Category Archives for "Weightlifting"

Bringing the Juice or X’s and O’s?

I hope to see all of you at our “Even-Esh Underground Strength Coach and Mash Learn 2 Lift” Combined Certs. Here are the dates:

March 17th and 18th at the Mash Compound in Clemmons, NC find out more and get Early Bird Pricing Below:

Even-Esh and Mash Cert

June 9th and 10th will be at Zach’s place in Manaquan, New Jersy

Details coming later!

Bringing the Juice or X’s and O’s?

Saturday I was hanging out with Coach Joe Kenn, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Carolina Panthers and two-time NSCA Coach of the Year. I am giving you a little of his background because I want you to know where this information is coming from. First let me give you a little more of the plot. Coach Kenn hosted a deadlift party at the Big House Power World Head Quarters. He invited an all-star cast of characters including:

• Martin Rooney, creator of Training for Warriors
• Chris Ox Mason, Pro-Powerlifter and owner of TFW Winston-Salem
• Coach Liane Blyn, Director of Strength and Conditioning at Appalachian State University and World Champion Powerlifter
• Coach Justin Blatnik, one of Coach Kenn’s assistants and a competitive strength athlete
• Derek Selles, champion powerlifter, professional videographer and editor
• Justin Lovingood, National Weightlifter and Powerlifter

The deadlift party was awesome, but it was the talk afterwards that intrigued me the most. It was awesome to hear Martin, Coach Kenn, and Coach Blyn talk about “brining the juice” on a daily basis. They were talking about bringing the energy, motivation, and buy-in to their athletes on a daily basis. They agreed that this ability trumped exercise science knowledge.

I have to agree. Now let me be the first to say that this life should be one big quest for knowledge. It just seems that lately the world is made up of so-called experts that have never really coached anyone, and all they want to talk about is energy systems and periodization. That entirely means nothing if you don’t have the ability to relay the information to your athletes in a way where they buy-in to what you are saying. That’s simply a fact!

Martin told us that there are now studies being done showing increases in performance from athletes coached by dynamic coaches versus low-key coaches. I will need to look at those studies first, but it only makes sense. As an athlete, I didn’t want to be coached by some boring dude talking about fiber types. I wanted to be coached by someone that understands fiber types and recruitment. However, when we are in the gym training, I want that coach to have the ability to shift my mindset and work harder than ever.

I have known opposite ends of the spectrum in my lifetime. I have known coaches that had all the knowledge that were never able to acquire one good athlete because they were so boring. I have also known mental clowns that thought yelling was a program. Neither extreme is worthy of advertisement. Neither extreme will ever create one good athlete.

A great strength coach spends his life acquiring knowledge. The athletes deserve that. They trust us with their careers and lives. It is up to us to do everything in our power to ensure that they are getting every tool necessary to reach their goals. Personally I don’t care if my athletes are constantly improving, getting stronger, and winning. That doesn’t mean that I have the perfect program. The quest for the perfect program never ends.

However, here’s the part that the Instagram Coach has no idea about. A great strength coach is a performer. The weight room is our stage, and each day is another episode of our show. Each day, my goal is to motivate, encourage, and entertain my athletes. Yes I want to entertain my athletes. Get over yourself already! It is ok to have fun in the weight room. Heck if you want to see you athletes improve, let them have fun and watch their numbers skyrocket.

Coach Kenn is a performer. I have watched him coach at the Carolina Panthers Stadium several times. The guys love him. His big smile and crazy lingo make it fun for these athletes to go to the gym. Guess what? Most football players don’t want to go to the gym. They want to play football. If you want them to see results in the weight room, find ways to get them to enjoy their time.

Martin Rooney is the King of Performers. I know because I have watched him give a presentation for Perform Better, and it was amazing. He owns the crowd from the minute he starts talking, and the crowd loves every second. When he is done with them, they leave that room wanting to be better athletes and coaches.

Here’s the thing that I want to leave you with. If you want to be a strength coach, you need to learn from real strength coaches. If someone that has coached less than five people in their lifetime is grooming you, you are a fool. People can talk theory all they want, but you want to find out the exact results that they have gotten with their athletes. The best program in the world is worthless if no athlete in the world will buy into it.

If you are a prospective strength coach, weightlifting coach, or powerlifting coach, I encourage you to spend 50% of your time on acquiring knowledge and the other 50% on communication skills. If you can relate to your athletes, you can impact their lives. If you can’t, you are worthless as a coach. Now that’s the bottom line, and I hope that all of you will go out and crush it this week with your athletes. They deserve your best.

