MDLP: Brief Squats and Yoke Runs

As the Iron gods would I have it, I was gifted a bad ass pair of new Inzer Predator briefs by my team on the same weekend I was meant to take my first 500+ pound yoke for a morning run. The week was filled day dreaming and visualizing the fun I would be having this weekend. I’ve lost more hours of sleep lying awake before heavy training sessions than I have before any major comps. I know I constantly refer to the time between my last heavy lifts and what I do now but its almost impossible to continue these logs without reminding myself how far I’ve come. This isn’t a soap box article, instead a reminder of how far one can fall before we realize how truly grateful we need to be of our training and strength. These logs are a direct peek into my mind week in and week out as I battle mentally and physically to come back into a world that was stripped away from me… twice. I don’t always break the fourth wall but when I do I make sure to give thanks to those who have been with me along the way. My family, my friends, my Battle Axe Clan, Brian Carroll and team PRS, you guys are the real MVP.

Inzer gear, briefs ans swag Inzer

 Team PRS swag Team PRS

Briefs and Battle Scars:

I had the luxury of having my clan and a great team show up to help me at 5am sharp. I had a long day of coaching a powerlifting meet ahead of me so we had to be in the gym before 5 Am and out by 7:15am. Open a gym they said right? Truth be told I haven’t put on a pair of briefs to hit free squats in about 3 years. In my earlier training years I always practiced briefed squats as a way of saving my hips and doing over load cycles (future article? You bet your ass). We came in with the same idea on this Saturday, over loading my squat and at the same time saving my hips for strongman training but not over doing my spine. Prior to this training session, I had not loaded more than 365# on a back squat in 19 months (another time line, bear with me here) so the idea was to get some good weight but not get greedy.

After a brisk warm up and some raw squats it was time to break in these briefs. For those of you who have never put on gear nor trained in it, I highly suggest you try it one day under an experienced eye. Aside from getting a new appreciation for a sport most new comers don’t know shit about, it truly involves extreme focus and exact bracing that I feel has high turn over for any strength sport. Four sweaty dudes, a slight ab strain, sore knuckles and a brand new definition of up close and personal and I was ready. We used the mono attachments here at The Battle Axe and I started to nail down my groove. After some shaky lock outs and one mono J hook clip later I was feeling great as I hit the 415-465 pound mark. Brian advised me to go as low as the suit would take me and thats exactly what I focused on. Squatting in briefs have an amazing ability to hone you in on 2 major things: 100% focus on every single part of your body and not letting your head burst into a tomatoey explosion. One misstep on the un-rack, one slip of a hand, a hip, a pinky toe and the gear will dominate your groove and send you off your track. It was made quite evident at 465# that perfection is the key, I could only imagine those big 800-1k+ squatters. I was appreciative of the amount of bracing and focus involved and all those months of trunk work paid off. I stayed conservative and enjoyed my over load session that absolutely kicked my ass. From warm ups, putting on briefs, slow squats and the amount of bracing I was about spent.. but the day called for yokes and it had begun to rain. >=)

Twinkle Toes on the Yoke:

The goal of the day was to hit 500 pounds on the yoke, maintain good speed and stay pain free. As I mentioned above, I definitely sassed something up in my abs and ribs so bracing was a little bit of a mission. The discomfort was not enough to keep me from wedging in properly and the warm up were speedy and sharp. I worked up to 2 sets at 505 pounds which is a decent warm up weight for most heavy runs. I would be lying if I told you I didn’t have bats in my stomach as I approached the yoke (yes I say bats not butterflies, wanna fight about it?). It’s a mix between nostalgia, rage, fear and happiness. Coming back in Strongman is like riding a bike through a forest fire, down a rocky road into the blazing shadows. And with that same bleak reality that everything ends and at any point this could be my last yoke on this planet, I fucking destroyed it. I ran my first set at 6.9 and came back and shattered that time on my second set by coming in at 6.2 seconds. Running 50 ft at this speed loosely translates to 8.3 ft in 1 second with 505 pounds on your back. A good day for any strongman and after a year and a half of not having a heavy yoke on my back, I was completely pumped. After PR songs, yelling, raging and verbal mantras I was feeling like my old self again. I’ll openly admit during the last year or so there were times when I wondered if I would ever be that same person again when I trained. I would lie awake for hours wondering if that passion would fade, if that rage filled post-deadlift scream would disappear. Truth is that man died long ago… and the person that killed him had become more passionate and full of fire than I could ever imagine. Being a leashed animal for so long had created such a strong purpose in me that I could only laugh after my second yoke run, life was good and I was sharpening my Axe again. Tell me the trenches you have fought out of and I’ll tell you the warrior you are.

Warm up:

  • McGill Big 3
  • Banded  goblet squats 5×5
  • Banded Crab walks 2 x 30 seconds
  • Band flies 3×20

Work Load:

  • Raw Squat with Buffalo Bar 1 x 145.235,295.325
  • Geared 2 x 1 415, 3 x 1 465
  • yoke 1 x 365,455, 2 x 1 505

Never Stray from The Way


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Mike De La Pava
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.
Mike De La Pava

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