Mid January I suffered a pretty major tear in my lower back. It wasn't lifting related but it had me unable to lift anything for about a month and a half after. I had just pulled 596lbs in competition on December 21st and I was pulling just the bar in absolute agony only a few short weeks later.

I was pretty strict about getting back in the gym even though I couldn't do much. I had to bench with my legs up because laying on the bench with my feet on the bench had me in incredible pain. I couldn't squat anywhere near depth even with just the bar.

I think I finally squatted 135lbs about a month and a half after the initial injury. Now, 8 months later, my strength is back and I'm even a little stronger than I was before. I've put on some gear a handful of times but most of my training has been completely raw, rarely even putting on a belt.

I've tried to focus on flexibility and core strength and I've been mostly trying to build some mass. I tried to start a regular program a couple of times but I either got bored or found my back couldn't quite take it. I've basically been going entirely by feel, alternating high reps and low reps. Working out whatever days I feel like. Sometimes I go 4 days in a row, sometimes I take 5 days off. Whatever feels right and whatever I'm working around.

Before my meet in December I was close to 230lbs. I lifted at 220lbs after some light cutting. My weight is down to about 205lbs and I feel much healthier and I look better too!

Anyway, now that you have a feel for where my training is at and where I've been the last 8 months... I've made my decision to get back in to something consistent. I'm going to follow the Strong(er) program by Dave Tate. It's not geared towards competitive lifters or athletes, but rather towards someone with a good background in weight training who wants to get stronger, look better and be healthier. I might do a meet again this December just because this is my final year as a Junior and it would be nice to bump the records I hold a little higher. Powerlifting just isn't my primary goal right now.

So today was my first day of the Strong(er) program. Here's what it looked like:

Phase 1 - Day 1 - Week 1:

Started with the prescribed warmup workout and ab work.

Squats: 135lbs x 10, 225lbs x 8, 275lbs x 8 --> strip set to 225lbs x 5
GMs: 135lbs x 10, 185lbs x 5, 205lbs x 7 --> strip set to 185lbs x 5

Pulldowns: 50lbs x 10, 100lbs x 15, 120lbs x 10 --> strip set to 100lbs x 5
Front BB Press: 45lbs x 10, 75lbs x 15, 95lbs x 10 --> strip set to 75lbs x 5

BB Stepups: 10 reps each leg, no rest, 5 reps each leg with 135lbs
Calf Raises: 135lbs x 15 reps -- extremely slow with pauses at top and bottom

The paired exercises were done as supersets (I think that's what it's called..) Anyway, for example, I did my 135lbs x 10 for squats then 135lbs x 10 for GMs, etc... All sets were ~60 seconds rest in between. This phase is all about GPP and damn this workout had me in a sweat!

I finished with the prescribed restoration work. It was a good workout and I was pretty surprised how much the ab work at the beginning and the little rests took out of me. I'm going to modify my diet a little to fit in to what Dave recommends, I'm not far off anyway. I'm excited to see where this takes me after reading all the reviews and testimonies of people who have already followed phase 1, 2 and 3.