I have a recurring lowerback/glute injury. First happened in 2008, and flares up about 1-2 times a year. It hit about 3 weeks out from the contest, very minor twinge during a set of mat pulls. I took it light for the week, went to do some speed farmer’s after 6 days, and then REALLY f**ked it. I got pissed off after that, and did 3 sets of 3 minutes of reverse hypers later that day to try to aggressively heal the glute. The next morning, I literally couldn’t walk. It was like the glute had fallen asleep, but instead of being numb, it sent a wave of fire down my leg with every step.
I could train my upperbody fine for the most part, but no vertical pressing, only horizontal. Lower body was pretty FUBAR. All I could do was rehab exercises for a week (pretty much just leg raises) while sitting on a heating pad 8 hours a day and popping Naproxen. However, the week of the contest, I felt about 98%. I’d still wake up stiff in the morning, but after an hour or 2 I had full mobility. I knew it just meant I was going to have to warm up more.
Also, I picked up some Rehband warm-up pants to keep the area warm/supported.
Up until the injury training was going very well. This contest came up quick on my radar and I only ended up with 5 weeks to train, many of them spent rehabbing an injury. I was able to train for every event (axle clean and press, farmer’s, front carry, yoke and deadlift), and got up to a 750lb yoke walk for 32’, very fast foot speed on the farmer’s, good pick-ups on the front carry, and decent for the clean and press. Still couldn’t master the continental in time for the contest, so something to work on in the future.
I ended up moving up a weight class since there was no one else but my partner and I in the lightweights. The only area I saw this being a real issue was for the axle clean and press.
EVENT 1: Axle clean and press (Clean each rep, 245lbs, 90 seconds)
We were told we’d be using the Ironmind axle, so that’s what I warmed up with. I was having my partner help me with the continental, since I had never done one in contest before, but the damndest thing kept happening: everytime I tried to catch the bar on my stomach, it was ending up on my shoulders. Even at 233lbs in warm-ups, I was catching the bar. I figured I’d be good for a few reps at 245 at that rate.
Then, as we were setting up for the event, the promoter had us set up for the Rogue axle. As soon as I grabbed it I realized there was zero play in the axle, whereas the Ironmind one still had some. I was completely hosed. I kept catching the bar high on my stomach/chest, but couldn’t get it turned over. I tried a bunch of times before tagging my partner in, who managed 2 reps on his own. First time I ever zeroed an event. However, Kalle Beck was able to give me a great tip about how I was holding the axle (in my fingertips versus my palm), which was why I wasn’t turning it over any. Once I’m able to practice the axle again, that’s going to be huge. Once again why I find competition so valuable: you learn a ton.
Event 2: Farmer’s walks (245 per hand, 25meters)
Was training with 185 for this, because that was the lightweight weight, but wasn’t worried about 245. We were told we’d be using some blue tank handles, which bonked your shins something fierce and had some sharpass knurling. Then, when it was time to go for the event, we were using Rogue handles. Once again, the old switcheroo.
The Rogue handles we were using were old, the powder coating had all worn off, and the remnants of tape around the handle meant to give it some grip just slid around a bunch. I dropped the handles twice over the course of 25m, whereas I have never dropped a farmer’s in my life beforehand. I made sure to get some quick pick ups to eliminate wasted time, just to watch my partner (and pretty much everyone else) drop the handles 2 or 3 times. We made it before time ran out, but came in 4th here. At least we were all getting screwed with the equipment changes.
Event 3: Max weight yoke (775lbs for us) 60’ total (30’ forward, 30’ back)
This was the event I was looking forward to the most, as I’m slow and love heavy stuff. I just practiced pick ups for the warm-up, wasn’t interested in the movement portion, since it was going to be slow.
Event started, I got set up, and was amazed at how light the weight felt on my back. When I bought my yoke, the guy who built it said it was 120lbs, but I’m starting to think it was heavier, because I hit 750 in training and it felt much heavier. However, my foot placement was much more wobbly, and someone pointed out to me that this was most likely because we were in a parking lot with uneven flooring. I dropped the yoke twice, and focused on quick pick-ups each time. The weight felt so light that I figured I’d much up for lost time just by moving quickly with it.
On the second pick-up, I felt my knee bend the wrong way and heard a pop and some grinding. I immediately let out several “FUCK!”s and then had the good sense to grab the uprights to slowly let myself fall down to the floor. I was mobbed by some fellow competitors who quickly got my knee sleeve off, put me in a chair, got me some ice, and offered me all manner of alcoholic beverage.
Thankfully, they suspended our time, and my partner finished the event. We actually ended up with the second heaviest yoke of the middle weight class, which put us in second for this event.
Events 4 and 5: Stone carry and 495lb deadlift for reps
You’ll forgive me for being brief, but it’s no longer my story at this point. My partner, by himself, beat out one team on the stone carry and 2 teams on the deadlift. Dude was a beast, and I was upset since I felt like I was holding him back in the first 2 events and would’ve contributed on these final ones, but we still took 3rd out of 4th while both giving up 75lbs. Truly a warrior’s day.
Current injury status:
I’m fairly certain I tore some ligaments in my knee. I am in zero pain, but the knee has no stability whatsoever. It is presently swollen to about twice it’s normal size, but with a brace on it I can move almost at a normal speed. I’m keeping positive, using the power of positive thinking to aid the healing process.
Moving forward: I’ve been wanting an off season for a while and now it’s been given to me. I’m going to invest myself full tilt into a bodybuilding program for my upper body, and do whatever I can get away with for my lower body. I bought Matt Kroc’s “Insane Training” book, and it has a completely laid out bodybuilding program in it that I’m going to try to copy with my home gym. If nothing else, I’m stealing the split and the principles behind each day. Going to clean up my diet a touch to shave off the slight amount of fat I accumulated in this training cycle, and then start adding some quality calories to make the most of this increased volume. Once I get an actual diagnosis on the knee, I’ll know where I am going from there.
I’m not done yet.