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Check out one of our five E-Books:

• “Squat Every Day”
• “Eat What You Want”
• “Squat Every Day 2”
• “No Weaknesses”
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Check them out here: ⇒ Mash Elite E-Books

Programming Made Simple

Check out one of our five 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

Programming Made Simple

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In today’s world of strength and conditioning, weightlifting, powerlifting, and CrossFit, everyone seems to be looking for the perfect program. To be sure, there are programs that are better than others, but the program is only as good as the coaching, atmosphere, and determination that goes along with the program. The magic of a program lies more within the atmosphere, coaching feedback, and your own determination. There are certain elements that have to be present for a program to be successful. These elements should be obviously present. My goal in writing this is for you to recognize a solid program, so that you can choose a program wisely.

The first element that has to be present in a solid program is a steady increase in volume. There are several ways to do this linear, undulated, daily undulated, and other forms of periodization, but the one common theme is that you will be performing more work at the end of the year than at the beginning. There are several popular programs out there that do a poor job at steadily increasing volume. For the body to signal an adaptation process, there has to be a stimulus. It’s like working a blue collar labor intensive job. For example, when someone begins a job like logging, the first few weeks are terrible. They will get tired and sore, and they will struggle to keep up with the veteran workers. After the first month, their body will adapt, the soreness will ease, and they will be working at a much faster rate. Their body has strengthened and become more efficient in the tasks. The same goes for any type of strength and conditioning.

Weightlifters need the reps and sets to get stronger and to become more efficient at weightlifting. Football players need sprinting, jumping, and strength to force their bodies to get stronger and faster. Work capacity is one’s ability to perform work. The higher an athlete can increase their ability to perform work, the stronger and faster they can become. This simple concept holds true for all sports: wrestling, powerlifting, football, MMA, and all the rest. Volume is something that all coaches should be aware of when writing programs, and if not, they are not doing their athletes justice.

Second the program has to address weaknesses. Every athlete is different, so a one size fits all approach is really not the best option. If someone is strong but immobile, then the program has to address mobility. If an athlete is super mobile, but lacks the stabilization to maintain positions, then exercises to address those stability issues are necessary. If a football player wants to get faster in the 40 yd. dash, then program needs to incorporate speed mechanics, deep squats, cleans, posterior chain, acceleration work, and mobility. It’s a simple concept that is often overlooked.

Also, periodic deloads and a taper before competition needs to be present. A steady climb in periodization needs to have periodic deloads present for the body to compensate for the extra high demands. There are several ways to do it, but in my programming we follow 4 week block periodization with the fourth week being a type of deload. The last four weeks of a plan will be a systematic tapering process allowing full recovery and full body compensation to take place. This will ensure the body’s readiness for competition. A perfect taper will have the athlete primed for his or her event which is the whole point of the plan. The tapering process brings us to the next component of programming, recovery.

Recovery has to be addressed for an athlete to be fully prepared for battle. All athletes workout hard, but it’s what they do when they are not working out that makes them great or not. We call this being the “Master of the Mundane”. An athlete needs to ask themselves if they are really doing everything that they can to get better. Recovery includes sleep, stretching, eating properly, massage, Active Release Technique, Chiropractic, and anything else that will help the body recover from the high demands of being a top athlete. If a program doesn’t at least address these things, then it is doomed to fail. There is no such thing as overtraining, just under recovering.

An athlete must practice what’s important often. If you are a weightlifter, you need to snatch and clean & jerk 3-4 times per week. If you are a powerlifter, you need to squat, bench press, and deadlift at least 2-3 times per week. Strength sports are no different than any other sport.

Basketball players practice basketball every single day. They don’t necessarily plan a game every day, but they do pick up the rock and practice. Why are strength sports any different? If you become more efficient at a movement, you will lift more weight. Period!

The last suggestion that I have for programming is “cut the fat”. If you don’t absolutely need an exercise in a program, get rid of it. Too many coaches simply throw the kitchen sink at their athletes hoping that something will work. I recommend focusing on the competition lifts and choose assistance exercises that target weaknesses.

Just to recap:

1. Volume must increase over time!

2. Address Weaknesses!

3. Periodic Deloads to acclimate to increased volumes.

4. Recovery must be a consideration

5. Practice what’s important often.

6. Cut the Fat! If you don’t need an exercise, get rid of it.

I recommend choosing a program wisely, but keep in mind that the program is only as good as the coaching feedback, atmosphere, and the work that you put into it. The best part of the internet age is that there is a lot of information out there for an athlete to choose. The worst part is that there is a lot of information out there. The key is being able to make educated decisions between all the options.

