Category Archives for "Powerlifting"

The Coaches that have Influenced me the Most and Why

My latest E-Book “Mash Method” is live and it’s FREE! Check it out now at:
This book has several of the techniques that I used to set personal records and world records along with some of my latest techniques that I’m using to get my athletes and me hitting all-time numbers.
-wave training
-bands and chains contrasted with straight weight
-walk outs
-partials contrasted with full ROM
-Squats for vertical leap -Sled drags to set PR 40 yd dash times
And more!

The Coaches that have Influenced me the Most and Why

I have led a blessed life in the world of strength and conditioning. I have somehow managed to hang out and get to know some of the most influential coaches in the world. My athletic career opened the doors, but I think that my treatment of others nurtured those relationships. Here’s a quick tip before I get into the meet of this article. If you desire to learn or gain from another coach or athlete in the country, you should be willing to give as much as you get. If you focus on giving and helping others, you won’t have to worry about gaining from others. It will happen.

People often ask me who were my biggest influencers in the strength and conditioning world. If I list them all, this article would be a book. Really that’s a great idea for a book, but for today we will keep it simple. I am going to break it down into categories:

• Olympic weightlifting
• Powerlifting
• Athletic Performance

I am going to try and stick to one or two coaches per category if I can. I hope that all of you will learn a couple of things from each coach. More importantly I hope this encourages you to go out and form relationships of your own. You can read all the cool books that you want, but nothing replaces seeing it in person or talking to the author over drinks.

Personally I like focusing on the coaches that are actually producing athletes. There are a lot of self-proclaimed gurus on the Internet nowadays, but proof is in the production of fruit. You might have a PhD, but if you aren’t producing anything, then there is nothing to substantiate your claims. I am not totally sold on studies. Studies are a great first step to get me to try new things, but normally these studies are done on some random general people. I coach great athletes, so there are some pretty big differences.

Anyways, let’s get to it.

1. Olympic weightlifting– without a doubt I have been influenced more by Coach Don McCauley than any other coach. I first had the opportunity to work with him at MuscleDriver USA, and he totally took me under his wing. Yeah I had already produced some pretty big athletes, but Don has produced Olympians.

Too many of you coaches think that you are coach of the year because you have a few National competitors. That is a terrible mindset to take. You have so much to learn. I have tripled my knowledge of weightlifting, since meeting Don McCauley. Now I am blessed to work with him everyday at my own gym. He does a great job coaching our men and women. I have personally watched him coach people into major PRs on the same day as meeting them. I am not talking about new weightlifters. Anyone can pumped up a newbie and get them to PR. I am talking about seasoned veterans.

Here are just a few of the amazing things that I have learned from him:

It’s all about timing. Most weightlifters want to focus on how high they pull the bar. Yes you have to peak the bar as high as possible, but here is the thing. Once the hips are open, you have done all that you can to peak the bar. Great lifters are the ones that waste no time at the top of the lift, but instead focus on getting under the bar and meeting it strongly.

Back foot down on the jerk– I have always been told to step through the jerk with the front foot. I never really understood how to do this until Don talked about getting the back foot down. The back foot will always touch down first in the jerk. If I focus on driving it straight down, that movement will propel into the right position under the bar driving the front foot out.

Focus on the Vertical Drive more than the split of a jerk– Most athletes want to sneak under the bar during the split jerk causing them to get driven to the ground. Don teaches the athlete to load the posterior chain by getting on the entire foot. Then he teaches them to focus on the vertical drive. The split will become a mostly involuntary motion that is perfected from all the hundreds of reps in practice. The goal is to catch the weight as high as possible in the strongest position as possible.

2. PowerliftingLouie Simmons has had the biggest influence on me. I don’t follow the conjugate system exactly like he prescribes, but I use several of his principles. Here’s a short list:

Attack Muscular Weaknesses with accessory movements– my e-book “No Weaknesses” was greatly inspired by Louie. I think that this is his biggest secret to producing so many champions. They will attack weaknesses for up to 70% of a workout, and they will do this right up to a meet. I totally agree with this approach.

