Strength & Powerlifting


I Tore My Pec (Chest), and Update After Surgery

9 weeks ago, I tore my left pec bench pressing. It was a full tear of the muscle from the tendon, and I had 7 weeks between the injury and the reattachment surgery.

I found that when I was searching the internet for info, I couldn’t find many first-hand accounts of the injury, what to do while waiting for surgery, the surgery itself, and the recovery process. I’ll do my best to explain for those dealing with this injury.

 

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I had consulted with three different orthopedic surgeons with varying opinions, and the first two guys were hesitant. I’m 2 weeks post surgery and feeling better every day. Please note, this is my experience and only that. Your injury might be different – so listen to your doctor.

The actual injury itself

My left pectoral muscle (chest) tore from the tendon (attached to the humerus, or upper arm/bicep) during a 455lb bench press. Pictured with a blue X. This was 3 weeks after the injury when the swelling and bruising had gone down. No attachment on the humerus.

Less than a week prior to the injury I had maxed out and hit a personal best, and probably wasn’t fully recovered. 2 sets before the injury, I hit another HARD 5 rep personal best and continued onto overload work. Regardless, I would have done the exact same thing again if I was to repeat. In order to get stronger we have to push our limits.

Bruising: Some people bruise easier than others. I didn’t have much bruising – as seen here. I’ve never bruised much. This was 1 week post injury.

Before Surgery

I made the mistake of going to a glorified walk-in clinic (an urgent care center) which meant that I wasn’t treated as an emergency and was booked for surgery 7 weeks later. In addition, the original doctors who assessed the injury did not have any familiarity with strength athletes.  This ended up being a blessing in disguise because it allowed me to push even harder (with the exception of chest work) for the next 7 weeks leading up to surgery.

I hit a 720lb deadlift five days before my surgery, as well as a beltless personal best against bands two weeks prior.

 

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I kept eating, training, and working around the injury. No excuses.

Surgery

Originally, the surgery was supposed to be 1 hour with the thought that they would just pull the muscle back across, and sew it to the tendon. Unfortunately because of the length of time since the injury, the muscle had shortened a lot, and because I am relatively strong, the stitches wouldn’t hold on their own. They ended up drilling through my humerus and putting in anchors to hold the muscle in place so that the tendon and muscle could heal into each other and create a strong bond. The tear happened where the muscle meets the tendon, which meant that they had to use more sutures and it was more difficult because of the tightness. They used the Krackow Suture technique to bring the muscle and tendon together.

This meant the surgery was just over 3 hours and more invasive, which equals longer healing time. Originally I was told 3 weeks in a sling. As of now I’m told 6-8 weeks with basically no movement in a sling. I understand that this is to allow the muscle and tendon to set properly into each other, and to allow the bone to heal after drilling the anchors.

 

The bone was drilled to allow the anchors to be put in.

They stitched me up, wheeled me out and sent me home. I ended up with 16 stitches to close the incision, and somewhere around 50-75 stitches inside the muscle, tendon, and drilling.

 

Emily and me right after surgery

The stitches came out 11 days later.

My surgeon was Dr. Elmaraghy from St. Josephs hospital in Toronto. He is also a professor of orthopedic surgery at University of Toronto, and I am very pleased with the work him and his team did. I had numerous referrals to him, and know other powerlifters who had upper body injuries operated on by him. Due to the extent of my injury and it not being a standard pec tear (where the tendon comes off the bone), I know he was the right guy to do the job, and after reading the surgery report, it sounded very complex. Thank you very much Doc.

https://stjoestoronto.ca/physicians/dr-amr-elmaraghy/

All in all – I must say that although injuries suck, and it’s frustrating being hurt – It comes with the territory.

I don’t know a single athlete who has competed at a high level for an extended period of time (longer than 2-3 years), that hasn’t gotten hurt. This injury is number 5 for me (while in the gym or competing).

