Category Archives for "Barbell Life"

Westside Barbell Helps Out with CrossFit Athlete

I am excited to announce that in a couple of weeks we will be launching our new e-book “Westside for Weightlifting”. This will be my take on the applicability of the Westside System for Weightlifting. Until then, you can check out the “Mash Method” E-Book for Free at:

==> www.mashelite.com/mashmethod/
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Westside Barbell Helps Out with CrossFit Athlete

Yesterday I posted a video on Instagram of Kristi Eramo working on her weaknesses at Westside Barbell. They had her lifting stones while connected to the belt squat machine and with a weighted vest on. They were increasing her work capacity while working on the posterior chain with an emphasis on hip extension. This was definitely cool, but it wasn’t the coolest aspect of the overall picture.

The truth is that Spencer Arnold’s Power and Grace Team coach her, and he is totally cool with her working with Westside Barbell on her weaknesses. Of course he is. He wants what’s best for his athletes. He told me a long time ago when Westside was first starting to work with Kristi. I already knew that Spencer has a thirst for knowledge. It was just exciting to see a strength and conditioning coach that was molded in the dogmatic weightlifting world break through those barriers. I think that we can all learn from Spencer and his Power and Grace Team.

I think that we all have so much to learn from all the different genres of strength. As coaches we have a duty to put our personal preferences aside. Our athletes have trusted us to help them reach their goals, and any close-minded views are in direct conflict with those duties. Westside has helped athletes in CrossFit, Grid, NFL, NBA, Track and Field, MMA, Rugby, and of course Powerlifting to name a few. Some of the most brilliant strength and conditioning coaches that I have ever met use aspects from the Westside System. Guys like Coach Joe Kenn, Ryan Horn, Mark Watts, and JL Holdsworth use aspects of Westside.

Also can we get past the bands and chains? People act like Westside is nothing but bands and chains. It is so much more than just bands and chains. You can read all of my other articles about Westside to grasp their many methods. I believe that people get so hung up on bands and chains that they won’t take the time to look at their other methods like:

• Max Effort Method
• Repetition Method
• Destroying Weaknesses and Imbalances with Special Exercises
• GPP
• SPP
• Rate of Force Development

This isn’t just another article encouraging all of you to open your minds to Westside. This article is to encourage all of you to open your minds to the many disciplines out there like:

• Strongman
• Powerlifting
• Weightlifting
• Highland Games
• CrossFit
• Bodybuilding

Guys we can learn from each other. If a coach or gym is constantly producing champions each and every year, then all of us should try to learn from that coach. It’s that simple. Kevin Simons and Ray Jones have each produced a youth weightlifter that is killing it on the International scene. Each of their athletes has set world records on the big stage. It’s probably a good idea to reach out to them and ask them what the heck they are doing. Both coaches have been producing top ranked athletes for some time now, so I bet that each of them have lots to teach all of us.

I am proud of my friend Spencer Arnold. He has crossed those lines. He is already reaping the rewards as his athlete Kristi rolled through the CrossFit Regionals Central Division earning second and a ticket to the CrossFit Games. Power and Grace Performance are blessed to have a leader like Spencer as are his athletes.

As coaches our jobs are to put our egos aside and to do what’s best for our athletes. With my local strength and conditioning athletes, I always employ the assistance of William Bradley with some of his expert speed work. That’s his focus, so he is the expert. He gets fantastic results, so of course I want him to work with my athletes.

Look guys and gals if someone out there is better than you at nutrition, mobility, weightlifting, work capacity, special exercises, or absolute strength, then go learn from them. Also don’t be afraid to let them help you and your athletes. It’s not about you as the coach. It’s always about the athlete, and that’s it. This is a tough concept for ego driven coaches. However it’s a natural concept for coaches that want to win and that care about their athletes.

When you read information, you definitely want to look through the lens of science. There are some basic concepts that must line up. However don’t use science to base an argument when all you have done is twist science to make your case. The truth is that there isn’t a lot of research in the strength and conditioning field. Dr. Andy Galpin is the first to tell you that bit of truth. We just have to use what we know, and then look at the results from others. If things line up, you should try it out.

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The Connection Between Obesity and Mental Health

Check out one of our Ten 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)
• “Mash Program Sampler 2 (8 More 12-week Programs)
• “The Mash Blueprint for Program Design” (Learn all about Programming)
• “Performance Zone” (Defeat all Mental Roadblocks)
• “Train Stupid”(Programming and Philosophy of Nathan Damron)
• “MashJacked” (Hypertrophy for Performance and Aesthetics)

Check them out here: ⇒ Mash Elite E-Books

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The Connection Between Obesity and Mental Health

At the end of June I wrote an article about exercise and ADHD (if you haven’t checked that out or shared with friends and family feel free to do so here). I’d like to pick up where I left off in the article by discussing where we as coaches, athletes, and communities are headed.

