that long because a 600-pound boulder destroyed my leg, so I can only deadlift for two or three months before I have to break from the lift for a couple months. This highlights the good input others have given, like:





The only thing I’ll add is to practice your form. Read articles, watch YouTube videos, whatever format of information you prefer, and learn to deadlift with proper technique and a form that fits your physiology. The cues that helped the lift start clicking for me are 1) scrape my shins with the bar (for real) and 2) set my feet at the width from which I’d high jump, hold the bar, then arrange my hips, knees, and back so my knees and hips begin to straighten at the same time.

Good luck and enjoy yourself! If you’re so inclined, start a training log and tag any of us here with questions.


What does being on TRT have anything to do with it?

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Your numbers are fine for a person who has only been dling for a very short amount of time.

It’s not where you start that counts, it’s where you end up in 5-10+ years that’s good or not so good etc.

Anyways, my advice would be to boost your squat numbers (some people don’t actually dl all that often and still find their deadlift goes up providing your squat numbers, hamstring strength etc keeps improving etc).

Get your grip strength up.

If your flexibility is in any way lacking, do plenty of work on that before attempting to dl big weights.


Lots of good replies thank you.

I agree that there’s no shortcut if that muscle isn’t there yet you’re not going to be able to lift it. Grow the muscle over time, then the weights will add up.

I added 10 pounds today from last time I did it.


I had low testosterone and lifted for several months and saw no gains. On TRT I’m already seeing a difference. There’s a reason women aren’t usually muscular. You don’t think testosterone matters when building muscle?

Maybe you were running too much?

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