Other injuries include a torn lat, dislocated shoulder (while wearing a bench press shirt), torn quad + patellar tendon, and dumping 410lbs on my chest – putting me in intensive care (ICU) for 3 days with internal bleeding and 3 ruptured organs.

When you’re dealt a set back – take the time to refocus your goals. It’s no time to put your tail between your legs.

Because I wont be building any new muscle for the next 8 weeks, I can focus on getting leaner. Light lifting, cardio, and clean eating. When I’m cleared to train hard again, I will push my lower body HARD, while easing into upper body work with high volume and high reps.

I hope this post helps if you’ve just suffered a torn pec, or any other muscle tear for that matter. Feel free to email me with any questions about your situation or injury.

Thanks for reading,

Dan

What you DON’T KNOW about CREATINE!

THE TRUTH ABOUT CREATINE 

Article by a supplement nerd and NOT a sponsored supplement company!

Lets get right into it! Im sure you have read many articles by now telling you what creatine is, the type of loading phase you should do and why their brand is better then others. But very few articles actually answer the questions you want to know.

Image result for creatine photos

 

What brand of creatine monohydrate is best?

A: Believe it or not creatine powder comes from the same facility as the brand next to it on the shelf. Companies slap a label on it and call it their magic mix. Something to be careful of though, companies can make a creatine supplement cheaper by adding in fillers and flavors. A pure creatine monohydrate should list this and only this on the label. The difference between the Allmax brand, Rivalus, Muscle Tech on the shelf is the colour of the label and not the product inside. 

Should I take another form of creatine? 

A: A buffered from of creatine like a kre-alkyn or ethyl ester form is suggested if you have a sensitive stomach or hold onto water easily. I wouldn’t say these are superior in the way they are absorbed, especially because the majority of studies have been on creatine monohydrate and not on a buffered form. However, they have been proven to reduce un-necessary water retention when taking creatine. This is why these forms are usually suggested for females and very lean males.

Do I need to have an insulin spike for creatine to work? What does this even mean? 

A: Creatine does require an insulin spike, this is why a lot of people will take it post workout or at least half post workout. For creatine to get into the muscle it needs a “carrier” any form of food source will spike insulin. However, for some people who enjoy training fasted and want the benefits of creatine you can buy products that use russian taragon. Russian taragon mimics an insulin spike in the body without the need for food. 

Creatine doesn’t seem to work? 

A: A lot of people make the mistake of not drinking enough water. You can’t expect it to carry into the muscle and hold without enough water. DRINK UP! At least 3L a day should be enough to gain the benefits of creatine. Another important point is that you need to be CONSISTENT with creatine. If your body is not saturated with it by taking it every day its pretty much pointless. Take the full amount on training days and half on non training days. 

What other health benefits does creatine provide? 

A: Creatine has been proven to help boost cognitive function. Improve dopamine levels and slow the progression of parkinson’s. Other studies have suggests that taking creatine may treat other diseases like alzheimers, ischemic stroke, epilepsy or brain or spinal cord injuries. 

For older adults, supplementing with creatine for 2 weeks significantly helped improve memory and recall ability.. 

Should vegans or vegetarians take a creatine supplement? 

Did you know that meat is the best dietary source of creatine? Taking meat out of a diet can impact each person differently. One study showed that vegetarians found a 20-50% increase in some memory scores. This study was not done on vegans and may show a greater increase, especially over a longer duration.

Either way, if your a vegan or vegetarian your not getting creatine from other sources so supplementing is a good idea.

Creatine is bad for my kidneys! 

A: If you have kidney problems then DON’T use creatine. There are LOTS of things you shouldn’t have if you have kidney problems. If you’re the average joe, healthy kidneys and want a cheep supplement that actually helps then take creatine. 

 

Overall Its Safe! 

