The Importance of Sustainability

What kind of relationship do you have with food? Is it healthy or unhealthy? Is it sustainable?

The only good diet is a sustainable one.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), a sustainable diet is “a diet with low environmental impacts that contribute to food and nutrition security and to healthy life for present and future generations.”

Different ways of life

I just spent the last few days in Columbus, Ohio at the Arnold Sports Festival. As you can imagine, there were some of the most elite athletes from multiple disciplines (weightlifting, powerlifting, strongman, CrossFit, bodybuilding) in the same convention center. Close to three years ago, we spent the weekend in Nashville sharing our time between the CrossFit Central Regional and the hospital. My father was supposed to have major heart surgery that weekend, but he wasn’t able to. His blood sugar was too high and the doctor said they couldn’t safely perform the surgery and provide a positive prognosis for his outcome. They sent him home with instructions to get his A1C down and blood sugar under control. Fast forward six months – and he was able to have the surgery. In October, my father celebrated his two-year anniversary of having major heart surgery and still doing well ( with only a few hiccups so far).

These athletes and my father are on opposite sides of the spectrum. The athletes are trying to be as strong and fit as possible, while my father is just trying to maintain some quality of life. Neither are healthy per se. Any professional sport comes with health risks and takes an extreme toll on the body. What they do have in common is that nutrition plays a huge role in their goals.

The Current Crisis

In the United States, we have access to more food in a day than people in other countries might see in a month or even a year. We walk into a gas station and candy bars are staring us in the face, sodas are on the end aisle, and Little Debbie’s snacks scream our name. There is a fast food restaurant on every street corner and a rainbow colored Frappuccino the size of a small dog. Social gatherings and family get-togethers are centered around food! With all of this access, no wonder we are facing an obesity epidemic in this country. And there IS an epidemic.

The National Council on Aging reports that upward of 92% of all older adults are suffering from one chronic illness, and around 77% have at least two. Heart disease and type II diabetes (both of which are often preventable) are at the top of the list of chronic illnesses and are responsible for up to two-thirds of deaths in older adults each year. More shockingly, according to the American Heart Association, childhood obesity has tripled since the 1960s. Now one in three children and adolescents are considered obese. It has become the top health concern among medical professionals. This is crazy! We are doing our children a disservice! What do you think will be the quality of life for our already obese children when they reach senior status? Stop the madness!

Fueling our lives and goals

I will use the analogy of a car. Petroleum is the fuel that we use to run our cars. In order to keep our cars in top working condition, they require quality fuel and maintenance. They also have to be driven regularly in order to keep them running. Now, think about that. Food is our fuel. We need quality food, maintenance, and regular exercise in order to stay in top working condition.

Am I saying don’t enjoy food? NO, that isn’t what I am saying at all. What I AM saying is, on a regular daily basis, put food in your mouth that will support your goals and promote health and well-being. This will look different for everyone. What the professional athlete can and needs to eat to perform at the top of their sport will look much different than what my father needs to eat in order to maintain quality of life.

What you put in your body on a daily basis will have an affect on your performance AND your health. Not taking in enough calories can cause loss of muscle mass, fatigue, moodiness, slower metabolism, and the list goes on. Taking in too many calories can lead to weight gain and ultimately to chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Excess calories often mean excess refined sugars, which are a huge contributor to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other cardiovascular diseases.

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Taking control back

So, how do we reverse the already deteriorating future of our obese youth as well as give quality of life back to our older adults? Here are some ideas I have that might help:

  • Realize where you are on the spectrum – If you are an athlete, you are fueling your body for performance. You can eat quality foods most of the time and indulge every once in a while with no issue. If you are suffering from a chronic illness, those indulgences can be detrimental. You won’t have the same luxuries as the athlete.
  • Be an example – As a parent, our children mimic us. They are watching, and we can teach them so much. Providing our children with quality food is step one. Teaching them about quality food and how to prepare it is step two. Showing them how to exercise self-control when we do indulge is step three. They will carry what we teach them into their adult life.
  • Exercise self-control – When we do indulge, maybe get the “Like It” size at Coldstone rather than the “Gotta Have It”. Put it in a cup rather than a cone. Eat two slices of pizza rather than a whole pizza by yourself. This list can go on.
  • Exercise! – Obviously athletes will exercise. It is part of their sport. I’m talking to my kids and my average adults. Get moving!!!

