Should I Take Supplements? by Crystal McCullough, RN, MSN

Check out The “Eat What You Want” E-Book to understand nutrition better. With a built-in Macro Calculator, you will have all the tools necessary to getting your nutrition in check.

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Should I Take Supplements?
By Crystal McCullough, RN, MSN
Give Crystal a Follow on Instagram ==> @crystalmac_72

This is a question I get asked a lot from my athletes both on-site and online. The simple answer is ‘it depends’. That’s really not a simple answer, I know. One rule of thought should always be FOOD FIRST. If you are not getting an adequate amount of something from food, then supplementation may be an option. Don’t look at supplements as a way to replace food, but rather as in addition to.

First and foremost, it is important to understand some basic principles of nutrition: macronutrients and micronutrients.

As you may know, we at Mash Elite have a nutrition program we call Eat What You Want and it is based on macronutrients (macros). Yes, our program is called Eat What You Want, however, our philosophy is nutritious, whole foods a very large majority of the time, but being able to sneak in an indulgence now and again. This allows for sustainability and no shaming of yourself when you enjoy a treat.

The three macronutrients are protein, fat, and carbohydrates.

• Protein has many roles in the body. When it comes to muscle, it is needed for muscle repair and growth. The amount a person needs is usually around 0.7-0.8g/day per pound of body weight. Good sources of protein would be meats, eggs, and legumes.

• Fat is not the enemy at all. On the contrary, essential fats play a huge role in cell function. Dietary fat is the main fuel source during low intensity training. On top of this, you have Omega-6 and Omega-3, where both are needed in a good balance. Omega-3 is actually an anti-inflammatory!! Good sources of dietary fats would be avocado, nuts, seeds, and oils such as coconut oil and olive oil.

• Carbohydrates or carbs are not the enemy either! Carbs are the main energy source during high intensity training. Good sources of carbs would be sweet potatoes, rice, quinoa, fruits, and green leafy vegetables.

Protein is normally a constant based on body weight while fats and carbs can be manipulated based on which fuel source an individual reacts better to. The key is not to any one macronutrient out. Your body needs all three.

What people sometimes fail to remember are micronutrients. Micro means we need them in small amounts, but if we are deficient, the body is hugely affected. Examples of micronutrients are iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamins B6 and B12, vitamin C, biotin, riboflavin, etc. The best source of micronutrients is whole or real food! I’m sure you can guess that iron would come from red meat, beans, and dark green leafy vegetables. Calcium would come from dairy and vegetables. Vitamins and minerals are found in your green leafy vegetables.

If you are eating a well-rounded, wide variety, nutrient dense diet, you can get everything you need from simply eating food. Where supplements would come in is if someone were deficient in a micronutrient and needs to take a supplement. One instance would be with vitamin B12. For someone with a medical condition called pernicious anemia, their body does not absorb B12 very well and they have to get injections of B12 regularly. This is just one example.

That was just a quick lesson in some basics of nutrition without too much science behind it.

Now, you need to understand what your goals are and where you are health wise. Are you an athlete? Are you a weekend warrior? Do you simply train to look good naked in the mirror? Do you have a chronic disease? Depending on your goals, you may or may not need supplementation.

As an athlete, there may be supplements that someone with a chronic illness may not be able to take or vice versa where someone with a chronic illness needs to take a supplement while an athlete doesn’t need it. That is where the ‘it depends’ comes in.

For all intents and purposes, this article is focused on what a healthy individual, more so an athlete could be taking and what I might recommend to them.

Supplements I might recommend:

Fish Oil – I would actually recommend this to anyone. This is the only supplement I would do that with. You have the Omega-3’s: DHA and EPA, which are essential fats. It can be found rather inexpensively in your health food or even grocery store. You have both liquid and gel cap form. As I said before, it is found to have anti-inflammatory properties.

Creatine – it is actually a substance that occurs naturally in meat. Storage of creatine occurs in the muscle. It helps with short intensity forms of exercise. An example would be a 1-3 rep max on a lift. The idea behind creatine is you will see an increase in performance in these smaller rep ranges of high intensity lifting and over time, strength will increase. Creatine is relatively inexpensive and you can find good quality fairly easily. The most recommended form is creatine monohydrate and dosage is 5g per day. You can take it pre- or post-workout. I put it in my coffee in the morning and I’m done for the day.

