Category Archives for "Barbell Life"

Hip Arthritis? Here Are Some Options

About the Author: Eric Bowman is a Registered Physiotherapist in Ontario, Canada who works in the areas of orthopedic physical therapy and exercise for people with chronic diseases. He’s also intermittently involved with the University of Waterloo Kinesiology program and the Western University Physical Therapy program. He also competes as a powerlifter in the Canadian Powerlifting Union and has completed the CPU Coaching Workshop & Seminar.

This past weekend (as of the time I’m writing this on a train to Toronto), Coach Travis Mash and I had a discussion regarding options for hip osteoarthritis (OA) and whether hip resurfacing, hip replacements, or stem cells would be the best option. It’s an understandable question given that OA is one of the two big musculoskeletal pain problems in today’s society (along with low back pain) and, given the aging of the baby boomers, it’s expected that these will rise.

Serious athletes aren’t immune from this either. A recent paper showed that competitive runners were actually at a higher risk of developing OA than sedentary individuals. Heavy athletes (such as powerlifters, strongman, football players and bodybuilders) are at a higher risk of OA even when generally healthy.

It’s impossible for me to make recommendations for each individual with hip pain and hip OA without assessing them and understanding their situation. That said – people need to know the risks and benefits of the different, more invasive, options for hip OA.

First Things First: Conservative Options

I’d be crazy if I didn’t first recommend the simple steps for helping with hip OA which can greatly improve symptoms and have considerably lower risk compared to the options which I will discuss later on the article. The more conservative options include:

  1. Losing weight: Increased body weight is a big risk factor for OA, and some research has shown that losing weight is associated with improved pain and symptoms. If you’re considerably overweight and unhealthy, working with a doctor and a certified exercise physiologist (through ACSM or CSEP) is a good start to improving your symptoms.
  2. General strengthening of the hip, thigh, and core muscles: Powerlifters and weightlifters are pretty good with strengthening the quads, hamstrings, and glute max muscles as they are the ones that contribute to success in the squat, deadlift, snatch, and clean and jerk. But in many weight training clientele I’ve worked with, the abductors (i.e. glutes medius & minimus), adductors, and hip rotator muscles tend to be neglected. Strength athletes (with the exception of strongman) tend to train only in one plane of motion. If you aren’t training all of your hip and your core muscles, that’s another vital step that may improve your symptoms. Worse comes to worse – you’re better off coming out of the surgery.
  3. Improving sleep: Poor sleep can be a risk factor for a lot of different musculoskeletal pain conditions and for chronic pain. Some simple steps you can to improve your sleep are:
    • Going to bed and getting up at the same time every night
    • Limiting (if not eliminating) caffeine and alcohol use after lunchtime
    • Minimizing screentime before bed (I’m a bit of a hypocrite and struggle with this part)
    • Making sure the environment is cool, dark, and quiet

    If you find these steps aren’t helping your quality of sleep, I recommend you get a sleep study – especially given the amount of bigger athletes who have sleep apnea and rely on CPAP machines.

  4. Managing psychosocial factors like stress, anxiety, and depression: these are major risk factors for chronic pain and poor recovery. I’m not a doctor (nor did I stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night) – but if simple steps such as eating right, exercising regularly, sleeping well, and better time management/organization aren’t helping … then it’s worth seeking out professional counseling or help to deal with these issues.

Protocols for Aches and Pains, Muscular Imbalances & Recovery

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

Now with that out of the way, it’s time to answer Travis’s question: hip replacement vs hip resurfacing vs stem cell therapy – which is the best option?

Stem Cell Therapy

I could only find two human studies on PubMed which totaled 28 participants who were undergoing stem cell therapy for OA of the hip. These studies showed a slight improvement in pain with no complications.

As a disclaimer these studies were done in very small populations and research is needed to determine how long these effects last. My personal (anecdotal) bias and observations of any kind of cell injection are that many of them have shorter lasting effects in people.

