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Air/Heart Rate Are Limiting Factors for Squat and DL

I do fine on most everything else but on squat and deadlift my air or heart rate seems to be stopping me before I hit muscle failure unless I go really heavy like 1-2 reps. Just going light like 250 for 5 or 6 will set my heart to hammering like 150 bpm or so from rest.

I say hammering because I run and do cardio and I can comfortably maintain 155 for 10 minutes or longer and 145 for half an hour but something about the way it hits all of a sudden after squats or deadlifts feels different.

I am 38 about 235 right now and I have 20lbs of fat to lose. My max is probably 380 squat and 420 DL so I am not moving any serious weight. I don’t know what is going on it formatted this as one single line of text?

What do you do for conditioning?

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I think that may be the answer. I was starting to think I needed to train my cardio specifically for explosive exercises. I do great on endurance and I feel my capacity is good but the transition from rest to all out exertion my body doesnt like. Is this something I can condition myself to? Last time I ran I tried all-out sprints …everything I had for say 50 yards… and then walk and repeat. So rest to maximal exertion. Same issue 150-160 heart rate extremely uncomfortable whereas 150-160 is comfortable for about a mile on a run. This made me think it was something that may be trainable? I was trying to find another explosive exercise I can do because I get shin splints really bad and the sprints hurt the first time. The gym is 45 minutes away and I cannot afford to drive everyday. I do a full body resistance workout about 2-3 hours long 2-3 times a week and fill in a 4 mile run/walk 2-3 times a week. I am ignorant on the subject of conditioning but it sounds exactly like what I had decided I was needing. Right now my routine is just 6-8 hours resistance exercise and 8-12 miles a week of mixed run/walk. Thanks!
Do you see my original post as a weird one-line format? I have tried to fix it … is there a forum admin that can fix it?


How tall are you?

Like Pwn said, conditioning is the first thing that obviously popped to mind. You shouldn’t be anywhere near out of breath like that during, basically, warm-up sets. But is it literally only squats and deads that you have the issue with? Not bench, OHP, rows, or anything else?

That’d indicate something’s happening during those specific movements, either with your breathing, bracing, form, etc., that isn’t happening at other times.

Swings, either plain ol’ high rep or EMOM. If you have the space, I also really like the “Bob Youngs Conditioning Test” - basically throw a medicine ball, walk or jog to it, throw it again, repeat for time, distance, or total throws.

The system does that when text is tabbed over/indented. Removing the spaces before the first word fixes it. No biggie.

Dumb question but are you sure you’re breathing at all during the lift?

I struggled with that racing dirt bikes, I’d forget to breathe lol


Unless you are really tall, you probably need to lose more than you think. I was in the same boat. At 5’10 and 225 lbs, I could SBD 440, 365, and 565. I am now 195ish, and just as strong (stronger on the deadlift) on the squat and deadlift (bench I had a nerve injury, so that is just above 315 ATM, but I hit 385 while losing weight at about 205 lbs body weight). I still need to lose 10 lbs to be really jacked.

My guess is you are just more out of shape than you think. You don’t need to lose all the weight to be in a lot better shape as far as conditioning goes though. I would try to lose some weight, and also add in a conditioning. Doing something like squats or deadlifts for conditioning actually works really well, but it is brutal. Doing like a set of 10, resting 1 minute, for 10 rounds works well.

So just a general comment about what to try for improving this, it might be best to avoid barbell squats when really pushing training your strength-endurance capacity. Reason being that when heart rate and breath go up, you’re probably at a higher probability of significant form breakdown. So maybe consider something like a hack squat, where you still have to incorporate bracing (unlike leg press). Deadlifts might be okay to train harder with a barbell, just because bailing if things start falling apart mid rep is easy.

Have you ever spent much time squatting in the 8-12 rep range, even for very low percentages?

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I am 5’ 10". I can get my heart rate up on other exercises like dips and farmers walks with 75 lbs etc… it just feels different… not sure how to explain it. My heart rate recovers quickly to about 110. Say in 30-45 seconds. The heart beats are not painful just uncomfortable and a little “quivery” or shaky and very forceful like instead of pumping hard (volume) its just thumping hard (kicking) and causes some anxiety. Maybe I am tapping into a little adrenaline… hard to explain. Was wondering if anyone else had similar sensation or situation.