Conjugate– I might not take it to such an extreme, but I use the conjugate system to keep the body from stagnating. For squats we use pauses, bands, chains, and sometimes-different bars. For the Olympic lifts we use pauses, blocks, hangs, and complexes.

Work Capacity– athletes that don’t focus on conditioning are really missing out on an aspect that could help them. We use low eccentric and low impact movements to increase to work capacity of our athletes. If you can perform more work than your competitors, then you will eventually win.

3. Athletic Performance– without a doubt Coach Joe Kenn is my go to guy in this arena. Coach Kenn is the Head Strength Coach for the Carolina Panthers, and he has been voted coach of the year two-time by the NSCA. He’s been a friend of mine since 2005, and he actually works out at the Mash Compound from time to time. We are lucky that he lives near us. Here’s what I have learned:

Keep the athletes moving– most strength and conditioning coaches are strapped for time. This includes me. Athletes have other places to be like practicing their sport, watching film, studying their plays, or in the classroom. However we still have to get a lot of work done with them: strength work, core work, mobility, injury prevention, stabilization, etc. The Tier System, Coach Kenn’s system, is a great way of balancing all of this in a short amount of time. Here’s an example:

1a Squats
1b Planks
1c Scap Retracts with Bands

The athletes use the two smaller movements as active recovery between sets.

Each Job is the best job in the world– This is a great mindset to take as a strength coach. If you are always thinking about how amazing another job is, you will never do well in the one that you are in. If you suck at your current job, you will never get that other job. He said that when he started taking this mindset, he never had to fill out another application. The jobs came to him.

Without brining the Juice knowledge is useless– he told me a long time ago that if you couldn’t get your athletes excited and bought in (bringing the juice), knowledge is rendered useless. If your athletes don’t approach the workout with excitement, then they are going to give a crappy effort. If they doubt you, then nothing is going to happen.

Please understand that this is just a shortened list. There are so many coaches and athletes that have influenced me. However, these three men have helped me the most, and the three of them continue helping me. I owe these three men so much. The least that I could do was acknowledge them.

Guys and Gals if you want to learn all that it takes to build champion athletes, Zach Even-Esh and I are getting together for two dual certifications this year. Check them out at ⇒ Mash and Even-Esh Unite

March 17th and 18th at the Mash Compound in Clemmons, NC

June 10th and 11th at Underground Strength and Conditioning in Manasquan, NJ

Here’s what to expect:

• 1) Athlete Warm Ups & Assessments / Large Group Training
• 2) Bodyweight & Jump Training for Athletes (Sport + Strength Athletes)
• 3) Quick Lifts & Assistance Work for Sport & Strength Athletes (Barbell / Dumbbells)
• 4) Program Design for Athletes from Youth to D1 to Olympic Hopefuls
• 5. Snatch basics and teaching progressions
• 6. Clean basics and teaching progressions
• 7. Squat Programming and Tricks
• 8. Deadlift Programming and Tricks
• 9. Controlling and demanding the respect of groups
• 10. The business of Private Coaching


• This will certify you as an official Underground Strength Coach
• This will certify you for the Mash Mafia Learn 2 Lift Cert

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Hybrid Workouts: Strong and Conditioned

Check out one of our six E-Books:

• “Squat Every Day”
• “Eat What You Want”
• “Squat Every Day 2”
• “No Weaknesses”
• “Mash Program Sampler”
• “The Mash Blueprint for Program Design”

Check them out here: ⇒ Mash Elite E-Books

Hybrid Workouts: Strong and Conditioned

A question that we get a lot is: “Can I get strong and conditioned at the same time?” When I was younger, I would have said absolutely not. When I was a powerlifter, conditioning was a set of ten on squats. I increased work capacity through more and more work in the weight room. Obviously it worked, but is there a better way? Better yet, is there a healthier way?

In the last year, I have studied, tested, and developed some cool ways to get strong and in great shape. I have to admit that my man Chris “Ox” Mason came up with the concept that I am about to present. I started working out with him earlier this year to get out of my slump that I slipped into during 2016. Ox is my old training partner from college all the way into my professional powerlifting days. Training with him again was like taking things back for me back to a place where I fell in love with training.

