For those of you who follow my log, you know that I’ve had a very bad stretch over the last year. While rehabbing a severely torn right pectoral, I pushed through and trained for five meets. I was only able to compete in four of them and I bombed out of three. Injuries piled up, bad habits were amplified by constantly training around something, and stubbornness got the better of me. By the end of this stretch of the road, I’ve wound up with an injured quad tendon, tendonitis in my right hip and adductor, and pulled muscles in my lower back. I won't even mention the things I was able to rehab along the way. Over the course of this year, my squat went from 935 pounds to not being able to handle 135 pounds. That’s where I sit today—beaten down and broken.

The purpose of this article isn’t to console myself or make excuses for my poor performances. These issues are my fault and mine alone. My hope is that this reaches someone before he makes the same mistakes that I have. In future articles, I'll try to show that those who have already made mistakes can make it back if they stay focused. After all, part of the reason we’re in this situation is that we were too focused on the goal and didn’t listen to our bodies or even those around us.

Where it started

I’d start with the pectoral tear, but that was an entirely different story. Instead, I’ll start with the way I moved forward, how it was good, and how it turned bad. After the first few weeks of rehabilitation, I found that I could squat and deadlift relatively pain-free with the help of specialty bars. I actually wrote a squat training cycle for the Programs That Work e-book for lifters rehabbing pectoral or shoulder injuries. The cycle went great. I got stronger, and rehab was going well. This was the good part. It was well-planned and programmed to address my needs.

My first meet back was the 2012 XPC Coalition meet. I went into this contest with a terrible outlook. This is where the bad part started. My goal was to hit a huge squat PR regardless of anything else. I never considered whether I'd even make it through the meet or build confidence or the fact that my deadlift was very strong. I would open on the squat with my previous PR of 885 pounds and finish with 955 pounds for the highest squat at my gym. It was a personal goal, but there wasn't any strategy, nor was there any room for compromise.

I didn’t consider that the judging would be very tight, even though numerous people who I have huge respect for had warned me that it would be (including the meet director). I also didn’t consider that a bomb after a career-altering injury could put me in a very bad spot mentally. The result of all this was three missed attempts—885 pounds on depth, 935 pounds on depth, and 955 pounds that wouldn’t come back up when I finally took it as deep as I needed to. A smarter self would have stayed at the 885 pounds after missing it on the opener, made sure to get it on the second attempt, and then made a jump accordingly.

From here, I made another bad choice. I decided that I needed to hit another meet quickly to get the momentum going again. I was in full-on panic mode. I had never bombed out of a full meet, but that’s because I always went in with a solid plan and was able to make adjustments on the fly. The total was important to me, not some silly personal goal that was very unimportant in the grand scheme of things. If they were calling squats deep, I would lower my attempts, get them in, and make up the ground with my good pull at the end of the meet. With the missing pec, knowing I was taking a token bench, this strategy had gone out the window. Only when it was too late did I realize it.

The meet I chose was the 2012 SPF OH state meet. It was a smaller meet than I would've  normally done, but there were some Westside guys competing and I thought that would push me. I trained hard straight through after the XPC and wound up sick and over-trained or under-recuperated...whichever you prefer. Regardless of this, my will carried me through and judging was favorable. I hit a 50-pound squat PR as well as a 20-pound deadlift PR, just missing a 50-pound PR when I dropped my final attempt from lockout. I was back in the saddle. I felt great and thought that this meant I could continue to push through to another meet for more PRs. I never considered taking some down time to heal up. This is where bad turned worse.

The SPF Pro Am was only three months away. It was just enough time to take a couple of light weeks and then jump right into another training cycle. Should work out fine, right? Wrong. The first time I took a moderate weight on the deadlift, my left biceps partially ruptured. This wasn’t a detachment that required surgery, but it did leave a hole in my biceps and slowed me down. Well, sort of.

The drive in me told me that I would be fine. Lots of people rehab small muscle tears in no time and go on to hit big numbers. Never mind the fact that you’re training for your third meet in six months. I switched to hook grip, replaced some of my deadlifts with good mornings, and kept training. I was strong and I’d be damned if I wasn’t going to get to showcase it.

PRs kept coming in the gym but never on the competition lifts, and I kept feeling more and more beat up every week. It wasn’t until about three weeks out from the Pro Am that I finally gave in to what my training partners had been telling me the entire time. I withdrew from the meet. I couldn’t get to the bar in a deadlift suit with the new hook grip, I was still only benching in the mid to high 200s, and my squat was stagnating. There wasn't any hope of hitting any PRs or even making it through the meet with decent lifts.