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

Try to Be Logical

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

Check them out here: ⇒ Mash Elite E-Books

Try to Be Logical

Trav

Training is meant to be cyclical in nature. That means not everyday is meant to be a PR day. This is the hardest lesson to learn for young weightlifters and weightlifters new to the sport. A program should be designed in a way that will break a lifter down forcing the body to adapt.

Normally when a lifter begins a program, they see immediate results because they have tried something new. Then they get into the meat of the program, and they start to experience the “truth” of weightlifting. When I say the “truth” of weightlifting, I am talking about the rough periods that you will go through to experience the magic of a cycle.

What is the magic? If a plan is designed correctly, the athlete should experience supercompensation. Here is what the father of supercompensation, Ivan Beritov said about the concept in 1959:
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”When an athlete is training, his body undergoes stimulations which traumatize it, wear it down, tire it out, and even destroy it. If a recovery period follows these training sessions then the tissues will be restructured and the athlete’s body will come back, not only to its former level, but even surpass this level in the case of a sufficient stimulus. If appropriate control measures are not used such a preponderance of break-down and build-up leads rapidly to injuries.”

This is a pretty brutal statement, but it pretty much summarizes the reason that weightlifting is a brutal sport. You literally need to destroy the body to make it stronger. I am expressing this point today to keep you all sane mentally.

If you are in a strength block with lots of squats, pulls, and presses, then your snatch and clean & jerk are not going to increase during that period. That’s ok. That is what is supposed to happen. Focus on speed, technique, and movement during this phase.

If you are going through a high volume phase of snatch and clean & jerk, you are probably not going to PR. However, the magic is right around the corner. All that is required is a deload to reload and recover the body. Then it is PR City.

The keys that one must remember during high volume periods are:

• Lots of rest with 9-10 hours of sleep per night.
• Increase the daily intake of calories.
• BCAAs
• Vitamin C & D
• Chiropractic
• Active Release Technique
• Soft Tissue Work
• Proper warm up with joint mobility
• End with some static stretching

These are just a few of my recommendations for high volume periods. The main point that I want you to remember today is that training is a process. I want you all to embrace the process. It is not always about the daily win. It is important that you understand the phase that you are in, so that you know the goal of that time period.

At the end of the day, I want you to have a good time. When we forget to do that, training will start to diminish quickly. A simple smile on your face will do wonders for your performance. It’s sometimes hard to remember that we all love this sport.

Nathan is known to go hard quite often. Do you really think that he expects to set PRs every single week? He spends quality time multiple times per year killing volume and heavy squats, which sets him up for the brief time periods where he sets PRs in the lifts. He understands the process. He is happy when a weight becomes a new minimum. That means he can open higher, and take more cracks at bigger numbers during competitions. It is a process. If you don’t grasp that process, this sport will drive you crazy.

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Understanding the process is the key! Now go and enjoy the process!

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

Squat Every Day Off-Season

The “Eat What You Want” E-Book by @rebekahhopetilson is live! One More Day to get the Launch Price of only $19! http://www.mashelite.com/eatwhatyouwant/
=========================
The Book comes complete with: – Macro Calculator – Explanation of Macros
-Determining Personal Macros and Goals
– Meal Planning and Grocery Shopping
– Macros and Real Life
-Budgeting and More!

http://www.mashelite.com/eatwhatyouwant/

Squat Every Day Off-Season

travissquat

An offseason is a time of the year where there are no competitions. A lot of strength athletes don’t have off-seasons. I believe that this is a bad idea. Actually I believe that this is the reason that most strength athletes don’t last long in their chosen sport.

Ed Coan, the greatest powerlifter of all-time, enjoyed a career lasting longer than 25 years. Not only did he compete during those years, but also he was setting world records the entire time. He set records in the 181, 198, 220, and 242lb weight classes. No other strength athlete has dominated at that level for that length of time. The biggest reason that he was able to compete at that level for that length of time was taking scheduled off-seasons. He normally only competed two times per year the National Championships and the World Championships.

Competing only twice per year takes up about 26 weeks with training and competing. That leaves an athlete half the year to rest the body, focus on weaknesses, and to rest the brain mentally. It’s a smart approach that most of us ignore.

We would rather compete four times per year to show the world how tough we are. We are really just showing them how dumb we are. I am talking about myself right now. I wish that I had listened to Ed’s advice to only compete twice per year. I am sure that I could have stayed on top for a lot longer if I had listened.

