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How To Lift A Million Pounds

Hear ye, Hear ye! I’m going to lift one million pounds in November. At least, that’s the goal. For anyone who has followed my weight training or my experience with Gym Movement, you know that I’m as interested in pursuing total volume during a workout as I am in putting more weight on the bar.

For instance, if you put 100 pounds on the bench press and lifted it 10 times in five minutes, then that is 10 reps x 100lbs for 1000 lbs of volume, or work done.

So this month I am going to shoot for one million total pounds lifted. If that sounds like a lot, it is and it isn’t. My typical workouts usually last between 20 and 60 minutes, and I will move anywhere from 15,000 to 65,000 pounds. The difference between business as usual and the million pound challenge is that I’ve only been lifting two or three times each week. That’s not going to cut it if I’m going to hit this goal.

But this will not be about setting a target each day and hitting it. I will still be guided by biofeedback testing. I will still avoid effort in the gym, never straining and never out of breath. And my goal is still to get stronger, not just to lift lots of weight. If I’m not getting stronger/better, the volume goal is useless to me.

Adam Glass is shooting for the same goal in the following couple of months.  He  made incredible progress in October and also lifted 23 days out of the month, setting PRs in every single session. Just to put it in perspective, at the gym where I train, I would guess that maybe 50,000 pounds get moved in a week, by all the members combined. Adam’s progress is what got me interested. As I’ve added up my own numbers from the past two months, my own monthly volume is not that shabby–I’m averaging 500,000-550,000 each month.

But this will be double. I’ll use whatever tools test the best. Kettlebells, dumbbells, barbells, sandbags, and whatever else tests well.

Things that might cause trouble

I nearly always gets colds in the winter. That will really screw me up if it happens this month. I’ll be using my disgusting Neti Pot every day, taking my vitamins, and getting a lot of fish oil and water.

Also, I’m going to be eating as much as I want, but I’ll do my best to eat more good food than bad. Meaning, clean food, not junk.

I’m also going to be putting a premium on sleeping. Insomnia be damned, I am going to turn out the lights each night no later than ten o’clock, whether I sleep or not.

Time constraints. I never plan on working out for more than 60 minutes at a time. This will probably mean sneaking in really brief sessions throughout the day on breaks and at lunch. Very easy, quick workouts, just to knock a couple of thousand pounds off for the day. Then, each evening I will be doing my actual workout in which I’ll try to get the majority of the lifting done.

But my goal is no more than 60 minutes/day spent lifting. And I may very well have to take a couple of days off. If looking at a weight makes me sick to my stomach a week from now, I’m not going to push it. But this is where the beauty of avoiding effort comes in: those days are few and far between.

One million pounds averages out to about 32,000 each day. That is completely doable, but because I will only be performing exercises that test well, there are going to be days where I’m not lifting very heavy. That means a lot more reps.

When I’ve talked about volume in the past, I’ve gotten some rolled eyes and people saying, “Well, that’s easy. Just lift a light weight a zillion times.” To those people I say–try it out. So far the most I have moved in a session is 150,000 pounds over the course of about 110 minutes. Even with light weight, that is a frantic pace. Try it and see how easy it is.

I will be keeping a training log here so everyone who is interested can see the patterns and poundages of each workout.

Body measurements

I’m very curious to see what body composition changes this might have, whether they turn out to be positive or negative. So here are the current stats:

Bodyweight = 244

Bodyfat = 12 %

Waist = 39″

Biceps = 15.5″

Thighs = 24.5″

Calves = 14.25 (wimpy wimpy!)

Neck = 16.5″

How I will measure reps and poundages

For most lifts it will be very simple. Move 100 pounds from point A to point B and that equals 100 pounds lifted. There are a couple of movements where it’s not quite as clear, so here are the things I believe are worth mentioning:

  • When I do chinups or pullups with bodyweight, I’m going to count that as 240 pounds (or whatever my bodyweight is). Some people only count the weight they lift in addition to their body’s weight, but I’m not going to hold myself to that
  • One kettlebell swing = the weight of the kettlebell, one time. I’m not going to try and account for forces generated or height of the swings. One swing = one rep with whatever the weight of the bell is
  • Farmer’s walks. I do a lot of these. It’s simply picking up a weight and walking with it. I’m going to take big steps, and count each step under load as a rep. If anyone has any better ideas for this I’m all ears.

That’s it for now. I’ll have the first day’s progress logged this evening. Anyone care to join in this foolishness? Even if you’re not going for a million, I would love to see you challenge yourself in November, and not just with how much turkey you can eat.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Ben Owens November 1, 2010, 9:57 am

    I’ll join you in this foolishness. I don’t know about the million, but I’ll give it my best shot.

  • Kevin Greto November 1, 2010, 10:30 am

    Sounds like fun, I’ll total my volume from October and try and do x1.5 of that. I’m thinking pictures, BW, and BF% will be what I take today before my workout, then I’ll check them all again close to the first of December. I’ll have mine viewable in a facebook note.

  • Demond Thompson November 1, 2010, 6:34 pm

    Sounds like fun! I’m game to go for 1.5x what I did last month. I don’t think I come close to a the volume you do, so that goal will work. See you in Dec after you’ve accomplished your goal!!

    Go forth and kick butt, Josh!

  • Todd November 2, 2010, 6:28 am

    Josh, that’s a lofty goal, but the way that you’ve laid it out, I believe that you can do it. Best wishes. I can’t wait to follow your progress. If I wasn’t in the middle of doing this P90X review, I’d be so on this.

  • Ayelet November 2, 2010, 7:14 am

    Hey Josh,
    Here’s what a ditz I am – I totally thought you were going to try to lift one million pounds AT ONCE! Next to that thought, lifting it over a month should be a piece of cake. 😉

  • Mike T Nelson November 3, 2010, 10:45 am

    Good luck Josh! I know you will make it.

    I have request for everyone that is doing this challenge.

    I have some theories about tissue turnover and lifting volume (that is high QUALITY) should increase it; thus more muscle, strength and less fat.

    We should see some amazing change in only 4-8 weeks, based on what I have seen so far.

    So please record as much data–measurements, pics, etc as possible.

    I would also suggest you bump your protein intake up to about 1 gm/ pound of body weight. So if you are Josh and weigh 244, that equals 244 grams of protein per day at a minimum. This will help accelerate your gains nicely.

    If you are not sure how to test your exercises, you can find out how here for free.

    Rock on
    Mike T Nelson PhD(c)

  • Ronald lee October 25, 2011, 9:54 pm

    I just found your million goal as I, just recently, planned for my weight loss lifting routines for one month. Isn’t it awesome?! I am circuit train ten exercises times ten reps times various amounts of routines – depending on my foci. At first, I counted it out to be 775,000 pounds and a little angel came to me and told me to go the distance to one million for the month. So, I added in more squats and curls and Bam! One million…