Category Archives for "Athletic Performance"

Lessons From a Coach II

This weekend I took a team of Mash Mafia Weightlifting Team Members to the MIA Classic in Miami, FL. First I want to say that I had one of the best weekends ever hanging with my amazing team. I also want to say that we will never miss this meet because it was simply an amazing experience with great lifters, great venue, and even better people. Danny Lopez-Calleja is a great meet promoter, and now an even better friend. My athletes came away with two golds, one silver, two bronze medals, several meet PRs, and three lifetime PRs which is as close to perfect as you are going to get. I learn so many things at every meet that I coach in, and this one was no exception.

Hanging out with my team this weekend, I realized that I am blessed to train some amazing athletes. Everyone that I work with has the dream of being the best athlete and person that they can possibly become. Talking with my two Canadian Freaks, Adee and Hayden, they explained to me that the atmosphere of training in a facility where everyone wants to be the best is one of the most priceless benefits of training with Mash Mafia. I don’t even know how it all happened, but I am so thankful to have a team like this.

My Weightlifters, Powerlifters, Athletic Performance Athletes, and my awesome adult athletes all have that same drive and passion. We also have a unique culture where everyone fits and has their place. We love each other even though we might pick a little. We are all in the trenches together trying to be the best and supporting each other in their quest. It’s a very unique situation that I am so thankful that God has given me this to Sheppard. I want to see all of them succeed, and the cool thing is that they know that.

One of the best things that I learned from Glenn Pendlay is to carry a small journal to all meets. In it, I keep a spot for each lifter with their warm ups, game plan, meet PRs, lifetime PRs, numbers they might need to qualify, and whatever else I need. I also keep notes on each athlete because I am so focused on them that it’s the best time to evaluate strengths and weaknesses. I had several of my online teammates at the MIA Classic which was an invaluable time to coach, correct, and plan for future. Coaching Scott Wickline was a true honor because it was his first one. I was able to help make it a positive experience. He posted a great total and took Bronze in only five months of training.

I also coached my friend, Mike Bledsoe. Most of you know him as the host of Barbell Shrugged which were all in town for the meet. Mike wasn’t planning on doing the meet, but fate had a different idea. After we recorded the best podcast of my life, we were talking I basically convinced Mike to get back on the platform. I turned out to be a great idea because he tied his lifetime meet PR, took Bronze, and got back on the horse after a long lay off from competition. Be one the outlook for one of the greatest podcasts of all-time on!

Meets are also a great time to meet other coaches and athletes. Two of the coaches were National Coaches from Cuba which we all know to be an unbelievable program. These coaches had not only coached great athletes, but they had also competed against some of the most historical athletes of all-time like Naim Suleymanoglu, three time Olympic Gold Medalist. It’s so exciting to swap training ideas with these legends of the game invaluable for the melting pot as Jon North would say. Meets are also a great time to meet other people in the industry that are doing great things. Charlie and Danny from Caffeine and Kilos were onsite repping their amazing lifestyle brand which Mash Mafia 100% backs. I also saw my buddies Morgan King, two-time Olympian Kendrick Farris, and several others.

I also learned to prepare a little better for any and all meet conditions. Miami is a little more humid than my team is used to. I should have been a little more prepared with glycogen sparing and electrolyte replacing drinks. It wasn’t a real problem, but it would have helped. Progenex being onsite really helped with any and all of our nutrition needs. Great company!!!! Their Florida rep Kristian Anderson is knowledgeable, hospitable, and a funny dude.

Lessons Learned:

• Recruit athletes that are like-minded! Don’t add mediocrity to greatness!
• Create a Synergistic Culture! This is critical to the success of any training facility!
• Carry a Competition Journal! Use it to track openers, warm ups, goals, and to keep notes.
• Use the time to network, learn, and make new friends!
• Be prepared for any and all conditions

If you are a coach in any sport, use the competition to learn making the whole team and all of its athletes better. I recommend using the time to also get to know your team better. I used my time to love on my team, get to know them, and to understand their personal goals better. For seminar information, go to! I’ll be in Rhode Island this weekend for a Learn 2 Lift Seminar. To Join the Mash Mafia Online Team, go to

Barbell Shrugging It to Miami!!!


Our New Wrist Wraps are Here! Check them out here,!!!!

I’m with my team on the way to the M.I.A. Classic in Miami, FL. We are listening to the Mark Bell episode of the best podcast in America, Barbell Shrugged. It’s absolutely hilarious. Having hung out with these guys several times, it’s like listening to your buddies having a great time. It’s a great way to travel because my whole team is getting a ton of knowledge bombs, so the trip is much more productive.