Practical application

Additionally, here are some steps you can take to keep your food intake in check on a daily basis.

  1. Have a Prep Day – Decide what you want the bulk of your protein to be for the week, pick a starch (rice, sweet potatoes, quinoa), and vegetables. Pick a day and spend a couple of hours pre-cooking the majority of your meals. This will give you go-to meals even on the go and in a time crunch.
  2. Have snacks readily available – Have protein bars for on the go. My favorite kinds of bars are “Oh Yeah! One” bars and “Fit Joy” bars. They have a great macro breakdown. Also, I love rice cakes and peanut butter or an apple/banana and peanut butter.
  3. Track It – Use an application such as MyFitnessPal to track your macros. It helps to know everything you are eating and drinking. A lot of times, we don’t realize how little or how much we are consuming until we track it. Also, if we know we have to track it, we might be less likely to deviate.
  4. Pre Plan – Don’t wait until the end of the night and go back in to track the current day’s food intake. Put everything you plan on eating into your app the night before or the morning of so you can make adjustments as necessary. Waiting until right before you go to bed to only realize you are short 75 carbs doesn’t do you much good.
  5. Research Food Establishments – If you know you are eating out, research the menu of the restaurant and decide what you want to order prior to getting there. This would tie back in with number four by pre-planning. If you know you are going to be eating more carbs when you go out, you can be sure to save enough if you plan properly.
  6. Forgive Yourself – Sometimes if we don’t pre-plan or prepare, we end up overdoing it – and guilt normally follows. With guilt, one bad meal turns into two bad meals and then three. Instead, forgive yourself and move on.
  7. Moderation – The great thing about counting and tracking macros is it is sustainable. Pick high quality, nutrient dense food to eat most of the time, and enjoy your favorite treats now and then. I refer back to numbers three and six when I say that indulging once in a while is ok – and you shouldn’t feel guilty about it.

The only way we are going to turn this around and become a more fit society as a whole is to target our kids. They are the future – and if we don’t teach them how to be healthy and the importance of wellness and exercise, we are doomed as a society. We can create such bright futures for them! Let’s GO!!

About Crystal: Crystal is Travis’ right hand person! She is a USA Weightlifting National Coach and holds her NSCA – Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist certification. She is an RN with a Masters degree in Nurse Education. She also holds multiple other certifications to include CFL2, USATF, Precision Nutrition, and Flex Diet. She is also an international elite ranked powerlifter.

Weightlifting Predictions Leading up to the Olympics with Seb Ostrowicz – The Barbell Life 298

This may be the most exciting few weeks EVER in the sport of weightlifting.

At least that’s what our podcast guest today said. He’s Seb Ostrowicz of Weightlifting House – and he is lovingly known as a true weightlifting nerd. This guy knows more about stats and history than anyone else I know.

So we talk on this podcast about all that’s going on as we lead up to the Olympics, what his predictions are, and all of the wild changes that have happened recently in the rules.

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  • Seb’s thoughts after living with Ilya for a while
  • The new rule system – and how it has introduced new strategies… and new controversies.
  • Coronavirus impact
  • Who are the Americans going to the Olympics?
  • The Mash PAP catching on
  • and more…

New Horizons in Athlete Testing

It’s safe to say that I am coaching some of the strongest young people in America in the areas of Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, throwing, football, and wrestling.

We have:

  • two youth weightlifters who have medaled at the Youth World Championships.
  • multiple American records
  • multiple Pan American Records
  • a powerlifter who has unofficially benched 20 pounds over the IPF teenage world record
  • the fourth best thrower in the country
  • multiple football players with D1 offers
  • and one of the best middle school wrestlers in the entire state.

Here’s the kicker. We are in Lewisville, NC. I bet a bunch of you just said, “Where is that?” …Exactly!

My point is that we are good at getting people strong and powerful. Some coaches would probably get satisfied, finalize their approach, and assume their program was unbeatable. The reason my athletes are so good from year to year is because I would never think like that – no matter how many amazing athletes come through my program. My job is to remain on top so my athletes can realize each of their dreams. That’s why they come to me, and that’s what I intend on delivering.


The latest and greatest methods from Travis Mash as he continues to innovate Mash Mafia programming.

