MDLP: Training and The Way

Does victory over oneself count as a win? Is second place after 2 years off enough to fill my appetite for competition? Is the satisfaction of fulfilling the dream of coming back enough to water down my drive? Has injury made me over cautious, weak or afraid to push beyond limits? I ponder on these questions, sometimes for days on end and often to no answer. What then can I do to find stability here?  In the fire of self conflict and a tumultuous  relationship with mental peace and staying on course, how can I find what needs to be done. I know these sound alien to some of you but to many of us, in or out of sport, swimming with demons is a daily task… and in there lies the beauty you see.

I get asked what  “The Way” truly means to me. I can quote many lines by Musashi to help alleviate some of the confusion or I can explain to you how this quote has changed my life and training for the good. In the daily struggle to improve, the questioning, the fear, anxiety, the fire of a mental fight and search for courage is where I find purpose. It is in here where I fight to stay on a diet, to attack an 850 pound yoke, to not let my back slip into the depth of pain again. It’s in this pursuit of the process that I find the answer to all of the questions I asked above and the answer remains, I don’t know. I truly don’t. What I do know, what I can control and what I can LOVE is that I have the ability to get up every fucking day and go to battle, whether big or small, and come out victorious knowing I stood for something, that the trenches would not be my graveyard on this day, and that simply fighting forward is true progression. This is “The Way”… the art of not giving up, the daily fight against self defeat, the hammering and honing of the warrior spirit against all odds. Its courage to attack every rep even though that little voice in your head reminds you of injury, of what you lost, of what there is left to lose. The way is in the nuances of never giving up. There is no end game here, no answer, no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The Way, the gift and adventure of living is to dig into every single inch of life you have clawed for with a furious and passionate rage that it shakes the spirit. It is not getting to the horizon that matters, it is how the horizon sees your struggle.

As much as I could sit here and describe how this training session felt, the reps and sets and how happy I was with my performance on an accidentally over loaded circus D Bell, it would not be the true story. The tale behind the scenes is truly the mental battle that occurs on every single rep, set, day and session. The story behind the memes and screen shots. The tale behind the scars, wrinkles, broken and battered bones that hum of war. That is the story to tell with pride and the same concrete reassurance as if I was writing down a new deadlift PR. I once wrote that I am not always right, it is just that I am really good at being wrong and ill extend that a little more… It isn’t that I am unafraid, it is that the daily fight against fear has left courage as my only shield. Next time you step up to the platform, or the log, or the barbell and you feel that rush of doubt, fear and anxiety screaming at the top of its lungs.. rejoice, because you have been given one more chance to be a warrior… and that is “The Way”…

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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