I developed our strength portion, and he developed our conditioning portion. Today I am talking about how we mixed the two. I have enjoyed these workouts probably more than any other workouts ever. I have recovered better, experienced less chronic pain, gotten way stronger, and way more conditioned.

Let’s look at the structures:

Structure 1
Low eccentric and Low impact strength movement
Active Mobility Piece
Low eccentric and Low impact strength movement
Active Mobility Piece
Low eccentric and Low impact strength movement
Active Mobility Piece

Volume: 3-4 sets of 30 second of each movement with 1-3 minutes rest between rounds. We also did 3 sets of Tabata while changing exercises each tabata.

Sled Push
Leap Frogs
Kettlebell OH Carry
Heavy Bag Carry
Side Lunges

Structure 2
Sprint Conditioning Piece 20-30 seconds
Low eccentric and Low impact strength movement 20-30 sec
Active Mobility Piece 20-30 sec

Volume: Completing each exercise 3 times is one set, rest 1-3 minutes, completed 3 sets

Aerodyne or Rower
Farmers Walk
Spiderman Walks

Let’s go through some of the principles. First the low eccentric and low impact strength piece is something that Louie Simmons has been preaching for years, so no one can say that they made this up. So what do I mean by low eccentric? I am talking about movements that are either concentric or isometric in nature. That means you are picking movements that are only loading the muscles during their shortening (ex. Ascent of a Back Squat or a Bench Press), or when the length isn’t changing at all (a heavy carry or pressing against a wall).

The low impact refers to the fact that the movements aren’t putting undue pressure on any major joints. Some examples of low eccentric and low impact movements are: farmers walk, zercher carries, heavy bag carries, sled pushes, sled drags, rope pulls, and overhead carries.

Sleds are great for increasing your heart rate, conditioning and strengthening the hips. The carries are the best way to strengthen the core. Overhead Carries (my favorite) are great for overhead stability and the entire kinetic chain. We normally throw in overhead carries because I have some neuromuscular damage in my left arm, so we are trying to wake up those pathways. I have noticed some major improvements during the last few months regarding position, endurance, and load.

The mobility movements are designed to target our trouble areas in my case the hips. The movements are also designed to keep us moving. We want to keep the heart rate up for some cardiovascular improvements.

There is one benefit from this style of training that means the most to me. I have some major hip damage in my right hip. It’s very arthritic, and it hurt all the time in the past. I was getting a cortisone shot almost every three months, and I was taking way too many NSAIDs. I haven’t had a cortisone shot since June of last year. That’s a record for me over the last five years. I am also sleeping better.

My workouts look like this:

Day 1 Monday
Bench Press Max Effort Rep Max 1-5 for Now
Back Squat Mash Method Strength 3-4 Sets of 1-2 and 5-6 each (What I am saying is 3-4 sets of 1-2 rep and 5-6 rep waves. The Free E-Book is here, so check it out!)
Deadlift Rep Max 1-5 for Now
Smaller Version of the Ox Conditioning Method

Day 2 Tue
Snatch Simple 3-2-1-1 (focus increase Volume)
Strict Presses Mash Method 3-4 Sets of 1-2 and 5-6 reps each

Day 3
Front Squat Max Effort Rep Max 1-5 for Now
No Weaknesses Overhead, core, mobility, and work capacity focused

Day 4
Clean & Jerk Simple 3-2-1-1 (focus increase Volume)

Day 5
Bench Mash Method 3 sets of 3 & 10 each
Front Squat Mash Method 3 sets of 3 & 10 each
Sumo Deadlift 3-4 Sets of 1-2 and 5-6 each

Smaller Version of the Ox Conditioning Method

I am convinced that this style of training would have allowed me when I was younger to train a lot longer without getting so beat up. The added volume is helping to strengthen my joints as well. I may or may not compete again, but I will use this style of conditioning forever. It’s fun, easily quantified, and leaves you feeling better. That’s the best part. You will leave the gym feeling better than ever making the rest of your day brighter.

