MDLP: Be Injured

I’ve been around for some time. I’m not going to give you the old man speech, despite my ancient soul, but I will tell you I’ve been through some shit. Real world experiences aside, I am going to keep this within the Strength world. I started training for a reason when I started martial arts 20 years ago. Within in that time I have earned the titles of Muay Thai fighter, Power Lifter, Rugby player and Strongman. I say earned because these were the sports and adventures I dedicated my life, body, relationships and everything else in between to. I have played and done almost any athletic endeavor I could get my paws on but these were tittles that I earned on the battle field of sport. During these journeys I earned my bumps, bruises and at times serious injuries. Fortunately and unfortunately I didn’t “earn” my most serous injuries until my later years where I suffered my back issues followed by my bicep tear. I say “unfortunately” because these were two injuries that taught me the most valuable lessons. Broken bones, stitches, scrapes, black eyes, concussions, and the like never slowed me down although I wish they had, which leads me to the point of this grandiose explanation of my life… when you’re injured (not hurt, theres a difference) BE INJURED!

Weird right? Am I telling you to respect the process of healing, slowing down, and growing else where? Is this coming from the man who never knew when to stop, quit or rest? Yes, actually I am and its because I learned the hard way.. the awful way. I wish I had learned some of these lessons early on in m life, especially the ones taught to me by Brian and my back injury. Hell, I wish I was reading articles like these when I was 24, just enough to maybe spark some patience in my “indestructible” young mind. I am talking about this because recently I have seen a flood of people “working through injury”, finding ways to complete certain lifts or training while being injured. Despite lifting with hazardous form, no regard for kinetic chains, and putting the body through very unneeded stress, these folks are being rewarded for this approach. Look I get it, Ive been there. It’s the, “this injury wont break me” mind set that people love but what kind of message are you really sending? To the uninformed mind or generally ignorant social media thumb swiper, lifting recklessly through injury looks not only cool but very rewarding on the social media platform. To the experienced and seasoned athlete, it just looks needlessly reckless and like a lack of patience and discipline.

When you’re injured, and I mean really injured, certain things needs need to take a break for a while. Take this time to develop other aspects of your life. Read more, see your family more, diet harder, expand your knowledge base and come back stronger from other angles. No one is telling you to stop training, on the contrary, keep training but also keep your end game goal in mind. Finding loop holes, straps, gimmicks and short cuts to accomplish certain main lifts (like the deadlift, etc) will take its toll one way or the other. The idea of “nothing is free in physiology” should be stamped on the fore front of our athletic minds. What you do today truly echoes an eternity in your lifting career. Lack of patience, foresight, and discipline today will take massive deposits out of your strength bank tomorrow. After the 4-6 months it takes to heal from a major surgery or injury , you will be kicking yourself in the ass when other things start falling apart, ESPECIALLY your spine, which requires your entire body working together to maximize its safety. Again, I bring up the Cost to Benefit Ratio philosophy I use at The Battle Axe and the “is the juice worth the squeeze” taught to me by Brian. There are certain lifts, for example the one armed SSB squat I did during my Bicep rehab, that still allow you to really get locked in and get the benefits of the squat with lower risk of injury on your back or other body parts. Yet the fact that I cant use both arms to optimize the lifters wedge forced my to be judicious with  the weight and volume of the movement. There are also many safe variations of main lifts, accessory work and dreaded “cardio” one can do to maintain or develop strength/fitness in other areas without setting you back in the future.

We as athletes love to fall in love with the process. Despite us killing ourselves for the outcome of a higher total, a championship or world records, I don’t think I have to venture far in saying we love the day to day tasks of trying to get there. The swag, the food, the pain, the soreness and glory.. we love it. It is very easy for us to love what we do when the sport is giving us everything we want and desire but when its time for the sport to get back what it needs many of us freak out. We don’t understand the idea of stopping, resting or waiting because we have drilled it into our minds that more is always more and that the “action” of patience is merely weakness. After 2017 I’ll argue the contrary until the day I die. Your character, your worth and your courage will be seared in time if and only if you know when to take time off. Your grit and LOVE of sport will be proven when you will do whatever it takes for your goals, which when you’re injured, means doing less and some times.. nothing at all. When you’re injured, be injured, find ways to become productive else where. Work on lagging muscles, develop new training protocols, build new habits, read more and most importantly never lose sight of the end goal. The decisions are easy, what is hard is to execute them when it maters and that is where you find out what you’re truly made of.

NEVER Stray from The Way


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Michael “MDLP” De La Pava is currently a competitive Strongman and owner of The Battle Axe Gym. Born in Miami, Florida into a Colombian household, Michael finished his schooling by attending Penn State University where he graduated with a Degree in Psychology. Having his roots in martial arts, he would go on to compete in various sports as a Muay Thai fighter, Powerlifter, and rugby player before committing himself fully to Strongman. During this time, he opened Miami’s first Strongman gym, The Battle Axe, where he currently coaches athletes from various disciplines including powerlifting, MMA fighters, Strongman, officers of multiple authorities and enlisted and active military operators. Competing in Strongman for over 6 years has given Michael the opportunity to rank as high as 15th in the nation (105kg), won Florida’s Strongest man (1st in 2014 and 2nd in 2015 in the 105kg class), lift and load a 420 pound Atlas stone, log press 335, pull 700, and most importantly, share the competitive battlefield with some of the best in the game. During this journey, Michael suffered what some would consider a potentially career-ending spine injury. It was at this time that Brian and Michael would begin working together to not only rehab his spine, allowing him to return to Strongman but also develop a new Strongman training program revolving around the 10/20 philosophy. Strongman and coaching have given Michael the opportunity to travel around the nation and the world to train, coach and be coached, as well as share ideas with various leaders in the strength community. Michael’s experience and network in strongman brings a welcome connection with the ever-growing sport of Strongman to the 10/20 team and PRS family.

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