Category Archives for "Bodybuilding"

Coach Mash Takes a New Path

In the middle of a new book I am writing about concurrent training, “Do What You Want”, all of a sudden it dawned on me to try a new plan of my own. I’m 44 years old, and I still thrive on goals. I simply can’t workout just to workout, and that’s ok. It’s who I am, and I am ok with that. The problem is that I needed to find something new to intrigue me.

Determining My Goals

It took me a while, but I finally came up with my new goals. I decided to perform a SuperTotal, which is something that I enjoy and have done in the past. The kicker is that I also decided to train for a 5K road race. There is a part of me that wishes that I had chosen a rowing for distance goal, but it’s too late – I am in it now, so maybe next time. Some might say that the SuperTotal isn’t very challenging for me, but you would be wrong. Last year, I tore my triceps tendon completely from the bone twice: once lifting and once from falling down the steps like a fool. I thought for the longest while that I would never snatch again, but I hate the word ‘never’. That word literally freaks me out, so I’ve decided to not let some silly injury dictate what I can and cannot do.

My overhead stability needs a lot of work. My left side is compromised from fracturing a cervical vertebra in 2007, and my right arm, the triceps tear. That leaves zero good arms and a lot of work to do. Week one has been fun and challenging, but it’s obvious that this isn’t going to be easy.

Notes on The First Week

The powerlifting portion isn’t quite as challenging, but wow it crushed me. I’m training the same as I did when I was in my prime; the volume is just as hard, but I am being a lot smarter on max effort days. I am not going to go to absolute failure. The goal is to listen to my training partner of over twenty-five years, Coach Chris Ox Mason. If he tells me to stop, I am going to stop. We have told each other that we are going to stop one to two sets before failure, and simply progress like that. This will take a lot of discipline for me, but my priority is my family, not working out until failure during training. That realization will keep me in check.

I am getting a pump every training session with a focus on my weaknesses like glutes, triceps (obviously), and shoulders. Plus, I’ll be 100% up front and tell you all that I want to get some pumps for the coming summer months. Yep, I too like to look good in my swimsuit.

The one piece of equipment helping to make all of this possible is the Westside Barbell Belt Squat Machine. I perform some type of movement on this machine 100% of the time that I am in the gym. The glute activity the machine promotes aids significantly in keeping my hips healthy. This glute activity, required for hip extension while using the belt squat, helps to keep my femur in a position that alleviates the hip pain that I feel most of the time. This machine alone has kept me out of surgery. I was scheduled to get a hip replacement at the end of last year until I started using this miracle machine.

Believe it or not, my favorite part of this new workout routine has been the added cardiovascular work. I’m using the assault bike for interval work, which ends up being the hardest part. On Fridays I am performing a recovery row with the Concept 2 Rower. Saturday afternoons I am taking a run/walk for 20+ minutes while keeping my heart rate at around 75% of my max. This is the key to increasing cardiovascular capacity without requiring lots of downtime for recovery.

I am also using information that I have gathered from Alex Viada. If you haven’t read his book “The Hybrid Athlete”, you really should. I refer to that book on a regular basis. It forever changed the way I look at concurrent training.

The mileage, time, and distance of my run/walks continues to increase for the next twelve weeks. The program is designed to peak me for a 5K, which is frankly something I thought I would never do, especially with this wrecked hip. However here I am looking forwards to cardio days. Who the heck am I?  Alex what have you done to me?

Do What You Want

The whole point to all of this is to show you that you can do pretty much whatever you want. I hope this teaches you that no one should define the way that any of us looks at fitness and strength other than ourselves. The key is to enjoy what you are doing. I suggest challenging yourself in new and exciting ways on a regular basis. My new book is filled with a limitless amount of workouts designed to challenge you in several different ways. I am going to show you how to combine:

  • Olympic Weightlifting
  • Powerlifting
  • CrossFit
  • Endurance Work
  • Bodybuilding
  • Strongman

It was so exciting fitting these disciplines together in a way that coincides with the body’s energy systems and muscle fiber recruitment. It was like several big puzzles, and I used science to fit the pieces together. I am enjoying this new workout more than I have enjoyed a workout in over a decade. I look forward to pushing my body over the next twelve weeks. I intend to report back major success. I hope that all of you report back the same from challenging your own body in ways you never thought possible.


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Here’s a little sample of Week 1:

Accumulation Phase
Day 1 Week 1
Hang Snatch  below knee 3RM 7 RPE, then -10% for 3
Box Squats 75%  7×3 with 60-90 sec rest
Seated Box Jumps 7×3
2″ Deficit Snatch Grip Deadlift  w 5 sec eccentric 5RM 7 RPE, then -10% for 2×5
1a. Belt Squat RDLs 3 x 60 sec
1b. One Arm OH Fat Grip Dumbbell Carry 3x25yd ea arm
Day 2
Airdyne or Row Sprints 2 min warm up
45 sec on and 60 sec off x 8
5 min cool down
Day 3
Wide Grip Bench Press (wider than normal comp grip) 10 x 3 at 80%
Push Jerks 5RM 7 RPE, then -10% for 5
Pull-Ups 5 x submaximal reps switch grips ea set weakest to strongest
DB or KB Upright Rows 5×10
Dips  with Eccentric Slower Than Concentric 5 x submaximal (if ten reps plus add weight)
Banded Rows 4×60 sec
Day 4
Hang Clean 3RM 7 RPE, then -10% for 3
Front Squats 10 x 3 at 80%
Sumo Deadlifts 75%  7×3 with 60-90 sec rest
Rear Leg Elevated Split Squats  stay at a 7RPE 4 x 15ea leg
Unilateral Farmers Walk 3 x 40yd ea arm
Recovery Row 10-15 minute recovery row
Stay in zone 2 or 75% of Max HR
Day 5
Snatch Complex P. Snatch double work heavy
Clean & Jerk Complex P. Clean and push jerk double work heavy
Closegrip Bench Press 5 x 10 at 60%
Incline DB Press 5 x 10 at 60%
KB Bottom Up Z Press 3×10 ea arm
Preacher Curls 3×10
Long Slow Run 20 Minute run/walk
Stay in zone 2 or 75% of max HR
with a 5 minute warm up & cool down