Beta Alanine – it combines with another substance in the body to form something called carnosine and is stored in the muscle. This supplement is best used when doing lactate work. The down side to beta alanine is that it causes an itchy sensation and a lot of people don’t like that feeling. The recommended dose is 3.2-6.4g/day, but it can be reduced to as little as 0.75g if the itchiness is bothersome. It is found in a lot of pre-workouts. However, research has found that it is best taken during or post-workout so the muscles are primed to absorb the beta alanine since it is stored there.

Powdered Protein – there is a window of opportunity post-workout for optimal absorption. You should take in a 1:2 ratio of protein to carb. So, you would take in 25g of protein and 50g of carb as an example post workout. Many people can’t stomach a real meal post workout. The alternative would be a 1:2 ratio of a protein powder with a carb source. Personally, I prefer Whey protein, which research shows as higher quality than other types, but soy is an alternative for anyone with sensitivity to whey.

BCAAS (branched chain amino acids) – amino acids are the building blocks of protein, so they are good for muscle repair and growth. Research has shown they have a positive effect on lactate and endurance training. When taken post workout, it has been concluded in some studies to help with muscle soreness and fatigue.

If you look at the list above, three of the supplements are commonly found in pre-workouts…….my personal go to pre-workout is caffeine, i.e. COFFEE!!

I am not advocating for any one brand over the other. Maybe except for BiPro Protein because it tastes delicious, is tested and USADA approved, and they support the Mash Mafia Strength Team!

The question now is do you ‘need’ any of these? The quick answer is again ‘it depends’. As athletes, we are going to have inflammation. It is much safer and more beneficial to take fish oil than it is to take an NSAID daily. This is the one supplement I DO recommend to athletes. For the rest of the supplement list, if you are willing to spend the money, you might see some benefits to using any or all of these supplements. For anyone that feels they may have a deficiency, consult a physician and get blood work before taking any micronutrient supplementation.

About the Writer:

Crystal McCullough BIO

40-year old Army wife and Mom to a genetic 13-year-old freak. Basketball player turned runner turned CrossFitter turned powerlifter. Crystal has podiumed over the years at 5k and 10k road races, local CrossFit competitions, and most recently competed at the Arnold 2016 XPC Powerlifting Finals as well as USAPL Raw Nationals 2016 in the Open division. Her best lifts are 145k squat, 81k bench, and 162k deadlift. She is an RN with a Masters degree in Nursing Education, a CrossFit affiliate owner, and a Mash Elite Performance nutrition coach (among other stuff). She is a member of the Mash Mafia Powerlifting team and is currently studying for her CSCS as she prepares to move to Winston Salem with her family in May to join the Mash Mafia crew on a full-time basis.

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Sources:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19352063
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12701815
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3374095/
https://nccih.nih.gov/health/omega3/introduction.htm
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24435468

Sweet Treats to fit any Nutrition Plan

Check out The “Eat What You Want” E-Book to understand nutrition better. With a built-in Macro Calculator, you will have all the tools necessary to getting your nutrition in check.

Check them out here: ⇒ “Eat What You Want”

Sweet Treats to fit any nutrition plan

I enjoy a sweet “treat” almost daily, but, like most of you I’m sure, I eat for fuel, performance, health, AND enjoyment. I do try to limit refined sugar, artificial coloring, and saturated fats which make up most of the convenient treats out there. So, in my never-ending search for foods that are good for the body and satisfying to the taste buds, I’ve been trying out a couple new recipes.

These two recipes are made with protein powder. Travis and I each usually have a protein smoothie per day, but sometimes that does get boring. I would eat either of these recipes in place of a smoothie for an afternoon boost, or after dinner treat. After several experiments with each recipe, I’ve listed below my favorites. Hope you enjoy!

Protein Yogurt Pops

I followed the recipe almost exactly from the BiPro Strawberry recipe book, then experimented with some other flavors on my own, using their protein powder with different flavors. Here’s the basic recipe for Strawberry Chocolate Chip. I encourage you to take this base recipe and create your favorite mixture!

1 cup of greek yogurt (I used nonfat vanilla, plain works too)

¼ cup strawberry protein

½ cup strawberries, frozen

1-2 Tbsp. of milk if needed

Sprinkle of chocolate chips – adjust this ingredient as needed to fit your macros or leave out altogether and add more diced strawberries

In a food processor, mix the yogurt, protein, strawberries, and additional liquid if needed. Pour into popsicle molds. Sprinkle chocolate chips into mold. Using a popsicle stick, stir in the chocolate chips. Freeze at least 4 hours or overnight.