Weightlifting - Powerlifting - Super Total

Garage Gym Warrior - Functional Fitness - Strength and Conditioning


So what’s the next step? My goal is to build the best athlete testing protocols in the world during my tenure at Lenoir-Rhyne University. To do so, one must look at all the options out there and decide which ones are the best. This article is going to show you a few of the ways we intend on testing and tracking our athletes, and I will explain the use of each. I want to be up front and tell all of you that this is in the beginning stages and subject to change. However I will keep you updated on the changes.

Over the next few years, I intend on keeping all of you updated on our findings, and therefore potentially advancing the field as we know it.

The Problem

See, most training programs are designed around the training theory of supercompensation discovered by Nikolai N. Yakovlev in 1959 and the fundamentals of periodization published by Lev Matveyev in 1964. The problem is that our athletes aren’t privileged to the same environment as the Russian athletes of their time. Those athletes had a relatively stress free environment and were taking drugs. Our athletes live in a drug-free world filled with social media and the modern day stressors of 2020. We have to take those stressors into consideration.

In a perfect world, training works just like this:

Selye’s General Adaptation Cycle:

The body starts at baseline with a relatively steady state of equilibrium. Then we introduce a training stimulus to the body, causing fatigue and throwing our body out of equilibrium. Our body responds with the CNS sending a distress signal to the PNS (effectors). The PNS uses the Somatic Nervous System (skeletal muscle) and the Autonomic Nervous System (smooth muscle, cardiac muscle, glands, and adipose tissue) to address the disturbance. If the training volume doesn’t surpass the body’s ability to recover, the athlete will get their body back to baseline and then some (supercompensation). The problem is all of the outside disturbances and stress that compound the fatigue, making it hard to get back to baseline – let alone supercompensation.


Omegawave seeks to help coaches better get a handle on all the stressors an athlete is facing inside and outside of training. Omegawave combines heart rate variability along with brain wave activity to monitor the following aspects of readiness:

  • Muscular System
  • Hormonal or Endocrine System
  • Cardio-Pulmonary System
  • Central Nervous System
  • Energy Supply

Omegawave monitors the body in the following three ways:

  1. Heart rate variability (HRV) is used to assess the state of an athlete’s cardiac and autonomic nervous system.
  2. The differential ECG method is used to assess the state of the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems as well as heart rate at anaerobic threshold.
  3. The Omega method measures the brain’s direct current to assess the state of the central nervous system.

Let’s take a closer look at each. I am only going to give an overview, but I am planning follow up articles for all of the measurement systems I am introducing in this article.


HRV is becoming a pretty common way for strength and conditioning coaches to monitor the readiness of athletes. It’s a great way of measuring an athlete’s functional state, predicting overreaching/overtraining, and managing the training process. Put simply, you can measure athletes day to day to ensure that you are not causing too much fatigue and stress.

HRV can also be used to measure the current state of an athlete’s cardiac system with stress index, fatigue, and the body’s ability to adapt. HRV also shows the current state of an athlete’s autonomic nervous system. This is automatic response of the PNS to stress being received by the CNS. The body uses smooth muscle, cardiac muscle, glands, and sometimes adipose tissue to reach a state of homeostasis. If the body is too beat up, continuing to train will only put it further in the tank.

Differential ECG method

The differential ECG method is used to assess the state of the aerobic and anaerobic systems as well as heart rate at anaerobic threshold. Basically this tells us if the body has the energy stores to carry out a workout with various energy systems. You can be strong but still be tanked in this area. When we see differences in the ECG patterns, we know there are disturbances with the energy and metabolism of the heart.

Since cardiac and skeletal muscle share similar structures and biochemical reactions, training adaptations related to programming and periodization create similar changes in each. This correlation allows Omegawave to analyze specific characteristics of the QRS complex, a combination of three of the graphical deflections seen on a typical ECG, to assess the energy supply state of the cardiovascular and skeletal muscle systems. This is your fuel gauge just like on a car. If you are running on empty, you better pull over and fill up or risk running out of gas.

Omega Method

Finally, the Omega method measures the direct current potential and is used to assess the state of the central nervous system. An optimal voltage is necessary for useful adaptation as a response to training loads. If your DC is running low, your ability to adapt to a stimulus, to follow directions, or to retain information from a coach is drastically minimized. You coordination will be affected – along with quality of movement, efficiency, and motor learning. It basically measures an athlete’s current state of their regulatory mechanism or their CNS, gas exchange system, detoxification system, and hormonal system parameters.

