Scott “Hoss” Cartwright: Get Injured and Get Stronger Interview

TAGS: injury, bench, therapy, Rehabilitation, rehab, injury prevention, injuries, strength, recovery, powerlifting, strength training, strength coach, Elitefts Info Pages, barbell, bench press, training

Scott “Hoss” Cartwright is a key member of Team Super Training in Sacramento, California.

He has elite totals at a body weight of 275 lbs and 308 lbs and totaled 2204 lbs in single ply gear. After that, Hoss tried to make a jump to double ply gear but only added 18 pounds to his total.

Jackass: Now, let me get this straight. You go all the way from California to New York to lift. You squat 1008 lbs. Then you bomb in the bench and tear your triceps tendon in the process. Then you get surgery. Then, six month later, you total 2436 lbs (thirteenth all-time at 308 lbs), get a PR in all three lifts, and add 215 lbs to your total? Scott, how in the world did that happen?

Hoss: At the WPC meet in New York, I tore my triceps tendon off the bone as well as a chunk of bone along with it. There were “threads” still holding the triceps in place. After the tear, it took ten days before I had my first meeting with the lower arm expert because of my HMO. The doctor told me that I was screwed and that I couldn’t do any resistance work for 10–12 months.

At this point, (and well before), I was on the phone and emailing others in the sport who had had similar injuries. Dave Tate got me in touch with Mike Hope, who gave me plenty of things to do for rehab. Big Fat Gross Jesse Burdick also spent a lot of time on the phone with me giving me ideas about how to rehab. He also recommended that I start rehab prior to surgery. This tip helped greatly in the recovery process. Hell, I did some low weight benches the night before surgery. Also, listening to Jackass bust my nuts about what a wimp I was for bombing with torn triceps provided some extra rehab help. At the end of the day, I rehabbed by feel.

My surgery was scheduled for a Thursday at noon. I was starving when I arrived, and they got the tubes going. I was waiting for about an hour when the resident came out. He told me that they needed to reschedule and that I had to call the admin people. The reason he gave me was that other surgeries were taking too long. I learned an important lesson about hospitals. If you scream, yell, and act crazy, they do whatever you want. They rescheduled me on the spot, and my wife kept me out of jail. I think maybe it was a lack of food that made me angry.

Surgery lasted four hours. They put two screws in my arm and re-anchored the triceps. One week after surgery, I called Louie Simmons for rehab advice. He told me a story about his patella tendon surgery and said that he had had full range of motion in three weeks. So I took the brace off after the call and started rehab. By the third week, I had full range of motion. I kept the brace on half of the day, but I had to be careful. One wrong move and I could have had screws flying everywhere. The brace was great for the gym because it allowed me to train and limit my range of motion.

I was training on the day that I arrived back from the meet in New York. I could use the safety squat bar and the giant camber bar. I was able to pull the sled and perform glute ham raises, reverse hypers, abs, and a ton of other stuff. The week after I came back from New York I did a 900 lb safety squat bar box squat. Five days after surgery, I set a PR in the suspended giant camber bar good morning with 785 lbs. I didn’t take any time off. I just trained what I could train at the highest capacity possible.

Four weeks after surgery on bench press days, I was doing scap work, sled work with my arms extended, rear delts, one arm presses (with my good arm), and basically anything that would speed recovery. At week eight, I decided it was time to start training again. In the first session, I benched 315 X 5 and then put a shirt on and did 385 X 1. Prior to the injury, I could bench 315 X 25. Yes, I am (was) a good raw bencher and I suck in a shirt. Big Fat Jackass reminds me of this daily.

I decided to go up 10 lbs a week raw. For my shirted bench, I went up 20 lbs a week. I waited fifteen weeks from surgery before I trained with any weight. I also did tons of floor presses. Why? Well, Louie said to do them, and I didn’t question it. I just did it.

The most motivating factor in recovery for me was watching others bench and thinking WTF. We have different groups in the gym. The stronger guys have a bench, and then the weaker guys have a bench. I kept getting asked to join the stronger guys to bench during the rehab process. I think mostly so that Jackass could laugh at me. However, I wouldn’t bench with anyone. I was weak and didn’t belong. I would rather sit in the corner and say fuck those guys as motivation. I kept to my plan even when I had a rush of energy and knew I could do more.

After 20 weeks, I benched 640 lbs in the gym. My previous best was 639 lbs prior to the torn triceps. After yelling a few things, I went to my car and grabbed the Bledsoe brace and broke it. Then I quickly dumped it in the garbage.

 

Jackass: What do you think were some keys to your quick comeback? Do you think your 87 lb face helped you or slowed you down?

