eric kim icon muscle

Dear friend,

I wanna share the secrets of how I deadlifted over 405 pounds with you:

I. Why deadlift?

Why I deadlift:

1. Practical meditation

Okay, first of all, the best reason to deadlift is that it is practical way to practice meditation.

I’ve never been able to sit down in an empty room and sit still for an hour. I don’t see meditation as something that needs to be passive. Rather, I want to do active meditation.

I meditate when I’m walking and shooting street photography, when I am taking a nap, and when I am powerlifting (deadlift being my favorite lift).

I prefer deadlift because I think it is the safest lift. With squats, if you fail at the bottom and you don’t have a power rack to protect you, you can be screwed. I’ve injured my rotator cuff twice doing bench press, and it requires you to have a spotter (someone looking over you).

Deadlifting is totally independent. You start off with a barbell and some weights on the ground. The goal is simple: lift the barbell off the ground.

When I deadlift, my brain goes blank. When I deadlifted 405 pounds for the first time, I felt like I had an out of body experience. It was spiritual. I never thought I could realistically lift that much weight. After I did it, I realized:

I have no limits. Only self-imposed limits in my mind.

2. Confidence building

Second, I like deadlifting because it gives me a massive surge of confidence, in myself.

It don’t matter if you’re a lady or a boy, you can deadlift. Anybody can, regardless of how young or dangerous.

When you start deadlifting you will never fear anything again. Because if you can build this spiritual connection with this iron cold bar, and put your faith in yourself, you can overcome anything with your pure will.

Honestly, I’ve been lifting weights from age 15 until 29. When I started off, I was a fat kid, and self conscious. I was sick of kids calling me fat, and bullying me. So rather than complain, I realized I needed to make a difference in my life. My mom bought me some dumbells, and I remember lifting 50 pound shoulder presses and bicep curls at age 17.

In the beginning, lifting weights was a way of showing off. But now, it is more of an inner spiritual experience. When I go to the gym, I generally avoid eye contact with others, and I just Zen out in my own world. After I go beast mode, yelp, and lift the iron off the floor, I just wash my hands and leave, with an elevated mood.

II. How to get started

The way to build up to a 405 pound deadlift (one rep, no belt, no lifting shoes) is easy: just deadlift once a week, and add 2.5-5 pounds a week.

Think about it. After a year, you can add 2.5×52 pounds to your deadlift a year (around a hundred pounds).

Plateaus don’t exist. You just need to let your body recover. That is why I wait at least a week, before I can generally rebuild my mental and physical energy to defy gravity.

Just go on YouTube and search “mixed grip deadlift” as a tutorial. That means if you’re right hand dominant, do deadlifts with your left hand on top of the bar, and your right hand under the bar. By having a “mixed grip” the bar is less likely to slip out of your hands. When you’re doing your “warm up sets” alternate your grips.

For example, this is my workout the other day: (weight x 1 repetition)

  • 225×1
  • 265×1
  • 305×1
  • 365×1
  • 405×1

I have an uber minimalist approach to powerlifting and deadlifting. I just do one rep. I don’t do deadlifts to get “buff”, I do it to build strength– both physical and mental strength.

Before doing deadlifts, I usually do “dive bomber” back warm ups, and lunges (around 20 reps each). I also do Yoga stretches in the morning for fun (thanks Cindy). Apparently LeBron James does yoga to prevent injuries. Why can’t you?

III. Don’t buy equipment

Whoever says you need a deadlift or squat belt is silly. The same goes for lifting shoes. I just deadlift with a black t shirt, my socks, and black shorts.

The only thing I use at my last repetition for my maximum weight is chalk on my hands for better grip.

I have deadlifted over 405 pounds (my all time maximum was 425). I never injured my back. And I’m a skinny Asian guy.

Whoever tries to get you to buy equipment or supplements or protein powder is dumb. I was able to get to a 405 pound deadlift with no protein powder, or supplements (only espresso). The industry (like the photo industry) just tries to get you to buy shit you don’t need, for them to make more dollas.

IV. Nutrition

Biggest secret to becoming a beast in powerlifting: don’t eat breakfast or anything before going to lift. Go in a “fasted” state.

Think about it: does a Lion eat a granola bar before going out to hunt a Gazelle? No. The hunger is what stimulates the lion to hunt.

I’m sorry, humans are animals. We are the same.

If you see a lion that is fed 3 square meals a day (breakfast, lunch, dinner) the lion is lazy, sleeps all day, and lethargic. Animals fed only once a day (or every other day) are sharp, keen, wild, and fierce.

This is why I don’t eat breakfast or lunch anymore. I only eat a big ass dinner, and usually an egg snack of 5-8 eggs at around 10pm before I sleep.

