“Burying the needle”

As athletes we have the propensity to push limits. Good athletes, or should I say the best athletes, seem to set their own limits. “The mind that perceives the limitation, IS the limitation.” When I set out on this powerlifting journey, I had a very naive but confident outlook. At every meet I competed in I watched bigger, stronger, older lifters and respected them, but that was the extent of it. I never watched someone’s success in admiration, yet more in determination, thinking and even knowing that I can do that. It will take time, but I can do it. And as with most young athletes, I had bouts with my ego- jealousy even, of other lifters’ accomplishments or attention. But to leave a lasting mark in this sport, as I wish to do, you quickly realize it’s a marathon, not a sprint. And Instagram and Youtube can be a great tool or a great downfall. I digress.

I hate to harp on this. I feel like this is all my training/writing is focused on at this point, but it’s really all I have right now. It’s holding me up from my goals, but giving me a unique opportunity to learn more about my body and how to make it work for me instead of against me.I have an autoimmue disease, Ulcerative Colitis. My body decided it doesn’t like my colon and it’s doing everything it can to destroy it. A decade or so ago I’d be looking at surgery and a colostomy bag, but fortunately, there are drugs we have nowadays, biologics, that give patients plenty of options over surgery. EliteFTS teammates like John Meadows, Clint Darden, and Brian Schwab deal with similar issues. These guys are GREAT. They’re great athletes, competitors, fighters, and teammates. So my challenge will be to learn from them, but I have to do it my way.


So the question is- How can I stay healthy but push my own limits? 


Loaded question and it’s not particularly unique to me. There are things that stress us, every day and in every type of way. Here’s the catch we tend to forget, or choose to ignore- stress is stress is stress.

That 600 lb. squat is the same stress to your body as that last minute presentation you forgot about. That 400 lb. bench  is the same stress to your body as the fight you had with your partner last night.That 700 lb. deadlift that takes a week or two to feel recovered from- yeah, same as that stressful week of work right before the holidays. Our body can’t differentiate.

After losing 60 lbs. during my first diagnosis, I came back to squat 800, bench 700, and pull 765 in single ply in less than 6 months. I don’t consider that miraculous but I am pleased with myself. Now I’m dealing with another set back- at first I thought it was because I pushed too hard. But after some testing we realized it’s due to my immune system creating antibodies to the drug that saved me in the first place.

I had a great email exchange with Dave and a couple other mentors that opened my eyes to some things that I chose to ignore. Because I hadn’t yet learned that this was still an autoimmune issue, I thought “shit I’m getting stressed out and that’s causing my first flare up.” The only thought going through my head was “Fuck I have to back off of training. How am I going to train hard and be the best I can be without having constant flare ups?” My immediate reactions were - what can I DO to help reduce stress and what can I TAKE to help reduce stress.


I came up with the following:


More yoga

More recovery cardio

More deep tissue massages

Start floating again (sensory deprivation tanks)

More delegation (at work)




Cortisolv (recommended from someone with UC, it doesn’t block corticosteroid receptors meaning I can still take them for acute flare ups)

Dave stopped me in my tracks, thankfully, and made me look at the recovery piece of my training through the same filter as my training. Our bodies were made to adapt and survive. So if I decide yoga is my best stress release, and I start to hammer that multiple times week, it will help. But over the course of about 6 weeks it will become increasingly less helpful. I’ll adapt. So just like training, I need to rotate recovery modes, and you should be doing the same. I would bet most of you aren’t focusing on recovery at all, so here’s your chance.

My training will go back to a conjugate style. The next 12 weeks will look like this:

Saturday- heavy lower

Rotating squats and deadlifts using specialty bars with the focus being hypertrophy.

Monday- heavy upper

Rotating floor press, incline, and bench with a hypertrophy/volume focus.

I’ll tend to go heavier/higher percentages here because I’ve always recovered well from upper days.

Wednesday- speed lower

Box squats and speed pulls using accommodating resistance.

My concern here will be staying healthy and not tearing some shit. Corticosteroids are a bitch.

Friday- speed upper

Speed bench using accommodating resistance.

Again, the concern here is staying healthy. I may do these for 3 weeks on and 1 week off.

Set backs are a time to analyze. Look back and see what went right and what went wrong. Cherry-pick the good and take it with you. Remove the bad shit and make a mental note- don’t repeat the same mistakes.

Now it’s time to plot the new course and begin to right the ship. Head toward that new goal, but here’s the catch. You can’t just steer the ship. You have to row. Remember- THE CHIPS ARE ON THE FLOOR.

TRUST that you pointed the ship in the right direction and go to work. Start rowing. Don’t look up. Just row. And in my case, I’ll look up in 12 weeks, hopefully in a better place than I left. And if not, I’ll do some more figurin’.

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