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Twenty by 40 by 2020 - Journey Back to Where I Was 20 Years Ago

Blew out my patellar tendon 2 years ago - spent about a year working on restoring my ability to function and train. The last year has been CrossFit training combined with 531 on OHP, Deadlift, Back Squat (to box to limit ROM to parallel), Power Snatch, Power Clean. Am back to around 5% off where I was pre-injury

I’m about 6’2" 225 and not all that lean, or all that big, current lifts at:

  1. 200x2 OHP
  2. 185x3 Power Snatch
  3. 395 Back Squat
  4. 285 Power Clean
  5. 445x5 Dead Lift
  6. 1k Row at 3:07

Goals are the following:

  1. All the lifts up: 250 on the Snatch and OHP; 335 Clean; 450 Squat; 550 Dead Lift; 3:00 Row
  2. Competitive at Master’s (35-40) Shot Put and Discus - Would like to be at 15.00m shot put, and 45m discus
  3. Lean out - I have not done a bf test, and can see outline of abs, but am on some medication for epilepsy that has been hell on my metabolism. Would like to be down near 10% bodyfat, and around 220 vs. my guess of right now 17-18% at 225.
  4. Reasonably good at CrossFit - I enjoy the workouts, modify them quite a bit to avoid some of the dangers of doing that sport as a taller, heavier guy, and the camaraderie is great. If I could be top 10% of people my age group, I’d be pretty pleased with that.
  5. Get healthy. My knee is not bad, maybe as good as it will get, but have creaky shoulders that keep me from doing much heavy overhead.


  1. I am a CEO of a decent size (100+ employee) company, that has me traveling a lot, working long hours, and plenty of stress.
  2. Divorced - kids live in a different state, so every 2-3 weeks, traveling to see them - which is truly the pleasure of my life, but not conducive to training
  3. Suffer from mild epilepsy - a few seizures per year, but medication is not helpful (my assessment, doc says it doesn’t impact weight gain, but it’s the only change in my diet or training and I’ve been steadily gaining weight). Seizure is also reason for bad shoulders - they dislocate when I have a seizure.

My basic training set-up is going through the following cycle and repeating.

  • 531 across lifts mentioned above. Usually 1 or no more than 2 lifts per session. Might pair snatch and clean, squats and deadlifts always on their own days. When I’m not traveling, I’ll get through all of this each week. When traveling, might take me 2 weeks.

  • CrossFit Metcons - usually just do what the gym has set up, although will modify based on my strength movement that day. I mess around with progressing load on these to limit volume - IE - if it’s a 1 minute on, 1 minute off Snatch for 5 rounds, I’m not going to do that with 95#, as I’ll end up doing 100+ reps, I’ll likely bump it to 135 and do 6-8 singles.

  • Track Day 1: Short sprints, shot put, discus - today was first day back, here, but will be a basic short to long sprint progression and just volume and technique work on throws.

  • Track Day 2: Longer Sprints: 100-300m intervals - have not started this yet, will begin next week.

When traveling, go ad lib, and will either do burpees, body building work, or treadmill intervals. Randomly do KB swings, and accessory work with the wife every now and then as well.

Ideal world for me is a bunch of shorter workouts, that’s what I respond best to, real world is following consistent strength programming, fewer, but longer sessions, and random shit to keep moving when I’m traveling.

Last couple workouts:

Today: A total of about 30 shot put throws of various types (Best of around 13M), 20 Discus Throws (Best of around 36m), and 15x Short accelerations of 10-15M sprints.

Last week: 3x3 Power snatch at 135-155-175 (shoulder tight so didn’t go heavier); 3x3 Power Clean at 210-235-260; 3x3 Deadlift at 355-395-435 (clean grip); Paused deadlift holds 2 rounds of 3x10s holds at different spots (1" off floor; at knee; just bel. ow hip); 325x7 squat;


Workout today

  1. Warmup of about 3 mins double unders and 3 mins aerdyne bike
  2. Power Snatch 531 day at 135x5-155x3-175x5 in 1’ felt solid
  3. Tech work
    A1. Strict chest to bar pull-ups 5x2
    A2. Power clean + push jerk 10 singles between 195 and 235

Cleans and snatches very fast and easy.