We have five of our onsite team members competing this weekend in Miami. We are coming off the big Youth Nationals weekend, so it’s like June is the competition month for us. We also have a lot of our online teammates coming to the MIA Classic. I am super excited to coach them in person. I also want to involve them in the family, and get a chance to love on these guys and gals. That is the reason that I do what I do. I want to positively affect as many lives as possible before I die, and that is a big goal that I have for this weekend.

Last weekend at the Youth Nationals, I had the most fun of my coaching career. I watched a team of two with no medals grow to a team of six and five medals in a year’s time. I watched young ones rise to the occasion and medal even though they panicked for the last two months of training. I watched athletes let the pressure get the best of them and still medal. I watched one athlete persevere through injury, have the meet of his life, and almost medal even though he hadn’t trained the last three weeks leading up to the event. One athlete opened with 17 kilos more than they finished with the year before, and ended with a 25 kilo PR from the year before. I watched one battle for a National Championship, but end up with all silvers. One didn’t make it due to injury, but we learned a lot about what he needs in training.

Dylan, Dylan, Hayden, Emily, Matt, and Alex, I am proud of you all. We learned so much as a team about not only weightlifting, but we learned about life. Perseverance, patience, confidence, self-control, mental toughness, and overcoming obstacles were all points addressed. I learned a lot too! No doubt! As a coach, if you don’t care about the mental and spiritual side of your athletes, then consider doing something else.

Spending so much time with my team has caused me to think a lot about the future. I have had so much fun with spending time with my athletes that I was reminded about what I am called to do. I am called to love my athletes, and by living out Col. 3:17 Glorify God. My goal in the next year is to start a non-profit (Open Doors) that will allow kids that normally wouldn’t have the chance access to our athletic performance, weightlifting, and powerlifting programs. We also want to use it as an umbrella for our Lift 4 Lisa “Kill Cancer” Foundation. That along with being the best coach in the world for my online team, athletic performance kids, and my weightlifting/powerlifting teams. We are also going to grow our adult programs, so that our entire Mash Family is taken care of.

I am going to concentrate on perfecting what I already have before taking on other ventures. My athletes and members deserve that from me. That deserve for me to be fully in the game providing them with the best programming and coaching in the world to help them reach whatever goal that they might have. All coaches should have the same goal. Your athletes and members trust you! That alone is worthy of your best.

This weekend I am excited to see all of my friends. The Barbell Shrugged Crew, Caffeine and Kilos, Virus, Broken Chains, CrossFit Soul, Progenex, and my online team will all be there. Yes, I am going to have fun with my friends, but I have so much more planned. I am going to use this time to learn from my brilliant friends about new ways to make people strong and all around better. I am going to learn new ways to make my business better, and hopefully I am going to meet new people that I will call friend. I will also introduce my team to all of the people I know, and with that spread the Barbell Life Community.

To learn more about my Learn 2 Lift Seminars, go to To check out my Online Coaching and Online Team, go to

See you in Miami!!!!

Lessons From a Coach

The last year has really been a roller coaster, and I have had a lot of great things happen at the Mash Mafia Compound. Tonight I want to give all the younger coaches some insight, suggestions, and warnings. I want to leave this world having made this industry a little better than I found it. To do this I want to make the young coaches better than I will ever be. That way I can assure Baby Mash has the greatest coaches on earth.

Here is a little insight for all of you up and coming coaches out there. This is for you Athletic Performance, Weightlifting, and Powerlifting coaches seeking to be the best coaches in America. My goal has always been to be the best coach in America. To accomplish this mission, I have researched, studied, met coaches, and made friends with the best in the business. I suggest you have the same goal, to be the best. To do this you should never be satisfied with the amount of knowledge that you have. The second you think that you know everything, I suggest looking for a new career or retiring.

Get in the trenches! Never stop your journey under the bar! Dave Tate and Jim Wendler are both friends of mine, and both of them gave me this bit of advice. Staying in the trenches and leading from the front, allows you to take a General Patton approach. Athletes follow people that can still perform the movements that they teach. It’s just human nature. When I worked with Louie Simmons, I listened to every word that he said because I still respected him as an athlete as well. It’s just human nature! It’s just hard to take advice from out of shape broken down people.

Love your athletes! This and this alone will cause you to go to any lengths. If my athlete wants to play Division I sports, then I am going to go out of my way to bring them the best program possible. You will also want the best for them. You will prepare them emotionally, physically, and more importantly spiritually. I want all of my athletes to be prepared for their future, and I want them to know what true joy is all about. I want them to know about purpose.

