In this episode of Old Man Conjugate: Be Creative I’m going to write about critical thinking as a part of your powerlifting or strength training program for the older and beat up lifter.  If you are new to my logs on Old Man Conjugate, my series is geared towards the older lifter that has some injuries but still wants to train and stay as strong as possible.  

Youngsters take heed. That Instagram coach you hired with 475,000 followers they probably bought that has you doing Squats, Bench Presses and Deadlifts 3-5 more times a week with little to no assistance work is setting you up for injury. Don’t get old before your time.   

Old Man Conjugate has many guidelines and the one we are discussing today is a big one: Be Creative.

We need to be creative in our training because many of us cannot do the basics, although we wish we could. Creativity does not mean invent nonsense either.

I’ll use my own training the past few weeks here since it’s a common trend among the over 50 crowd. If my issues don’t apply to you, keep reading because you’ll get some good ideas on getting creative.  Many of you know that I am unable to hip hinge due to an injury, so squats and deadlifts are 100% impossible.  Shit, I can’t even tie my own left shoe, but it is getting a little better thanks to some new modalities and PT sessions I have been using. I’m getting dry needled weekly and also getting hands on therapy from Refined Wellness PT locally and it is having a BIG impact. I’m fortunate enough it have some of the best PT’s and soft tissue people at my disposal and I take full advantage of it.

This leads to my first point in being creative with Old Man Conjugate.

Don’t be afraid to try new modalities or manual therapists.

I’ve used the same Physical Therapist for decades, John Douzepis, because he is absolutely amazing. I can’t be happier with all he has done for me over the years, but I’m not afraid to try new things, this is where Refined comes in. The do 1 on 1 PT and you spend the entire one hour session with them 1 0n 1, all hands on. And they do dry needling which my other clinic doesn’t offer.

Why not try it?

If it doesn’t work stop doing it.

A note on Physical Therapy: It does not work no matter how good your therapist is if you don’t do the at home work they prescribe.

On to point number two in Old Man Conjugate: Be creative in the gym.

I am also fortunate enough to have a pretty wide variety of the best equipment made (from and I have the ability try out new ways to train and “invent” new exercises. Some work, some don’t.  Be like Bruce Lee and keep what works but toss what doesn’t.

When being creative, figure out your primary and secondary goals.

My primary goal is move without pain and be able to maintain as much strength as possible.

My secondary goal is to bench press more in the Masters in the 220 class than I did in the Open class at 308. Since my bench always sucked, I think I can do it. But that is a secondary goal. Once I achieve the first one I will attack the second one.

I am getting close to the first one and am walking most of the time with no limp for the first time in a few years.

I still work on my secondary goal and train my bench and Accessory/Assistance work twice a week.  

Let’s talk about lower body training around a bad hip-abs too.

I say that I am l lucky all the time for many reasons and one incredible training related one is that Marc “Spud” Bartley of Spud Inc. is one of my besties and he uses me for a lot of development on new products. Spud ships me boxes of stuff to test and evaluate for him and makes decisions based on my feedback as well as a few others.

Murph, Sp;ud, CJ Murphy, Spud Inc, EliteFTS, powerlifting

He recently sent me a new and unreleased product called the Sweater Vest.

The Sweater Vest will be out soon and is an odd looking harness designed for the belt squat. It is set up to keep a large percentage of the load on your lower back as you descend into the squat and then Deload it onto your legs.  He did a swell job designing it because it does exactly that.  Your erectors get fried but you can still grind out reps because the quads and hammies get smashed in the bottom and all the way to the top.

As I was evaluating it I tried a few exercises with it and it was ok for some but AWESOME for others.

I’ve been using it in the Old Man Conjugate method for backwards sled drags every week. As Spud  would say, let me tell you boy, this thing lights up my quads more than any other form of sled dragging I have tried.

I started out with 25 pounds on the sled for about 10 minutes work and after that long my quads were toasty the first day. I think it is primarily because I was not able to do a lot of quad work, and they were just weak.

I’ve added weight every week in small doses and kept the same time (10 minutes) with good success.

This one is a keeper.

I do a lot of 45 degree back raises, GHR’s and Reverse Hypers for lower body too.

The point?

I got creative with a new piece of equipment, the Sweater Vest, and used it for something it wasn’t designed for. Sled Dragging.  

Be creative. Find what works for you.

Ab Training: Another issue.

Having a jacked up hip flexor and adductor prevents me from doing some of my favorite ab/torso work like Hanging Leg Raises, Ab Wheel, any form of weighted sit up, Turkish Get Ups and more.

I have always said the weighted walking like Farmer’s Walks and the Super Yoke (NOT YOLK-THAT’S A PART OF AN EGG) need to be in everyone’s program. But should you do them if you can’t walk without a limp?

Probably not.

Well, as I have just about every Spud Inc. strap known to man, I tried a modified version of the Yoke about a month ago and it’s a winner.

I take a Bandbell bar (one of my favorite specialty bars) and add in Spud Inc. Swing Set Straps to make a floppy Yoke.

Simply loop the straps over the bar and add weight and walk. See video below for a visual.

The straps paired with the Bandbell bar bounce up and down and oscillate requiring a shitload of stabilization from all of your supporting muscles in and around the abs. And you don’t need a ton of weight.

I started with a 25 pound plate on each side and added each week. My PT says as long as it doesn’t hurt I can do it, and these surprisingly do not hurt. And I feel like I am getting strong abs again!

I’m up to 150 pounds in straight weight with 80 pounds of chain on each side for sets of about 40 feet forward and 40 feet backward. I do 20 feet each way and then switch directions.

Again, I am being creative. Not inventing stuff just to do it.

I’ll give you my thought process on this exercise.

Since we know the Bandbell bar oscillates and builds a unique type of strength that requires all of the stabilizer muscles in the working groups to light up like crazy to control the weight, and that it works really well for compound exercise like benches and squats why not try it?   

If it makes EVERYTHNG work on all the other exercises, why wouldn’t it make all of my torso muscle work?

It does.

I can feel my entire midsection for two days after and have no hip issues or pain after.

That’s a creative winner.

Watch the video to see the exercises below.

Wrapping Up Old Man Conjugate: Be Creative:

  • Don’t be afraid to try new modalities to get healthy.   
  • Be creative with making up new exercises but create ones that have a carryover to your goals.
  • Create a primary and secondary goal.
  • Then attack them.

I hope this makes you think and adds some benefit to your Old Man Conjugate Training.

Never, ever give up.

Did you miss last week’s log?


CJ Murphy, tpsmethod, elitefts, build, bigger, stronger, back, lats, grip;

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Vincere vel mori

C.J. Murphy

September 9, 2021

Total Performance Sports