Now more frustrated than ever, I was determined to prove to myself that I was strong and everyone would know it. My biceps were healing, my bench rehab was going better, and I was even experimenting with a bench shirt. The APF MI Relentless meet was in two and a half months. It was for a great cause, I liked the meet director, and, again, I was strong. I continued training hard and heavy. My body hurt more than ever, and I was blocking it out with the same tenacity with which it was trying to let me know not to. I was drained and my immune system started to fail me. I wound up very physically ill a couple of weeks before the meet and I couldn’t shake it. I told myself that it would be fine because I hit some big PRs at the 2011 SPF Ironman when I was sick. I was convinced that this wouldn’t slow me down.

When the meet rolled around, I found myself in very rough shape. The result was a bomb on the squat. The three attempts at my opener all came up short. I was pissed off and embarrassed. I promised myself that this was my last bomb. There wasn't any way that I’d make the same mistake again. You see, it was more of the same. I was opening at 885 pounds and I wouldn't waiver on this. It was a weight that I had handled to depth and smoked many times in training. During this cycle, I had an APF judge and a USAPL judge calling my depth in the gym. Looking back on it, the weights got slower and slower every week, as I got more and more over-trained and sicker. In retrospect, I’m really lucky that I didn’t injure myself badly.

After the Relentless meet, I finally came to the realization that I was making stupid choices at meets and that I had to get back to a strategy. I trained light for a few weeks and focused on bench rehab. I got to the point where I was confident I could bench close to 400 pounds in a loose, single-ply shirt. I began thinking about totals again. My mindset, although very bad because of the bomb outs, was steadily improving. Rather than continuing down this road, which was good, I decided that I’d get ready for the SPF Ironman three and a half months later. This had been a good meet for me in the past, so I’d do it and get back on track.

At the beginning of the training cycle for the Ironman, I strained my right adductor badly deadlifting against heavy band tension. It actually may have partially ruptured, but I never went to the doctor to find out. To be honest, I didn’t want to know.

For the next three and a half months, I ignored the pain and worked around this injury, squatting three inches high because it would bind up. Then I developed tendonitis in my hip on the same side. I’m sure that it was taking a lot of the load that the groin area was supposed to be taking and thus became overworked. Both of these issues got worse as the training cycle went on, so I masked them by taping my leg and/or putting my briefs on right away. My training was a mess, but I told myself that I was too good of a lifter to let it stop me. I was taking more NSAIDs than any human being ever should and constantly getting ART, chiropractic adjustments, and massages. What I never did was take time off to rest and recover.

When the meet rolled around, I had convinced myself that I felt good. I kept my positive mental attitude and told myself this would carry me through. However, once I was in the warm-up room, I knew I was screwed. The weights felt heavy, my legs felt like jelly, and I couldn’t fire anything the way I wanted to. My last warm up was 820 pounds in full gear. I barely made it back up. I had my handler drop my opener by 50 pounds. I took the platform. For three attempts, I couldn’t budge the weight that was nearly 100 pounds less than what I had squatted months earlier.

As I sat there packing up my stuff and watching lifters who I knew I was stronger than hit numbers that I knew I could hit, I tried coming up with any and every reason why I couldn’t get things done and why it wasn’t my day. Never once did I consider the fact that I had now trained for five meets through several injuries and had never taken the time to let my body heal. Never once did I tell myself that I was a fool and it was my fault. Instead, I looked at my diet, my schedule, my training, and everything else that I was doing properly. It can be so hard to take an objective look at yourself sometimes. This is especially true when you’re so determined to succeed.

As time went on after the meet, I came to grips with the reality of what had happened. I decided I needed to take several months off, lift light, and get healthy. Unfortunately, the damage had already been done. I had developed so much tightness and instability from the injuries that I was constantly injuring myself over again even with weights in the 50–60 percent range. It had now gotten to the point where I couldn’t squat at all nor could I deadlift from the floor.

Looking back at all this, I feel like an idiot. I actually stopped writing this article more than once because of how dumb it made me feel. But I continued on with it because I know that it can help others learn from my mistakes. Listen to your body. Don’t push through legitimate injuries because you’re too tough or hardcore. Nothing I did here was tough or hardcore. It ruined a year of my powerlifting career with sheer stupidity. If I’m lucky, it didn’t affect more than that.

Moving forward

I recently contacted Mike Robertson of IFAST and Robertson Training Systems to get me healthy and back to training properly. Mike is rebuilding me from the ground up, and I’m confident that he’ll get me back on track in a fairly quick amount of time. The one thing I won’t do is push things too fast this time around.

The next article of this series will deal with the rehabilitation process as I get further into it. I promise that it won’t be such a downer. So stay tuned to see how I pull my head out of my ass and get back to the platform the right way. I’ll be 30 years old next month, so it’s too early to quit now. There’s a lot of work to be done.

Zane Geeting's Training Log

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