500 lb Deadlift for Men - Sinister?

Is a 500 lb barbell deadlift a good equivalent of the 48 kg "Sinister?"

  • Yes,5 big wheels, 495/500 lb or 225 kg, is a Sinister barbell DL.

    Votes: 37 69.8%
  • No, 5 wheels is too heavy.

    Votes: 3 5.7%
  • No, 5 wheels is too light.

    Votes: 13 24.5%

  • Total voters

Zach Ganska

More than 300 posts
Certified Instructor
I'd like to vote "no" however it's not for being too light or too heavy.

Comparing what I'm assuming is a single deadlift to 100 swings negates a number of physiological adaptations that makes the sinister goal unique, not to mention the inclusion of the TGU.

Have those who have successfully completed the sinister goal submitted their best deadlift numbers? 1 rep max, 5 rep max, etc.?

I think this would be the best starting point to set a reasonable standard that is both challenging and is as self-limiting as swinging a 48kg KB 100 times.

Will the TGU or another press varaiant such as an MP be included?


More than 500 posts
Comparing what I'm assuming is a single deadlift to 100 swings negates a number of physiological adaptations that makes the sinister goal unique, not to mention the inclusion of the TGU.
I know this is pulling away from the topic slightly but bear with me.
Pavel has before said that an admirable new years resolution is a 2.5xbw deadlift and the full spilts, plenty of people can get to the dl but neglect the splits.
Perhaps the fact that Sinister measures two interconnected outcomes (power-endurance and strength) is what makes it so hard to acheive. Perhaps adding another metric would satisfy those who felt a 500lb DL was too easy?
I'd vote for the splits or something similar that demonstates a very rounded level of physical competence, but I'm just spitballing here.

Pavel Macek

More than 2500 posts
Master Certified Instructor
@Terry McCarthy

"Simple" should be achievable for everybody, = not so weak. Worthy minimalistic goal for everybody.
"Solid" = "quite strong". Recommended, but it will take a lot of time.
"Sinister" = STRONG! Not for everybody.

Life is not fair. I hit "Solid" in deadlift, and I know there is a room for getting stronger. I am nowhere close to "Solid" in benchpress. It means I need to get stronger.

I am a 40 years young light guy, 68 kg, working on "Sinister" in S&S. I do not complain the standards are not fair (age, BW) - I know I can do it. It will just take more time.

Anyway, just my 2 cents.

Steve Freides

Forum Administrator
Staff member
Senior Certified Instructor
@Terry McCarthy, there is great value in simplicity in some things. Simple and Sinister have no bodyweight - @Pavel Macek and I, both a bit under 70 kg of bodyweight, must move the same piece of iron in the same way as people who weigh half again more than we do - that's life.

There is no way at all that a simple goal will be fair to all sizes of human being, and that's just that - to be fair to all people would require giving up the simplicity of the idea. Even multiples of bodyweight - that's more fair but also more complex.



Pavel Macek

More than 2500 posts
Master Certified Instructor
@Steve Freides Agreed. That is why I have postulated for myself and intermediate goal in S&S: Solid (40 kg). Eating the elephant in small bites. Same goes for barbell.

Terry McCarthy

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
I think I read somewhere that a 2.5x BW pull is required to join the StrongFirst DL team, yes?

If that's the case why not make 2.5 x BW Sinister?

Filling the the blanks, you could go 2x for Simple and 2.25 x for Solid.

Either way, 2.5 or 3, I'll never realistically get there so it won't effect me. I just think 3x is too high.

Pavel Macek

More than 2500 posts
Master Certified Instructor
@Terry McCarthy I thought for a long time 48 is too high for my BW, "not fair". After I saw a 72 kg gentleman from Korea to become a Beast Tamer at the Dome of Strength, I told to myself: No excuses, get stronger, you man.

Let us have the Simple standards achievable for everybody, and Sinister standards for those who are ready to spent months, if not years practicing to reach them, or those who are exceptionally strong.

We all know there are very few of us like this.

All good - we are still getting stronger. As Mark Reifkind said: Strength is not a number - it is an attitude.

Bro Mo

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
After reviewing the spreadsheet, average BW @ 180, average DL multiple of 2.1 = ~380. If excluding Anna's data to get men only, the average is basically 4 plates. Is the average Simple or Solid? If its Simple, I'm leaning toward 500 being too light, now.

the hansenator

More than 500 posts
Assuming it's a program for the general population, it makes sense to me to put simple at the point of diminishing returns. If a higher deadlift isn't going to help your sprint times or your shovel the driveway times, why are you training for it? Then the sinister goal could be a step higher for the overachievers.


