Category Archives for "Barbell Life"

Nutrition for Power and High Intensity Athletes

It’s so easy to get information regarding the nutritional needs for endurance athletes. Nutritional advice for bodybuilders is literally everywhere you look online (although most of it is wrong). But what about power athletes? What about athletes who compete in high intensity sports? I am referring to the powerlifters, weightlifters, sprinters, throwers, and even to the football players. This article is for you.

I believe nutrition is a tool that could easily be used to maximize an athlete’s potential. I have so many athletes who tell me they want to medal in the Olympics, win world championships, and break world records. They tell me they will do whatever it takes. They tell me so much!

I always respond that the true champion will do what everyone else refuses to do. Everyone trains hard, so don’t tell me about your work ethic. You should love your sport, so training hard is easy. What about the mundane things like nutrition, sleep, and recovery? Don’t tell me you want to be a champion and then fail to keep a food journal. I am simply not going to believe you.

I have watched several athletes win national championships, make world teams, and have really amazing careers. However, I have never witnessed someone become incredible without becoming a master of the mundane. Tommy Bohanon spent seven years in the NFL, and I can promise you he did the mundane things and a lot more. Greg Olsen is one of the greatest tight ends in NFL history. Coach Joe Kenn told me that Olsen takes personal responsibility for every area of his health and wellness.

I think I have made my point. This isn’t an article to make you feel bad, but I wanted to set the record straight. Now let’s look at the different components of nutrition, and hopefully give you some insight on making nutrition decisions for yourself or your athletes.


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Understanding Energy Systems

The two main systems involved with power sports and high intensity sport athletes are the creatine phosphate system (PCr) and the Glycolytic System. Both are, of course, anaerobic (meaning they don’t rely on oxygen). But that doesn’t necessarily mean the aerobic system is useless. The aerobic system, like the glycolytic system, uses oxidative phosphorylation to breakdown carbohydrates, fats, and even protein into Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) with the help of oxygen. All three systems have the job of creating ATP (aka energy), and the way we fuel our bodies is directly related to how efficient those systems work.

The PCr system is the one of importance for short duration single efforts like in the sports of weightlifting, powerlifting, throwing, and even short sprints. PCr is stored in the muscles and consists of a creatine molecule combined with one phosphagen molecule. The PCr provides the fuel for the first 10-ish seconds of a high intensity event. The means that PCr donates the phosphagen molecule to ADP to form ATP and continued energy.

(If you guys want me to explain these energy systems in detail and in a way that you understand, let us know at I will get right on it.)

The glycolytic system kicks in after the PCr stores are burned up. This system is fueled by the glycogen stores in the muscles. Glycogen is what carbohydrates (CHO) are stored as in the muscles and liver. CHO are stored as glucose in the blood, which transports the glucose to the cells throughout the body including the brain. The brain’s sole source of energy is also glycogen.

I won’t go into detail in this article on the aerobic system – but I can say that in regards to recovery, it’s a good idea to do a little low intensity aerobic work. The increased capillary network aids with recovery and ridding the muscles of waste. FYI, more recovery equals a greater capacity to train. In a sport where the highest volume wins, that’s a big advantage. Obviously people have won world championships without aerobic work, but that doesn’t mean it’s useless. Sometimes it’s the guy or gal who does every single thing right who ends up on top. You simply have to ask yourself if you’re willing to do those little things.

Nutrient Balance

Now that we have the different energy sources cleared up, let’s take a look at the macronutrients and micronutrients suggested for powerful athletes.

For carbohydrates, 5 to 7 grams per kilogram of bodyweight per day is the recommendation. There are no concrete studies that would support going above this amount for power and/or high intensity training. Glycogen is important, so I wouldn’t go below this amount. However, with eating between 5 to 7 grams/kg/day, you will have plenty of glycogen storage in the muscles to produce ATP for movement and plenty in the brain and the PNS to keep the neurological system performing.