Protein Cookie Dough Bites

This sweet treat literally takes 5 minutes from start to finish and can easily be adjusted to fit your macros. Try adding additional toppings or mix ins like coconut flakes, raisins, cinnamon, dried fruit, or anything else you like! This recipe makes 3-4 balls or 1 serving. I usually triple or quadruple the recipe when I make these because they don’t stay around!

1 Tbsp honey

1 Tbsp nut butter at room temperature

1 scant scoop of protein powder, most any flavor will work (chocolate and strawberry flavors shown in picture)

Sprinkle of salt

Stir all ingredients together with a spoon until mixture holds together. Add any mix ins and roll into small balls. In the picture shown, I added the large chocolate morsels into the chocolate protein balls after I rolled them out.

These cookie dough bites can be stored on the counter if the nut butter can be, but I prefer them from the fridge.

For these (and other) recipes, I use BiPro protein powder. I have found that it is by far the best protein for cooking. It mixes seamlessly and does not have a strong protein flavor or texture.

For more meal ideas and recipes find me on Instagram @emilydrewmash

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A One on One with Denise Greenway: Cancer Survivor, Mother, Athlete, Entrepreneur, and much more

Guys today I want you to meet someone that’s sure to be super inspiring. Her name is Denise Greenway. I found out that we had a cancer survivor on the Mash Mafia Online Weightlifting Team, and it peaked my interest. Then I found out that she is a lot more than just a cancer survivor. Denise is a life conqueror. Before you read her amazing interview, give her a follow on Instagram:

==> @denise_deux

Now enjoy the interview!

Coach Mash- What goes through the brain of an 18-year-old girl that is diagnosed with Stage III Colon Cancer?

Denise- Well, it’s an interesting thing to be so young and have to face something even experienced minds don’t handle well. I grew up in a very unconventional lifestyle. My childhood was no cake walk so at 18 I had experienced a lot of life. When I was diagnosed I thought about all the things I hadn’t accomplished yet. I wanted to aid in building a better world, rear children, and travel. I was very off put by the news but I’ve been a fighter from a small age and to me this was merely an obstacle in my way. I had a lot of personal growth and learned a lot through my various battles with cancer.

Coach Mash- After the diagnosis were you scared, mad, sad, or something else?

Denise- I’m not a very emotional person and when I am emotional it tends to come out in the form of anger. I was mad that I was trying to come out of a rough childhood and create a better adulthood but the universe had to put something so large in my way. Little did I know at that time cancer would only aid in building me.

Coach Mash- How did your family take this news? I know that if one of my children were diagnosed, I would lose my mind.

Denise- Well, I was in a weird place with my family. My family was very broken up my entire childhood. Growing up I became very independent and when rough patches hit I preferred to handle them alone and not stress out others with my burdens. I’ve always taken cancer on the chin as if it was a cold or just another daily task to handle. That being said my family wasn’t a big part of my life during my initial cancer and they’ve always just trusted that I had things handled. I’ve always preferred to deal with my cancer on my own.

Coach Mash- And then the second diagnosis. What in the world was going through your mind?
Denise- Well, when it came around the second time it was caught way earlier and nowhere near as aggressive. My treatment was minimal and fast. The third time was when it was a real pain in my ass. I had just gone through a really rough break up, I had a toddler, and I had just competed for the first time in Powerlifing. I was pissed off at the timing of this cancer and the fact that it had spread. Luckily, I knew more the third go around about what worked and didn’t work for me. My treatment was very unconventional and strange. I had to take a lot of time away as an athlete and focus on the bigger tasks like work, motherhood, and my overall health. Slowly but surely things were under control and now I’m in remission once again. I’m back to training and things are slowly piecing back together.

Coach Mash- When you realized that you were pregnant, were you overwhelmed or what? I mean you were living a life of trials by age 20 that most will never see.

Denise- Well, I have always wanted to be a mom. I grew up in such a strange childhood that a huge part of me wanted to build something better for my children. My daughter was a bit of an accident in my marriage but I was ready for the challenge. I became a single mother shortly after her birth and really that’s when my mindset changed. Cancer changed my mentality a lot but motherhood was a whole different ball game. I was scared I would fail her. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to teach her life skills and one day her downfalls would be my fault. From the time I found out I was pregnant and every day since I’ve thought about how to grow her into a better human. She is indeed a remarkable being.

