#103 – Meet Brad: Using the Barbell to Conquer Back Pain and Obesity

In another 40fit athlete profile, Fort Worth Strength member Brad Lamar joins the show to talk about his amazing journey of losing 50lbs and nearly 10in off his waist while getting stronger and leaner than he’s ever been.


Brad is a 49-year old IT professional in the healthcare industry who began training with a history of inactivity and back pain. At 5′ 11″ and 285lbs he was significantly obese. However, he began a novice linear progression with the barbell, lifting 3x per week with the big lifts: squat, press, bench press, and deadlift. As he gained strength, his metabolism increased, and with careful attention to his diet, he began to lose body fat while gaining lots of muscle mass.


After a year of training, Brad had dropped from 285lbs down to 235lbs, and from a 53in to a 44in waist. During that period he halved his body fat percentage as well, from 40% to 20%. Now here’s the interesting part. In his second year of training, Brad gained a little weight, up to 240, but his waist remained stable, increasing just one inch to 45in. His body fat percentage continued to drop however, down to 17% by the end of the year. Not surprisingly, he hit all time PR’s as well, squatting in the high 200’s, deadlifting in the mid 300’s, benching 270lbs, and pressing 160lbs.


Like Clif, who we interviewed last week, the key to Brad’s success is hidden in his consistency. He rarely misses workouts, and he eats the same thing for breakfast and lunch every day. He tracks his food every so often to ensure his macros are staying on target, but by being consistent in his breakfast and lunch habits he has freedom to eat out at a restaurant or participate in his family’s pizza Friday (now a family tradition), in which they prepare and bake their own gourmet pizza at home.


It didn’t always come easy, however. On two separate occasions, Brad’s back pain flared up in a big way, causing severe sciatic nerve pain that made him unable to sit for more than a few minutes at a time. Sleep was challenging as well, as the pain often woke him up in the middle of the night. Brad continued to train, however, while seeking medical advice and an MRI of his back. His surgeon gave him an epidural to relieve a bulging disc in the L4-L5 region, which was pressing on the nerve root. The procedure was successful, and within 6 weeks his pain symptoms resolved and he was able to resume normal barbell training again.


Like Clif, Brad moderates his squat frequency and intensity, back squatting heavy once per week and performing a lighter squat variation on another day (lately a front squat). He also leg presses in the middle of the week to get additional leg work without the added compression force on his lumbar spine that a low bar back squat would provide.


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