For weightlifters, powerlifters and throwers who are involved in sports where the duration is just a few seconds or less, the recommendation is to stay closer to the 5g/kg mark. If you are a sprinter entered in events greater than 10 seconds or practice with repeated bouts and longer distances, the recommendation is to stay closer to the 7g/kg amount. If you are competing and/or have multiple bouts of practice or events, some studies would suggest having some CHOs between sessions at 0.7g/kg for recovery and replenishing of glycogen. I would like to note that extra CHO consumption hasn’t been shown to have any performance benefits, but on the contrary the extra weight gain that might follow could hurt performance.

For power sports, protein synthesis is the name of the game. Complete proteins are essential for protein synthesis. By complete I mean proteins that contain all the EAAs or essential amino acids. Those are the building blocks during muscle protein synthesis, especially leucine.

This is where all protein isn’t created equal. Red meat, chicken, fish, and eggs are all rich in EAAs along with whey protein if you supplement. The recommendation is 1.8 to 2 grams per kilogram of bodyweight. Based on the latest information, if you are trying to cut weight and maintain muscle mass, upwards of 3 grams/kg have been shown to have good results. Not to mention, the extra protein has been shown to increase the thermic effect of food and to increase satiety. If you want to get jacked or stay jacked, this is one area you want to focus on. When you train, muscle protein breakdown is occurring. Complete sources of protein are the building blocks needed to repair damaged muscle fibers, making them bigger and stronger than ever.

What about fat? After you determine your daily caloric needs and figure out the two recommendations for CHO and Protein, the rest will come from fat. There isn’t a big need for fat when it comes to power sports. These sports are too short in time duration to ever get into the aerobic phases where fats are used efficiently for energy. Fat is needed for other processes in the body, so I am not recommending a fat-free diet. However, fat isn’t going to be the priority.

Here's the best way to reach your diet goals in 2020...

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* Fully Customized Nutrition Plans

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Hydration and Supplements

Now this is where most of you miss the mark. Dehydration levels of less than 1% can have negative effects on power athletes. At levels of 3-4% muscular strength and power is majorly affected. One ounce per kilogram of bodyweight is a safe amount. I recommend drinking 20% of that amount four hours before training or competition and 10% two hours before. Then continue to drink water throughout training or competition. Many studies have shown several top athletes lacked optimal hydration.

As far as supplements go, obviously creatine is a good idea. This will saturate the muscles with more available sources of PCr in the muscles, which as we stated above is the critical energy source. Whey protein is filled with EAAs, making it a smart choice for athletes needing help getting in the proper amounts of complete protein. Vitamin D might also be a good micronutrient to supplement, since we found many athletes are slightly deficient.

Lessons for Success with Bert Sorin of Sorinex – The Barbell Life 333

If you know about strength, you’ve heard of Sorinex.

And on today’s podcast, we talk to the man behind the madness – the president of Sorinex, Bert Sorin.

One great thing about him is he’s the real deal when it comes to strength (a former collegiate thrower). He earned a lot of business because he would show up and lift right beside the guys he was selling equipment to.

And Bert has tons of great advice on life, growth, business – and even the dark side of success and lifting.


These samplers of programs cover weightlifting, powerlifting, functional fitness, athletic performance, and more. With all these programs at your hands, coaches can handle any athlete who comes their way - and athletes can explore a variety of approaches.


  • The lesson from Michael Phelps – and why Travis wants all of his athletes to listen to this podcast
  • Joining the track team by accident?
  • Spotting “white spaces” in business
  • The legendary piece of equipment that Sorinex built – and the unseen challenges in designing and building equipment
  • When the weights become poisonous
  • and more…

Taking Control of Your Weight

As a strength and conditioning coach, one of the most common conversations I have with athletes is whether they should gain or lose weight.

Of course, when you are talking to athletes the conversation revolves around function for his or her sport. In the real world, which is where I personally live at this point of my life, the conversation is normally centered around weight loss for health and/or cosmetic reasons. At 47 years old with four children and a wife I absolutely adore, weight loss and cardiovascular health are the main concerns of my training. I still enjoy lifting heavy and even competing in strength sports, but it’s simply not the priority.