Coach Mash- What led you down this road of fitness?

Denise- I was always athletic my entire life. I grew up with all rough boys and raised by my father & grandparents. We played street ball and worked in the woods. I never had the desire to be in a gym until late into my first trimester when my energy surged. I was so energetic and my diet was perfection. I fell into CrossFit but always loved the weightlifting more. Eventually, my belly caused me to have to stray away from a barbell. I moved shortly after the birth of my daughter and started going to the YMCA. Through the influence of people around me I got into bodybuilding. I learned a lot about myself during that period. I really loved having a goal and competing but I disliked a lot of the ideals and community of bodybuilding. I met some powerlifters and really loved competing in that sport as well. Later, I got back into weightlifting and Crossfit. I learned I love focusing more on Strength And Conditioning with a sport specific goal. I love lifting heavy shit, I like having the ability to get up and do anything necessary regardless of time stressors, and I love putting myself to the test against others. I stay more in the powerlifting and weightlifting side now because I’ve learned it’s what my soul desires more than what others desire for me.

Coach Mash- When did it become your business?

Denise- While I was pregnant I started the tedious task of accruing a long list of certifications. I loved learning more about human performance and especially nutrition. This has been my main business since my daughter was about 1.5.

So the past 3 years I have been the assistant coach and studier of other programs. I’ve really forced a lot of my growth because once I dive into something I keep my head down and try to acquire as much experience and knowledge as possible. The past two years I’ve really started to develop my business and the past year I’ve really started to find out who I am as a coach and an athlete. Between finding brand sponsorships and training all styles of clients I’m just now (3 years later) really seeing what I want in this business.

Coach Mash- I want to know your athletic goals, business goals, and more importantly what is your mission in life? What is your purpose?

Denise- Well let’s start with the main things and move to the smaller issues. I’m huge on bettering the world around you. If you can’t influence people to be better and do better than what’s the point of existing. Wining competitions and making money is great but if the world suffers while you do that then you’re still wasting energy.

My purpose is to create a healthier world on a mental, physical, and emotional level. I’ve been given a very unique life that offers me the opportunity to relate to multiple demographics and understand their mentality. I try to better the people entering my life while learning from them as well. Business wise I derive a similar view point. Sure, more money would be great! A bigger business means a bigger platform with bigger financials, which offer me the opportunity to have a larger reach and help people. My athletic goals are on the same playing field! The more I compete and showcase my life as an athlete the more people I encounter and if I can impart a small amount of positivity and wisdom into each one than I consider it a life fulfilled.

“The richer your network of high-quality people interested in making the world a better place, the more you’ll care and the better you’ll become.” -John Berardi ( @precisionnutrition )

Coach Mash- After going through all of this, what do you value in life?

Denise- I value experience most of all. Things are easily lost and destroyed. People come and go. Experience is forever! Experience is what makes me a better coach, athlete, mom, and mentor. Everyday I try to take my experience to another level. I try to be mentored by people. I try to adventure and understand the world better. I try to grow experience through quite times in my life when I can really ponder where I want to be and who I want to become. Experience is priceless.

Coach Mash- Where does it all end?

Denise- I don’t think anything has an end, physics teaches us that. I think one day all of this energy and zeal I have will have only grown and blossomed into something for others to absorb and the cycle continues just with a different person.

Coach Mash- How did you get with Power Athlete? John Welbourn is my friend, so this is very cool.

Denise- Well, someone I met recommended them and explained how we align in our viewpoints so I checked them out. I became friends with Tyler Minton and Luke Summers which overtime grew into a kickass relationship with the whole PA family. I’ve really enjoyed being coached by them and mentored by them as well. Being apart of Wades army last year really connected me on an emotional level to the crew and I can’t wait to see how we grow in our relationship. Those guys do some amazing things and I’ve met some amazing people through their connections that are resulting in me growing as a coach and athlete. I’m really happy to be able to say they are apart of my story as a coach and athlete, there’s no better no bullshit men out there like those dudes.

Coach Mash- I have to ask are you afraid that the cancer will come back? I know that I am definitely concerned for my wife. It scares me sometimes.

Denise- I’m not afraid. Fear is a stress. Andy Stumpf spoke about always being aware of your situation and surroundings while you consistently prepare a plan for how to resolve anything that can come about. Seems silly to constantly be on your toes but if I always for thinking then I won’t have to reactive think. I have plans in action to keep my cancer at bay, because you’re never fully clear, and I’ve devised plans if it does come back on how to attack it basing those decisions off of what has worked and hasn’t worked for me. Fear won’t accomplish anything but strategizing will.

