MDLP: Hello Old Friend

I am not sure how to describe the feeling I experience when I say I “feel the battle drums”. As in most cases, I’ll do my best to explain it via here and although my words may fall short, I think I can relay the message clear enough. The feeling is that of a soft echo coming from deep inside your consciousness, or others would say spirit. Have you ever heard a live music act from far, far away? Almost like you are walking by a big stadium during a Saturday night and you hear this distant hum of music and vibration that you cant quite place your finger on. If it wasn’t for the actual sight of the stadium in front of you, you would be looking around, almost startled and curious wondering if you are hearing things. It’s quiet at first, a personal noise, one that you keep to yourself because you don’t know it yours yet. Yes, you can walk closer to it to identify it but you can also be patient, clear the noises from around you and lean in patiently. There! That exact moment where you start to realize there is something beating, humming and keeping pace and you are very much feeling it. That is the feeling of the war drums, the metaphorical note that I use to signify when the competitive spirit is starting to burn.

At my current lifting age, the “war drums” is not something it take lightly. When I wore a younger mans clothes, I would immediately flock to it, unwavering and uncaring. As I have matured in my sport, I have grown the ability to listen carefully and make sure the beat is for me and that it is calling to me and no one else. I am no longer fueled by the ego trap that often leads us to compete at wrong times but rather, by the desire to take control of my choice leading up to and during competition. Some might gather that this diminished my chances for competition and battle but I would argue that this only refines my taste for war and it sharpens my spirit as a man.

Warm up:

  • Big 3
  • Band push downs 1×50
  • Band curls 1×50
  • Band pull aparts 1×50
  • D bell shoulder press 3×10-15 with carious weighs
  • KB swings 3×10
  • Thoracic Spine Stretch

Work Load:

  • Circus D bell 6×1, 1×2 (140# d bell)
  • Fram carry 6 x 60ft 340#
  • Lat pull downs 4×15
  • One arm rows 3×12/12
  • Close grip pull down 4×15
  • Stir the pot 4×20/20

I enjoyed my time body building and I expect to keep some of these days, mind muscle connection, and attitudes intact during my strongman prep. My body feels strong but it has lost some edge as far as conditioning and it is time to start refining my craft again. I decided to start with implements I might see in the future and my arch nemesis the circus d bell. The circus D Bell has a history with me and she has consistently broken my heart in various competitions. From mental blocks to injuries, no training block or comp has come easy when it involves this old girl and I am happy to be back in the trenches chipping away at this lift. It has been 2 years and 3 months since the last time I have pressed the d bell and I’ll be honest, I was happier than a pig in shit to be lifting her again. The goal was to hit singles and a possible double with perfect form and starting to analyze weaknesses. My first event day in 6 weeks went exactly as I planned. How I do and what comp I do in the future has already been written. My plan is to execute and tackle future obstacles with character and courage, as no other options await me as I move forward.

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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