Category Archives for "Bodybuilding"

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…

Mass Gaining Protocols with Dr. Pat Davidson – The Barbell Life 214

Dr. Pat Davidson is an exercise physiologist, a trainer of trainers, an author, a former Strongman competitor, and an expert at getting you jacked.

I had never talked with him before, but he came highly recommended as a podcast guest. Now I can see why. I was blown away and took pages of notes.

His approach is so simple, yet it can give coaches so much to work with. You can see there is a lot of thought behind the way he varies his programming day to day. I really loved his concept of stress bombs and his insane 20/40 workout (you’ll have to listen to hear that beast explained).

Not to mention as an exercise physiologist he also knows a ton about movement – and don’t worry, we get to that too.

A World Class Coach's Guide to Building Muscle

Hypertrophy for Strength, Performance, and Aesthetics.

World champion and world-class coach Travis Mash has combined the latest research with his decades of practical experience to bring you an amazing resource on muscle hypertrophy.



  • An exercise that works like a steroid shot at the beginning of the week?
  • Why lots of movement gurus drive him insane
  • The only business model that works for him in New York
  • Changing the program by changing the way your approach reps
  • The power of 20/40 (This is insane!)
  • and more…

Fixing Butt Wink in the Squat

I have learned so much about the squat in the last several months as I researched for Squat Science. It’s hard to imagine still learning more about a movement I once held the world record in. Most people would believe holding a world record would make someone an expert. They would absolutely be wrong. Some people are born great at certain movements and sports, and that certainly doesn’t make them experts.



After combing through the research and interviewing the experts, the result is a guide that will refine your technique and boost your squat in a safe and effective manner.


You become an expert by spending your life learning all there is to learn about a topic. In this article, I want to look into the squat by addressing a common mistake: The Dreaded Butt Wink.

What Is Butt Wink?

If you’re curious about what butt wink is – or if it’s a problem – here one of our YouTube videos that should fill you in before we dive deeper.

So if you or one of your athletes do have an undesirable amount of butt wink, here’s how I would go about diagnosing and addressing the situation.

Assessing the Problem

Let’s look at the butt wink. The first thing to do is find out if the problem is:

  1. Are you starting with the lumbar spine hyperextended?
  2. Is the problem just motor control?
  3. Is it mobility?
  4. Or is it a combination?

A lot of weightlifters and powerlifters have been told their whole lives to keep a tight back. Some coaches will cue their lifters to arch their backs. Personally, I never use the word arch your back. I prefer the words “pack your lats,” which means to simply take the shoulders down towards your hips. This will keep the back tight in a more neutral position.

Here are a few cues that promote core stiffness without over-arching:

  1. Eyes forwards – looking up tends to cause excessive over-arching, so maintaining a neutral focal point is first.
  2. Shoulders back and down – this movement will engage the rhomboids and hold the scapula in place, but emphasize the engagement of the lats with taking the shoulders down towards the hips.
  3. Bend the bar – with your elbows directly underneath the barbell, I want you to pull down on the barbell. This will ensure that your lats are engaged in a way that keeps the spine neutral.

There is one more thing I would do to make sure you aren’t starting in a hyperextended position, and that’s use a mirror. I know that using a mirror is taboo in a lot of gyms, but that’s silly. A lot of Asian weightlifters are known to use mirrors for the instant visual feedback. Some people simply can’t feel what you’re trying to tell them, but they can see it. A mirror can sometimes be the only thing you need to fix the problem.

Once you’ve figured out if you’re starting hyperextended or not, the next thing to do is figure out if you’re struggling with motor control or from a mobility issue. Most of the time it’s motor control, but not always. However as you will find out, the best way to fix mobility issues is with frequency and motor control exercises.

First, let’s figure out what the problem really is. My friend Dr. Zach Long made this cool video that shows you an exercise you can use to determine if you have a motor control issue or a mobility issue. Check it out:

If you can perform this movement without a butt wink, then you have a motor control problem. If you have the mobility to perform this quadruped rock, you are essentially performing a squat without any load. I love the fact that Zach is adding a PVC pipe because it begins the teaching process and allows the athlete to start gaining control of the pelvis. I use a PVC pipe in this manner a lot to teach my athletes where their glutes are in relation to their shoulders and back.

Fixing a Motor Control Problem

So what do you do if it’s a motor control issue? I like to start at the very beginning, an air squat. This is where I start everyone. If you or your athlete can’t perform an air squat, there is no point in loading. When you load dysfunction, you are simply adding more dysfunction.

I would start with an air squat in the mirror. Sometimes an athlete can fix things by simply getting a visual. If they can’t, then use a bench or ball going as low as you can without the butt wink. I would then squat 3-5 times per week in this manner slowly working to a lower position.