The New Age of Hybrid Programs: Thoughts on Combining Powerlifting, Weightlifting & Bodybuilding

The world is changing for the good.  I grew up in a world where weightlifters, powerlifters, and bodybuilders ran in separate groups.  There wasn’t a whole lot of crossing over.  As a matter of fact, there was quite a bit of bickering about which modality is actually best.  Who really is the strongest man in the world?  Which is best for coaching team sports athletes?  Which one makes you a real man or woman?

For several years now the best strength and conditioning coaches have been combining multiple disciplines for the benefits of their athletes.  Guys like Coach Joe Kenn have the ability to apply the benefits of each discipline to the sport that they are coaching.  The keys that you will need to consider are:

  1.  What are the benefits of each discipline?
  2.  How does one combine the different disciplines in a way that is beneficial to the athlete?

With the onset of CrossFit, people from all walks of life have been introduced to the barbell and fitness.  People are coming into the barbell world without preconceived notions of the way things should be.  These same people are teaching old dogs like me that these preconceived notions are pretty dumb in the first place.  

Does one need to stick to one discipline?  

I fell in love with the barbell because I wanted to be strong and muscular.  I wanted to look and feel like the Incredible Hulk.  I wanted to be known as strong throughout the world.  I didn’t start this whole thing because I wanted to be known as a great weightlifter or powerlifter.  I just wanted to be strong.  

This is the same reason that I love having weightlifters, powerlifters, CrossFitters, and strongmen at my gym, LEAN Fitness.  I am intrigued by all the disciplines, and I love watching our athletes get stronger in each.  At the end of 2015, I competed in my first and only SuperTotal, and that was one of the most fun experiences of my strength career.  Combining weightlifting and powerlifting in training and competition was an incredibly challenging venture, but one that was incredibly fun.  I was able to not only perform the five lifts, but I was able to combine them at a fairly elite level especially for a 42-year old man with the following result:

  • Back Squat 295kg/650lb
  • Bench Press 184kg/405lb
  • Deadlift 317.5kg/700lb
  • Snatch 135kg/297lb
  • Clean & Jerk 166kg/365lb

CrossFit has taught us that we can do whatever we want.  We can combine weightlifting with powerlifting.  We can combine powerlifting and bodybuilding.  

This is a look at how one could combine weightlifting, powerlifting, and bodybuilding.  Let’s call it the Ultimate Jacked Program.  There’s a reason that Pyrros Dimas is everyone’s favorite Olympic Weightlifter.  Yeah, he won 3 Olympic Championships, but so did Naim Suleymanoglu.  We love him because we all love the cover of Milo with his abs bulging out from under his singlet.  He looked like a Greek Statue.

Pyrros Dimas Photo credit: Ironmind 

How many gyms across the country have posters of Lu Xiaojun with his shirt off?  I mean dang the dude is jacked, and it’s cool.  These guys look like heroes.  

Lu Xiaojun

On the other side of the aisle, Ed Coan and Dan Green could easily pass as bodybuilders.  Why do you think Dan Green is the most popular powerlifter?  Yeah, he’s strong but mainly it’s because he’s strong AND jacked.  

Dan Green

Personally, I don’t know many champion powerlifters that aren’t jacked. Look at Dr. Layne Norton, a world-class powerlifter AND bodybuilder. His programs and training methods reflect combining the two together and it produces and incredible physique along with loads of strength.

Six of the Greatest Minds in Strength & Conditioning in One Book


Some of the greatest coaches in the industry have collaborated with the Mash Mafia to bring you a sampler of programs that packs a punch. Take a peek inside the minds of these experts so that you can take your knowledge and performance to a new level.

Combining the two only makes sense.  The quickest way to make a muscle stronger is to make it bigger.  That’s one of those absolutes that’s impossible to argue.

Layne Norton, Ph.D. Check out his Powerlifting/Bodybuilding Combo Program here.

So how do we combine these three awesome sports?  Let’s look more deeply into combining these disciplines.  

Pros and Cons of Each Discipline

Olympic Weightlifting

When you consider peak power and rate of force development, it’s hard not to consider the Snatch and Clean & Jerk.  There are other benefits as well:

  • Kinesthetic awareness
  • Balance
  • Mobility
  • Speed
  • Force absorption

These are all tangible qualities needed on the field or court as an athlete.  However, there are some concerns with the Olympic lifts.  The biggest issue that most strength coaches have with the Olympic lifts is the rate of application.  The snatch and clean & jerk can take months to teach to some athletes in a perfect setting.  When you are tying to teach the lifts to hundreds of athletes, it’s even harder.  

