birthday challenge
November 13, 2013 posted by

How To Lift 530,000 Pounds Safely

How To Lift 530,000 Pounds Safely

Last Saturday I lifted 551,200 pounds in the gym. The goal was 530,000 and I went over because I was doing everything in circuits, quickly, so I’d only tally the numbers when I took breaks. I was surprised when I was finished. Since there’s really not a lot to discuss about this endeavor. You basically just keep lifting weights until you’re done, I thought I’d turn this into an educational piece on how to do something similar and not get hurt.

First, let’s look at the challenge. I had some rules to follow as to keep this thing real. Some body parts, specifically legs and core, can take a huge percentage of the weight. So I had a rule that each body part had to account for at least 53,000 pounds. Here are the totals.

Back 129,200

Core (abs, trunk, hips) 110,900

Legs 125,500

Shoulders 59,800

Arms 68,100

Chest 59,700


It took 5 hours and 40 minutes, with a one-hour break after a few hours. Shots are of my worksheet just after starting, during my lunch break, and at the end (top).


This might look like a lot of weight. Maybe even impossible. But it’s not, clearly. So here’s how you can do this, too, safely.

1. Practice. I’ve been lifting weight for many years. I’ve been doing endurance challenges (and power challenges, sports, etc) for many years, too. Therefore I know my limits to some degree and have a baseline of fitness I’m well aware of. If you DON’T have this, you might want to start with a toe in the water strategy for big days. The first time I tried The Workout From Hell, and its 30 reps sets, it destroyed me so badly that I could raise my hands over my head to wash my hair. You need to do some lifting, and then practice some endurance lifting, if you want to complete a big day.

2. Form. Standard for any endeavor in the gym, form is king. You cannot lift weights safely without good form. If you don’t know what good form is, pay a trainer to watch you train and help. Loading up weight on an exercise that you are doing incorrectly will lead to injury more often than not. Try this on a big day and the odds are upped to about 100%.

3. Breathing. I’ve been yappin’ about breathing more than normal during this challenge. ‘Cuz it’s important. Breathing wrong, in general, while weight training hurts your ability to push yourself. It can lead to injury. During a long day it’s the kiss of death. You need to breath like the entire day is one, long set. Steady deep breaths are key.

4. Fuel. Like anything, you need ample fuel and water to make this happen. The food side of things is kind of personal. I had Shakeology for breakfast, a greens juice before starting, and took a 1 hour break and had a veggie burrito about 2/3rds of the way through. I drank water, continuously, throughout. I had circuits that I set up, which passed a water fountain. I didn’t pass it once without taking a drink.

5. Know your weaknesses and strengths. Since I’ve been doing a lot of push-ups, and have a lot to go, I went in knowing I’d limit my chest and shoulder work. I also didn’t want to overdo legs, since I have a lot of running and riding left as well. I knew it was going to be a big back day, and was mentally and physically ready. This is personal, of course, but you should go into big days with a plan.

6. Start S-L-O-W. You do NOT want to start a long day maxing. Start way under where you think you want to eventually be in terms of weight and number of reps in your sets. Analyze my tally sheet and you see some sets that weren’t repeated. These were the wrong weight. Eventually I’d settle on something I felt I could sustain forever. This is important, because you can’t sustain it forever.

7. Don’t get happy. Never, ever, think you’ve got it in a bag. It’s a recipe for failure. You should be scared to you might fail at any time, because you might. Be on the lookout for the first sign of cramps, the first twinge of muscle pain, etc. You can survive these things–and they will happen–if you catch wind of ’em early. If they sneak up on you, you’ll be in trouble.

8. Never think about the end. Even with a set to go, never let go of the feeling that you need to focus. You can fail anytime. You can get injured anytime. All if take is one lazy movement where you lost focus. The reason I went well over my goal weight is that I tried to think the end is always far away. Each time I take a break I want to be further than I’d hoped. When the opposite happens it will suck your psyche, so I always tick off just a few more sets before taking a break.