Now at 43-years-old I am finally listening. Right now I am in a scheduled off-season. I just came off of my best competitive strength season in over ten years. I competed in my first super total meet, and I loved it. I am going to commit to competing in one or two of these meets per year with the rest of the year committed to working on weaknesses and resting the brain.

Last year, I hit the following numbers:

In Training

Snatch- 135k/297lb
Clean- 170k/374lb
Jerk- 182k/400lb
Clean & Jerk- 165k/363lb
Squat- 290k/638
Bench Press- 400lb
Deadlift- 660lb
Standing Strict Press- 115k/253lb

In Competition

Snatch- 130k/286lb
Clean & Jerk 166k/365lb
Squat 295k/650lb
Strict Press 116k/255lb
Deadlift 700lb

I am happy with all of those numbers, and next year I will hopefully beat all of those personal records. Right now I am focusing on my family, my team, my business, and my weaknesses. In January, I only worked out about three times per week. That gave me the rest that I needed mentally. A workout could look like the following:

Monday
OH Squat warm up
Front Squat up to a max 1-5 rep with or without a pause
Bench Press up to a max 1-5 rep with or without a pause
Assistance work

Wednesday
OH Squat warm up
Front Squat up to a max 1-5 rep with or without a pause
Strict Press up to a max 1-5 rep with or without a pause
Assistance Work

Friday
OH Squat warm up
Front Squat up to a max 1-3 rep
Bench Press up to a max 1-3 rep
Assistance work

I didn’t do any Snatch or Clean & Jerk mainly because I strained a bicep towards the end of last year. This forced me to give it a rest. However the OH Squats and Front Squats have kept my mobility in check, so I will be ready to jump right in to training.

You may notice that there are no back squats at all. I am sticking with Front Squats for a while for two main reasons. First, Front Squats allow me to sit deeper and more vertical, which makes them better for my overall mobility. The main reason is that Front Squat simply feels better on my body. Back Squats tend to tweak my back and hips, so for right now they are out. My priority during the off-season is to heal the body and mind, so that concept helps me choose the exercises that I am to perform.

My assistance work has consisted of a lot of overdue posterior chain work. I have focused on wide good mornings to strengthen my hamstrings and low back. I have also focused on a lot of rows to strengthen my upper back.

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This month I am going to increase the frequency to five times per week, and it will look more like this:

Monday
OH Squat warm up
Front Squat up to a max 1-5 rep with or without a pause
Bench Press up to a max 1-5 rep with or without a pause
Assistance work

Tuesday
OH Squat Variation (Snatch Balance, Heaving Snatch Balance, or regular OH Squat) max 1-5
Snatch from Blocks multiple triples
Snatch Pulls from Blocks multiple heavy triples

Wednesday
OH Squat warm up
Front Squat up to a max 1-5 rep with or without a pause
Jerk from Blocks working up to a heavy single
Strict Press up to a max 1-5 rep with or without a pause

Thursday
OH Squat Variation
Clean from Blocks multiple triples
Clean Pulls from Blocks heavy triples

Friday
OH Squat warm up
Front Squat up to a max 1-3 rep
Bench Press up to a max 1-3 rep
Assistance work

As you can see, this is not a true squat every day, but more of a “squat most days”. Overhead squats will be two of those days, so the intensity will not be as high as during the in-season training. I am really focused on positions and mobility right now. If those improve, I know that my Olympic lifts will improve.

When making exercise selection, I recommend focusing on the following:

• Strength and weaknesses
• Mobility issues
• Stability issues
• Priority lifts

Right now, I am not deadlifting at all. My deadlift is the strongest of all my lifts. It always has been. As long as my squat strength is up, I know that my deadlift will be somewhere near 700lb or more. I will start to practice the lift more towards the middle of the year.

This workout will advance each month, and I will let you all know how it changes. It will change based on a couple of things:

• How my body feels
• How busy I am
• How I feel mentally

Yes that is subjective, but as a veteran athlete I know my body better than anyone. When I am feeling 100%, then I will turn it loose. I hope that this helps you guys find an off-season, and I hope it helps you pick the exercises.

If I could change one thing about the way that I used to train, I would only have competed twice per year. I would have chosen scheduled off-seasons to focus on weakness and let the body and mind heal. I have no doubts that this approached would have lengthened my career substantially.

Don’t make my same mistakes!

Check out one of our five 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

Percentages or Rep Maxes?