If you are a strength coach, your job is to prepare your athletes for their sport.  It’s not to make them good at the Olympic lifts.  You need to make them stronger, faster, and more mobile.  There are other ways besides the snatch and clean & jerk.  With that being said, a good thought out system can teach athletes to perform the lifts with competency with a solid 15-20 minutes per day.  Coaches like Spencer Arnold are showing that it can be done in high schools with mediocre athletes.  If you are a capable coach with Division I athletes, the process should be even easier.  


The final point is that a coach needs to be proficient in teaching the Olympic lifts.  You can’t go to a weekend seminar and decide to teach the lifts.  As a coach, you will have to put your time in.  I suggest finding a mentor to learn the lifts correctly.  Your time will be well spent.

If you are not an athlete and just want to learn the lifts, I say go for it.  There is nothing more exhilarating in the weight room than performing the perfect snatch.  It’s like performing the perfect swing on the golf course, but you are doing it with heavy weight.  Nothing is more athletic and cool in the weight room.  Like I said, there will be a pretty long learning curve, but dang it, you are going to love it when you actually get it.



The squat, bench press and deadlift are great ways to add muscle and increase absolute strength.  When it comes to developing the vertical leap and the 40-yard dash, there are three things that can directly affect their improvement:

  • Body Composition
  • Back Squat
  • Clean

It goes in that order.  Yes, that’s right, the back squat correlates better than the clean.  I’m not big on absolutes, but I am not sure how you have a credible strength and conditioning program without a form of squatting.  The Powerlifts are great for absolute strength.  For about the first two years of an athlete’s training life, absolute strength will improve all the qualities of strength.  After that, you will need to get more specific in your training.  

The Powerlifts are also great for adding muscle mass and preparing athletes to not get injured. General strength and muscle mass are what most athletes need to produce force, absorb force, and to survive an impact.  Velocity devices allow strength coaches to improve all qualities of strength without the lengthy learning curves of the Olympic lifts.  The Powerlifts are simple and effective.  

The disadvantage of the Powerlifts is decreased quality of movement.  You can check out any great powerlifter, and they’re not going to move like a great Olympic weightlifter.  There are points of diminishing returns on all the lifts for sports athletes.  Once you are back squatting and deadlifting two-times body weight and bench-pressing 1.5 times body weight, it would be wise to consider move specificity in regards to one’s sport.


Bodybuilding is a discipline of strength that should cross all borders.  A symmetrical body is a strong and stable body.  If we all had perfectly balanced bodies, there would be very few injuries in the gym.  However, ‘perfect’ doesn’t exist this side of heaven.  We can only strive to create the most perfect version of our own bodies.  

Bodybuilding is for so much more than just looks.  Of course, we want to get jacked, but there is way more to it.  If powerlifters just performed the competition lifts, they would be all kinds of asymmetrical.  Their internal rotators would be tight, and their external rotators would be weak.  The anterior portion of their bodies would dominate the posterior.  All of this could lead to overuse injuries, and all too often does.  

If weightlifters only did their competition lifts, their lower bodies would dominate their upper bodies.  This is something that you see quite frequently in weightlifting.  Athletes will have tree trunk legs and glutes, and their upper body will look like it belongs to some teenage video game player tucked away in their parents’ basement.  This can lead to some major overhead stability issues and injury.

Hypertrophy work/Bodybuilding is something that most great strength athletes continue right up to competition time.  You can watch the Chinese weightlifting team crushing lateral raises and dips in the training hall of any World Championships (well unless they are banned). Louie Simmons would tell you to focus on hypertrophy more in the end and less on the competition lifts.  I am not all the way in that camp, but my guys and gals will definitely be getting their pump on right up to competition time.  I want strong and balanced athletes.

The only con is that bodybuilding can lead to a lot of non-functional muscle if left to itself.  There are plenty of weak bodybuilders that can’t tie their own shoes, and that has no place in athletics.  However, that can be avoided with a focus on full ranges of motion and continuing to perform one’s competition lifts.  That’s the recipe for a jacked, strong, and athletic athlete. That’s how you get a poster made of you like Pyrros Dimas.

So Now What?

So now that I have listed the pros and cons of each popular discipline of fitness, how do we fit them together?  This is the fun part.  This is the part that most coaches of the past are totally against.  However, guys like Coach Joe Kenn and Greg Nuckols are asking the question, “why not?”  

I have been asking the same question about powerlifting and weightlifting for quite some time since I competed in both at a very high level.  I love both disciplines of strength, and I’ve always enjoyed performing both.  CrossFit has taught the world that you can do whatever you want.  The key is how to best put them together.  

Questions you have to ask yourself:

  1.  What’s important to you?
  2.  How can you pair the pros of the individual disciplines while leaving the negatives?
  3.  How can you recover (muscle damage)?
  4.  What is most easily paired?
  5.  How can you maximize each discipline?

I have found this to be really easy.  Most weightlifters perform several versions of squats and pull, so all you really have to add to include powerlifting is bench press.  The amount that you can bench press is up to their goals and their mobility.  If your primary goal is powerlifting, I recommend at least two times per week.  If your main goal is weightlifting, then it will depend on mobility.  For some people, the bench press can mess with the overhead position.  If that’s you, then keep it to once per week and keep the reps below five.  