Here is a big one that I want you all to listen to. If there are athletes in your facility with conflicts, have them work things out immediately. Rumors, gossip, and silent anger can kill a facility. A coach’s job is to lead their team. That doesn’t mean just during the few hours a day that you train them. It means all the time, and in all areas of life. If you don’t have the time to do this, find a new career. Dave Tate also told me that if there was someone that was a cancer and wouldn’t buy in, to let them go swiftly and quickly. This is truth.


1. Desire to be the best and never stop striving!
2. Stay under the bar!
3. Love your athletes!
4. Keep the atmosphere perfect!

My Workout Today

Power Snatch 110×1
Power Clean 130 x 1
Behind Neck Jerks 143k

I took today as a deload. I am going to hit it hard tomorrow. Traveling this past weekend took a lot out of me, so I used this workout to get the rust off. Still pumped for the Bar Slamming Festival!

Join the Online Team at:!

I’ll be in Boston at the end of this month with the Learn 2 Lift Series! Go to

Supplements: Stick to the Basics

Supplements: Stick to the Basics
By Gunnar Anderson

When you walk into any nutrition store and you aren’t exactly sure what you’re looking for or what you need, chances are they’ll try their best to sell you on everything they can. This sales tactic applies to almost everything, but supplement stores can be particularly bad. When you go to one of these stores, stick to your guns and don’t get sold. Just remember to stick to the basics.

I worked in a supplement store for around a year in college. Just to be clear, I have no bitter feelings towards the store and I’m not writing the article to spite them. I left only because I wanted to find a job closer to something I would be doing after school. If there was one thing I learned while working there it was that supplements are not essential.

I tread carefully when I say that. There are things in supplements that are absolutely essential for building muscle and gaining strength. The trick is that they can be found in foods. A strict diet with well planned and prepared meals can be much more effective than a so-so diet with a supplement regiment. Things like protein, creatine, essential fatty acids, omega 3’s, and a whole lot of others can be found in a healthy diet. Obviously it will be harder to get the same amount as you would from supplements, but it can still be done.

In the 1970’s when Arnold was at the top of his game there were far less supplements on the market. Steroids were rampant, but that’s another story. In the glory days of bodybuilding, things like pre-workouts, intra-workouts, post workouts, nighttime recovery, etc. didn’t exist. Protein powder and a few other things were all they had.

Most adults walk into a supplement store and laugh at the so-called “studies” in which the colorful containers say their products were tested. Teenagers have a different reaction. Teenagers who have just started to show results from lifting weights are the worst to buy supplements. They will spend all of their parents’ money on something that says they will gain an inch in their arms. The truth is that they probably will gain about that, but not from the supplements. Their young bodies will naturally grow when a training program begins with or without supplements.

The biggest mistake people make, young people in particular, is that they rely on supplements entirely for their results. The definition on of the word supplement is “something added to complete a thing, supply a deficiency, or reinforce or extend a whole.” Supplements are meant to used with a balanced, healthy diet as well as an intense workout plan. The combination of all three is what shows results, not simply taking down as many pills and powders as you can.

Earlier I made it sound like I was saying to avoid supplement stores at all costs. That is not the case. There are many times in shopping when avoiding brand name items will save you some money and get an equal product. This is not the case with supplements. Going to places like Wal-Mart and buying the Five Star protein blend is not the best idea. Sure it is cheap, but the quality is really poor. If the container says it has thirty grams of protein, count on about fifteen. The rest is fillers like sugars and other unwanted ingredients. If you are going to be putting something in your body for an extended period and the goal is to make your body healthier, put in the best ingredients.

Nutrition and supplement stores are the best place to buy these things. The prices can be ridiculous and the sales tactics can be overwhelming, but ultimately if you are going to buy supplements they are the place to go. As long as you do your research and know what you’re going in to buy, you’ll be fine. Remember that what they are selling is helpful, but by no means essential.

The One Pec Wonder by Gunnar Anderson

Below is a blog written by one of my first young athletes, Gunnar Anderson. He is interning with me this summer, and one of his duties is writing for my blog. I know that you all will learn to love this young man like I do.

The One Pec Wonder
By Gunnar Anderson

Everyone is born with limitations. They could be mental, it could be physical, but no one is perfect. I was fortunate to have a minor physical flaw: I was born missing one of my pectoral muscles.
Whenever you think of the chest, two muscles probably come to mind. But the chest is split in to four sections: there are two pec majors, and two pec minors. The pec minors start just below the collarbone and go down about two or three inches. The pec majors sit just beneath them and are what most people recognize when looking at the chest muscles. I was born without my right pec major.

In the grand scheme of things, it is a tiny defect; but, as you can imagine, it is an annoyance. I was very young when my parents first noticed it. When we went to the doctor to see what was wrong he told us that it was nothing to worry about and posed no threat. Jokingly, he added that I’d probably never be a bodybuilder.