The “Eat What You Want” E-Book by @rebekahhopetilson is live! Launch Price is only $19! http://www.mashelite.com/eatwhatyouwant/
=========================
The Book comes complete with: – Macro Calculator – Explanation of Macros
-Determining Personal Macros and Goals
– Meal Planning and Grocery Shopping
– Macros and Real Life
-Budgeting and More!

http://www.mashelite.com/eatwhatyouwant/

Percentages or Rep Maxes?

I have gone back and forth with this question. What is better when programming exercises percentages or rep maxes? I want to answer this question with my biggest realization over the last few months. All of us should be careful of using absolutes. A lot of experts out there are quick to pick sides, and even quicker to declare that side as the absolute best without a shred of evidence.

I say that because I want to be clear in saying that this is just my opinion. This isn’t scientific fact. What I am about to tell you is my observation having coached hundreds of top athletes and from my own experience. I will say that I have watched athletes succeed with just about every program in the world from a straight Bulgarian to a Russian to a Chinese.

First if you weren’t a coach or an athlete under those countries, you don’t truly know what any one of them did. Don’t tell me how you were coached by so and so in the United States for a month or two either. If you weren’t there, in that country with that coach with those athletes, you don’t know anything. Did they take drugs? What was their recovery program? What was the mood of their training hall? Did they really train the way that you believe they did? Truth is none of knows, so we are just guessing.

Ok I am done with my tangents. Personally I have used percentages and rep maxes. I prefer rep maxes for one solid reason. You don’t know what your biorhythms for the day are when you are writing a workout months in advance. I could tell you to perform triples up to 80%, but I don’t know if that is truly 80% for that day. You could be firing on all cylinders, and that weight is more like 75%. You could be tanked and run down, so that weight is more like 88%.

If I say work up to a 3RM, you are going to do work up to a weight that is good for that particular day. If I want to get a little more specific, I can add RPEs and give misses allowed. Let me explain:

RPE– Rate of Perceived Exertion is a way of telling your athlete how hard to go for the day on a scale from 1-10. If I say 10, then you are working to an all out max. If I say 9, you are going to leave one set in the tank and so on.

Misses allowed– If I want to keep the lifter fresh, I will say no misses allowed. That means that they stop before they miss, or if they miss, they are done.

This is a much simpler way to program, and it is easy for the lifter to follow. Even if I use percentages for my athletes, the percentages are more like a guide. If the athlete is looking terrible, I will shut them down early. If they are looking crisp, we might go a little heavier. The main reason that I might use percentages is to guarantee that enough volume is taking place before the main work sets. This is especially true in the Olympic movements because of the complexity of the movements. A certain amount of practice is needed if one ever wants to become proficient in the movements.

As an athlete I simply used any percentages programmed as practice in the movement, a focus on speed, and a warm up. I would normally always work up to a daily max of some kind whether it was a single, double, triple, pause, or whatever. I liked the way that I was able to be competitive on a daily basis. It kept the gym exciting for me, and it taught me to compete.

That brings me to another point. Some athletes simply don’t like to compete. That’s ok if they never want to enter a competition, but if they ever want to win at something, they need to get over their fear of competition. I am not saying that I got full-fledged jacked every day. That would cause mental and physical fatigue in a quick way. However I did battle mentally on a daily basis.

I learned to overcome fear and negative thoughts this way. I learned to never change my approach to the bar, my set up, or anything else. All that I would do was visualize perfection in a clearer way. My original coach Wes Barnett taught me that. I would close my eyes, visualize the performance of the lift with perfect movement, and then walk up to the bar and lift it. The better that I got at visualization equaled more successful attempts in weightlifting and powerlifting.

At the end of the day you can do percentages or rep maxes. If you use percentages, I suggest using them more as a guideline and less like the gospel. If your body is ready to lift the most weight that it has ever lifted, do you really want to waste that opportunity? Once again that is up to you and your coach. Personally I am willing to give a green light more than not.

Here’s the way that you can measure things. If your program is consistently getting results, stay with it. If it stops working for 6 months to a year, make some changes. It’s that simple in my opinion.

Check out one of our five 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

“Don’t take your guns to town son.” by Coach Nick Scott

The “Eat What You Want” E-Book by @rebekahhopetilson is live! Launch Price is only $19! http://www.mashelite.com/eatwhatyouwant/
=========================
The Book comes complete with: – Macro Calculator – Explanation of Macros
-Determining Personal Macros and Goals
– Meal Planning and Grocery Shopping
– Macros and Real Life
-Budgeting and More!

http://www.mashelite.com/eatwhatyouwant/

“Don’t take your guns to town son.”

