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Ryan's "Hope to compete again in 2014" log

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Welcome back to the Iron Game! Was it fun searching for your journal with all these new journals about? I updated mine this morning, went to the gym and then couldn't find it. It was already down at the bottom of the page after a few hours!


Keep after it!


All the BEST in the New Year!

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Glad to be back, Robert! Yeah, only a few days and already my journal was at the bottom of page 2, definitely the most activity I've seen in a long time!


Upper back and shoulder work last night -


Barbell rows in rowing rack setup -

1x5 @ 135 lbs.

1x5 @ 225

3x8 @ 265


Standing strict overhead press w/ 2" diameter axle -

1x10 @ 55 lbs. (empty axle)

1x5 @ 85 lbs.

1x3 @ 145 lbs.

10x3 @ 200 lbs., felt easier than expected, first 5 sets felt like I could have hit 5-6 reps on each. I guess I can always count on my shoulder strength keeping up even if it gets neglected for a month or two!


Hammer Strength Iso-Lateral plate-loaded pulldown machine -

1x10 @ 100 lbs. plus green bands (about 120 lbs. at start, 200 lbs. at finish of each pull)

1x10 @ 150 " " (170/250)

1x10 @ 200 " " (220 / 300)

Testing to see where I need to keep weight set with the bands attached for desired reps. First set, weight flew up like it was nothing, 2nd set just a bit of fight, 3rd set was just right, might have been able to get a few more, but reps were challenging enough!


Standing 1/3 overhead presses in new power rack (about 8" ROM from start of press to lockout) with axle -

1x15 @ 220 lbs.

1x18 " "

1x20 " "

Seemed to get into the groove better with each set, was able to add reps each time.


Seated cable row with V handle -

3x15 @ 220 lbs.


Seated cable pulldown "stretchers" with V-handle, pulling down to sternum -

3x25 @ 120 lbs.


Originally was planning on doing some light deadlifts tonight, but that workout taxed the heck out of me since I'm still getting used to training again, so one day off today and should be hitting it tomorrow or Friday!

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It is good to see you up here Ryan, I have been interested in seeing your training journal for a while, I have a powerlifting background. I am exited that you have had such great gains. I look forward to seeing how you progress.


Good luck to you


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So many to reply to!


SeaSiren - during the month I didn't get to our facility (I'll try and get some updated pics online soon, it's evolving rapidly!), my business partner Kirk came across a used Hammer Strength ultra-tall rack that has almost 9 feet of inside clearance, meaning it's one of those rare racks where I can press iniside it and not slam into the top supports. I'm definitely liking it so far, but of course, Kirk stuffed it into the corner with the water heater, so I'm expecting that one day a loose plate will come crashing down on it and I'll be calling the emergency plumber for a quick fix...we'll see if disaster strikes in time, but at least we now have 4 power racks, so even if we've got a good sized crew training, we've got enough equipment!


Steve - Thanks for checking out the log! Always good to meet someone else who has a powerlifting background and loves throwing around heavy poundages. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that sooner or later, I'll be free of the injuries that have held me back for so long so that I can FINALLY work into competing again one day. For now, it's slow-and-steady, getting healthy and out of the rut of repeated injury is mission #1. Hope your training goes well, too!


And, finally, JohnV - Thanks much, I'm looking forward to following your progress this year as well, here's to hoping that 2012 is the best one yet!

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I know about injuries and taking time to get back in, that is why I am looking forward to next year when I should be able to compete in a variety of events. Not the least of which is an MMA fight. My favorite saying on training is from Jerry Lynch "go slower, arrive sooner". Slow and steady is the best way to go. You are not that far from me, if you ever want another powerlifter to work out with you, drop me a line, I am always down for some open road and good company.

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Thulpa - Yeah, I've learned that slow-and-steady is the way to come back now, all my attempts to rush things as soon as I felt my lifts were strong and starting to click again ended up with me being set back further than when I began. You'd certainly be welcome to come out and train sometime - we've got a 3000 sq. ft. facility with 24 hour access any time I need to go, but most of the time, my training starts no earlier than 9 PM or as late as 11 PM, so my odd hours don't always keep with the schedules most adhere to. But, I'm trying to get to where I'll start making the Saturday sessions that go on around 11 AM or noon (about a a half dozen pro and am strongmen get together to do event work, and a few of the powerlifters come in for their heavy equipped training), so this spring, I'll keep you posted for session times in case you're ever up for making the trek north!


