Passing Out During a Lift: Smart Strength With Charles Staley

Strength training veteran Charles Staley is here to answer our readers’ questions about life and lifting.

Note: Charles is here on a weekly basis to help you cut through the B.S. and get to the bottom of the biggest questions in health and training. Post your questions via social media or in the comments section below to participate in next week’s mailbag.

Question #1: Measuring Food

READER: The dreaded food scale. Do I have to weigh and measure? If I do, will I always have to?

CHARLES SAYS: I often tell people who need/want to drop body fat, “If you don’t weight and measure your food intake, you might succeed, but if you do weigh and measure, you will succeed.”

So if “might” is good enough for you (and hey, it might be), then no, you don’t need to rise to that level of self-monitoring. Personally, when I’m at what I consider to be a good bodyweight, I relax on the tracking a bit, but if/when I start gaining unwanted bodyweight, I start tightening up again.

I do know some nutrition coaches who feel that most people simply won’t weigh and measure consistently, and they might be right, but I just don’t know of any viable alternatives.

There are many different ways to stay on top of your body fat level.

Incidentally, weighing and measuring needn’t be difficult for the most part. Initially, I advise my clients to set up four to six stock meals to keep the tracking as easy as possible. Then, once the process starts feeling second nature, you can gradually add new meals. Like most things in life, new habits only seem arduous because you’re not familiar with them. Once you’ve done if for a while though, again, it becomes second nature.

Question #2: Following Through With Goals

READER: I can’t seem to ever accomplish any goal. I get close, then stall out and change the goal. How can I force myself to stay on track?

CHARLES SAYS: I think constant goal switching is a sign you haven’t yet identified a sufficiently meaningful goal. For any given goal, think about how your life might be better once you’ve achieved it. If you draw a blank, pick a different goal, because you won’t have the emotional fuel necessary to do the work it’ll take to accomplish it.

Generally, when you’ve got a goal in mind, it isn’t the goal itself that really matters; it’s what the goal implies. For example, if your goal is to earn $100,000 this year, it’s not the money itself that really means anything – it’s how that money can improve your life.

My friend and colleague Martin Rooney told me once that he often asks high school athletes why they want to get stronger. “So I can be a better athlete,” they usually reply. He next asks, “Why do you want to be a better athlete?” “To earn the respect of my family and friends,” they often reply. Martin next asks, “Why do you want to earn the respect of your family and friends?”

Martin will continue to peel the onion in this way until he reaches the final answer, which is, “Because that’ll make me happy.”

So what’ll make you happy? Once you can answer that, identify goals that will lead you down that path. Once people find a strong enough reason, they’ll generally stop at nothing to achieve their goals.

Question #3: Passing Out During Lifts

READER: I’ve seen people pass out after deadlifting or squatting, but not during other exercises. I almost passed out doing squats the other night. Why does this happen? Can it be avoided?

CHARLES SAYS: Here’s me passing out with a 390 squat two years ago:

I’ve since learned how to avoid this. Passing out is caused by generating too much intra-abdominal pressure (IAP) through breath holding and bracing your abs against a belt. You certainly want this IAP to protect your spine during heavy lifts, but you can still do this safely by exhaling against pressure through the sticking point rather than completely holding your breath.

By gradually exhaling against a closed glottis, you can maintain enough pressure to protect your spine, but keep it low enough so you don’t risk passing out. So bottom line: don’t completely hold your breath through the sticking point – allow that air to escape under pressure.

This Week’s Training

This was a very low volume, low frequency deltoid week, so honestly, not much to report. Starting next week, I’ll be shifting to sets of 3-5.

Apologies for the brief report this week, but hope you’ve enjoying the Q&A, and I’m always looking for new questions, so please keep them coming!

Weekly Volume: 14,793 Pounds (Last Week’s Volume: 83,222 Pounds)

Monday, March 23, 2015

Bodyweight: 202.4 Pounds

Volume: 8244 Pounds

Average Weight Per Rep: 128.81 Pounds

Power Snatch

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 45 lbs × 2
  • Set 3: 66 lbs × 3
  • Set 4: 66 lbs × 2
  • Set 5: 88 lbs × 2
  • Set 6: 88 lbs × 2
  • Set 7: 110 lbs × 2
  • Set 8: 132 lbs × 1
  • Set 9: 132 lbs × 1
  • Set 10: 132 lbs × 1
  • Set 11: 143 lbs × 1

Notes: IQ: 79.81

Snatch Pull

  • Set 1: 154 lbs × 3
  • Set 2: 154 lbs × 3
  • Set 3: 154 lbs × 3

Notes: IQ: 154

Snatch Deadlift

  • Set 1: 176 lbs × 3
  • Set 2: 198 lbs × 3
  • Set 3: 220 lbs × 3

Notes: IQ: 198

High Bar Squat

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 95 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 4: 185 lbs × 1
  • Set 5: 220 lbs × 8

Notes: IQ: 138.33

Workout Notes

IQ: 128.81

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Bodyweight: 200.6 Pounds

Volume: 6549 Pounds

Average Weight Per Rep: 114.989 Pounds

Bench Press

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 95 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 4: 185 lbs × 2
  • Set 5: 205 lbs × 8

Notes: IQ: 135.4

Chin Up

  • Set 1: 8 reps

Leave a Comment

Do Not Sell My Personal Information