To understand where you are and where you’re going, you have to realize where you’ve been. If you follow my logs then you already know. If you don’t, here’s the short of it.

I was on top. Or at least on my way to the top. I hit 2088 at RUM8 weighing 238 on a full stomach — light for the 242 class when the 220’s in the same meet were 240-260. I lined myself up for a meet four months later, and another four months after that with the 220 and 242 world record in my sights. I was training hard and usually pretty conservative. I pulled/tore my left adductor, left hamstring, and left glute all within six months of one another, the hamstring being the worst of it.

I was pissed. I was depressed. I was dumbfounded. I don’t think I ever pulled a hamstring or anything for that matter during college football. Always banged up with the usual wear and tear, but this was all new to me. I’ve dealt with adversity and injury — sprained AC joint, torn MCL, and multiple moments of, "oh i just got my bell rung." (This whole concussion deal didn't come until after my playing days).

During this time period my lifts were stagnant at best. I tried some new things. I tried some old things. I threw some shoes (for my IG followers and Murph). I took a trip to Columbus a month before the Arnold to talk to Dave in person.

Me: Tater, what should I do?

Dave: What should you do or what would I do?

Me: I know what you would do. You’d compete and tear something.

Dave (chuckling at himself like a badge of honor): Right. So what should YOU do is what you’re asking me? You’re not gonna like it. Take six weeks off.

Me: So pull out of the Arnold and get ready for another meet? Take a couple weeks off squatting?

Dave: No. Six weeks off.

Me: Okay, so something like floor press but no squats.

Dave: No. Like, you can use the elliptical.

Me: Are you fucking with me?

Dave (chuckling again): Nope.

Me: You’re a dick. Thanks.

Dave: You're welcome.

I didn’t believe him, but I trusted him. Very few times do I blindly trust, but with Dave more so than any of my mentors, I give him the reins. He’s forgotten more shit than I’ll ever know.

We came up with a plan, if Dani would cooperate. I would take six weeks off and the last week or two of that time I would start working with Dani on fixing my pelvic tilt and hip shift. And cooperate Dani did. She’s a special kind of person and a brilliant mind. I can’t thank her enough for the time and knowledge she gave me over the past few months.

Her and I will work together to recap what my problem was, what we did to fix it, why we took that path, and the result. I think it will be valuable to plenty of people—hip problems or not—and here’s why…

RELATED: 5 Keys to Fixing Your Hip

The first day Dani had me work on my breathing to internally correct my pelvis. Turns out I didn’t know how to breathe and it was painfully apparent. A couple weeks in, I was making a little bit of progress and we were both patient. At some point I got frustrated and she knew it. It was kind of that turning point — do you push through it or give up?

I think it was the next day or so that an article popped up I hadn’t seen from Chris Duffin, “Why Chest Up in the Squat is Wrong.” I had a moment of clarity. I finally figured out how to breathe and how to brace. He did a magnificent job explaining how he goes about bracing for a big squat or pull and it clicked for me.

The next couple weeks I made a ton of progress. Dani was doing her voodoo tests on me and I was improving. So, it was time to squat. I also don’t want to fail to mention Scott Paltos, who was a big help as well. He gave me a handful of unilateral exercises and another huge knowledge base to pull from.

I started squatting light with a Safety Squat Yoke Bar. Things were going okay. I felt weak but made small jumps. I wasn’t experiencing a whole lot of hip shift, but it was there and I was working to correct it each squat session, using Dani, Dave, Scott, and others as eyes to help.

Then it was time to get back to a straight bar (actually a Duffalo Bar) for the off-season, and it got ugly. I was heavily favoring my left side, squatting into my right hip, lengthening my left hamstring, and putting myself at back at square one. My thought was if I were to go any heavier, I would ear something in my left leg again.

I adjusted the plan: box squats. and briefs. After a conversation with Dave, I decided to use the briefs to get some support and maybe some feedback for if and when I was shifting. I say “feedback” because the gear is a reference point for your body where raw squatting limits your reference points.

My shift wasn't cured overnight, but it was getting better. In fact, noticeably better each week under heavier and heavier weights. Something else funny happened to: my low back pumps were fewer and further between. Apparently learning to breathe and brace properly while taking away your pelvic tilt is how you’re supposed to squat and deadlift. Crazy, I know.

Training was progressing, so now I had a decision to make: was I ready for Boss of Bosses 3? I was up in the air. In retrospect, I could have competed and been competitive, but certainly not my best.

While weighing my options, life made my decision pretty easy. I was let go from my account manager position—after being a top performer for six years in my company—over a technicality. Again, if you read my logs, I give a little more detail, but not the full story for legal reasons.

I scrambled to pick a meet that I could drive to and wouldn’t have to stay over night. Boom, IPA Mountain Madness, presented by Westside Barbell.

Side note: Morgantown, WV is one hour from Pittsburgh — that’s why Pitt vs WVU was considered the backyard brawl. We all have a little hillbilly around here. I’ll take this moment to tell you that I come from farm stock, the Stewarts and the Potts family. The Stewarts were all drunk Irishmen that farmed. The Potts—my Uncle Buzz, Cliff, Hank, and Jr.—were farm boys. If you line me up with them, I would be the runt. Williams comes from my goofy ass grandfather who was a mill worker. There’s a lot of blue collar around here.

Training continued. I kept it pretty fluid because this was my first training cycle in gear. I used Dave, Marshall, and Steve’s help along the way. My heaviest training numbers to date were 800-515-750, so I kept that in the back of my mind for recovery purposes. Looking back at training I ended up hitting 8-10 squats over 800, 15+ benches over 500, and 2-3 pulls over 750. I paid more attention to nutrition and sleep habits to account for the increased intensities. Volume was pretty consistent with previous training cycles.

Fast forward to meet day. I had 900-700-800 in my mind, which would be 2400 at 242 for my first single-ply meet. Dream big. You can read my training log here for a more detailed recap.

To sum it up, squat went 790-850-900 miss. I was happy to get back to the platform first and foremost, but I was pissed after missing 900 — not because I missed, but because I made the same mistake on my second attempt. I broke knees first and sat down instead of back, likely my body protecting my hamstring (which doesn’t need protecting anymore). This will be one point of emphasis in the future.

Bench went 600-650-700 miss. I didn’t come to bench 670ish. If I did, I could have broken the American single-ply record ,but that wasn’t the goal. The goal was to not be a pussy. I got under 700 and it felt great. The transition from the shirt to my triceps just wasn’t strong enough. I think with a training cycle or two I will be able to press through that.  

  A photo posted by Casey Williams (@thecaseywilliams) on

Deadlift went 700-750-800. And they were easy. My best pull before this was 744 in a meet and 750 in training. Pulling 800 in front of Louie was something I won’t forget. Right afterward we talked for a minute or two and he laughed and said he remembered my 705 at Night of the Living Dead when I met up with Luke Edwards and Shane Hammock at that meet.

What this process proved to me:

Using your resources, being smart with your body, and being patient with your progress will pay huge dividends in the future.

How do you win? WIN: WHAT’S IMPORTANT NOW.

At the time, getting healthy was most important. I made that my number one priority and it paid off. Actually my ROI (return on investment) doubled or tripled — I got healthy and learned how to breathe and brace, which made my squat and deadlift a lot better.

Keep a look out for the article Dani and I put together to detail this journey.