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Shaping Our Youth

The greatest sign of success for a teacher… is to be able to say, ‘The children are now working as if I did not exist.’ Maria Montessori

I have not blogged in what seems like ages, but with this topic fresh on my mind, I thought it would be nice to remove them and send them into the world and see how others feel about them. That being said, these are my opinions (meaning you do not have to agree with them, and that is okay, because we can still be friends).


The gym is continuing to grow at an exceeding rate, which is fantastic (and to those that want more space, trust me, we are looking, but it is not as easy as just wanting a new building :P). With the gym growing, our mean age has started shifting downward toward the teens. This is exciting to me as a coach, because it means we can start influencing at a young age, an age where kids are still fluid. They are fluid in their movement patterns, not yet shaped by sitting all day at work and coming home to sit some more. They are not yet plagued with long stressful days at a job they may not love, so they (I won’t say always) come in with a bright attitude to learn and develop new skills. Above all, they are just hilarious and fun to work with, and for all intents and purposes push others in the gym much older than themselves to strive for a little more and to work a little harder.

This being said, I believe that if you are going to coach and train children/kids/young adults, you must take this as a serious task and somewhat of an honor. Think of it this way:

The parent has put trust in you to mold and develop the one thing they cherish most in this world. They have come to you for the purpose of making their young person not only a better athlete, but to help develop them to become a wonderful human being. So taking that into account, there are a couple of things I keep in mind to make sure that I can provide the most to every youth athlete that I train:


  1. It is not/should not be an easy pay day that you string along for as long as possible

They come to you because they need guidance. They want to get stronger, healthier, faster, bigger, and ultimately become better athletes. To some, this means you can just put something down on a piece of paper without a rhyme or reason, and sure it is hard, but is it really doing anything for the kid’s goals? Is it making them better? Is this what they are paying for? At the end of it, did you betray the trust of a parent and youth athlete?

This is something I think about with all of my programs, but especially with my youth. If we teach them well when they start, really teach them, then going forward they will have a very strong foundation that you get to be apart of for the rest of their athletic career!

 2. Teach them to move before they specialize

This should be a priority to all youth coaches. These kids need to be able to perform the most basic of strength movements before they learn to do complex competition lifts. Teach them to run, jump, climb, and ultimately fall in love with movement itself, and then teach them their sport of choice!

This is a philosophy I have developed after starting to work with more and more youth sports teams. Upon programming a strength and conditioning workout,  I realize that they can perform their sport at a high level with almost zero effort.  However, I then ask them to do something as basic as a lunge or push-up, and it is as if I have asked them to perform a heart transplant.

If you let kids be kids and teach them to move, the rest will take care of itself.

3. You have to care

If you choose to work with kids, especially youth athletes, you have to care. I have worked with kids as long as I can remember, and a lot of the time you don’t know what type of house they are coming from. They can be from a caring and loving home, in which case, they will have a strong network of support and have role models they look up to that can help shape their love for sport, a career, and ultimately their future. On the flip side of that, you can get kids from broken homes that are in sport or programs as a way to get away from that for just a little while. This is where it matters, if they don’t have anyone that cares, then how long do you think they will really stick with this? Not only that, but you have to also remember to not only care about them as an athlete, but as a young adult in general. If they are struggling, then talk to them, because if you want to get the best performance out of them, then they need to be there physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Ask any successful athlete, and I almost guarantee, they have a coach that helped  strengthen their passion and love for their sport! They had a coach that went above and beyond to help shape them and provided a strong role model for how coaches should be.

Bottom line: You have to look at your youth athletes as a person first and an athlete second.


With all that being said, when athletes train hard, they don’t always enjoy the strength and conditioning portion of their program (this can be especially true in youth). However, this is a necessary part of athletic development as it helps to keep the athlete injury free through developing strength, power, and correcting imbalances that often develop with the repetitive motions present in almost all sports.

As youth coaches, this is why it is extremely important to keep training fun, exciting, and explain to the youth and parents the purpose of every movement. If we teach them correctly at a young age, we can be apart of providing an individual a long, healthy athletic career and helping to shape the youth of tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

Why Compete?

The ultimate victory in competition is derived from the inner satisfaction of knowing that you have done your best and that you have gotten the most out of what you had to give.

Howard Cosell

Why compete? Why put yourself in a situation where you only have a set amount of opportunities to get it right? Why test the last couple weeks, months, and sometimes years of preparation when you are already happy with your current situation?

Why not?

Think about it. This is the ultimate analogy to life. You prepare, prepare, and prepare some more for the “opportunity of a lifetime” and when that time comes, you are tested on all the preparation up to that point. Sometimes you get it, sometimes you don’t. If you succeed, there is no greater feeling than achieving what you knew you could and basking in your accomplishment with friends and family. If you fail (which in life, at some point, is inevitable) you start by looking at what more you could have done, where your preparation went wrong, and how you can be better prepared for the next opportunity (believe me, there is always another one, you just have to be prepared for it).

This is how I think about competition and this is what it has taught me.


There are no do-overs

Remember when you were a kid and you could just reset the game if things went south? Not in the real world. In the grown adult world, we have to live with the choices we make. While this might sound grim, at least the way I worded it, experiences are the only thing in the world we get to hold on to that make us who we are. Whether good or bad, these experiences shape us and make us the unique person we continually grow to be.

Just like in life, in competition, once you go up to attempt your weight, whether you make it or not, there is no going back. Maybe you miss and think “I should have started 2-3kg lower, I could have made that”, and maybe you could have, but there is no reset. Again, this sounds negative, but this is how you learn. Little by little, this is how you learn about yourself and your athletes. Some athletes can open with a near max attempt, feeding off the pressure it puts on them. Some athletes need an easy opener in order to get the nerves out and gain confidence. Whatever type of athlete you might be, you will never know until you put yourself to the test!


The end result of a process

My response to my clients and athletes that train but don’t want to compete is this:

Why come in 5-6 days a week and put yourself through the aches and pains of training (different from just exercising) and not step on the platform and see the end result?

Sure, you can see the body transformation and the increase in weights, these are things you can see in your everyday training. However, to see how your confidence and mental game has changed, you have to put yourself under the pressure of those 3 attempts, those 3 attempts to show off your months of preparation.

If you look back through the blog, you will find a video about how lobsters grow. I come back to this quite often. In order to adapt and grow, the lobster must first under go the stress and pressure of a small shell. Once it feels it has “outgrown its shell,” it finds a space and molts, growing a larger shell so it can continue its journey.

Get it?

In order to grow and become more, you must put yourself under stress and pressure. Got to be the lobster!


