Category Archives for "Bodybuilding"

Two Fast Ways to PR Your Squat

The back squat may be the most popular barbell movement on Earth. Since the inception of CrossFit and the new box gym/garage gym movement, the squat has made up lots of ground on the pec-pumping bench press. Articles are written and videos are made almost weekly giving all of us content about this amazing exercise.

We discuss things like:

  • Hypertrophy
  • Technique
  • Programming
  • Targeting specific joints
  • Post Activation Potentiation

Yet there are two even simpler concepts that can equate to massive personal records and more weight used for hypertrophy repetitions. These two concepts can yield results right away versus training for 12 weeks in hopes the program might work. We get so caught up in all of the scientific data and trying to invent a program that is revolutionary, we forget two very basic yet powerful concepts:

  • Big squat-specific warm-up
  • Bracing

Big Squat-Specific Warm-Up

Too many of us get in a hurry, climb under a bar, and start pumping out the repetitions. This leads to inefficiency of the movement, fewer fibers recruited, and less proximal core stiffness as it relates to the lumbar spine.

A solid warm-up is key. Here are a few main points:

  1. Bike, Row, or Treadmill (2-5 minutes) – The goal is simply to raise the body’s core temperature a couple of degrees. This will make the rest of this warm-up much easier and more tolerable for all of you veterans like me.
  2. JUST LAUNCHED: SQUAT GAINZ

    SPECIAL LAUNCH PRICE OF ONLY $19

    THE SHORT & SWEET GUIDE TO INCREASING YOUR SQUAT

    SUPPLEMENTARY PROGRAMS TO BOOST YOUR SQUAT

    Coach Travis Mash shows you how to simply and scientifically diagnose and fix your squat weaknesses. Squat Gainz also contains six supplementary squat-focused programs you can add to your current strength work to drive your squat through the roof.

  3. Mobility – I front-squatted 250 kilograms / 550 pounds in 2017 at 44 years old. That’s the most weight I have front-squatted in my 40s. There was one big difference that day – I used Donnie Thompson’s body tempering. I made sure to hit the major joints used during big squats: back, hips, knees, and ankles. This allowed me to move in and out of necessary positions required for a massive squat, and I was able to move in and out of these positions without pain. If the body is experiencing pain, it’s not going to recruit the maximal fibers required for optimal performance. It’s perceiving a threat and is protecting you.

    Body tempering or foam rolling/lacrosse ball work will allow you to move into good positions without the aches and pains that come from aging and years of repetitions. In choosing a foam roller, density is key. A squishy foam roller isn’t going to produce much change in the tissue, so I recommend going with a firm/dense foam roller or even a PVC pipe. Lacrosse balls are great for targeting key points because they are dense with a small surface area.

    I am not a huge proponent of static stretching, but there are a couple of stretches which will go a long way regarding optimal movement in the squat. First the half-kneeling hip flexor stretch is a key for me – and if you are a powerlifter or weightlifter, it’s going to be key for you. As barbell athletes we stay in hip flexion. Over time this can cause our hip flexors to shorten, which causes an anterior pelvic tilt. This forward tilt of the pelvis makes squatting with good technique a lot harder than it has to be. Anterior pelvic tilt can also cause lower back issues – and trust me that’s one section of the body you want to be healthy. I love Squat University’s explanation of this stretch. Simply put, he recommends getting into a half-kneeling position and then performing the opposite of an anterior pelvic tilt. Here’s my explanation: with a vertical spine, flex the abdominals, flex the glute on the side of the kneeling knee causing a posterior pelvic tilt, hold the position for 10 seconds, and perform two repetitions of 10 seconds per side.