I’ve found it very easy to:

  • Squat 3-4 times per week
  • Pull 2-3 times
  • Bench twice
  • Snatch 2-3 times
  • Clean & Jerk 2-3 times

The bodybuilding simply depends on strengths, weaknesses, and goals.  If I have monster hamstrings and weak quads, then I am probably going to focus on quads.  If I am trying to build a monster chest to impress my wife, then I am probably going to emphasize chest (true statement).  It is also sport-dependent.  Most powerlifters need extra work on the external rotators and posterior chain.  Most weightlifters need extra work for the glutes, delts, and back.  However, it’s all individual, which is why we wrote the book “No Weaknesses” that helps you determine what to target based on your personal ratios.  

Here’s an example of the way that we put it all together during an early on Hypertrophy Block:

Hypertrophy Phase
Day 1 Week 1
Snatch 75% 9×2 (60 sec rest Between Sets)
Tempo Back Squat (5 sec eccentric, 2 sec pause bottom, 4 sec concentric) 5RM, then -10% for 2×5
Max Effort Deadlift 3RM from 4″ Blocks
DB Leg Curls 4×10
Unilateral Farmers Walk 3 x 40yd ea arm
Day 2
Push Press 10RM, then -10% for 2×10
Closegrip Bench Press 5 x 10 at 60%
Dips 4 x submaximal use weight if getting more than 10 reps
Hang Snatch Grip High Pulls 60% 3 x 10
Day 3
Clean & Jerk 75% 9×2 (60 sec rest Between Sets)
Front Squat 10 x 3 at 80%
Rear Leg Elevated Split Squats stay at a 7RPE 3 x 15ea leg
Unilateral RDLs 3 x 10
TRX or Ring Ab Fallouts 3 x 10
Day 4
Strict Press 10 x 3 at 80%
Sntach Grip Push Press 5RM, then -10% for 2×5
Bentover Rows 5 x 10 at 60%
DB Tri-Delts (front, side, and rear) 3×10 ea direction
Day 5
Snatch Complex Hang Snatch from Power Position 2RM
Clean & Jerk Complex Hang Clean from Power Position and Jerk 2RM
Day 6
Back Squat with Belt
Set 1 (80% x 3) rest 2 minutes and then (60% x 10)
Set 2 (add 5 Kilos to each weight if possible) (80% x 3) rest 2 minutes and then (60% x 10)
Set 3 (add 5 Kilos to each weight if possible) (80% x 3) rest 2 minutes and then (60% x 10)
Snatch Grip Deadlift 5RM, then -10% for 2×5
Suitcase Deadlifts from a 4″ Deficit 3 x 10ea side 7RPE
Axle Bar Zercher Carries 3 x 40yd


Here’s what it might look like the week before a meet week:

Week 17-20
Day 1 Week 19
Snatch 70% x3, 80% x2, 85% 2×1, 88% x 1
Clean & Jerk Work up to Opener for 2 Cleans + 1 Jerk and then work up.
Front Squat with Belt 80% 1×3, 85% 1×3, 90% x1, 93% x1
Clean Pulls from Blocks 100% 4×3
Day 2
Snatch Accessory Power Snatch 1RM
Jerk from Blocks Power Clean 1RM
Front Squat with Belt 1RM with 7 sec pause 7RPE
Upper Muscular Imbalance 2
1a. Band Triceps Pushdowns 3 x 15 reps
1b. Rows (Bands, Cable, KB, etc) 3 x 10 reps
1c. Plate Lateral Raises 3 x 10 reps
Day 3
Snatch Work up to Opener for a Double, and then work up
Clean 70% x3, 80% x2, 85% 2×1, 88% x 1
High Bar Back Box Squat + Bands or Chains 60% Bar Weight + 20% Bands or Chains for 5×3 (60-90 sec between sets)goal .8m/s
Day 4
Warm Up with OH Squat Variations Work up to 85% for 1 rep paused 3 sec
Push Jerk off
Zercher Squats off
Prowler Push off
TRX/Ring Fallouts off
Day 5
Snatch Max Effort Snatch Max Competition Style
Clean & Jerk Max Effort Clean & Jerk Max Competition Style
Snatch High Pulls from Blocks off
Day 6
Back Squat with Belt + Bands or Chains (63% BW + 20% BorC 1×3), (68% BW + 20% BorC 2×3), (73% BW + 20% BorC x1)
Band or Cable Lateral Raises 3×10
Belt Squat KB RDLs (eccentric slower than concentric) 3x30sec
GHDs off


You will notice that I am trying to add elements that aid recovery.  Examples:

  • Band Leg Curls because they ease up during the eccentric phase.
  • Boxes on one of the squat days because most lifters will notice less soreness from box squats.
  • Avoiding most movements that stretch contracted muscles.  I have some kettlebell RDLs but only 30 seconds.
  • Most bodybuilding movements are concentric-focused like lateral raises and reverse hypers for example.

The goal is to chase the pump without the muscle damage.  It’s all about the strategy that one uses.  This is the fun part for me as a coach.  When you can follow a hybrid/concurrent program that ends in personal records, that’s a masterpiece in my book.  Is it hard to do?  Of course and that’s what makes it fun.  For good programmers, it is a fun puzzle to put together.

