Find out how Clay Cooper deadlifts in some of the most beautiful and extreme locations on earth.
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As discussed in Part 1 of this three-part series, Clay Cooper used the forced lockdowns of 2020 to take an unusual approach to coping with his anxiety: hiking his weights into the remote wilderness. (
While he initially filmed his outdoor deadlifts just to review his technique, the difficult process of getting there and the majesty of the scenery around him was too incredible not to share. What started as a solo hobby quickly grew into an adventure for the whole family.
Lifting in remote locations helped expand Cooper’s appreciation of this king of lifts, which is why he continues to navigate the heavy ruck and rough terrain. Here, he explains how the raw combination of nature and deadlift allows him to shrug off his worries and just—lift.
There are few feelings as good as hitting a big deadlift.
I started lifting in high school, but it wasn’t until after my son was born that I started going to the gym more consistently. I was just doing a basic bodybuilding split—back and bis one day, chest and tris the next.
The gym I went to had this deadlift platform. I’d seen people deadlift before and it always kind of intimidated me, but I was in there by myself, and I had the equipment, so I watched a video to make sure I didn’t kill myself or break my back, and yeah, just started deadlifting.
I don’t think I’d ever had a movement that felt as satisfying as the deadlift in and of itself. It’s just a metric of overall strength. Just the personal challenge of, “Here’s this dead weight, stand up with it.” I just started to focus a little bit more on powerlifting in particular, so squatting, bench, and then deadlifting.
Overcoming The Weight
In my efforts to combat my anxiety, the deadlift kind of became this on-the-nose analogy for it. There’s this weight, and you have the opportunity to challenge that weight, to own that weight, and to conquer it.
I’ve hit big deadlifts in the gym, and they’ve felt great. But now, I’ve hit big deadlifts in the middle of nowhere, and they’ve felt even better.
What I love so much about what I do now is it’s open, nothing’s enclosed. I feel like I can breathe. I think also it’s just the scope of work to get it there, to do something in a spot where, I’m fairly confident, no one has deadlifted before.
Throughout the month of October, we’ll be telling the stories of individuals who are fighting to destigmatize a very present and growing issue within our community, anxiety and depression. We’ll be working with the ADAA @triumphoveranxiety to provide the help everyone deserves. We have also been working with experts, sports psychologists, clinicians and other professionals on how to help manage anxiety and depression through exercise.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with anxiety or depression and needs helps, please contact the ADAA @triumphoveranxiety
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