The Rule of Three

By Michael De La Pava

Let me paint this picture for you. I’m the son of an artist, so I’m going to go easy on you and use a soft watercolor base to describe the start of most of our weeks. It’s Sunday night, and we have a whole week ahead of us. You are perpetually upset Game of Thrones is taking forever to come back, West World is pleasantly confusing, and you’re preparing for the reality that actual work starts tomorrow morning. Yet, like many of you reading this, the week also brings training. There is an exception to the rule as I’m sure some of you train on Sunday or have a particular training schedule that might crack the mold, but for the majority of lifters, the Sunday-Monday transition is crucial in my opinion. I’ve had the luxury of talking and sharing ideas with some of the best athletes in strength sports as well as the fortune of having played in several different sports. During these experiences and conversations, I have gathered and applied some mental and physical steps to prepare me for an intense training week. Whether I was lacing up my spikes for the Rugby pitch, polishing off the mitts for Muay Thai, or prepping my body for a heavy Strongman event week, I have found these “rules” to have helped me start and finish the training week strong. Some of us start our week on different days, but besides those personal schedules, I feel these steps may apply to anyone. Although there are many more, these remain my favorite and most generally applicable to all sports.



1: Saturday night is Saturday night:

Look, I’m a realistic rhino (and a fan of alliteration). I understand that for many of us a Saturday night is a Saturday night and often includes events with our friends and family and some drinks. Outside of competitive prep, or extreme personality cases, a Saturday night with certain vices, whether its food, drinks or a sleepless Netflix binge, is a regular occurrence. I’m not condoning any of these actions, although I am guilty as charged, I am telling you that if you’re going to play on Saturday, then do it and leave it there. If it’s a day to indulge, then by all means indulge. Enjoy your family and friends and whatever tickles your pickle, but once you get home and prepare for the week… it’s time to prep for the week. Don’t sit there and beat yourself up and make yourself feel bad because you don’t play World of Warcraft in your mom’s basement (Orc enhancement shaman, want to fight about it?). Leave your “Saturday” in the past and give yourself a day to recharge mentally and physically. Making the day before your first training session a margarita event is always hard on the body and your mental focus. Am I speaking from experience? You bet your pickled liver I am.

2: Have your training week ready:

Write that down. No, write that training program down. I have found that when I have my week laid out in front of me, it helps me calm my mind. If I know what the week is bringing me, not only do I have something to look forward to, but I have one less variable to worry about. Presumably, the week is going to bring to me work stress, family stress, possible zombie apocalypse stress, so I feel comfortable knowing that at the very least, I am going to deadlift a heavy double on Tuesday. Contrary to popular conversations on social forums, playing the week by “feel” has never worked for me and has often placed me on the path of either reckless training sessions, or lackluster lifting. In a world where many of us have to pay rent, take care of family, deal with bosses and money, it can be mentally comforting to know what lies ahead for you in what you love to do. That mental rest pays out in dividends over the years; trust me.

3: Sundays are for prepping

Many of us prep our meals for the week on Sundays. Whatever the day is that precedes the beginning of your week, there is always a lot of physical preparation. Like it or not, the human is a creature of habit. We thrive on sticking to a plan and having at least a fighting chance to face the week if we have not only mentally prepared (mentioned above), but also physically prepared. Aside from the preparation of meals I have found that laying out my training clothes for my first training session truly helps. Very similar to getting your Monday office outfit ready, seeing your belt, shoes, shirt, wraps, etc. all neatly laying inside your gym bag gets the mind focused. Aside from being habitual creatures, we as humans will always be visual animals. Seeing my “armor” ready for the week brings me peace as I know that, after a long work day, I will be able to suit up and crush the iron for not only mental therapy but also furthering my competitive potential. Give it a try. I promise you that a little glimpse of organized training clothes might be the kick in the ass you need to get that week started.



A note from MDLP:

As some of you know, I have the pleasure, honor, and luxury of owning a gym and making a living off of it. The Battle Axe Gym in Miami, FL. Despite popular belief, this is far from what I thought I was going to do when I was neck deep in Psychology books and peered reviewed journals back in my college days. When I first started my Muay Thai fighting “career,” I was working at Barnes and Noble as a young 22-year-old. From there I would get my first job as a trainer in a Globo Gym which would lead to a professional career in my major as a case manager for senior citizens before venturing off to follow my dreams. My point is not to bore you with my resume, but to explain to you that I’ve been there. I have worked odd jobs, sat in cubicles, dreaded Sunday nights and hated Monday mornings. There was a time before The Battle Axe gym when training was the only thing holding it together as I fought to pay bills working for a boss that made me drink far too much coffee to stand them. I am by no means saying I am living the high life now, but my current lifestyle may make you think that these rules are being conjured up without experience. On the contrary, I’ve been in the trenches of normal work life (often working 2-3 jobs) and having these 3 “rules” in my arsenal aided in my athletic journeys. I hope they help. Honestly, I do, and I promise you that despite having the absolute pleasure of making money doing what I love and being surrounded by some fantastic people… I continue to do this on a weekly basis. I still drink far too much coffee, my boss is an a-hole, and I need a raise, but here we are, and somewhere on my living room floor tucked neatly next to my dog’s bed, I can still see my gym bag ready to start my week. 

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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