Posts Tagged ‘injury’

Death by Bench Press

January 30, 2013 Leave a comment

This is not a motivation post about busting my butt (or pecs / triceps, as the case me be) to overcome injury, weakness, or some other debilitating problem. This is about another bench press induced near death incident I endured minutes ago. And it turns out, upon investigation of other reviews, I am not alone.

First here’s the deal. I’m doing a 1 lift a day routine right now that’s pretty tiresome in spite of how easy it sounds. The gist of it is doing one compound exercise each day but really focusing on that exercise. It’s a three week routine, with 7 sets x 5 reps the first week, 6 x 3 the next, then 3 sets the third week (5 reps, 3 reps, 2 reps). The weight changes to be very challenging for each set / stage. I’m in week two.

So here’s how the night was supposed to go:

135lbs x 8 (warm up set, this doesn’t count)
225 x 3
245 x 3
275 x 3
295 x 3
275 x 3
275 x 3

Here’s what really happened:

135 x 8

225 x 3 (bench is a little shaky, wtf?)

245 x 3 (bench is very shaky! I flipped it over and tightened up the bolts on it)

275 x 3 (woah, the bench moved! I figured I pushed with my legs too move and scooted it up)

295 x 0 (unracked the weight so it’s straight above me and at the same time the head of the bench COLLAPSED under me. It wasn’t a total break, but I was at an extreme angle (see the attached pics). Fortunately I still had the weight straight up in the air so I was able to do a combined press, shoulder raise, ab crunch to get it back to the rests then I could climb up and figure out what happened.)

Was that a freakish incident? Hell yes! Could it have done serious damage to me? Well, who likes the idea of dropped 295 pounds on their chest or throat / face from 12″ – 18″ up. And like I said, I’m not the only person this has happened to. For my fellow lifters, do NOT buy the Apex bench pictured below.

I finished up the workout by switching to 6 sets of 8 reps at 90lbs for cable pressdowns. A far cry from a bench press but I’m temporarily benchless. 😦

brokebench1 brokebench2

Now back to my regularly scheduled writing.

To learn more about Jason Halstead, visit his website to read about him, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at


The Ultimate Zero Calorie Desert

September 25, 2012 Leave a comment

This article has nothing to do with food. I apologize to all the sweet-craving and fad-diet mongers out there, but read on anyhow, you might like this. This is about persistence and setting (and achieving) goals. And it’s about picking up heavy things. What about writing? Well it applies there too, just read on to see why.

I used to be a competitive powerlifter. Back in 2009 I suffered a catastrophic injury that made my world come crashing down around me. I ripped my left pectoral muscle off of my left arm during one of my final training sessions for a powerlifting meet. A month later I had surgery and was told I would never bench heavy again. Even worse was that I was moving in another month after surgery, so I wouldn’t be able to go through insurance-based therapy. That meant I had to put my own therapy program together at my new home in Utah. I couldn’t just give up lifting – part of who I am is centered around being a big and strong guy. I had to find another way.

I can’t say whether my version of therapy was better than a licensed physical therapist’s or not, but I do know that I started lifting seriously six months after surgery. I’d been doing all sorts of other exercises up until that point to try and teach my body how to use the reattached muscles and build up supportive strength as well as shore up the reattached tendons and connective tissue. Within eight or nine months of my surgery I was back up to 90% of my previous strength as far as my upper body was concerned. I’d also gotten my lower body strength back up to my previous competition best.

It’s been a couple of years since then now and life complicated things by getting really busy. Recently I’ve redoubled my efforts in the gym and I’m happy to say I’m back up to where I peaked post-incident. As a matter of fact I’m even reaching new personal bests when it comes to my lower body strength. I’ve accepted I’ll never bench press what I once did, but that doesn’t mean I’m still not hoping to trick my body into working its way up there again!

The moral of story is one of persistence and setting realistic goals. Sure, maybe one day I’d like an impossible dream, but that’s not a realistic goal. It doesn’t mean it won’t or can’t happen, it just means I have to break down the path and create smaller goals along the way that are achievable. Like the tortoise and the hare, success for 99% of us is achieved through hard work and determination. Whether it’s benching over 400 pounds of learning to surf with one arm, there are examples all around us of people that have done what somebody said was impossible. And if one person can do it, than so can I and so can you.

What does all that have to do with desert? Simple, after each achievement I’ll look back and have a warm and fuzzy feeling not so different from a great piece of cheesecake (or whatever favorite desert). I’ll know I accomplished what I went after and I never failed something because I didn’t try or work hard enough for it. And when I’ve done all I can do and the end is near I won’t have any regrets for things I didn’t try. I think that’s more fulfilling than any combination of sugar and flavors. And who knows, if the goal is lose a little weight than maybe basking in that triumph helps keep the calories off too.

