Below is a blog written by my man Jason Prudhom. He’s the Head Coach of Mash Mafia MN Weightlifting Team. He is the co-owner of Undisputed Strength & Conditioning with my friend Vinh Huynh. These guys have only been opened for six months, and they are already sending three solid lifters to the American Open.
I asked them to share their journey with all of you. It’s a beautiful American Weightlifting Story, and I am so blessed to be a part of what they are doing in Eagan, MN. I look forward to our journey ahead.
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This weekend while Travis Mash was in town, he suggested I write a little blog post about my experiences and plans to take our brand new weightlifting team and get us some quality lifters and qualify for national meets. You know, first logical step of any takeover…
I’ll be honest, writing about myself isn’t usually something I’m too fond of. If I’m being honest, as a weightlifting coach, all I’m doing is giving people suggestions and telling them what sort of work to do. They do the work. They get the results. They should also get the glory. But hey, maybe it’ll help other coaches to hear the story of my last few months…
We opened our gym (and started our team) in April of this year. When we started, it was myself and one other guy, and I barely count! From there, we had someone we knew move back to the area from Texas, a couple come over from other teams (unsolicited, I might add. I feel that’s important to note). Basically, we’ve been lucky to have committed athletes show up ready to listen and work. Honestly, it’s been great.
It needs to be said that Undisputed Strength and Conditioning is a Crossfit gym. We are heavily weightlifting bias, but our primary function as of now is Crossfit. The trick is, we very openly use our crossfit program as a feeder program for weightlifting. Everyone knows it. Everyone that shows promise is more or less guided to weightlifting more regularly and crossfitting less. Yeah, it works. It’s perfect! That’s how we get some new members and try to turn them into good weightlifters! Embrace it. Crossfit is a good thing for American weightlifting, both now and for the future!
It’s hard to quantify exactly how “I” did it. We ran a program of fairly “Bulgarian” (whatever that REALLY means, I don’t know) of moderate to high volume sticking closely to the lifts and a lot of squats for a couple months, then we rolled out some Mash Mafia programs in the more recent past to get everyone stronger. I have lifters that show up every day and work incredibly hard. That’s honestly my biggest secret. My lifters bust their ass. They listen. They ask questions. They show up ready to work. Everything I look for in a team.
How do I help them then? Near as I can figure, it’s only a couple step process. I’ll try to lay that out as well as I can for you guys.
1) Make your lifters your family.
2) Have infinite belief in them.
3) Know how to push their buttons
4) Listen to their feedback
5) Put consistency and effort over weights and PR’s.
That’s the best I can explain my coaching strategy. The program isn’t complicated or super specific. Perform the lifts. Bring up what’s lacking. Get stronger. That’s pretty much the program. If your pull sucks, then pull. If your squat sucks, squat. If your jerk/lockout sucks, then go overhead more! It seriously couldn’t get a whole lot easier. All that stuff is just programming. That isn’t coaching.
Coaching is about belief. It’s about wanting the best for your athletes. It’s about putting yourself in their shadow and getting the best you can get out of them.
You need to love your athletes as your own family. You need to not only believe in them, but you need to SHOW them that you have faith in them. You need to challenge them you know they’re capable of, even if they don’t think they have it in them on that day. You have to be willing and able to shut them down if they’re being reckless or stupid. Know how to motivate your athletes. Different people respond to different things. Gift cards? Positive reinforcement? Negative reinforcement? Jaw jacking? Shit talking? Little pep talk before a max attempt? Shut up and let them rage inside? Whatever the individual in question needs. You need to know, and you need to provide it. If an athlete feels something is important enough to give feedback on it, listen! If they’re just bitching, tell them to suck it up (or be nice if it’s “one of those days”. We all have them).
Lastly, the effort, the grind is the important part. If someone is crushing heavy weights like it isn’t a thing, that’s GREAT, but it isn’t doing much for you physically (mentally is a whole different ballgame). Go up until you find something that fights with you a little. I don’t care if it’s 105% of your max, or 70% of your max. Everyone has good and bad days/weeks/maybe months. It’s ok. Just do the work. If it’s a “light” day, it’s a fast day. Stay out of the habit of “light”. Just FAST. Get used to working. Get good at the basics. Recover well. Bounce back from a bad day. When you train every day, you get another chance real soon! Think of your training days as just another day at the office. Do the best you can, punch out, and come back in the next day ready to get after it again.
That’s about it. Love your lifters. Believe in them. Push them. Don’t listen to excuses but be mindful of feedback. That’s it.
For the record, we’re about 9 strong on competitive members, and one of them is sitting pretty (ranked top 15) for junior nationals next year. That’s almost half of our team qualified for a national meet. All but one of our lifters have under a year of experience. I feel like that’s a pretty good start for our little baby team…
Until next year with bigger and better news, take care and we’ll see you in DC!