RESILIENCE – My journey back!
Our bodies are pretty AWESOME! I love how resilient we are, how well our bodies can heal, recover and most importantly regain strength.
I have always had a love for STRENGTH training, and really enjoyed seeing what my body is capable of. Like most of my colleagues, I love to set goals and achieve them. After working hard and building my strength to compete and COMPLETE the Iron Maiden challenge in 2012, I WANTED MORE! I had trained strictly with kettlebells for the challenge, but now I wanted to see how much stronger I could get.
January 2013, I purchased my first barbell & pumpers. I tested my 1RM for the first time to see my starting point and programed accordingly.
I was ECSTATIC on test day…… but WHY?
Because my numbers were another example that proved ALL the techniques and philosophies that we teach in our STRONGFIRST kettlebell certifications have such great carry over to not only bodyweight skills but also our barbell skills. It is not the tool but how we use the tool and how we train our bodies.
On TEST DAY, I pulled 230lb at a body weight of 123lb. It was now time to program for the first STRONGFIRST Barbell Certification. I had 6 months to dial in my technique and get strong in all the barbell skills. If you know anything about me, you know I want to not only meet the requirements but EXCEED them. I also tested all other required skills, most I just needed to maintain as I already met the required SFL numbers. I have listed them below just in case you are interested in attending/passing the SFB certification.
But this blog isn’t just about this cert, it is more about a humbling experience the next day following the cert and the past year of my strength journey…..
The STRONGFIRST requirement are as follows:
THE STRENGTH TEST
Student must complete 1 repetition (conventional or sumo) with a weight that is equivalent to:
Men—2 x bodyweight, rounded up to the nearest 5lbs/2.5kg, not to exceed 450lbs/205kg
Women—1.5 x bodyweight, rounded up to the nearest 5lbs/2.5kg
Student must complete 1 repetition with a weight that is equivalent to:
Men—1 ¼ bodyweight, rounded up to the nearest 5lbs/2.5kg
Females—3/4 bodyweight, rounded up to the nearest 5lbs/2.5kg
THE TECHNIQUE TEST
The following skills are tested for 5 reps with the specified weights:
- Back Squat
Men—bodyweight, rounded up to the nearest 5lbs/2.5kg.
Women—3/4 bodyweight, rounded up to the nearest 5lbs/2.5kg.
- Deadlift (conventional or sumo)
Men—1.5x bodyweight, rounded up to the nearest 5lbs/2.5kg.
Women—bodyweight, rounded up to the nearest 5lbs/2.5kg.
- Military Press
Men—2/3 bodyweight, rounded up to the nearest 5lbs/2.5kg.
Women—1/2 bodyweight, rounded up to the nearest 5lbs/2.5kg.
Now that you know the requirements, I want to share my journey to the barbell cert, what happened the following day and my journey back!
I had been having some pain in my left hip for sometime but it never limited me from doing anything…..just a little discomfort in my deep squat. I was already very close to the Squat requirement, so I knew I didn’t need to push the squat to pass. However, I knew it was smart to get it checked out. After speaking with Mark Toomey and his good friend Doctor John DiMuro, a dual board certified anesthesiologist and pain medicine specialist. I made an appointment for an MRI.
As expected, I had a tear in my labrum. The doctor recommend surgery, but I wanted a second opinion as this is my livelihood we are speaking of. I sent my MRI to Mark and Dr. DiMuro, they felt that PRP injections (platelet-rich plasma) would be a great option for me. Dr. DiMuro had been having great results with his patients and he knew I would follow his instructions post-procedure. So the plan was laid in motion. I would continue my training for the Barbell Certification in Arizona and the following day I would fly with Toomey to Reno and see Dr. DiMuro for my injections.
So with my PRP date scheduled, I went back to training my skills. I just maintained the squat and didn’t train it very often because I don’t like training through pain (just not smart). Instead, I focused on strengthening my Presses (bench & military) and since the deadlift did not cause any pain, decided I wanted to go into the cert weekend and PR my deadlift at 2x Bodyweight.
I trained the Deadlift 3 x per week leading up to the cert in July 2013. Sunday, the final day of the certification I pulled 245lbs at a bodyweight of 121lb. I was so excited to achieve the goal I had train so hard to reach. I mean, WHO Doesn’t LOVE A PR?
I was still on a HIGH from the weekend, when Toomey and I boarded our very early Monday morning flight to RENO. As we landed my excitement turned to a bit of nervousness. The fabulous Mrs. Toomey pick us up and we went straight to see Dr. Demurio where he explained the procedure in great detail while his nurses prepped me. I was awake and able to watch the procedure on a screen.
First, blood is drawn and spun to separate the plasma rich plates. While it is spinning, Dr. DiMuro inserted a catheter into my left hip. Once the plasma was ready 8cc’s were injected into the hip. The hip was very stiff from having all the extra fluid in it, so it made walking a bit difficult but doable. We went back to the Toomey’s and I mostly rested. Tuesday morning, I woke in a panic as my hip was so stiff that I couldn’t move to get out of bed. I laid there in the Toomey’s guest house thinking that I was paralyzed (clearly I wasn’t but it was a brief panic). Then I had a good laugh, thinking “OMG am I going to have to call Mark to help me get out of bed?” Disclaimer: We are great friends, but I still didn’t want to make that call 🙂
After a bit of very uncomfortable maneuvering I got myself out of bed and showered. Mark knew that walking would loosen up the hip a bit so he and Kari took me site seeing. Then back home and early to bed because I was scheduled to be back for my second injection early Wednesday morning. So we did a repeat of Monday and added another 6cc’s of plasma into my hip. Then straight back to Reno airport by 10 am to head back home to Virginia.
ENTER the MOST humbling day of my life…Sunday hit Deadlift PR 2x bw and by Wednesday I am being wheel chaired through the airport (Thank you Southwest for many plane changes). I had literally gone from my strongest day, to my weakest day! I finally landed back in Virginia at midnight. I get wheel chaired off the plane and they leave me sitting in the hallway while they take all others in wheel chairs off the plane. (limited helpers when you arrive to the Norfolk airport at midnight)
So me being stubborn…I looked down and thought “Just because my legs aren’t working doesn’t mean my arm strength can’t work for me!” SO, I begin using my arms to wheel myself down the hallway only to have another EXTREMELY humbling experience….. A very kind elderly couple sees me and the lady says “Sweetie, let me push you so you don’t have to work so hard.” Can you imagine my feelings of having my wheelchair pushed to baggage claim by a 70+ year old women. I was humbled at her kindness!! We need more of this happening, instead of everyone walking mindlessly looking out our iPhones unaware of what is going on around us.
The next day was back to the grind..I hobbled into my gym to train my students & instruct classes and on very strict order from the doctor…DO NOT DO ANY HIP STRETCHING for 3 WEEKS and no LOWER BODY LIFTING !! So, I grit my teeth and did as I was told because I wanted to make sure this procedure worked. I mostly did pullups 🙂 for about 3 months. Then slowly started working on getting mobility back in my left hip and slowly did bodyweight squats etc. It took time but the body was feeling great.
FAST FORWARD AGAIN…..
July was one year post injection, with most of my mobility back I started adding weight to my squats, pistols and deadlifts but VERY slowly. During this journey, I am learning patience. It is now October and I am still pain free!! So, I decided it was time to test my DL and I hit 221lb @ 128lb. I am happy with this number and ready to program. I AM RESILIENT and WILL reach 2x bodyweight again!!
Remember to listen to your body!
It’s pretty smart and will come back, if you allow it to rest and recover!
TRAIN with PURPOSE!
WE ARE RESILIENT!!