Like I said, I started this whole thing to be known as the strongest man in the world.  Did I reach my goal?  I was up there.  I guess it’s really up to interpretation.  All I know is that pushed my body to its all-out limits.  I am still pushing my body.  It’s what I enjoy.  However, it’s more fun nowadays to help others reach their goals.  

If you want to perform weightlifting with powerlifting, you should do it.  Don’t let anyone tell you what you should and shouldn’t do.  If you want to bodybuild as well, you should.  We only get one life to live. You get access to your body this one go through.  What you do with it is up to you.  

I am confident that took my genetics as far as God intended on me taking them.  I’ve had hundreds of goals in my lifetime.  I have reached some, and I came up short on some.  Either way, I gave it my all.  I tried!  There won’t be any “should of’s” and “could of’s” being said on my deathbed.  I will look my family deep into their eyes, and I will tell them about the things that I did.  

What will you say on your deathbed?  Now that’s the question only you can answer.


Six of the Greatest Minds in Strength & Conditioning in One Book


Some of the greatest coaches in the industry have collaborated with the Mash Mafia to bring you a sampler of programs that packs a punch. Take a peek inside the minds of these experts so that you can take your knowledge and performance to a new level.

Strength Athletes need Bodybuilding and Bodybuilders need Strength Work

“MashJacked: Hypertrophy for Strength, Performance, and Aesthetics” and “Train Stupid: the Training and Philosophy of Nathan Damron” are live! Check them out at their low introductory prices now:

==> “MashJacked”

==> “Train Stupid”

Strength Athletes need Bodybuilding and Bodybuilders need Strength Work

After researching to write my new book “Mash Jacked: Hypertrophy for Strength, Performance, and Aesthetics”, I have had hypertrophy on the brain. During the research phase, many of the instincts that I had over the years were proven true. However there was plenty of light shed on the things that I could have done better. Here is one point that all of us should adhere to: if someone is getting results from what they are doing, it’s probably pretty darn close to right.

I think that it is funny when people try to tell Mr. Olympia how to add muscle. It’s always a skinny dude that has spent way too much time hidden behind a book, and zero time under the bar figuring out real life results. It’s equally funny when someone tries to say that Ed Coan (king of all powerlifters) could have been stronger if he had trained this way or that way. He’s the greatest of all-time. I am pretty sure that his training worked.

Early in my career, I trained with my lifelong friend, Chris “Ox” Mason. At the time he was a bodybuilder, and I of course was a powerlifter. Here’s what we knew. Most of the great bodybuilders spent quality time lifting heavy, and most of the great powerlifters spent quality time getting jacked. We assumed that there must be a correlation, so we decided to train together.

His job was to get me jacked, and my job was to get him strong. We assumed if I got Ox stronger, he could lift more weight for more reps and in turn get bigger. We also assumed if he could help me add muscle size (hypertrophy), then I could take that added muscle size and make it stronger. Well after further research, it turns out that we were on to something. We could definitely have done it a little better, but our instincts led us down a successful path.

Here the simple answer for why we were correct in our thinking. There are three main mechanisms to hypertrophy:

• Mechanical loading- basically adding more and more weight to the bar
• Metabolic stress- getting a eye popping pump
• Muscle damage- muscle soreness caused from stretching an activated muscle, new training effect, and increased load and/or volume.

A lot of bodybuilders focus on Metabolic Stress and Muscle Damage, and a lot of strength athletes focus on Mechanical Loading and Muscle Damage. They both have the muscle damage in common, but then each is lacking in one of the mechanisms. The research proves that each population would benefit from adding the missing piece into their training protocols.

Strength athletes are definitely better served by spending most of their time leading up to a big meet lifting heavy and focusing most of their time on specificity. There is no doubt that practicing the competitive movement exactly like competition day will pay off big with maximum results. However there are two ways strength athletes should use bodybuilding/hypertrophy in their programs:

1. Hypertrophy phases: These are phases of training where strength athletes emphasize getting jacked. These phases should be performed as far away from a competition as possible. I prefer programming a 4-8 week hypertrophy phase. This is a good time to move away from specificity to give the joints a break. One thing that I have noticed is the guys that focus on frequency and specificity too long seem to get injure often. Ed Coan spent a great deal of time focusing on hypertrophy phases, and his career spanned many decades with many championships and world records in each decade.

2. Accessory work that’s hypertrophy focused in nature- If you watch the incredible Chinese lifters train in the training hall at an International competition, you will see them performing lateral raises, triceps extensions, and dips. Of course they prioritize the classical lifts and squats, but then they get jacked just days before a competition. If accessory work has kept you balanced and strong, you should probably keep some levels of it for the duration of your program.

Bodybuilders need absolute strength phases in their training as well. I started out my weight lifting career fascinated by the popular bodybuilders of the time. I remember watching Arnold, Franco, Dorian, and later on Ronnie Coleman. They were freaks man. They also lifted that heavy a#* weight. Right Ronnie? Franco Columbu deadlifted 765lb weighing right around 198lb. Ronnie Coleman squatted 805lb for two repetitions. These guys realized that being strong was an important component to getting big muscles.

There are two phases that I would use strength training for bodybuilders:

1. Absolute strength phases- Once again I would perform this phase as far from a bodybuilding competition as possible. I recommend 8-12 weeks of focused training on strength work. The goal is to increase 1-3 repetition maximums. When they go back to hypertrophy training, they will be able to lift more weight for more repetitions causing more muscle damage and more metabolic stress than before. In this case more is definitely better.