  • Drink lots of water 
  • Don’t excessively drink alcohol or do anything extremely hard on your kidneys and liver (no brainer) 
  • Don’t do a loading phase just be consistent
  • Don’t take more then whats recommended 

 

*** Reminder—>> you don’t need creatine to see gains at the gym, its not magic – you still need to train hard, train smart and eat proper macros!***

Image result for creatine safe

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17828627

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-benefits-of-creatine#section8

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/08/030813070944.htm

https://www.webmd.com/alzheimers/news/20030813/creatine-may-boost-brain-performance#1

photo 1: https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwjQ4OHK97PhAhVvhOAKHXf5CtUQjRx6BAgBEAU&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.t-nation.com%2Fsupplements%2Ftip-creatine-grows-some-body-parts-faster&psig=AOvVaw230kQ_pjFOmjzRNuWiZuSG&ust=1554381260497990

photo 2: https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwi2tem3-LPhAhVsmuAKHdWwBnIQjRx6BAgBEAU&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.pinterest.com%2Fpin%2F654288652092409235%2F&psig=AOvVaw3gAZ9J4oVzrDPvt3Aql92q&ust=1554381347353571

How To Activate Abdominals During A Squat

How to Activate Abdominals During Squats

Follow These Steps To Begin Bracing During Your Squat:

  1. Squeeze your glutes together 
  2. Flex your core, as if someone was about to punch you in the stomach (pulling your sternum down towards your belly button—> as you do this take a big breath.  
  3. The big breath needs to come from your STOMACH and NOT your CHEST.

 

To Teach Yourself Proper Abdominal Breathing and Not Inhaling Into Your Chest:

Try the Crocodile Breath:

– Lie on your stomach with your face resting on the back of your hands 

– Breathe deeply so that your low back rises and NOT your shoulder and upper back 

** You want to feel your abdominals pushing against the floor and expanding out sideways. 

https://youtu.be/IMcmELFb7W8

 

 

To Teach Yourself Pelvic Floor Contracting:

This is key to the concept of “bracing” your abdominals. A lot of people associate this concept by imaging you were going pee and had to stop mid stream. 

 

Image result for pelvic floor anterior tilt

 

Exercise To Practice Bracing:

  • If you struggle with bracing, try incorporating planks into your workouts. This is a great way to teach yourself how to squeeze and keep the core tight. 
  • You can also do short planks 15s before your lift to create mind muscle connection with abdominal bracing. 

Why Brace:

By doing this, you are stabilizing your spine to allow for the heavy load on you back. This also forces your abdominals to activate and assist in the power of your lower extremities during the lift. 

 

What Can Happen If You Don’t Brace:

  1. Can cause arching of the lower back or spinal flexing resulting in excessive compression on the posterior lumbar spine. 
  2. Can lead to muscular imbalances and a weak core. 

Related imageRelated image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References:

https://journals.lww.com/nscajscr/Fulltext/2013/08000/The_Valsalva_Maneuver___
Its_Effect_on.39.aspx

https://www.boxrox.com/squat-technique/ 

https://www.t-nation.com/training/lift-big-by-bracing-not-arching

https://www.t-nation.com/training/freakish-strength-with-proper-core-training

https://letsbands.com/en/blog/pelvic-tilt-hollow-back-back-pain/

 

Training Log: Dan Petkovsek

This is the second post in my training cycle for USPA Nationals on July 8th.

First off – I know I said I would post each week, but to be honest – the past few weeks have been very busy, and unfortunately, this fell by the wayside – so I apologize.

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I’ve had some questions about percentages and other things on this program for people who are running it on their own. Read More

Training Log: USPA Nationals July 8th

This post is the first of a few over the next 9 weeks, and may be a bit long – so thank you in advance if you read the whole thing.

Continuing the theme of giving back which we mentioned was our focus this year – I’ll be breaking down my training in as much detail as possible, so if you’re looking for a new program, or just interested in learning more about powerlifting and strength – read on.

I also have 4 other of our team lifters running this program along side with me. If you want in – email me.

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Yesterday (monday) I started my training program for USPA Powerlifting Nationals on July 8th, in Las Vegas, Nevada. I’ll be competing as a 198, classic raw (knee wraps), in the Open age category. Read More