The volume that I prescribed is just a starting point that we are using. We are 40+-year-old ex-powerlifters, so you may need to scale up or down. We will continue to raise the volume in one of a few ways:

• Increasing work times
• Decreasing rest times
• Adding exercises
• Increasing loads
• More challenging movements

It really is endless. I see this style of conditioning working for the masses. I am excited to work with Coach Ox on perfecting this style of training, and offering it more clearly to all of you. At the end of the day, I just want to impact lives in a positive way. I hope that is everyone’s goal.

Check out the latest FREE E-Book “The Mash Method” and learn all about the latest method that is blowing up at the Mash Compound and around the world:

==> The Mash Method

Mindset Approaching Personal Records

Check out one of our six E-Books:

• “Squat Every Day”
• “Eat What You Want”
• “Squat Every Day 2”
• “No Weaknesses”
• “Mash Program Sampler”
• “The Mash Blueprint for Program Design”

Check them out here: ⇒ Mash Elite E-Books

Mindset Approaching Personal Records

This is a question that a lot of you have been asking: “How do I get psyched up for a PR attempt?” That’s a great question, and now with the help of our Psych Guy Nathan Hansen, I feel better giving all of you an answer. I will say that getting ready for a PR attempt is where a lot of you go wrong. Here’s why.

There is a lot that goes into working towards a personal record especially once you’ve been in the game a while. What I am about to say goes for any barbell personal record: snatch, clean & jerk, squat, bench, and deadlift. The key is all in the preparation.

The best athletes will form a pattern. They will approach the bar the same way. They will set up the same way. They will run the same checklist in the brain. They will take the same amount of time before attempting the lift. They will have warmed up the same way before the attempt.

This pattern helps to put the body on cruise control. If you start to change your pattern, your body perceives the attempt as a new activity. That can cause coordination and fiber recruitment to go haywire. I see it all the time in my own gym. Some people approach a personal record the same as any other lift, and they are the most successful. Others will change everything, and they are the least successful. Here’s an example of what not to do:

I have watched one particular athlete kill it during all preceding attempts leading up to a PR. They were keeping a pattern for setting up. Their mechanics were right on par for the course. Then they add a little weight, and everything changes. Their breathing increases. They cut the music up or down. They take longer to approach the bar. Then 100% of the time their mechanics change ending with a miss. That particular athlete has since changed that mindset quite a bit resulting in more made lifts.

Getting psyched up is an individual thing, but here’s something to consider. Some people will cause nervous energy when they get psyched up, and that leads to a lot of negatives. If your breathing changes and your heart starts to race, you might want to consider sticking to just a checklist in the brain. Greg Nuckols is normally joking around before taking world record attempts and laughing with the spotters as he sets up. The key is knowing what works for you.

You also need to consider if the PR is in training or competition. If you are in training, I wouldn’t recommend getting psyched up too much and/or too often. Getting psyched up to much can lead to adrenal fatigue, which can ruin the rest of your training because recovery is hindered. If it’s a competition, you can turn up a little for the big attempts. The key is being able to channel the energy.

At a big competition, I would take the following approach:

1st Attempt I would simply go over my mental check list, keep my pattern, and remember that I was doing exactly what I loved to do. Normally I would be smiling during my first attempt.

2nd Attempt Everything would be the same with just a little more focus and intensity.

3rd Attempt would normally be the Big PR or World Record. I wouldn’t change a thing except I would channel all my energy. Now what I am about to tell you is my personal way. That doesn’t mean that it will work for you. I would think about all the people that doubted me. I would remember all the hard things in my life that I had overcome. Last I would remember the people that I love, and that had always believed in me.

This thought process would channel an enormous amount of positive energy that I kept internalized. I would keep all of that energy inside until it was time to actually lift. I wouldn’t scream, yell, or shake. I was focused with positive energy waiting to explode. My pattern and approach didn’t change a bit. The result was normally a PR.