Missed a few days due to poor scheduling for training and being too worn out at night, but got in last night for the new approach of going light and beltless to rebuild the lower back, as well as to do a little chest work on top of it -


Deadlifts -

1x5 @ 135 lbs.

5x10 @ 225 lbs., just starting very light and will be keeping it this way for a few months. No need to rush to lift heavy and risk getting hurt with my return, so it'll be light lower back work for quite a bit.


Flat barbell bench w/ 2" diameter axle -

1x5 @ 145 lbs.

1x3 @ 195

1x2 @ 235

1x1 @ 265

Put on Slingshot, since using it last fall really helped me to get my bench in a better place for a bit -

3x8 @ 270 lbs.

Was a fight on sets 2 and 3, not feeling strong right now but it'll happen in a few weeks with consistent benching.


Romanian deadlifts -

3x20 @ 135 lbs.

Again, sticking light, even if it feels like I'm practically using an empty bar


Incline semi-close grip barbell bench (hands about 3" outside of torso width) -

3x5 @ 180 lbs., 1 second pause on chest each rep


Hammer Strength plate-loaded shrug machine -

3x50 @ 275 lbs., nice and easy endurance shrugging


Horizontal banded bench press setup (old plate-stack macine that now has band pegs to add resistance) -

3x20 w/ two purple and one orange band, felt like around 75 lbs. at start and around 150 lbs. at finish of press, all reps done for speed


Nothing complicated, might just get back to lifting again tonight if I can get out of work for a bit!

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Thanks, I will send you a PM with my real email and info for training, I am not going to lie, I am looking forward to heading out there when the area thaws. I have a shift work job and lots of people who owe me favors, so I can head out there anytime, and travel back early in the AM or the next day.


Glad you are taking it slow, you will make your gains in time.

Good to getting on a work Schedule


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Had a really rough week, put off training for a few days, then finally got to the back specialist I'd been meaning to visit for a very long time. In summary, I'm more of a wreck than originally thought.


L2, L3 and L4 vertebrae are all starting to suffer big-time. Discs between each are pancaked down to about 1/4 the desired amount, and bone spurs are starting to form. After a few minutes of talking about where things started to go wrong, it is looking like my timeline of issues goes like this -


Lower back strong as hell for years, trained beltless and could start a deadlift warm-up session with 405 lbs. and feel great (not that it was smart, just that my back felt like it was made of steel back then), never got hurt once until the day I hyperextended severely by trying to hold on to an overhead press much longer than I should have.


After that, it didn't hurt much once I rested for a few weeks, kept training around it, kept getting stronger everywhere but had stopped deadlifting for a stretch and put my focus into squatting instead. Was good for a while, but that's when I kept popping my QL when squatting heavy and would end up in agonizing pain from it for days or weeks after each injury. That's when it most likely got a lot worse.


After the recurring injuries from 3-4 years ago, I ended up unintentionally changing my posture with babying my injured spot, how I sat in a car or on a chair, how I lifted, and put additional unnecessary stresses on the vertebrae by trying to compensate and work around the injured QL. So, a handful of years of poor posture, worsening lifting technique, and sitting hunched over in poor positions has basically helped cause my lower back to turn to crap. It seems that training with a belt has helped me to work around what is normally otherwise painful, but it has only been masking the issue and hasn't prevented damage, rather, it just lets me work THROUGH the damage and is probably helping me to do more bad stuff over time.


Add in a pair of fallen arches for some really flat feet, severly messed-up ankles from too many sprains and ligament tears, and my foundation is in shambles as well as my core.


So, I go back to the specialist Monday for the full run-down on how we're going to tackle this so that I'm not broken and on pain meds in 5-10 years, like I've said here, getting healthy is priority #1. Even if I end up having to drop my weight back down to the lower 200s again and work more for general fitness this year while fixing the damage, it's better than the alternative. No idea yet where I'm going from here, but chances are I'm going to end up having to drastically change just about everything, so no time like the present to make sure I keep my diet clean, work on feeling better overall, and follow the advice of the specialist to see what we can do. He's got a great reputation for helping a LOT of people in the area go from agonizing pain to being pain-free, so we'll see how well he can do for someone who has mild pain to actually getting their ass strong again one day.


So, there might not be a lot of posting for the future until I get settled on a plan of attack, but mark my words, I WILL feel better next year after I put in the time to fix what's wrong!

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there might not be a lot of posting for the future until I get settled on a plan of attack


Man, you are going to come out of all this so smart and so excited and you are going to have a completely new understanding of how it all works. I don't just mean health. I'm psyched as all hell for you, what an opportunity! Woo-HOO!