2. Prioritize a strength movement during hypertrophy phases- I would recommend that bodybuilder prioritize at least one movement during a training session to focus on strength. For example, on leg day I would squat first for let’s say a simple 5×5 progression. There are still hypertrophic gains from 5×5 strength work in the way of mechanical loading and muscle damage. Then spend the rest of the session getting the skin-popping pumps. Spending a little time focused on strength will keep your gains that you earned during your absolute strength phase keeping you able to bang out more reps with more weight.

If you go to a lot of gyms in America, there always seems to be this division between strength athletes and bodybuilders. It’s like there is a wall between the two worlds just because one wants to look strong and the other wants to be strong. This wall needs to tumble down like in Jericho. This wall is inhibiting gains from both sides. We can learn from each other. Heck, Ox and I proved that we could (and still can) train together for optimal results. The truth is that we can all look and be strong, and for the best results we should.

“MashJacked: Hypertrophy for Strength, Performance, and Aesthetics” and “Train Stupid: the Training and Philosophy of Nathan Damron” are live! Check them out at their low introductory prices now:

==> “MashJacked”

==> “Train Stupid”

MashJacked: Getting Jacked to Get Strong! Let’s Talk Hypertrophy!

Check out one of our six E-Books:

• “Squat Every Day”
• “Eat What You Want”
• “Squat Every Day 2”
• “No Weaknesses”
• “Mash Program Sampler”
• “The Mash Blueprint for Program Design”
• “The Performance Zone”

Check them out here: ⇒ Mash Elite E-Books

MashJacked: Getting Jacked to Get Strong
Let’s Talk Hypertrophy

Getting jacked is the universal desire that brings all strength athletes together. Whether you are a powerlifter, Olympic weightlifter, or John Doe slinging weights in the garage, we all enjoy getting jacked. If you go to the weightlifting gyms throughout the country, you will see posters of Lu Xiaojun and Pyrros Dimas nailed to the walls. So why are there posters of these two athletes and not some of the other greats in the sport? Yeah they are great weightlifters, but they are not the best. However both of them are jacked. Nothing is cooler than seeing Dimas’s abdominals protrude through his singlet. These two icons are strong, and they look strong.

People love powerlifters like Dan John and Ed Coan because they could have easily been great bodybuilders as opposed to world champion powerlifters. Whether they want to admit it or not, people are intrigued by muscles. All you have to do is look at the rise in fame of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Heck I remember as a kid watching “Conan the Barbarian”. I was blown away when I realized that some people could actually look like a comic book character in real life. Obviously whether people were admiring Arnold’s muscles or not, they couldn’t stop watching his movies. His muscles made him famous because I can ensure you that it wasn’t his tremendous acting skills.

One of the things that intrigued me the most about the Chinese Weightlifting Team was the overall musculature of the entire team. At the 2016 Junior Worlds in Tbilisi, Georgia, I remember watching the Chinese Team enter the training hall. They were immediately set apart from the other athletes by their musculature and low body fat percentage. They quickly breezed through their warm ups, and then they spent a significant amount of time on accessory bodybuilding work. Remember this is the week before the meet. They are definitely the opposite from the coaches and other proponents of complete specificity the last four week leading up to a competition.

The Chinese only validated my thoughts on hypertrophy training. Two of my biggest influencers in the strength world were Ed Coan and Louie Simmons. Both are major proponents for hypertrophy cycles and accessory work throughout training. Ed Coan looked like a bodybuilder when he was at the top of his powerlifting game. I remember when he was featured in “Flex Magazine” alongside former Mr. Olympian Dorian Yates. They were compared side to side in looks and workout styles. Ed’s back rivaled Dorian’s back, and Dorian was known to have the biggest back in bodybuilding.

Whether you are a powerlifter or a weightlifter, a small muscle is a weak muscle. If there is a small body part on your body, you have a weakness that needs to be dealt with. That’s why I love the Chinese program. They are getting jacked right up to a competition.

If you want to know the secret behind the Mash gains, simply put it is our willingness to endure and program hypertrophy phases into our training programs. Neural mechanisms are great, and they work. You can get stronger without getting bigger. You simply have to get more efficient at the movement. What happens when you become efficient? You better get bigger and stronger.

After a big meet, if you walk in our gym on a Monday, you will see all of our lifter hobbling around from their big squat day on Saturday. They are experiencing delayed onset muscle soreness caused by the damage of their muscles. That’s just part of the equation. You are going to see them lunging, pressing, dipping, and basically getting a pump. I am adding muscle to their frames.

Once we add the new muscle, now we apply strength training, high frequency, and some good old technique work to make that new muscle more efficient. The best one on our team to watch is Nathan Damron. After a big meet, he always crushes a massive hypertrophy cycle. He won’t post as many videos because there is nothing fancy to post just some good ‘ole fashion hard work. About two weeks after switching back to a typical strength cycle, the personal records start dropping like flies. The videos increase as well. You know the cool ones like the 700lb squat, and the 210kg clean.

There are three keys to hypertrophy:

1. Mechanical loading- basically going heavy

2. Metabolic stress- catching a skin-popping pump

3. Muscle damage- getting sore from changing things up, focusing on the eccentric portion of a lift, and stretching an activated muscle like when performing RDLs.