  4. Purposeful stability, coordination, and further mobilization – I like to use specific weighted movements to begin coordinating the required muscles for squatting that also encourage optimal movement and stability. I watch too many people spend countless hours focusing on mobility. My favorite warm-up weighted movements are:
    • Westside ATP aka belt squat- 20 seconds marching, 20 seconds squatting with kettlebell, and 20 seconds hinging. Three sets of all this.
    • Potato sack kettlebell squats with 3 deep breaths at the bottom for 2-3 sets of 8 repetitions
    • Lying supine on a bench with a band around your feet unilateral knee to chest. Obviously one leg remains neutral in isometric contraction, while knee flexion is performed on the other side. This is a great way to warm up the hip flexor and the glutes. Do 1-2 sets of 8-10 slow and controlled repetitions per side.
  5. Create proximal stiffness with the McGill Big 3 – I recommend all of my athletes perform Dr. Stuart McGill’s recommended side planks, bird dogs, and curl-ups before squatting, deadlifting, or performing any of the Olympic movements. Those three movements help to create stiffness around the spine – and in the words of McGill, “proximal stiffness equals distal movement.” Basically if the muscles around the spine are stiff and stable, the body will allow the limbs to move freely throughout required ranges of motion.

Brace for PRs

Most strength coaches would agree the key to a big squat is a strong back. We have countless debates and discussions on the best ways to strengthen the back. We talk about good mornings, front squat carries, and other exercises designed to improve the strength of spinal extensors. However there is something much more critical for ensuring spinal extension during a massive squat, and that is proper bracing.

You would be surprised at the number of athletes who don’t understand how to brace. I was working with an Olympic hopeful weightlifter at a camp in 2017 for USA Weightlifting. He wasn’t one of mine, but I was surprised to find out he had never heard about bracing. This same young man had lived at the Olympic Training Center, and yet had never even heard of this simple concept. The lesson learned here was never assume the level of an athlete equates to them knowing the basics. I recommend never assuming anyone understands basics. Just like all the great coaches from all of our favorite sport, as coaches we should ensure our athletes perfect the basics.

Here are a few easy ways to ensure tightness around the spine:

  1. Hands as close as mobility will allow – This will create maximal stiffness in the upper back around the thoracic spine, which is where most of us fail during a squat. Close hands along with the Valsalva maneuver (we will discuss more in just a bit) will ensure optimal stiffness.
  2. Tuck elbows under the bar – Too many people let their elbows flare out, which also allows the scapula to flare out. In my experience, the muscles related to the scapula are the gateway to the spinal extensors. When the scapula flares, then the back especially in the thoracic spine area starts to flex or round. Every great squatter on the planet knows this leads to the death of any big squat.
  3. Root your feet in the ground – I like to think about the big toe, pinky toe, and heel as roots growing into the ground. I literally dig them in, and then perform a cork screw (external rotation) in the ground to activate the external rotators. This might not have any direct relationship to the spine, but I have found weak feet equals weak back.
  4. Learn to use a belt – The Valsalva maneuver is a pretty amazing tool to use. Simply put, you will breathe in as much air as possible into the belly, pressing out against your belt in the front, sides, and even in the back – while keeping the mouth shut and not letting any air escape. This technique causes massive amounts of tension around the lumbar spine, and any great strength athlete will tell you a stable spine is a stronger one.

JUST LAUNCHED: SQUAT GAINZ

SPECIAL LAUNCH PRICE OF ONLY $19

THE SHORT & SWEET GUIDE TO INCREASING YOUR SQUAT

SUPPLEMENTARY PROGRAMS TO BOOST YOUR SQUAT

Coach Travis Mash shows you how to simply and scientifically diagnose and fix your squat weaknesses. Squat Gainz also contains six supplementary squat-focused programs you can add to your current strength work to drive your squat through the roof.

I hope this article helps all of you achieve the squat of your dreams. Let this be a lesson in the barbell continuum – and by that I mean most of us start out on our barbell journey’s seeking to maximize the basics. Then somewhere along the way, we try to get super scientific and fancy, causing us to forget the basics. Then we get older and wiser, shifting back to realizing the basics are what gets us strong quickly and keeps us safe. For all of you young coaches and athletes, I recommend none of you ever quit trying to perfect the basics. The basics will lead to the personal records you are dreaming about, and the basics will keep you safe and healthy along your journey.

Listener Questions Answered – The Barbell Life 273

I love these podcasts.

I love answering listener questions because that way I know I’m actually helping people – actually telling you all something that you want to know. These are always tons of fun for me. I hope you guys enjoy them as well.