Doing well is all relative

Maybe you don’t get 1st, hell, you might place 56/57. Competition is not always about trying to beat the top dog. Take this example:

You have 10 people in your weight class. Your best snatch is 80kg and your opening at 75kg, to give yourself some room and because you are feeling good that day. You look at the card table and see someone opening at 103kg. Now, even if you PR your snatch, there is no way you are going to jump 22kg over your personal best to try and beat that guy.

The point is, if you go on to hit 80,82 or hell even 85 kg, this is a huge accomplishment. Under pressure, in a different setting, and in front of a crowd of people, you managed to lift more that you ever had in a setting of familiarity with friends around to encourage. This is fantastic, and even if you place second to last, you came in and did better than you ever had before and I can guarantee you won’t care about the place you finished, a PR in competition is the best feeling!


How to overcome failure

The one downside (I don’t consider this a downside, but we will address that further down the page) is that if you compete, at some point, you will fail. You will fail to do as well as you want to, you will miss a lift, or you will have an all out poor performance. Just like in the rest of our lives, shit happens, and we move past. We come up with a plan–a plan to make sure the same failure does not happen again. We take what we learn from competition and we come up with a training plan to strengthen our weaknesses and keep are strengths strong.

Failure should not be looked at as something to avoid, but rather embraced as an opportunity to learn and grow.


In short:

Have fun training and put that training to the test on the platform (whether at an in-house competition or at local sanctioned meets). Don’t let the fear of failure be the reason you avoid taking that extra leap to compete. Get a good coach or friend to help you in competition, and you might surprise yourself with how well you do and how much you enjoy the competition itself!

 

Ukrainian Adventure

Life is either a great adventure or nothing.

Helen Keller

My apologies for the late post, but between in and out wifi connections in Germany and getting back into a normal schedule, I just now have time to sit down and type out all my thoughts about my most recent adventures.

For those that don’t know, I had an amazing opportunity to go over seas and train in Kiev, Ukraine at an Olympic Training center in beautiful Koncha Zaspa with the Warm Body Cold Mind fellas (Aleskey Torokhtiy, 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist and Dr. Sergei Putsov). I will go into detail below, but first an over arching statement for camp:

The only source of knowledge is experience.

Albert Einstein

I will do my best to describe my training, my stay, and my whole experience during the two weeks training under their watchful eye, but I fear it will not serve it complete justice.


You cannot breed greatness if not surrounded by it

Let me start off by talking about the level of expertise we were surrounded by. I would guess that over the course of two weeks we may have had anywhere from 40-80 years of cumulative knowledge and experience coaching us. I know this sounds like an absurd amount, but let me lay it out for you:

Aleskey Torokhtiy: 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist (which comes from close to 18 years of intense training)

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Dr. Sergei Putsov: PhD in Exercise Science and Ukrainian National team member for numerous years (also roughly 18 years of weight lifting experience)

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Guest Lecturer: Did not get the professors name, but he came in twice for lecture and once to watch a training session. Not only is he a head professor of Exercise Science, but he also serves on the Weightlifting board of Ukraine (not to mention he lifted back in the day)

Vasyl Kulak: 4 time Olympic coach, with multiple medalist under his belt. Not only did he stay and watch most of our training, but he would throw a thumbs up or down into the mix (English was not his main language, but you could get the idea of how you were doing)

Syhmechko Ihor: You can look him up on Instagram or just google his name, he is a 3x Olympian (most recently competing in Rio) , and an all around genuine guy. He stopped by for 1 or 2 trainings, watched over a couple of lifts, and gave some hand gestures (not to mention took time to sit down and eat with everyone, which was pretty awesome)!

Kateryna: During our time there, this was the wonderful women that held us together. She gave out massages, therapy, pre- and post-training mobility, and even helped us with our laundry (she was pretty awesome). On top of that, we come to find she was a European Champion in the 63 kg class going 100/130 (which we could of guessed due to the intensity of our massages… she was very strong).

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Anastasiia: Last, but certainly not least, she worked all the behind the scenes! She was awesome, and was able to help us with anything we needed to make our stay more comfortable and was always willing to help if we had any ailments at all (she really helped me out during a couple of days when I was not feeling so hot). Throughout the week, we all saw her still squeezing in time to go get her training in!

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My point is that through out the two weeks, there was no one that I encountered in our camp that did not have some higher level of knowledge that they could lend to me. This came in the form of different cues, different insights, and sometimes, since multiple people were lifting at the same time, we had all the coaches we needed to watch everyone and give feedback!

If this does not impress you, let me forward some of the knowledge bombs that got dropped!


“We don’t make mistakes”

Now, before I start to type this out, please do not tell me that this is wrong or not the way you learned. This is also not the way I learned, but in going to a training camp you need to go with an open mind in order to get the most out of the expert coaching. I got cues I thought to be wrong, and in a couple of days they helped me to be more technical and move higher percentage weights much faster. My thought is this:

There is not one particular way to weightlift (if there was we would have champions from only that area of the world, which we do not). If you are not an Olympian or expert in the field (10+ years of training and experience), then how can learning different techniques hurt? In my opinion, this can only help. Maybe you retain two or three things from camp that make you better because you incorporated movements or slightly tweaked or perfected something you were already doing, in this, you have become a better Weightlifter, and that is what this sport is all about, those small improvements!

So, going into the quote above. This was something Sergei said to me on a day we were hitting some pretty heavy percentage cleans on our second session of the day. I had worked up to about 85% for some doubles and on the second one I caught and paused at the bottom before standing up. After I completed the lift and dropped the weight he looked at me and said “What is wrong, Why pause”? Obviously, I just looked at him because I had made the lift and thought it to be decent.  He explained: “When you pause in the clean, you have made a mistake because you need to adjust yourself. When we clean, we do not make mistakes, so we don’t pause.” Now, I did not write that to debate whether or not that is the correct thing to coach or do, what I did was give you an example of a cue that opened up my eyes. After that, the clean (which I am not that great at) made so much more sense to me. My focus became less about the catch and where I caught it and more about the path of my pull, resulting in a better bar placement, which then resulted in a better catch!

You see, the big thing I took out of my trip to Ukraine, is that two coaches very rarely are telling you two opposite things. What they ARE doing is describing the same movement with different coaching cues, which is beautiful because just like not every person on the planet learns the same (visual, auditory, and tactile learning), not every athlete is able to grasp the idea the coach is trying to convey from the same cue.

Moral: Research and watch videos. Let your coaches know what cues work and if they don’t ask them to explain it in a different way.