​When I was in elementary school it was barely noticeable. Even when I got into high school, you still had to look carefully to see that it was actually missing. When I was a freshman I joined the wrestling team. I wrestled at 135 pounds for quite a while. I was around 5’9” and gangly. Wrestling in such a low weight class kept me from putting on muscle mass and made me incredibly lean.
It wasn’t until I hit a growth spurt in my sophomore year that I began to gain weight. I moved up to the 145 pound weight classes, but I stayed lean. Unfortunately I was injured during my sophomore year and had to quit wrestling.

​At this point I began weight training with Travis Mash. It started as injury prevention training to ensure I didn’t hurt my shoulder again, but he thought that I had potential and took me on as one of his first young athletes. As Travis and I worked together to improve my strength, my physique began to change dramatically. As I gained muscle mass, the missing pec became more and more noticeable.

​In high school weight lifting classes, I had pretty much written off bench press and most other chest exercises as impossible feats for someone with only one full pectoral muscle. Travis quickly showed me I was wrong. He figured out that if I gripped the bar closer to the middle, my triceps and shoulders would compensate for the missing muscle. In no more than two weeks my bench press went from 135 pounds to well over 200 pounds. He focused our chest training around resistance bands and other unique training methods to account for my muscle structure. Eventually Travis got my bench press up to 295 pounds.

When I got into college, my goals shifted from strength to size. I graduated from high school at 175 pounds. By the end of my freshman year, I was just over 200 pounds (my parents blamed the “freshman fifteen”). As I put on muscle mass, my right pec minor became over developed due to the extra work it had to do to keep up. I focused on incline work such as incline dumbbell press, incline cable flys, etc. Working the upper portion of my chest allowed the lower portion grow at a slower pace, which for me was ideal for me. After my junior year of college I weighed almost 240 pounds(with a lot of muscle and a little fluff).

As I am almost ready to step into the working world, being big is no longer a priority; however I will always try to stay in shape. Although I never competed in bodybuilding, I worked as hard at it as those on stage. My missing pec would have taken away from my score, and I just didn’t have the desire to compete. I have accomplished all that I want to as far as strength gains and muscle mass. When I was at my strongest, my bench press was 345 pounds, which was more than I ever expected to do. Today due to hard work and determination I am blessed with a physique I never thought I’d have.

Barbell Life: Doing Life Together!

A few months ago several of my boys set me down, and presented me with the idea of a podcast called Barbell Life. The presentation included a tag line of: Fitness, Faith, Family, and F-ilosophy. My athletes at our training center get to hear my stories about life, views on family, and my journey of faith. All together it becomes my own F-ilosophy, and we wanted to let you all know how my athletes have been affected by their own life experiences.
The most important part is to be an open book. I want to share my mistakes as well as successes because if there are people out there that are going through some of the same things, I want them to know that they are not alone. My life is full of mistakes, but with the help of Christ, friends and family, I have been able to overcome. I wish someone had shared with me when I was younger. There were so many times that I felt all alone in my misery, but I wasn’t.
Our community at the Mash Mafia Compound is unique. We love each other like family. We win together, and we lose together. I want you all to be a part of that. I want the same love to be felt though out the world. Our team wants you all to be a part of us, and we want to be a part of you. I don’t know if all of that is possible, but we are going to try. I will be an open book for you all to learn from. If I can help prevent any of you from making some of the mistakes that I have made, then those same mistakes become a good thing. This is my so called F-ilosophy.
We will also be talking about all things strength: weightlifting, CrossFit, powerlifting, athletic performance, strongman, and all things barbell. We don’t want to leave any stone unturned. Hopefully you guys will be able to learn a lot of good information that you can take back to your own training or coaching. We want to talk about topics that appeal to you all. If there is a topic that you want discussed, email us at or on twitter @TheBarbellLife.
This podcast was created to help you all better your life. My goal is to help you get stronger, coach better, and live better. If I can take my mistakes and help you, then those mistakes become wins. If my pain can be your joy, then my journey through life becomes a conquest. I believe in using all things bad and good for God’s glory(Col. 3:17). Listen in at:
I am excited to go on this new journey together. When my life was falling apart in 2006, I wish that I had trusted my friends, family, and Christ with my pain. If I had shared with others, the pain would have been so much easier to live with. I want you all to know that you are not alone. We will do this thing together!

If you want to learn from me, meet me, and hang out, I will be in Eagan, MN at Undisputed Strength & Conditioning May 31st for a Meet & Greet. I will be at Gaglione Strength for a Level II Learn 2 Lift June 7th in Long Island, NY. Go to to learn more!

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