Hip Resurfacing vs Hip Replacement

This area has been much more thoroughly researched and is an area I have considerably more experience with through doing a placement/internship at University Hospital in London, Canada. There I saw numerous clients post hip replacement (total hip arthroplasty) and resurfacing from surgery to discharge. I’ve seen the surgery done in person and have gotten to meet some of the surgeons involved in the practice guidelines surrounding THAs.

In terms of short term outcomes, some research has shown advantages of hip resurfacing over hip replacements, such as:

  • Less pain 24 hours post-surgery
  • Shorter hospital stay (by about 2 days on average)
  • Less blood loss and transfusions
  • Lower rate of hip dislocations

In terms of overall pain and functional outcomes, aside from a few odd questionnaires here
and there, the outcomes for pain and physical function are generally the same between the two

The big advantage of hip replacement over hip resurfacing is that the implements last longer and need less revision.

In my experience, and the research says this, the vast majority of people do quite well after a hip replacement … and the anterior hip replacement approach has good evidence when compared to the lateral and approaches. The people whom I see struggle are:

  • People who have let themselves go and are incredibly obese, weak, and/or inflexible heading into surgery.
  • Those who don’t do their exercises and/or are afraid of moving the operated hip for fear of pain or damage.
  • People who unfortunately suffer from central sensitization, a condition in which the entire nervous system and body is hypersensitive and produces excess levels of pain in response to stimuli. These are examples of people where a more generalized approach focusing not just on exercise or surgery but on general health (i.e. diet, sleep, stress, beliefs) can be necessary and essential.

Again – it’s impossible for me to make specific recommendations without knowing your situation, but I hope this provides some useful tips for future consideration. As always, thanks for reading.


Ortiz-Declet VR, Iacobelli DA, Yuen LC, Perets I, Chen AW, Domb BG. Birmingham Hip Resurfacing vs Total Hip Arthroplasty: A Matched-Pair Comparison of Clinical Outcomes. J Arthroplasty. 2017 Dec;32(12):3647-3651. doi: 10.1016/j.arth.2017.06.030. Epub 2017 Jun 23. PubMed PMID: 28711342.
Shimmin AJ, Baré JV. Comparison of functional results of hip resurfacing and total hip replacement: a review of the literature.Orthop Clin North Am. 2011 Apr;42(2):143-51, vii. doi: 10.1016/j.ocl.2010.12.007. Review. PubMed PMID: 21435490.

Alberta Hip Improvement Project., MacKenzie JR, O’Connor GJ, Marshall DA, Faris PD, Dort LC, Khong H, Parker RD, Werle JR, Beaupre LA, Frank CB. Functional outcomes for 2 years comparing hip resurfacing and total hip arthroplasty. J Arthroplasty. 2012 May;27(5):750-7.e2. doi: 10.1016/j.arth.2011.10.004. Epub 2012 Jan 28. PubMed PMID: 22285258.

Yoon RS, Geller JA, Nyce JD, Morrison TA, Macaulay W. Hip resurfacing is less painful at 24 hours than hip replacement.Orthop Clin North Am. 2012 Nov;43(5):e8-13. doi: 10.1016/j.ocl.2012.07.002. Epub 2012 Sep 8. PubMed PMID: 23102425.

Marshall DA, Pykerman K, Werle J, Lorenzetti D, Wasylak T, Noseworthy T, Dick DA, O’Connor G, Sundaram A, Heintzbergen S, Frank C. Hip resurfacing versus total hip arthroplasty: a systematic review comparing standardized outcomes. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2014 Jul;472(7):2217-30. doi: 10.1007/s11999-014-3556-3. Epub 2014 Apr 4. Review. PubMed PMID: 24700446; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4048407.

Emadedin M, Ghorbani Liastani M, Fazeli R, Mohseni F, Moghadasali R, Mardpour S, Hosseini SE, Niknejadi M, Moeininia F, Aghahossein Fanni A, Baghban Eslaminejhad R, Vosough Dizaji A, Labibzadeh N, Mirazimi Bafghi A, Baharvand H, Aghdami N. Long-Term Follow-up of Intra-articular Injection of Autologous Mesenchymal Stem Cells in Patients with Knee, Ankle, or Hip Osteoarthritis. Arch Iran Med. 2015 Jun;18(6):336-44. doi: 015186/AIM.003. PubMed PMID: 26058927.

