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Deadlifts/Squats Causing Extreme Light-Headedness

Deadlift: 495x3
Squat: 405x5 (haven’t tested 1RM)
I’m not a powerlifter, just interested in looking good nekked and lifting heavy shit
For years, I centered each training session around 1 primary lift - the intent was to achieve CNS response and work hypertrophy in the same session (I believe @Christian_Thibaudeau wrote an article about this method years ago, but I can’t find the link).
I’m now 27 and nearly passing out at the thought of doing more than 5 reps in any heavy set for squats or deadlifts. I can hit 365x5 for 3-4 sets during squats, or 405(ish)x5 for 2-3 sets during deadlifts - but i’m getting so light-headed after the sets that I’m struggling to continue with the rest of the training session. I’ve been using the Valsava technique to minimalize these issues, but it hasn’t helped enough to keep these staple exercises in my training regimen.

Admittedly, my cardio is complete shit and i’m working on it now. With that being said, am I the only one that gets this light-headed, or am i just being a bitch? Obviously, with higher weight, the rapid increase/decrease in BP combined with heart rate is going to cause these symptoms, but I can’t shake the feeling i’m missing something or doing something wrong.

I’d hate to be stuck at 4 and 5 plates forever… Thoughts?

I’d get blood pressure checked by a professional and work on making cardio not be complete sh*t. Losing weight and improving general health will go far as well.

I will get light headed after some sets of deads. Pressing has caused me to blackout when I’ve been not diligent with my hydration and electrolyte balance.


My BP is typically 120/70 (it hasn’t changed in years) but I can’t say i’ve had my BP checked mid-set so maybe lol.

Does it have such a profound impact that it is hard to recover and resume the rest of your training session? Will work on hydration and I’m in-progress on cutting @ ~750cal deficit daily.

I noticed you picked to work on this and not on cardio :slight_smile:

You don’t need block pressure checked midset. Mine was typically good and hadnt changed in years too. When I blacked out pressing, I found out it had changed. Very much possible during periods of fat loss in particular, as we’re eating less food which means less avenues for salt intake.

I’ve actually already added 10-15 mins moderate HR cardio, occasionally sprints to my daily training regimen so i’ve got that one covered, kind of :sweat_smile:

I have little experience with cutting phases and I’m just starting my 2nd week of one… This being said, I think getting my BP checked again now might be a good idea. I’m usually above FDA recommended sodium intake (who isn’t?) but i’ll keep a better eye on this as well. I appreciate the recommendations man

For heavy deadlifts, after a hard set or single, I’ll set the bar down and not stand up right away. Just kinda rest there with my hands on the bar for 10 seconds. It seems like most of the videos I have seen of people passing out deadlifting involve them standing up right away, and within 10 seconds passing out. I figure my method eliminates that risk. I do get occasional people asking me if I am okay though.

OHP I kinda do the same thing if it is really heavy. Rack the bar and rest on it for 10 seconds after the set.

A question you have to ask yourself with really heavy work, is “am I getting as good of results, or the results I want with this?”. What I mean by that is that if I push really hard especially on squats and deadlifts, the rest of my training takes a hit. If I am peaking for strength on those movements, it’s worth it. If not, it probably isn’t.

It is exactly for this reason I have started phasing squats and deadlifts out of my training. I don’t want to leave them behind because I focused my training around them for so long, but I’m at a loss for how to keep them in my training without disrupting the rest of my sessions. I could drop weight significantly for both, perhaps trying something like 275x8 for either/both - but i’ll admit im questioning the benefit of performing the movement with such a significant drop in resistance.

I’ve been doing this as well, but frankly the 10s isnt long enough for me to recover past extreme light-headedness. Takes the better part of 30 seconds for my vision field to return, but i can usually gauge whether im going to pass out within the first 10 seconds.

Make sure you are breathing

Don’t hold your breath on either exercise

I’m focusing heavily on breathing properly via Valsava technique. I do not believe this to be an issue

Let’s say on squat that 365 for 3x5 gives you the effect that you are going to pass out, and drains your energy for the rest of your workout. Would 365 for 5x3 give you that effect? Maybe it does, would 7x2? You could up your sets and lower your reps until you don’t get totally drained by the sets. Volume on both of these is very close to the 3x5.

I wouldn’t phase out squat and deadlifts. They are good lifts.

Alternatively, you could do variations of the squat and deadlift that are harder to do. By doing this, you can’t use as much weight, and the lift is generally a bit less taxing on the body. Tempo, pause, tempo with pause are all good options for the squat. Pause deadlifts, slow eccentric deadlifts, deficit deadlifts are good options as alternatives. You will have to use less weight, but will still get a good training effect.

This advice makes both the deadlift and squat less safe to do. Properly bracing is important.

You may want to check with your doctor then…maybe see a cardiologist to rule out any underlying issues

Are you saying that breathing during the exercise is less safe…or am I reading that wrong?

I haven’t tried reducing reps further for fear of immediately morphing into a skittle-guzzling powerlifter but I will mess with the setsxreps if it means i can keep on lifting heavy shit. I’ll try squats this Weds and deads on Thurs - appreciate the advice.

Valsava :+1:

he means that you should breath effectively when performing these lifts. deep inhale, brace, perform rep, deep exhale, repeat.

Just dont actively breath during the rep

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On a squat or deadlift, you should be holding your breath while the bar is moving. You should be filling your abdomen up with as much air as possible before moving the bar. It stabilizes your spine, and allows for more efficient transfer of power.


Now I understand, thanks

What I meant was holding your breath for longer than a few seconds will dramatically increase your blood pressure and and can cause blackouts

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May get flamed for this one, but I have hung around powerlifters, strongman, and BBers. At the top of the sport, the BBers look the best due to genetics for the sport. However, at lower levels, I’ve seen a higher percentage of powerlifters get jacked and big than BBers. The big thing for powerlifters is that they need to get lean. IDK, it just seems like the powerlifting training on the low levels is better for putting on total mass compared to a lot of BBing training (and it seems a lot of the good BBers would be pretty good powerlifters, it seems many of the good ones kinda use a powerbuilding approach with a tad more BBing stuff). I know I grew a bunch when I switched my training from BBing to more of a powerbuilding style.

No flame here. The worst BBers cant bench 225 but look like arnold, and the worst powerlifters can lift a Honda but need to eat an entire thanksgiving dinner, take a nap, and respond to emails in between sets.

I LOVE powerbuilding, but I started switching methods because of the issues i’ve outlined in this thread. Kinda hoping I can be strong and lean tbh…

I don’t think anyone who has a chest like Arnold (has there ever been anyone with that good of a chest other than him?) can’t bench 225. I’d be surprised if anyone with that good of a chest couldn’t put up 405.


He could use his chest as a small table lol.

BTW, Arnold was a competitive powerlifter before getting into BBing. I believe he had either the Austrian or German Jr. deadlift record (I could be wrong on that though). Franco, and Coleman were powerlifters before BBers as well.

I didnt necessarily mean that arnold himself couldn’t bench worth shit, just overstating BBers criticisms of powerlifters and vice versa. At any rate, I would love to get back into powerbuilding - it was my foundation when I finally got my head out of my ass and started training properly.
I also believe that most every bodybuilder that steps on the olympia stage has the genetics to allow far superior strength AND size, I dont know if anyone can actually get that big without being massively strong to boot