Those are the three components. All of us work on Mechanical Loading and Muscle Damage throughout most of our mesocycles. However, a lot of us skip the Metabolic Stress mechanism, and that’s a bad idea. That phase let’s us add muscle with lighter weights as around 65% for 8-12 reps is the optimal rep range for this category. This gives our joints some relief from the 90+% squats and pulls that all of us have been performing. This phase adds to the muscle damage as well making it the superior way to add muscle.

When this phase is over, it’s back to our regularly programmed strength work. This is where we take that newfound muscle, and we make it work efficiently. It’s a constant battle for our team; add muscle and then make it work better.

We are going to release two books in April that are going to crush this topic for all of you:

“Train Stupid” highlighting the training of the mad man Nathan Damron


“MashJacked” filled with six 8-week hypertrophy workouts (Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, SuperTotal, Bodybuilding, and Athletic Performance) this book is going to help you understand the ‘why’ of it all, and detail several of the plans.

I am pumped to release these books. You guys are going to love them, and I believe that these books will help you reach your goals more than anything out there. Hypertrophy is the missing component from most programs out there. We are going to show you how to create the perfect program for any individual. Until then, I will be dropping these nuggets to get you guys ready for all the information.

My latest E-Book “Mash Method” is live and it’s FREE! Check it out now at:
This book has several of the techniques that I used to set personal records and world records along with some of my latest techniques that I’m using to get my athletes and me hitting all-time numbers.
-wave training
-bands and chains contrasted with straight weight
-walk outs
-partials contrasted with full ROM
-Squats for vertical leap -Sled drags to set PR 40 yd dash times
And more!

Insight on the low Back: Asymmetries is Where it All Begins

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Insight on the low Back: Asymmetries is Where it All Begins


In 2004 I was diagnosed with two herniated discs, and I was told to retire from all competitive strength sports. I was faced with two options:

1. Quit even though I was 70lb from breaking the all-time total record.

2. Learn as much about the back as possible and take matters into my own hands.

Obviously I chose option 2. After researching the leading back people in the world, I landed on Dr. Stuart McGill. He is not only a leading researcher, but he also puts out work that is easily understood by us lesser academic mortals.

I also found Dr. Lawrence Gray of Gray Chiropractic and Sports Associates to be my weekly practitioner. Dr. Gray is on the same page as Dr. McGill, so it was a great fit. Dr. Gray kept me as balanced as a possible, and with the help of Dr. McGill’s work I started bulletproofing my core.

Rebecca Gerdon, Malcolm Moses-Hampton and I came out with the E-Book “No Weaknesses” regarding all the intricacies that we use for recovery. I am known as the guy that can get you strong, and now I want to be known as the guy that can keep you strong. Let’s face it! The person that can train the longest without major injury wins the game in the end.

I started working on recovery for the back. Obviously the first place that I started was Dr. McGill’s work. As I research I always like to pass on the information to you guys. Not only does it help you guys learn, but it also helps me retain the information.

Today I want to talk about asymmetries. Most practitioners want to talk about pain and range of motion to diagnose and predict back injuries. However, asymmetries in movement and strength are the first place to look because studies have shown that asymmetries in movement (especially in the hips) and strength in the low back is the number one way to diagnose and predict back injuries.

Think of the spine as a wall holding up your roof. If anything pulls the base of the wall in any direction, the wall is going to want to collapse. The balance of the low back and pelvis region is critical for low back health.

If your range of motion, function, or strength in the hips varies from right to left or front to back, I suggest working on mobility and finding a practitioner like Dr. Gray to assist in the process. Asymmetrical strength work should be a staple in everyone’s training. I suggest the following exercises:

1. Unilateral Bottom Up Kettlebell Carries: Instead of KB carries with the bell tucked against the wrist, hold the KB with the bell straight up in the air. Dr. McGill’s studies in his lab showed much more recruitment of the quadratus lumborum and abdominal obliques, which are crucial for hip movement and back and hip strength.


2. Traditional Farmers Walk

3. Traditional Kettlebell Carries

4. Unilateral Fat Grip Dumbbell Overhead Carries

5. Staggered Kettlebell Carries- one kettlebell is held overhead and the other down by the side.

6. Unilateral Farmers Walk

7. Axle Bar Zercher Carries

8. Sled Pushes

9. One arm sled drags

10. Deficit Suitcase Deadlifts

If you visit the Mash Compound, you will see one of these versions being used by our athletes. Our athletes are taking a long-term view to their training. We have a young team, so we are thinking not just the next Olympics but also the next two or three. I hope that you will too.

I love how Dr. McGill turns his corrective exercises into performance enhancers. The same carries mentioned above not only help to stabilize the spine, but they also give athletes the power to absorb and transfer force. Unilateral carries are great for any athlete that needs to plant off one foot and change direction. This could be a football player making a cut, or a boxer planting and throwing the knockout overhand right.

Last night I had the honor of podcasting with Dr. McGill. It’s safe to say that he blew us all away with his knowledge bombs. Let me give you one nugget that should encourage you to make some shifts in your training. Here goes:

Proximal stiffness equals distal movement and athleticism. Here’s an example. Let’s look at the jerk. If an athlete is able to maintain complete stiffness in the torso during the dip and drive, this will lead to maximal force distributed up through the barbell with the arms moving at maximal velocity to lockout.

