Realistic Squat, Bench and Deadlift for Naturals: How much?

Every day natty lifters are bombarded with videos of professional bodybuilders and powerlifters pushing extraterrestrial weights.

Few realize that the numbers of the pros are unattainable by individuals who don’t use anabolic steroids.

That’s a fact of life, and yet many are still suffering from a severe delusion that needs to be destroyed.


Today, I present you what I consider realistic squat, bench press and deadlift numbers for naturals.

THE SQUAT

Wenhua Cui from China @ deeps squats

Wenhua Cui from China # deeps squats

The squat may be a great exercise, but not everybody is built to squat big numbers.

People with short upper legs (femurs) have an advantage over tall lifters with long legs. 

For people with average genetics, 1.5 times their bodyweight (1.5 x BW) or a little more is the point beyond which things start to get really hard.

Anything above that could be considered a great achievement by a natural.

If you are a medium size 170 lbs natural who can squat over 255 lbs for 6-8 reps with good form, consider yourself golden.

If you have really short femurs and a stocky build, you can reach a 2 x BW squat or more. That means that if you weigh 170 lbs, you may be able to squat 340 + for a solid set of 6-8 reps.

Finally, we arrive at the guys with the sucky genetics. If you fall into this category, (long legs, short torso and ecto) don’t feel too bad. Michael Jordan is right there with you, holding your hand. For those individuals, the squat is a really hard lift. That’s why your numbers will be a bit low, although you should still be able to reach at a decent squat. It will just take longer.

THE BENCH PRESS

bench-press

Let’s be honest for a second. The bench press is why you’re reading this. You don’t really care about squats and deadlifts. You just want to know how much you will be able to bench without pinning your obese glutes with extra long needles.

Lifters with really short T-rex arms and broad shoulders make the best bench pressers. This structure shortens the range of motion and naturally allows the lifter to push more weight. Not only that, but the recovery from training is faster.

An average person should eventually bench press 1 x BW or more for a solid set. This means that if you weigh 170 lbs and have average genetics, things will start to get real hard after you reach 170 lbs x 6-8. Anything beyond that will take more effort than normal. I don’t expect this crew to ever bench anything over 1.5 BW. In the case of our 170 lbs natty lifter that would be 255 lbs.

If you’re one of the chosen ones, you will be able to reach a little bit above 1.5 BW and maybe even get close to 2 times your bodyweight.

If you weigh 170 lbs and have good bench press genetics, doing 255 lbs for a solid set of 6-8 reps is where you will peak.

However, regardless of your gift, this feat will still take a significant amount of work and time.

At the bottom, we find lanky dudes with long gorilla arms, thin wrists, and naturally narrow shoulders. For those guys, bench pressing is an ego-shattering activity. Don’t feel bad guys. You have the whole NBA on your bench.

Most guys from this crew are delt and triceps benchers relying on a close grip. This increases the range of motion even further. If you fall into this category, you will be able to reach 1 x BW relatively quickly. You will also hit 1.5 BW eventually, but it will take a certain type of crazy to get there.

Who knows, maybe if you ignore everything else in your life, you could push the limits even further.

The bench press simply does not love tall guys with long arms.

In order to bench something really heavy, you will have to weigh 300lbs or more to balance out your levers.

THE DEADLIFT

deadlifting-impress-the-girls

Just like the other lifts, the deadlift is also facilitated by a specific body type.

If you have really long arms, consider yourself a lucky monkey.

You will eventually pull bending barbells off the floor.

Furthermore, the recovery will be shorter – something that people with short arms and legs won’t enjoy.

If you are a person with average proportions, you will be able to easily deadlift over 2 BW. You may even go beyond that. However, it will take a lot of effort and won’t be easy at all.

People with long arms, naturally strong spines and long fingers (better grip), will be able to deadlift over 2 BW in their first year of training. Those guys will eventually pull 3 x BW with the help of serious programming and dedication. If you’re a 170lbs natty lifter built to deadlift, you may pull between 450 – 510 lbs naturally, or maybe even more in extreme cases.

The deadlift, unlike the squat and the bench press, does not require the lifter to have an insane amount of muscle mass because you’re not supporting the bar. You are pulling it. For that reason alone, many people consider the deadlift the natural’s opportunity to shine.

Unfortunately, or not, people with T-rex arms get owned when they deadlift. The range of motion is just way too long. In addition, having shorter arms forces you to bend over more, and thus the stress on the lower back is higher.

If you are a member of the T-rex arm crew, you may eventually reach the numbers of the average group, but the process will be much longer.

Don’t feel sorry for yourself, bro. You are probably a great bench presser anyway.

Hate it or love it, but this is how I see things.

P.S. For more training secrets, check out Training Focus.

58 comments

  1. Emo

    I can deadlift 1.6 times my own body weight 4 sets of 8. One month left until i’ve done a full year. Would you say this is good i want to lift 2 times BW with the same sets and reps this time next year. Do you think this will be possible without a belt. My plan is to bulk for another year. Before i do a 6 month cut.

