March 16, 2013.
The day before St. Patrick’s Day.
This was the day I was to return to event training in preparation for my return to competing in Strongman (my only real strength sport love). Training with ASC pro (and pretty boy) Matt Dawson, we warmed up and started flipping 600 pound tires for conditioning.
On my last set, the last flip (both literally and figuratively), the left distal tendon of my bicep ripped off the bone.
I dropped the tire and just said:
“Fuck, it ripped”
Matt replied with. “you kidding me??”
“Nope, I gotta go”
I left for the ER to get a quick diagnosis and pray that it wasn’t as bad as it seemed.
After the ultrasound (which shows nothing) and the subsequent next few days of swelling, I knew in my heart it was a full tear.
The MRI showed that.
Surgery came, recovery came, rehab was attended and a few days ago I was allowed to remove the brace and start using the arm.
From the day of the rip until the day the brace came off, I barely missed a beat in the gym. Sure, I had to lower the weight to accommodate recovery and not strain the left arm, but I didn’t make excuses, I didn’t rest for long and I learned a lot about myself in the process.
I learned what it means to play hurt again.
When I played rugby I played with busted ankles, broken fingers and concussions. In strongman I tore a hamstring and hurt my back so bad that I couldn’t get my own shoes off. There’s something to be said for having the internal fire to train around injury. I relearned that.
I stuck with my program.
My ASS program (see the ebook here) has given me great gains in muscularity and strength over the months I have been using it. I tweaked it mildly along the way and I have stuck with my own system. I flirted with a couple different methods along the way, but wasn’t as pleased with the results as my own system gave me.
I learned how to be patient.
My nature is a go-getter. When I want something and love something I will pour my soul into that regardless of the outside interference, this injury is no different. But, with an injury, you have to listen to the doctors and therapists. Its tempting to dismiss them and do your own thing, but their career is getting you back healthy. They have dealt with professional athletes time and time again, so instead of me being impatient, I listened and did the work needed to rehab this injury.
I learned how to deal with severe physical depression.
Let’s face it, there are times we think we are invincible. When I ripped the bicep, I immediately went into a major funk. Its easy to when you look in the mirror and see a physique, and you look at the weights you are moving and see stuff most people can’t do… and now it will all have to be rebuilt. We are a vain bunch, all you have to do is look at social networking sites to know that. I am no exception, I just am man enough to actually admit that. We like looking good, we like being strong, but I do it for me. Nobody else but me. When I look in the mirror and see what my work molded, its a sense of pride. When I hit a PR in the gym, I celebrate it with a small circle of gym friends but gym PR’s are meaningless. When I wrote my e-book it wasn’t about getting my name out, it was about putting a quality product out that will help people like myself achieve goals. Knowing that I have to rebuild what I worked so hard to get, really threw my mind into a tailspin that took some serious internal strength to fight through.
The first few weeks in the gym after surgery was filled with those thoughts. I walked out a few times, got pissed off looking at the weight on the squat bar (because going heavy put too much pressure on the repaired tendon and that’s a real bad idea) and beat myself up mentally from being so stupid to get hurt in the first place.
I fought through that and in time I suppressed those voices.
Now, the brace is off and I am allowed to use the left arm very lightly. 2 pound curls for now, 5-20 pounds on shoulders, chest and back. The biggest issue isn’t strength, I probably didn’t lose too much, but I sure as hell lost muscle endurance. That takes some time to build back up and the best process is a slow, smart one.
Now I look in the mirror and know, without a doubt, I will be back better than before because I fought through the negative and I listened to professionals who want me back full strength.
Other lifters such as Shane Church and Phil Stevens offered advice along the way as they went through the same thing.
I am not an elite lifter, I never will be and I am completely fine with that. I am just a man who works his ass off to be strong, look good and help other people along the way with those same goals.
We all have physical setbacks at times, don’t look at them as a setback, look at them as an opportunity to rebuild yourself into something better once you heal.
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