During my first semester graduate school for Clinical Mental Health I made it a point where I needed to make sure my nutrition was at its best, I was training for a half marathon. That semester, and the rest of the year, I watched as my peers succumbed to the pressures and stress that graduate school elicits. However, I was unphased and was able to perform better than I ever had before academically. I then realized if my mental health, nutrition and fitness were all optimal then my ability to maintain resiliency to stress would be maximized (which is now backed by data in John J. Ratey’s books SPARK and Go Wild). From this I concluded that to truly have a holistic life and to encourage my clients to be as healthy as possible I must also operate from this position.

That was in the beginning of 2011, since then I have been working as fast as I can to stay ahead of the curve. I’ll be sharing my predictions of where I see fitness and mental health heading; for the record I had the honor of speaking with Chris Moore before he passed at the Mash Strength Spectacular in 2015 and he , so eloquently, agreed that we as a society need this. Since then I have spoken with Mike Bledsoe, Travis Mash, and Zach Even-Esh on this topic and all are in some form of agreement that the fields of mental health and fitness are connecting.

But first, where we are:

The CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have estimated that 300 million individuals are obese worldwide and approximately 75% of adults in the United States are either overweight or obese. The Department of Health and Human Services reports 300,000 deaths occur each year due to overweight or obese related issues. (U.S. DHHS, 2007)

If you remember from my last article, where I talked about ADHD, I also mentioned that there’s a 50% chance that you in your lifetime will have a diagnosable mental health disorder. For those outside the field, the behavioral health population is comprised of individuals who have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder, psychiatric, or substance use disorder. This may include, but is not limited to; mood, anxiety, psychological changes or decline, and/or another brain disease resulting in a cognitive alteration.

To summarize, if you live in the United States you have a better chance of having yourself or someone you love being overweight/obese or one of you having a mental health diagnosis than you do if you were to flip a coin and it landing on its side.

But now it’s dive into the research and the numbers of this comorbid issue:

A prevalence study conducted on men and women with severe mental illness found that 29% of men and 60% of women are overweight or obese. They then compared those numbers to the general population and found that 18% of men and 28% of women were obese or overweight (Daumit et al., 2003). A different study looked at 276 persons with mental health diagnosis found that 22% of those people were overweight and 59% were obese (Strassnig et al. 2003 as cited in NASMHPD, 2008). Although the sample sizes aren’t ideal, and as we know “correlation is not causation”, the link between being overweight or obese and having a mental illness, regardless of gender, is alarming and almost unbelievable. We see a huge disparity between those who are well adjusted (or have no diagnosis of a mental health disorder) and those who are overweight or obese with a diagnosable disorder, however both of these studies were conducted looking at adults.

Next, let’s look at our country’s youth; it was found that of children and adolescents who had a mental health diagnosis 34% were obese; compared to their peers, and only 20% who were obese did not have a mental health diagnosis. (Janicke, Harman, Kelleher, & Zhang, 2008)

What is most alarming is that these comorbidities in our youth will continue into their adulthood at an alarming rate, 50-80% of obese school-aged children will stay obese into adulthood (Levine et al., 2001; Daniels et al., 2005). This is to say nothing of the physical and cardiac health concerns that these numbers raise. That is for another article written by a different expert; the remainder of this article will be talking about the mental health components and how the powers-that-be think they can solve this problem.

Let’s discuss the barriers that individuals with a mental health disorder face that inhibits their ability to maintain a healthy weight. Social factors including lower economic status and lower levels of education are linked to obesity (Drewnowski & Specter, 2004; NASMHPD, 2008). Not to mention the areas is referred to as “food deserts” in the United States in which individuals are surrounded by fast food restaurants in lower-income neighborhoods (CDC, 2010).

The medications prescribed in the anti-psychotic family are highly associated with overweight and obese consumers. Many of these consumers are not on medications for a short duration, but for years or their entire lifetime (Susce, Villanueva, Diaz, & Leon, 2005). However, this is not only limited to only antipsychotics, antidepressants are frequently prescribed to adolescents and adults as well, and are also associated with weight gain. In particular, Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors or SSRI’s, prescribed for anxiety and depression, are in the short term associated with weight loss , but after a few months of use weight gain can occur (Fava, 2000).

So what is the solution that the powers that be believe can solve this problem?

