I Thought He Was Dead or Living in a Cave in the Desert!

TAGS: motivation, chad aichs, injury, recovery, powerlifting

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I truly believe everyone is given opportunities by the universe.  Life definitely has a way of clouding these to our sight, but in the end, it is our choice to grab ahold of them or let them pass by.  In the last few years, I have had so much going that I am sure I may have missed some while working towards other goals. We cannot dwell on the ones we missed, or we will end up missing more. This last December, I saw the gym was going to hold a charity deadlift event in January. Things have definitely not been going perfect in life or the gym, but something told me this was an opportunity to grab.  Maybe it was the idea of a charity event. Maybe it was the idea of starting the new year off on the platform. Maybe it was just realizing it was time. Either way, I was stepping back on the platform even if it wasn’t an official powerlifting competition.


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It is mid-December 2019 and training has been lackluster at best.  In fact, my whole life seems to be a struggle as of late. Back on October 24th, I was out riding with my father. He was in his side by side and I was on my quad. We were having a blast out in the desert and ended up taking this trail down the mountain. Near the bottom, the trail turned into a dry rock waterfall. I stopped to check it out and make sure dad’s rig would handle it.

After picking my line I started down. What I failed to realize was how slick the rocks were with the sand on them. As I am descending my line the quad begins to slide and a boulder I wanted to avoid is now directly in line with my left front tire. After hitting it, I realize my right tire was then going into a small ravine. Ever have that slow-mo “Oh, shit.” moment where, in your head, you realize “This is gonna f-ing hurt.”

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I end up going over the quad and hitting the bottom of the creek bed. Fortunately, I was able to split the big hit into two big hits. First was me hitting the ground with enough time to realize the quad was now going to land on me. I hit face-down first and then rolled to my side, hoping to minimize the impact of the quad. I immediately crawled out and stood up, proceeding to say, “I'm okay,” over and over in many different tones for what seemed like 15 minutes.

Not going to lie, that one hurt and all I wanted to do was go home to a lot of ice. We flipped the quad over, and it looked okay until I hit the first small bump which folded my tie rod in half. Needless to say, it was about a four-hour trek back to my truck to load up. In the end I tore my lat, knotted up my rhomboids severely, and just beat the shit out of myself.

This accident definitely had a negative impact on my life as well as my body. Sleep was pretty rough for a while and we all know I struggle enough without doing dumb shit. I had to spend money getting my quad back in shape, but I felt pretty lucky there because it could have been a lot worse. I also decided my dad’s wisdom of it being time to get a side by side was a pretty good idea. So I bought a Polaris RZR, which in hindsight was probably not the best time to do so since winter and the holidays are the toughest time of year for my business. In terms of my life, it was mild compared to my past but it was definitely not optimal.

Moving forward to mid-December when I realized American Iron Gym was having their deadlift event.  I really liked the idea it was to raise money for the Reno Children's Cabinet and I just thought what the hell.  With my years of top level competing I know it is never perfect and sometimes you just have to get it done. Do everything you can and let the cards fall where they may. I asked about the details of the event and thought let’s do a deadlift session to see if I can get an opener.

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I had done a two-week deload before my wreck so it had been around nine to ten weeks since I lifted heavy. On Dec 16th, in training, I hit a 650-pound deadlift, which by no means felt good, but it was good enough. So, I officially signed up with no real idea of what I could pull or what to go for. All I knew was that I had an open and I would just wing it from there.

January 4th rolled around and it was time to step back on the platform. Since hitting my open a few weeks earlier, I had not done much. I was still trying to heal my body from the wreck and trying to improve my sleep. We are now talking almost 13 weeks since lifting anything even close to heavy. Not to mention, it had been a very long time since I had been on the platform at all. My last meet was a bench meet in 2014, and before that it was 2009. Needless to say, I really had no idea what to expect and no real plan for the day. I have always had a pretty solid plan in place, even when competing with injuries. This was a challenge to deal with and I was honestly not happy about opening under 700. Opportunities are not always exactly what we want them to be.

Warm-ups went okay; they did not feel amazing, but they did not feel heavy either. Kept my opener at 650 and pulled it easy, but think I let my root loose because I had to set it down on two of my toes from my foot slipping. Luckily it was easy, and I set it down gently. The thing I did not like was how out of balance I was. Felt like I kept shifting backward and forward on the way up. The next attempt was 705 and although the weight was light, I was again shifting forward and backward. About two-thirds of the way up, I felt like I was going to fall backward so I stopped until I could get forward.

During the bobbling to get my balance, I felt my low back strain. I was still able to lock it out, but I am sure it was iffy for the judge. Even knowing I strained my low back, I called for 765. Figuring, what the hell, I pulled that in the gym before the wreck and I am a shitty gym lifter anyway. As I started to pull, it did not feel right and I decided to leave well enough alone.

The idea of a one lift meet did not settle well with me, so I decided to make it a push pull. Right after deadlifting, I went over to the other side of the gym to test my bench. Benching has been rough since the accident and the issues with my rhomboids. Still, I managed to hit a 405 followed by a 425, both of which were easy. My friend Travis Mullins was awesome enough to give handoffs and spots for these. On my last attempt at 455, he had to give me a little bump at my sticking point. Like it or not, injuries happen and sometimes we have to take a few steps back to get moving forward again.

It was cool to be on the platform and testing myself again. I did not hit numbers I am really proud of, but the platform is the place to see where you are. Nowadays, I try to keep in mind I'm 48 and in a different place in life, so my goals are different than in my past. I am not trying to be the strongest in the world or to break world records. My goal is actually to prove to people you can be strong with a lot going on in your life and that you can still get stronger even when your age is creeping up there.


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I want to prove that you can get great strength with a lot less time in the gym than most people think. I am not willing to sacrifice my hobbies as I did when I was competing at the highest level. I am also not willing to be a weak ass b#$@%. As far as I am concerned, strength is a major part of living a quality life and I want to prove we can maintain that no matter what our age is.

So, my low back is healing and the aftermath of the wreck is improving. I will probably end up taking a couple of weeks down and then get back at it. Although my goals may not be as grandiose as in my past, I definitely still have strength goals I will achieve on the platform! By the way, American Iron Gym raised over $3,000 for the Reno Children’s Cabinet, thanks to the help of so many members and family members that donated time and money. I’m proud to have been a part of that.

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