You could also look at the swing of a bat. If the athlete is able to maintain maximal stiffness in the core/torso, this will lead to maximum bat velocity. If the core/torso gives in any way, there will be power leakage. That’s why optimal torso/core training is critical for all athletes in performance and injury prevention.

“No Weaknesses” was a blast to research and develop. I believe that it could be a fantastic tool for all of you to avoid injury and to maximize performance. However, after last night’s podcast, I plan on doing even more research. I know that weightlifters, powerlifters, and all athletes could benefit from more resources regarding muscular balance and proper core stability.

You guys are going to love the podcast with Dr. McGill. I encourage you to listen to the podcast with a pen and paper. There are going to be a lot of misconceptions about core training revealed in the podcast. Some of you might get upset, and some of you will learn a better course of action. Either way you are going to learn and enjoy this lecture from the most interesting man on earth, Dr. Stu McGill.

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Free Domestic Shipping for all of our New Apparel


Check out all the savings here: ==> 12 Days of Christmas Holiday Specials


The Mash Method

“The Mash Blueprint for Strength Programming” and “Squat Every Day II: Variations in Intensity and Volume” have both launched today at the lowest price that they will ever be. Check them out below:

==> “Squat Every Day II and The Mash Blueprint”

The Mash Method

Over the years people have constantly asked me, “So what programming did you use as a powerlifter or weightlifter?” That’s actually a very good question. I performed a semi-Westside program, but at the end of the day I went heavy very often. However, I had found a way to constantly set personal records, and I didn’t even realize that I was simply using several versions of the post activation potentiation theory or PAP.

Before writing this book, I researched for a couple of days, so that I would get a better understanding of PAP. I wanted to know why it works, and I wanted to know why it works better for some than others. My man, Bret Contreras, wrote a great article on his website laying out the details of PAP. Before we go any farther, I need to give a brief definition of PAP.

This is taken directly from Bret’s article: “PAP is a phenomena by which muscular performance characteristics are acutely enhanced as a result of their contractile history. The underlying principle surrounding PAP is that heavy loading prior to explosive activity induces a high degree of CNS stimulation which results in greater motor unit recruitment lasting anywhere from five to thirty minutes.”

Most of the time people refer to PAP when using a strength movement in conjunction with a powerful more ballistic movement like plyometrics or sprinting. My man Coach Joe DeFranco is famous for his contrast speed training. He calls in contrast training. One example is where he uses heavy sled drags in contrast to short sprints. I will admit right now that I use this method with all of my sport athletes with amazing success.

Travis Deadlift

A lot of people including me will perform back squats with a jump of some sorts. Others will use the bench press in contrast to explosive push-ups. Whether you are doing a squat with jumps or bench press with plyo-push ups, the key is to pair similar exercises together. The heavy strength movement will excite the nervous system, and the contractile history will be that of a heavy squat or bench. The theory is that will leave your body prepped for the heavy movement when you simply performing a jump, sprint, or plyo-pushup with bodyweight. Both of these are great, but there are a lot of other uses for PAP.

The one that I used during the majority of my career was heavy holds, partial movements, bands, chains, and weight releasers in contrast to straight weight full range of motion movements. This Mash Method Principle is the one that I used the most to break records on a daily basis. Let me give you one example that I used.

I would perform the prescribed sets for a dynamic squat day with bands. Then I would work up to a heavy double with bands but not to failure. Then I would take the bands off and hit a PR. How did this work?

Let’s pretend that I worked up in the squat to 625lb bar weight + Blue Bands, which is 825lb total weight at the top. If my max is 800lb, that’s a total of 103% of my max squat. At the bottom of the squat the bands will deload to about 30% of their original strength, so that leaves about 685lb of total intensity at the bottom portion or 83% of maximum. 83% isn’t that hard or taxing on the CNS. I was able to squat this weight easily, and I was able to excite my nervous system for 825lb at the same time.

When I would take the bands off and work up to a max single of say 805lb, my body was prepared for 825lb. All of this gave me an advantage to hit PRs on a regular basis. The biggest issue was balancing the PAP response and fatigue. The response was the highest right after completing the set, but so was the fatigue. I found out that it was best to complete the straight weight max somewhere between 3-8 minutes after the banded word was complete.

It was also a good idea to not kill myself during the banded sets and repetitions. The less total volume that I completed would always equal the better result for the straight weight portion. I will detail how this worked over a few weeks in my FREE Book that is coming out soon called you guessed it: “The Mash Method”.

The book will contain over 15 different ways to use the Mash Method with detailed descriptions, periodization, and more. This is the way that set so many records in days as an athlete. It’s also the way that my athletes are setting so many records.

The book will contain:

• Ways to increase absolute strength in the squat, bench, deadlift, press, and the Olympic lifts
• Ways to maximize hypertrophy by using this method
• Ways to use the method in everyday strength training phases
• Ways to increase vertical leap
• Ways to increase 40yd dash time
• Ways to crush sticking points

I think that you are going to love it, and I am excited to give it away for Free. Make sure that you are signed up for the Newsletter to get the book. If you sign up now, you will get my Free E-Book “The Big Six”.

==> Sign up for the Free Newsletter and receive the Free E-Book “The Big Six”

Thanks for reading!

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