  1. Metcon - 3 sets of 3’ as many rounds as possible with 3 mins rest between
    A- power clean and push jerk x3 at 185
    B- chest to bar pull-ups x4

Did 3 rounds in each set. Solid. Nice density work with a total of 36 chest to bar pull-ups and 27 clean and jerks in 9 mins of working time.

Board meeting and travel day - so early morning:

Over 20 minutes, did 300 KB swings and 100 KB curls - both with 53# bell.

Day 2 traveling - in England - first time ever in Cambridge. Figured I wouldn’t have a gym, so went for about a 40 minute walk mid-day, then before evening meetings, found a gym on campus that was much better than expected. Unfortunately a bunch of weak guys were using all the plates to do 250# dead lifts, 120# OHP, and 160# bench presses. And I only had about 30 minutes, so I just did an ad-lib workout

  1. 10x200m row warm-up 1:1 work rest period. Rows were mostly in 40s - or a 1:40 500m pace.
  2. 5x10 squats at 135-185-225-275-295
  3. Power Clean triples at 135-185-205-225-235-245

Nice basic day.

The title of your log intrigued me and I see it’s new and no one has chimed in yet. I just wanted to let you know that I’m following along to see what you do and how you feel. CrossFit has intrigued me recently–mostly the pro’s ability to be really good at a lot of different tasks. I’ve started throwing in some CrossFit type stuff for conditioning and doing some Every Minute on the Minute stuff and have enjoyed it.

Keep up the log and good luck with your journey!

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Thanks man. Appreciate the follow. Will check yours out too!

Spoke at a conference today. Drinking it off now!


100 burpees at wake up
Easy 3 miles bike in and out of town + 2 miles walking.

Will get a good session in tomorrow.

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Surprisingly good workout today given: time zone off by 5 hours, too much to drink, and not enough sleep last night, lifting in Nike Free running shoes, no knee sleeves.

  1. Rowing warmup - 10x5 pulls for max watts - got mostly between 750 and 850 watts. One showed up at 998 but I don’t believe that.
  2. Snatch 3x5 at 130-150-170
  3. Clean 3x5 at 205-225-245
  4. Snatch grip deadlift iso holds 2 sets of 3x10s holds at 1" off floor, at knee, at upper thigh.
  5. Accessory work: biceps, triceps, delts - my arms and shoulders are way behind my legs and back. Could be that I just don’t work them much.

The 531 set up for my Olympic lifts they are all singles. The lighter weights are with no rest, just reset. The top set I typically drop the bar. Take a breath or two then go. 5 reps at that weight is about 45-50s. I would typically go for as many reps as I can get in 1’ with good form but decided not to push today.

The iso holds are focused on really locking in a flat back, hips back, shoulders over bar position - and feeling the muscles I need to fire at each stage of my pulls. 10s holds with that weight are surprisingly challenging.

Off-topic, but curious: you are young (35-40) to be a CEO of a company that size. Did you promote from within, or is it a start-up you founded and grew?

On an actual lifting note - I’ve found lifting in the “wrong” shoes helps my knees; what I mean is I need some cushioning rather than the total minimalist. I like Nikes, and they have an Air Max Trainer that works pretty well for this. Just my $0.02, but you’re obviously an experienced athlete so you probably know what you like!

Hey - thanks for the tip. Will give that some thought. I was just surprised my pulls were as good as they were today without the stable platform.

The young CEO thing is (in my mind) totally on topic. Trying to make gains with limited time and beginning to fight the clock a bit is a challenge.

I was hired by the investors to manage the company. My last job was running a team of about 1000 people for a much bigger organization. Leading while young is a challenge as you have to more than earn your authority. Most of my team are in their 50’s with PhD’s who literally have “been there, done that” with incredible experience - making it a truly enjoyable experience to have the challenge of leading them while at same time ability to learn from them.

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Also - trying to figure out what to do for upper body push pull. Was doing OHP and weighted pull-ups 531 but haven’t in quite awhile. Shoulder is killing me from last dislocation. My OHP is strong relative to my bench (200+ vs probably 280). Any ideas for shoulder and upper back and arm strength moves? Less worried about size though wouldn’t mind bigger biceps, triceps, and delts. Traps are fine.

pendlay rows and land mine press?