One of the things that holds lifters back is the ability to approach a personal record the same way they approach all other attempts. They get nervous and panic. Here are several other ways to prevent this:

• Same Warm-Ups- I suggest warming up the same way every day with the same jumps, reps, and sets.
• Patterning- approach the bar the same way, set up the same way, and take the same amount of time.
• Learn to relax and have fun! This was a game changer for me. I stopped getting nervous, and thought of training and competition the same way. Both were times for me to get together with friends that I cared about to do the very activity that I had loved my entire life. That’s it and nothing more. This over simplification will help relax you.
• Visualization- before approaching the bar, you should see the lift in your mind exactly the way that you want to perform the lift. I suggest practicing this technique as much as possible. You should be able to feel the bar in your mind. You should see the background, and experience as many senses as possible. The more real that you can make the visualization will make the technique better and better. Then you can go into auto-pilot during the lift. This will keep you from over thinking during the actual lift. You don’t want paralysis by analysis.

These are some ways that worked for me, and these are the ways that I try to teach my athletes to be successful during their heavy attempts. We are coming out with a new book in the future written by Nathan Hansen and me all about mindset and finding flow. After this book is complete, we will have programming, nutrition, muscular balance, and mindset covered by our E-Books and Online Services. Pretty exciting for me, and awesome for you!

Not So Conjugate for Some

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• “Squat Every Day”
• “Eat What You Want”
• “Squat Every Day 2”
• “No Weaknesses”
• “Mash Program Sampler”
• “The Mash Blueprint for Program Design”

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Not So Conjugate for Some


Most of you know that I am a Westside Barbell advocate. Well in some ways at least, I am an advocate for Louie Simmon’s Westside Barbell Club. I don’t train exactly like Louie my advocate, but I use a lot of concepts that he helped make popular. If we are all honest, most of us use concepts that we learned directly or indirectly from Westside.

The conjugate method is all about change. Louie Simmons advocated using special exercises in place of squat, bench, and deadlift like goodmornings, box squats, or using specialty bars. The theory is that a slight change will force the body to continue to adapt. Most of us have hit plateaus at one point in our training careers. The goal of the conjugate method is to avoid any such plateau.

I have found that a small change can provide big results. Whether it’s powerlifting or weightlifting, I want my athletes to perfect the movement of the competitive element within their sport. What I am trying to say is that if you are a powerlifter, then you need to squat, bench, and deadlift with the bars that you will use in competition. If you are a weightlifter, you need to snatch and clean & jerk with a needle-bearing bar.

However, a slight change will go a long way. In the back squat for example, we use pauses between 1-5 seconds. We also use low bar, high bar, Front Squats, and sometimes we add chains and bands. That’s as far as we go in the back squat. In the snatch and clean & jerk, we might pause at the knee or 2 inches off the floor. We also snatch, clean, and jerk off different heights of blocks.

You can see that we keep the same bars, but we simply manipulate tempo and range of motion. We don’t manipulate the bars yet, but none of my lifters are at the point that I can’t improve their squats with a regular bar. My number one rule is “get the most out of the least”.

Will I use specialty bars someday? I am sure that I will, but the average age in my gym right now is 19-years-old. They don’t need specialty bars. They just need slight changes to continue progressing.

Right now, I want to perfect their form. The studies that Louie Simmons sights are from the 1970’s Dynamo Club in the former Soviet Union that hosted 70 top-leveled Olympic weightlifters. The athletes in that club noticed that when they got stronger in the squats, goodmornings, back raise, or other specialty exercise, their snatch and clean & jerk would also increase. I have no doubt that this was true, but we are also talking about athletes that had been lifting since they were 11-years-old or younger. Their technique was perfect, and they were efficient lifters.


What do I mean by efficient? That means that they could efficiently use their strength as applied to the competitive lifts. If they could front squat 230k, then they could probably clean & jerk 205k or higher (about 89-91% of the front squat). That’s just one example of efficiency.

I use the conjugate method for some of my newer athletes, but I only use the minor changes that I talked about earlier. You might find that some people need less of a change than others. I have noticed this a lot more lately. Some people need to practice the competitive movement more than others.

One example of an athlete that needs to practice the competitive movement more often is my wife, Emily Drew Mash. Emily Drew is a powerlifter. Originally we had her mixing in high bar, front squats, and other variations, but we got much better results from sticking with low bar back squat. We still mix in pauses and chains, but not as much.

