On July 28, 2022, Larry Wheels revealed that he had strained his back during a recent deadlift session (precise workout date undisclosed) on his YouTube channel.

As a result of his unfortunate misstep, Wheels announced that he would withdraw from the upcoming 2022 Middle East’s Strongest Man (MESM), which is set to occur in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on August 27-28, 2022. 

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During the routine, the athlete said he felt uniquely strong and attempted to push himself with multiple eight-repetition deadlift sets at 300 kilograms (661.4 pounds) — leading to his back injury. 

“After the second set, I started feeling compression in my lower back,” Wheels said. “This happened because my core was weakened from inactivity because of no training. When you have been neglecting your core, and you go to do deadlifts, your lower back is going to be doing a lot of the work.”

According to Strongman Archives, the 2022 MESM would’ve been Wheels’ debut as a competitive strongman. (Wheels did partake in the 2019 World Log Lift Championships, which is a strongman event.) 

After announcing his plans for the competition in the United Arab Emirates this past early May, Wheels captured a raw 425-kilogram (937-pound) deadlift during another training session. If that were to occur on an official lifting platform, it would’ve been his new competition best. Later that same month, Wheels scored a 421.8-kilogram (930-pound) deadlift for three reps with relative ease. 

Unfortunately, Wheels won’t be able to transfer these stellar demonstrations of leg power and grip any time as he steps back to recover from his back injury. 

Potential Recovery

According to Wheels, his back injury is a Grade 1 strain. He says that a back injury of this variety is “mild with a tear to a small number of fibers.” A person recovering from said strain, “normally has a full range of motion with minimal pain.”

With that in mind, Wheels’ approach to his withdrawal from the 2022 MESM appears to be more about taking precautions to ensure his injury doesn’t regress from the pressure of competition. The athlete confirmed as much when clarifying his decision. 

“For the immediate future, I cannot do this competition in August [2022 MESM],” Wheels said. “… I’d be foolish to think that with just three weeks of training, I’d be able to perform well at the competition. Right now, I need at least another week of building back up, of testing the waters, and making sure my back’s okay. And then, I need to rebuild my conditioning back up. That takes time.”

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The Big Picture

Part of Wheels’ proactiveness is a focus on his long-term ambitions. Whenever he fully recovers from his back injury, the athlete wants to eventually notch a deadlift of at least 456.3 kilograms (1,000 pounds). Though, as he notes, the feat may have to happen in a coming training session as opposed to a formal contest. 

“I am still going for the 1,000-pound deadlift,” Wheels clarifies about his plans. “I’m just going to push the date a bit further. Let’s say instead of doing it in late August, the day of the competition [the 2022 MESM], I will do it in September. Because, to be honest, that’s my priority.”

Featured image: Larry Wheels on YouTube