The Science

In this article, I am going to explain the science behind weight loss and weight gain. I am also going to explain the different aspects of each. Finally, I am going to give you some simple tips to help with each. I am also going to explain why some people have an easier time losing weight while others have an easier time gaining. When this article is over, the weight loss and weight gain mystery will be solved. Then you will have to ask yourself if you are willing to do what it takes. We are all capable of losing and gaining weight, but most of us are not willing to do the work. I believe my readers are capable of doing whatever they want.

I am going to start with weight loss because losing weight has the potential to help the most people. Being overweight contributes heavily to the development of type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is preventable, which is the sad part. The Center for Disease Control has made the prediction that children born in 2000 have a 1 in 3 chance of developing type 2 diabetes in their lifetime. Guys, we have to do better as a society. This is one of the negatives of being an affluent country. Proportions continually increase while activity levels continue to decrease.

Calorie Intake

At the end of the day, weight loss and weight gain comes down to calorie intake versus calorie expenditure. It’s simple math guys. That’s why I get so mad when one of my athletes or adult clients tells me they can’t lose weight or gain weight. The truth is each of us have the ability to lose or gain, but we might not be willing to do whatever it takes. Let’s take a look at the aspects that go into losing weight.

Here's the best way to reach your diet goals in 2020...

Get nutrition coaching from the Mash Mafia.

* Fully Customized Nutrition Plans

* Expert Coaches to Guide You

* Real-World Solutions for Real-World Issues

The first thing to figure out whether you are losing weight or gaining weight is how many calories you are burning every day. There are four components to account for when figuring out daily calorie expenditure, and they are resting metabolic rate, thermic effect of food, physical activity levels, and nonexercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) is the amount of calories one might burn staying in bed and avoiding activity. It’s the calories needed by the body to function – for example pumping the heart and breathing with the lungs. RMR is also a reflection of the energy required to produce hormones, which is why people with hypoactive thyroid glands have a tougher time losing weight while individuals with a hyperactive thyroid gland lose weight easily. Both of these issues are correctable of course. There are equations you can use to figure out your RMR, which you can easily look up on a search engine. I am going to give you one equation at the end to figure out the total daily expenditure, which is the really important number to understand.

Thermic effect of food is defined as energy expenditure above the resting metabolic rate in response to ingestion of food. This is the energy needed to digest, absorb, transport, and assimilate the food we eat. One thing to consider is the thermic effects of food vary. Fat has the lowest thermic effect of food at 3%, carbohydrates at 5-10%, and protein with the highest at 20-30%. This is one of the reasons why some of the latest research shows that people consuming 400+ extra calories per day in protein are still not gaining weight. Of course protein also has a satiety effect – meaning protein makes you feel full. I guess to a small degree not all calories are created equal. However keep in mind the thermic effect of food only accounts for around 10% of the calories ingested, so don’t go too crazy on the protein tonight.

Physical Activity

Physical Activity Level (PAL) accounts for 10-30% of the calories consumed. Obviously, more exercise will result in more calories burned. However, if you’re thinking you will exercise your calories away, let me first give you an idea of what that looks like. It takes about one mile of walking or 2,000 steps (if you are counting steps) to burn 100 calories, and it takes 3,500 calories to burn one pound of fat. Therefore you are going to need to walk 35 miles just to burn off one pound of fat, and that’s only if you don’t increase your current calories. The point is that exercise along with getting a grip on your nutrition is the ticket to long term health.

Besides just burning fat, cardiovascular work helps to increase the thermic effect of food, which is why those short walks after dinner are so good for us. Of course, strengthening the heart is a bonus as well, and now is a good time to say health is a lot more than just burning calories and fat. Strength training should be a part of the process as well.

