Why Photographers Should Deadlift

To me, powerlifting and deadlifting is my zen meditation. Not only that, but powerlifting and deadlifting has taught me — I have no limits.

Some reasons how powerlifting has benefitted me, and how it may benefit you:

1. Mood

Powerlifting has benefitted me in so many ways. First of all, my mood.

I don’t think mood is the same thing as happiness. For example, I can be “happy” about my life, but in a shitty mood. If I get into a scuffle with Cindy, I’m in a bad mood. If I am jetlagged or tired, I am in a bad mood.

But whenever I hit the gym and lift heavy stuff (Deadlift, Squats, Dumbbell press) or when I do bodyweight exercises (pull-ups, dips, planches) it instantly boosts my mood. I feel more energetic, positive, and vigorous!

Not only that, but I read something from Nassim Taleb about some research that showed that people who regularly lifted weights had more stable mood levels. Something like this:

If you workout regularly (regardless if you’re a man or woman) you have increased testosterone levels. And if you have increased testosterone levels in your bloodstream, you’re actually less likely to be aggressive. Apparently it is people with lower testosterone levels who actually have more irregular moods.

Anyways this is theory, but I know from my personal experience this:

When I regularly powerlift or just came back from a new “one rep max” from deadlifting, I’m more calm.

For example, if I hear some bad news or learn that I’ve had some sort of financial downturn, I don’t feel that anxious or worried. When I get into a fight with Cindy, I don’t get that angry.

However when I’ve gone long periods without working out, I get more easily anxious, angry, paranoid, stressed, and scared.

So two theories about working out when it comes to mood:

  1. Working out improves your mood: During and after your workout, and this “high” lasts easily for an entire day.
  2. If you regularly powerlift or workout, your mood is more steady throughout the day and week.

2. Powerlifting vs weightlifting

Honestly it doesn’t matter if you “powerlift” or “weightlift”. Just lift heavy stuff, and push your limits.

Essentially what you must do is this:

Push your muscles beyond failure.

This means when you’re lifting heavy stuff at the gym, when you don’t think you can do any more repetitions, try to grind out 2-3 more reps, or try to do 25% more repetitions than you think you’re capable of!

My simple approach with powerlifting (Deadlift, squat, dumbbell press) is this:

Every week, try to add 5 pounds to my maximum “one rep max”.

That means if last week I deadlifted 365 pounds for 1 repetition, this week I will try to do 370 pounds (adding the small 2.5 pound plates to each side of the barbell).

In powerlifting, increasing your “one rep max” is essential. Why?

First of all, it’s more fun. Lifting weights is boring if you don’t challenge and stress and test your strength! For me powerlifting is all about,

“I wonder if I’m strong enough to lift this off the ground?”

When I deadlift, I feel like I’m going “Super Saiyan” like Goku from Dragon Ball Z. When I’m attempting a new “one rep max”, my mind and consciousness goes blank for a moment. It’s the closest thing to an “out of body experience” you can have (without taking LSD or mushrooms).

3. Confidence in street photography

This is another unintended (positive) consequence of working out: you feel less afraid and more confident when shooting street photography!

Having more muscle mass, I feel less physically intimidated by people. Especially if I shoot a street photograph of an aggressive male; I’m less likely to back down or feel frightened. Having muscle mass, strength, and self confidence; I won’t be punked or bullied by guys who are often bigger than me.

It is true that if you lift heavy stuff, and you know that you can lift heavy stuff, you’re more self confident, and less scared of others. Because I know if push comes to shove, I could hold myself down in a fist fight, or at least know I can take a punch. I used to do backyard boxing with my friends in high school, and to be honest, taking a punch doesn’t hurt that much (I’ve got knocked unconscious and had a few head concussions, which built character).

Anyways regardless if you’re a male or female, working our gives you more physical and mental strength.

I think all street photographers should deadlift to build their confidence, and feel less fear when shooting in the streets!

4. Productivity

After I have a vigorous workout in the morning, my energy levels are elevated for the entire day. I have more energy, focus, and strength to do creative work! I’m more productive with blogging, writing, editing photos, processing videos, etc.

Also if your body is stronger, you can obviously have more endurance as a photographer! The ability to carry heavy camera equipment, walk long distances, squat down for low angle photos, or run around if you need to get a certain shot!


I believe all photographers can benefit from building physical strength. That can mean powerlifting (Deadlift, squat, benchpress/dumbbell press), street gym workouts (pull-ups and dips at the local park), or yoga or whatever you enjoy. It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female; we all benefit and profit.



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