44 and Broken, Part 3

I’m three weeks into my journey to return to competition after a six-year layoff. So far I have received a lot of positive feedback for putting my quest out there. At first, I was skeptical because I hate keyboard cowboys who sit behind their computers and bash everyone for not benching 1700 pounds because they have a friend who “does that much for reps” or whatever. You know what I’m talking about. Well, suffice it to say, this hasn’t happened...yet. I really don’t care if it does.

The beauty of powerlifting and strongman, is that when you go to a meet, you never see a lifter bashing anyone who is on the platform giving 100%. It’s the people that don’t compete that do the talking. I don’t value the opinion of someone who is doing nothing and putting others down. I also am not doing this for the recognition, or to get a pat on the back. I’m doing it for two reasons. The first is what I have already stated, I’m not done. I have goals that I want to achieve.

The second is to be a positive role model for my son. He loves watching me lift and being in the gym. If I can show him that daddy is still trying, even though things might not be going my way, and that I am NOT quitting, that will go a long way when I tell him to give 100% and to never give up. If he sees me doing it, my words will not be just words. I think that that is one of a father’s jobs, to be a great role model for their children.

Brian Carroll of Team elitefts™ is my coach and he had me on a deload this week. When I began training with him and reviewed the program, I was skeptical of deloading every thirdweek, but put my faith in him. He was 100% right. I needed the deload this week. I was fried.

The week began with squats. I did 60% for 2 sets of 3 with the safety bar and my AWESOME Jack briefs. My son came to the gym with me as we were closed for Labor Day and ran the Monolift. The day before I had a conversation with him, it went like this:


Me: Hey buddy, you want to go to the gym with me tomorrow and run the Monolift for me?

Bubba: YUUUP (like in Stepbrothers)

Me: Do you know what the Monolift is?

Bubba: Nope. I just want to hang with you daddy.


It kind of made me tear up a little. It’s the Irish in me. He did a GREAT job on his first time running the lift too.

This was followed by Pause Squats for 3 sets of 8. I was really burned out, so I kept it light.

Brian lets me choose my assistance with guidance. As I have written before, he loves the leg press, but I HATE it. I have never been a fan of using machines in my training, except when I was a teenager and didn’t know too much. I know a little more than I did then, but not a lot; and I don’t feel that machines have a lot of value. Some do, like the Reverse Hyper, and one we have at TPS, The Power Runner. I swapped the leg press for the Power Runner and I was supposed to do 3 sets of 15. I did 2 sets. I know my body pretty well at this point and when my hands were shaking like they did after a few trips with a 1000-pound Yoke on my back I knew it was time to back off.

I did 2 sets of 20 of 45 degree back raises with an average band after that.  This was probably not a good choice as I was shaking even more. I looked like Dave Tate with a 700+ squat on my back just standing still. This is a sure sign for me that it was time to shut it down and go eat.

Bench day was next. I did Swiss Bar™ floor presses next for 3 sets of 8. Brian told me to keep it light and that is exactly what I did. I was still feeling it form the last workout and stayed at about 215. Overhead presses were next.  The overhead press is one of my favorite exercises and has a great carryover for me on the bench. My technique on the bench has always been good, but it has never been a strong point for me. It is my WEAKEST of the 3 lifts. My best was around 500 in a denim shirt. I am now using a Metal Jack Bench Shirt and expect it to be much more once I get a few training cycles under my belt. Anyway, when my overhead press is strong, my bench is strongest. I normally work the Overhead Press on Saturdays, but Brian had it in the plan today, so I did it.

I was going to go to about 185 for sets of 10. Gravity and nervous system fatigue kicked in, as you will see in the video. I struggled with 135. Really? 135? Pushdowns with an average band for 3 sets of 15 were next. These were also a lot harder than I thought they would be. I guess Brian was right on deloading me as he does. I finished the session with band flyes for 3 sets of 15 and a few sets with the Pro Ab Wheel.



