sumo deadlift

How to One Rep Max Powerlifting

On one rep maxes:

The mental hype up

Some quick thoughts:

First of all, the primary reason *why* I love powerlifting *IS* for the mental hype up. To me, it is the ultimate zen zone. I cannot be thinking of anything else, and cannot be distracted by anything else. Just one focus– lift the weight.

Zen zoning

I am quite certain that when it comes to powerlifting, it is 99% mental. Certainly when I am going for heavy deadlifts or squats, there is always a tinge of fear. I would say the biggest hype I need to do is when I am deadlifting (my best lift). With bench press, floor press, or heavy dumbbell presses, it is pretty easy. Squats are not too bad either. But something about deadlifting requires a new zen zone and focus to lift.

Get loud

One of the curses of modernity is that you are not allowed to be loud. Only ‘low class people’ are loud. However let us consider the Ancient Greeks (when we read the Iliad and so forth)– they always put out ‘war cries’ (Ares, Achilles etc). Even when Achilles returns to battle apparently his war cry was the same as the voice of 40 men, and apparently dozens of men were killed just in the chaos of scared horses and the such when Achilles let out his war cry). So in short:

When you attempt a one rep max, let yourself yell, grunt, and scream or whatever. Fuck it!

Technical details

One of my life goals is to deadlift 500+. Very annoying; I was very well on my way to make it, until COVID hit. My one rep max for sumo deadlift was 465 pounds (sumo, mixed grip with chalk).

Typically when I lift, I stay neutral grip for deadlifts at around 3 plates on each side (315). Then when I ramp it up to 365 (three 45-pound plates and a 25 on each side) then I switch to my left-hand (non dominant mixed grip). Then for 4 plates (405) I switch to my dominant mixed grip (right hand under hand, left hand overhand).

Then the question comes:

When should I use chalk?

I typically try to see how long I can go*without* using chalk. So I will keep ramping up my sumo deadlift with mixed grip until literally the weight slips from my hand on one rep max attempts. *THEN* I will take a note of the weight (I think when I hit four 45 plates, and a 20 on each side, *THEN* I need to use chalk). Other wise, best to just keep training your grip strength this way.

How to work up your weight and warmup

Certainly nobody would want to attempt to deadlift 405 (4 plates) cold without any warming up of the sort. I then think that by ‘warming up’ (lifting heavier weights until you ramp up to your one rep max), you are just priming your muscles (getting them ready) for the epic one rep max attempt.

I typically start with one plate on each side, then two plates on each side, then I go up in 25-pound increments until I work myself up to my final one rep max attempt.

How to conquer fear

Once again if we consider that weight lifting and powerlifting (one rep max attempts) are mostly mental, then we require the mental strength to conquer fear. There is always a fear of failure, a fear of ‘hurting yourself’ or whatever. Typically the way I get over this fear is the following:

1. First of all, having some sort of ‘mantra’ you utter to yourself to get into the zone. Ronnie Coleman’s line ‘lightweight baby!’ as a good one. I also often do mental visualization exercises of Hercules, other heroes, and I often utter words like ‘murder, wrist strong Hercules, etc’.

2. Secondly, I like to just walk around, go to the bathroom, and start breathing deeply and heavily. I try to focus my attention to the bar, and disregard everything else.

Anti music

ERIC KIM deadlift gif 455 sumo - normal
455 Sumo Deadlift (one rep max)

I love music and I used to powerlift religiously to music. No more. Why not?

Music becomes a crutch. The music hypes you up, instead of *YOU* hyping yourself up.

To be able to lift without music is a far more robust position to be in.

Why powerlift?

I don’t think you get to *really* know yourself until you start powerlifting and seeing what your personal maximum is, and even once you hit your personal maximum, training to go *BEYOND* your personal maximum.

Consider let us say that one week my one rep max for deadlift is 465. I then eat a bunch of meat, rest, read books, walk around and do other fun stuff. Then I always wonder:

How does my body *know* how to become stronger? Or *how* does my body become stronger to lift an even heavier weight (5 pounds heavier, 470 pounds) the next week?

There is still so much interesting philosophizing which hasn’t been done on the body. The mind is overrated; the body is king.


Deadlifting 420 pounds (four 45-plates on each side, with a 2.5+5 pounder)
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