Some people respond better to practicing the competitive movement more often. This is where coaching comes in. I noticed that she wasn’t getting comfortable with the back squat, so we made the changes. The changes paid off big with a lifetime PR Back Squat of 310lb. Her previous back squat was 300# with knee wraps. She did the 310lb without wraps.


I am totally the opposite. I am sure that it has to do with training age. I have been performing the powerlifts for over 30-years and the Olympic lifts for over 20-years. I am not going to forget the movement. Not to mention that one of my athletic gifts has always been kinesthetic awareness. I simply understand how my body moves through space. I always have. That doesn’t make me a better athlete. That just means that I am good at that one element.

Understanding who you are as an athlete is the key. If you respond better to sticking closely to the competitive movement, then stick close to the movement. These are all just things that you will come to understand over time. Keeping a journal is key. If you keep a journal, you can note response to the different movements and elements of training. Over time, you will easily notice certain patters. The magic of training comes from addressing those elements.

The Junior Nationals are in four weeks. The Arnold Classic is a week later. Then Emily Drew and I are looking for a powerlifting competition for her. Looks like I am going into a highly competitive season. Let’s go!!!
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The Only Absolute is there are no Absolutes

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The Only Absolute is there are no Absolutes

My team member Dan Koppenhaver posted an article by Yasha Kahn entitled “Just Remember to Have Fun”. In this article he contrasted typical Russian coaches that were too stern and cold in their coaching approach with American coaches that are ambassadors of “just remember to have fun”. In his opinion either side is incorrect. However the Russian side will make athletes better if they are able to stick around.

The article was well written, but I have to call BS on everything that was said. I also want to call out once and for all coaches that are out there using absolutes with exactly nothing to back up their statements. Guys this really has to end. Unless what you are saying is backed up by some credible scientific studies, it’s just your opinion.

Let me give you some great examples of absolutes that are simply no absolutes:

• Neutral spine when squatting
• Neutral spine when pulling
• Feet turned out during squats
• Feet turned straight during squats
• Low butt during the initial pull of a snatch or clean
• High butt during the initial pull of a snatch or clean
• Brush the thighs during a snatch or clean
• Extreme bar and body contact during the snatch or clean
• Be a stern coach
• Be a happy coach

Look we can all stop now. By all means you should give your opinion, but if someone is out there doing it the opposite way and succeeding, obviously it’s not an absolute. It’s probably just what your coach taught you, and now you are regurgitating it to your athletes. That’s not science. That’s just unoriginal.

I have watched coaches in America use the “just remember to have fun” quite successfully. Coach CJ Martin used that very term each lift with his athlete Maddy Myers at the Junior Pan American Weightlifting Championships last year. The result was first place in the 63k weight class and Best Overall Female of the meet. Something is working.

I use that very term with athletes that need to hear it. Here’s the thing Mr. Kahn. Great coaches will look into the souls of each of their athletes, and will determine what each of them need individually. There is no one size fits all. When I coach Rebecca Gerdon, you better believe that we are going to have fun. When I coach Nathan Damron, it’s going to be more of a Russian coach situation.

I find it funny that the coaches using such absolutes are the very coaches not producing athletes. How is that people can write articles describing what good coaches should or shouldn’t do when they aren’t good coaches their dang selves? This baffles me. If you aren’t producing athletes, then how do you know what it takes to produce great athletes? Most coaches should focus on perfecting their craft before trying to help others perfect their craft.

As you can tell this article struck a nerve, but it really wasn’t just this article. This has been several years coming. Here’s a quote directly from the article:

“Maybe I don’t have the same definition of “fun” as they do, but if an athlete wants to become better, or reach their full potential, there is really little fun in weightlifting.

Coaches who tell their non-beginner athletes to “just have fun out there” are either peddling bullshit or trying to sugarcoat self-inflicted torture. Athletes who smile through a lift are either masochist, or they aren’t working hard enough.”