Strength training leads to an increase in the thermic effect of food as well along with an overall increase in the resting metabolic rate. Moderate weight training isn’t going to increase the RMR much, but it will lead to an increase in the thermic effect of food and a strengthening of the bones and joints. I hope you’re starting to see a holistic effect is going to be your best bet.

Nonexercise Activity Thermogenesis is probably the reason why some people seem to eat whatever they want while never gaining weight. My mother is 70 years old, stands 5’5”, and weighs 125 pounds. She can absolutely out-eat any man I have ever known if she wants to. However, she is the most active woman I have ever known. She’s up every morning at 5am cleaning the house, getting ready for the day, and simply moving around. She never sits still. If you will look closely, there is always a reason why some people lose weight easily and some do not. The people who struggle are probably not very active, while the skinny ones who make us all so mad never seem to chill out.

The Calculation

So how does one figure out how many calories they are currently burning? The United States Department of Health and Human Services contracted a panel of expert scientists to develop an equation to estimate one’s daily energy expenditure based on age, gender, weight, height, and daily activity level. Here’s what that looks like:

  • For a male, the equation is: 662 – (9.53 x age) + [Physical Activity Level x (15.9 x weight + 540 x height)]
  • For a female, the equation is 354 – (6.91 x age) + [Physical Activity Level x (9.35 x weight + 726 x height)]

For the Physical Activity Level, the following is how you determine the value:

  • 1.00 Sedentary – someone who sits all day.
  • 1.11 Low Level of Physical Activity – someone who sits most of the day except to walk around to accomplish a few tasks.
  • 1.25 Active – someone who exercises one hour every single day
  • 1.48 Very Active – someone who exercises several hours every day (like a marathon runner)

Goals and Tips

Once you figure out your daily expenditure, then you need to decide your goals. Do you want to gain weight or lose weight?

If you want to lose weight, I suggest finding ways to limit calories and start exercising more. A great way to start is to increase your protein intake by one hundred calories while decreasing either fat or carbohydrates by two hundred calories. This is only one hundred calories per day, so you probably won’t even notice it much. However there is a chance the protein will increase the thermic effect of food you take in and make you feel more full or decrease your appetite. If you add in some extra cardiovascular work and strength training, you will slowly start losing weight without a huge feeling of hunger. Here are some other tips for losing weight:

  • Use smaller plates – Portion sizes are out of control in America. It’s literally killing us. We simply need to get back to moderation.
  • Increase the portion sizes of your fruits and vegetables – Clearly I am not talking about the heavy starches like potatoes and rice. I am referring to broccoli, kale, squash, and some fruits as well. You will experience a feeling of satiety making you satisfied to eat your 6 ounces of steak versus the normal 12 ounces. I am talking to myself right now.
  • Drink a glass or two of water before eating – Believe it or not, food is the way our bodies hydrate if we don’t take in enough liquids, not to mention the increased satiety.
  • Choose a solution you can stick to – The key is to decrease calories and increase activity levels. Find a way that works for you, and I want you to realize my way might not be the way that works for you. I love to lift weights, and you may hate it. I like protein and fat, and you might like carbs.
  • Don’t bring it in the house – Lately this is key for my success. I have only had one beer in about three weeks because it’s not in the house. It’s a habit, and I love the taste. If you put the two together, you have a calorie monster. The same goes for cookies, cake, or whatever is your weak spot.
  • Take a short walk after each meal – This will help to increase the thermic effect of food, and it will help increase activity levels. Plus a short walk is therapeutic, so leave your dang phone at home. I want you to spend time with the Creator (if you believe), and simply let the brain rest. Once again I am talking to myself.
  • Find ways to ease stress – Ok I am convinced I am writing this entire thing to myself.

Making a Difference

I was inspired to write this by my trip with Barbell Shrugged to Walmart’s HQ in Arkansas. I realized at that moment we have the chance to actually make a difference in general population throughout the world. We have a chance to affect the people in places like my hometown in Ashe County, North Carolina. We have a chance to bring science based health and fitness to the people who need it the most. When I realized that, my entire world flip flopped.