Then load by holding a plate or dumbbell at arms length straight out in front of the body. One thing you will find is that it is easier to brace while anteriorly loaded. When Dr. McGill visited my gym a few months ago, he showed me this movement. I was squatting on a Westside Barbell Athletic Training Platform, explaining to him that the machine alleviates my hip pain. When he had me hold a plate in front of my body, I instantly found that I had much better motor control over my pelvis. I have all the mobility issues with a hip that needs to be replaced – but when holding that plate, I was able to squat with a perfectly neutral spine.

The same progressions are true for this movement. If you can’t squat with a full range of motion without using a butt wink, then set up a box or ball to a height that you can maintain a good posture. I suggest a frequency of 3-5 times per week while slowly lowering the height over time. When you can squat to a full range of motion without a butt wink, you can progress to the next step.

Next, progress to the kettlebell goblet squat. Once again, you can use a box or ball to progress your depth. Once you’re able to squat with a full range of motion, the next step is to increase the load until you physically can’t hold the kettlebell. At that point, it should be safe to move on to front squat, which is also easier to brace since it is still anteriorly loaded. Then you can move into a high bar back squat, and then a low bar back squat (if you low bar back squat).

Here’s a great way to use the Goblet Squat:

Here are a couple of more tips to master the squat and to get rid of the butt wink.

  1. Perform the McGill 3 (Bird Dogs, Side Planks, and Curl-Ups) – it’s amazing the amount of postural control you will notice after performing this three movements. You will notice that bracing becomes easier than ever.
  2. Frequency is the answer to just about anything movement related. You will notice that a slight increase in frequency will lead to better motor control and mobility. It’s simple if you think about it. Your body becomes more efficient with movements that you practice more often.
  3. Westside Barbell Athletic Training Platform – I realize that a lot of you don’t have one, but if you do, it’s the best warm up in the world. The belt holds your pelvis at neutral while forcing your glutes to activate. This prepares your body for perfect motor control and bracing. If you don’t have one and are looking for a new piece of equipment, I would suggest an ATP over anything.


Fixing A Mobility Issue

The first thing to do is decide what part or parts of the body are immobile. You will need to check out the following joints:

• Hips (Internal Rotation, External Rotation, and flexion)
• Ankles
• Hamstrings

Dr. Zach Long has written a great article with some ways to assess your mobility, and some ideas to fix it.

Here are my ideas to rid you of the dreaded butt wink:

  • Warm up with a 10 minute walk
  • McGill Big 3
  • Start with glute marches on the ATP 3 x 30 seconds
  • Then Squats on the ATP 3 x 10 with a light load on the machine and a plate held straight out in front
  • I take 2-3 mobility exercises specific to me that I superset with the ATP work. For me that is half kneeling psoas stretches and quadruped rocks with banded traction
  • All of this is followed by a proper barbell only warm up

In most cases, the butt wink is a hyperextended lumbar spine finding neutral, or a lack of motor control. The key is learning proper technique from the very beginning, and then practicing those mechanics often. The warm up above will encourage proper movement and stability. It will also lower the risk of injury, and it will keep all the muscles firing that stabilize the pelvis and spine promoting optimal core stability. I hope this article sheds a little light on the butt wink. The goal is that you walk away understanding:

  • What a butt wink is
  • How to assess to find out if the issue is mobility or motor control
  • And how to correct

Squatting is an exercise that allows a lot of us to lift the most weight possible. It’s fun, and it gets the results that we all want. Squats will help you run faster and jump higher. Not to mention squats make you jacked. I want you to be able to do it for a long time without injury. It’s not always about squatting heavy. The person that can squat the longest without injury is the person that normally ends up winning the squat race.

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

Start With The Bar By Matt Shiver

A big pet peeve of mine is when I see someone walk into the gym, go straight for the barbell, and then they load their first working set on there with no warm-up. Come on! You are never too strong for the barbell. Why not get a few excellent reps with a barbell before loading the movement pattern?

This is one of my favorite lessons that I learned from Chris Moore in his podcasts. The man could squat over 900 pounds and he would always start with the barbell for the first few sets. More PERFECT practice reps are always going to give you better returns.

The barbell may be less than 10% of your first working set, but that doesn’t mean you should not do it. You need to practice the movement pattern first before loading it. If your form looks like garbage without weight and then it magically becomes better with weight, there is so compromise going on somewhere in the body. You are relying of the external load to create stability for your system, instead of being able to generate it naturally.



After combing through the research and interviewing the experts, the result is a guide that will refine your technique and boost your squat in a safe and effective manner.