Many would look to the Behavioral Healthcare Providers or those agencies run by the state or private facilities that treat mental health disorders to address obesity during intake and subsequently educating them on the importance of maintaining a healthy diet and an exercise routine (Strassnig et al., 2007). Additionally, it has been thought to address the issue with the family as a whole by including providers, schools, and communities to work together to promote a healthy lifestyle (Barlow et al., 2007). o their credit it has been shown that individuals can experience more change in groups (like their families) to overcome barriers towards weight loss and maintenance (McDevitt & Wilbur, 2006). Additionally, it is true few studies have targeted severely obese children, some evidence has shown that family-based interventions maintain weight loss over 10 or more years (Epstein, Myers, Raynor, & Saelens, 1998; Epstein, Valoski, Wing, & McCurley, 1994).

Finally in the literature review, “Weight Management Strategies for Adults and Youth the Behavioral Health Conditions” it was concluded that these community behavioral centers were the logical choice to not only monitor but treat those with mental illness and those struggling to maintain a healthy weight. It was also concluded they were able to limit psychiatric issues and also the risk factors that being overweight and/or obese presents. Ultimately, they concede that the research and data is not conclusive and “still in utero” as to what the best evidence-based programs and policies are best to eradicate this issue of comorbidity (Devine, et al., 2012)

Although this sounds idyllic, the largest form of evidence as to why these above solutions will continue to fail, and is not a long-term solution across our country is that you cannot teach what you don’t practice. Take a look back at the above statistics at the top of this article, 50% of our population is either obese or overweight! This includes those Mental Health Providers and those people in these agencies that would be assessing and communicating the information on living a healthier lifestyle. So I reiterate: you cannot teach what you don’t practice. I have worked in quite a few mental health agencies across Southwest Virginia and I can say with confidence these “solutions” will fail.

Now the impetus falls to us, those strength and conditioning coaches, athletes, trainers, members even who already live an optimal nutritional and exercise lifestyle to take that small leap towards learning and understanding mental health and recognizing the signs and issues. Armed with a minimal amount of mental health understanding and appropriate referrals and systems can be placed towards getting people with diagnosable disorders the help they need.

Until then I will be working to turn my practice and gym into the solution; the one-stop shop for real wellness a place where you can top out the pillars of mental health, nutrition, and fitness. Only then can we truly live holistic lives and lead those in need to holistic wellness.

It doesn’t stop here, in the coming weeks I’ll be discussing more and more things mental health and fitness. If you’d like to lift at my Mash Elite Affiliate, LostBoys S&C with a mental health focus email me here: gabriel@lostboyssnc.com

Barlow, S. E., and the Expert Committee. (2007). Expert committee recommendations regarding the prevention, assessment, and treatment of child and adolescent overweight and obesity: Summary and report. Pediatrics, 120, S164-S192. doi: 10.1542/peds.2007-2329C

Daumit, G. L., Clark, J. M., Steinwachs, D. M., Graham, C. M., Lehman, A., & Ford, D. E. (2003). Prevalence and correlates of obesity in a community sample of individuals with severe and persistent mental illness. Journal of Nervous Mental Disorders, 191(12), 799-805

Devine, K., Morris, C., Mahalik, J., Smith, S., Martin, L., & DeHay, T. (2012). Weight Management Strategies for Adults and youth with behavioral health conditions.

Drewnoski, A. & Specter, S. E. (2004). Poverty and obesity: the role of energy density and energy cost. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 79(1), 6-16.

Epstein, L. H., Myers, M. D., Raynor, H. A., & Saelens, B. E. (1998). Treatment of pediatric obesity. Pediatrics, 101(3), S554-S570.

Epstein, L H., Valoski, A., Wing, R. R., & McCurley, J. (1994). Ten-year outcomes of behavioral family-based treatment for childhood obesity. Health Psychology, 13(5), 373-383.

Fava, M. (2000). Weight gain and antidepressants. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 61(11), 37-41.

Janicke, D. M., Harman,J.S., Kellher, K. J., & Zhang, J. (2008). Psychiatric diagnosis in children and adolescents with obesity-related health conditions. Journal of Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics, 29(4), 276-284. doi:10.1097/DBP.0b013e31817102f8

Levine, M., Ringham, R., Kalarchian, M., Wisniewski, L., and Marcus, M. (2001). Is
Family-Based Behavioral Weight Control Appropriate for Severe Pediatric Obesity? International Journal of Eating Disorders, 30, 318-328.

McDevitt, J. & Wilbur, J. (2006). Exercise and people with serious, persistent mental illness. American Journal of Nursing, 106(4), 50-54.

Strassnig, M., Miewald, J., Keshavan, M., & Ganguli, R. (2007). Weight gain in newly
diagnosed first-episode psychosis patients and health comparisons: one year analysis. Schizophrenia Research, 93(1-3), 90-98.