9. Find a way to enjoy the moment. Let’s face it, these things are pretty boring. To make them happen you have to get your head into a good space because you will question yourself. You will want to quit, or give up, or start looking for excuses so you can say it’s beyond your control. You need to find a way to endure, and that’s easier if you’re happy. Some people use music. If you’re in a gym there may be sports, or other things on TV, to divert you mind ,while it stays focused. The multi-tasking mind, that can concentrate on the task and had while engaging in other thoughts is paramount. I get a lot of writing done during long days. For me that are a type of meditation, and essential to clear my head and allow it to work freely and creatively. I couldn’t live without them. Or at least that’s what I talk myself into while they’re going on.

Following these guidelines doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to lift 530,000 pounds in a workout. I’ve logged a lot of years building up to this. But it will help you exceed whatever you thought, or think, your personal boundaries are.

Totals, with 10 days to go. 

Steve’ 53rd Birthday Challenge

Join the Challenge and win stuff!

Beachbody Workout of the Day

P90X3 Dynamix – Recovery.

Synopsis – 53 routes and 5 fritters done. Plus some other stuff. Rad day.

 Reading & questions answered: /2809 (53/day) –   7 & 4 (405 questions and 2,217 pages) Charley Francis Training System.

Servings of Shakeology: /53 – 0(43) – w/ water 
Days of Ultimate Reset: /5.3 0(1.3)
Days taking supplements: /53 – 1(43)
Days of no alcohol: /53 – 0(39)****
Days of no meat: /53 – 1(43)
Coffee Cycles (more on this later): /5.3 – begin final round
King Pin fritters: /5 5(5)

Beachbody workouts: /53 –1(42)
Push-ups: /5300 – 100(4,220)
Jumping jacks: /5300 – 00(3,800)
Leg lifts: /5300 – 50(3,670)
Crunches: /5300 – 80(3,670)
Ab Ripper X Moves: /5300 – 0(3600) [110,900]
Beast back day: /53,000 lbs. 0(54,000) [129,200]
Beast chest day: /53,000 lbs. 0(53,000) [59,700]
Beast shoulder day: /53,000 lbs. 0(53,000) [59,800]
Beast leg day: /53,000 lbs.   [125,500]
Beast arm day: /53,000 lbs. 0(53,000) [68,100] 
P90X2 functional warm-up: /53 –1(44)
Running drills: /53 – 1(43)

Neuro-integrating stretching: /53 – 1(43)
Iron Mind gripper and extensor band reps: /10600 530(8630)
Breath hold sessions: /53 – 2(44)
Stabilizer sessions: /53 – 1(45) 
Internal Organ Training: /53 –  1(43)

5.11 Climbs: /5 2(6) [5] climbs under 5.11 [53]
5.12 Climbs: /3 1(2) [1]
5.11 Boulder transverses: /5 – 0(5)
5.12 Boulder transverses: /3 – 0(2)
Campus board movements: /530 – 00(471)
Climb-specific pull-ups: /530 – 0(280)
Cycling on road bike: /53 miles 0(30) [74]
Cycling on mountain bike: /53 miles 10(48) [205]
Cycling on cyclocross bike: /53 miles 0(46)
Cycling on time trial bike: /53 miles 0(20)
Cycling on fixed gear bike: /53 miles 0(0)
Cycling on single speed bike: /53 miles 0 (51) [30]
Cycling on tandem bike: /53 miles 0(0)
Hiking: /53 miles –1(56) [10]
Running: /53 miles 1(45)
30 minutes of rowing: /5 times 0(5)
30 minutes of elliptical: /5 times 0(5)
30 minutes of swimming: /5 times 0(0)
Hours of travel 0(47)

Tasks for his wife: /53 – 1(46)
Chores around the house: /53 – 1(45)
Tasks for his dogs: /53 – dogs are basically sidekicks so this one’s a freebie

Blog posts: /53 – 1 (44)
Team Beachbody Instructional Videos: /5 7(7)
Team Beachbody Video Chat /5 1(6)
Days keeping these stats: /53 – 1(43)

A Few Challenges of Yore

2000 – 40 Days of Hell
2003 – Get Back To Reality
2006 – This is Gonna Hurt
2007 – My Blood Must Be Fully Replaced Each Year
2010 – Birthday Tribute from 67 friends
2012 – Making Lemonade


  • What do these #’s mean

    Cycling on mountain bike: /53 miles 10(48) [205] <–

    How does this read, please explain

    • Explained this earlier. Should probably have left it up. What I did yesterday (total of challenge numbers, minus weekend challenges) [total during weekend challenges]

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