It is even more important to start with the bar if you are doing weightlifting movements. These movements are so fast and explosive, you want to be able to move fast with a barbell before adding weight. If you walk into a back room at a national weightlifting event, you will see almost every lifter begin with the barbell. They spend some time with an empty barbell at the end ranges of motion of the snatch and clean and jerk. You will see some tempo work being done with the barbell. All off this is before a kilo has been loaded to the barbell.

So, don’t think that you are better than these lifters who are putting up national and world records. Take a lesson from them and warm-up with the barbell.

Your warm-up should consist of a few minutes to get the heart rate up, some movement prep based on your limitations, and then bar work. Don’t skip bar work!

I typically do 2-3 sets with the barbell to warm up the shoulders and hips for my weightlifting movements. If I am squatting I will do 1 set. Here is how I attack my bar work for each movement:

Squat Bar Warmup

Done at a slow and controlled tempo, no bouncing
3-5 reps with normal stance
3-5 reps with wide stance
3-5 reps with narrow stance
3-5 reps with one foot in front of another (uneven)
3-5 reps the other foot in front
*I also will change my toeing out as I warm up if I notice my hips are feeling tight

Snatch Bar Warmup

Set 1
3-5 RDLs
3-5 Muscle Snatches
3-5 Power Snatches
3-5 Overhead squats

Set 2
3-5 Full Snatches

Set 3 – Optional based on how the first 2 sets are feeling
3-5 Full Snatches

Clean and Jerk Bar Warmup

3-5 RDLs
3-5 Power Cleans
3-5 Front Squat
3-5 Strict Press
3-5 Split Jerk

Deadlift Bar Warmup

5-10 RDLs with barbell only

Bench Press Bar Warmup

1 set of 10 with focus on staying tight in the pause

If you don’t normally warm up with the bar, give this a try! Let me know how it goes!

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

All Around Boss Julia Ladewski – The Barbell Life 201

Julia Ladewski is a boss: former D1 strength and conditioning coach, veteran powerlifter (she’s still setting PRs), and physique competitor.

I was unable to personally be on this podcast because I got really sick when we were set to record. But we had some great people fill in, and this podcast is still amazing stuff. It’s hard not to have an awesome podcast when you’re talking to someone like Julia.

What’s really amazing to me is her recent bodybuilding efforts after years and years of powerlifting. It really only makes sense because the two go hand-in-hand so well. A bigger muscle is a stronger muscle, so muscle gain is great for athletes wanting to perform better. And if you’re just interested in aesthetics, being strong helps you put more weight on the bar so that you can put on more muscle. We talk about Julia getting on the bodybuilding stage and so much more in this one.

A World Class Coach's Guide to Building Muscle

Hypertrophy for Strength, Performance, and Aesthetics.

World champion and world-class coach Travis Mash has combined the latest research with his decades of practical experience to bring you an amazing resource on muscle hypertrophy.



  • Her thoughts on geared vs. raw powerlifting
  • The art of coaching
  • Staying in the game for a long, long time
  • Body image issues as a strong woman
  • Training as a busy mom
  • and more…

Glutes Bring Us Together

When you think about all the aspects of strength and fitness, the one thing we can all agree on is that we need strong glutes. If you want to lift heavy weight or run for distance, you need strong glutes. If you want to look good naked, you also need strong glutes. There is no way around it.

When I was writing our new eBook about concurrent training “Do What You Want”, I realized that the one common theme was glute development. Glutes are imperative for any athletic activity. If your hips aren’t extending, what are you really doing?


The Art of Combining:

Weightlifting - Powerlifting - Bodybuilding

Strongman - Functional Fitness - Endurance Cardio

Learn the art and science of how to train multiple disciplines simultaneously. Get stronger, faster, bigger...

Glute Anatomy

So why are the glute important? Well let’s take a quick look at them first:

  • Glute Maximus- origin (gluteal surface of ilium, lumbar fascia, and sacrum) and insertion (gluteal tuberosity of the femur, and iliotibial tract)
  •  Glute Medius- origin (gluteal surface of ilium, under gluteus maximus) and Insertion (greater trochanter of the femur)
  • Glute Minimus- Origin (gluteal surface of ilium, under gluteus medius) and Insertion (greater trochanter of the femur)

What do the glutes do?

  • Hip Extension
  • Abduction
  • Internal and External Rotation of the Thigh

Pretty much the glutes are responsible for anything powerful. The glute maximus is the major hip extender. That means pulling, squatting, running, jumping, throwing, and punching, just to name a few, rely on the butt. My man Dr. Bret Contreras has enlightened all of us about the glutes over the last decade. Most of his followers are concerned about the aesthetics of the glutes, but Bret understands the function of the glutes as well.

If you have ever met a great sprinter, weightlifter, powerlifter, or CrossFitter, you no doubt encountered someone with a massive booty. Now you know why. However, there is something else that makes the glutes important, and this trait is my personal favorite. I am talking about hip health. If you have ever experienced hip pain, you should listen up. If you are a strength athlete, you should listen up.