Mardones R, Jofré CM, Tobar L, Minguell JJ. Mesenchymal stem cell therapy in the treatment of hip osteoarthritis. J Hip Preserv Surg. 2017 Mar 19;4(2):159-163. doi: 10.1093/jhps/hnx011. eCollection 2017 Jul. PubMed PMID: 28630737; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5467400.

Issa K, Palich A, Tatevossian T, Kapadia BH, Naziri Q, Mont MA. The outcomes of hip resurfacing compared to standard primary total hip arthroplasty in Men. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2013 May 8;14:161. doi: 10.1186/1471-2474-14-161. PubMed PMID: 23656900; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3652766.

Ward WG, Carter CJ, Barone M, Jinnah R. Primary total hip replacement versus hip resurfacing – hospital considerations.Bull NYU Hosp Jt Dis. 2011;69 Suppl 1:S95-7. PubMed PMID: 22035493.

Penny JØ, Ovesen O, Varmarken JE, Overgaard S. Similar range of motion and function after resurfacing large-head or standard total hip arthroplasty. Acta Orthop. 2013 Jun;84(3):246-53. doi: 10.3109/17453674.2013.788435. Epub 2013 Mar 26. PubMed PMID: 23530872; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3715815.

Elliott Hulse on Being a Six-Figure Strength Coach – The Barbell Life 228

If you’re a strength coach, Elliott Hulse wants you to earn six figures a year.

Most know him as a YouTube superstar – and that’s a massive part of his business. But his real love and his real business is being a strength coach.

Elliott got his start following in the footsteps of my friend Zach Even-Esh. His gym was raw. It was simple but effective. He knows his stuff as a trainer.

But Elliott is also a great marketer. He’s used lessons from the direct response marketing world to skyrocket his business – and now he wants you to do the same.


Principles and Real-Life Case Studies on How a Master Programmer Customizes a Program to the Individual

Peek inside Travis's brain... and learn how to individualize your own programs to fit an athlete's strengths, weaknesses, age, gender, sport demands, and unique response to training.



  • How he built up to $35,000 a month on YouTube
  • What he would do if he were starting now
  • How his business has evolved and the mistakes he made along the way
  • Growing a coach’s income up to $10K a month in only 10 weeks
  • Starting a gym with equipment made of… trash?
  • and more…

Finding Time to Train as a Busy Woman by Crystal McCullough

“Balance is not something you find, it’s something you create.”
– Jana Kingsford

For most of us, we have obligations outside of the gym. Some of us work out simply for our health, while others of us are training at a high level for our sport (i.e. weightlifting, powerlifting, CrossFit). There is only a very small percentage of athletes who have the ability to treat training and recovery as their full time job without distractions. Obligations can be work related, school related, or family related. We can make a million excuses about not having time to go to the gym (and many of these excuses may even be valid). The bottom line is that we make time for things that are important to us. No matter how busy we are, if we prioritize our health and fitness as important, we will find a way. Balance is key!


Whatever combination of busyness you have, goal setting, prior planning, and time management are key components of successfully staying active in the gym and training. I am a wife, mother, coach, business partner, and elite athlete. Each of my days are spent doing a combination of these things:

  1. Spending time with Wayne and Morgan – My husband and I find time throughout the busy day to go on walks or go to breakfast so we can have couples time. Morgan and I spend time together watching silly TV shows and talking on the way to and from the gym. THIS is my number one priority, but I know that I can always do a better job.
  2. Coaching – I coach our morning adult fitness classes at L.E.A.N. two to three times per week as well as coach weightlifting with Travis each afternoon. I also travel to the National meets with the team to help Travis coach.
  3. Managing a gym – I am the general manager of L.E.A.N., and I have daily obligations of answering emails, marketing, membership recruitment and retention, programming, cleaning, etc.
  4. Training – I compete in powerlifting and train five to six times per week.
  5. Programming for online athletes – I have 30 online athletes who I program for through our Silver Level program. I have weightlifters, powerlifters, and CrossFit athletes.
  6. Customer service – I am the person you email when you need anything at the email.
  7. Podcasting – We spend three to four hours every couple of weeks talking to guests on the podcast.
  8. Homeschooling Morgan – We are on a break right now (thank goodness!), but when we are in session, I grade his daily work and issue his tests to him.