 

“Leave from a full foot”

Again, this is cue is nothing revolutionary, however it was in the way that they taught it to us that really changed my catch ever so slightly (and pair that with changing up my clean pull, Tokyo 2020???). The idea was simple, right? Leave from a full foot in your pull and then catch in a full foot. This avoids a couple of things:

  1. The bar does not fly way out in front of you due to your idea of throwing your hips into the bar and causing it to run away due to the aggressive nature of your hip thrust.
  2. In catching in a full foot we avoid the “toe to heel” catch which can easily throw one off balance and spit you back away from the bar
  3. It makes a really cool sound, so people know you lift…. What it actually does it bring your attention to an aggressive pull and turn over that will result in an all around faster movement, which in time, should lead to heavier weights (if your head game is strong–still working on that one).

This may have been the single most abundant cue during my two week stay (obviously I figured out I had an issue). However, this opened my eyes to why they kept me at such light weights for so many reps and sets (under 60% for at least 20 or more reps). I had a flaw in my game. A small weakness that got bigger and bigger as the kilos got added onto the bar. I had to make the bar look perfect to move to 40 kg, and then make that look perfect in order to add an additional 5kg, and so on and so forth until taking attempts at 70% and above.

Needless to say, two weeks later (I know such a long time, right…) and my warm-up game has changed. My reps and sets under 50% need to look and feel perfect before I will move on to my prescribed weights for the day. This has not only improved my turn over, but decreased the time needed for mobility training post workout due to all the lighter reps being full reps and paused in the bottom (mostly in the snatch and jerk).


 

Warm body, cold mind

Although the above examples are great to explain certain techniques these renown coaches taught me, the part I enjoyed the most was the personal journey they helped facilitate.

Camp was anything but easy, however I went in knowing that I wanted to work (why go to a weightlifting camp to relax…). The volume and work load were two things I was not quite used to and pair that with the mental fatigue from slight changes in my lifts and it was quite draining (don’t worry, we had plenty of nap time and lots of food).

To give an idea;

During my time at the Warm Body Cold Mind training camp I managed to get 18 weight lifting sessions in in a total of 13 days of camp. The break down went as follows: Sundays were lighter more technical days, Monday/Wednesday/Friday were 2x per day training sessions, Tuesdays would be heavy or light depending on the other sessions and feel, and Thursday was our lovely rest day (much needed). Now on top of this, we would do mobility and warm-up for 30 minutes every morning before breakfast and 30-45 minutes before each training session.

If they would have told me that I was going to be training with that much volume and intensity for that many hours a day and that I would still be able to complete roughly 90% of my lifts between 80-90% of my RM in both A.M and P.M sessions, I would have laughed. It was the “mental preparedness” that we talked with both Aleksey and Sergei about on a pretty regular basis. It was the atmosphere they made in the training hall. It was the amazing people that I had the pleasure of training with all week. It was all of these things combined that, although I was tired, sore, mentally drained, when it was time to train everything just kind of slipped away and I looked at the training log and knew what needed to happen (the massages and Ukrainian Rock Sauce really helped as well).

 


It was a family matter

It was not all about training. We took city tours around Kiev on our rest days. We all had our first experience with Banya (if you have an opportunity, check it out because although it sounds a little different it is actually a really cool experience). We ate every meal as a team and if you were lucky enough to have been told to gain weight you even got sent back to your room with food. We stayed up late and got to listen to stories of training, both coaches struggles and successes. We met everyone’s beautiful families and laughed and just hung out and had an all around fantastic time.

This really sunk in with me as I try my best not to make everything I do about business, because training and coaching go so much deeper than that. So to travel half-way around the world, be greeted by coaches of this caliber and whom I have never met, and then to be introduced to their family and for them to share part of their lives with us, well that was just something you would not normally get or expect, and in my opinion made the trip and camp stand out!


If anyone from the WBCM camp reads this, to you I say: 

Thank you for making camp a true adventure. Training with you and getting to know all of you was awesome! I hope one day, sooner than later, our paths cross again!

To the Warm Body, Cold Mind Staff:

You all are awesome! Thank you for organizing the camp, for sharing so much with me, and for teaching me everything you could in a two week time frame. I wish all of you only the best in your future camps and seminars!

To anyone that has a WBCM seminar near them:

Go! These guys have some great advice and tips that they can lend you. Hell, if you have the time check out their next camp in Kiev, because not only is it a great training opportunity, but it is also an amazing time!

Pure Health Athletics

I’m not impressed by the individual who is willing to exercise to the point of vomiting or a loss of bladder control—this is not that unusual. What I’m impressed by is the individual who shows up every day at the gym, does what is necessary, doesn’t complain, doesn’t look for recognition, does what’s necessary outside of the gym to support their training and goals, and continues this process consistently for years.

-Greg Everett, Catalyst Athletics

I have been working on this idea for quiet some time and am very excited to announce the launch of it! When I found out that the high school was losing their strength and conditioning resource, I started talking with some of my colleagues and clients nested in the community in order to see what Pure Health could do to help fill the gap.

Now,  reading this, I am sure some are wondering what the difference between the coaches that perform a program and Pure Health making a program, so let me go ahead and dive a little into that (plus if I keep babbling, you might stop reading):


The goal:

The goal of this program is very simple: To create an affordable, customized, sport-specific program that not only helps the athletes get stronger, more explosive, and all around “athletic,” but also touches on commonly developed injuries in their individual sport (call it prehab, if you will).

Why “Prehab”?

For a couple of reasons:

  1. I can tell you that this is the way all strength and conditioning has been going, we are just a little behind in this area.
  2. Far too often do I hear the phrase “It just happens in this sport”, and while I agree that there are entirely too many degrees of freedom for which we cannot predict, to chalk every injury up to chance is, for a lack of a better term, irresponsible.
  3. Enter Prehab! In a nutshell, this would be 3-4 accessory exercises selected for each individual sport that touch on common injuries that are still too widely accepted as things that happen. In doing this “prehab” we can help prevent some of these common injuries and/or help get the athlete back to sport faster!

Why is a custom program necessary?

While I agree that it is awesome to get a hold of a major collegiate program or an NFL teams program (I have had a few pass through my fingers), you have to think about who you are giving this to. On one hand you have a program designed for top tier athletes in their sport, with access to round-the-clock medical, massage, chiropractic, and recovery aids. On the other hand, you give this program to a freshman on the team, who has been playing the sport for a fraction of the time as their professional counterpart (whose family may/may not have the money to access all the recovery modalities they need in order to keep up) and you might open that freshmen up to a greater risk of injury or limit their overall athletic career. Not to mention the fact that the intensity and volume progression would be rather aggressive for a pro vs. high school athlete.

Make sense?

You are giving a guitar to a kid that has played for two years and expecting to hear some Stevie Ray Vaughn.

And while you might have a kid or two that get amazingly strong from this program in the short term, in the long term you will have laid out many in hopes of finding the few that are able to recover from this program.

