Adrian Bozman Shares 1RM Deadlift Tips for Masters Athletes

May 9, 2022 by
Photo Credit: Varied Not Random podcast
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On the latest episode of Behind the Whiteboard’s podcast Varied Not Random, hosts Adrian Bozman and Pat Sherwood responded to a viewer’s question regarding 1-rep-max deadlifts at an older age. A physician advised the commenter, a healthy 45-year-old man, to avoid a 1-rep-max deadlift because of health and safety risks. So, should Masters athletes leave out max lifts from their training regime?

Boz’s Bottom Line? “I think there’s room for people of all ages to approach their max.”

However, the CrossFit Games Programming director quickly followed that line with a caveat: obviously, there is a more complex answer than that. Bozman and Sherwood considered different aspects of the question, and the dynamics lying behind the issue of a 1-rep-max. 

There are two kinds of 1-rep-maxes:

Option A: A 1-rep-max that you’ve “trained your butt off” for, this is a lifetime PR attempt. These are rare moments that only happen a few times in an athlete’s life, and they should be treated as such, with special attention and care. 

Option B: An everyday CrossFit athlete maxing out during a class. This is completely different from Option A, and there’s more emphasis on pushing the boundaries of what you’re capable of today. Bozman and Sherwood agreed that these are more conducive lifts to a healthy lifestyle, and athletes should go for an attempt when it comes up in their local affiliate’s programming. 

In fact, Sherwood had a personal anecdote to go with it, regarding choosing a smart stopping point during a max lift day. 

“Over the course of 16 years, I’ve had some days I’d be proud to share with everyone because they make me look intelligent, and some days that I’m going to bury in the closet and hope they never see the light of day. I’ve done 1-rep-maxes that took me darn near 10-seconds to finish. And where I am in my fitness journey, that’s not what my 1-rep-max looks like, with eyeballs bulging out my head.”

Different days, different circumstances, different lifts:

Bozman pointed out that for most CrossFit hobbyists, who have a job outside of the gym, and whose lives don’t revolve around getting the maximum performance out of each touch of the barbell, it’s okay to have fluctuating heavy lifts. Your 1-rep-max deadlift from last month might not be attainable today, and that’s okay. There are different factors affecting performance every day, and an objective number on the page isn’t always an exact test of fitness. 

The “danger” of a 1-rep-max is relative:

While the original commenter and his friend suggested a 1-rep-max might be the most dangerous thing, Bozman argues otherwise. There are plenty of other things, like a 10-rep-max or going to failure, that may compromise your body more than a single heavy rep. Why? When you perform a single heavy rep, the focus is on form, bracing, and safety, while a higher rep load can lead to fatigue and resulting deterioration of technique. 

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