This may look like a lot – and if I’m being honest, it is. However, I wouldn’t give up a single one of them! I have an amazing support system with my husband, Wayne, and my son, Morgan. Wayne has taken on two to three mornings of coaching adult fitness classes at the gym for me, and he coaches when I go out of town with our weightlifters. He will also start helping me with marketing and membership recruitment. He brings Morgan to the gym to train on the days I can’t come home mid-day. He cooks dinner, does housework, and helps Morgan with school. I couldn’t do all of this without him. Morgan keeps me accountable with my training and pushes me to always be the best version of myself. Both my husband and my son help me to stay balanced.

I say all of this, not for you to feel sorry for me or to brag, but to prove to you that with the goal setting, prior planning, and time management, it is possible to stay on track with your health and fitness despite all of your obligations.

Short on time in the gym? Here's the blueprint you need to follow.

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If your schedule is packed but you still want to smash weight, if you want a reliable method to break through plateaus, if you want to build a strength program that works for YOU, grab the Blueprint.


Women in the roles of wife and/or mom sometimes feel even more overwhelmed than men. We feel like there are certain things we are supposed to be doing. Giving up our own time for fitness is the first thing to go. We put others’ needs before our own. We identify as someone’s wife or someone’s mom, and we can lose ourselves if we don’t learn to find balance and prioritize.

I have found through trial and error that I have to go through a set of simple steps regularly in order to be successful. There are some weeks I am more successful than others. These are a few steps that I try to work on each week:

  1. Set aside time to go to the gym and train. Make an appointment with yourself!
  2. Set training goals. This can be as simple as getting in the gym x days a week or as specific as a meet or competition to train for. I personally find that I do better when I have a meet I am training for. When you have goals, you are more likely to keep the appointment you made with yourself. Be realistic with your goals.
  3. Make a list and prioritize all the tasks you have to complete throughout your day. Check off tasks as you accomplish them. Block out specific time blocks for each task.
  4. Lose the excess baggage. If there is something or someone bringing you down and keeping you from reaching your full potential, lose it. This can be as simple as getting off social media if it interferes with your productivity.
  5. Have open communication regularly with your family and friends to let them know what you need from them as a support system to be successful.

Here's the key to unlocking even more gains in 2018...

Become a member of the Mash Mafia.

* Fully Customized Programming

* Unlimited Technique Analysis

* The Best Coaching in the World

Here are a few additional pointers for moms and wives especially out there having a hard time balancing everything and on the verge of losing themselves:

  1. Work toward an integrated life. Perspective is crucial in order to create harmony in your life – by having a balance of time for yourself and time for your family. If you have these two things, there won’t be guilt over all the other things. Only you will know the formula that works best for you.
  2. Don’t feel guilty for finding a better version of yourself. What I mean is don’t stay home from the gym or fail to pursue dreams because you feel guilty for taking time for yourself. As my husband says (via a Rich Froning quote), “A happy wife is a happy life.”
  3. Realize that following your dreams only encourages your children to follow theirs. You teach your children a valuable lesson of how important health and fitness is in their lives by including them.
  4. Life will knock down even the best of us at times. Learn how to get back up, brush it off, and continue forward!

Creating balance in your life isn’t going to happen overnight. There are times you will feel overwhelmed. I still have my moments of being overwhelmed. Don’t let yourself get to this point if you can help it. Regularly go back to the steps and make sure your goals are realistic, the way you manage your time is working, and you have communicated your needs with your support system.