The Omegawave System gives feedback and suggestions of daily best practices. My main goal is to use these measurements as data in combination with other data sources. Then multiple conclusions will be able to be drawn, allowing coaches to develop better plans for their athletes.

Neurotransmitter testing

Before he passed away, Charles Poliquin hypothesized that neurotransmitters could give coaches hints into best practices for individualized programming. I have written many articles about the different types of athletes. I’ve pointed out before how some athletes flourish with programs that include high loads, high frequency, and low volume – while others tend to kill it with high amounts of volume, moderate loads, and moderate frequency. Unless we test athletes, it could take months or years to perfect their programs. However, if Charles was right, we could start out on the most optimal path.

Charles explained that he believed each athlete has a dominant neurotransmitter: either GABA, acetylcholine, dopamine, or serotonin. He also believed that each neurotransmitter correlated with one of the Chinese elements: earth, water, fire, metal, and wood.

  1. Fire with Dopamine
  2. Wood with Acetylcholine
  3. Metal with GABA
  4. Water with Serotonin
  5. Earth was equivalent to a balanced neurotransmitter profile

Dopamine Fire Types: Charles believed that these athletes had incredible nervous systems, allowing them to easily adapt to training modalities and protocols. He believed they needed high volume and high variety for continued adaptation. He seemed to classify their archetype with their neurotransmitter test. If this is true, it will be interesting to see how my system to classify each athlete’s archetype correlates with Charles’s predictions. In the case of the Dopamine Fire, they have an inspiring nature and vibrant personality. On the other hand, they have a tendency to lose their temper.

Acetylcholine Wood Types: These athletes need a bit more frequency and intensity. However, you will want to lower the volume a bit. They still need change, but slight changes every couple of weeks will work best. You have to watch this group, as they might get hurt going too hard. This athlete is a pioneer. They are going to come up with new concepts along with having extravagant plans and goals. They are quick witted and creative.

Metal GABA Types: These types of athlete appears to model Brett Bartholomew’s Mouth Archetype. They are going to do more talking than training. This type of athlete will lean toward drug use to gain an advantage.

Water Serotonin Types: these athletes are free spirits. They aren’t going to love training at all. They might visit the yoga room a couple of times per month, but that will probably be it. They will cheer on the accomplishments of others but quickly get bored by the training process.

Balanced Earth Types: These athletes fit right into one of my plans. I normally start people with a plan straight out of Prilepin’s chart, and then I vary based on performance and feedback. They need a steady balance of intensity, volume, and frequency. These athletes do not like variation to their programs or changes to the environment. Block training with some form of linear periodization should fit them perfectly.

I am definitely intrigued to dig into these a bit deeper. If it’s valid, this could save coaches like me years of trial and error with programming. That has a bigger impact than you can even imagine. If I can dial in an athlete six months to a year sooner than normal, it could increase an athlete’s chances to make an Olympic team substantially. This test could help avoid overtraining and possibly injury. Lastly, it could help a coach gain athlete buy-in at a much faster rate, which is the battle we all fight every day.

Developing Archetypes

Naturally this fits in after the neurotransmitter section. I am a huge fan of Coach Brett Bartholomew and his book Conscious Coaching. I have now read it twice, and I hosted a clinic with a huge section discussing the book. Athlete buy-in is the 2020 buzzword. We all talk about it, and we talk about its importance. However not many people are actually able to get complete athlete buy-in from every individual they coach. Conscious Coaching is all about identifying and classifying the personalities and nature of athletes. The book gives you the tools needed to extract the necessary information to make the classifications, and it gives you suggestions for hacking the code of each athlete.

I am going to work closely with a sport psychologist to develop psychological evaluations that will help me identify the archetype of each athlete, and that will help me develop best-practice coaching strategies. I also hope to arrange periodic sports psych meetings for each of my athletes – both individually and as a team. This is an aspect of training that can be a huge advantage if an athlete isn’t scared to take advantage of the field. In my experience when you are at the tip of the iceberg, the deciding factor will come down to mental toughness. During this last Olympic quad, I observed that the athletes who seem to be clearly head and shoulders above the rest of the pack (like Kate Nye, for example) are mentally the strongest competitors with enormous amounts of confidence and swagger on the platform.