Coach Mash- Why did you choose Mash Elite to help you reach your goals? I am actually curious and thankful.

Denise- I like to support great people doing great things. I’ve never been the coach that was afraid of being coached! I’m friends with Frank, Meg, and Travis from Mash. After reading some of your E-books and speaking with them I decided to grow by going the Mash team. I think there are some great insights I can learn from your coaches and you! I’ve really loved the programming and it’s been improving my strength as well as technique in a great way! I’m super happy to see where this will lead me and what I can accomplish.

Coach Mash- Close with anything that you want to say!

Denise- Anyone that knows me knows I’m a quote girl. I probably send more quotes to people than anyone I can think of, a bit of a book nerd.

A good friend of mine through Power Athlete said, “Tragedy is a gift because it forces us to find our purpose.” It’s something that, if you really ponder on daily, will change your life. Thinking you’re always the one being punished by life won’t ever allow you to grow. Taking the tragedies in your life and turning them into a gift that helps lead you down your road to purpose will better your life and those that come in contact with you. Personal growth is the single best thing anyone can focus on. That energy builds and matures to be passed on to others. Build a capacity to love. Grow mentally tough. Stay aware. Experience life. Drink your coffee black.

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Multiple Ways to Emphasize Hypertrophy

Our latest E-Books “Mash Jacked: Hypertrophy for Strength Athletes and Field Athletes” and “Train Stupid: Programming and Philosophies of Nathan Damron” drop in 2-Days. This Friday April 21st, you are going to want to check out these two books of gain. For now, get your Free Copy of “The Mash Method” our E-Book that will help you crush through any plateau.

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Multiple Ways to Emphasize Hypertrophy

Over the last 30+ years of being a coach and athlete, I have been influenced by several other great coaches and athletes. I have had the honor of meeting and hanging out with several of them. People like Ed Coan, Louie Simmons, Charles Poliquin, and Greg Everett all have extremely different ideas on how to get strong. However there is one common denominator that connects them, and that is ‘hypertrophy’.

They all agree that at a certain point you have to get the muscles bigger to get them stronger. Hypertrophy bridges the gap between weightlifting, powerlifting, and sports performance. However there are a couple of different approaches to the use of hypertrophy, and I believe that all of you can learn from each. Let’s take a look!

Ed Coan was the first powerlifter that I looked up to. Why did I look up to him? Well it was because he was and still is the greatest of all-time. However there was one more reason. He was jacked! I wanted to be strong and jacked just like Ed. He was crossing the lines into the bodybuilding world. I remember reading a spread that “Flex Magazine” printed comparing Ed Coan and Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates. I am telling you that Ed’s back rivaled Dorian’s.

However what does being jacked have to do with being strong. It’s true that you can get strong without adding muscle size up to a certain point. If you are in a weight class sport, you should maximize the muscle mass that you have. If you practice your core lifts with enough frequency and specificity, you will get more efficient at the movements and hence able to heave more poundage. Those are neural gains, but at a certain point those gains will either halt to a snails pace or diminish all together.

Ed Coan dominated powerlifting in the 181lb, 198lb, 220lb, and 242lb divisions. Obviously he was adding muscle along the way. If you look at old pictures of him, he is ripped at all of those weights. That’s one important point to make. Hypertrophy training isn’t the same as getting fat. Too many powerlifters mistake the two.

Ed was more traditional in his approach to periodization especially for his competition cycles. He would start with a hypertrophy block performing 2-3 sets of 8-10 repetitions, move to a strength block of 3-4 sets of 5 repetitions, and finish with absolute strength around 1-3 repetitions. He kept bodybuilding exercises as major staples of his program like bent over rows, seated military presses, and close grip benches.

When Ed Coan was at his prime, he performed two big meets per year: Senior Nationals and World Championships. That’s only two competition phases per year. He was famous for performing off-season work that looked even more like bodybuilding. These are phases of his training that were often overlooked in my opinion. He would high bar squat to crush quads. He’s done dumbbell flies, triceps pushdowns, dumbbell triceps extensions, leg presses, hack squats, and more. Yeah this sounds pretty much like a bodybuilder to me. Those off-seasons and beginning competition blocks were designed to add muscle size. Ed didn’t use a lot of frequency at all. He squatted and crushed legs once per week, benched twice, and deadlifted once. He was specific as he always stuck to the lifts, but at that frequency his main weapon was hypertrophy.

