Team Samson

By: Jonathan Byrd

I am far from done, I honestly don’t know how to quit. My body is pretty beat up these days and has been for some time. I have come to learn that is the price I have to pay to lift at this high of a level. I wish I could tell you that it has been easy to deal with, but it hasn’t. All you can do is minimize the issues, because frankly I trained like a dumbass for years. See, injuries are what lead me to seek out Brian’s help in the first place, and what ultimately brought me to Team Samson.

I started to make the trip down to train with the crew back in 2013. It was just a little over 8 hours to get down to Jacksonville from my hometown. I would typically finish up work around 3pm, drive down and just go to sleep. We train in the mornings on Saturday so I typically didn’t get enough rest, but it was well worth it.


I have to be honest here though, it wasn’t always going to be the perfect fit. When I got down to Team Samson it wasn’t exactly the atmosphere it is now. Two of the core members had just suffered injuries that would end most lifters time under the bar. Adam Driggers, the owner of Team Samson, had just suffered a major injury at the Arnold. Adam had torn the posterior longitudinal ligament from the spine at l4 through S1 including a transitional vertebrae that not everyone has. It lead him to spend a few days in the hospital, and realistically should have kept him from lifting heavy ever again.

So when I got down there, here is Adam, not able to train, and just talking shit! I will admit it did make things fun, but when you are looking forward to training with a guy it is a little disheartening. Things are much different now, but truly when I got there I did not know how it would play out. I will say that Adam took it easy on me in general compared to some of the guys we have had to try and train there over the last few years. I was able to dodge a bunch of the hazing because we had another new guy at the time and he made a lot of dumb mistakes. It is always nice when someone takes the heat off you.

The new guy’s ultimate mistake was giving Brian a hard time. See Brian had just started the rehab process with Dr. McGill on his back. See Mike (the other new guy) decided to take a shot at Brian rather than just take his hazing. He made a comment about was Brian going to lift, or keep doing yoga? Well of course that put the focus all on Mike and allowed me to slide under the radar as the new guys. So here I am, moved 8 hours from home to train with a group of guys who can’t even train!

I have talked about this with the guys before, but at the time in my mind I was thinking I really made a big mistake. These guys are done lifting, and I am trying to come back from this pec tear, could I have walked into a dumber situation? Looking back I would have been fine even if Adam and Brian had both decided to stop training heavy. I would have been fine because their knowledge didn’t go anywhere. It would have worked out because they both go out of their way to help everyone in the gym be successful. Of course they are both back training and lifting at a very high level. Even Adam who is done competing is able to do numbers that most guys dream of.

See being around people like Adam, Brian, and now Clint (who suffered a bicep tear and has made a successful come back) really helps keep me grounded with my training and injuries. See I am paying the price for bad training in my years prior, and I understand that. I have never been the voice of reason, I was always the go until it blows off attitude. I am lucky to have these guys around me now, they help keep me grounded. A few weeks ago I would have went until this quad tendon blew off at the meet, but instead I listen to both Adam and Brian who suggested that I just shut it down. Surround yourself with likeminded people who have a similar attitude is a recipe for success.

I may never reach the numbers I have dreamed of for powerlifting, but it surly doesn’t mean I haven’t enjoyed the ride. I have come to know some of the best people and best friends I could have ever asked for through this sport. The commitment at Team Samson to get every person better is unlike anywhere I have ever been. That is what separates us from other gyms, and it is truly what makes us successful. I challenge you to find an environment like that, because not only will your lifting be better, but your life outside of the gym will be as well.

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Jonathan Byrd

Jonathan Byrd is a competitive powerlifter, with over 16 years of training experience. Byrd has been ranked nationally for the past 6 years under multiple categories. His total has ranked as high as second nationally in the 275 class. He currently has a best total of 2500lbs. Best individual lifts include a 1040lb squat, a 750lb bench press, and 735lb deadlift. His 1040lb squat ranks him 26th all-time squats at the 308 class. Jonathan currently trains out of Team Samson Gym in Jacksonville, FL. Before powerlifting Jonathan was a college athlete at Methodist University as both an all-conference football player and track athlete. Following graduation he played four years of arena football in various leagues.

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