Velocity Based Training

VBT can be so many things to a coach if they happen to understand the concept. The first key to maximizing the potential of VBT is data collection. You need to form baselines for all of your athletes. You will want average velocities at varying percentages of varying movements. For example, I recommend establishing an average velocity at around 80 or 85%. You need a percentage to be your regulatory percentage. If you are excessively slower on any given day, then that is a trigger to alter the program to something like a technique and recovery day. If your peak velocity is 0.3 m/s faster than normal, you might consider pushing things a bit.

Once I have a velocity profile on all of my athletes, the entire program will be velocity-based in nature. This will give me so many advantages. For example, it will keep things logical. Athletes are emotional. They will snatch a weight faster than lightning, and then they will tell me it felt heavy or off. I will be able to show them quantifiable evidence of what’s really going on. VBT will also keep athletes from going heavy on days where they have nothing to gain and everything to lose.


Mash Elite's Guide to Velocity-Based Training

By measuring bar speed (simple to do with your smartphone), you can guarantee each and every training session is as effective and safe as possible.

I am most interested in comparing the notes of VBT with Omegawave. If Omegawave’s feedback is telling me that an athlete is overtrained, I am curious what the velocity will tell me. I hope of course that everything is synchronized. Combining the two will tell me all the truths. For example, one athlete could have a tanked energy supply but still be able to pull on some heavy snatches. There might not be any glycogen available for a three-hour grind session, but the CP system can deliver some 90% singles during a short-duration but high-load session.

Velocity Based Training combined with Omegawave will help me perfect the exact amount of prescribed volume to elicit just enough stress to fatigue the system without destroying it. I hope I am getting that point across to all of you. If not, let me be super clear:

“It all comes down to perfecting volume, intensity, and frequency prescriptions, so that they fatigue the system eliciting a response from the body to maintain homeostasis, and therefore with the help of the autonomic nervous system adapt to a state stronger than the original baseline.”

The key is data. Omegawave and VBT are great ways to dial in athletes. I am hoping the neurotransmitter testing will help expedite that process even more. Of course, I will track all the markers of my programming – like total volume, average intensity, K-value, and hopefully a lot more that Dr. Koch and Dr. Leiting help me develop. I will share everything with all of you when we finish that process.

Data is important because it holds all the answers. If an athlete wins a gold medal at the World Championships going six for six, you are going to want to look hard at the data markers. You are probably going to keep similar markers for the next plan. However, if things don’t go as planned, you can look at what not to repeat.

We are going to have each of our athletes fill out daily questionnaires so that we can track external stressors (like big tests, struggling in class, break ups, and more). This will help us to know when to trim the volume of our own programs. Remember, stress is stress. If they are getting hit with stress in class, you have to respond.

One other data point I am looking into is genetic testing. I talked to Charles Lehman over the weekend from Health Codes DNA – and there was a lot of promising information. I just need to research them and the entire process a bit more. However, if what they told me is true, I will be able to pinpoint nutrition, recovery, programming, and so much more. I can’t wait to share that one with all of you if it’s as good as I think. The testing is also supposed to tell each athlete what foods to avoid as well.

There are still some testing parameters I am looking into like:

  • Jump Mat
  • Force Plate
  • Muscle Biopsy for Fiber Type (of course I will do this through my friend Dr. Andy Galpin, and I will get the best practices for each fiber type.)
  • Bar Path (I already use this parameter of testing, but I am looking for better software solutions.)
  • Sleep Quality
  • Gut Health

We are here for you during this Coronavirus crisis.

Let us help with customized programming and coaching when you have limited access to gym equipment.

If you are financially able to join our online team for customized programming at this time, we would appreciate your support.

If you are financially struggling during this time, we still want to help. Email us and we will try to help out in any way we can.

* Fully Customized Programming

* Unlimited Technique Analysis

* The Best Coaching in the World

I know some of you probably think I am crazy, but my goal on this earth is to create a program in the sport of weightlifting that is unmatched anywhere in the world. I want my athletes to have every legal advantage under the sun. I also want to provide the world with research and data that will help to improve the overall state of exercise science. I want to leave it better than I found it. At the end of it all, I want to be able to deliver testing options for a variety of budgets and goals.