I read an article on here (I think) by CT and Dr. John Rusin about shoulder training. It said that only about 25% of your shoulder training should be pressing movements; the rest should be movements like lateral raises (slow and controlled) and similar low-weight isolation movements. I’ve spent the last 10 minutes searching for this on Google and this site with no luck…

I haven’t exactly achieved the 25% rule but I’ve added more lateral and front DB raise type movements to my training. I’ve dropped the weights and do a 3 second eccentric. It’s only been a few weeks but I’m feeling a better mind-muscle connection and I’m more sore in my delts following these training days. I can’t say that I’ve always felt sore in the right spots in the past. Another bonus is that it’s easier on my joints while lifting. I can do decent sets of 8 with 25 lb DB’s but I’m getting smoked by 10’s with this new approach.

Do you have any problems with lateral, front, and rear DB raises? I’d recommend using those to supplement your pressing. I still do overhead press at least once a week but I’m trying to decrease my use of that by doing the isolation work on my other push day.

@Chris_Colucci Am I crazy or is there an article on T-Nation co-authored by Christian and Dr Rusin regarding shoulder training? I swear it was posted within the last two months. I’ve searched both of their articles with the tag “Shoulders” and haven’t found it. Specifically, I recall a statement saying that only 25% of your shoulder training should be overhead pressing movements.

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Thanks. Yes can do raises front, lateral, etc without major issue. I do like having movements I can progress - as a former track athlete, periodization is something I need. And isolation movements are harder to periodize.

I have two pushing and two pulling workouts a week. One day I do presses (5/3/1 or other structured method) and on the other day I do the isolation movements. I also split my bench and overhead pressing days. If I focus on bench for the day then I try not to do overhead presses. On day two (like today) my bench workout is much lighter so I’ll put more emphasis on overhead pressing.

That’s basically my intent as well. Given my travel and frequent days I can’t get to gym I will regularly do longer workouts that might hit 2 days worth of work. When I’m not traveling I will workout every day realizing that my schedule forces deloads and overtraining on volume or intensity is unlikely to happen

Why are you looking for push/pull exercises ideas? Just looking for something different?

Yes and something that won’t screw up my shoulders. They are pretty bad and bc of epilepsy and likelihood of continued occasional seizures, I have to plan around some exercises that don’t rely on barbell or DB pressing or high volume pull-ups.

Thanks for that, and good point about on topic. I’m closer to the situation you were probably in in your last job - managing in a larger organization - and I’m always interested to see how folks build success outside of a linear path.

There are definitely some shoes that are too “soft” for me to feel good in. I actually notice it more on squats than deadlifts, but some of the Nikes are a good balance for me where I feel fine and my knees get less cranky. I’m sure it’s a bigger deal to have more stable shoes for much stronger individuals, but that’s clearly not me.

One thing I’ve noticed when my shoulders get a little cranky (in addition to your discussion points) is something @EyeDentist pointed out: how I do my lateral raises can make or break how I feel, as ridiculous as that sounds. Basically thumbs up feels better (there is an explanation about the position your joints end up in, but that’s the gist). Maybe worth trying.

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Mine was always pretty linear regarding progression. Bigger jobs within 2k person company until reporting to President. Lateral move to a 6k person reporting two down from CEO. One promotion. Lateral move to a 30k person company reporting 3 down from CEO. One promotion. Now here. CEO of a littler company by far the toughest gig.

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Well there are plenty of options for back training. It all just depends on your equipment and other exercises. I like to do reverse grip (underhand) bent-over rows but that tends to be a bad idea after deadlifts and power cleans so I opt for exercises that allow me to support my chest while I row. A new exercise I discovered recently is the J-Rope Pull. It his the middle traps in a unique way. It’s like combining a DB pull-over and row into one movement. I learned about it here:

I also like to do reverse fly’s for back training to help balance out my pressing. I’ll do the regular motion which tends to hit upper traps, lats, and rhomboids. On other days I’ll emphasize the rear delt by stopping before those bigger muscles engage. This is usually with my arm straight in front of me like locking out a bench or push-up. Going slow and concentrating on the rear delt helps get it to do the work.

Lee Boyce has some pretty sweet stuff for back training that consists of exercises that aren’t so mainstream and common.

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