Susce, M. .T., Villanueva, N., Diaz, F. J., de Leon J. (2005). Obesity and Associated complications in patients with severe mental illnesses: a cross-sectional survey. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 2005, 66:167-173.

United States Department of Health & Human Services [U.S. DHHS]. (2001). The Surgeon General’s call to action to prevent and decrease overweight and obesity. Retrieved on August 4, 2009 from http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/topics/obesity/.

Exercise and Mental Health by Gabriel Villarreal

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Let’s get something out of the way: exercise is medicine. Unequivocally.

How can I make that bold statement? My name is Gabriel Villarreal, I own and coach at LostBoys Strength & Conditioning, which is an affiliate of Mash Elite Performance. I also host Informed Consent, a podcast created to support community mental health professionals. I have my masters in Clinical Mental Health, soon to be a Licensed Professional Counselor. Lastly, I own and run ADHD Counseling in the Roanoke Valley; a private practice all about helping ADHDer’s unlock their strengths, or as I call it, their “superpowers”.

Allow me to address my first statement: exercise is medicine. What I mean by this is that exercise is medicine for those with a mental health diagnosis or mental health issues. For those of you who say, “that’s not me”, the CDC states that approximately 75% of every American will have at one time a diagnosable Mental Health disorder, but that is for another article. Today we are simply going to talk about how exercise helps ADHer’s, and arguably to a point where medication may not be necessary.

First, we have to talk about what ADHD is, where it comes from, and what issues it places upon the person diagnosed with it. Within and ADHDer’s brain there is a malfunction that affects their attention system, that system is a linkage of neurons that connect or hitch together other parts of the brain that are responsible for among other things; arousal, motivation, reward, movement and executive functioning.

To get this right out of the way, there are people that believe ADHD is made up to those reads I’ll say only this: it’s not about a belief system, it’s about science. FMRI scans of ADHDers and non-ADHD individuals show a clear difference in functioning of the person’s reward center that is entirely responsible for a person’s motivation and drive. For the ADHDer that reward center is not as strong or does not produce the appropriate or normal amount of chemicals/neurotransmitters responsible to help motivate and or drive them.

To be 100% clear and concise the label of attention deficit disorder is not entirely accurate primarily because it is not an issue of deficit of attention but rather an issue of consistency. We all know the ADHDer that can hyper-focus on things they really enjoy. The simple example is kids and video games; however as they grow older and strengthen this ability it can be a game changer. As an example; I built my businesses on the weekends for a year and a half by hyper focusing for 6 to 12 hours straight, only taking breaks to walk the dogs and eating. Seriously.

The “attention system”: it begins at the locus ceruleus in our brain and it is regulated by two chemicals/neurotransmitters: norepinephrine and dopamine. From the locus ceruleus a web of connections feeds out to the rest of our brain primarily into the parts of the brain that govern the tasks that I talked about above like movement, attention, and executive functioning, etc.

But what are these two chemicals and why did I bring them up?

Dopamine: For the longest time dopamine was believed to solely be responsible for rewards, as the study below attests. We know and have heard things like narcotics, sex, and even chocolate release a lot of dopamine which triggers our brain to want more of that “thing” (reward). However, dopamine is released for all things that we like, it may be a cool movie or a funny joke. Dopamine is released and it helps us keep doing things that we all enjoy. However more recently The Neuroscience Journal, Neuron, published a 2013 study that concluded:
“The widespread belief that dopamine regulates pleasure could go down in history with the latest research results on the role of this neurotransmitter. Researchers have shown that it regulates motivation, causing individuals to initiate and persevere to obtain something.”
If you’d like to know more about dopamine and its role in ADHD I wrote a wonderful article on my ADHD blog all about dopamine function in the brain.

Norepinephrine’s role: This is also a neurotransmitter, which means it transfers information from one part of the brain to another, however it is also a chemical that acts as a stress hormone affected by lack of sleep, high stress, anxiety and emotional volatility come this from neurotransmitter. All of which are signs of ADHD and come back to this one chemical, which is not produced as abundantly in the locus ceruleus in individuals diagnosed with ADHD.

So now we finally jump into exercise’s role in ADHDers: across all people regardless of diagnosis, continual exercise improves the tone of the locus ceruleus. But not only that, it also increases all neurotransmitters (norepinephrine and dopamine we talked about above) immediately! What is particularly interesting to note is that the increase in dopamine is not “turning up the faucet” but it is actually creating new faucets, or new pathways by which dopamine can be pushed out into the brain! This is creating more drive and motivation in an individual, which is why we typically have a high after we workout. We feel very productive and want to get more things done; thanks dopamine! Additionally, if we’re talking about norepinephrine, specifically, the results would be an individual less likely to be startled, act emotionally inappropriate (a higher temperament), and less irritability. Again, all signs and symptoms of someone diagnosed with ADHD.