And we’ve got another awesome one today for you…

JUST LAUNCHED: SQUAT GAINZ

SPECIAL LAUNCH PRICE OF ONLY $19

THE SHORT & SWEET GUIDE TO INCREASING YOUR SQUAT

SUPPLEMENTARY PROGRAMS TO BOOST YOUR SQUAT

Coach Travis Mash shows you how to simply and scientifically diagnose and fix your squat weaknesses. Squat Gainz also contains six supplementary squat-focused programs you can add to your current strength work to drive your squat through the roof.

LISTEN IN TO TODAY’S PODCAST AS WE TALK ABOUT:

  • When do you push through pain and when do you stop?
  • Breaking squat plateaus
  • Rotator cuff warmups
  • Getting strong in CrossFit
  • Mobility and tendon health
  • and more…

Get Jacked in a Hurry

I was telling my father-in-law yesterday that I have written over one thousand articles since 2002.

I have always taken the outlook if I give as much as possible to all of you, the rest would take care of itself. For 17 years, I have been writing articles, making videos, and producing podcasts, so I could teach all of you the best ways to get strong and in shape. From 2002 until now, things have changed so much – and that change is what I am writing about today.

GOALS and PRIORITIES

We are a busy society. The Internet has given us access to our businesses and customers we didn’t have before. We can always be posting, writing, or making videos, so now we are all busier than ever before. We want to train, and we want to get in better shape. However, the fact of the matter is time is limited.

This has been my reality since 2016. I have a growing family, a thriving business, and athletes who are competing all over the world on a monthly basis. I still desire to be strong and in shape, but I care more about my family, athletes, and customers than I care about my own fitness and strength. Are those bad priorities? That’s open for debate, but the fact is that’s the way it is. I am going to spend time with my family. I am going to communicate with my online team and ebook customers. I am going to focus on my in-house athletes.

However, I have found a way to get in shape without spending countless hours in the gym. As I write this, it sounds like an infomercial, but the difference is I am not selling anything. This is 100% for your benefit.

View this post on Instagram

From @coachtravismash : Great day training at @snapfitnesshr with @emilydrewmash with my new workout plan. Today’s workout: . -Standing Presses 5×3 working up to a 3RM at 9RPE . 1a. Deadlift 6-4-2 working up to 200kg/440lb x 2 (video shown) 1b. Split Stance Jammer Punches 3 x 5ea 1c. Battle Ropes with Squats 3 x 30 sec . 2a. DB Triceps Extensions 4 x 6 2b. Push downs 4 x 10 2c. Preacher Curls 3a. Step-Squat-Lunge mobility 3 x 8ea 3b. Battle Rope 3 x 30 sec . The goals of my workouts are as follows: -Time efficient 60-75 minutes -Strength is still a priority -Movement is a massive component -Bodybuilding to get jacked . These workouts are perfect for people in a hurry, master athletes, and pretty much everyone. . Now my question is: “Would you guys and gals want me to publish these workouts on here daily?” . If so, let me know what questions you have and what you’d like. 👀 the clothing from my favorite companies: wrist wraps and belt from @harbingerfitness @strongerexperts t-shirt #jamaica and my Pan Am Games @usa_weightlifting hat and shoes. . . . @intekstrength #intekstrength @athleteps @harbingerfitness #harbingerfitness @tfox66 #nikeweightlifting #athleteps @mg12power #mg12thepowerofmagnesium #wodfitters @wodfitters @strongerexperts #strongerexperts @leanfitnesssystems #LEANFit @shruggedcollective @andersvarner @usaweightlifting #usaw

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First let’s talk about the goals of the program, which happen to be my goals at this stage of life. Here’s what I am trying to do:

  • Get stronger – This will always be a priority because I love being strong.
  • Get fit – By ‘fit’ I mean more work capacity and better cardiovascular health.
  • Mobility is a key – At this stage of my life I want to be able to move and play sports with my children. I have a 19-year-old, 4-year-old, 2-year-old, and a 6-month-old. My 19-year-old is in college, but the other children are wild and crazy. They want to play sports, run around, and have fun.
  • Leave each workout feeling and moving better – I don’t like the word ‘feel’ because it is so subjective, but really I want my body to experience less inflammation and joint pain. With proper movement patterns and a solid warm up, this is definitely an achievable goal.
  • Get jacked – I have always loved bodybuilding. Yes, even at 46 years old I love chasing the pump. I might be known as a strength athlete and strength coach, but I am definitely a fan of bodybuilding. My desire for the iron was 100% inspired by Arnold, Ferrigno, and Colombu.