A lot of weightlifting coaches are similar in their approach to programming. If you ever look at one of Coach Kyle Pierce’s programs from LSU Shreveport, it will look very similar to one of Ed Coan’s programs except there will be snatches and clean & jerks. Coach Pierce is of course the legendary coach of three-time Olympian Kendrick Farris. His programming has influenced the way that I program immensely. His programming starts with hypertrophy, shifts to strength, and ends with absolute strength just like Ed.

Louie Simmons on the other hand programs strength work, absolute strength, and hypertrophy throughout his programs simply waving the intensities and changing out exercises. Louie uses accessory work to produce the majority of his hypertrophy much like the famed Chinese weightlifters. Louie performs this hypertrophic work right up to a competition. The Chinese can often be seen in the training halls performing dips, lateral raises, and rows.

This approach is quite opposite from traditional programming like Ed Coan’s or Coach Pierce’s. Their programming will start with higher reps and sets with lots of accessory work, and then it will periodize down to lower reps, higher weight, and more specific to the core lifts without the accessory movements.

Which approach is correct? The answer is obviously both, since both variations have developed World Champions and World Records. I have used both styles to develop a hybrid approach. Here’s what it looks like:

Hypertrophy Non-Specific Blocks:
• Call this the off-season work performed minimum of 16 to 24 weeks out
• Competition lifts are minimized to once per week maximum
• Exercises look more like bodybuilding lunges, flies, extensions, etc.
• Designed to give the joints a break.
• Muscular Balance is the primary focus

Hypertrophy Specific Block:
• Normally starts 12-14 weeks from a competition
• Primary lifts are introduced back into the program.
• Sets, reps, and intensity will vary with at least one day per week performed with the major movements (squats, pulls, and presses) in traditional hypertrophy manner of 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps.
• There will still be aspects of strength and absolute strength just not prioritized
• Still lots of accessory movements to encourage muscular balance.
• For Olympic weightlifting we use the Olympic lifts in a manner that will encourage stabilizing the positions and movements

Strength Blocks:
• The main strength movements (squat, presses, pull, and rows) are performed on average 3-4 sets of 4-6 reps at an average of 80% intensity.
• Olympic lifts are trained with high volume, forms of complexes, and varied methods (Blocks, hangs, and pauses).
• Absolute strength or maximum effort is still trained just not the main priority yet.
• Hypertrophy is still gained with the mechanical loading and muscle damage of the prescribed main movements.
• Traditional hypertrophy ranges are continued with accessory movements towards the end of the workouts. The movements used are designed to strengthen muscular imbalances, weaknesses, and positions needed for the competition movements.

Absolute Strength Blocks:
• This is the phase that leads up to competition. The focus in 2-4 sets of 1-3 reps at a high intensity. It’s time to get the central nervous system ready for heavy weights.
• The competition lifts are the focus, and they are performed in the way that they will be performed in competition. Specificity is the key!
• There are still aspects of strength building going on, but the focus is the one-repetition maximums.
• Hypertrophy is still a focus with accessory movements designed to strengthen weaknesses.

As you can see, I have taken the two models and combined. The problem is that there isn’t a lot of research to prove which method is best. Of course our athletes are improving at a high rate, so that is the only study that I have to go off of. The research that I have read from Brad Schoenfeld and others seems to support my programming model.

Here’s the thing. If you want to get strong, specificity and neural adaptations are important. They should be used to maximize the muscle size gained from hypertrophy work. They both have their place. When programmed together in a way that both are emphasized, gains can me maximized in a way that plateaus should be rendered abnormal. If you are at a place where training has slowed down, maybe it’s time to get jacked. It worked for Ed Coan and continues to work for the amazing Chinese Weightlifters. It will work for you as well.

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• “Squat Every Day”
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My Newest Obsession, Lentils by Emily Drew Mash

Guys “MashJacked” and “Train Stupid” drop Friday April 21st. Until then check out The “Eat What You Want” E-Book to understand nutrition better. With a built-in Macro Calculator, you will have all the tools necessary to getting your nutrition in check.

Check them out here: ⇒ “Eat What You Want”

My newest obsession
Lentils!

What, yes…lentils. They appear on practically ever “super food” “good for you food” “eat this now” list. So of course, I have bought them and kept them in a pretty glass mason jar with my other dried beans. And they just sat there…for a really long time. Good thing they don’t go bad.