Now let’s talk about the more stereotypical behavior, primarily fidgetiness. This is caused by an overactive cerebellum, which research has shown to be balanced out through medications (stimulates) that target norepinephrine and dopamine. What we know from the paragraph above is that exercise balances those out as well. Despite the lack of specific research on exercise and ADHD, it is not at all a stretch to say that exercise corrects the production of the two neurotransmitters to “normal” levels.

All of which begs the question, if I chronically exercise can I come off my meds? The answer is that it depends from person to person. There are many factors that need to be in place for your doctor or even myself as an ADHD counselor, to feel comfortable suggesting someone could come off medication. As a strength and conditioning coach my first question, which I hope all of you are asking, is “How do you define exercise?”

In John J Ratey’s book SPARK (the book cited throughout this article); the majority of the research he cites and reviews is all cardiovascular movement, specifically running. Now running may or may not work for an individual, it’s all about experimentation. I have met millionaires that swear marathons keep them sane and successful. For me running is terribly boring so I lift. However, Ratey concludes that intense sports are best because they tax the brain and promote focused attention in short bouts, essentially strengthening and lengthening one’s ability to have sustained attention, for the ADHDer. Ratey goes on to cite martial arts and dance because of the nature of balance and focus that one needs to engage in those activities. Upon reading this, my initial addition to the list would be Olympic weightlifting, because they are short movements that require a small duration of focused attention, additionally the amount of proprioception, balance, timing and movement in space, are all checked off in Ratey’s criteria in quality exercise for the ADHDer to receive the benefits. Ratey concludes that the above activities and sports keep attention wrapped and are self-perpetuating, which means they are organized and easier to stick to after weeks and weeks.

If you’d like to learn more about the effects of exercise on ADHDer’s, please reach out to me at gabriel@RoanokeADHD.com. In the coming weeks I’ll be discussing more and more things mental health and fitness; as you’ll see this is where we as a society are headed. If you’d like to lift at my Mash Elite Affiliate, LostBoys S&C with a mental health focus email me here: gabriel@lostboyssnc.com.

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Check out one of our Ten 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)
• “Mash Program Sampler 2 (8 More 12-week Programs)
• “The Mash Blueprint for Program Design” (Learn all about Programming)
• “Performance Zone” (Defeat all Mental Roadblocks)
• “Train Stupid”(Programming and Philosophy of Nathan Damron)
• “MashJacked” (Hypertrophy for Performance and Aesthetics)

Check them out here: ⇒ Mash Elite E-Books

2017 Youth Nationals Day 2 and Closing Thoughts

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2017 Youth Nationals Day 2 and Closing Thoughts

First I want to say that the Georgia people and the USAW Staff that put on this monster meet did an incredible job. There were 800 kids at this meet with zero incidents that I saw at least. There was only one technical stop that lasted for about 30-seconds. It was an incredible experience for the athletes, coaches, and spectators. Thank you so much!

I also want to say that our Youth Team along with their parents is the best group of people that a coach could ever ask for. The athletes supported each other the entire weekend, and we hung out as a team the entire weekend. When I say team, I am talking about the families as well. Weightlifting is an incredibly fun sport, but it is the entire culture that makes the sport so darn addicting. We killed it the entire weekend, and hung out each and every day. We were one big family this weekend, and I loved it.

The final day was just as exciting as day one. Matt Wininger was up first in the 77kg class. Matt has been with me longer than any of my athletes. I started coaching him about seven years ago. This was his best meet ever. He went 5 for 6 hitting all meet PRs, and even Clean & Jerk 136kg, but was called for a slight press out. We will go ahead and call that a training make with 300lb. He weighed in at 70kg, so we probably should have gone to 69kg. He learned a lot this weekend. I believe that he finally realized that he could be a part of Team USA if he simply put in the consistent work. I believe that he is going to turn the corner and smash some really big weights in the coming years.

Matt King was up next in the 85kg Class. He easily won Gold with his 107kg Snatch Opener. He made a few technical mistakes or he would have easily Snatch 115kg. In the Clean & Jerk he hit 140kg on his second attempt, and then we went for 143kg on his third attempt for Gold overall. Unfortunately he ran out of gas a bit. Silver in his first Youth Nationals is still great, and he has a good chance at making a Pan Am Team. We are just waiting now to see if he made it.