I am a weightlifter and a coach, and I personally enjoy the sport. I enjoy the movement of both lifts. I enjoy the progress that one makes with hard work. I enjoy the daily grind with my team. There are definitely aches and pains that come with the territory, but the overall process is quite enjoyable and beautiful I might add.

Then to say coaches that remind their athletes to have fun are peddling BS is just too bold of a statement from a coach at his level. Just because you have traveled around with certain coaches doesn’t automatically give you their credibility. Credibility is something that you must earn with your own accomplishments. One way to earn respect as a coach is to give respect.

My team produced eight International competitors last year. I was the Head Coach for Team USA three-times. I am not saying that to brag. I am saying that to completely discredit what Mr. Kahn is saying. I tell several of my athletes to have fun when competing. Coach CJ Martin is obviously a great coach, and he does the same thing. Coach Ray Jones, coach of CJ Cummings, is a big proponent of having fun, and since CJ is already the best weightlifter in American History at 17-years-old, that makes Ray a dang good coach.

Here’s the moral of the story. All of us should be careful making absolute statements with absolutely nothing to back up our statements. Here are two questions that you should ask yourself before claiming something is an absolute:

1. Is there credible science that confirms the statement from a credible study?

2. Is there someone out there doing it the opposite way and succeeding?

If your answer is “no” to the first question or “yes” to the second question, then your thoughts or statements aren’t an absolute. And look, a thought or statement doesn’t have to be an absolute for it to be a good thought or statement. It’s all about how you are portraying it. Maybe I like a neutral spine with eyes down in the deadlift. Maybe I have used that technique to strengthen the pulls of several athletes. That still doesn’t make it an absolute when people like Ed Coan have pulled much more without a neutral spine and there is not science to back up the statement.

This entire article has been somewhat of a rant, but I hope that all of you can learn from this. Personally I believe that the entire strength world is fun. It’s full of new things to try and new things to say that might help get your athlete or you a little stronger or a little faster. I suggest that all of us enjoy the process and never stop learning. If you take that type of attitude towards strength and conditioning, you are less likely to claim any absolutes as you are always searching for something better.

Check out one of our six E-Books:

• “Squat Every Day”
• “Eat What You Want”
• “Squat Every Day 2”
• “No Weaknesses”
• “Mash Program Sampler”
• “The Mash Blueprint for Program Design”

Check them out here: ⇒ Mash Elite E-Books

Growing a Weightlifting or Powerlifting Club

Check out one of the Online Teams:

• Mash Mafia Bronze
• Mash Mafia Silver
• Mash Mafia Gold
• Eat What You Want
• Eat and Lift What You Want

Check them out here: ⇒ Mash Mafia Online Teams

Growing a Weightlifting or Powerlifting Club

Junior Lifters

How do I start and/or grow a weightlifting or powerlifting club? I get this question a lot. My answer is that it isn’t easy, but if you love the sport, it is totally possible. In 2011, I started dabbling in Olympic weightlifting again. Up until that point, I was focused on athletic performance for athletes trying to improve their skills for football, basketball, wrestling, etc.

Rebecca Gerdon was the first athlete to ask me to train her for weightlifting specifically. I jumped at the chance to train someone for a sport that I love with all my heart. At that point, I had been away from the sport for about eleven years, so I was pretty excited.

Rebecca and I

I was already teaching my athletes the clean and overhead squat, but this prompted me to take things up a notch. I started teaching a few of my younger athletes the snatch and clean & jerk. It was amazing how some of them took right to the sport. By 2012 I was taking a couple of athletes to the Youth Nationals and three to the University Nationals.

In 2013 I took a pretty big team of seven to the Youth Nationals and two to the American Open. In 2015 I took about thirty to the American Open, and my team placed 2nd in the entire Nation. The progress has been remarkable. Now weightlifting is my full-time job, and I love it.


