how much can the average man lift
Strength Training

How Much Can The Average Man Lift?

The answer to the question of how much an average man can lift depends on what we mean by the average man. The average man (weighing 198 lbs) who is untrained should be able to bench press 135 pounds (the bar with a 45-pound plate on each end) and deadlift 155 pounds for a single repetition. The average deadlift for an untrained man is 125 pounds.

For trained people, those numbers are, obviously, much higher. An intermediate lifter will be able to bench press 215 pounds, deadlift 335 pounds, and squat 285 pounds. 

Advanced level lifters will have a bench press strength of 360 pounds and deadlift in the 400-pound range. An advanced lifter should also be able to squat around 400 pounds. 

A person’s strength depends on their fitness level and exercise experience. 

Bodyweight Strength Standards

When it comes to bodyweight strength, the two standards that have been used for centuries are the push-up and the pull-up. The push-up is a good test of overall upper body strength, with an emphasis on the chest, shoulders, and triceps. 

Here is a chart showing the standards for push-ups for men …

Age17-1920-2930-3940-49
Excellent>56>47>41>34
Good47-5639-4734-4128-34
Above Average34-5630-3925-3321-28
Average19-3417-2913-2411-20

The Pull-up is another basic bodyweight strength exercise. This is an extremely difficult exercise that most untrained people will struggle with. According to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness, males over the age of 18 should be able to do 8 pull-ups. All enlistees in the US Marine Corps must be able to perform 3 proper pull-ups. However, 10 completed pull-ups will give them a score of 50 percent.

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Bench Press Averages

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The US Center for Disease Control (CDC) released figures in 2017 (the latest) revealing that the average body weight for a male in the United States is 198 pounds, while the average woman weighs 170 pounds. We will, therefore, use these weights to work out the bench press weight strength averages.

In terms of these bench press weight standards, an untrained person is a person who has never trained in the bench press before but is able to execute the exercise properly. A novice has several months of bench press training under their belt. 

The US National Strength and Conditioning Association has approved the bench press standard that is published on the website ExRx.net. As a result, I’ll use these figures for the averages used in the remainder of this article.

The average adult man should be able to bench press 135 pounds. For a novice trainer, that bench press weight increases to 175 pounds. Intermediate bench pressers should average 215 pounds, with 290 pounds being the average for an advanced-level lifter. 

Keep in mind that these numbers refer to a one-rep max lift for an average lifter. However, if your training goal is to build muscle and strength, then you are better to be training in the 6-10 rep range rather than concentrating on single rep training. 

To give you a good idea of the intermediate level averages at different weight classes, here is a range of those numbers:

Body WeightWeight Class
(Intermediate) 165-Pound Body Weight185 lbs
(Intermediate) 181-Pound Body Weight200 lbs
(Intermediate) 220-Pound Body Weight225 lbs
(Intermediate) 242-Pound Body Weight230 lbs
(Intermediate) 275-Pound Body Weight240 lbs
(Intermediate) 319-Pound Body Weight245 lbs

Deadlift Averages

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The barbell deadlift is a basic test of a person’s ability to pick up dead weight from the floor. Of the three big lifts (bench press, squat, deadlift) the classic deadlift is the best test of overall body strength and the one that best works the entire body. Here are the deadlift standards, according to RxEx.net for the average man, weighing in at 198 pounds.

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An untrained man should be able to barbell deadlift 155 pounds. After a few months of training, most guys should be able to nearly double their deadlifting strength, with an average for a novice at 290 pounds. Intermediate-level trainers will lift that weight to 335 pounds. Advanced level deadlifters should be able to hoist in the vicinity of 400 pounds on the conventional deadlift. 

Squat Averages

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The untrained person is generally pretty weak on the standard barbell back squat, with the average male beginner who weighs 198 pounds being able to squat just 125 pounds. This is another exercise where your strength will increase quite dramatically in a short period of time. A novice trainer, with just a few months of squat training, should be able to bring the weight up to 230 pounds. Intermediate level lifters should be up to around 290 pounds. 

Advanced level squatters should be pushing up around 400 pounds. 

It should be noted that the squat standards referred to here are with reference to a powerlifting style low bar squat. This squat version is designed to allow you to lift the maximum weight possible by having a wider than standard foot distance and the bar being lower on your back than on the standard barbell back squat.

If you are using the traditional back squat technique you will probably be able to lift 10-20 percent less weight. 

Overhead Press Averages

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The standing overhead press is a good measure of upper body strength, with an emphasis on the shoulders and triceps. According to RxEx.net, the average beginner will be able to overhead press 85 pounds. A novice trainer, a few months into their training life, will be able to get that weight up to 115 pounds. A year later, the intermediate lifter should be able to overhead lift 145 pounds for a one re max. 

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Experienced lifters should be able to lift 175 pounds for a one-rep max. They should be able to do 10 reps at 130 pounds. 

Conclusion

In this article, I’ve laid out the average strength levels across the most recognized strength exercises for the untrained, novice, intermediate, and advanced trainers. Use it as an indication of your strength level but don’t get too absorbed in it. We’re all individuals with different inherent strength potentials. What really matters is that we are making progress within our own parameters and using proper technique, rather than comparing ourselves to others!

Frequently Asked Questions

What muscles do bench presses work?

Bench presses work the muscles of the chest (pectorals), triceps, and front deltoids. There is also some involvement of the latissimus dorsi (lats) when you press back to the start position. 

What’s the best way to get stronger?

The best way to get stronger is to follow a consistent program of weight training, focusing on the compound exercises (such as the powerlifting lifts; bench press, squat deadlift). For max strength gains, keep your rep range between 3-8. If your goal is muscle mass gain increase that rep range to between 6-15.

Steve Theunissen

Steve Theunissen is a former gym owner and personal trainer based in Tauranga, New Zealand. He is the author of six hardcopy books and more than a hundred ebooks on the topics of bodybuilding, fitness, and fat loss.

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