44 and Broken (part 2)

In case you missed the first installment, let me bring you up to speed on what this series is about: I’m 44, have a list of injuries that keep me from walking, never mind lifting, but I’m not done yet. My body is telling me to call it quits and hang up the gear, but my brain is focused on something I have not yet achieved, the elusive 1000 pound squat.

It is one of the few goals that I set for myself that I have not reached. I remember being a kid and reading about my now, good friend, Dr. Fred Hatfield hitting a grand in the squat, and I said to myself, “I will do that someday”.   Someday never came. I got sidetracked by a whole bunch of things like working 2 jobs, starting a business, running a business, competing in Strongman, playing in an adult after work floor hockey league for a few years ( a terrible idea), family and INJURIES.

I always had it in my mind to get it done, but never fully committed to it long enough to do it. Sure, I trained HARD, but I never really focused on it 100%. When I did give it my best, I would tear something, like a calf, piraformis, bicep or whatever muscle didn’t want to cooperate at the time.   I also programmed my own workouts.

This usually led to me doing a max effort single and not having enough time to do assistance work for a number of reasons which led to something getting hurt. I was running my crew, helping them, coaching them and time would run out and I would have a client waiting for me. Oh well, I’ll make up the assistance work later. I never did. When you couple this with really bad nutrition for a while off and on, I let myself go and quickly became fat, weak and beat up.

Almost 2 years ago, I retired from the Sheriff’s Department after 21 years and said I’ll do it. Well, what did I do? I expanded my business and have been a one armed paper hanger for the last year and a half. About 3 months ago, I said enough is enough. I decided to stop programming my own workouts and enlisted the services of Brian Carroll. I also began Carbohydrate Back Loading with the help of John Kiefer (a genius).

I have since lost over 30 pounds of fat and gained an equal amount of muscle. Vincent DiZenzo told me about 2 weeks ago that I actually looked like I lifted weights for a change.   That’s a compliment coming from him. This is due to Brian’s’ programming and me having accountability to a coach and not just myself. It is also due to the genius of John Kiefer and the easiest, most mind numbingly simple nutrition plan to get strong and jacked, CBL.

I called Brian and asked him to help and be my coach. This is probably my best training decision in a long time. Brian is excellent at programming and peaking. At first I said I wanted to get my lifts back to something reasonable before I competed. I knew it wouldn’t take too long because once I get serious the strength comes back pretty quick. Brian encouraged me to just pick a meet and do it. Numbers be dammed. I was reluctant so he put me on a 12 week prep cycle which was full of stuff that I would not have done unless I had accountability to a coach. Things were going pretty well and about 7 weeks in I decided to not leave well enough alone and told him I needed a new plan for a meet on October 21st.

He thought this was a good idea and designed a new program for me right away. I’ll tell you, it is brutal, but the way he deloads me every 3rd week, it is working. I come from a long history of Westside training and this is not Westside. I’m kind of glad, because I don’t know if I could handle the accommodating resistance. My ability to recover from training is not what it was when I was 30, or even 35.

I set my maxes very conservative for the meet and used numbers that I hit pretty easily in training. They look like this: Squat 645, Bench 405, Deadlift 525.

Those are pretty pathetic to me. I look back at what I used to do years ago, before three knee surgeries, a torn labrum in the shoulder, a torn bicep and all the rest, and it gets me down.  I now need gear to lift less than I used to do raw. Hell, I pulled over 700 raw years ago. Now I’m chasing 600 in gear. Thank god for Metal gear.

Getting back to the injuries, I am fortunate enough to own a gym and have two of the area’s best soft tissue people on staff. My massage therapist Jen Noyer is second to none, and believe me, I know. I have had a lot of people work on me.  I asked her how bad things were when she started working on me and she said she was amazed I could stand up, never mind lift anything. My ART/Graston Doctor, Nate Tiplady is also unreal. Nate however just tells me that my soft tissue is “gross”. That is his official clinical diagnosis. I realize that everyone is not as fortunate as me and does not have people like this at their disposal. Without them, I will not be able to reach my goals. If you have the ability to get some work done, do it. It will add years to your career.


Okay, on to this week’s training:


I worked up to 80% in full gear for 2 doubles then added bands for reverse band work at 85%. This was for 1 easy double. Right before the bicep tear my squat was a little over 700 and I’m still feeling out the bicep with the straight bar. So far, so good. After the gear work, I did 3 sets of 10 Olympic style squats. These really kill me as squatting anything without briefs makes my hip feel like there are 3 maintenance men with a jack hammer and a blowtorch in it. I stuck with 225. Not a weight that will set any records, but it was the most I could do without extreme pain.

Brian gives me some leeway on choosing my assistance exercises. He love high rep leg presses, but I have never liked them. I think they open you up to a host of lower back problems if you let your ego get in the way. They also jack up my lower back like nothing else, and I have zero lower back issues. I hate the leg press. I use the Power Runner instead (see video). This fries my quads and also works the torso as a stabilizer well too.


I worked up to 90% in the Jack shirt for a double off a 2 board and then 95% for a double from a 2 board. After that it was reverse band work. Brian has me doing reverse band 3 boards for sets of 5.

Overhead presses for 5’s followed by close grip bench press for 5’s were next. I finished with band flyes for sets of 20. For ab work, Brian gave me the easiest exercise that I have ever seen in my life, the up and down plank for reps of 50-100. After consulting with him and telling him they were too easy, I suggested doing them in a TRX. Why did I suggest this? They SUCK.


I’m still figuring out my Metal King Deadlift suit and technique was the rule of the day. I used 80% for doubles. I’m playing around with the straps and I am jacking them down tighter each week. I feel like I am getting used to the suit and I think it will work for me. I have always pulled raw, but the King suit is pretty awesome and once I get used to it, I see 700 coming quick. I did block pulls form a 4” block at 90% after the deadlifts. Safety Bar squats were next for 10s followed by Safety Bar Good Mornings for 8’s. Oh, guess what, I had to do another 65 reps on the TRX after all of this. Remember what I said about accountability? If I was not accountable to someone else, I would not have done this much volume.

Oh, it’s too much volume for me to recover from, or some other bullshit excuse. Having a coach makes me do the stuff I don’t want to do. It’s not that I am lazy or unwilling to do the work, it’s just that when programming for myself, I will do less, thinking it is enough. It’s not. I need to reload.

I also do a fourth day of assistance work. I do this for three reasons. The main one is that I enjoy lifting and it keeps me sane. The second one is to make sure I am bringing up my weak points. The third and maybe the biggest driving reason is that since I am back loading carbs, I can EAT. If you don’t train, you don’t get to eat carbs. Adding in the fourth day allows me to eat and therefore GFH.

All of you older guys out there who are beat up like me, or working hard at your career and think that you can’t still compete, you are wrong. Make the decision to not quit. Make the decision to keep going. Pick a meet and do it. You’ll be happy for it later.

All of you young guys, read what I am writing and learn from my mistakes. There is a ton of FREE information on this site. Use it and listen to the older guys when they talk about the value of proper programming, recovery and pre-hab/rehab.

Keep reading this series for more on my progress training for the upcoming meet and the quest for the 1000 pound squat. It won’t be at this meet, but it is coming.


C.J. Murphy MFS, C-ISSN