The Reason for the Letters — JL's Technique That Is Fixing Dave

TAGS: message therapy, MAT session, activation drills, muscle testing, dear JL, muscle activation, rehab, recovery, dave tate, JL Holdsworth


If you've been following my Dear JL posts, you've noticed that I've been working with JL over the past few weeks to help with a few aspects of my training. For a lot of reasons, we haven't shared the details of what he's been doing. I'm going to bring everyone up to speed now.

Three or four weeks ago, before my first JL Letter, I got a text message from JL telling me that he just got certified in something new. He said that he really thought it could help me and asked me to stop by so he could share the information with me. Whenever someone I know and have great respect for asks to share something new with me, I listen. JL is a person that has been constantly learning since I've known him, in the training sector and business sector both. From both angles, he's constantly looking for an edge to be better at educating himself.  When I got his text messages, I was all over it. There was no question I wanted to see what he was talking about.

The next day I went to see him after my MAT session. When I got there, JL was like a little kid in a candy store. He was excited, drawing diagrams on the board and explaining all of this shit to me. I was following what he said, but it was radically different than what I had heard before.

I let him ramble on about it and after about 20 minutes I started to tune him out. JL was really excited but he is worse than I am when it comes to repeating himself. Then he threw me on a table and started the treatment. It's not MAT, it's not deep tissue work, and it's not message therapy. The only way I can explain it is that it is fucking painful. He's just fucking me up.

RECENT: The JL Letters — Passages 1 and 2

Keep in mind that this dude is 300 pounds. He's got a grip like a fucking world champion. His finger tips are calloused. Each finger is the size of a fucking banana. While I was on the table, he dug into my abs and my rips and was just busting the shit out of them. I can honestly say that for the two hours I was there, it was without a doubt the worst pain I've ever been in in my entire life.

 Everyone that has gone to see JL has said the same thing: this fucking hurts. I sat there and battled through it, but I'm not going to lie. I wanted to tap out a hundred times, but I wasn't going to give that cock sucker the satisfaction. I just let him keep tearing me apart.

JL homework

My homework from JL.[Here is the scroll of gold. I would explain but this is specific to my issues - and many, there are. There are others that got added later that are not on this. This was after the first session.]

When he was done, he did some muscles testing to find what muscles had been activated and which ones hadn't. In some cases he hit muscles that should be a little pliable and should move, but wouldn't. They were like bricks. He was strong enough to get under these muscles and break them up.

After that session on my way back to work, I decided that I needed to go home and just sit down. I was fucked up. I went home, sat down, passed out for two hours, and then woke up and realized I needed to go train.

I went to the gym and did some activation drills that JL had given me, and then started working up with the Spider Bar. I was only planning on doing speed work that day because I had done max effort work on Saturday and it was only Wednesday. Normally I wouldn't do two max effort sessions in a row, but as I was working up in weight I felt fucking amazing. I kept working up and figured fuck it, if everything feels good I'll keep going heavy. I went on up and hit a 90-pound PR. On my last set I didn't even shake, which is usually my biggest problem. I normally shake like a tree blowing in the wind. I was all locked in and didn't move. I haven't been that locked in since the early 2000's.


After squatting I went to my car. I had to decide if the two hours of pain with JL was actually worth the PR. It took me damn near an hour, but I called JL and told him what happened. He said he wasn't surprised because he had seen the same thing in other friends that he had worked on. I went back to see him again later that week and decided to milk it for everything it's worth.

When I went to see him the second time, it didn't hurt as bad as the first. I kept drilling away and trying to hit PR after PR on everything I could think of. Then I went in for the third time. I knew I was fucked up going into the session with JL because I had been going balls to the wall on everything for two and a half weeks. Everything he had fixed, I had broken. He was either really pissed off because I had regressed, or I was just really fucked up, because that third session was by far the worst. There were a couple times I did tap out and told him he had to stop.

MORE: The JL Letters — Passages 2 and 3

After the session we talked about how this could be a training regulator for me. Because I'm not training for a meet or anything, I need something to tell me when to back down and not train so fucking hard. You can't do it 52 weeks out of the year. So we decided to use the sessions with JL as an indicator of when I need to push harder and when I need to back down.

When I left on that third week, he told me to keep things at a 7 (on a ten point scale). A 7 means I can do almost everything except for that top 30% of either exercises or training methods that are very hard for me to recover from. An example of something that's very hard for me to recover from would be a max effort deadlift or a real single max effort movement that I'm going to strain for more than 5 seconds on.

I followed this rule and stayed at a 7 all week. When I went back for the fourth week, he did the therapy and the muscle testing and told me it was safe to take things up to an 8.5. When he tells me I can be back at a 10, I won't push it straight to 10 but will begin progressing there.

I've tried a lot of different versions of the same bullshit and none of them have really worked for me. The difference is that this shit actually works. A lot of people have asked me if this would work for them like it does for me. I don't know. I'm super fucked up. Would it make a difference for someone who isn't as fucked up as I am? I don't know. That's a question for JL. He's going to write an article with more information to explain what we've been doing and where he wants to go with it.


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