Deadlifts Are Getting Better

bench press
Photo credit:

Much past 4 or 5 this morning, I couldn’t sleep anymore. I tossed and turned for a while, but finally gave up and got up. I had the usual cup of coffee and glass of water while reading the Sunday funnies online. Then I had an omelet for breakfast, since it was still a few hours until the gym opened up.

By the time my wife and I got ready to head out to the gym, I was really clear-headed, but my legs especially felt achy. I was glad I wasn’t doing squats today. My quads might not have managed it.

Sometimes, when I lie in bed in the morning, I imagine the lifts I’m going to do later in the day. This morning, I imagined myself bench pressing 160 pounds for 2 reps and doing a single rep deadlift with a 280 pound barbell. Imagination aside, let’s see how I really did on Sunday morning.


Main Lifts

Barbell Bench Press

10x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
8x 95lbs/43.0913kg (warm up)
3x 100lbs/45.3592kg
3x 115lbs/52.1631kg
5x 130lbs/58.967kg
3x 140lbs/63.5029kg (joker)
1x 150lbs/68.0389kg (joker)
1x 155lbs/70.3068kg (joker)
1x 160lbs/72.5748kg (joker)

Photo credit:

Bent Leg Deadlift

10x 135lbs/61.235kg (warm up)
3x 175lbs/79.3787kg
3x 195lbs/88.4505kg
5x 225lbs/102.058kg
3x 240lbs/108.862kg (joker)
3x 255lbs/115.666kg (joker)
1x 270lbs/122.47kg (joker)
1x 280lbs/127.006kg (joker) PR

Assistance Lift

Bench Step-up w/dumbbells

10x bodyweight
10x 20lbs/9.07185kg
10x 30lbs/13.6078kg
10x 40lbs/18.1437kg
10x 40lbs/18.1437kg

Core Work

Balancing on one foot
30 seconds each side

Leg Back Raises
Lx10, Rx10
Lx10, Rx10
Lx10, Rx10

Leg Side Raises
Lx10, Rx10
Lx10, Rx10
Lx10, Rx10

Alternating Arm/Leg Raises (Bird Dog)
10x each side
10x each side
10x each side

Bodyweight mat ab leg lifts
x10, x10, x10

leg raise

My bench presses started well enough but my 3+ set with a 130 pound barbell felt plenty heavy after 5 reps. Granted, this technically was the end of my routine barring jokers, but I was still stuck with a 1 rep max of 160 pounds.

Looking back on my previous 3/3/3+ week, my working sets were actually heavier. I adjusted the weight downward after recalculating everything based on my poor performance.

But who knows? Maybe today was going to be the day.

I launched into my joker sets. First one at 140 pounds wasn’t bad, but my second at 150 felt weak, particularly in my problematic triceps. I managed a single at 150 and another at 155, and thought I’d like to try at least matching my previous PR. I did and it didn’t feel that bad. I felt a slight pause on the way up, but also felt I did the lift faster than previously.

In spite of the temptation to either go heavier or try another 1 rep set at 160, I called it on bench presses. I’ve never done more than 4 jokers and I still had deadlifts to think of.

My warm up at 135 pounds is almost a joke since it seems so easy now. I didn’t feel any real “heaviness” until my second working set, but that was only on the initial pull up. Once the barbell got up the first time, reps weren’t a problem. I only did 5 reps on the 3+ set and could probably have done more, but I was anxious to get into joker sets.

Last week, I only managed a single at 260 pounds so I was impressed that I did 3 reps with a 255 pound barbell. I nudged the weight up another 15 pounds to 270, just 5 pounds under my PR, and managed a single. I went for broke and increased the weight to 280 and then waited.

I’d been making it a point to rest 2 or more minutes between sets when doing deadlifts. I wanted well-rested muscles and nervous system before going heavier set by set. Finally I was ready.

Photo credit:

I psyched myself up, assumed the position, took several deep breaths, and set all of my muscles…and then pulled.

I was surprised that the weight came up relatively fast. I must have been having a good morning because suddenly, I was staring at my reflection in the mirror, watching myself standing erect with a 280 pound barbell in my grip.