      1. Emo

        it’s been a long time since I last posted this close to a full 24 months (Started March 2015) since I started lifting weighting now around 61KG doing my own programming, had a few injures a long the way but nothing long term. Bench 87.5 High Bar Squat 135, Conventional Deadlift 162.5, goals for this year; High Bar Squat 150, Conventional Deadlift 180+ Bench 105.

  2. Brandon

    I just stumbled across the article today and when I was scrolling through I thought the deadlift picture looked familiar. Turns out it looks familiar because I’m in it. That picture was taken during a powerlifting completion we had on our carrier.

      1. Thomas

        Totally bullshit. My weight is 150 lbs and i squat 255 lbs for 12 reps. I havent even squatted for more than 7 months.

  3. Thomas

    Totally bullshit. My weight is 150 lbs and i squat 255 lbs for 12 reps. I havent even trained squats more than 7 months.

  4. player1

    Can you do an article on what is possible for women, there’s women that DL 3 times BW, is that really possible?

  5. Christopher

    I way around 168 lbs 15 years old, Bench 175, Squat 245, Hang Clean 125, and Deadlift 255. What would be a tip that I could use to lift more. Is this good for my age?

    1. Tyler

      Ik this ridiculously late just found this article but I’m sorta in boat I’m 145 bench 170 squat 205 deadlier 305 but do a build up like start bench at 195 and do almost until failure and add tens each set and ur good to go

      1. Dante Ortega

        Yeah I maxed again yesterday on my squat and I somehow got 335 and I feel really unproportional because my arms are so wea no matter how much I work on them

  6. Matt

    I would love to see Mr. Thomas’ form on that squat. He’s probably doing 1/4 squats and thinks they count. If you’re not ass to ground or at least breaking parallel nobody cares.

  7. Marte

    Does this go for the ladies as well? I am just passed 1.5 x bodyweight in the squat and ONE stupid kilogram away from 2x bodyweight deadlift. Been stuck foe a while, slow progression. Is 1.5 x bw and 2x bw harder to achieve for women than men? 🙂 (I’d love to hear u say YES just so I could feel stronger :-P)

  8. Frank Coles

    Hi, interesting read. Can you tell me please, what is the source of these figures/estimates?

    Also are these figures good for all ages ranges?

    Thank you in advance.

    1. Austin

      If you work at it you should be able to… It’ll take a year or so of constant work… I weigh 136 and squatted 255 six times after not lifting for a month… It just depends

  9. Maccrea

    This post is garbage I’m 17 I’ve been powerlifting for one year I’m 5ft 9 and I weigh 190 Max bench 365 max squat 415 max deadlift 625

    1. Nate

      Clearly did not say max.. says your sets ‘could’ be the 2/1.5/3. Your one rep max is just for your ego bro

  10. Maccrea

    Everybody is different but I’ve lifted for 6 months I’m 16 I weigh 195 I bench 250 I squat 450 and I deadlift 450. I’m going to compete in a USAPL comp in about 3 months do I have a good chance of winning in the locals atleast

  11. Matt

    Never ceases to amaze me how strong people say they are on the internet, compared to real life.. All the “I’m 17 and I deadlift 625″… no you don’t champ you’re 17. You live with your mum and work at macdonalds.

  12. Kojack

    “For people with average genetics, 1.5 times their bodyweight (1.5 x BW) or a little more is the point beyond which things start to get really hard.
    Anything above that could be considered a great achievement by a natural”

    Are you freaking kidding me? This is rubbish, who wrote this crap? I’m 46 yo, 192lbs and I squat 5×5 for 365 and can easily do a 1 rep of 405. I’m 100% natural and I don’t train really hard. If I truly wanted to train hard an push myself, I could easily surpass 405. Whoever wrote this should talk to M. Rippetoe. A squat of 405 or deadlift of 405 should be no great feat for a novice if trained properly.

    1. Regan

      You’re just under 2x BW, which is rather impressive, and well within the range he outlines for people with good genetics for squatting

      How tall are you btw?? If you’re broad with short legs then I’m afraid to say that you’re in the good genetics category

  13. Michael Chapitis

    When I observe guys at the gym, practically no one besides a trainer can do the numbers these young kids are barking about.

  14. Shawn

    When you discuss (1.5 x bw) is that actual body weight or lean body weight. For example somebody that weight trains regularly but does zero cardiovascular and loves fries could be squatting 1.5 x bw then decide to cut up and all of a sudden be squatting 2 x bw without actually lifting anything heavier than before.

  15. Alexander Aronson

    I think what folks miss in what the author is saying is that most folks who go to the gym aren’t thinking about fitness as life. I’ve gone out of my way to keep the gym a big part of what I do, but I’m getting a masters degree and working as a counselor, plus I’m maintaining a marriage and doing lots of other life things. At 190, I feel good benching 235-245 for 5 sets of 4-5 reps on flat bench, making somewhat steady progress. It’s taken me ages to get here, but I am by no means ashamed of not putting up roid numbers. I don’t buy into the money wizard hype, and neither should you. Author is a wise man.