This is why a customized program is the best way to ensure that you get the most out of each and every athlete available, because if you want a great team you don’t just spend time on the all-star athlete, but you also develop the kids that have long term potential (they are usually the hardest working, because they don’t come by it naturally)

If you are still skeptical, you can read this little write up from Chad Englehart, coach of the P66 Splash Club and Bruins Swim Team:

The Bartlesville High School Swim Team started working exclusively with coach Daniel West in the winter of 2015.  They continued to work with him that spring, summer and fall.  In the winter of 2016 the Bruins won 14 of the 22 events at the 6A Oklahoma State Championships and set State Records in 7 of those events.  In 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 the program had a combined zero National All-Americans.  In 2016 the Bruins were honored with 10 National All-Americans.  He was also instrumental in helping Haley Downey and Kyle Ward qualify for the 2016 US Olympic Trials.  Four of his athletes graduated in 2016 with athletic scholarships to swim in college.

Daniel is an expert in his field.  The greatest mark of an expert is their ability to adapt to situations and still maximize results.  This was his first experience working with swimmers and he committed to their improvement as swimmers.  He came to their competitions, watched their races and talked repeatedly with their coach to ensure that his strength program was meeting their specific needs.

I highly recommend serious athletes consider working with Daniel West.  He is absolutely capable of helping you take your game to the next level.

Sincerely,

Chad Englehart

2015 Hall of Fame Coach Inductee

Who’s coaching my athletes/kids?

So glad you asked! I have tried to bring in some of the best, in my opinion, in order to make this program one of the best in the area for all around athletic development and injury prevention!

 

Michael Secora, MS, CPT

  • Master’s in Kinesiology
  • 3+ years training/coaching HS soccer
  • 1+ Personal Trainer

When deciding on a coach to help me out with this endeavor, I could not think of a better one than Michael. With his coaching experience on and off the field with different soccer teams as well as his extensive background in Kinesiology (movement science), he was an easy choice to help program our sport specific movements!

Daniel West, BS, CPT

Nationals

 

  • Bachelors in Kinesiology from Texas A&M
  • 6+ years personal training
  • 3+ years sport performance coaching
  • Coach of national and world level power lifters

While my knowledge in sport specific movement is not what Michael’s is (hence why I brought him on), I know how to program strength and explosive performance. Not only have I helped bring two very awesome female athletes to the top of level of their sport of power-lifting, but I’ve also succeeded in helping the local swim team achieve high levels of success and started working with the elite gymnasts in order to keep them in the game.

Jeremiah Williams, D.C and Heather Williams P.T

While they will not be coaching, having them as co-owner of Pure Health is invaluable. Having the ability to pick both the brains of a Chiropractor and Physical Therapist for our Prehab routines is what makes the difference in our program over others.

Kaleigh West, Certified Yoga Instructor

On top of all the other facets of the athletes training, the final brick in the wall is a our custom mobility/yoga program that focuses on the areas of contention for each sport (i.e hips, shoulders, lower back, etc..)!


 What does the program look like?

  • Options of Mon/Wed or Tues/Thurs
  • Times are up for discussion as we figure the program out, but most likely right after school for 1 hour (Roughly 3 p.- 4 p.m)
  • The two classes will be capped at 10-12 kids per group so as to make sure the coach-to-athlete ratio allows for every athlete to get individual attention!
  • Cost:  $100/month (Includes mobility program, 8 monthly sessions, Prehab program, and sports performance program)

And finally, a word to the athletes:

We cannot promise you that which you do not work for. What I can promise you is this: If you decide to join the Pure Health Athletics program you will get stronger, you will get faster, you will be less prone to repetitive injuries, and you will be a better athlete. Now to what extent, that is entirely up to you!

If this interests you and is something you or your athlete would like to be apart of contact us at:

Email: PureHealthPerformance918@gmail.com or Daniel.West.PT@gmail.com

Phone: (903) 521-6115

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/liftingintheville

We look forward to training with you!

Mission in Strength

It is my opinion that, as an athlete, you need four ingredients to achieve a high level of success: supportive gym/community, superb coaching, an iron will to succeed, and food.

The last couple months has been packed with travels to compete, and compete we have. If you have kept up with any of our social media, then you know that our girls power lifting has gone straight to the top in under a year (headed to Worlds!!), our strongman competitor is getting stronger and stronger, and our weightlifting team is starting to blossom. These ladies and gents have absolutely killed it, and continue to train hard in preparation for future competitions. However, in all the travelling and pushing them to succeed, I have made an error on my part. I have been so caught up in pushing them that I have forgotten to really thank them or the gym that has helped develop this team into what it is today.

So, thank you!

Thank you to the girls and guys on our teams that go out and rep PHP with all of their hard work and continue to support our ever growing gym.

Thank you to all the athletes that come into the gym and make the atmosphere that allows for good times to be had while training and pushing through.

And thank you to all of my individual clients that continue to train with me and work around my schedule so that I may travel with my team and support and coach them on the platform.

All of this to say, that over the next couple weeks I will make it a goal to spend more time developing the other training programs in the gym in order to make sure we keep that “spark” in the atmosphere alive and kicking!


So you made it to this point, the point at which you have gotten through a couple weeks of volume and up till now a couple of changes have been made:

Volume squats are still terrible, but not as bad as they once were

You have learned a new method to sitting (or falling) on a toilet, that old way of normal sitting was for the birds

You may have lost a couple of friends due to your slow walking pace and the inability to actually function as a normal human

But fear not, we are on to bigger and better things  (remember, everything is relative)!
Note: You might be one of the very lucky individuals that does not have a competition for quite some time, so guess what, that probably means 1-2 more cycles of volume (can I get a hell ya? [Insert crickets and low key sobs])

Either way (5, 10, or 15 weeks) it is time to take the volume down and come up with the intensity a little bit, and we can rejoice! Although, we are not quite to that 300kg RM back squat, we can be assured that we will have some heavier weights loading our joints and we are moving toward our actual competition  lifts which means, if you are a power lifters, you wont have to argue that the marks on your neck are from the bar and not from somewhere else….

So, let’s talk about a couple of ideas to keep in mind as you program the next 5-10 weeks:


Volume:

Now is the time to slide in to the rep ranges of 5-8, which again means no more barbell marathons or losing all hope when your coworker says “let’s take the stairs”.

The idea is simple; we have built a strong foundation of muscle, hopefully gaining a little bit in the process of the hypertrophy phase, now our goal is to increase the strength of said muscle in order to use it to our advantage (ultimately increasing our RM in whatever lift we need it in).

The 5-8 rep range will help us taper from that super high volume into a more reasonable volume, 5’s,  in order to make that next transition into our competition/intensity phase. It also helps us still get a decent amount of volume to continue that muscle growth since you should still be a ways out from that faithful day (when we send all the weights to heaven).