How would this apply to writing? That’s easy too. Setting goals applies to everything in life. My goal is to be a successful writer. I’m doing okay right now, but nowhere near good enough to hit the numbers I need. I’m trying different things to make that happen, from some marketing and promotion – including a three month promo campaign I just started on Monday (which I’ll share the results of as I get them. Ultimately my path to writing success involves writing though. I just keep on writing more books. Life has slowed me down a bit over the last few weeks but I’m still hard at work on my next book. Since your curious, my current project is the third book in the Wanted trilogy.

And after I finish that one I’ll start in on the next – I don’t believe in wasting time between novels. I’m not sure what the next one will be, unfortunately, but I’ve got several options. Presently I’m leaning towards a sequel to Child of Fate, which is a fantasy novel that should be released late October or early November. My third Wanted book will hopefully make it out shortly after that, mid to late November.

And now back to your regularly scheduled day. Just remember as you go about it to give yourself a goal to accomplish with some challenge to it. Enough to make you feel good about accomplishing it and once you’ve done that, do it again (new goal, not the same one). There’s power in victory, and once you become addicted to it the sky’s the limit!

To learn more about Jason Halstead, visit his website to learn about him, his books, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at

Afraid of the Dark

October 23, 2011 4 comments

At the moment I’m feeling a bit gloomy. My wife’s back in the emergency room. Last week she spent five days here before being released for two days with thoughts that things were on their way to being normal. Now she’s back with the same problem as before, which went largely undiagnosed. I won’t go into details, HIPAA laws and whatnot. Suffice to say we’re alarmed and a little scared. Sure, they’ve done the major tests and those came back negative, so that’s good. The reason for her problems is still uncertain though, which is not so good.

All of this got me thinking about past times and troubles. Times when there’s been too much drama and harassment in my life. Times when things seemed bleak or destined to spiral into a very bad place. Every one of those times I made it through (as evidenced by this post). Some were my fault, such as ending my competitive powerlifting career by pushing myself too hard and ripping my pectoral muscle completely free of my arm (not to worry, surgery reattached it but it’s never going to live up to the original design specs). Others were not so much my fault, like when the job market in Michigan forced plant closures that sent me across the country in search of employment and caused me to let my house go to the bank. I finally closed that chapter just a couple of weeks ago but it was at the cost of our retirement savings.

The message each time is not that bad things happen whether we deserve it or not, but that these things aren’t the end. For example, in my earlier injury I can be appreciative of the fact that I had a job and insurance to help me recover and not leave me with a lame wing flopping in the breeze. In the latter example I’m glad we had the retirement money stashed aside to make it possible to avoid legal action and / or wage garnishments (or worse). We have to build it back up and we’re not getting any younger, but that’s what hard work is all about.

At other times I’m just thankful that I’m too damn stubborn to accept defeat, depression, or misery. As a kid who hadn’t reached double digits in age I accepted that I was afraid of the dark – I’ve always had a vivid imagination and there’s no telling what monsters await when you can’t see them. So how did I deal with it? Well acceptance doesn’t mean taking what’s dealt to me and saying that’s good enough. Not for me. It meant I accepted that I had that problem and that, once I understood it, I could find a way to overcome it. I did too, by shutting myself in the basement and turning all the lights off, then forcing myself to sit there for a while (it felt like days!). Finally, when I could breathe normally and my heart rate slowed to something normal yet no vampires, werewolves, ghosts, or other monsters had eaten me, I stumbled through the dark and up the stairs to the light above. Problem solved. Screw you dark, I won!

It’s a damn shame modern problems aren’t quite so easy to resolve. But as the complexity of a problem increases, so does the solution. Sometimes it requires waiting on others (e.g. doctors), and at other times it requires marching out to the nurse’s desk and reminding them that we’re feeling forgotten.

Just like I’m writing this blog post as a tool to help me wrap my head and feelings around a stressful time, my writing also serves as a release from day to day stresses. I can escape in a medicinally safe manner and let my mind work on my concerns in the background while the foreground tackles thoughts of how Katy is going to deal with her dual fear and hatred of her father even though she’s being forced to face him by the one person in her life she can’t bear the thought of disappointing. Or maybe I’m plotting out the means with which Logan fights the curse that turns him into a monster while he searches for a cure to his condition.

Just like my writing helps me escape from the day to day stresses of work and baffling medical conditions, it also helps me to deal with them. It decompresses my brain and gives me some new angles and perspectives to deal with those problems. I’ve found that reading does much the same for me – it allows me to escape for a brief time and give myself some out of the box objectivity that can help me deal with things. Best of all, it’s cheaper than a prescription and doesn’t leave me with cotton mouth and the urge to go and devour a bag of Doritos!

So the next time you’re feeling at your wits end don’t run from the problems or cover them in a blanket of denial. Seek a second opinion, one that comes from a new character you’ve never heard of before. One who’s dealing with a host of their own problems in a way that can inspire you to deal with your own. Yes, it’s that simple: read a book and open up a world of opportunities you didn’t realize existed.

To learn more about Jason Halstead, visit his website to learn about him, his books, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at