Deadlifts are one of the most effective compound exercises you can do to develop strength and power. It is also one of the few moves that allow you to lift ridiculously heavyweight. Today I will explain what is a 4 plate deadlift, and most importantly, how impressive it is.
As a whole, it takes around 12 to 48 months for the person to be able to deadlift 4 plates on each side, depending on current strength level, anthropometric variables, as well as deadlift variations. Sumo deadlift can be easier to perform for individuals with shorter arms and torsos, while the conventional deadlift is better suited for those with longer arm length.
Here is my general answer, but if you wanna hear more about how you can improve your strength to deadlift 4 plates or more, let’s go.
What Is a 4-Plate Deadlift?
If you’ve been in the gym for a while, chances are you’ve heard people referring to their weight on the bar in terms of a number of plates, rather than the weight in pounds.
In the fitness world, a plate refers to a 20 kg (45 lbs) bumper or cast iron plate that you load on the bar or any strength training equipment.
For example, deadlifting 2 plates mean you lift the bar with two 45-pound bumpers plates on each side. The weight of the standard 7-foot Olympic size barbell is 45 pounds. When you add the weight of the bar and the weight of the plates, the total gives you 225 lbs.
So what does the 4 plates deadlift means?
As a whole, 4 plates deadlift is described as a free weight exercise in which a barbell with eight 45-pound plates (4 on each side) is lifted from the floor in a continuous motion by extending the knees and hips. The total weight is equal to 405 lbs (180 kg), which is considered as hard for most people.
The exercise is done on the deadlifting platform, where you stand in front of the barbell with your knees flexed, back straight, and shins touching the bar.
Here’s what it looks like:
- Stand with the feet flat and the toes pointed slightly outward. The distance between feet depends on the deadlift variation you do (wider stand for sumo deadlift and narrow stand for conventional deadlift).
- Hinge down with your hips while maintaining your back in the neutral spine position.
- Place the hands on the bar wider than shoulder-width apart with your elbows fully extended.
- Grab the barbell and lift it off the floor by extending the hips and knees. Continue to lift the barbell until the body reaches a fully straight position.
- Remember that your feet and toes should remain in contact with the floor throughout the whole range of motion.
Is 4 plate Deadlift Impressive?
In general, the 4 plate deadlift is impressive and is definitively more than most people can do. As much as deadlifting 405 is extremely rare in commercial gyms, for the competitive powerlifters, deadlifting 4 plates is considered a lightweight.
According to the internet, only 20% of people who are serious about their training are able to deadlift 4 plates or more.
In the gym where I train (keep in mind this is not a powerlifting spot), I see a lot of people who can squat and bench heaps of weight.
However, there are only a couple of guys who can deadlift 405 for reps. In fact, most people aren’t doing deadlifts at all. And if they do, they kind of use a maximum of two plates.
Over the years, the deadlift has gotten a reputation as a risky exercise (unfortunately). This exercise requires having a decent range of motion in the ankle, hip, and knee to properly lift the bar.
One study described fractures, muscle ruptures, various low back injuries, and meniscus tears related to deadlifts.
On the other hand, several training programs designed to improve physical fitness in athletes use deadlifts on a daily or weekly basis.
Is 4 Plate Deadlift Good?
Deadlifting 4 plates is good because it’s an indicator of upper and lower body strength, especially when done with multiple reps and a short period of rest.
Deadlifting 405 is even more impressive if your total body weight is lower.
In the powerlifting and bodybuilding world, this is called the strength-to-weight ratio or bodyweight ratio.
The strength-to-weight ratio refers to the amount of weight you can lift divided by your body weight.
For example, for the 160-pound man, deadlifting 4 plates is considered as an elite level. Only a few people are that strong to lift that amount of weight.
On the other hand, for the 250-pound men, deadlifting 4 plates is considered between average and intermediate.
In the table below you can see the bodyweight-to-strength ratio for the deadlifts.
As you can see, the guy who weighs 130 pounds and deadlifts 405 lbs is an elite athlete.
On the other hand, for a guy who weighs 230 pounds and cannot deadlift 2 plates is considered below average.
How Many People Can Deadlift 405?
Overall, out of 70 million Americans who do regular resistance training, about 5% of can deadlift 4 plates (405 lbs). However, these statistics do not include people who train at home gyms, in their basements, or with their own body weight.
The average man should be able to deadlift a bar that is equal to his body weight, according to strength standards. However, if you’re a member of commercial gyms like LA Fitness, Planet Fitness, or Anytime Fitness, chances are you won’t see many people deadlifting heavy weights.
People who train at these gyms are usually beginners and first-time goers that use mostly cardio machines and resistance training machines (e.g. leg press or lex extensions).
On the other hand, if you’re a member of the Gold’s Gym or Powerhouse Gym, deadlifting 4 plates can be very common.
