Deadlift Challenge

Challenge workouts: I’m not sure where I dream these ideas up.

They seem like a good idea at the time, but then I get these butterflies in my gut at the thought of actually hitting the gym and doing the workout.

I figure this is a good thing…my way of living on the edge since I don’t live recklessly anywhere else. I mean I don’t ride a motorcycle or sky dive.  On occasion I’ll tackle rush hour traffic or eat three day old left overs, but mostly I live a pretty tame life in my little bubble. =)

Back to the challenge of the day…


It all started when I was traveling and noticed a trainer in the gym taking their client through what looked to me as a TOTAL waste of time-type workout. I watched as there seemed to be no rhyme or reason to the movements or muscle groups worked. Trainer and Mrs. Jones bounced from the adductor/abductor machine to cable tricep extensions to seated rows to leg extensions to God knows what else, I stopped watching in frustration.

I think they were working on the principle of ‘muscle confusion’ but the whole workout was a confusion. Sadly instead of educating clients, some trainers seem to think that if they keep them guessing as to what’s coming next, they’ll ensure more training sessions.


Umm, wrong.

Results ensure more training sessions booked. And that moronic routine would have done nothing for Mrs. Jones but lighten her wallet and waste her time.


Back to the challenge of the day…

I see fewer and fewer people tackling the BASICS in the gym.  Things like deadlifts, bench press, squats.

These are the staple of any weight training program, along with body weight exercises like pull ups, push ups, burpees etc.

So the workout came to me…

I wanted to test strength and endurance. To me, there’s a lot more to fitness than just moving a weight (strength). I wanted to test muscular endurance, which is the combination of strength and endurance or the ability to perform a high number of repetitions over an extended period of time.

And I wanted to test a little cardiac output by limiting rest.

So with that in mind, I came up with the deadlift bodyweight challenge.

It involves two sets.

Set one

Put your bodyweight on the bar. Set the timer and go. Deadlift the weight without rest until failure. No straps are allowed.

Rest one minute

Set two

Keep your body weight on the bar, set the timer for 3 minutes and go. Deadlift the weight as many times as possible in the 3 minutes. Rest when required. No straps allowed.

Catch your breath and continue with your back workout.

Here’s my attempt at this challenge:

If you didn’t watch the entire video, I got 25 reps on set one and 32 on set two.

And here’s what I did after about a two minute rest:

Giant set:

Pull ups 10 reps

Cable row 90lbs x 10 reps

Cable pull overs 60lbs x 10 reps

Cable rear delts 50lbs x 10 reps

Push ups 34 reps

Repeat 3 times no rest

Biceps one pathetic set of hammer curls  20 x 15

(Admittedly between my sore elbows, fried forearms and exhaustion, typically I do very little arm work after annihilating back this way).

So, my challenge to you is to go weigh yourself and load up the bar. I feel that doing your own body weight is the fairest challenge. (Don’t get me started on some programs that have a standard weight to lift for men and women.)


If you need more convincing, let me tell you about the virtues of the deadlift…

Your entire body is engaged in the deadlift. The hamstrings and quads as well as the glutes in the hips and erector spinae in the back are the primary muscles that move the weight through the range of motion. Your core muscles are also engaged to balance and stabilize your spine. Secondary movers used in deadlifts include the shoulders, latissimus dorsi and trapezius.

Talk about a full body calorie burning exercise.

Technique is paramount.

The deadlift builds a strong and stable back, but poor technique may also cause serious back injuries. Always start the deadlift with a natural stance, with your feet under your hips and hands placed on the bar just outside your shins. Keep your feet flat on the floor, chest up, abs tight, arms extended and bar close to your legs as you lift the bar. Exhale as you lift the bar and slowly return to the starting position before starting the next repetition.

The most common error is rounding the back, and allowing the bar to travel too far away from the shins. As well, at the end range, the hips need to be pushed forward by squeezing the glutes as opposed to arching the back.

So now that I’ve sold you on the deadlift, hit the gym and give this challenge a try.

And if you’re stuck on your pull up prowess, grab my program. It’s got a lot of cool workouts in it that will not only help your pull up power, but your over all strength too.

I know I want to try it again using straps (just out of curiosity).

Then on another day, I’ll try the challenge exactly the same to see if I can beat my score. (I’ll have to wait until my forearms aren’t screaming at me though.)