View Full Version : Passing out!!! Help!!!

Keith Wittenstein
06-26-2005, 06:33 PM
Apparently my 1RM deadlift is about 225# (pretty weak, I know). Unfortunately, after I do singles with 225, I get really lightheaded. I feel like I might pass out and have to lean against something or sit down. So today after my last single I racked the weight and then passed out. I woke up on the gym floor a little disoriented staring up at their tvs.

I'm wondering what you think the cause of this might be. Is it a blood pressure thing? Or some breathing technique thing? Any tips? Any help? Should I avoid max DLs?

Jason Berger
06-26-2005, 07:33 PM
That sounds dangerous. See your doctor. (I had something similar happen when I did 20 rep squats, but I never actually passed out. No idea what it was.)

Veronica Carpenter
06-26-2005, 08:53 PM
Are you holding your breath? - don't. practice a partial valsalva by letting out a little air during the work phase. Are hyperventilating before your attempt? - don't pant like a dog before you attempt the lift. Are you hypoglycemic? - get a check up.

Mike Minium
06-26-2005, 09:25 PM

Make sure you're getting enough sodium in your diet. The only time I've ever experienced light-headedness (often to the point where I thought I was going to pass out, but never actually passing out) doing CrossFit was cured by adding more sodium to my diet, primarily in the form of celery but also--gasp!--good ol' fashioned salt (a little goes a long way).

Don't forget about potassium, either.


Dan Silver
06-27-2005, 03:47 AM
Don't get too worried, bro. The most likely culprit is a vaso-vagal response. The deadlift is the ideal lift for triggering that reaction. You are stimulating the nerve responsible for the exact opposite of the 'fight or flight'/adrenal response. Exhale on the up-lift and that should help quite a bit. As to how much, experiment. I'll caution you that blowing against resistance, the partial-valsalva that Veronica speaks of, is just a reduced vaso-vagal trigger. I'm thinking the more freely you let the air move the better.


Keith Wittenstein
06-27-2005, 07:38 AM
I get set, take a big breath and hold it as I pull. Once the bar gets past my knees I exhale as I stand up. Should I be exhaling the whole time?

I don't hyperventilate.

I think I eat enough or even too much sodium...potassium too. I'm pretty sure that ain't it.

I'm pretty sure I'm not hypoglycemic either.

Vaso Vagal? Are you calling me a pu$$y, Dan? (225# DL...I can't argue with you if you are!) I'll google that and see if we need to have more words. :-)

John Walsh
06-27-2005, 07:42 AM

It's a "go see your doctor" thing. Play it smart and safe. Passing out is never something to be taken lightly.

I had a situation simliar to Mike and salt did the trick. I got checked out just the same to rule out something more serious.

Keith Wittenstein
06-27-2005, 08:01 AM
I just googled Vaso Vagal. That sounds exactly like my problem Vaso Vagal Syncope.

"Vaso-vagal syncope is the medical term for a common cause of fainting. In this disorder, the nervous reflexes which control heart rate and blood pressure behave abnormally causing a drop in blood pressure and a fainting spell.

The nerves which control the heart rate and blood pressure are regulated through pressure sensors in the arteries and veins called the baroreceptors. The baroreceptors detect changes in blood pressure. These baroreceptors detect a fall in blood pressure and send signals via the nerves to increase the heart rate and constrict blood vessels bringing the blood pressure back to normal. Conversely, baroreceptors detect abnormally elevated blood pressure and send signals to slow heart rate and relax blood vessels to lower blood pressure back to normal. These reflexes are called the baroreflexes.

Vaso-vagal syncope results from an abnormality in the baroreflexes. When you stand up, the force of gravity causes some of the blood from your heart and your chest cavity to pool in your legs. This produces a slight drop in blood pressure which is detected by the baroreceptors and is adjusted through the baroreflexes. In patients with vaso-vagal syncope, after a period of standing in the upright position, baroreflex adjustments fail and blood pressure and heart rate decrease causing fainting."

I do get lightheaded occassionally when I get up from bed or when I've been upside down for a while and then stand right side up again. So it seems likely that it's vv instead of any of the other things. But please keep the ideas coming.

Thanks, Dan and everybody.

Dan Silver
06-27-2005, 01:24 PM
"I do get lightheaded occassionally when I get up from bed or when I've been upside down for a while and then stand right side up again. So it seems likely that it's vv instead of any of the other things. But please keep the ideas coming. "

That is not a vaso-vagal response. That is just blood following gravity, away from your head. Don't worry about that either.


Brian Mulvaney
06-27-2005, 01:31 PM

About.com has a reasonable write up on syncope:


Keeling over after a deadlift is almost certainly vaso-vagal syncope. The vagal nervous response is super powerful--it can shut the heart down cold even when the system is flooded with adrenaline. It's also sensitive. Stimulating the vagal nervous system is how a fighter chokes out his opponent.

Now that it has happened, go see your doctor just to make sure you don't have any structural problems that lead to fainting. (That would be exceptionally rare--but also potentially fatal.) If you ever keel over and have a few spasms, don't let anyone tell you it is an epileptic seizure. That's a common misdiagnosis for a fainting spell.

Experience based recommendation from left field: supplement with omega 3 fatty acids (fish oil) and maintain a zone ok diet.


Dan Silver
06-28-2005, 05:52 PM
Oops. Looked on the internet and turns out I was wrong. I'm afraid you're going to die.

Them's the breaks.


Keith Wittenstein
06-29-2005, 01:07 PM
Damn internet!

Mike Yukish
06-29-2005, 03:13 PM
Since everyone else has offered good advice, I'll offer mine.

As you get lightheaded you might try the L-1 "Hook" maneuver, used to pilots to withstand G forces. Basically stop your throat and bear down, tensing your abdomen and legs like you are going to do a BM (but don't). Drives blood pressure up in the noggin.

I used to sit in the backseat of the plane and surf the tunnel vision while the student was practicing high G turns, going into and out of lightheadedness. The things you do when bored.

Hope you're OK...

Keith Wittenstein
06-29-2005, 07:18 PM
Seriously, thanks for the advice guys. I'll get checked out, but I'm pretty sure I'll be fine as long as I keep doing handstand pushups and avoid deadlifts. :-)

Jeremy Jones
06-30-2005, 04:56 PM
Maybe you are going to attain true conscienceness without the need of the red pill.

Good luck Neo.

Dan Silver
06-30-2005, 05:01 PM
Happened in The Animatrix. Wish it didn't cuz that kid was annoying.


Scott Kustes
06-30-2005, 05:44 PM
Just don't pass out and bust your head on the preacher curl. That would be embarassing. Even worse would be having a bodybuilder in a weight belt and gloves tending to you.