My career is hanging on by a thread of scar tissue!

My career is hanging on by a thread of scar tissue!

Jun 7, 2014

This is a training log update to detail my training from June 1-7.  I’ll also tell you how and what I have been lifting with for a few years.

EQUIPPED BENCH 405 x2x5 @7, gotta start somewhere
Shoulder Rehab


5 Board Press 315 x20 @7
DB Bench Press 100s x50 Total Reps
Triceps Extensions x3x20 Various Exercises
DB Chest Flys 50s x3x15
Rows x3x20 Various Exercises
DB Curls x4x20
Forearms x4x20


Close Grip Raw Bench Press 225 x50 Total Reps
DB Military Press (sitting on flat bench) x4x12+
Dips 285 x3x25
DB Chest Flys 50s x3x15
Rows x3x20 Various Exercises
DB Curls x4x20
Forearms x4x20



Now onto what actually happened to me.  Back in spring 2011, I was diagnosed with a posterior labrum tear.  The ortho doc didn’t think it needed immediate surgery, but surgery would be likely in the future, so he had me visit a rehab clinic and focus on strengthening my shoulder with rotator cuff exercises and stretches.  I did them religiously after every time I bench pressed.

Although my rotators were strong and healthy, my labrum wasn’t.  From Jan 2012-Oct 2013 I was lifting with what started off as very little pain, almost unnoticeable.  Gradually over time the pain got worse.  After every competition the pain would increase during training making competitions more difficult to hit a big lift.  After a month off in 2013, I decided to train hard again and attempt a 700+ Bench @264.  I was able to do so become the second lightest man in the USA to officially press over 700 drug free, drug tested.  Shortly after, I started training for the 2013 IPF World Championships.  The pain started coming back with a vengeance and my training took more of a pain management style of programming.  In other words, I trained what my body could and would tolerate.

The night before competing in the 2013 IPF Bench Press Worlds in Kaunas, Lithuania I remember telling my team mates how much my shoulder was hurting.  This likely leaded to my bombing at the event.  Little did I know that my shoulder was actually worse than it was before in 2011.  (Unbeknownst to me, I developed a second labrum tear in the same shoulder that I didn’t find out about until after nationals)

As thick headed as I am, I decided to enter the 2013 USAPL Bench Press Nationals in the 264 weight class.  I knew I was in for it too.  Huge names such as Jeff Snyder, John Bogart, Dave Doan, and Tim Moon were entered also.  I almost accepted defeat before I even competed.  What a monumental task of attempting to beat some of the greatest bench pressers EVER.  I thought what lied ahead was impossible.  I tried for the last 5 years and NEVER won.  I’ve come dangerously close several times, but could never seal the deal.  Winning almost seemed an illusion, especially now injured, and deep inside I never thought I’d win…I felt cursed.

The only thing that did not hurt…Equipped Bench Pressing.  THANK GOD.  So I was able to train sub-optimally, but at least I could do something and try.  I had fewer good training days than just ok ones.  I was losing my pushing ability in my right arm.  My left arm could push much more and found myself slowing my left arm down to lockout evenly.  My shoulder constantly throbbed, hurt while lifting raw with even 225, and my morale was dwindling.

I was worried, scared, and frustrated.  What do I do?

I was living in Germantown, IL at the time and when Beth was busy in school I’d go on walks around town, listen to my music, reflect on training, Beth, and the future.  About a week before nationals, I took a walk and reflected on my training cycle.  I remember feeling especially grim and miserable.  I’d thought about all the bad sessions I had, the missed lifts (I never miss), my dysfunctional shoulder, bombing at the IPF worlds, Beth landing a new job, possibly moving away from friends and family, never winning nationals before, feeling cursed, and overall hopeless.  I wondered if I even believed in myself anymore.  I was depressed.


This is so true and I am getting teary-eyed just thinking about it.  It was like a voice went through me that said “Brady, if you won’t believe in yourself, at least believe in me!”.  – God     At that very moment, I changed, I didn’t care about my shoulder, my problems, my training, my worries.  God was right, just have faith in Him and know that there is a plan, and that is God’s plan for me.  I have faith that God will deliver me from anything and that through Jesus I can do all things.  Where did my faith go?  It doesn’t matter.  What matters is that God picked me up when I was low and I’ve been up ever since.

So, nationals came and I didn’t have a worry, fear, or anything.  I was happy, enjoyable, and eager to lift as best as I could for that day.  I wasn’t lifting for me that day.  I was lifting for my wife (who shared in my sacrifices over the years), my family (who love me), my friends (that were there every step of the way), and God (for never giving up on me and just being overall awesome).

Competing was so much fun.  All I did was put it all out there.  Physically, shoulder aside, I had more energy than a mouse hopped up on sugar running the mouse-wheel.  I felt as if I could run through a wall.  I didn’t pay attention to the other lifters, I just did my thing.   You can read in detail my Nationals experience here:  Brady Stewart National Champion

In short I won!  I still can’t hardly believe it to this day.  I am forever grateful.

I took a couple of weeks off after nationals to celebrate, relax, and hope that my shoulder would feel a bit better.  On the third week I took this progression through september.

Monday) 45lb bench press x3 sets x50 reps (no pain)
Wednesday) 95lb bench press x3 sets of 30 reps (no pain)
Friday) 135lb bench press x3 sets of 15 reps (slight discomfort)

Monday) 135lb bench press x3x15 (slight discomfort)
Wednesday) 185lb bench press x3x10 (slight pain)
Friday) 185lb bench press x3x10 (extreme pain), set up a ortho visit

Monday) 185 x3x5 (extreme pain)
Tuesday) Doctor visit
Thursday) MRI and decided on surgery

I ended up having a second labrum tear just under the biceps tendon.  WOW  This whole time I was lifting with a labrum torn in two separate places.  Who knows how long I’ve been lifting this way?  Over time, I could feel my shoulder stability and strength deteriorate quite a bit.  The surgeon told me it was a miracle that I was able to compete, train, and let alone win the US Nationals.  I guess ignorance is bliss.

Surgery was scheduled on Oct 1.  Surgery was successful and had a weird result.  The surgeon could fix the posterior tear, but not the tear under the bicep tendon.  He felt there was sufficient scar tissue holding the second tear together.  It looks gnarly.  I’ll have to train very carefully not to aggravate the second tear and hopefully prolong my career as a bench presser, but if the second tear actually tears all the way through, it will be career ending.  My labrum is literally hanging on my a thread of scar tissue.

Brady Stewart Bench PressBrady Stewart has been a competitive powerlifter and bench press specialist since 2001. While he has had much success in full raw powerlifting as a former OPEN American USA Powerlifting Squat, Bench, and Total Record Holder (242lbs), surprisingly, Brady’s forte is single-ply IPF bench pressing. Brady has been a member of 3 USA World Bench Press Teams (IPF), a USA World Bench Press Team Gold Medalist (IPF 2009), and the 2013 USA Bench Press National Champion (264lbs). Brady’s best press to date is 322.5kgs (710.9lbs) making him the strongest and highest rated bench presser in the history of USA Powerlifting in Illinois and the second lightest man to bench press over 700lbs in USA Powerlifting. Brady is the owner of, dedicated to promoting drug free strength athletics.


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