Post what you learn as you learn it, even if it's out of the gym. You'll be teaching thousands.


Baby Herc

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Thanks for the kind words, everyone. I'm not pleased now that I can't bury my head in the sand about pretending I'll just be able to work through the injury, but I needed a good dose of reality!


I do my first session with the back specialist tomorrow, not sure exactly what we'll be doing (could be chiro, spinal decompression, physical therapy, massage or a combination of all of them), I'll know more soon.


Got in for some upper back/shoulder work tonight, had a good time with it -


Weighted pull-ups (narrow grip, hands about 14" apart) -

1x3 @ bodyweight

3x6 @ 45 lbs. added (total weight 290 lbs. fully clothed with added weight), reps done as singles with feet on floor and one deep breath between each one.


Standing strict overhead press w/ axle -

1x10 @ empty axle (55 lbs.)

1x3 @ 145 lbs.

5x5 @ 190

3x10 @ 150, triceps getting fried at this point (they're fine with heavy low-rep work, once the reps go up, the triceps crap out on me quickly)


New plate-loaded row machine came in last week, put it to the test -

1x12 @ 200 lbs. plus orange band (no added resistance at start, about 40 lbs. added at end of pull)

1x10 @ 230 + band

1x8 @ 250 + band

Liked it, chest support keeps my lower back from feeling bad, and it's got 4 different grips to change things up


Behind-the-neck wide grip overhead strict press -

2x15 @ 100 lbs.

Just some light sets to round out the shoulder stuff


Hammer Strength plate-loaded pulldown machine -

3x15 @ 180 lbs. plus green bands (set to add about 20 lbs. extra resistance at start, and about 70 lbs. at finish of the pulldown)


Went back to the new plate-loaded row machine once at the end for some light work -

3x25, wide grip, pulling high to work on more scapular retraction to help keep bad shoulder from cocking out more over time


That was it, nice session that ended at midnight, taking a walk tomorrow and should do some light hip belt squatting on Tuesday!

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Taking it easy today, had my first visit to the spine specialist for therapy, definitely feels like a good fit based on how it went today.


Started with 10 minutes on the hydro massage table (basically, a table with a vinyl top you lie on, where hot water jets massage you from head to toe). After that, a few chiropractic cracks to the hip, middle back and neck. Next was 10 minutes sitting and gyrating around on the "wobble chair" to loosen up my spine for the decompression machine, which I was looking forward to trying. It didn't disappoint.


Basically, they strap you into a dual-belted system in a big-ass machine that puts your spine into traction by extending it, allowing the smashed discs to rehydrate and recover. Felt pretty good for the 25 minutes they had me in there (it goes from a full hard stretch to a light stretch over the course of each minute). Interesting feel, a bit tender afterward, but in a good way. You can see a demo of the contraption here:

Wrapped up with some electro stimulation on the lower lumbars for 10 minutes, realized I'd been there nearly 2 hours (felt more like 30 minutes), and that's it. While my lower back was a little tender at first, it now feels MUCH more loose, with no pain yet any time that I've gotten up from a chair or anything else that normally lets me feel discomfort. Of course, I have a prescribed program of about 30 more sessions (for the record, this therapy is NOT low-cost, because of course, insurance won't cover the decompression machine...) so it's early in the game, but the more I read up on people's experiences, the more confident I am that a few months on a set plan to fix my back problems will get me to where I want to go.


Only changes to my training currently is that I'm to make sure that for the next 6 weeks I avoid compression exercises (no regular squatting, no deadlifting), so it's just upper body and non-compression lower body work for a bit. But, should things go as hoped, the doc said he should be able to green-light my return to light squats and deadlifts after the first phase of my rehab is done with at the end of February.


Should be doing some light leg training tomorrow!

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Really quick upper back and overhead training on Friday -


Standing strict overhead press w/ 2" diameter axle -

1x10 @ empty axle (55 lb.)

1x5 @ 145 lbs.

1x3 @ 175

1x2 @ 195

1x1 @ 205

1x1 @ 215

1x1 @ 225, felt easier than last time I strict pressed that amount, which was good

3x5 @ 205

1x16 @ 145


Weighted pull-ups -

2x3 @ bodyweight (250 w/ 4 layers of clothing on since gym was freezing tonight)

3x6 @ 45 lbs. added


Seated row on plate-loaded row machine, wide grip handles -

3x20 @ 140 lbs. + doubled band for about 40 lbs. added resistance at end of reps


That was it, short on time but wanted to get at least a few sets in!