Here are a few more of my team’s accomplishments over the last couple of years:

• Four Junior World Team Members
• Three Junior National Gold Medalists
• One Pan American Bronze Medalist and One Silver Medalist
• Countless Junior and Youth Medalists
• Canadian Senior World Team Member
• 3 Silver and 3 Bronze Medalists at Senior Nationals
• 2 Senior National Gold Medalists
• 2 Athletes Projected on the 2017 World Team so far

It has been a whirlwind over the last few years. I have enjoyed every second of it. My team is part of my family. I am constantly thinking of ways to provide them more. For weightlifting in America to progress, coaches in America need to think a little differently. Here are some things that I am currently working on to provide my team:

• A University Program at Winston-Salem State University
• Weekly therapy with Chiropractic and Physical Therapy
• Profit sharing on some new ventures that I am working on
• Different avenues of income like seminars or coaching
• Stipends
• Housing

I am already providing stipends for three of my onsite athletes. This might seem like a far cry away for most of you, but it is something that you need to start thinking about now. I always try to begin with the end in mind, which is something I learned from Stephen Covey. I was dreaming of a team that I have now, when I only had 2-3 athletes.

Now I realize that most of you are just starting out, so I am going to address ways of growing a brand new club. I will say that weightlifting clubs are great for CrossFits or Strength and Conditioning Gyms. Both of these types of facilities have a built in population that are perfect candidates to try out Olympic weightlifting. However, just starting a stand-alone barbell club is fine too.

Either way there is going to be some work that needs to be done. Here are some of those steps:

1. Define the population that you are going to target like youth, juniors, seniors, or master level athletes, or a combination of more than one of them. Once you know the population, you now know where to market.

2. Create awareness- Olympic weightlifting is a beautiful sport, but most of the world doesn’t realize it. Most people haven’t heard of the sport, or they confuse it with Powerlifting. Your job is to educate your area. I recommend a series of FREE seminars in your area. Then I recommend that you invite everyone that you know, their friends, and their children to attend the seminar.

The key is to explain the benefits of the sport like power production, flexibility, speed, and balance. That will encourage them to try it out to improve their other sports if nothing else. Parents love the fact that weightlifting has such a low injury rate.


Several of my weightlifters compete in another sport. Some of them used to compete in other sports, but quickly fell in love with weightlifting. If you are a great athlete that happens to be undersized, weightlifting is the perfect sport.

3. Social Media- You should at least have a Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Facebook and Twitter are awesome because for a few dollars you can target the exact population that you defined earlier. You can grow your followers based on that population, and you can boost posts based on that population. You should also form a Facebook Event for all your Free Seminars, and then invite the people that have liked your page.

The content of your social media pages should be educational and/or entertaining. When people see the beauty of a snatch and see people having fun doing it, they are more likely to try it out. I personally like to make at least three posts per day. Here are some quality times to post:

8:30p is prime time (save your best post for this time)

4. Other places to market- Most of us have all the clients that we could ever want right under our noses, but we simply do not open our eyes. Take a piece of paper and write down all the people that you know like friends, family, church family, co-workers, classmates, etc. Then you have to remember that all of those people have friends and family. If you show them that you sincerely have a love for weightlifting and for other people, they are going to at least check it out.

5. Results- This is the best way to grow a club. If your athletes are killing it, other people are going to want to visit your club. This is the number one way that I have grown my club. Plus if your athletes are doing well and having fun, they are going to invite their friends. A referral is always the best source of new business.

Growing a new club isn’t easy, but nothing worth having is easy. If you want it bad enough, I have given you a few of the first steps to take. I recommend that you use your own creativity to come up with ways to grow your club.

I had a powerlifting team long before I had a weightlifting team. For some reason, the powerlifting team had dwindled, but now I am focused on having both. I will grow my powerlifting team the same way that I have grown my weightlifting team. I will create awareness, provide the perfect equipment and facilities, and do my best to offer my athletes as much as possible.

We are in an era where one can actually make a living coaching weightlifting and powerlifting thanks to CrossFit. It is up to us to keep that momentum. Personally I want rest until I can provide something substantial for my weightlifters and powerlifters. I hope that all of you reading this will join me in taking strength sports to an all-new level.

Please share this if you believe others might benefit from the content. Ask any questions in the comment section and I will answer promptly. This topic is something that I am passionate about, so I will do my best to help any of you.

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