Hoss: First, let’s address the 87 lb face! It’s truly an advantage to have a big melon. When you’re in the hole and throw your head back, the momentum is incredible. Have you seen the melon on Charles Bailey? If you have, then you know what I’m talking about.

Big Fat Gross Jesse Burdick helped me rehab prior to surgery so my arm was in the best possible shape going into the drilling. Being as prepared as possible for surgery helped a ton. I also talked to as many people as possible about how to rehab. This helped me come up with a 12-week plan for recovery, which I put into a spreadsheet. Everything that I did was aligned to that spreadsheet. This is where Jackass starts busting me about my training spreadsheets.

I’ve been able to establish a spreadsheet that keeps track of all of my PRs and training. It has become a running joke in the gym. It was important to my recovery because I stuck to the plan and it kept me from getting re-injured. I wrote out every single lift that was possible with my arm in a brace as well as all of the movements that I could do with my arm. The spreadsheet also established dates for success. This gave me goals and controlled my need to go heavy faster. So piss off, Jackass.

Jackass: What was the hardest part about overcoming your injury?

Hoss: Injuries suck because you go from being at your best to your worst in seconds. Going to the gym and watching others bench while I did stupid crap was difficult. The worst part about being in the gym watching others was when I would volunteer to spot. Someone would step up and say “Scott I’ll get it.” Give me a break! Another difficult thing was that I knew what I was capable of but I wasn’t able to do it. The absolute worst part was listening to Jackass. Do you ever shut up?

Jackass: I never shut up because no one ever listens to me. Hey, I’m “axing” the questions around here chubs. Tell me more about your spreadsheet. Give me examples of what type of lifts you used in order to hit a PR in all three lifts in the meet.

Hoss: Here’s an example of the famous spreadsheet. This is the last twelve weeks leading into the meet for ME squat and deadlift. Notice that the last five weeks were horrible. I missed many of my goals. Don’t you hate reading training logs from people who say that it was easy every damn session with every weight? Put more on the bar if it’s that easy! I think that I still did plenty of work so missing PRs still paid off in meet day.

ME SQ/DL Movement PR Result Goals
3/20/2007 Deadlift 735, 10/15/2006 745 X miss X 2 745
3/27/2007 GCB 42” Good morning 710, 11/08/2006 Got 805 800
4/3/2007 SSB box squat 15” 900, 11/18/2006 Got 925, missed 1000 925
4/10/2007 Deadlift greens 775, 9/12/2006 Got 785, missed 800 785
4/17/2007 SSB Anderson squat 40” 800, 9/5/2006 Got 855 825
4/24/2007 GCB squat with green over plates 600, 1/2/2007 Got 695, missed 785 650
5/1/2007 Deadlift 735, 10/15/2006 745 X miss X 2, did second ME move well 755
5/8/2007 Squat with gear 1025, 3/7/2007 1055, missed 1065 1050
5/15/2007 Rack pulls 775, 9/26/2006 Horrible day, ripped holes in both hands 775
5/22/2007 GCB 42” Good morning 805, 3/27/2007 Got 825 825
5/29/2007 Squat with gear 1025, 3/7/2007 Missed 1055 and 1065 1055
6/5/2007 Easy work I suck
Meet

The ME bench press was as described earlier—a sequence of increases in weight every week. I did a bench press only meet fourteen weeks after surgery. I only did 570 lbs in the meet, but it helped my confidence. I talked to Louie about what to do to rehab my triceps. He told me to do floor presses. After all my normal bench presses, I did floor presses every ME day. I mixed in bands, chains, and straight weight to keep it more dynamic.

Bench Rehab Training ME for UPA MeetFloor Press after Every Bench Press Session
Bench ME Raw Shirted Notes
2/3/2007 315 X 10 385 X 1 X 6 Easy
2/11/2007 325 X 10 405 X 1 X 6 Easy, a little pain with raw work
2/18/2007 335 X 5 X 2 435 X 1 X 6 Easy, sixth set for 2 reps, seventh set for 3 reps
2/25/2007 345 X 5 X 2 455 X 1 X 6 Easy but did 500 X 2
3/3/2007 Nothing Hit 570 Easy, opened 520, 560, 570, APA bench press only meet
3/10/2007 315 X 5 X 2 500 X 2 X 4 Had some hand-off issues, pain
3/17/2007 335 X 5 X 2 525 X 2 X 4, 2-board with 585 X 2, 635 X 1 All went well, 635, floor press, 455
3/24/2007 315, 365, 405 X 5 550 X 2 X 2, 585 X 1, 675 X 1, 2-board Little sore but strength is good
3/31/2007 315 X 3 600, 615 X 1 Easy stuff
4/7/2007 Pec pain 640 X 1 Smoked 640 but shoulder and pec are sore
4/14/2007 Nothing boards Hit 545 X 2, 3-board, missed 625 3-board, did 625 X 2, 4-board
4/21/2007 315 X 10 X 2 585 X 2 X 3 Easy
4/28/2007 325 X 10 X 2 605 X 2 X 3 Not a good day, missed 605
5/5/2007 335 X 5 X 2 600 X 2 X 2 Easy
5/12/2007 345 X 5 X 2 625 X 2 X 2 Easy, floor press, 500
5/19/2007 355 X 5 X 2 650 X 1 X 2 Missed 650, got 655?
5/26/2007 365 X 3 X 3 605 X 1 Did opener of 605
6/2/2007 375 X 3 X 3 605 X 1 Did opener of 605
6/9/2007 Meet 606, 644, missed 661 606 good, 644 good, missed 661

