Tuesday, January 12, 2016

80 Day Deadlift Challenge: Lessons Learned

This morning, I finished my 80 day Deadlift Challenge. You can review my challenge, and see my many weekly updates here:


As you can see, my max deadlift progressed rapidly, going up 10 pounds every week until I neared the end. However, I took a video (which you can see in the link above) when I hit 500 pounds, and realized that my form was truly atrocious. So for the last couple weeks, I kept the weights low and focused on improving my form. I'll write the rest of this post in a question and answer style, asked by an imaginary person who gives a shit. You're of course welcome to ask other questions in the comments.

Notebook full of my pain.

Was it hard?

Yes. It was hard. The first few weeks weren't too bad. But as the weights went up, it became increasingly challenging. My lower back in particular got hammered, and at the peak of the challenge I was taking pain meds two or three times a week. I did this not so much because of the pain. I don't mind pain; it makes me feel alive. I did it to reduce swelling and inflammation, so that I wouldn't get injured.

Getting up early in the morning was tough at first, but I got used to it. Although it was still hard on mornings after a late night or too much drinking. However, for the most part, I felt much better after the first couple of sets. Luckily, my housemates all get up at about 6am, so this made it easier for me to wake up. As well, my cat starts getting in my face the second I open my eyes.

Once I got into the routine, doing the deadlifts was like brushing my teeth, albeit with a bit more sweat. It was just another thing I did in the morning.

Did you get injured?

Thankfully, I never got seriously injured. As I mentioned, my lower back got sore. Very sore at times. But never to the point of injury. I'm sure this was partly luck.

My hands got very callused. There were days when the lifts were hard because my calluses hurt. I would adjust my grip, but this often resulted in a weaker lift.


Another weird pain point was my wrists, from the straps. The wrists don't callus, so I would have cracked scabs were the straps put the most pressure. I tried to move the straps around a little to relieve the pressure. For the most part the scabs didn't interfere with my lifts. I just wanted to make sure to avoid any lasting injury or infection.

The last three or four times I did max lifts in the challenge, I got cramps in my abs. They didn't hurt and I was able to rub them out pretty quickly, but they definitely felt.... interesting. However, it's possible this could have become a more serious issue, like a hernia. So again I was lucky.

At some point I hyperextended my elbow, probably in karate. It didn't effect my deadlifts at all, but I did feel it when I racked and unracked the plates. Weird.

Then of course there were the various pains that came from running and my other lifts, which I felt while deadlifting. But nothing too serious.

Would you do it again?

If for some reason I did another challenge where I was doing deadlifts almost every day, I would vastly change the format. The challenge as I had it carried too high a risk of injury, as well as leaving me in a constant state of soreness. Next time, I would change the weights, number of sets, number of reps, etc. and even vary it up with different exercises that hit the same muscle groups.

Would you recommend this challenge to others?

No. This exact challenge? No. But routine is critical. And I would definitely recommend folks exercise every single day, whether it's running, lifting, calisthenics, or something else or some mix. And I would recommend creating personal challenges, and writing about them (if only on social media). One big benefit of blogging about this challenge is that it forced me to keep at it. Start a routine where you exercise every single day, and then do anything and everything that keeps you honest.

How did the deadlifts impact your running?

I still ran the same amount, about 50 miles a week. I scheduled the challenge for the mornings, before work, so I could still run after work. The deadlifts didn't seem to impact my runs too much. Sometimes I ran fast, sometimes I ran slow. I ran a 5K on Thanksgiving, and set a massive PR for myself, which I mentioned in an update in the original post (check the link above to read more). So I'm tempted to say the deadlifts helped my running.

I put on a little weight, mostly muscle I hope. But judging by my before and after pics, my body fat hasn't changed too much. I think I may have put on a pound or two of fat, which I'll trim down before race season hits full swing. I'm interested to see if my pace improves once I'm off this challenge and my legs and core are fresher.

I also crosstrained, because running
and lifting every day isn't enough.

So what's next? I don't actually care but am asking because that's what all interviewers ask.

Thanks, imaginary jackass. I'm definitely going to maintain my morning routine. I've already picked out my next program, although it's not a "challenge" per se. I haven't decide yet whether or not I'll blog about it. I'll do it for a couple weeks first, and then decide if it's worth writing about.

Anything else you want to add? I'm getting bored so be quick.

I hate you, imaginary question person. Anyway, as I mentioned above, routine is key. Exercising isn't something you do because you want to. It's something you do because you have to. I never wanted to get up early and do the deadlifts, but I did anyway. I didn't think about it. I just did it.

Sunset. Because I'm cliche.

1 comment:

  1. Good to find people have this sorta anergy left in them after having a regular job.. cheers to life borther :)