I have been creating new recipes lately and trying to perfect our favorites for a recipe book that I’m working on!! The first Mash Recipe Book to go along with our awesome macro book: Eat What You Want. Because really, we all know, you can work out every day but without proper fuel for these workouts, you are missing a ton of benefits. Food is our fuel. So, I have a list of “super” foods that I am actively incorporating into our diet by way of these recipes. Seriously though, even if I wasn’t doing that, I was tired of looking at these lentils.

Lentils seem to be used most often to create a stew or soup. But, it’s 80 degrees outside today and lentil stew does not sound appetizing. So, I researched and read a lot of recipes…and concluded that I just needed to make something up. I did find a couple delicious sounding recipes for colder weather that I will keep around and try in the fall.

Lentils are very easy to cook. I did a few experiments with just basic cooking and I prefer them with a little “bite” left instead of the softer side. Basically, you just cover them with liquid and simmer for 20-30 minutes, depending on your “bite” preference. Seasoning the water first definitely helps. If you have chicken or vegetable stock on hand, this works even better. They do not require overnight soaking, but I am going to try them that way. Once they are cooked, the possibilities are endless. These will be a new staple for my meal prep. And I haven’t even mentioned about the awesome nutritional value. Lentils have 9 grams of protein per half cup cooked! Also for that serving size, they have 20 carbs with 8 fiber, and negligible fat.

For this week’s lentil recipe, I created lentil bowls, which are kind of like rice bowls, but made with lentils. Here is the recipe:

1 bunch of greens of your choice
1 cup of dry lentils
2 ½ cups of chicken stock
1 lb. turkey sausage
1 zucchini, diced
1 yellow pepper, diced
1 onion chopped
Salt, pepper, Garlic, Thyme

Toppings: use what you like! I used crumbled goat cheese and cherry tomatoes.

1. Place 1 cup of dried (rinsed and drained) lentils in a pot with 2 cups of chicken stock, salt, pepper, and garlic. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Keep watching the lentils and add more chicken stock or water as needed.

2. While the lentils are cooking, brown the turkey sausage in a large pot. When cooked, put into another bowl to rest.

3. In the same pot sauté the onion adding salt, pepper, and garlic, and a little oo if necessary. Add a little water or chicken stock to deglaze the pan and incorporate all the sausage goodness from the bottom of the pot.

4. When onion is almost transparent, add in the diced pepper. Cook for 3-5 minutes and then add the zucchini and thyme. Cook about 3 minutes, just until the zucchini sweats.

5. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables into the same bowl with the sausage, leaving the liquid in the pot. If there is no or little liquid, add about ¼- ½ cup.

6. Place greens into pot and cover. Simmer for about 7 minutes, until just done but not too wilted.

To create a lentil bowl, layer all the ingredients:

Greens, lentils, sausage and veggies, cheese, tomatoes, YUM!

Lentils are even better the next day, so cook extra! They are perfect by themselves for a hearty side and great to sprinkle in your salad or pasta salad.

For more recipes check out my Instagram @emilydrewmash and if you need some direction for your macros, check out our ebook: Eat What You Want and keep an eye out for my recipe e-book coming soon!!

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Check out one of the Eat What You Want Online Teams:

Eat What You Want (Everything Needed to Perfect Your Nutrition)
Eat and Lift What You Want (Get Your Nutrition and Your Workout Perfected)

Check them out here: ⇒ ‘Team Eat and Lift What You Want’

Technique, Technique, Technique by Jacky Bigger, M.S.

We are 7 days away from releasing our two new E-Books “MashJacked: Hypertrophy to Improve all Sports” and “Train Stupid: Philosophy and Programming of Nathan Damron”. You can pick up my Free E-Book “Mash Method” to learn several ways to crush plateaus, and that will get you on the list as well.

==> Free Copy of “The Mash Method”

Technique, Technique, Technique

by Jacky Bigger, M.S. (Give Jacky a follow on Instagram @a.little.bigger for some amazing lifting and insight.)

Learning perfect technique in the Olympic Lifts is something that every lifter is striving to achieve, and will continue to strive for our entire weightlifting careers. Because, well, what even is perfect technique? What works for me, may not work for someone else and vice versa. What one coach teaches, may be completely different from that of another. What is most important is finding the technique and movement patterns that work best for you, being consistent with them and making small changes at a time.

