Deadlifting can be and is a very spiritual movement for anyone. Before we can begin to understand the effectiveness of such a foundational movement which activates every muscle in the body, we must first deconstruct our current perceptions on the matter. There is no more primal, pure and simple lift than the deadlift. It encompasses all elements of the body and mind and utilizes all muscles in generating maximum strength for lifting large loads. People tend to forsake the basics steps for achieving results in their lifts.
The foundational barbell movements will be true for decades. What we see now are lifts chasing the latest trends and fads. All the while, the barbell, like basic dharma practice, waits stoically in the corner, strong, simple, and firm. When we look at the old timers, those great lifters and teachers who have stood the test of time, without controversy, without career ending injury, we see time and again that they reaffirm the basics. Like Thich Nhat Hanh, “breathe in, breathe out, there is no need for more.” When it comes to strength, we use a barbell; there is little need for more. Regardless of what we add to the deadlift ceremony, from aides to belts, lift suits, or straps, the deadlift always returns to its simplicity, which is a barbell and weights. The lift is spiritual, because it’s simple and should be respected.
Building on the fundamentals as your foundation is what creates incredible strength and mastery. Bruce Lee said: ‘I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.’ I look at the squat cage as my sanctuary, where I may spend 60 to 90 minutes deadlifting or squatting per session. If you were to just focus on 3 lifts in the gym, then the Deadlift, Squat and Bench Press should be your primary movements. These three movements will simplify your life in many capacities, while strengthening your mental toughness, help generate mindfulness and build concentration. It can be looked upon like a meditation practice in the gym.
RESEARCH AND OBSERVATION
After years of being my own test subject and witnessing practice from others, I’ve come to see many common pitfalls that take place. Such pitfalls include the over indulgence of stimulation, which actually drains our energy faster. This waste of energy can be linked to too much caffeine or stimulants, head banging music or being in the wrong environment at the gym to begin with.
I’ve witnessed the best in the world, such as; Mike O’Hearn, who he focuses, gets dialled right in, with no music, just pure focus, concentration and execution. Even the way he moves his body between sets is very controlled and calm. It is no wonder he has never had a serious injury in 3 ½ decades and still lifts incredible loads at 47 years old with ease. Two other great examples are my good friends Leo King and Neil Tkatchuk who both focus primarily on the basics as their foundation and have incredible strength.
My Pre-Workout Ritual
Here’s how my basic mental preparation works. I begin with meditation first thing in the morning for 12 minutes to allow my mind to get centred. Then I proceed into strategic declarations in programming my subconscious mind in what I want my body to do, come execution time. I then consume my pre-workout combination of Magnum Nutraceuticals: Opus, Limitless, Big C, Volume, Thrust and Tonic and RE7.
On the way to the gym I will either put on light inner music like Enya and then proceed into further declarations or have no music and just perform declarations and controlled breathing to the gym. I have studied martial arts for 10 years and I treat my pre-workout rituals with the same discipline.
Moving into the actual lift itself, each time I step into the gym with the deadlift I act as if I’m in control, this is my day of growth and progression in life, when I lift that bar I’m in a mindful practice, being present throughout the exercise, not thinking of yesterday or tomorrow but that very moment. I typically have no music, if I do, it's music with no words or ear phones in with no music. Here’s what makes it so powerful, when we are in-tune with our inner self throughout the lift, we respond to positive growth, instead of reaction, which promotes concentrated growth and prevents injury and incorrect form.
Injury typically comes from paying no attention to the body, not properly aligning the mind, body and spirit into one so as to be aware of how your body responds with each rep and set. Injury also comes from lack of attention to the small details. If you’re overstimulated with too much of a good thing you’ll typically ignore, push through and cause injury. Think of it like taking too many pain killers, which interfere with the nervous system in your body by blocking responses to the brain with injury. This is another reason I don’t wear a weight belt, by means of not training my body to become dependent on an external stimulus, which turns off important stabilizers in your core that build overall strength and decrease injury.
Recently in my 8 day venture for the David and Goliath Training with Mike O’Hearn and the Titan Crew at Gold’s Gym in Venice California, I had my wife and business colleague in the car with me before heading to the gym at 3:30 am, and I put on Enya for music while driving to the gym. As they were about to fall asleep to the music, I was getting fired up!
Typically we step foot into the gym with pre-workout in our veins, adrenaline at heightened levels and our CNS system ready to fire at all levels. Now I’m no big muscled bodybuilder, in fact at top weight I weigh in at 185 lbs. You may say I’m gifted with genetics to lift such large loads under 190 pounds, but I’m from the farm and have been lifting since I was 12 years old, almost 2 decades. Prime your mind and conserve your energy before and pound your body and lift with intention during.
I’ve had the great honour in being coached by the Titan, Mike O’Hearn and in taking my learning and goals to the next level. Mike taught me that ‘the foundation is everything, it creates that solid base that reflects in all areas of our lives.’ The training environment that I was exposed to over eight days was amazing. A special thanks to my training partners of the Titan crew; the Big Monster Lance Keys, NFL great Heath Evans and Wonder Woman Mona Muresan. In the past six months, with Power Bodybuilding, I have been able to take my strength to new heights and have combined it with the Peak Mindset principles to further build an even stronger base.
Remember that lifting is more than just lifting weights. If you want growth in any other area of your life then return your focus on the foundation. The bench, the squat, and the deadlift. Lifting will always be a journey of personal growth. Remember that it is the progress that keeps you alive, not the destination. If you can practise this, you will have a very rich and rewarding journey ahead for you along with some new personal PRs!