Nadeen Pierre has absolutely taken the sport by storm. She went 5:6 hitting Competition PRs of 80kg in the Snatch and 102kg in the Clean & Jerk to take Silver across the board. It looks like she earned a spot on the Youth Pan Am Team as well. She only missed one lift and that was her second attempt in the Snatch of 78kg. Her Coach Vinh Huynh had her go on up to 80kg anyways, and she stuck it. That’s basically 6:6 in my book.

So now we are just waiting to see who is actually on the Youth Pan Am Team going to Colombia. Three of our team members have a real shot: Morgan McCullough, Matt King, and Nadeen. I assume that they will come out with the invites this week sometime. All that I can say is that these kids killed it, and I have never been so proud.

I hope that all coaches take the opportunity to teach their athletes life lessons at these competitions. Of course all of us want them to be champion weightlifters, but the truth is that the life application is so much more important. Let me point out some of the things that were taught this weekend:

1. Overcoming Adversity in a Pressure Situation- Every athlete on our team was placed in situations that were high pressure. Some were put in a position to medal, some to make a Pan Am Team, and some to win Gold. Some of them were able to overcome the adversity, and some fell short. Either way there were lessons learned. I have watched Matt Wininger go from being terrified on the National stage to going 5:6 and dang near 6:6. He used to turn white as a sheet and get sick. Weightlifting has taught him to overcome his anxieties. Make no mistake about it; life will present all of us with pressure situations from time to time. These athletes are learning how to deal with those situations at a very early age.

2. Dealing with Failure- I hate to use the word failure. I would rather say “less than desirable outcome”, but I am calling an ace an ace in this instance. Here’s the thing. Things are not always going to go as planned. We had one of our team members fall victim to a freak injury in the warm up room. Brett, our 62kg lifter, was warming up with 60kg in the Clean & Jerk, when he suddenly dislocated his knee. Obviously he was disappointed, and he was worried that I would be upset. Of course I wasn’t upset. My heart was crushed for him. My job as a coach is to show him how to overcome injury and setbacks. As soon as he gets his official diagnosis, we will develop a plan, and we will get him back stronger than ever. He definitely has some imbalances that we are going to target. He came to me late in the season, so I haven’t had a lot of time to focus on hypertrophy and muscular balance yet.

3. Sportsmanship and Team Work- These two characteristics are exactly what made me the most proud all weekend long. My athletes won and loss with humility. They shook the hands of all their competitors. The cheered on their teammates, and they helped each other in the back room. Not one athlete tried to avoid helping or supporting their team. They had each other’s back the entire weekend, and these boys and girls will remain friends for life because of it.

I am so thankful to coach alongside two of the greatest coaches in the business: Don McCauley and Vinh Huynh. We make a good team, and I look forward to a long career of victories and success. Either one of those guys could easily coach an Olympic Team, and Team Mash Mafia is very lucky to have them. Not to mention they are family to me, and they really make these long weekends a lot of fun.

I also want to thank our sponsors for believing in this team: Intek Strength, Nike Weightlifting, Harbinger Fitness, and BiPro. You guys make this possible, and I am so glad that we could represent your companies in such a fashion as we did last weekend. There is two more coming, but I will announce them one at a time in the coming months. Thank all of you so much!

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Check out one of our nine 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)
• “Mash Program Sampler 2 (8 More 12-week Programs)
• “The Mash Blueprint for Program Design” (Learn all about Programming)
• “Performance Zone” (Defeat all Mental Roadblocks)
• “Train Stupid”(Programming and Philosophy of Nathan Damron)
• “MashJacked” (Hypertrophy for Performance and Aesthetics)

Check them out here: ⇒ Mash Elite E-Books

Remembering Chris Moore and Understanding the Why

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Remembering Chris Moore and Understanding the Why

It has been over a year since my friend, Chris Moore passed away. His passing was abrupt, and left me focused on one of the most real truths in this life that all of us ponder from time to time: “life is truly short”. All of us repeat this phrase when we hear of a friend tragically passing, but do we really understand how precious every moment of this life really is?

Let’s take a deeper look at just how short this life really is. If I live to be 80-years-old, I will die in the year 2053. My life span will equate for .38% of A.D. years, which stands for Anno Domini, which is Latin for “year of our Lord,” and it means the number of years since the birth of Jesus Christ. When you take into account all the years B.C., really life is literally a blink. I am not saying all of this to depress you. I am just giving you a dose of reality.

Really when you think about it, whether you life to be 80 or 30 in the big scheme of things it is about the same blink. Now that we have clarified that life is but a blink, or maybe even shorter than a blink, the question really is, “What are you going to do with it?” I am not preaching to you right now. This is meant for me as much as you so let me explain the trigger of these thoughts.

