Reflections on 2017

TAGS: 365 Strong World Powerlifting Games, hand surgery, physical therapy, Jeff Guller, box squats

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This article is written before the holidays, but those of you who read it won’t see it until mid-January. You will have already celebrated the holidays before seeing it. Nevertheless, let me wish each of you a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year filled with PRs. It is that time of year when we reflect on the previous year and resolve to do some things better in the coming year.

My year started rather inauspiciously. In December of 2016 I had two surgeries on my hand as a result of an auto accident in October. I started the year with my hand in a cast, wondering how I was going to train. Fortunately, it was then that I became associated with Brutal Iron Gym in Rock Hill, South Carolina. There they have a wonderful belt squat machine with an attached bench. It allows the use of weights and bands. Until my cast was off and I completed physical therapy, I box squatted my heart out two or three times a week. While I love to squat, only being able to squat is a literal pain in the ass.


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By mid-February, with the aid of a brace and tape I was able to grip a bar and start to bench press. By April, I entered a small local meet and paid to do squat only and bench press only. I was pleased that I did reasonably well, even with no PRs. It was still difficult to bench press and impossible to deadlift without a strap on my right hand. I was told that the hand would ultimately be stronger as a result of the surgeries. I am still waiting! It gets better in very small increments. At my age, every minute counts. Little by little by little, it will happen.

Once the cast was removed, I was able to squat conventionally again. Because that is what I do best, and because that’s all I could train with intensity, my squat went up. More PRs. I posted some videos of squats that I thought I would never accomplish. At the UGGS at elitefts, with the aid of single-ply briefs, a high box, and the support of my teammates, I squatted 425 pounds. Whether that ever happens again or not, I don’t know, but I will be at the elitefts Sports Performance Summit and associated training sessions in March.

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I discovered a relatively new federation with local headquarters in Rock Hill that is also international. I participated in one of their meets in July. By then I could bench press a little and squat reasonably well, but still could not deadlift. I was told, however, that if I did a token deadlift, I would qualify for their national meet in October. That I did. My squat was good, my bench was fair, and my deadlift was a token. Because there are few, if any, others in my little old man class, I qualified for nationals. Work, work, work to get this damn hand stronger; that’s what had to be done to get ready for nationals. I wrote about my conundrum in getting ready to deadlift. I used my dominant right hand turned palm up and still had trouble holding any significant weight. A week before the meet, as a last resort, I reverted back to sumo with my right hand palm down. With little time to practice, I was able to achieve a respectable lift — not, however, a PR. I was pleased with the results of nationals, and look forward to 365 Strong World Powerlifting Games in April of 2018.

After nationals in October I took an off-season, about which I have written. It ends on January 2, 2018, and I’ll begin to prepare for April. I am working on a program as we speak for that preparation. As we reflect on 2017, we resolve how to conduct ourselves for 2018. We don’t need to resolve to go to the gym; we already go to the gym. We don’t have to resolve to diet; we already eat reasonably clean. One of our biggest problems is dealing with all the damn civilians that crowd our gyms from January to March, trying to fulfill resolutions. Inasmuch as we already train hard, we can resolve to train harder. We are already strong, so we can resolve to get stronger. We can improve our technique on all our lifts. We can read our teammates ebooks, articles, training logs, and coaching logs to get smarter. And we can continue to strive for PR after PR.


RELATED: Rehab Report: Repairing My Hand and Planning My Return to the Platform


For myself, reflecting on 2017 made me realize what a good place I am in. My children are grown and doing well in their chosen professions and are very good people. My grandchildren are, thankfully, very good students and also very good athletes. But above all, like their parents, they are very good people. I have been younger and I have made more money but I have never been more content. The clients I train are great; they work hard and continue to make progress. I continue to make progress myself and the PRs keep coming. My association with elitefts is one of my favorite things. The employees with whom I interact have always been wonderful. My teammates are the greatest group of young people I have ever met. They have been encouraging, supportive, and helpful.

The more events I attend at elitefts and the more of my teammates I meet and get to know, the more I appreciate what a great group I am part of. Powerlifting has given me the ability to train hard and compete after a buttload of surgical procedures. Elitefts has given me the opportunity to express myself and talk about it. I am very fortunate. New motto: “You don’t quit lifting because you get old, you get old because you quit lifting.”

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