I set it down with a loud “clank” and wanted to do a victory yell (I didn’t, though). I did notice one guy in the gym staring at me for a second, and hopefully it was out of admiration. Of course, he’d have no way of knowing I’d just made a new PR, but I was hoping someone besides me would be impressed.

I had been thinking of doing box squats in the power rack for my assistance lift, but a young woman in tight yoga pants beat me to it. At first I was excited that a woman would be doing squats but she had other plans. She pulled a plastic platform in the rack and set the barbell on the lower supports as if she were going to do rack pulls.

Actually, she was innovating deadlifts. Since she’d only added a pair of 25 pound plates, one on each side of the barbell, if she’d set the barbell on the floor, it would have been too low. This way, using the power rack supports and the platform, she’d positioned the barbell just right for her to do deadlifts.

She didn’t do them for very long, though.

She was a stranger to me. Hadn’t seen her around before. Well, at least she did deadlifts. I wish more people would take compound lifts with barbells seriously.

I decided on the fly to do step up exercises with one of the benches. First, I did just bodyweight, and then I added weight by holding a pair of barbells. I finally settled for two 40 pounders since that felt plenty heavy for my forearms and thighs.

Between sets, I was watching this one guy, someone I’ve noticed in the gym before, do bench presses. I saw he’d loaded 315 pounds on the bar, put the locking grips in place, and get ready to bench really heavy without a spotter. I stood there and waited to see what he’d do. Amazingly, he actually did a single rep, bringing the bar all the way down to his chest and then pressing all the way back up. It was a slow rep, and for a second, I wasn’t sure he was doing to make it, but he did. I was impressed and it took some of the thunder out of my 280 pound deadlift. Of course, if he’d failed the lift and got caught under the weight, since he’d clamped the plates onto the barbell, I’d have gone over to help, but I’d have needed a couple of other guys to lift the darn thing.

Afterward, my wife reminded me that this guy’s a lot younger than I am, and only yesterday, I mentioned that you have to make adjustments for age. Still kind of stings, though.

gym clock

The clock was ticking down, so after the step ups, I did my Kasey the Chiropractor core exercises, and then threw in some straight ab work just for giggles. The missus had approached me while I was doing “Kasey work” and told me she’d be on the stair-stepper until I was done.

It was only 10 after the hour, but once I completed my ab work, I felt well done, probably from the deadlifts.

Speaking of Kasey, today was the Sunday we were scheduled to be tortured…uh, adjusted by him. We barely had time to each take showers and get ready before heading over to his place.

A couple of weeks ago, my wife had lent him Kelly Starrett’s book Ready to Run, and I felt we spent more time talking about his impressions on it in his office than doing actual chiropractic work. My wife has found another person who likes to talk. Me? I’m quiet for the most part.

I’m getting the impression that Kasey is finding it a little easier to get me to snap, crackle, and pop. My wife asked me if I’ve noticed any difference, and I can’t really say I have. But if chiropractic work and strength training are both supposed to work the central nervous system, and chiropractic adjustments are supposed to improve athletic performance, including in powerlifting, then it’s possible my recent breaking of PRs can be at least partially attributed to Kasey’s working me over.

We talked about the dreaded balancing on one foot exercises and apparently, they’re supposed to improve squatting performance, again by reprogramming the nervous system. Because of my wife’s hip replacement, she can’t do squats under a load, but Kasey said she could do bodyweight squats. He says it gets really interesting when you do them with your eyes closed.

The takeaway here is that, like it or not, I have to learn to balance on one foot with eyes wide shut to optimise my squat performance.

squat and squat complex

It’s after lunch as I write this and I feel like a wet noodle. My arms are sore, and my legs are sore, and my back is sore, but my neck feels pretty good since Kasey caused it to snap a few times.

Actually, I’d just like to take a nap, but that’ll have to wait. More Sunday stuff to do around the place.

Wonder how my lifts on Thursday are going to go?

They can crack jokes. They can sit back and analyze and criticize and make all the fun they want. But I’m living my life, I’m doing it. What are you doing?

Kai Greene


3 thoughts on “Deadlifts Are Getting Better

  1. I really have enjoyed your site. I am a 75 year old guy with a pacemaker. I am doing alternate days, weights one day, cardio the next. My workouts are 2 hours each time 5 days a week, and I feel GREAT. My Doctor is horrified at what I do; poor guy. Keep up the good work!



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