Wow my man Coach Nick makes some great points for CrossFitters, general strength athletes, and the weekend warriors out there. If you are masking pain and dysfunction with wraps, shoes, and other items, you might want to handle the pain and dysfunction before moving on. If you are not in this thing to compete or be a world champion, I hope that your main goal is health and wellness. If health and wellness is your top priority, then alleviating pain and eliminating dysfunction should be your priority.

If you like what Coach Scott is saying in his articles, you might want to follow him on Instagram:
–> @scottstrengthsystems

Now enjoy the article!

As I sit here and listen to my Johnny Cash, watching all these athletes, I notice something. An overwhelming amount of them are strapped, knee sleeves, knee wraps, wrist wraps, belts, Olympic shoes, etc. Another thing I notice, a lot of them move poorly….and I think there might be a connection here. Most of these athletes aren’t competitors; they are just training for life, health, and fitness.

So I say to myself, you should leave your guns at home son! Let’s think about this for a moment.
If you’re just the average CrossFit box goer, why on earth are you all decked out like a competitive weightlifter or Rich Froning?

All of these items are useful in the right circumstances. Knee sleeves or wraps make sense if you have a previous injury, or if you’re maxing your clean or squat, or if you’re 8 weeks or so out from a powerlifting/weightlifting competition and are really in the training grind. But, they do not make sense if you’re doing weights at 80% of your max or below, nor if you’re doing a metcon. If your knees are so banged up that you need wraps or sleeves every day, on every movement regardless of weight, then you have a problem.

You have a big problem. You are either grossly over-trained beyond your body’s ability to recover, or your movement/mobility/form is so bad that your body is about to explode. If this is the case, the answer is simple. STOP! Go back and fix your technique, improve your mobility, or simply drop the volume! The human body should not be so broken all the time, and you should be able to do most of your training without assistance.

Olympic shoes make sense if you’re doing an Olympic program, but if you can’t complete the movements at below 80% of your max without them…. then there’s a problem. You likely don’t have good enough mobility to get into position properly without the assistance the shoes give you. Now let’s think about that for a second. If you literally can’t do the movement properly without a specially designed shoe, don’t you think that at some point, something is going to give? Your body is telling you that you have a serious issue that needs to be addressed before you go down this road. Putting a band aid on it isn’t the way to go, it’ll just lead to a major failure down the road. That’s the opposite of health and wellness.

Having to wear wrist wraps every time you go overhead to alleviate pain is a no go as well. Unless you have a preexisting injury, this means your wrists are too weak. If that’s the case, how do you ever expect them to get stronger if you’re constantly supporting them artificially?

Weight belts are amazing, they can be a crutch as well. My rule for my athletes is no belt unless it’s over 80%. I do this because if you cannot confidently get under a bar at 80% or less for a couple of reps without it, then that means you probably have a midline weakness or imbalance. Putting a belt on will surely help you lift more weight, but when you take it off, are you really any stronger? A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

My advice is for the average gym goer, the non-competitor. However, if you are a competitor who has no previous knee/wrist/back problems you probably shouldn’t need this stuff either. At least not on a daily basis, if you’re 8 weeks or so out from a competition that’s another matter entirely.

The fittest man alive, Rich Froning, was once interviewed and stated that when he was the “fittest” he was also the unhealthiest he’d ever been. Everything hurt, tons of nagging injuries, etc. That’s the price you pay to play the game. When it’s game time, it’s PAIN TIME baby!!!

But normal everyday training volume should not leave you in this state. Even as a competitor. A competitor understands that competing will hurt, and acknowledges that they will pay a price in the long term. For those who are gifted, they will end up reaching a level that makes a life of aches and pains worth it.

For most of us, however, that’s just not reality. Everyone must decide for themselves ultimately how much they are willing to accept for where they are as an athlete. I’m not going to preach to anyone about what I think they should do with their lives. Just remember that in today’s day and age, life is likely to be very long. Before my grandad passed on he told me “Nick, if I had known I’d have live so damn long, I would’ve taken better care of myself!” I’ll always remember this, it taught me to think more about what I’m doing, what I’m sacrificing, and where that might leave me down the road. For myself, I try to balance my life and training as much as possible.

If you have to go into the gym strapped like old Billy Joe in the song, maybe stop to think about what and why you need all this stuff to become fitter. Try to fix the issues, and leave your guns at home!

Check out one of our five 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

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