I hope this article gave you something to think about and can provide you with some simple strategies to maybe make your life a little less hectic without giving anything up you love!

Coach Travis Answers Your Questions – The Barbell Life 226

I always love these podcasts!

On this one, we get to questions that you guys have asked us. We always try to make these podcasts as valuable as possible for you guys – but when we’re answering questions that we have been asked, we know that this will be worth a listen.

We focus in this podcast on lots of questions about programming. It’s something we’ve discussed a lot lately because we just dropped our newest guide, the Mash Files. This one is 300 pages full of programs and content teaching you all about how you can customize your programming. Like I always say – make the program fit the athlete instead of forcing the athlete to fit the program.


Principles and Real-Life Case Studies on How a Master Programmer Customizes a Program to the Individual

Peek inside Travis's brain... and learn how to individualize your own programs to fit an athlete's strengths, weaknesses, age, gender, sport demands, and unique response to training.



  • How do you figure out if you’re doing enough in the gym… or if you’re doing too much?
  • Preventing plateaus
  • Why the optimal frequency for squatting is so different from the deadlift
  • Using the Mash Method for meets
  • Moving on from 5/3/1
  • and more…

Understanding All Aspects of an Athlete

Every athlete is an individual.

Coaching them to greatness requires you to learn about who they are and how they think – and then to put this knowledge into practice.

Right now I am reading Conscious Coaching by Brett Bartholomew, and I have to give this book a big thumbs up. I thought it was going to be some guy’s opinion about how to get buy-in from your athletes. I was totally wrong. Coach Bartholomew does a great job of using science and research to come up with a list of archetypes, which is a system of classifying athletes based on their personality traits.

He goes on to define each archetype with their pros and cons, and he gives you some pointers on how to deal with each archetype. I am going to read this book a couple of times and put it to practice before I give a complete report. However, I can say right now it already has me thinking about each of my athletes… and that’s a lot of people.


Some of my athletes are easily classified. But others are hard to put a finger on – like Hunter Elam. She was talking yesterday about being hard to coach, and I laughed it off. She’s like a seven-sided Rubik’s cube, which might freak some coaches out. However, I enjoy the challenge – and that’s why her performance at the AO3 was so emotional.

There was so much thought that went into her performance. We lost 9 kilograms of bodyweight to get to 64 kilograms. We had to get stronger during that process to beat all those amazing women in the 64kg class (minus Mattie Sasser, of course). She had to hit that huge 121kg clean and jerk opener. We had to prepare her mentally for competition, which is the hardest part for most weightlifters. Team sports don’t prepare you for an individual sport like weightlifting. It’s just you out there on the platform with the three judges and all the people in the crowd staring at you waiting for you to succeed or miss. All of the training and preparation comes down to just six attempts. It doesn’t matter how well training went or how bad it went. It all comes down to those six minutes of your life. Your dreams will either come true or falter in those six minutes.

Here's the key to unlocking even more gains in 2018...

Become a member of the Mash Mafia.

* Fully Customized Programming

* Unlimited Technique Analysis

* The Best Coaching in the World


How do you get to know your athletes to prepare them for their individual sport? There’s one thing that Brett says that I disagree with but just in degree. He says that the golden rule (“treat people the way you want to be treated” or the biblical “love your neighbor as you love yourself”) is wrong. He says people want to be treated the way they want to be treated. I agree, but I think he’s reading to deep into the golden rule.

Everyone wants to be treated with respect. Everyone wants to be treated fairly. Everyone wants to be heard. These are the keys to understanding what archetype you are dealing with. If you don’t get these basics right, you’ll never get to the suggestions that he gives for dealing with each archetype.


These qualities I’m suggesting can be quite rare in coaching – especially in the strength and conditioning world. Too often the role of the strength and conditioning coach, weightlifting coach, or powerlifting coach is filled with a Type-A personality who wants to beat his chest, bark out some commands, and never be questioned. If you’re in the university setting that may work because the athletes have to listen to what you say. I don’t think that this gets the best results, but they can do what they want.