When Chris Moore and I had the chance to hang out, the conversation always turned to the real meaning of life. Chris and I agreed that family and friends were the most important things in life. We talked about our desires to help others, but I am not just talking about helping others with fitness and strength. We wanted to help others with their journey through life. We wanted a simplistic approach to dramatically changing the lives of others.

This evening I was walking around the family farm with my wife and child. We were looking at blueberries, and watching Rock’s Poppy mowing one of the pastures. I took the time to feel the cool wind blow, smell the fresh cut grass, and listen to the laughs of my two-year-old. There was no cell phone and no other distractions. There was only that moment, and took the time to experience it; all of it.

How many of you take the time to experience the loved ones around you without grabbing your cell phone and without being distracted by all the technology around you? How many of you workout without checking Instagram or thinking about getting the perfect video for your followers? How many of you get lost deep within your training session? By experiencing, I mean actually experiencing the movement and feeling your body move through space.

I remember the days of training before social media. I trained because I loved the sport not because I wanted to get the perfect video or picture for my followers. I was able to experience the response of my body from tough training. I approached my training sessions with excitement in anticipation of what the future might hold. I remember driving to workouts with my training partner Chris “Ox” Mason. Those rides to the gym where filled with excitement. I couldn’t wait to feel the weight in my hands or on my back. Would I be stronger than the day before? Would I move better than the day before? Would the workout leave my muscles filled with blood, my body drenched with sweat, and heart quenched with a feeling of a job well done?

I remember sitting around after a training session at Jack King’s Gym in Winston-Salem. There was a group of us simply talking about our love of training. I remember my legs feeling like they might burst from the massive pump that I received from the squat workout that Ox and I had just performed. I remember tearing up as I talked about my love of the iron with my training buddies. Can you imagine that? I was a grown man crying from simply talking about my love for training.

It’s just that training meant so much more to me than Instagram videos. It was the one thing that I could control in a life filled with so many uncertainties. I couldn’t control the number of times my mother was married or how many times we moved, but I could control my actions in the weight room. The barbell was going to be there day in and day out. Training allowed me to transform into the athlete that I desired to be. The barbell opened me up to the world as I competed in International competitions. The barbell took a boy out of the mountains of North Carolina and opened him up to a world filled with endless possibilities.

The farm is the perfect place to search one’s soul. There are no loud noises or flashing lights. There is just a tranquil setting perfect for looking deep within one’s own self. I mean really deep not this surface mess that I see so much on Instagram. I mean looking deep within and understanding the “why” behind what you are doing. If you can’t understand the ‘why’, maybe it’s time to find something new.

I am so excited to invite some of you to hangout on the farm. Chris and I talked about this during the “Strength Spectacular” in 2015. I want a small group of men and women to train together, cook together, recover together, and to discuss life together. I am not talking about some scripted mastermind bull crap that gets you fired up to continue doing exactly what you are already doing in the same way that you are already doing it.

I am talking about understanding what’s important. I am talking about understanding really what you want to do. I am talking about figuring out how to get there. I have been so blessed to have the most amazing mentors like: Zach Even-Esh, Mike Bledsoe, Chris Moore, Louie Simmons, Congressman Ted Budd, Rick Taylor (my fater-in-law), and my Pastor Carey Hardy. So many more of you have influenced me in ways that you will never know.

This will be one of the ways that I give back during my precious time one this earth. If I can help just one of you either figure out your path in life or perfect the one you are on, then man my short time on this earth will be well spent. I use to think that I wanted to own a billion dollar company, and I was willing to work a billion hours to get there. To me I would be sacrificing time with my children so I could give them a better life. After really analyzing my heart, I wanted more time with my family right now. Since realizing this fact over a year ago, our company has grown almost four times bigger than it was and I am spending more time than ever with my family. I am still coaching my athletes, helping all of you, and loving on my family. I just had to understand the ‘why’ a little better, and then my path was clear. Hopefully I can do the same for all of you.

The times that I had with Chris Moore were truly eye-opening moments. He would listen to me with such intent, and then his responses were always from the heart. He loved his family too. Maybe that’s why we were so close. We appear to be such complex people, but at the core we were just men that loved our family, loved training, and loved helping other people. That’s it! Maybe our simplicity was the very thing that made us seem so complicated in a world filled with distractions and complications. All I know is that I am ready to do what Chris and I talked about in a simple way with hopefully life altering results.

If this is something that you would be interested in, please comment below and let me know. I am also open to ideas on how to make such an event the perfect experience for you guys. Thanks and I will hopefully see you on the farm.