That doesn’t mean I have abandoned my muscle-bound freaks who love the iron. I still love you guys. To be sure you can use the same formula above to find out the amount of calories you have to surpass to gain muscle. It’s really difficult to gain lean muscle mass while in a caloric deficit. Therefore if you want to put on substantial pounds, you have to eat a lot.

I want to end by making one point. Whether you want to gain weight or lose weight, there is a mathematical equation to figure it out precisely. The first Law of Thermodynamics states energy is neither created nor destroyed but simply transformed. So when you tell me you eat all the time and simply can’t gain weight I know you are lying. It also means when you tell me you have been “eating good and hardly anything” I know you are lying. Calories don’t disappear, and they don’t expand once in your body.

I am not trying to be mean. I am trying to get all of you to have a moment of accountability. You need to look yourself in the mirror and take 100% responsibility for whatever you see in the reflection, whether good or bad. Only then can you start to make a difference to that very reflection. You have to stop blaming your parents, your spouse, or anyone else, and take full responsibility. You won’t believe what a freeing feeling that is because it will give you the power to transform yourself into whatever you can conceive. Now I want you to take the first step, and jump in front of that mirror.

Here's the best way to reach your diet goals in 2020...

Get nutrition coaching from the Mash Mafia.

* Fully Customized Nutrition Plans

* Expert Coaches to Guide You

* Real-World Solutions for Real-World Issues

The Gym and Mental Health for Veterans with Randy Lloyd – The Barbell Life 332

Randy Lloyd showed me what it was like to be a brother.

As a veteran, Randy struggled with PTSD, depression, and substance abuse. He fell back in love with fitness, found his barbell family, and turned his life around.

Randy found out the same comaradery that bonds soldiers together on the battlefield can be found in the gym.

So Randy works with FitOps to bring the same help to other veterans.

So listen in to find out more about his inspiring story – and about the power of fitness to have a positive impact on mental health.


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For Coaches and Athletes

Strength and Conditioning, Olympic Weightlifting, Powerlifting, Technique, Programming, Business, and the Art of Coaching


  • PTSD, drug overdoses, and finding a path out
  • Why veterans are so prone to depression
  • The powerful impact of fitness on mental health
  • Owning it and being brothers on a different level
  • Inspiring through the power of your story
  • and more…

Neurology and Coaching with Evan Lewis – The Barbell Life 331

Our bodies are amazing.

The more we progress in terms of science, the more we realize the complex connections between neurology, muscles, and performance.

And our podcast guest today, Evan Lewis, is on the cutting edge of these developments – using his knowledge to help rehabilitate athletes in pain and to help athletes perform at their peak.

There are also some great nuggets of wisdom for coaches in this one. I was blown away by Evan!



It's finally here... Learn about technique, programming, assessment, and coaching from a master. For strength coaches and for athletes, these 53 videos (7 hours and 56 minutes of footage) will prepare you to understand the main lifts for maximum performance and safety. Get ready to learn...


  • Why young coaches get fired up… and then do the WRONG thing for their athletes
  • Amazing ways of finding out what areas are not neurologically firing
  • How CrossFit has contributed to the problem
  • Getting rid of the “threat response” from the nervous system
  • Did Michael Jordan debunk the Functional Movement Screen?
  • and more…

Defying Orders and Staying Open with Ian Smith – The Barbell Life 330

You may not know Ian Smith but you may have heard his story.

He was ordered by the governor to close the doors of his gym during this time of pandemic. But Smith refused.

That rocketed him into the center of a controversy that quickly became national.

It’s a fascinating story, but it’s also a great lesson along the way about how much the barbell means to us all.

We are here for you during this Coronavirus crisis.

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

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

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

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  • The story of the shut down
  • Playing the loophole game
  • Fast food is open… but not gyms?
  • Mental health and the gym
  • What the future holds
  • and more…