The benefit is that before I lift, I’m fucking hungry. I no longer get “food coma” during the day. Of course I still feel hunger pangs, and it sucks. But c’est la vie.

I’ve been able to deadlift 405 pounds at body weight of 150. Ever since adopting my no breakfast and lunch regimen, I’ve lost nearly ten pounds of body fat. I dropped my waist size from a 33 to a 31-32.

I’m not as “buff” as I used to be, but in sharper, leaner, more cut, less body fat, meaner, more like Brad Pitt from Fight Club (I’m pretty sure I can deadlift more than him). I’d rather be a Bruce Lee over an Arnold any day.

For my food, I usually eat eggs, fatty meat (ground beef, pork belly, beef belly, pork ribs), leafy greens (spinach, random Vietnamese veggies, kale), almonds, and more eggs. And yes, I eat the whole egg and yolk. And no, eating a lot of saturated fat doesn’t cause heart diseases, this has been debunked. Read Gary Taube’s seminal work “Good calories, bad calories.”

I don’t eat sugar, fruit, and the only things I drink include black coffee, tea, and water. I don’t eat carbs, starchy veggies, or any food stuff that is white. So no high fructose corn syrup, no desert, no potatoes, no rice, pasta, but I sometimes eat Pizza. I also don’t drink or consume dairy products (I’m lactose intolerant). I don’t drink alcohol anymore (no wine, no beer, no hard liquor).

I’m quite strict on my diet because I’m vain and I like to see my six pack in the mirror before I shower. But I also am strict with my diet, because I want to live the maximum lifespan possible. I love life too much. And to me, I have already eaten all the good foods, I know I’m not missing out. And to me, the company I have when eating food is more important than the food itself.

I eat to live, I don’t live to eat.

Not only that, but when I follow this diet for myself, I feel more energetic, less tired. It’s weird, I’ve been needing less sleep too. Yesterday I slept at 9pm, and today I woke up at 2am, feeling pretty good. I used to sleep 8-10 hours a day. More time to do creative work, like write this article.

V. Metabolism

Also to be frank, human biology is far more similar than dissimilar. This isn’t a politically correct saying, but wouldn’t you agree that cows, pigs, chickens, dogs, and lions have a more similar metabolism than dissimilar? And to be frank, if you study Charles Darwin, all mammals have a common ancestor. So it makes sense of me that our metabolism is probably more similar than we’d like to think.

“Breakfast” is a modern concept. It was invented by rich aristocracy in England just a few hundred years ago, who were bored, and decided to add another meal to the day. To “break” the “fast” was usually done at around noon. The Romans called this meal the “cena”– usually eaten between noon and 3pm. Apparently in Egyptian times, slaves were fed a breakfast in the morning, to keep them more subservient.

One theory is that a lot of mental degenerative disease is caused by “metabolic syndrome”– essentially our metabolism isn’t acting correctly. This is because we are eating too often, with too much food that spikes our insulin or blood sugar (anything with carbs, sugar, usually do this).

For example, apparently they’re trying to classify Alzheimer’s as “type 3 diabetes”– my theory is it is caused by diet and lifestyle, not just old aging. A lot of people I know in their 90s are sharp as a knife. They just die when their heart literally wears out and stops beating.

There has also been a lot of science on “intermittent fasting”– that if you eat less often, you can possibly live longer. Because when you are in a “fasting” state (you haven’t eaten for 14-18 hours), your body enters a state of “autophagy”, where your body’s stronger proteins start to eat the weaker proteins. Imagine a vacuum cleaner effects for your body, which kills off pre-cancerous cells.

My grandpa died at age 93, and he was really obese and unhealthy. I’d like to live to be 120, assuming I don’t die in a car crash from racing my Lamborghini, or from texting while driving.

The only way that is I proven to somewhat extend lifespan isn’t by eating blueberries and injecting yourself with medicine (via positiva methods, as Nassim Taleb says in Antifragile). Rather, only via negativa (by what foods or shit to remove from your diet).

Conclusion: Don’t listen to me

Honestly don’t listen to me. This works for me, and I don’t think it will work for you.

But when I follow this lifestyle, and exercise regimen, I’ve turned into some sort of monster. I can type 10,000 words a day, I have lost all fear, and I’m always constantly in an elevated pleasant mood. I don’t feel petty no more, nor do I fear death. I jut love being alive and I have supreme self confidence in myself.

So my suggestion: just signup for a powerlifting gym local to you. Start deadlifting once a week. It will be the best thing you can do for your body and mind, and it won’t take that much time.

Be strong,
Eric

Why I Fast >