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Intensity:

If you guessed that volume going down meant intensity increasing, then you would be right! Last cycle we were working anywhere from 60-75% (75% being a very heavy load for the rep ranges, but do able for some). This cycle we will focus in the 70-85% ranges (again, with 85% being a very high load, but again, it is do able for those well trained and advanced in their lifting careers).


Exercise selection:

The idea here would be to start drifting more toward the competition style movements. What I like to do is use this time frame to throw in pauses, complexes, and continue to work short comings that we established from the last competition:

Use pause squats to help gain confidence out of the whole and maintain proper torso position.

Use pause dead lifts to establish you torso position and to rely on pushing your hips through.

Complexes for weightlifters are a great way to build confidence under fatigue and help correct certain issues (different complexes used to address different issues).

The main goal is to look at starting to develop our competition lifts and make sure we get rid if or at least work on the holes in our game.


Accessories:

They are still very important and should be maintained through this phase, although not to the extent that they were in the hypertrophy phase. The worst thing imaginable would be to drop them to focus on your main lifts and have something that was corrected in the hypertrophy phase come back during our strength phase, only setting us back even further!

Moral: if you had an imbalance and you corrected it, make sure you still make time to keep it corrected (this game is a marathon, not a sprint)!


Recovery:

This is when we fade away from those muscle body soreness into the “why do my joints hurt” soreness. You have decreased volume to a certain amount and are now putting more load through those joints, which means although you might not lose as much range of motion (since it might not feel like a hammy is going to explode every time you bend over) we still need to make sure we maintain ROM in our joint to keep them fluid and moving properly.

So, same as before: lots of rest, good food intake, salt baths are everything that is good in this world, mobilize, get worked on (chiropractic, massage, ect.), and if you are in to it, get your yoga on (or ROMWOD, 2 weeks free at this link).


Cardio:

Last, but not least, would be the thing every strength athletes dreads: steady state cardio…. however, this would be the best time to start to incorporate it. 2-4 sessions per week at 20-40 min. will help us maintain or, if you need to, cut weight in order to fit into your weight class. The best thing about steady state is that it does not take a lot of energy to do (more time than anything) and it is relatively low impact, which means it will not affect our recovery process (in comparison to sprints, which would effect the next days training session).


All-in all, remember, this is a strength journey, and although it can be tough sometimes and easy to get into the mind set of just coming in banging out what is on your program and leaving, this mind set will leave us coming up short in the end and leave us with a bad taste for sport and training.

Learn to enjoy the process. Learn to have fun with lifting. Try and remember what drew you in to the sport in the first place and make sure you let this drive you to the top, not competition or the thought of conquering, but instead the ability to come together with like minded individuals under one roof  that struggle together to make the best possible version of themselves!

The calm after the storm

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.

-John Lubbock

Your competition is complete and regardless of how you did, it is behind you and the only thing you can do now is move forward. But what next? Do I start a strength cycle? Do I keep practicing my missed lift until something gives (that something in this case usually being a tissue in your body and not your hard-forged will). Do I go back to high intensity circuit training or Crossfit until the next time I decide to do a meet?

The answer is: depends on your goal

Was the meet just for fun?

Then go back to doing what you love and hit up some WODS until the next time you want to test your strength out.

*Note: By no means am I down playing Crossfit or high intensity circuit training, but these WODS are not going to make you better at power or weight lifting (at least number wise), so make sure you keep that in mind.

Do you want to hurt yourself?

Then by all means, just keep practicing that deadlift at 95-100% a couple times a week until you  either A) are walking around like you have been on a car ride with no restroom stops for the past 100 miles or B) get tired of continuously missing the same lift that you missed in competition.

Do I start a new cycle?

Most of the time, this is the best route to go (and by most, I mean this is the one I always choose for myself and my athletes). To be frank, your body needs rest after the long journey to competition. You are beat up, whether you feel it or not, and your body (and mind) need some down time to recharge and recoup  before getting back into the heavy weights.

So the bigger question, and one I recently talked about with a guest at the gym, is:

What is the proper way to do this so as to;

A) Still see strength gains in my lifts
B) Continue to recover
C) Enjoy my lifting
D) Still stay in my weight class


First comes the rest week

Not just a thing of myth and bro lore, but in fact it does exist, and for a good reason. This can be 1-2 weeks right after your competition where you take the volume and intensity of your lifts way down. For my athletes, I tell them 2-3 days of fun lifting. Do something you don’t normally do, maybe a WOD for my powerlifters and weight lifters, maybe a couple of fun bodybuilding training sessions to get a nice “pump”. Basically, start your recovery process from pushing the limits of your potential in competition and just have a good time (because that is what this whole journey is all about, becoming the best possible version of yourself and having a good time while you do it).

Second: Time to up the volume and decrease the intensity

Depending on your next competition, this time frame of hypertrophy can vary, for most you want at least 2-3, 5 week cycles of solid hypertrophy training (4 working weeks and a deload week).

So, what is hypertrophy, and why do I need it as a strength athlete?

Hypertrophy is an increase in muscle size through “high volume” strength training. This volume usually takes place (for strength athletes) around the 3-6 set range and 6-12 reps per set and the intensity of any given weight is usually around the 60-75% of your RM. Notice how low the percentage is, which is why this period, although still stressful to the body, it is stressful in a different way and can still help us continue to recover from the mental and physical fatigue of being up close to 85-95% of our RM daily.

The general idea of this phase is to develop the musculature needed in your given sport. A bigger muscle is a stronger muscle (at least the ways we want develop it as a strength athlete) so we focus to increase muscle mass and size in the given areas we need to, to increase performance in our chosen lifts.

Another consideration for this phase of training, and something I continually learn about,  mainly from Zach Greenwald of Strength Ratio, is to take into consideration the correction of slight injuries and imbalances during this phase. Basically, take some time to step back and become a complete and well-rounded athlete again before you go back into specializing for your sport!

During hypertrophy and corrective exercise phase, make sure to incorporate exercises that are variations or derivatives of your competition lifts for two reasons:

1) allow us to work individual weaknesses and stress the different components of our competition movements

2) break up the monotony of the same 2 or 3 movements and allow us to have a little fun with training (because who doesn’t enjoy “the pump?”).

Remember, since we have pulled away from our competition lifts, this is the perfect time to really emphasis attention to detail during the lift and control (the eccentric phase of the lift). No more cranking lifts out at a pace the flash would be in awe of, no more getting kicked out of planet fitness for dropping the mic on that 500lb deadlift. Take some time and use some tempo training to get the benefit of the eccentric contraction (the stretching or down phase of a lift), which has been shown to be very useful in overall strength gains (imagine that, the louder you are does not mean more strength gains, it usually just means less friends). Take into consideration a 1:3 tempo, 1 second up/ 3 seconds controlled down, try it, and give some feed back on how you feel (note this should not be done everyday, just pick a day, maybe a day you are working on your weaker lifts).

