Training Log

Starting Strength in the Real World

From CrossFit to Starting Strength Tulsa

by David Heon | January 04, 2022

It is finally finished, after about 1 month of home renovation labor. My wife and I had to do something during the idiotic shutdown response to a new cold virus. So, I’m sitting in my basement 70 lbs lighter – on purpose – than I was 2 years ago and admiring the fact that I’ve just finished outfitting my home gym. That took just over 1 month. It seemed the only logical response to my 2-year journey to get healthy and “fit.” What else was I going to do, watch the news? I had to find something other than P90X and CrossFit.

I was lamenting the WOD which has a deadlift ladder programmed. I guess the deadlift scares me to death. That's a little dramatic, but I did rupture my bicep tendon in 2008 with a supine grip because I didn’t know the correct form for the deadlift. As an almost 59-year old surgeon, I can’t afford to get injured doing this “health thing.”

I was on YouTube because that’s the best place to find out how to do stuff, right? I came across a 30-minute video about the deadlift. Who the hell is this guy – 30 minutes? I sat and watched the deadlift dissected with all the precision that we’ve all come to know and expect. Researched this guy – oh, he has a book. I ordered the book and then ordered the Kindle version because I’m impatient. So, Blue Book equals new direction in life. Ordered the Barbell Prescription and the Grey Book. Signed up for the coaching seminar in Wichita Falls in December, 2020.

Yes, a new direction in life, but I didn’t really know it at the time. The YouTube video was the proverbial stone thrown into the pond. The ripples are now tidal waves.

The seminar taught me a whole lot about what I didn’t know, but it also taught me about what was important, and more critically, what was possible. All those times that I sat in the gym and watched from afar those few special characters in the far corner lifting superhuman weights while the rest of us simply fooled around in the gym pretending to accomplish something. Was accomplishing something really possible at my age?

The seminar also allowed me the opportunity to size up the people at Starting Strength. An incredible group to say the least. I connected with Nick to be my video coach at the end of December and sat down to write my goals. Then I saw “The Sticker” – the rather unassuming window sticker from The Aasgaard Company that set a standard for the Men’s Club. At the time, I barely qualified for the Women's Club. These were numbers that I’d never dreamed possible. I’m fast approaching 59 years of age, and it was time to stop with the excuses and see what hard work can do, along with a very smart coach and a home gym. An idea formed in my head. Can I hit these numbers by the end of the year? I have a rather interesting journal entry dated 12/27/20. I ran these numbers by my coach and got to work.

heon training log with the goals for the year

In May of 2021, Starting Strength Oklahoma City opened, and my wife was the first to sign up. She had been watching and learning from my experience, and both of us innately knew, after 33 years, that I was not going to get involved in her training program – no, thank you. This gym did afford me the opportunity to show up once a week to get some much needed real-time instruction, which helped me tremendously. Yes, my video coaching was successful but, as we’ve all experienced, it delays the feedback and so provides a less-optimal training experience. So I continued on, 3 days a week, 2 in my home gym and once a week at SS-OKC, mostly adding consistently to my lifts except my pathetic squat, which I continued to whine and complain about most of the year. My anthropometry is not ideal for squats, but we deal with the hand we are dealt and motor on.

As you’ll notice in the picture of the journal entry, taken exactly exactly one year after the entry, I added a comment about my conversation with Nick. As he said, “These numbers are possible by the end of the year if you're consistent.” In other words, don’t miss workouts. I'm proud to say that despite a busy surgical practice, two vacations, and a second grandchild, I didn’t miss a single workout. Yes, there were times when I had been up all night operating, working in the office all day, and still dragged my tired ass down to the basement to do one of Nick’s volume workouts. I didn’t want to do it, but I did do it.

david heon lifting

The press was the first landmark to fall. I hit 200 lbs in June. Next was the bench press, and that landmark fell in October. As the calendar rolled by, the the last two lifting goals kept taunting me. In the third week of December, I was able to Rack Pull 525 lbs in my basement and this allowed me a glimmer of hope that I could actually pull 500 lbs. off the ground. That same week, I PRed the squat at 390 lbs – oh so close.

Something else happened during this year-long trek. I was lucky enough to experience the Starting Strength Gym in Oklahoma City, as was my wife. I’ve been in gyms almost my entire life. This gym was not those gyms. Having a private coach watching every rep of every set you perform is not something you find in gyms. These fabulous coaches are constantly adjusting and optimizing your movement patterns. How can you not get stronger?

I watched many people come in to the gym weak, frail, and timid. I watched them transform from week to week. I watched seniors (that means older than 59, by the way) that had never been in a gym before, struggle week after week to perfect the movement patterns and increase the loads, and transform. I saw the Starting Strength method implemented week after week in this amazing gym, staffed with amazing coaches, change peoples lives right before my eyes. I saw something that I wanted to be an integral part of from the delivery side, since I had been on and witnessed the receiving end. I wanted to own a Starting Strength Gym and help people experience this fabulous system. I’ve spent most of my life helping people as a surgeon, and as that window starts to close, this is what I want to transition to. I’m excited to be part of this organization that has so changed my life, and to build Starting Strength Tulsa.

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