I am still in the early phases, so I would love to hear from all of you. If I am leaving out a testing parameter, please comment or email me. I want my time spent on getting my PhD to be useful to our entire industry. I want young coaches to avoid the mistakes I made. I want coaches to be so useful and sought after that they can make comfortable livings helping others and loving what they do.

Coaching Groups and Avoiding Injury with Paul Oneid – The Barbell Life 297

Paul Oneid has had a long and varied career as a powerlifter, D1 strength coach, and now a functional rehab specialist.

So we had a ton to talk about on this podcast!

We got into how he’s pursuing a healthy lifestyle as a powerlifter. But we talked a great deal about Paul’s coaching approach and how he deals with the issues that come with large groups.

And as a functional rehab specialist, Paul had a lot to share about mobility, core stability, and avoiding injury.

Protocols for Aches and Pains, Muscular Imbalances & Recovery

Work Harder. Train Longer. Prevent Injury.

Prevent injury, reduce pain and maintain joint health with Travis's specific corrections for your individual muscular imbalances.


  • Using “body shops” with his athletes to work on individual weaknesses in the context of large group training
  • 700 burpees for missing lifts… and getting buy-in
  • The unhealthy lifestyle of powerlifting – and how to improve
  • Different coaching for Canadian football versus American football
  • Business lessons that led him to opening multiple businesses
  • and more…

Testing Athletes – 1RM, 3RM, or Something Else?

Coach Joe Kenn recently made a post for Dynamic Fitness and Strength regarding testing progress with 1RM (one repetition maximums) versus multi-repetition maximum (3RMs or 5RMs).

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Today’s 60 Second Strength Coach comes from South Bend, IN home of the Fighting Irish ☘️ Tonight’s topic is risk as it pertains to the 1 RM versus Multiple RM and the issue of safety. Any time you perform maximal attempts in the weight room there is a risk of injury. Some believe a multiple rep max is safer than a one rep max. I disagree and it’s simple mathematics 🧮 As you listen to my justification, I also want you to then add in the prep sets and max attempts, total tonnage and reps. You will see that the multiple rep max places more opportunities via volume to put the athlete in harms way as well as the increase in tonnage. Example 1 – Squat 1RM Goal 500 Prep X8 – 30% of Attempt 1 X5 – 50% of Attempt 1 X3 – 65% of Attempt 1 X2 – 80% of Attempt 1 X1 – 90% of Attempt 1 Attempt 1 90% of 1RM = 450×1 Attempt 2 95% of 1RM = 475×1 Attempt 3 100% of 1RM = 500×1 Injury Opportunities = 3 Total Load = 1425 pounds Example 2 – Squat 5RM Goal 400 Same Prep Work Attempt 1 90% of 1RM = 360×5 Attempt 2 95% of 5RM = 380×5 Attempt 3 100% of 5RM = 400×5 Injury Opportunities = 15 Total Load = 5700 pounds #wordswin #60secondstrengthcoach #maximaleffort #1rm #max #education #learning #strengthtraining #strengthandconditioning #sportsperformance #athleticperformance #physicalfitness #physicaleducation #athleticdevelopment #dynamicfitnessandstrength

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He made a great point I totally agree with. Coaches use multi-repetition maximums, and they defend their choice by saying it is safer. I have never understood that train of thought. Let me tell you why.

Reason #1

It’s really not much lighter. Most people can triple between 90% and 93% of their 1RM. Suppose an athlete has a 1RM of 200 kilograms (or 440 pounds). Are you telling me that 182 kilograms (400 pounds) for 3 reps is safer? (That’s 91%.) I can’t understand that reasoning.

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Let us help with customized programming and coaching when you have limited access to gym equipment.

If you are financially able to join our online team for customized programming at this time, we would appreciate your support.

If you are financially struggling during this time, we still want to help. Email us and we will try to help out in any way we can.

* Fully Customized Programming

* Unlimited Technique Analysis

* The Best Coaching in the World

Reason #2

Total load is much higher. Here’s the point that Coach Joe Kenn made:

“You will see that the multiple rep max places more opportunities via volume to put the athlete in harms way as well as the increase in tonnage.”