Although no one wants to acknowledge short coming or downfalls in their strength game, this is the time to suck it up and do a little self reflection. Where can I get better? What is my strength? What is my weakness? Where did I struggle most in competition and what do I need to work on to get better? These are all valid questions that need to be asked and talked about between you and a your coach, because even the best in the world can get better at some minute detail.

Third: Increase those calories and let your body repair

Maybe you decrease your calories to make weight. Maybe you have been on a “diet” for far too long, causing your body to have a hard time healing from the high work load during your competition prep phase. Maybe you just feel fatigued and beat up. In any case, it is time to sit down and figure out what your calorie/macro break down needs to be to maintain weight for a little while. Doing this will accomplish a couple of things:

  1. Recovery from sessions, especially these high volume sessions, will be some form of witchcraft voodoo you are not used to
    1. Not saying you won’t be sore, but your mental fatigue and drive will be there, which is what you really need to get through high volume training.
  2. The start to correcting those injuries and imbalances is to make sure you have enough calories to allow your body to start the healing process
    1. During your competition phase, your body is just trying to keep up and recover from your previous session, so how can it be expected to do that and fix all the small injuries you have accumulated?
    2. Take this time to not worry about the outside appearance (that will come in time), but instead give your body what it needs (because it just allowed you to lift the world, let’s take a second to give a little back).
  3. You get to be a little more at ease, which will further help that mental game
    1. If you have had to cut for competition, you have had to measure everything you intake (water, protein, carbs, fats, etc..). Let’s take a little time to relax, the measuring still happens, but we can chill out on trying to get those numbers to the the hundredth of a gram.

 

Last: Keep that recovery high by increasing those missed or long forgotten modalities

I understand, you were worried about you lifts, so you maybe skipped a couple (or a handful or a dozen or maybe more…) mobility sessions, maybe some auxiliary lifts, or maybe even a few corrective exercise/ recovery sessions–everyone does. However, now is the time to take a step back and make sure to include all of the above into your routine (and make sure you leave time in your training session to do so).

  1. Sleep
    1. For the sake of everything in the wide world of weightlifting, make sure you get sleep. This is the only one you cannot skip because above all, this is when your body heals the most! For the normal person 6-8 hours is the recommended time frame, but who that trains is normal? Try and get 8-10 hours (does not have to be at one time) of restful sleep (you know, maybe calm your mind a little and focus on recovery and less on all the things you have to do).
  2. Stretch, Roll, Massage, Chiro, etc..
    1. IF YOU HAVE AN INJURY, DO NOT JUST COMPLAIN ABOUT IT, FIX IT! I understand injuries, they are frustrating, and you have every right to feel down. However, if you have not done everything in your physical (and financial) power, then maybe refrain from complaining about your injury if you have not done everything you can to help yourself (sorry, but had to lay a little truth out).
  3. Meditation
    1. To calm the mind is to calm the body. Stress does much more to your body than you may know. You can do everything physical you want/need to in order to recover, however, sometimes if you are mentally stressed, these modalities will do little to no good.
    2. My advice: Find a true yoga class or research meditative breathing and practice these a couple times a week. The goal, learn to calm yourself, not only physically, but also mentally.

This first phase can be somewhat of a challenge for those that tend to want to push as hard as they can every training session. This phase is not a down phase by any means, because, you see we are just trading high weights for high volume. We spend a little more time on correcting the small issues we tend to overlook during our competition prep and spend a little more time building up some mass in order to see larger gains in the future.

The road you travel is paved on hills. You must go through the peaks and valleys (different phases of training) in order to get to the mountain top you desire to be on (your PR lift at competition).

Next week, we will touch on the next two phases:

  1. Strength Phase
  2. Competition Prep

 

Train to Compete

The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.

-Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

Two weeks have come and gone since the last post, and while I apologize to the readers/followers of the blog, know that these two weeks have been anything but silent. Since opening Pure Health, we have had awesome news on a somewhat monthly basis; new equipment, an in-house competition, PR’s galore, new class offerings, and new coaches. However, the last two weeks have been some of the best, and come at probably the best time, 1 year from the date of starting the gym.

If you follow us on Instagram or Facebook, then you are most likely in the loop, but if not, let me fill you in on what has gone down:

Last Saturday we took 7 athletes to the Oklahoma Fitness expo to compete in 3 different competitions (Strongman, Power lifting, and Weightlifting). After a full 8 hour day of competing, we walked away with 6 golds (2 in power lifting, 4 in weightlifting), 1 silver (strongman), and 2 best lifter trophies (strongman and female masters weightlifting). The variety did not stop at the type of competition, but in age as well; our youngest lifter, Lauren Williams, getting a medal in her first competition ever and out-lifting many ladies 10+ years older than her (she is 12), set all 3 records at the state level (Snatch, Clean and Jerk , and total). Our oldest lifter, Debbie Strobel, received the honor of best female masters lifter (she is 57 years young), out-lifting many mid-30 year old women as well as setting all 3 records at the state level for her age group and weight class!

Records

Yesterday–well yesterday was equally as amazing! The PHP girls power lifting team, after working and grinding all season and qualifying, finally got to go to the long awaited USPA Powerlifting Drug-Tested Nationals! Both myself, Kaleigh and the girls, Jessa and Nancy, were just excited to get to come out and coach and lift at the national level and had the mindset to hit out numbers and finish the season strong…..

However, after warm-ups and the hype of the competition, the girls were feeling great, so we made some big jumps, and let me tell you how it payed off:

Jessa competed in the open classic raw division and won first place (yes, at a national meet) after only lifting steadily for the past 8 months. She also received the honor of best female lifter in her division by Wilks Total and has qualified for worlds this year and nationals for next. Not only that, but she also went:

3/3 in her squat going 302, 314, and finally 319 for a 5 lb PR

2/3 in her bench going 170.5, 176, and a close miss at 181.5

3/3 in her dead lift going 319, 335.5, and finally 352 which is also a 11 lb PR from last weekend.

While these numbers are amazing and solidified her win, the best part is when you compare them from her first meet in March:

Squat: 305 going 2/3

Bench: 165 going 2/3

Deadlift: 313.5 going 3/3

Her total has gone from 786.5 lbs to 847 lbs for a 60.5 lb increase and in only 4 months.

