You don’t know what it’s like to wear a mask while working out until you do a 5 x 5 RM deadlift. It’s not pretty.
I had to try three different kinds of masks before I found one that fit halfway decently and didn’t irritate the area under my eye.
So when it comes to deadlifting with a mask on, I can only speak for the “copper wear” mask.
After about three and a half months of lifting weights at home, I finally got back into the gym.
There were plenty of people in the free weight and Hammerstrength area (by reservation only with a 90 minute limit on workout time so that staff could disinfect equipment for the next reservation slot).
However, few had on a mask. I was one of those few. It was a no-brainer; wear the mask for the entire workout, including 5 x 5 RM deadlifts – which was my first routine.
What Heavy Deadlifting Feels Like with a Mask
It made me think of what people with COPD probably feel like when lightly strength training or, in more severe cases, when walking across a room.
COPD stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
I also wondered if the feeling was similar to what someone with chronic heart failure feels like.
People with COPD and heart failure aren’t the people you’ll find doing deadlifts.
But it’s food for thought: Wearing a mask while lifting heavy shorts you on oxygen. You’ll be breathing noticeably harder.
The copper wear mask got sucked into my face with each deep inhalation. It’s not as firm as it appears in the TV commercials.
After completing each max set I had to steal away to a corner, pull the mask down and gulp air for 30 to 45 seconds.
The copper wear mask is relatively thick, so again, I can only speak for this design, rather than for those more popular, disposable light blue masks we see everywhere.
It was only after deadlifting 5 RM that I had to pull down the mask. I had no problem keeping it on while recovering from other movements such as the incline barbell press and the Smith machine standing shoulder press.
This isn’t surprising, though, being that the deadlift is a whole-body exercise.
The mask did NOT reduce my lifting capacity for any strength training including the 5 x 5 RM deadlft. I killed it my first day back at the gym! You can too with a mask!
Another way to describe deadlifting heavy while wearing a mask is that the feeling is perhaps pretty close to what it’d be if working out at an altitude 2,000 feet higher than what you’re used to.
Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.