Wednesday, September 18, 2013

12 weeks of overcoming - Write in from client Brian Hershler

I woke up everyday in pain. 

I remember wondering if I would ever just be pain free again, yet alone lift weight. 

I was feeling major league depressed.  I had watched my body weight drop from an all time high of 269lbs, to a mere 240lbs. My previous best lifts at a chubby 269lbs were a 455 squat with very questionable depth, a 370 pause bench – my best lift, and a 555 deadlift.  

I could only imagine how weak my strength had gotten. 

Everyone else I knew was getting stronger.  Posting PR's on facebook, youtube, you name it.  I had been almost completely incapacitated from real training for what seemed like ages.  Subluxation of the L5/S1 and a pinched nerve, had left my lower back in constant pain and soreness. As soon as humanly possible, I sought out a sports related chiropractor, and began looking ahead to the future.  

"Can I get healthy again? If so, how can I get motivated enough to train?"

April-June consisted of grueling stretching and chiropractor visits multiple times a week. Slowly but surely things began to look up.  I started light strength training about 8 weeks removed from my injury, with weights that were no more than 30% of my maximum.  Regardless of the weight, it felt good to get a pump again.  It 
was another month before I was using 50% of the normal weight I used to lift.

My back was FINALLY healing up, but I was left with some major questions in my old training style - 

"Why was I missing lifts IN THE GYM?"

"Why was I going that heavy so often?"  

"Does overtraining exist… because I think I had the signs of it (edit: YES IT DOES!)."

 "How do you progress on lifts in other ways besides adding weight weekly?" 

At this point I decided to pick out a full meet. It just so happened, 100% Raw Powerlifting in Zion Crossroads, Virginia was holding a meet in about 14 weeks time.

Early June I ended up contacting Paul Carter about helping me prep for my first meet.  I had been reading LRB religiously for the past 2+ years now.  I always admired Paul Carter’s ideas, training style, and no bullshit attitude.  I knew he would listen to me about just coming back from a back injury, my past concerns about programming to heavy, kick my ass about any lifting form issues I had, and help me come in fresh for the meet.  With 12 full weeks to prep, I told him I wanted to hit a 430 squat, 350 bench, and 530 pull for my first meet. 

And boy did he deliver!

Going with Paul was the best choice I have ever made in regards to my training.  Though I was skeptical of the training ideologies Paul presented me with at first (I wanted to go up in weight right away) I quickly changed my thoughts on this style of training.  

Initially, I was worried about actual bar weight instead of moving the bar faster.  But soon, interesting enough, the bar speed seemed to being getting faster weekly.  Form started to feel cleaned up.  Confidence was rising each week.  My body composition was changing tremendously.  I looked bigger at 240 than I did at 270.  Though almost no weight was added for the first 6 weeks,  I KNEW I had gotten stronger. 

Fast forward to the meet: I hit a PR squat of 430lbs (counting this as a PR due to questionable depth in past and bodyweight being 30lbs lighter).  Hit an easy bench of 325 and missed 352 (didn’t listen to how my second attempt felt).  

Pulled an easy 540, which is only 15lbs off my previous best PR deadlift.  I truly believe I left a lot of weight on the platform on the deadlift.  Ended up with a 1295 total at 234lbs bodyweight.  Oh yeah, forgot to mention this earlier, I was sick for a full week leading up to the meet!  Did not train one time for the last 10 days.

The take home message: 
-Stick with a program long enough to see if it actually works 
-You want to get stronger, bigger, whatever? Do more of the basic lifts – squat, bench, deadlift -You don’t have to add weight weekly (bar speed, volume can be just as important as weight increases) 
-Form Form Form 
-Do not miss lifts in the gym 
-Set short-term, realistic goals based on where you are currently at 
-Paul Carter is a fucking boss 

So now I have one week of rest before I get back together with Paul for a Push/Pull meet coming up mid-December! My motivation is at an all-time high thanks to a new great friend and mentor. Thanks again buddy…

From me -

I don't know that in all my years of training and coaching people I've ever been as proud of someone as I am of Brian.  When Brian came to me he was a fucking wreck.  His body was weak, and his confidence was shot.  The best part about working with Brian however, was that after getting it through his head that he didn't have to add weight on the bar to get stronger, he did everything as perfect as anyone I've ever helped.

It was such a blessing for me to watch his confidence grow every single week, especially as he started moving weights that, in his mind, he thought he might never lift again, and then did so with ease.  Brian didn't miss a single lift in training for three months.  THREE MONTHS!  Not a single lift.  8 for 9 in his first meet, and left some on the platform in the deadlift for sure.  He's only scratched the surface, and at 6'2" or so, he's going to grow into a lot bigger lifter than he is now.  However the biggest part is that he's grown as an individual.  Being able to grab back hold of something you feel like could have been forever lost has to be a great feeling, and I got to watch him find that again.

I always downplay what it is I am doing when I write, or help people out....then sometimes you get reminded that something as simple as helping someone lift some weights can be rewarding in their life beyond measure.

I am looking forward to seeing where Brian can go from here.


  1. Best weeks of training thus far. Looking forward to the future now man...

  2. Great stuff Brian!
    Knowing that you got a long way just to get where you once were is frustrating, but overcoming that, really builds character!

  3. i was at that meet and you did look to leave alot on the platform... 5 of my friends lifed that day including the girl who set the world record in the deadlift...if i see you at a local meet ill say hi!


    1. Thanks Tony, I will be doing the push/pull meet in December (same place). You going to come by? And yeah man Jaime beasted that 400+lb pull!

    2. Alex is was tough more mentally than anything. I feel like I have worked out some form kinks and almost back to where I was at while weighing a lot less. With the help of Paul I am excited about the future!

  4. i should at least be in the dealing with a bad pec, so im questionable..jamie will be there and so will kyle, scott, elliot, and sammy- all competed last weekend.. and a few more of our group will be there too, so it should be fun.