MDLP: Deadlifts on Deadlifts

Testing my body, specifically my back, is always a process during training. My joints are slowly starting to recover from the body building off season and my back has been happy. I like to approach deadlifts with courage peppered with serious caution. At a certain weight and intensity, there is no room for errors on any lift but deadlifts has a special place in my heart .. well cause its Spinal. I am a big believer in suited work during early training cycles because of the work it takes to stay tight, keep the wedge, and its emphasis on maximizing neuro. I’ve also concluded, perfect form is essential  so the suit doesn’t take advantage of you and to optimize training. Keeping my early Axel deadlifts honest is a good way for me to gauge if I am ready mentally and physically.

For those of you who have trained in gear, it is very well established that it is near impossible to do it alone. I am fortunate enough to have a great team, environment and my Battle Axe Clan is very supportive of my training. It is not ideal for me to train during the evening hours because that is when I am coaching but I needed some help during suited pulls. Getting in the suit is an awesome adventure of team work and it feels like you’re in a small wrestling match with a gorilla, needless to say I was excited. With my boys Vinny and Felipe helping me get in and out of my Inzer Fusion suit I was excited to go. I have a size 38 suit which I fit into rather easily and a size 36 suit which I am too fat to fit into, so I went with the size 38 so I wouldn’t shit out a lung trying to get into the smaller one. Being a little bigger, the suit did not add as much at the bottom which is what I wanted. With the straps placed tight around my shoulder it makes a true fight to get in position and I feel this trunk endurance has major turn over when going back to raw lifts.

***None of these lifts are any where near a max or what is expected at competition. I want to state this as I see so many Strongman starting too heavy, too early in their training cycle and wrecking their bodies before comp. The weight, with a Suit and off an Axel, might be the heaviest I have done in a bit but no where near my max potential and its executed with an understanding that I am pulling for singles with ample rest pre and post training day.

Work Load:

  • Axel block pulls 3×1 (with suit)
  • Axel block pulls 3×1 (no suit, no belt)
  • Single leg RDL 4×10/10
  • Seated hammy curls 1×100
  • Stir the Pot 3×25/25


I was able to get some serious work having pulled 615 on an Axel and off blocks for 3 sets. I would also drop down to 525 block pull, belt-less, which was a personal record for me.  I felt no pain and was able to set the stage for some future lifts. I am not fast off the blocks which forces my form to stay true. Slow and steady off the floor, where I am personally more susceptible to injury, allows me to practice pristine form and a tight wedge over and over. It is always a mental battle for me to pull heavy. Where I once had unending courage and fearless approach, I now have a steady cautious perspective but a hardened courage. I always tell my lifters one cannot truly appreciate courage or growth without having tasted absolute fear or the bottom of injury. At times I don’t bring this up to avoid sounding like a broken record but it is the reality of my world and many of us out there. Knowing every movement comes with a price and that tomorrow can be taken away from you in the snap of a finger only allows me to truly appreciate the day. Gone are the days of this uncaring, painless and almost childish approach to lifting where I did what I wanted whenever I wanted. My current world is understanding that loving the process of strategy, pain resilience and the courage to push forward despite the battle scars, is everything to me. Training and lifting will always be there, how one approaches the honing of their skill is a process to be mastered daily, with chances falling through your fingertips by the minute. Approaching each day with this knowledge is one of the main things keeping this old Man Logan soul beating brighter than ever.

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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