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Hi Ryan,


Just now reading about your back issues after visiting the specialist. Sorry to hear that. Hope things improve this year and hope you get to that point of injury-free and pain-free. I had to sit out nearly all year as well. It wasn't a lot of fun, but it allowed me to get healthier and I'm back at it with full enthusiasm and growing strength.


Hope you have a speedy recovery and fix those areas in need of fixing.


All the best!

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Thanks, guys! The rehab is going well so far, I feel far fewer "lightning bolts" in my lower back from mis-steps and upper body workouts than normal after just one week, so here's to hoping that, as they've been telling me, 4-6 weeks into treatment most people feel pretty much pain-free. The decompression machine is pretty sweet, I have the feeling even after I get back to "normal" I may do a session once every few weeks just to keep up on not letting things backslide too much. The other good news, I should have my custom orthotic insoles coming in this week to help my feet be slightly less messed up, so we'll see how those factor in soon as well.


Leg and chest work tonight -


Barbell flat bench, medium grip -

1x5 @ 135 lbs.

1x3 @ 185

1x2 @ 225

1x1 @ 255, 2 second pause on chest

1x1 @ 275, 2 second pause on chest

Put on Slingshot

1x2 @ 300, 305, 310, 315

Took off Slingshot

1x10, 1x8 @ 225


IronMind Hip Belt squats, done with rigged setup on side-handle plate loaded deadlift machine -

1x10 @ 125

1x10 @ 175

4x10 @ 225

1x25 @ 175

Definitely a lot of adapting to a different belt squat setup, later this week I'll finally try hooking it up to an EZ bar as they recommend and see how it works. Definitely a major quad-heavy movement, really sore even after some light sets. I guess Kirk tried hooking the belt on to a regular olympic bar with 185 on it, thought to himself "This should be easy!" and couldn't squat it up from parallel. Mind you, he's something like a 550ish raw squatter @ 220 lbs. bodyweight, so that right there tells me that the belt squat setup should help keep things moving for my lower body work for a while until I'm green-lighted to start putting a bar across my back. Though, in 3 more weeks, I'll be asking if I can just start squatting a light 135 lbs. for reps again, if nothing else I'd like to try and get the feel back for the regular movement even if I have to keep things light.


Banded horizontal bench machine -

4x20 @ medium size black, purple and orange bands (feels like 120ish at start, 170ish at finish of reps)


Glute/ham raises -

1x30 @ bodyweight

3x20 w/ 15 lb. plate held in front

1x15 w/ 25 lb. plate held in front


Prowler pushes -

200 feet w/ 4 turns (every 50 feet) @ 90 lbs. on Prowler, all sprinted, no rest between turns

150 feet w/ 3 turns @ 140 lbs.

100 feet w/ 2 turns @ 190 lbs.


Pretty winded as I was alternating the Prowler sprints with the banded benching, leaving no more than 20-30 seconds between sets.


Decent enough day, will be doing some upper back and misc. stuff on Tuesday!

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Thanks, Robert!


Upper back and shoulder work last night, for once, the gym temp was actually above 50 degrees, which was nice as I didn't need 3 layers to train in to keep warm.


Barbell rows in rowing rack -

1x5 @ 135

1x5 @ 225

3x5 @ 275, not the prettiest, but got them done


10" diameter log press in the power rack (log on safety pins just an inch below shoulder rack position at start, roll it back to clavicles and press) -

1x10 @ empty log (75 lbs.)

1x2 @ 165 lbs.

1x2 @ 185

1x2 @ 195

1x2 @ 200, got tough as log is harder to strict press, dropped down weight for doubles done as fast as possible with 165 lbs.

30x2 @ 165, done in clusters of 3 sets w/ 30-45 seconds rest between each set, each cluster done between upper back lifts over the course of an hour. First 20 or so were pretty easy, by the last few, there wasn't much speed on those presses, started to become grinders by the last one


Hammer Strength plate-loaded pulldown machine -

3x10 @ 210 lbs. plus green bands (about 25 lbs. added resistance at start, about 75 lbs. at finish of pull)


Hammer Strength plate-loaded high row -

3x15 @ 350 lbs.


In between the sets as well, I worked in some odd angle shrugging to get a little more in there -


Bench shrugs (done between high row sets) -

3x20 @ 255 lbs.


Overhead log shrugs (done on last set of last 3 clusters of log pressing) -

3x20 @ 165 lbs., done after 2nd rep pressed and locked out


That was all for the night, just trying to get a feel for the log again to change things up for overhead work. Feeling pretty good, hoping to get back in for some leg work tomorrow!

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