MDLP: Pain is Presence

It has been a long time since I have felt the aches and pains of a real training cycle. The years have gone by and although the rust is starting to chip off and the gears are rolling, nothing comes for free. I would be lying if I told you this training cycle has come easy. The responsibilities I had 2 years ago pale in comparison to the real life stressors I have now. The line between coach and athlete is much more defined and at times drowning.  My body, although healed in many ways, is still an aging whiskey that is searching for the peace behind Valhalla…but not yet. I wake up every day and look in the mirror at the man I have become and whisper…Not yet right? Every day… I am not really asking myself this question, I am merely giving myself another chance to to answer…”NO, not today mother fucker”.

No journey to the competitive battle comes for free, not for me anyway. Like many of you, the path to a destination involves a lot of pain, and aches, and morning grunts. I wish I could tell you my walk to the Log press is one without the gate of a man who’s been through enough physical endeavors to snap the average human, but aren’t are all our steps a little different? The swagger of confidence, passion and experience. The soft hum of knowing you’ve been through worse. The grin of resolve knowing that every step it took to get here has been a battle of visceral decision making and judicious exclusion of whats is not necessary anymore. That is the stride of the warrior. That is the gate of what we all seek…

Here I was, taking the heaviest strict press I have done in 2 years and 3 months, without a shred of doubt. I don’t want to come off as this arrogant lifter that just knew he had it, instead I mentioned all of the above to affirm that all of these answers and experiences have come from the constant battle against fear, doubt and obstacles. What kind of fighter and battle would it be if all my success would have been given to me on a silver platter. No, I knew I was going to press it not because I had pressed it years ago but because I had been through enough shit to earn it again.

The press felt great. The aches and pains brought me presence.. remember that, pain is presence. I felt in control of the lift at all times and with such an awesome crew on this day, the energy was to high to fail. As I set the log down I could not help but celebrate and feel a visit from an old, old friend I hadn’t seen in many years. That sweet, sweet feeling of blacking out. With the rush and force of the weight I could feel my legs going, my lights dimming, my body wanting to fail me and in that beautiful chaos I could not help but laugh. To sit there in the face of falling apart and feel it all over again was overwhelmingly exiting. Such a beautiful feeling that had been covered in dust for too long. No, I don’t condone blacking out but it happens sometimes and here I am able to explain it to you once again. These moments of struggle and of not letting your lights go out without a damn good fight is probably why we are all here int it? Figuratively and literally, fighting and raging against the dying of the light every step of the way could be why many of us will never quit. The point of this article is not to embellish an event day of a Strongman but to reiterate the value of passionately chasing a dream. Remember that, we are so close… no matter how far.

Log PressWork Load:

  • TRUE Strict Press Single: 205,235,255,275,285,300

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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