MDLP: The Silent Professional

I have been gifted with the opportunity to spend time with some very bad ass men and women in my life. Both in and out of the armed forces, in and out of the ring, and both on and off the competitive athletic field. During these times there are some terms that stuck with me for a very long time. One of these great terms was “Silent Professional” told to me by my good friend and brother Scott Weaver. What, who and where Scott does what he does is not necessary to write down (and he’d like it that way haha) but lets say that taking out bad guys and lifting some Strongman shit is just another day at the office. After one, two, possible 15 drinks at a local watering hole he told me the back story of what the term “Silent Professional” truly means in the special forces community. I’ll be honest, it stuck with me hard.

Obviously I am not one of the most silent guys and by no means do I intend to sit here and tell you that I am going to try. What I will tell you is that, like in all things in my life, I will draw strength from the story he told me and use these words as fuel source. As a guiding light to help me find my way but more importantly, consistently challenge me to grow. I happen to wake up on my deadlift training day with one goal in mind, 600 stiff bar deadlift. Thats it. As sure as I was going eat, drink and poop.. I knew this was going to happen. Confidence, arrogance, cockiness, call it what you will, some days you wake up knowing something is for you and no one else. I woke up with the idea of what a silent professional would do. I wasn’t going to broadcast this across the world, or beat my chest, or yell beyond my limits. Something inside of me wanted to treat this like another day at the office, like this is something I knew was mine. Yes, I do draw strength from proving nay sayers wrong and showing the world that one can come back from severe injury. I don’t mind sharing those stories and outlooks but today was not the day to paint myself the “come back kid”. Today I wanted to be a man doing his fucking job with the self assurance that celebrating this 600 pound deadlift would be the equivalent of celebrating finishing my breakfast. Yes I appreciate eating every morning but I also don’t start yelling “NOW ITS DOWN” when I finish my meals, you get what I am putting down? Haha

The sleep apnea hit me hard the night before this deadlift. I woke absolutely drained and those of you who suffer from this know exactly what I mean. As I get things in order to get a sleep study done, I have to acknowledge that some days are going to suck. My warms ups, although focused and aggressive, felt a little off. In the gym such as in life, not all things will go according to plan and it is our job and gift to adapt accordingly. As 585 was loaded on the bar I could feel a part of me start to pull away. Maybe it was fatigue, fear, anxiety or just the general stresses of life start to chip away on my focus. I sat there and began to focus and in walked my old Muay Thai coach Wesley Carroll for a surprise visit. As if the Gods themselves had heard my trepidation, there in walked the man who had helped form and shape the warrior mindset I had take upon myself to adopt. Something inside of me lit on fire. You cant lift like shit in front of your coach and mentor right?

What would follow are some of the best stiff bar Strongman deadlifts I have ever done. I specify stiff bar because it really does make the deadlift a little more difficult for me and traditionally it has been a bar that has forced me to round over. I also mention these are “strongman deadlifts” because of the use of the hitch during my 600 pull. In our sport this is completely legal and a particular skill that takes practice and is often times the difference between that extra rep and second place. The last time I pulled 600 on this specific bar it took the life out of me and looked absolutely awful but here we are 3 years later doing what needs to be done. No celebration needed on 600. No yelling. Just a man doing his job and holding that bar because it is his and no one else’s.

Warm up:

  • Big 3
  • 4 round circuit TKE x 20/20, Single Leg RDL 4×8/8, T spine stretch x 10 secs
  • Face Pulls 3×25
  • Band Pull Aparts 2×20
  • KB swings 3×10

Work Load:

  • Deadlifts 1-1-1-1-1 (455, 495, 545, 585, 600)
  • Keg Runs 2 sets with 175# kegs
  • Single Leg RDL 4×12/12
  • Band Pull Throughs 4×10

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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