 

Our other amazing power lifter, Nancy, has done quite the same, placing second in her open raw division and finishing with an amazing battle to the athlete that clasped the first place spot! The best part about Nancy is that she has done all of this while dropping a whole weight class and qualifying for nationals and worlds in both! Nancy hit the following lifts:

3/3 in her squat going 286, 297, and finally 313.5

2/3 in her bench going 154, 165, and a close miss at 170.5

3/3 in her dead lift going 335.5, 352, and finally 368.5

When compared to her first meet from March, where she was a weight class heavier:

0/3 in squat

2/3 in bench finishing with 160

3/3 in dead lift finishing with 346.5

Nancy has not only continued to lose weight and maintain most of her strength, but also has become so much more mobile to the point that squat depth is not longer an issue!


There are times to stay put, and what you want will come to you, and there are times to go out into the world and find such a thing for yourself.
― Lemony Snicket, Horseradish

While all of this is just an update on how amazing our team is , reading this you should know that not a single one of them came in with the idea that they would compete at a state or national level (by the way, our very own Debbie Strobel has also qualified for the 2016 Kill Cliff Granite Games, so there is that…).

Instead, they fell in love with their sport of choice, and most of them being women, fight a very hard uphill battle from some very idiotic and pre-conceived notions of how they “should be.” However, none of this held them back, and every time they have been pushed down, they have come back to the top and conquered!

You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”
― Maya Angelou

On top of that, our team’s training is not a run of the mill come in and work out for an hour and leave, nor does it stop at the gym. Their training pushes down, and it pushes hard, but through it all, they saw that small light at the end of the tunnel (which happened to be a gold medal), pushed back, got up, and pushed toward it!

More importantly, they didn’t come in with this dream–this dream developed as they did, the goal of accomplishing more than they’d realized they could becoming more and more realistic as they progressed. My hope is that everyone (male or female, young or old) could see our team as an inspiration and a reminder that dreams like these may not be out of reach.


I, as a coach, have been so honored and humbled to be able to be a part of this experience and witness such amazing growth in my athletes. Now we will take a minute to reflect on what has been accomplished ( and a much needed rest week) and then… well, then we will turn our eyes to the World Stage and start putting in the work we need to see these ladies succeed further!

 

 

 

 

Year one

There are basically two types of people. People who accomplish things, and people who claim to have accomplished things. The first group is less crowded.

-Mark Twain

We made it! To say the first year has been amazing, well that would be an understatement. Through the ups and downs, through the training highs and lows, and through the hustle and bustle of life and getting caught up with adult responsibilities, Pure Health as pushed through and flourished!

I have posted about it before, but I still look back and think how blessed I am. To go from a personal training gig, to a garage gym for some of my clients, to mentioning a dream of owning a gym to a chiropractor with the same dream (who would later become my business partner), to a phone call from said chiropractor that a space had opened up, to 3 weeks later signing a lease and ordering equipment, to opening the doors to many athletes (some who have been with us the whole time and others who have met their goals and gone their own way), to now, what we refer to as our #phpfamily!

That being said, let me tell you about our #phpfamily:

It is dysfunctional; we bicker, we fight, there are some tears, and even some just raw temper tantrums. However, these are far outweighed by the joyful smiles and giggles that come from the many good lifts. It is outweighed by the 80’s pop we practice our rhythmic gymnastics routines to (keep a look out for PHP in the Olympic Games here in the next 8 years). It is outweighed by the general respect and attention we give to each and every athlete going for that “white whale” lift, that max attempt, or maybe just struggling through a set of 10 and just needs a good ol’ fashion yell session to get them jacked up. Basically, it is family in every sense of the word, and I could not be more happy or proud of what the gym has become (nor did I ever imagine it would take on this amazing form).

It boils down to this, Jeremiah and I had a dream to open up a gym full of dedicated athletes, and in turn these amazing individuals have given so much more than that back. For example:

  • There is not a single athlete in our gym that has not increased a lift by less than 40lbs
  • We have two amazing female power lifters, that in their first year of lifting, have made it to both nationals and soon to be worlds
  • We have competitive athletes that span from the age of 13 all the way to 60 years old, all competing and improving in every way they can!
  • We have weightlifters, cross fitters, power lifters, strongman, high school athletes, and general fitness enthusiasts all coming together under one roof (getting along, although there is occasional mockery) with the sole goal of improving in their sport!

Not only that, but the fact that because these athletes put their trust in our programming we have been able to do so many fun and amazing things in order to create our brand and expand our knowledge:

  • We have our own coffee brand, Rise and Grind, made by a local coffee roaster (Heartland Roasters!)
  • We have our own 14oz coffee mugs for said custom blend
  • We have been able to learn from some of the best coaches, that span from powerlifting, to weight lifting, to corrective exercise (Coach Travis Mash of Mash Elite, Coach Zach Greenwald of Strength Ratio, and Coach Zach Schluender, former OTC Resident Athlete)
  • We will soon be travelling to Ukraine to learn from Gold-medalist Weight lifters and the Philippines to learn more Yoga/Mobility
  • We have outreached to the community to extend our reach to the youth in order to grow the sports we love

So, you see, to say this first year was a success, well it is a true understatement. I cannot begin to thank each and everyone person that has helped me and the gym along this path. I am truly blessed and amazed at all the wonderful individuals that allow me into their lives and put trust in my abilities to help them along the path they have chosen for themselves, because you see, even if you are the coach with the best programming skills in the world, it means nothing if no athlete is willing to take it and show the capabilities of it.

 

So here is to the first year, here is to the continued success at the gym, here is to all the state records we own, to all the PR’s we crush, to the fantastic time we have training and grinding through the “impossible,” and to the overall #fitfam we have created!

 

Momma knows best

“Mama always had a way of explaining things so I could understand them.”- Forrest

 

Now, although it is not my mothers birthday (far from it) and mother’s day has since but past (in hind sight, this would have made a wonderful mothers day post), I was sitting at dinner trading stories about me being the A.D.D child I was and testing my mothers patience, and how, through everything that is good in this world and possibly thousands of hours of prayer, she was able to teach me lessons that at the time made no sense, but in thinking back, how all these lessons seem to have come full circle and now apply to my coaching life!


“No, Colonial Sanders, your wrong! Mamas right!” – Bobby Bushay

Learn by doing

Like I said, as a child I had the rather annoying ability to test my mothers patience. She loves to tell the story of me reaching to touch the stove, her telling me “No baby, that is hot” and me looking at her and continuing to reach for it; her reply “Okay, you will learn”. While this might seem crazy, know that I have full function of my hand and everything is okay.

The thing about this is that, as humans, we learn the most by doing!

As soon as you make a mistake, the process to correct it for next time starts, and I take this approach with my athletes.

