Here I sit, two and a half weeks out from my first meet in forever, on vacation in the wilds of Cape San Blas, Florida — wherever that is. In a former life, that would never happen. Either I’ve gone soft or I've matured. I like to think it’s the latter rather than the former (but more about that later).
The last time I prepared for a meet was in the fall of 2016. An IPA meet in December was to have been my first meet since I turned 75 years old in August and moved up an age group. I was not cocky but felt quietly confident some records would be mine. On October 7, 2016, that all came to a crashing halt, literally. On the way home from training, a young man turned in front of me and we had a hell of a crash. We were both hurt badly and my SUV was totaled. My knees were the size of balloons, my chest hurt from the airbag, and my hands, wrists, and elbows hurt like hell. X-rays in the ER were negative, and after a few hours, I was released. Orthopedic x-rays were also negative.
RELATED: Rehab Report: Repairing My Hand and Planning My Return to the Platform
After a week or so I started to train again, but my right hand didn’t seem to want to work. I went to an orthopedic hand specialist who determined that the ulnar collateral ligament in my right thumb was torn off the bone and there was greatly reduced feeling in my right hand. She determined that surgery was necessary to fix the thumb and a carpal tunnel release to fix the hand. This was all done December 10, 2016.
After an exhausting physical therapy, I was able to train again. During this down time, I was still able to squat, which I did at least twice a week. That combined with some other factors may be the reason for the surge in my squat PRs. When my hand was able to adequately grip a bar, I discovered the Duffalo Bar in our gym. It has been a boon to my shoulder and helped my PRs surge. In the last few months, I have been fortunate to have hit PRs of 365, 380, and 425 at the recent UGGS at elitefts. The Duffalo Bar feels very comfortable on my back and really helps my technique. I must, however, confess that I took Donnie Thompson’s advice. The 380 and 425 come with the aid of single-ply briefs, which I have started wearing when I train.
I’ve worked hard on my squat and with the aid of a glove and tape have been benching as well. I’m still having trouble holding a significant amount of weight on my deadlift. Therefore, at the upcoming meet, I’m only going to squat and bench. I think I am ready. I’ll have two weeks to tune up after I get back.
I never cease to come back from a UGGS full of new information. Special thanks are due not only to Dave and Traci Tate, but also Joe Schillero, Alycia Israel, Sheena Leedham, my buddy Ronda, and all the fine staff at elitefts. Hanging out with Dave Tate for a day doubles my knowledge and only scratches the surface of his.
We trained the squat on Saturday. The good thing about squatting with the good guys is that after I reach a PR, I still get to see most of the squat training. I had never had 425 pounds on my back previously and was very apprehensive. I didn’t ask anyone to take a video because I didn’t want to jinx it. With the help of those present, a wonderful knee wrap, and all the cues and screaming, 425 pounds became possible. I spent the rest of the day watching the good guys squat and observed many variations of technique. Later that day, my nap was the sleep of the well-satisfied.
On Sunday, my bench training consisted of getting the hell beat out of me by a Bamboo Bar with kettlebells attached by bands. That bar can teach the meaning of “being tight” more than all the instruction in the world. After getting my ass beat by the Bamboo Bar, I watched some others bench and waited to get some help and instruction from Christian Anto. He had previously helped me with my squat technique. He is not only a gifted lifter but also an excellent and knowledgeable instructor and elitefts athlete.
As we began, Dave Tate walked over and said, “No, no, that won’t work with him. He has a fucked up knee and a fucked up hip. Here’s what we have to do with him.” Dave then proceeded to completely change my bench setup. I’ve been practicing it and getting the hang of it. I’m sure my bench is on track to get much better. These young people and those not-so-young rejuvenate and energize me. I am very fortunate to be associated with them and call them teammates.
Back in the day, as they say, I would never think of taking time off before a big game — or any game for that matter. When I practiced law, I would never think of going on vacation before a big trial. I was too consumed with what I had to do. Concentration, consistency, and dedication are wonderful things. They are essential to success! At what price, however, do we embrace these attributes? At the price of family, spouse, children, friends, relationships? To be the absolute, unequivocal best, those sacrifices are necessary. However, having a life, living with others, and maintaining relationships are the victims of those sacrifices.
I have had a career and reared and educated children. It’s time to enjoy! I greatly enjoy training and competing in powerlifting. I plan to compete, train, and train others for as long as I am able — not, however, without having a life. At my age, I realize that children, grandchildren, friends, relationships, and enjoying these years are more important. I should have come to that realization many years ago. That is why, two and a half weeks out from my first meet in a long time, I sit here in the wilds of Florida, far from a gym. I’ll do okay in the upcoming meet. If not, then in the next one.
It's great to hear your recovery and training are progressing well and that you will be competing again. You continue to be an inspiration to lifters such as myself (7O 1/2 now) and those younger I'm sure. I just competed in my 20th meet July 9th, and I intend to keep training and competing as long as I can, God willing.
Please keep your inspiring and informative articles coming. I wish you continued good health and success.
Love your articles. I am also a "mature" lifter of 63, but still really enjoy the iron and compete on the platform. Dave has been a huge inspiration to me also. As you pointed out, speaking with him briefly can be so educational, while to him using minimal of his expertise. I fortunately was at UGSS last year, spoke with Dave, and had the opportunity to train with Christian, Swede, and others with great advice offered. Congratulations on your recent lifts and meet preparations. One of my only regrets about training is wishing I would have started much earlier.