Coming off of my surgery I’ve had to do more technique work than ever before, and let me tell you, it’s frustrating. Very frustrating. I have new mobility in my ankles, which means a new set position, and new tendencies. I began coming forward onto my toes (something that physically I couldn’t do before due to lack of dorsi flexion) and missing everything out front, or chasing the lifts forward. The lifts that I did make felt heavy and awkward. But we finally had a break through this week and let me tell you what I learned from it.

As I mentioned above everyone’s technique will be slightly different. You cannot try to mimic the technique of your teammate, or your favorite weightlifting hero. You need a coach that is flexible with his coaching style and is willing to adjust his views and coaching cues based on you as an individual athlete. For example, this week Coach Don spent a day trying to teach me an entire new pull. It was the typical start with the weight in the center of your foot, push the knees back, sweep the bar in and transfer your weight back into the heels as you come into your power position. Whereas this works for most people, it absolutely did not work for me. The lifts that looked good to him, felt awful to me and the lifts that felt good to me were “wrong” in his eyes. I left the gym frustrated and discouraged. But, Don like any great coach would do, left the gym determined to come up with a better plan.

I got a message from him the next day asking me to put together a series of my old pre-surgery lifts. He said he had an idea, but needed to see something 1st. His plan was, instead of teaching me an entire new pull to accommodate for my new ranges of motion and position, he was going to re-teach me my old pull (which worked fantastic in the past) and make it work with in my current situation. That day at training we focused on re-teaching me what I was doing in the past. Which for me is, starting with the weight on my heels from the beginning and keeping the weight on my heels through the duration of the entire pull, only pushing the knees back a bit, having a more vertical bar path and waiting to sweep the bar in until after it’s passed the knees. He found two cues that worked well for me and repeated them over and over. My lifts felt much better, and I was feeling like my old self again. It was a much more rewarding day than the one before. Aside from everyone’s technique being different, and getting a great coach, I learned a few other things from this situation as well.

Sometimes things are going to start to feel off. Whether you’re coming off an injury, coming back from vacation, or are just having a bad training cycle, it happens to us all. You may develop new tendencies that are hindering your movements, or you may be reverting back to old bad habits. If you’re lucky enough to have a coach’s eye on you every day like we are here at Mash, they should be able to nip that in the bud as soon as they notice. But I know many of you do not have this luxury, so videos are the next best thing. When things are feeling off, go back, look at old videos of yourself when your lifts were feeling great, when you were hitting PR’s and having fun. What were you doing back then that you’re not doing now. Or what have you started doing now that you weren’t doing back then? Compare the videos, find the problem and begin to fix it. Which being up the next big lesson I’ve learned from all of this.

Fix one thing at a time. Trying to fix multiple things at once can be over whelming and usually results in frustration. Pick one piece of your technique that you are going to work on and spend the entire training session focusing on just that one piece. After my day of frustration, trying to learn a new pull I sat down and talked to Coach Travis about it. He told me something brilliant. “Technique is like building a sculpture. You start in one place and slowly chip away at that place until it is perfect, then move onto the next, until eventually, you’ve built a masterpiece.” He’s absolutely right, and that statement blew my mind. Not to mention, if you try and change too many things at once, it’s hard to pin point exactly what change is working for you, and what is not. One thing at a time, and make it perfect. Then move to the next.

You’re constantly going to be maturing and growing as a weightlifter, no matter what level athlete you are. Learning technique is a never-ending process, which is what keeps us coming back to for more. It’s what keeps us in the gym day after day, chasing something that’s unattainable, perfect technique. When you hit your current goals, there are always bigger and better goals to be reached. There’s always more weight that can be lifted. It’s why you get hooked, you become addicted to the barbell, and that’s what makes this sport so great.

Check out one of our seven E-Books:

• “Squat Every Day” (High Frequency Squat Programming)
• “Eat What You Want” (Nutrition, Macros, and a built-in Macro Calculator
• “Squat Every Day 2” (Part 2 of High Frequency Squat Programming)
• “No Weaknesses” (Defeat Muscular Imbalances crush the Recovery Game)
• “Mash Program Sampler” (Athletic Performance, Oly, Powerlifting, and Functional Programming)
• “The Mash Blueprint for Program Design” (Learn all about Programming)
• “Performance Zone” (Defeat all Mental Roadblocks)
• “Train Stupid” and “MashJacked” drop April 21st

Check them out here: ⇒ Mash Elite E-Books

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