Often when I deadlift, I start feeling quite dizzy after about 5 reps despite feeling that I am nowhere near failure. Usually, this makes me need to have temporary rests between reps and take a few deep breaths but that only makes overloading the muscles more difficult. Naturally, this also makes me want to stay away from heavier weights and prevents me from pushing myself

I thought that perhaps this was caused by incorrect breathing. I always take a deep breath, brace before the movement and release the air when the weight goes back down.

Are there any other breathing techniques that could help alleviate the dizziness or is there some other technique I need to use?

  • 2
    Another user posted the same thing a few days ago. When you take a deep breath, brace and hold your breath while lifting, you're basically performing a Valsalva maneuver which can cause dizziness.
    – JohnP
    Feb 21 '19 at 13:39
  • Have you tried breathing normally instead? How much weight do you have to cut from your exercises before you can go on without this problem showing up? Dizziness after 5 reps is not normal.
    – Mast
    Feb 28 '19 at 4:14
  • @Mast Breathing normally (breath in before lift, exhalation throughout lift) makes the situation a bit better, but I still get lightheaded before the end of the set. Cutting 10kg (from 55kg) makes the problem barely noticeable
    – John K
    Mar 3 '19 at 15:15
  • Sounds to me like you're simply overdoing it. Have you tried practising with the cut weight for a week? What happens when you increase the weight slowly after that? Walk before you run.
    – Mast
    Mar 3 '19 at 16:03
  • @Mast I will give that a try
    – John K
    Mar 3 '19 at 16:18

It is normal to reset for every rep if you are deadlifting for reps below 5. I would not bother myself with overloading muscles with this exercise, because this is not an isolation exercise like a biceps curl, so you don't have to (I actually think you should not) go to failure.

  • Second this. Slow down and take your time.
    – Tehninjo0
    Mar 11 '19 at 0:40

Yes, they are different breathing patterns. However It is hard to say if your problem is related to breathing.

Some introduction in breathing for different activities can be found in this podcast: https://www.strongfirst.com/podcast-episode-21-dr-stu-mcgill/ with famous dr. Stu Mcgill.

Few general deadlift recommendations that could actually help with your problem:

  1. do not do more than 5 reps
  2. do every rep of deadlift with new setup - stand tall and make a few full breaths before you start new rep (instead of set of 5, do five sets of 1 with few seconds pause) - this approach does not seem cool on video, but as far as I have seen, a lot of strong guys do that
  3. use only weights that you can manage with perfect technique

I said general recommendations, because there are more reasons why to apply those rules in deadlift training, but it is not related to your question.

Note: If you are new to deadlifting (less than one year), I would not worry too much. There is a chance that the problem disappears. Just use weight that is comfortable for you and take your time.


I think the weight is too high first of all.

As for breathing i think you should continue to practice proper bracing technique. A quick youtube search of valsalva maneuver or proper bracing technique will help clarify.

Also as a someone who had trouble with headaches while deadlifting i would say make sure you're breathing in through your nose. Also try either 'resetting' after each rep or (what i do) take another breath before i brace, example below.

set up breathe and brace full rep while braced breath normally once or twice get into good position again breathe and brace full rep while braced etc

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