 

For the DE squat and deadlift, we mixed in three squat cycles and two weeks of deloading at the end. We put very little science into this. Instead, we just copied what we did before. I think Jackass cried a lot.

DE SQ/DL Movement Sets and Reps Result
3/17/2007 Straight weight 10 X 2 Easy
3/24/2007 240 lbs Chain 8 X 2 Rusty, need better speed
3/31/2007 320 lbs Chain 8 X 2 Better than last week
4/7/2007 400 lbs Chain 6 X 2, 2 X 1 Speed is getting better
4/14/2007 Blues, 120 lbs chain 8 X 2 Crap day
4/21/2007 Blues, 160 lbs chain 6 X 2, 2 X 1 Worked up to 685
4/28/2007 Blues, 200 lbs chains 6 X 2, 2 X 1 Back off to 12 sets of 2 with 415, wuss
5/5/2007 Blues 8 X 2 Worked up to 605 X 2, easy
5/12/2007 Blues, greens 4 X 2, 2 X 1 Worked up to 685 X 1, unracked 835
5/19/2007 Two blues 2 X 2, 3 X 1 Bad day
5/26/2007 Blues 8 X 2 415 X 2 X 8 sets
6/2/2007 Straight weight 8 X 2 600, easy
6/9/2016 Straight weight 6 X 2 400, easy, talking trash to everyone

The DE bench press was always tons of technique work. I needed to reengineer how I benched because the old way relied on upper chest, shoulders, and triceps. I used very little back. There was nothing special here other than the two doubled mini band bench set-ups that I did. This little movement was invented by Big Fat Gross Jesse Burdick.

Place the first band on the bar inside the rack of the bench connected to the post above your head. The other band is set up in the normal place. This forced me to pull the bar out over my ripped abs. I did these every DE bench press session. Other than that movement, I tried to keep the benching on DE day to a minimum. Instead, I did back and arm work. It felt like the ME bench work that I was doing pushed my triceps enough already.

Jackass: Scott, as much as I hate you and think that you have the world’s biggest double chin, that was great information. You’re extremely competitive when you’re training. When you train, you seem like a man on a mission. Tell me how trying to destroy your teammates day in and day out really helped you.

Hoss: Well, I think you should train the way that you compete. I don’t try to destroy my teammates…well, maybe you. If I don’t feel that the ME movement on a given day is going well, I’ll suggest another one afterward. This usually separates the team a bit. Those who worry about getting hurt and those who train like they compete split up. Unfortunately/fortunately, you’re always up for the challenge.

Jackass: Tell me some stuff about yourself—job, age, wife, kids, beer, rugby, fights, anger, and so on.

Hoss: I’m 37 years old and married with three kids (Jonah is nine, Jack is six, and Karly is four). I work for a large technology company as a regional manager focused on technology for state and local governments. I played college football at Division II Cal-Poly San Luis Obispo from 1988–1992. After college, I moved to Hong Kong and played rugby for Aberdeen Rugby Football Club and the Hong Kong national team. The Hong Kong national team was comprised of only players who were in Hong Kong on rugby contracts. I guess this means that I was a professional for a whopping $20,000. I have eight caps (I played in international games versus another country) and played Canada, Japan, Fiji, and the USA.

Jackass, I have no idea what you mean by “anger and fights?” This isn’t behavior that I find to be appropriate. LOL

Jackass: Scott, just so you know, when I first met you and I said that we train balls out, I didn’t mean for you to find short shorts with holes in the crotch. You can see Scott Cartwright and the rest of Team Super Training on the squat and deadlift DVD, Never Enough. Never Enough is available on EliteFTS.com at the end of July. Thanks for the interview and thanks for putting up a 2400 plus total for the gym.

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