The Couple that Deadlifts Together

16 Oct

A few weeks ago, I found myself working on my one rep max clean at my Crossfit gym. The guy in front of me hoisted heavy weight after heavy weight and then said to the coach “I’ve never lifted this much before.” He was a bundle of excitement and nerves. Mostly nerves.

Then he turned around. “Liz, I’ve never lifted this much before. I don’t know…” And I had to cut him off. Although I don’t believe in the hokey “believe in your mind and you can achieve anything” I do believe that you can be strong enough, warmed up enough and skilled enough, and let your mind hold you back.

“Look at this weight,” I said. “This is about to be your new one rep max. You’re about to PR.”

And he did. It was fantastic. Particularly when he realized he’d done his math wrong and not set a 10 lb PR but a 20 lb one. How good does that feel?

This is one of the reasons I love my Crossfit gym. Much as I love encouraging others to run, it’s still a constant challenge to be happy for their successes and not feel bad about myself if my own PR times don’t match up. It’s definitely a work in progress. But I feel differently at Crossfit and I find myself celebrating with each new strength, gymnastic, endurance or other skill that is improved on. By anyone. Even those I’ve only met that day.

So when I woke up yesterday and knew it was a deadlift day and I hadn’t done a 1 rep max since August, I figured it was time to try for a PR. And I also knew I owed it to myself to twist any negative thoughts into positives. Replace every “I’ve never done this” with “I’m about to do this.” Then, if I fail, at least I know it’s because I’m just not strong enough yet and not because I doubted myself. Self-doubt always wins. If you tell yourself you can’t do it, you can’t. Simple as that. (Not that people who don’t yet have the skill and instruction to do it correctly should try for heavy Olympic lifts that they’re aren’t prepared for yet.)

As I biked to the gym, I thought about the Deadlift Couple at my last gym. “The couple that deadlifts together, stays together” we used to joke. Until they broke up. They deadlifted every day. And they only deadlifted. In an hour, they would lift 5-12 times total. And they videoed each lift and watched each one over and over. It was a little strange as neither one appeared to be an Olympian or anything. In fact, the female looked quite unhappy most of the time (she got critiqued a lot). And she often commented “I don’t know why I haven’t lost any weight or gotten stronger with all this lifting we are doing.”

One day, they broke up. It was sad to see him deadlift alone but it also made me happy to think that maybe she was doing other things – growing a stronger healthier body with a diversified exercise program. Hopefully the next time she deadlifts, without the harsh words and the videos and the 5-10 minute rest in between, she will see progress.

I am not part of a deadlift couple. But I do work out in a community that watches my form and pushes me to get stronger and cheers me on whether I fail or succeed.

Today, I succeeded. Maybe it’s because I’m stronger than when I last tested my one rep max before the half Ironman and the recent marathon and half marathon. Maybe it’s because two coaches were standing there watching my form and my fellow classmate was cheering me on. Or maybe it’s just because over time, if you train correctly, and if you train in something you love, you will see improvements. And you don’t need videos of yourself to get there.

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I PRed at 195 lbs. Excited to hit 200 next! And then I was kept humble when our workout was 8-6-4-2 deadlifts at 80%, 2-4-6-8 push-ups, and 10-10-10-10 lemon squeezers and my coach lifted double the weight and finished in 2/3rds of my time. Nothing like celebrating a PR with a visual reminder that there’s no need to rest here – always more to accomplish.

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6 Responses to “The Couple that Deadlifts Together”

  1. nicolemkurz October 16, 2013 at 10:52 am #

    Congrats on the PR!

    • ezelie October 16, 2013 at 10:57 am #

      Thanks! Next I need to figure out what number I should be working towards! Hard to know when you’re a petite female and more of my crossfit friends are men lifting 400-500 lbs.

      • nicolemkurz October 16, 2013 at 11:06 am #

        Maybe check out what Camille can pull? Although she’s superhuman and probably DLs 400 lbs too. πŸ™‚

      • ezelie October 16, 2013 at 11:17 am #

        300 lbs! She IS super human, though! I need to find an “average person who runs a lot” comparison. πŸ™‚

  2. rengelman October 18, 2013 at 2:02 pm #

    Congrats on the PR.
    We are getting set to post new maxes next week and the nerves have already started. I’ve totally been there when my body could have done it but my mind got in the way. I can’t watch them load the bar either. Just turn around and lift it.
    As for a comparison, I don’t run nearly as much as you, but my current deadlift PR is 185.

    • ezelie October 18, 2013 at 2:07 pm #

      You don’t have to load your own bar???? I need to get in on this! πŸ™‚

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