MDLP: Deload week and Old Man Logan

Life is challenging. Outside of training is where I find some of my deepest struggles and obstacles. When these endeavors are compounded with physical limitations in training then I truly am in the storm. It is easy to stay the course when training and life are convenient and cooperative but love for a sport is proven within the depths of struggle. Due to outside stressors, I have deviated from the way outside of the gym. I have found myself drinking too much, sleeping too little and over stressed with things far outside of my control. March is hard on a personal level but more importantly I am hosting Miami’s Baddest (my local Strongman Comp) in 4 weeks. To finish this off this delicious sundae of work, I am prepping for a strongman competition May 11th in Kentucky.

This is not a list of complaints but rather the reality of my world and the reality of many others. Due to poor decisions my back got a little sassy. I am not in a bad place but the reality of my life is I am ALWAYS a few bad decisions from being at the bottom of the barrel again. This is a reality I have to live with the rest of my life. I asked Brian recently that I miss a “normal” life and he responded in a way that only a coach can. “What is a normal life for you Mike? Everything you do has a consequence and that is the reality of your world”. Bitter pills to swallow without water are the greatest teachers in life. So what does one do?

I took a day to gather my thoughts, look for outside sources of motivation and mental stability and reach out to those that could truly help me. I took a mandatory and abrupt deload week to let my back settle. The option is not to stop but what I need to eliminate to  keep going. I purchased a CPAP to better my sleep and crush my sleep apnea, I did not go to a music concert to avoid further back irritation, increased my big 3 and walking and start to set my eyes on the horizon. What I am trying to say here is that the fight to stay the way is fucking DAILY. That I am far from the mountain top and that every step is not a “normal” one. I am a large wolf held back by a tiny man on the largest chain in the world but some how this little human holds the wolf back from running loose all over the mountain side. Growling, yelping, barking, teeth glaring and howling, this wolf fights daily to set on fire all he sees before him… but its not time for that yet. Over 2 years into the process of healing my spine and a life time to go, I continuously have to remind myself that there is one road to walk and it is the hardest.

With a competition on the horizon and life’s realities knocking on my door on the daily, I have to pay to play. I have to increase my back hygiene, my weekend responsibilities, and continue to push forward on the 10/20 philosophy of the 24/7 athlete. This week has been a mental struggle but also an opportunity to sear the idea of what it takes to keep going forward in strongman. Complacency and the soft hum of normalcy lures us all but it only the will to win that allows to hold fast, grounded and resolute to what we want to accomplish not only sport but in life.

De Load Week:


  • McGill Big 3 x 2
  • 10-15 min walk x 2
  • Weighted Carry x 1
  • Single leg RDL 4×8/8
  • Banded Goblet Squat 6×4
  • Nerve Flossing x 1-2

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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