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For now you guys can check out the “Mash Strength Spectacular” that is going down on Labor Day. We are having Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, and strongman, and there will be a lot of just hanging out the night before and the night afterwards. The best part is that it will be taking place on the family farm!!!! Check it out below:

Mash Strength Spectacular September 2nd

Meet Mash Mafia’s New Coach: Matthew Shiver

“Mash Program Sampler 2” prices increase after this weekend! 2- Weightlifting Programs (1 directly from the MDUSA Days), 1- Powerlifting Program, 1- Super Total, 1 Athletic Performance (Tommy Bohanon’s Program), 1 Athletic Speed, and 2 Cross Training workouts! All profits go to help support our non-profit Team, so thanks in advance!

www.mashelite.com/programsampler2/

Coach Matthew Shiver

I am pleased to introduce all of you to our latest coach, Matthew Shiver. I think that all of you are going to be impressed with his knowledge, background, and love for what we are about. Now let’s check him out:

Greetings Mash Mafia! My name is Matthew Shiver. I’m excited to announce that I have joined the Mash Elite Coaching Staff. I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am to be a part of the team. With that, I wanted to give you a little background on my experiences.

Strength training has been my outlet for expressing myself for the last 10 years. I remember working out for the first time in an old garage with a rusted barbell and plastic weights. I had no idea what I was doing, but it was FUN. From this young age, you could say that I was bit by the bug. I wanted to know everything there was to know about lifting weights. This love for learning led me into pursuing a career in the health and wellness field.

I’m originally from Mount Pleasant, SC. In high school, I played football and a little bit of basketball. It was during my Junior year of high school when found out that physical therapy and strength and conditioning was where I wanted to spend the rest of my life. During that year, I went through an ACL reconstruction of my right knee. Just a few months post-surgery, I reinjured my knee and ended up having to have another knee surgery. It took me about 12 months of rehab before I was able to return to play. My rehabilitation process was nothing but frustrating. The typical protocol of 3 sets of 20 on leg press, step-ups, and knee extensions/flexion with the addition of balance training never seemed to get me back to where I needed to be. I found that once I started doing squats and deadlifts in the weight room on my own, the rehabilitation process got much faster. I was shocked that the physical therapy that I was receiving did not include them. I knew then and there that something was needed to bridge the gap between rehabilitation and performance. At the pace that I was going doing just my rehabilitation work at the physical therapy clinic, I knew I was not going to be safe out on the field.

If we think about training, we know that everyone responds to different amounts of volume and intensity. Yet many physical therapy practices do not have a strong understanding of exercise prescription and progression. The two fields of strength and conditioning and physical therapy must go hand in hand if you have a serious athlete who wants to return to a high level of play. So that led me to down the path I am traveling now.

Upon graduating high school, I studied Exercise Science and Nutrition at Appalachian State University. There I got involved with sport science research and a variety of different strength and conditioning communities of Boone, NC.

Appalachian introduced the sport of CrossFit and weightlifting into my life. In one of my first Exercise Science classes, my professor pulled up the video “Cold” by Jon North to show us what maximal power output looked like. That was where I was first introduced to Travis Mash. I’ve been following Mash Mafia and all the content they have been putting out for the past 3 years. It has been an integral part in my education. All the podcasts, articles, and eBooks that he has put out have shaped the way that I look at training and even rehabilitation. About the same time I got actively involved in reading all the strength and conditioning articles and books I could get my hands on. I spent hours outside of the classroom learning everything there was to know about strength and conditioning.

While at Appalachian, I cofounded Appalachian’s Mountaineer Weightlifting Club and directed two local weightlifting meets for the Appalachian community. Weightlifting became a huge part of my college experience.

After graduating from Appalachian, I decided to try a new strength sport for fun. For 16 weeks, I prepared for an NPC bodybuilding show, the Max Muscle Classic of Virginia. During these 16 weeks, I shredded up and lost a total of 35lbs! It was quite the humbling experience to say the least. My relationship with food, exercise, and reality were all tested. I quickly realized the training for strength was a much more enjoyable lifestyle than training for physique.

I am currently pursuing a Doctorate in Physical Therapy at Duke University. When I’m not in class or studying, you can find me coaching and training weightlifting at Bull City CrossFit in Durham, NC. If I’m not at the gym, I enjoy spending time outside. I enjoy the company of my friends and nice beer!

I’m excited to see the future of Mash Mafia grow. Again, I’m blessed to be part of the team!

Let’s get strong together!

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Check out one of the Online Teams:

• Mash Mafia Bronze
• Mash Mafia Silver
• Mash Mafia Gold
• Eat What You Want
• Eat and Lift What You Want

Check them out here: ⇒ Mash Mafia Online Teams

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