Mastering the deadlifts

ONE OF MY favourite tracks on my workout playlist is a song by Salt n’ Pepa that encourages me to “push it, push it real good.” Poor grammar aside, this song works wonders when I’m ready to give up on a tough workout. Every time I’m halfway up a huge hill or struggling through a set of push-ups, it’s as if the shuffle feature senses this and queues “Push It”.

Thanks to my iPod’s  motivation, I pushed it real good this week—too good in fact—and injured my back. When I was younger, I had two spinal surgeries to correct a tethered spinal cord. I’m problem-free now, but have to be extra careful when it comes to lower back workouts, as the area is extremely sensitive. You would think I’d have kept this in mind while doing an upper-body workout at the gym.

I did not. Instead of sticking to non-weight-bearing lower back workouts, such as back extensions on a balance ball, I loaded up a bar with weight plates and did deadlifts. After three sets of 10 repetitions, I was feeling fantastic and stronger than ever. I left the gym with a smile on my face, giddy I had finally mastered the deadlift.

I soon learned that “deadlift” is an extremely accurate term. I felt dead for the next three days, and it was a long and tedious process to lift my broken body out of bed the next morning. Every single part of my day hurt. Walking up and down stairs? Excruciating. Sitting in a lecture hall? Brutal. Lying down and watching TV? Painful, but only because the batteries in my remote control died.

After a few days of rest, I was able to move without wincing and returned to the gym. This time, I took it much slower. I challenged my mortal enemy, deadlifts, to a rematch, but did so with less weight and an increased emphasis on form.

This approach worked—I was able to get out of bed the next morning without any sophisticated rolling manoeuvres. The moral of this story is twofold: Don’t trust your shuffle feature, and know and respect your limitations.

—Sarah Horlick