Triple-Digit Post Count
Simple needs to be respectable, but achievable. Something that everybody can achieve, but still challenging enough to yield increased benefits in daily life. And if we are going for a set number, it should be challenging enough for bigger guys but achievable enough for lighter guys. Something the general population can still look at it and say "I can do that", but heavy enough that it's nothing to sneeze at.

Sinister should be just that...sinister. I have no problem with it being elitist, it should be.

Achieving a 2 times bodyweight deadlift at 170lbs. was something I had to train for, but was very doable. When I started getting close to 2 x BW was when I started noticing benefits.

There should be a distinction between maxing at whatever number we decide and owning it.

When I used to train at my university gym, I saw several guys breaking into the 400's. That's enough weight on the bar that it really turned heads, but I also saw enough guys do it that I think it's doable. Getting over 500...not often, but I did see it.

I like @Pavel Macek 's numbers. If we are going set weight, somewhere around 365-405 seems good for simple. For sinister, I don't know. 500 might be a little too low but probably not by much. 545?

I like simple straightforward goals. There are pros and cons to both set weight and multiplier of bodyweight.

I like the straightforwardness of going by the big plates. That seriously limit us though. Suggestion: the 25lb plates won't be too much more complicated and gives us more options.

Thomas Scott

Still New to StrongFirst Forum
I'm thinking 545 would be good, but for me its just a guess. What are those of you who have achieved Sinister (100 swings and 10 getups) able to deadlift?

Steve W.

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
My 2 cents: Barbell Simple & Sinister, based on PTTP! 2.0 recommended lifts, for men:


2xBW = Simple
2,5xBW = Solid
3xBW = Sinister


1,25xBW = Simple
1,5xBW = Solid
1,75xBW = Sinister
I like these DL numbers, even though they are relative to BW and not fixed standards. Bench press I have less personal experience with so I don't have a strong opinion.

Adding the "Solid" level makes sense to me. It allows the Simple standard to be a little more accessible and the Sinister standard to be a little more of a specialized challenge without leaving a gaping hole between them.


Quadruple-Digit Post Count
I agree with @D-Rock , 500 might be a little light, but not by much. I don't think you can compare owning 500 and owning sinister, though. As @DavThew pointed out, you're measuring two different things, strength vs power endurance. I'm sure there are many people who can pull 500 but can't perform sinister because the don't have the conditioning for it, not because they lack strength. I also think if training for sinister was as common as powerlifting, we would see quite a few people doing 10x10 swings and 5x1 TGU at 48K or more.
We ultimately have to go by how achievable the goal is, not by how much you can pull when you hit sinister, or by how well you can swing a 'bell after you own a 500 lb DL. Simple seems to be the point where someone experiences substantial improvement in general fitness, while also being very achievable for most folks, regardless of age or size. Sinister would be juuust past the point of diminishing returns, requiring one to really dial in their training, and being out of reach for a sizable chunk of the population. It seems like 300-350 would be good for simple and 500-550 would be about right for sinister.

Steve Freides

Forum Administrator
Staff member
Senior Certified Instructor
For sure, the idea is to keep it these things uncomplicated, so 300 and 500 are still looking pretty good to me. I don't see the point of landing on something between 500 and 600, and I think 600 is too high. Sinister should be achievable, and 2.5 times bodyweight for a 200 lb. man is achievable but, after that, we start getting into pretty elite territory, IMHO, especially if we require it be a raw lift.


Zach Ganska

More than 300 posts
Certified Instructor
"Strength Serving a Greater Purpose."

AKA be useful. To me this conversation has been framed as a 1 rep max being optimal, which in many cases it is not an indicator of who is stronger overall.

Hence why the term "antifragile" appears in S & S and I would argue is the intent of the program.

Who is stronger, the person that pulls 2.5, 3 x BW and moves terribly or the person whose 1 rep max is lower comparatively but has more strength endurance and moves gracefully? (Sadly I've seen and known many who rip themselves up and hurt moving yet have achieved that 3x BW DL so....?)

The suggestion of the splits is interesting and adds a dimension of health. I would go a step further and have the marks be calculated along BW but in a rep range of 5-8. Far more self-limiting and requires creating many of the antifragile attributes mentioned in S & S, along with a work capacity as illustrated by the example of Steve Janda and his training and other such examples Pavel writes in S & S to illustrate the point of the program.

Far more useful overall.
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