Have Belt, Will Travel; Ludus Magnus

A few weeks ago I went up to Columbus Ohio and had the opportunity to train at Ludus Magnus. I hopped in with the Friday night lifting crew, who were predominantly in the midst of their prep for a competition. I pulled up to the gym a bit early and walked around the area a bit to get feeling back in my posterior after driving for a few hours. Off to the side of the road a few blocks down there was not one, not two, but three used condoms sitting on the side of the road. I’m not talking wrappers either, I’m talking rolled down (presumably used) condoms. I have so many questions about this, but I don’t want any answers.

A bit later on I was able to get in to the gym with the owner and talk a bit about life, the universe, and everything before the training started.

The Gym

The gym opens up immediately into a reception area adorned with trophies, awards, and published articles by the gym owner. It has some nice couches and a desk for the owner to work at. A doorway to your right leads you in to the gym that sprawls back quite a distance with a monolift, power racks, various machines, specialty bars, and otherwise good equipment.

Ludus Magnus
Part of the gym itself.

The Owner

The owner of Ludus Magnus is Matt Wenning, a competitive powerlifter, coach, entrepreneur, and very large man. He has been operating his gym for nearly a decade at this point and has coached not just successful powerlifters, but worked with Special Forces, firefighters, general population, and more. He often travels to speak about training, coaching, and performance and is a very well read guy who also is a bit of a gear head since I learned while talking with him that the newer manual transmissions can’t handle the massive amount of torque from beefy engines as well as the automatic transmissions due to how the gear shifting and force distribution occurs (the more you know).

The Workout

The athletes at the gym are in the midst of an 8 week prep for a powerlifting meet and 88% of their squat max for a triple and 88% of their deadlift max for a double was on the menu. The warm up involved three sets of twenty repetitions on Matt’s belt squat machine that he designed and now sells. These felt good to do and allowed me to feel a real large range of motion and get loose before the barbell work (and is now on my home gym wish list). From there it was time to start squatting. Working out of a monolift with a solid squat bar (think it was a mastodon squat bar, not a Texas squat bar), we worked up in about 6-8 sets to the top set of three. At this point the guys prepping were done and I was given some bonus work to do which involved vertical leg presses on a 3 seconds up 3 seconds down cadence done for a deep burn (15-20 reps for me), then weighted sit ups and reverse hypers with a controlled movement and the strap around my ankles with my legs straight. This was meant to be done for at least three rounds to help strengthen weakpoints in my lifts (and those reverse hypers were freaking humbling when done slowly for the entire movement).

The Advice

After training with the gentlemen I picked their brains a bit about training and supplementation in order to help with my recovery from my soon to be performed pec reattachment and labrum repair surgery. Some ideas they had for me involved lots of repetitions against an empty dowel rod as soon as I can (bamboo bar if I wanted to go high rent there). This of course being well after I’m out of a sling. The goal being to just grease the groove with that range of motion along with getting more circulation to the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in that area. Additionally they had advice about diet in general of higher protein, get in lots of fish oil, and aim to mitigate inflammation to the best of my ability. For supplementation look in to getting in more magnesium, possible supplement with amino acids and utilize fenugreek. Finally, to get a particular type of massage therapy (Gua Sha) to minimize the buildup of scar tissue in the area so that my tissue regenerates in the correct patterns.

For my deadlifting and squatting I need to work on getting my chest up and holding the bar in better spinal extension than I currently do with the movements. Also to work on sitting back in my squats more than I currently do. Probably widen my stance up soon and work on getting my knees out more and being more stable in general with my squats.


Great gym with great people. Thanks again to Matt Wenning and his lifters for letting me hop in with them and ask questions for a few hours. The belt squat machine that he has is great and worth looking in to if you are in the market for one. This place is definitely worth the visit if you get a chance to train with some great people.


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