If you have ever had a coach, you know that their are times where you think what you are doing will get you to where you want to be, despite what your coach might be saying. Now, as a coach the need to constantly correct kicks in, but sometimes, the cues don’t really transfer over to the athlete, and this is where letting them learn on their own time is beneficial. Now, please do not interpret my words as me letting my athletes hurt themselves or do something that is not possible, this is not what I mean. Rather, the intention is for them to learn to feel what you are saying:

The cue “Push into the bar” that I often use for the back squat sometimes gets over looked, causing the athlete to push their butt into the air and pulling their chest down, which  finally results in not being able to complete the lift. Now, in time, using the cue and showing them what the cue means, they are able to learn through trial and error that it is easier to push into the bar, thus bring their hips through, and ultimately putting more weight up! Now, every time they get under the bar to back squat, the first thing that goes through their mind, is to push into the bar and engage their glutes!

Thus, they have taken a trial and error method to the back squat, no one is hurt, and in doing so they have learn better than they would have from constantly holding their hand (i.e over-coaching)


Men are what their mothers made them. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Play with the big boys, your going to get hurt

Far to often do athletes dive into a program head first, watching videos of what others are capable of and wanting to be at that same level tomorrow!

When I received my first pair of roller blades, I had just watched the movie Brink, and in doing so thought that it would be cool to bomb the big hill outside of our house. Now, my mother warned me that maybe it was a little soon and I should learn the basics and get comfortable on my own feet first, but what fun is that right?

Needless to say, I ended up falling halfway down the hill, rolling and banging all the way to the bottom. As I hobbled into the house, half crying and half embarrassed, my mom looked at me and asked “Are you okay”, through sniffling I responded with a “yes”, and the next phrase that came out of her mouth I will never forget, she said “Honey, you have to know that if you want to play with the big boys, you are going to get hurt”.

To this day, I myself, still have a hard time taking a step back and enjoying the process of growing slow and steady. However, know that this is the best way to remain injury free, continue to PR, and enjoy weightlifting in its entirety!

My advice: find a coach that can design a program that not only continues to challenge you, but builds you a solid foundation and grows you from there!


 

Nothing will ever beat hard work

“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.”
― Beverly Sills

Although, out of all the lessons I learned from my mom, the most important and the one that has brought me to where I am today, is that nothing will every beat hard work. As a single parent the second half of my childhood, she often worked a numerous amount of overtime, still came home to cook dinner most every night, and was heavily involved in all of my Boy Scout en-devours (which filled every Tuesday night and 2 weekends a month). The most inspiring part about all of it was that she might have complained, she might have been tired, and she might have been on edge, but the one thing she never, ever did was STOP.

The point being, that you will always have more talented athletes. You will always compete against those that in comes easy to or that are just built for the sport. You will come up against adversity and there will always be times where you question your ability and your want to continue. You will miss lifts, you will break down, and you will want to crawl in a corner and stay. You might be on top of the world one day and injured and rehabbing the next. The biggest thing to remember when these small specs of time come along, is that HARD WORK WILL ALWAYS WIN OUT.

When those that are more gifted get lazy, hard work will pay off. When those that are built for the sport become lax, hard work will push you to the top. When you miss those lifts and break down, you will be able to look back and see how far you have come and know this is just an obstacle in the road toward your greatness. Finally, if you get injured and feel down, know that this is but a scratch and that if you choose to never stop growing, you will come back; you will be stronger; and because of your hard work, you will beat those that took it for granted!


So look back at all those silly lessons that your parents told you as a child. Think about all the times that they scolded or corrected you. Reflect on all the major turning points in your life. In doing this, think about how these continue to help shape the person you have become and see if you can apply them to your lifting to continue to grow in your journey to greatness!

Now go out and lift some heavy weights, it’s Max Out Friday!

Growth: Why, how, and when

People spend too much time finding other people to blame, too much energy finding excuses for not being what they are capable of being, and not enough energy putting themselves on the line, growing out of the past, and getting on with their lives.

–J. Michael Straczynski

I was mindlessly scrolling through Facebook last week, responding to the all the comments about how good the girls on our powerlifting team are looking in their lifts (headed to USPA Nationals, what, what!) , when I came across this posted up on a friend/fellow weightlifting coach, Mr.Seth Walker’s, wall.

I watched this video at least 10-15 times, really thinking about what he was saying. Although this video contains some fun facts about lobsters that you might not have known, it highlights a very real issue: the idea that an athlete or, for that matter, any person, must face some type of stressful/stimulating circumstance in order to grow.

Think about it this way–

A muscle does not grow unless you put it through a point of stress that signals to the body to go and repair said muscle, this time stronger than before to adapt to the future stimulus you will exert upon it. In doing so, the body has now fortified this area to withstand this amount of stress, hence you get stronger or less sore from that same set/rep scheme. Now the next time you change up your program, you introduce that given muscle body to a new stimulus and it must repair and adapt to this new level of stress, continually repairing and rebuilding.

So why, if in nature with the lobster and in our own bodies with our muscles (and for that matter bone and connective tissue), if all of these things take the situation they are given and learn to adapt around it, why do we, as humans, choose to shift blame or find reasons to make our situation impossible to handle?

We look to shift this situation to something that we could not possibly control. We look to take away our ability to do something about it, so that just maybe someone will come to us with a magic solution and help us along our way…

 Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime

-Chinese Proverb

I am here to tell you:

If you are injured, you have to work through it.

  • Do your rehab exercises
  • Spend time mobilizing
  • Spend time recovering
  • Remember that you are in it for the long haul, so don’t beat your body to the ground and expect it to get back up and work for you

If you want to lose weight, you have to get up and work for it.

  • Learn to eat right
  • Find a reputable coach to give you a program
  • Find a group of supportive peers that will support you in your time of need
  • Learn to be the person YOU want to be when push comes to shove

If you want to be better at anything in this world, you have to practice.

  • Put in the hours
  • Don’t give yourself reasons you can’t
  • If you fall down, get back up and learn to keep pushing forward
  • Don’t expect it to come easy
  • Know that the longer you do it, the slower the results are, but even 1 kilo more is a step in the right direction

It is not easy to overcome and injury, nor is it easy to make the choice to shed away a body you do not want. Hell, the rule of 10,000 says it takes 10,000 hours of practice to be considered an expert in your field/sport/area, which is 417 straight days of non-stop practice.

My point is this, when you get handed a bad situation or life presents you with an external stressful event, be like a lobster–molt your stress and find a rock. Your friends, your coach, your loved ones, your teammates, or whoever it maybe, let them be your rock and help you, because when you finally emerge from beneath, you will truly be stronger for going through it and come out better than before.

It’s not whether or not you have the ability to do the work ; it is whether or not you have the will to do what is necessary to get to where you want to be..

so, be a lobster and adapt!





Looking for a good place to start? Here’s a 15 minute yoga video to get you nice and energized to start the day; it focuses on really opening up the hips and getting the blood flowing through repeated Sun and Moon Salutations! Enjoy!