Example 1: Squat 1RM – Goal 500 Pounds

  • 8 reps – 30% of Attempt 1
  • 5 reps – 50% of Attempt 1
  • 3 reps – 65% of Attempt 1
  • 2 reps – 80% of Attempt 1
  • 1 rep – 90% of Attempt 1

Attempt 1:

    90% of 1RM = 450 pounds x 1

Attempt 2:

    95% of 1RM = 475 pounds x 1

Attempt 3:

    100% of 1RM = 500 pounds x 1

Injury Opportunities = 3
Total Load = 1425 pounds

Example 2: Squat 5RM – Goal 400 Pounds
Same Prep Work

Attempt 1:

    90% of 1RM = 360 pounds x 5

Attempt 2:

    95% of 5RM = 380 pounds x 5

Attempt 3:

    100% of 5RM = 400 pounds x 5

Injury Opportunities = 15
Total Load = 5700 pounds

Reason #3

The last rep gets dodgy. We all know when we are going for that 3RM or 5RM, those last few repetitions are shaky at best. Coaches need to understans it’s not really the load that’s the risk. The risk lies in the bar motor patterns – especially at a collegiate level or strength and conditioning level.

Dr. Stuart McGill will tell you there is a biological tipping point. That means that there will come a time for strength athletes as they’re handling massive weights when will eventually reach a tipping point even with perfect form. However we are talking about athletes who aren’t professional strength athletes. They are nowhere near a biological tipping point. Therefore, the biggest risk lies in the quality of movement pattern.

A Better Way

However there is one way to monitor progress without considering load. If you want to minimize risk of injury while still monitoring progress with your athletes, I strongly recommend using velocity-based training. You can choose a percentage of maximum that you consider being safe for one repetition. I like using 88% because it’s still perceived as a heavy weight by the central nervous system.

On week one, establish a velocity. Let’s you squat 88% of your 1RM at 0.5 m/s at the start of a cycle. At the end of a cycle, if you are squatting that same weight at 0.65 m/s you have made a great improvement – and you didn’t have to add once ounce to the bar. If strength coaches want to be safe with their testing, this would be the safest way that I can think of.


Mash Elite's Guide to Velocity-Based Training

By measuring bar speed (simple to do with your smartphone), you can guarantee each and every training session is as effective and safe as possible.

However, velocity doesn’t tell the entire tale. I prefer testing the 1RM with a 9.5 RPE or a 0.3 m/s velocity to get an idea of fiber recruitment and hypertrophy in all three major joints (hips, knees, and back). I would use velocity for in-season training as a way of keeping the focus on speed, efficient movement patterns, and mainly on their sport. Offseason though, I am going to focus the testing on a 1RM done at a 9.5 RPE or 0.3 m/s.

In case you don’t know, a 9.5 rate of perceived exertion is a weight that you couldn’t do any more repetitions with, but you could possibly add more weight. I would call this stopping one set before failure is even a possibility. Some coaches who are a bit more cautious might stop at 9 RPE, which is a weight that you could have done for one more repetition. Pairing RPE with velocity is the safest and the most objective way to monitor progress carefully.

I hope this article gives you some new ideas regarding testing your athletes. There isn’t a perfect way to test anyone where there is zero risk. People have gotten hurt picking up a basket of clothes. It probably wasn’t the basket that hurt them, but rather their day-to-day movement patterns that messed them up. With athletes, they might get hurt with 40% of a 1RM if they have somehow compromised their bodies playing their sport without knowing. An injury like that was going to surface regardless. All we can do as strength coaches is to be as safe as possible with our protocols, teach exact and deliberate movement patterns, and constantly observe our athletes performing those movements.

Falling in Love with the Super Total with Sarah Johnson – The Barbell Life 296

Sarah Johnson is breaking all the molds.

She was a football player all throughout middle school and high school, she competed as a college thrower, she’s a talented coach, she learned a ton working under my chiropractor…

And now she’s fallen in love with Super Total training. In fact, adding in some powerlifting to her weightlifting has helped her with her nagging back injuries due to hypermobility.


The latest and greatest methods from Travis Mash as he continues to innovate Mash Mafia programming.

Weightlifting - Powerlifting - Super Total

Garage Gym Warrior - Functional Fitness - Strength and Conditioning


  • Training to be a firefighter
  • Hypermobility and injury – and how powerlifting HELPED her back rehab
  • “It’s the BRAIN”
  • The beauty (and fun) of the Super Total
  • Being a female football player in high school
  • and more…
Early Bird Discount Ends Soon: CLINIC SUPER SERIES