Brian and I have a difference of opinion on ab training. The main exercise he gave me was a beginner exercise for clients at TPS, and I told him that it wasn’t working out for me. I explained that I normally do them on a TRX, and they are much more effective done that way for those that can handle it. He said to go ahead and do the same amount of reps my way. He is on crack. I do as many as I can, but usually fall short on the reps due to severe vaginitis and ab cramping. I skipped them today in favor of the ab wheel.

I went home and ate my face off after this.  I literally ate as much as I could and woke up STARVING the next day.  I was also pissing sweat like Matt Rhodes just sitting on his hay bale munching oats form his feedbag. This is due to the back loading. Kiefer explained it is normal to break out in the Rhodes-like sweats after eating. It means that your body is doing what it is supposed to; burning fat and building muscle. I’ll take his word for it. He’s been right so far.

Deadlift was on the books for Friday. I was scheduled to do technique work and dial in my form in the Metal King Pro Deadlifter suit. I have always had trouble pulling in a suit, but the King has a short learning curve and is starting to work out for me. I have been playing around with the strap tightness and had them jacked down pretty tight this week. I used 60% for 5 singles. I am pretty happy with today’s deadlift work. The form felt much better and I was able to get to the bar with the straps jacked a little.

Brian wanted straight leg deadlifts next, but I did Keystone deadlifts instead. The Keystone deadlift was taught to me by my friend and mentor, Dr. Fred Hatfield. He prefers them over straight leg deadlifts and RDL’s due to the lower shear force on the lower back area. They look just like an RDL, but you stop at the knee. I have been doing these for years and I have never had a lower back problem (except tearing a piraformis form doing something incredibly stupid).


I did 3 sets of 5 with 365 while my boy watched. 365 is very light for this exercise as I have done well over 700 for 5’s in the past. It was awesome to watch my son walk over to the bar after a set and try to pick it up. It was little heavy for a 7 year old. I think when he is 9 or 10 he’ll be ready. Dumbbell rows were next for 3 sets of 10 with a hundred pound dumbbell. Last was the TRX pike that I discussed earlier. You can see it in the video. I was supposed to do 50 reps, but the vaginitis kicked in around 35. My abs felt like there was a crew of welders in there brazing metal with a torch.

Saturday was assistance day and I was still feeling banged up, but worked out anyway. If I was smart, I would have taken it off, but when you are back loading, you don’t get to eat a lot if you don’t train. I wanted to eat. I did the overhead press for reps very light and then one of my favorite tricep exercises; the safety squat bar JM press. I tried to keep focused in this workout but it was not to be. Normally when I am training, it is with my usual workout partners and they know I hate to talk. I need to stay focused or I go to shit. I have never been one of those guys who can fool around and then hit a huge lift. I need to keep quiet, get inside my own head and stay focused like a shark with laser beam in its head.

I was training by myself today and it seemed like I had a sign on me back that said “Ask me a stupid question, and tell me all of your problems”.  People just would not take the hint. I am not subtle either. I dragged through the JM presses and then did some pullups and Bamboo bar benches. After that, I went home and proceeded to eat my face off. I also watched a bootleg DVD of Ted that night while dipping 3 cans of Skoal.  I wish Skoal was got you strong and jacked. I’d look like the Lord Humongous from Road Warrior if it did.

It was s tough week, but as I write this in Monday morning going into Week 4, I feel fresh and ready to tackle the re-load. I am breaking in my new Metal Jack Pro Squat Suit today and have no idea what to expect. Jo Jordan and Brian tell me there is not a big learning curve with it and it should be a great suit for me. You’ll find out next week.

Check out the videos of this week’s training below (all THREE videos are on a playlist so they will automatically advance to the next segment) and keep reading about an old guy trying to chase his dream. Thanks for reading.



CJ Murphy is the owner of Total Performance Sports (TPS), the top gym for serious lifters in the Boston area. In addition to having been names One of America's Top 20 Gyms TWICE by Men's Health Magazine, the gym was awarded "Best of Boston 2012" by Boston Magazine. If you are in the area, stop in and check the place out!