Hamstrings Anatomy

To understand why glutes help prevent and/or alleviate hip pain, you must first understand the relationship between the hamstrings and the glutes. I’ve already explained the origin and attachments of the glutes, so now let’s talk about the hamstrings. Let’s look:

  • Semitendinosus and semimembranosus originate at the ischial tuberosity and both attach at the tibia
  • Biceps femoris originates at the tuberosity of the Ischium and the femur and attaches at the head of the fibula


All three muscles are responsible for knee flexion, and all but the biceps femoris are responsible for hip extension. If the glutes aren’t recruited properly, the hamstrings will take over on hip extension resulting in Femoral Anterior Glide Syndrome. Here’s the problem. When there is any dysfunction in the hip joint, the body will shut down glute activity. This begins a problem that can escalate quickly. Trust me, I am one of those people.

So many things can cause hip dysfunction like sitting, or in my case a simple groin/hip injury in high school that was left undiagnosed and untreated. Now I battle anterior hip pain on a daily basis, and my hip function decreases with every passing year. I am now on a path to hip replacement much like a lot of my strength athlete brethren. This is why I am writing this article.

Glutes are imperative for hip health and function. Powerful glutes are healthy glutes, so let’s look at some of our favorite exercises. Check them out:

Westside Barbell Athletic Training Platform

I get absolutely nothing from Westside for mentioning this product. Not one dime! This is totally unsolicited, but this machine is an absolute must in any and all gyms. Personally, this machine has helped me avoid hip surgery. It has also helped produce some major glute gains and power production for my athletes. This machine by its very nature turns every movement into a glute exercise. The belt prevents hip extension without the glute firing the push the hips through. The belt also aids in spinal decompression and traction, which makes it the perfect machine for barbell veterans like me.

There are about 70 movements that we have used the ATP for. Here are some that are the most popular:

  • Simple Belt Squats
  • Glute Marches
  • Kettlebell RDLs
  • Barbell RDLs
  • Kettlebell Deadlifts for time
  • Barbell Deadlifts
  • Barbell Clean Pulls
  • Barbell Snatch Pulls
  • Barbell High Pulls
  • Kettlebell High Pulls for time
  • Kettlebell Hip Hinge

This is just a small list, but you get the point. Not only are we performing glute work, but the ATP makes it sport specific glute work. Now we can avoid hip pain and strengthen the glutes in a functional way all at the same time.

Contreras Hip Thrusts

Barbell hip thrusts are an amazing choice for glute development. I’ve also found that the hip thrust is a pretty good substitution for the Westside ATP for alleviating hip pain especially when you don’t have an ATP to use. For some reason, a few powerlifters don’t like the hip thrust, and that’s ok. You don’t have to use them. However, Bret Contreras has some compelling research demonstrating the effectiveness of the hip thrust. Personally, I will go with science, and I will let everyone else keep following their “gut feeling”.

We use the hip thrust with several variations. Here are a few:

  • Lying on the floor with a barbell
  • Torso elevated with a barbell
  • Either variation with a strap around the knees for further glute activity. Remember glutes perform hip abduction as well.
  • We use bands and/or chains for accommodating resistance
  • Unilateral hip thrust to avoid muscular imbalances

Mark Bell’s Hip Circle Walks

this is our go to warm up for glute activity. The Hip Circle is great because you can use it for hip extension, hip abduction, and hip external rotation. This is a great way of activating all three of the glutes. If you want to light up your glutes, I suggest combining hip circle walks with one of the previous exercises. We like to use a sideways teeter-totter walk, and a duck walk as well.

Other Glute Building Exercises

These three movements are our favorite ways to strengthen the glutes, but they are not the only way to build cheek-popping glutes. Here are a few other ways that we build J Lo glutes:

  • Butt Blaster- once again thanks to Bret Contreras we use the Westside Barbell Reverse Hyper as a butt blaster. Louie might kill us, but we will die with massive butts.
  • Lunges- lunges will always strengthen glutes and thighs together.
  • Reverse Hypers
  • Glute Ham Raises

We perform at least two days of major glute work with 1 to 3 other days of some glute activity. Obviously, we are weightlifters, so we are required to perform hip extension on a daily basis by the nature of our sport. If you are into building glutes simply for aesthetics, I recommend following Bret Contreras. This guy has done more for building strong glutes than any other exercise scientist before him.

No matter what strength sport or athletic endeavor that you might pursue, I recommend making glute development a huge part of your training. I want to end with this. I tell all of my seminar attendees this statement. “I am not afraid of a man with big arms, but I watch out for the man/woman with big glutes.”  Fact!

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

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