  16. Lucky

    I’m gonna start off by saying, this is bullshit. If you have the right mentality, genetics do not matter. If you push yourself hard enough it doesn’t matter how long or short your arms are. Personally I’m and ectomorph and I’m 5’11, 150, 16yrs old, 220 bench, 340 squat, 400 deadlift and a 200lb power clean, you can achieve anything you want. Your genetics don’t matter do what the fuck you want bros

  17. Jacques

    Yeah I’m 90 pounds and just ripped a 1000 pound dead lift today, no sweat. I was actually on the phone while doing it ordering a new lamborghini with dolphin skin interior. I have thought about competing but I am to busy writing bullshit online.

  18. Dominique Locas

    I’m 44 years old, 6’1″ 260 lbs, and have been lifting for about three years and a half. I pulled 400 within my first eight months of lifting. Earlier this year, I lifted 525 with power to spare. I’m confident in eventually reaching 600+.

    The deadlift is a very good lift for me. By comparison, my strict clean and press* is taking me months of dedicated hard work to move it from 210 to 225! (You can watch me hitting 195 x 3 on Facebook) *I enter in strongman competitions, where overhead strength is much more important.

  19. Hague

    I’ve been lifting for a while and have recently noticed that I’m developing mid to lower back pain. This was not triggered by a specific event but likely several compounded events. I keep working through the pain but lets be honest this is probably not the best idea. I don’t want to take too much time off as time off from the gym is psychologically devastating- what time of complementary workouts do you suggest I try while my body heals?

  20. A

    I guess because I’m a powerlifter, this article baffled me a little bit. I’m 17 years old and around 68 kg and I have been squatting for about 7 months. I just 150kg x5 and I don’t consider myself to have short femurs. My squat hasn’t showed signs of slowing down either (maxed out at 155×1 in mid November) so maybe rethink this article or address it more obviously towards bodybuilders.

    1. Emo

      somehow I highly doubt this starting training even if you was at 75 getting to 150KG in 8 months doesn’t sound realistic even with roids. have you got any video proof of your progression.

  21. Giancarlo

    Im 180bw and deadlift 495lbs i’ve been training deadlifts for 5 months my arms doesnt reach muy knees how much can i lift naturally???

  22. Vonte

    I hate that he says this is how far you can get naturally, and if anybody’s lifting more than this they’re most likely on steroids.

  23. Mogge

    I have no idea why these numbers are so low…

    i can bench 150% of my bw and deadlift over 200% of my bw. Not sure about the squat right now but my pr is 200% of bw.

    And i dont even lift weights anymore. im about 150lbs currently or ~68kg. Anyone with average genetics can achieve this.

    1. Regan

      Why have you just asked why the numbers are so low and then proceeded to brag about numbers that perfectly fit what the article stated??
      And are the numbers you stated your maxes?? Because the article was using the 6-8 rep range as examples

  24. Victor

    I would say these estimates are fairly accurate for most honest people. Started lifting 8 months ago coming from a running background (cross country). I kind of fit in the ecto category.

    Current 5 Rep Maxes @155 BW:
    – All with good form
    Bench- 135 (Struggle)
    Squat- 180 (Meh)
    Deadlift- 265 (Feels good)
    Military- 105 (Feels good, just wanted to include)

    I agree with the author overall, although i do have a lot more room for growth as a novice. I did manage to pack 25+ pounds in the past 8 months 😉

    Great article!

  25. Jeff

    Where do your calculations come from? I’ve been lifting for years, but not consistently. My numbers are within your parameters, but close to the limits. I am 5’10 194 lbs. I don’t typically max, but when I work out I generally bench 270 for 3 sets of 5. I squat 365 for 3 sets of 6. Deadlifts are 330 for 3 sets of 6. I got to those numbers lifting 3 – 4 times a week for 45 minutes. Granted I’m 35 and have been lifting since I was 16, but it’s hard for me to fathom I’m close to my limits with a fairly standard workout and not using a powerlifting program. I was thinking of getting serious and setting my sights on 405, but if this is true it’s depressing.

  26. Paul

    I’ve only been working out for about a month. I weigh 180 and can squat 255, deadlift 315. Just wondered if that’s a good start?

  27. Olderlifter

    Your articles are great! It provides clever insights and realistic golds that can be translated to real experience working out as a natural lifter. I can confirm that being short and stocky benefits your bench press and squat but leaves you hanging on your deadlift. Keep doing what you are doing. I wish I had access to this type of articles back in the days when I started working out. You would have save me so much trouble. But as you know. Sometimes the only way to learn is the hard way. When reality finally sets in.
    I consider your advice golden and I will follow up your articles. Is nice to have a break from the lies out there about unrealistic golds set up for a market that promotes steroids under the table and expect you to buy tons of unnecessary and ineffective supplements or testosterone boosters.

  28. Intermediate lifter

    So I’m confused. I’m an average lifter, 22 yrs old, my deadlift is 6 to 8 reps is 395 (max 445), squat 345 (max 380), and bench 210 (max unsure maybe 230 or 240). Is there anything that should be increased to achieve your numbers? I am 158 and 5’10.

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