I may try that. I am out of shape. I have done some lifting and endurance cardio off and on for last few years but nothing involving maximal effort. I am 5’10" 235#… if I lose 20ish pounds (fat) it will put me at 15 percent bf (wrong) which would be great for me if I can maintain it. I had my first dexa scan and it put me at 170# lean mass… plus bone mineral content of 10 pounds… so 180 before fat. You are right the math isn’t straight forward… losing 10% BF changes your overall weight so both numbers in your ratios change… I am aiming to add about 10 pounds of muscle back and lose the 20 pounds of fat and see where I end up. I was 229 with a four pack at 19 ( half my life ago) lol… for a short time so it should be doable. I can however do endurance cardio for an hour at 130-140 bpm no problem…

Your stats are very similar to mine (I am also 5’10"). I have about 170 lbs of lean tissue at 195ish I believe. I think I had about that amount of muscle at 225 lbs. TRT with two mild cycles has helped me keep that mass. Doing it naturally, you will lose some muscle mass, and remember water in the muscle will count as lean mass, and you will lose a lot of that when you cut. So you might be 205 at the end of your cut, but in 2 weeks be 210-212.

The big thing I am getting at is most people find out they need to lose more than they thought to be as lean as they want. Being 5’10" 205 with a six pack is very difficult, and even more so naturally. The only people I know who have done so are on the sauce.

At least for me this mind set made either very hard. I need to choose to cut and stick with it. Even if that mean losing some muscle. It comes back faster than building it initially.

If you do conditioning with squats and deadlifts go light. Like 50% or less of your 1RM.

How’s your blood pressure? Any family history of hypertension or heart disease?

Weight loss and regular cardio are two pretty easy ways to bring that down, and a decent cardio/conditioning warm up will initiate vasodialation, which should reduce that pounding.

I have not been doing a cardio warmup… just straight to the weights. I had considered that. Sounds like a good idea. I just recently got put on bp meds… lots of very unusual stress right now. Do not expect to need them im 6 months fingers crossed.

I had a sedentary job and didnt jave time to exercise and I let myself go. I actually… last 3 months… just lost at least 25#… I am hoping the 10# to be the easy get-it -back type muscle between the weight loss and gym closure and hoping 25%-20% bf will be a bit easier… I think under 20% things get a bit tougher. I am on trt so I am hoping it will help the ratios a bit. Can you expound on conditioning. This is a new topic for me. Is there a go-to must-read sticky somehwere?

Yeah. Stress is a killer. No joke.

I take a beta blocker and after my initial heart attack would get drops in blood pressure proportional to the increase.

So it would go way up till I put the bar down then drop super fast (exercise induced hypotension). So be careful and try to have somewhere to land so you don’t hit your head.

The reason I recommended squats and deadlifts as your conditioning with light weight, is that you want more endurance for squatting and deadlifting. It is super specific to what you want endurance in. Fighters for example often realize that jogging didn’t condition them to fight. More sparring is often better as it is specific to what they want to do.

I don’t really do a whole lot of conditioning. I don’t run out of steam in the squat or deadlift though. I do daily walks as a way to burn calories, and it doesn’t seem to impact my recovery much, but unless you lose weight doing the walks, it isn’t going to help much with conditioning during squatting or deadlifting.

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I have been doing a lot of reading today and it appears we use our alactic energy system for powerlifying type activities. It is one of the least trainable energy systems. My problem isnt that I run out of energy to keep going but my spike in HR and breathing prompt me to stop before fatigue. This got me to reading about the different energy pathways to decide what was different since I am fine doing endurance cardio… below lactate threshhold. It the anaerobic pathway that appears to be my problem… I decided it was maybe my reaction the high blood lactate and I was looking for a way to maybe mediate or alleviate this when I found a new study that shows a new neural pathway… lactate causes the release of norepinephrine / noradrenaline. That would explain the sort of fluttery feeling pounding heart and anxiety… the study was from university of bristol in 2014 … if you search for this you should find it… Lactate and brain function: How the body regulates fundamental neuro-hormone. Do you not experience this? Can a tolerance for adrenaline be built? Its fight or flight and when you are already completely winded you can’t really do either.

This one?

Yes sir. That is the one. I could not find anything else on it but I get distracted easy. If it is from 2014 I would imagine in 7 years somebody has taken the research farther.

weightlifting session HR
it says cal but it is actually HR
153 is about 85% HRmax for me at 38 I think

most recent 4 miles on mostly flat road
not a runner but its too expensive to drive to gym daily
I was doing 10 second all-out sprints at first then a couple short runs (read shuffles) but my breathing muscles were fatigued from gasping after the sprints
I can maintain 83-88% HRmax for a decent time more or less comfortably …

I am mighty uncomfortable almost panicked after the sprints but I am fine for the steady state run…