How Long Does It Take To Do 4 Plate Deadlift?
On average, it takes around 1 to 3 years of consistent training to deadlift 4 plates. However, this timeline will depend on your training experience, performance variability, body composition, and anthropometric characteristics.
For example, people who are committed, well-trained, and genetically blessed have a better chance to be deadlifting 4 plates within 12 months’ time.
On the other hand, people who are just getting started and have stepped on the deadlift platform in their life may need a few years of training. Below you can read a short case study of one of my own clients who wanted to get to 4 plates deadlifts as soon as possible (hint: he didn’t make it).
4 Plates Deadlift Case Study
One of my male clients trained for over 16 months to be able to deadlift 405. He was hitting the gym twice a week and focusing mainly on strength using compound exercises like squats, rows, bench, and deadlifts.
However, everything else that he was doing outside of the gym wasn’t optimal (including his nutrition). After 16 months his numbers went up significantly, but he was never able to deadlift 4 plates.
What does it mean?
It means that to be able to lift 4 plates on the bar you need to have a solid workout plan that includes optimal training volume, intensity, frequency, and rest, as well as a proper nutrition program with heaps of protein in your meals.
How To Get To 4 Plate Deadlift
In general, most beginners cannot deadlift 4 plates (405 lbs) because it takes time for the training adaptations to occur. Training adaptations like muscle stiffness or increased muscle size and strength help to generate more power output.
However, you can speed up the process by doing compound exercises like bench press, overhead press, rack pull, squats, and rows (as long as you train with the optimum intensity). These exercises allow lifting heavier weights and trigger hypertrophy and strength gains.
In addition, you should choose the right deadlift variation and ensure you’re in a slight calorie surplus to maintain your energy levels.
Use compound movements
When working towards 4 plates deadlift, I recommend you ditch all the isolation work and focus mainly on the big lifts.
Compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, chin-ups, rows, and bench presses help not only to build more muscle but also trigger a better anabolic response.
For example, doing heavy squats and bench presses will lead to an acute increase in your testosterone, growth hormone, and IGF-1, which will trigger hypertrophy and strength gains for your deadlifts, too.
Add heavy rack pulls
You can get to 4 plate deadlifts faster by implementing a rack deadlifts (aka rack pull) exercise. This exercise is done inside the squat rack with safety bars. It allows you to pull almost 1.5 x your normal deadlift weight, thanks to a shorter range of motion.
Here’s how it works:
- Get inside the squat rack and set up the safety bars above knee cap level (starting deadlifts from above your knee takes the pressure off your back, but allows you to add significantly more weight)
- Place the bar on top of the safety bars.
- Add weight on the barbell that is equivalent to your 1RM that you can do on the regular deadlift from the floor (I recommend using liquid chalk or lifting straps for a better grip).
- Keeping your belly tight, lift the bar for 3-5 reps (once you notice how much easier it takes to lift your 1RM from that rack, slowly add more weight for additional 3-4 sets).
Here is what the rack deadlift looks like.
Choose the right deadlift variation
One of the best things you can do that will accelerate your progress is to choose the right deadlift variations based on your body type (not on someone else’s opinion).
Michael Hales, Ph.D., a weight training teacher from Kennesaw State University and a powerlifting coach, said that people with longer arms are better suited for conventional deadlifts, whereas those with shorter arms would be better suited for the sumo deadlift.
According to Dr. Hales, your deadlift variation should be based on your individual anthropometrics, not on someone else’s preferences.
That was really big for me. I’m the short guy and switching to sumo variations helped me to instantly gain almost 50 lbs.
Focus on strength, not endurance
The easiest way to improve your strength is to focus on high-load training with 70-80% of your 1RM. The ideal rep range is between 1 to 5 reps.
Brad Schoenfeld, Ph.D., a professor of exercise science at Lehman College in the Bronx, New York, said that maximal strength benefits are obtained from the use of heavy loads.
When it comes to rest, 3-5 minutes between sets produces greater increases in absolute strength, as long as you train at optimal intensity and training volume.
According to his research on strength and hypertrophy, gains in 1RM strength were significantly greater in favor of high load training (above 60% of 1RM), compared to low-load training (below 60% of 1RM).
Stay in a calorie surplus
Training for strength and performance to deadlift 4 plates is not the time to diet and calorie restriction. The calorie deficit can lower your power output and over time, your deadlift strength can go down, not up.
On the flip side, being in a calorie surplus gives you enough energy for your workouts. You can build more muscle and have better recovery, especially after a heavy lifting session.
Most of the people that I know aren’t strong enough to deadlift 4 plates.
4 plates deadlift is impressive and requires a lot of hard work and dedication. Some people can deadlift 405 within the first 12-24 months of training, however, this timeline depends on your anthropometric variables, as well as muscle fatigue, weekly training volume, age, gender, and workout experience.