Rebuilding After Being Broken

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Thanks Mr. R!

If you’re looking for impressive PRs and the secrets to becoming a powerlifting champion, this is not the training log for you.

This is the log of a recovering and enduring trainee. I had two major operations in July of 2016 and brain surgery in December. Ironically enough, the brain surgery may have helped my training since it forced me to rest for a few days. However, I still struggle with my former surgeries and they make it difficult to have full control of my upper body like I did before.

I am also currently undergoing treatment for stage IV Melanoma. I started my treatment, a combination of two immunotherapy medicines, at the end of September, just as I was turning 30 years old. It has been a series of ups and downs; of feeling well for a week or two and then not being able to do anything for another week or two at a time. I responded very well to the medicine – likely better than any patient they have seen – which has been both a positive and a negative.

My best lifts, in an April 2015 IPF meet are:
405 Squat
255 Bench
405 Deadlift
@ 165lb class

My numbers are nowhere near that now. Just recently I pulled 255, squatted 225 for 3 (a tad high maybe), and benched about 185. There’s lots of room to improve!

My training is going to be set up pretty much identical to how user Alpha lays it out in

I also normally do 1-2 sessions of very light cardio work on an elliptical machine every day. Typically, when I wake up or before work outs. I have found that helps my body feel extremely more flexible and light, especially in my upper body. The intensity is very low such that it would be a very light jog or fast walk. It’s all for recovery.

I hope that keeping this log will help keep me accountable for staying on a program (I’ll tend to train no matter what, but it will usually turn into a 1-3 RM + back offs everyday) and also that anyone in a rut or in need of some inspiration can get motivated from my writing and training.

Let’s get to work!

Conditioning: Tire flips and sledgehammer on the tire.
3 Flips → 20 hits (10 left arm 10 right arm)
jog out and back
repeat for 10 minutes
Deadlift day, but didn’t write down numbers.

Press day

Elliptical work 30ish minutes → conditioning

Filled a duffel bag with 70 lbs of chains.
Bear-hug and carry the bag 30 yards.
Do a slow sprint in the other direction for 30 yards (The ice/frost did not make this fun)
Jog out and back. Walk back for a bit if rest is needed. Repeat for 10 minutes.

giant set 1:
1-2 pull ups → 8 banded lat pull downs
4 x 8 Behind the neck push press @ 95 lbs
ab work

giant set 2:
3 neutral close-grip pull ups
4 x 8 Military press @ 75 lbs
ab work

Presses and pull-ups were most affected by my surgery so the numbers suck and will take extra effort on my part to get up!

12/30 rest

Squat Day

Elliptical for 20 minutes

1 pull-up
with a barbell
5 presses
5 bent over rows
press the bar overhead
5 squats
x 10 rounds
30 second rest

giant set 1:
3 squat-jumps to pull-up (squat down, pause a second, jump up and grab the pull-up bar, do a pull up and lower self)
4 x 8 Low bar squats (165, 165, 170, 150)
ab work

giant set 2:
2 x 8 Front Squat with 70lbs of chain
strained something here
finished up with 2 more sets of 5 and called it a day.

I probably didn’t keep my body tight enough during the front squats. I tried to do them explosively, then coupled with the chains rocking back and forth I hurt something. Couldn’t take deep breaths after that so I took my time and finished up what I could.

Being my own doctor on the subject and reading the nets, it’s likely I strained my intercostals. It’s mostly ok a couple hours later so I’m not hugely concerned about it.


Happy New Year!

Woke up feeling like absolute shit and knew an early AM sessions was not in the books, but kept my mind keen on hitting the weights later. Just gave myself some time and food, and a small bit on the elliptical (always makes me feel less sore and more prepared) and then felt ready.

Bench Day

Elliptical/stretching 20 minutes


Moved and chopped some fire wood. Nothing too intense, but I tried to keep the pace fast.

giant set 1:

rear delt flys with chains (holding the end of chains)
4x8 Bench press ( 155, 145, 145, 135)
Knees in negative dragon flag

giant set 2:
4x8 Barbell row (70 70 then focus on contracting and rowing the bar)
Dumbbell bench (30?lbs x 12 reps 3 sets)
Leg raises from a bench
then 20 reps of the same weight for incline dumbbell bench

My set-up at home is pretty minimal and I’m not sure on my dumbbell weight yet. I have to take the entire end sleeves off my barbell and then use multiple clips to make a dumbbell out of the normal weights. I need to weigh the ends to know the weight.

My legs are still sore from the other squat day which goes to show me how that my volume had been really low up until this point! As my body adjusts to the new schedule hoping to add more accessory work in each session.

15 minutes on the elliptical

For ten minutes
Front squat from low set pins (115lbs)
Carry backwards to rack position, re-rack, walk it to low pins and front squat it down
2 Chin-ups
10 lateral jumps over a bench (hands on the bench and jump around)
5 push-ups
5 more lateral jumps
20ish sec rest

giant set 1:
“Chain” kettlebell swings x 15
Double-pause deadlifts 4 x 8 (Pause below knee on eccentric and concentric)
140 150 160 170
Ab work

giant set 2:
Good mornings
Back raises
Ab work

Everything felt good and right during the session. The deadlifts went way better than last week, even after adding many pounds.

Not having lifted or really pushed myself for awhile now, the little things can come back to surprise me. I think I feel better after the session, having rested for two days in a row now. Too much rest definitely leads to stagnation. It’s kind of ironic how necessary those days of rest can feel, while at the same time the first day back can re-energize you just as much.

I am loving these double pause deadlifts. I feel my hips working better and I feel myself getting a better angle over the bar. This is all sumo by the way (come at me with the sumo hate bros!)

I made a kettle bell by taking my V-handle bar and just linking a lot of chain to it. It actually works better than I expected and may in some ways be better than a kettlebell for the swing exercise.