The problem with the university coach is they can hide behind good recruiting and a good relationship with the head coach. Personally I think the standards need to increase instead of it being the good ol’ boy network. We’ve all seen the crazy videos of athletes performing heavy lifts with terrible form while the shirtless strength coach is screaming and yelling to pump him up. Look, I am all for bringing the juice if there are some brains and substance behind it.

Coach Joe Kenn is a great example of what a strength coach should be. Yeah, he’ll pump you up – but there is substance and reasoning behind everything he does. His son, Peter, is going to be amazing as well. Peter has spent his life preparing to be the best strength and conditioning coach on the planet. He’s worked with me to perfect his weightlifting technique, and he’s worked with Coach Chris “Ox” Mason and me on his powerlifting technique. He’s going to end up with his Master’s Degree in Exercise Science from Appalachian State University – and don’t forget that he’s grown up with the man himself. He will be prepared to coach!


Here are some qualities that a good coach in the strength world has to have:


You have to respect each of your athletes. Respect will earn you the ability for athletes to open up to you. If you disrespect an athlete, you can expect to never know or understand that person. No one is going to open up to someone who doesn’t respect him or her.


Listen to your athletes! They will normally tell you everything you need to know. This is how you figure out what archetype you are dealing with. You have to get to know each and every one of your athletes by asking a question… and then shutting your mouth and listening. Listening is a skill that very few people possess. Most people feel like they need to be talking. Here’s some news for all of you: the person talking isn’t learning anything. The quiet person is learning everything.


This is a tough one, and this quality needs to be nurtured. We are all naturally drawn to certain types of people – but as coaches, each one of our athletes needs to know without a doubt that we have their best interest in mind.

One process I am going to institute is more scheduled one-on-one meetings with my athletes. I want to know their struggles in life and in the gym. Struggles in life affect results in the gym. Let me give you an example. If an athlete is working more on a job or is having to study more (both of which affect sleep), that’s a great time to lower volume and/or intensity to match the added stress in life. I know that we want our athletes to live this perfect life where they get nine to eleven hours of sleep per night, but that’s not the real world all of the time. A good coach adapts to life’s circumstances while encouraging the athlete to work towards a better situation.


I believe the next big movement in the strength world will be toward individualization. I’m not just talking about programming. I’m talking about everything from recovery to mobility to nutrition – and yes, I am definitely talking about programming and everything involved with programming. One solid truth I know about the human body is that there aren’t two alike. If that’s true, how can one program ideally work for a big group?

I just wrote The Mash Files, which talks about all the different ways I currently individualize for each of my athletes. We’ve had a lot of success lately, and I attribute this success to our individualized approach. I’ve worked hard researching all the ways to perfect individualized coaching, and now it’s time to pass it on to you guys. Like always, I want you and your athletes to benefit from the same knowledge that is helping my athletes crush it.


Principles and Real-Life Case Studies on How a Master Programmer Customizes a Program to the Individual

Peek inside Travis's brain... and learn how to individualize your own programs to fit an athlete's strengths, weaknesses, age, gender, sport demands, and unique response to training.

As always, thank you so much for reading and following this crazy team of mine! The only way I can support these amazing athletes is from the help and support of all of you.

Developing a Resilient Mind with Ryan Munsey – The Barbell Life 224

Ryan Munsey has fallen in love with high performance.

He studied elite military operatives to find out what made them tough as nails. He talked with world-class athletes and successful people of all spheres to see what made them tick.

It really boils down to mindset – being consistent, showing up, and not being swayed by your feelings.

So we talk about all of that on today’s podcast. This podcast may get you thinking. It may be a good kick in the rear. Either way, you’ll want to listen.

Want to Win the Mental Battle in Training and Competition?

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Mash Elite brings you a proven approach to increasing confidence, eliminating negative thoughts, confronting fear, and functioning at peak capacity.



  • How to develop a resilient attitude
  • Getting athletes to have a paradigm shift
  • The success formula
  • How to develop mindset strength in the woods
  • The two types of people who are successful in sports
  • and more…
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