So is it possible to accomplish all of these goals in less than 75 minutes? Absolutely, if you have a focused plan, keep the head phones on, and quit the chitchat. Here are a few keys that are important for this to work:

  • a warm up that includes a lighter version of the strength focus on the day (ex. the bar only or 60kg/132lb) – pinpointing the joints that are trouble areas and pinpointing the joints required to perform the tasks at hand
  • a simple periodized approach to the strength movement on the day
  • a circuit-style approach for accessory work
  • a plan that includes bodybuilding movements, joint mobility work designed to improve movement deficiencies, and exercises designed to spark the heart rate
  • targeted strength movements that are also a part of the circuits for efficiency’s sake

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

Get Travis Mash's Guide to Building Your Own Program

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

SAMPLE WEEK

Day 1

Back Squat: 5 x 5 (75% minimum, working toward 5RM at 9 RPE)

Met Con 1
Hang Snatch: 3 x 5 at around 7 RPE
Leg Press: 3 x 10
Farmers Walk: 3 x 25 yards
Barbell Hip Thrusts (with strap around knees): 3 x 12

Met Con 2
Rower: 4 x 250m
Russian Baby Makers: 4 x 10
Lunge: 4 x 50-100m

Day 2

Bench Press: 5 x 5 (75% minimum, working toward 5RM at 9 RPE)

Circuit 1
Clean and Push Press: 5 x 1 + 5 at 70%
Barbell Bentover Row: 5 x 10 (65% minimum)
Weighted Pushups: 5 x 10

Circuit 2
Double Unders: 3 x 25 – 50
Spider Man Walks: 3 x 10 per leg
Weighted Dips: 3 x 10

Day 3

Deadlift (eccentric slower than concentric): 5 x 3 (83% minimum, working toward 3RM at 9 RPE)

Met Con
OH Squat: 4 x 5 (around 7 RPE)
Pullups Strict: 4 x submaximal reps (use weight if more than 10 per set)
TRX Leg Curl: 4 x 10

Circuit 2
Reverse Hypers: 3 x 45 sec
Step-Squat-Lunge (Hip Mobility): 3 x 10 per leg
Prowler Push: 3 x 25 yards (heavy)

Day 4

Clean and Jerk: 5 x 2 (start at 70% and work up to 8 RPE)

Circuit 1
Bench Press: 4 x 10 (start at 65% – work up if too easy)
Horizontal Bodyweight Rows: 4 x submaximal reps (2-sec pause at top of contraction)
Axle Bar Biceps Curls: 4 x 10

Circuit 2
Kettlebell Potato Squats: 4 x 6 (with three deep breaths in the bottom of squat)
Sled Drag Forward: 4 x 40 yards
Heavy Med Ball Throws for Height: 4 x 8
Sled Drag Backward: 4 x 40 yards

Day 5

Front Squat: 5 x 3 ( at minimum of 83% – with last set being 3+ leaving one in the tank)

Circuit 1
Kettlebell Goblet Squat on Belt Squat: 4 x 10
Hyperextensions with Bands:4 x 10
Barbell Lunges:4 x 10 each leg

Circuit 2
Side Lunges: 4 x 8 each side
One-arm Overhead Dumbbell Squats: 4 x 5 each arm
Dumbbell Power Cleans: 4 x 10
Steep Inclined Treadmill: 4 x 60 seconds

GOALS AND LEGACY

This workout shows you the way I would use this style of training to emphasize the movements I love – the snatch, clean and jerk, squat, bench, and deadlift. You can also see the way I am targeting optimal movement for my hips. As far as mobility, my hips are my only trouble spot.

Of course you can change the workout around to fit your own goals. For example, you can totally focus on the squat, bench press, deadlift, and strict press. This would allow for more frequency in those movements. Therefore you could achieve better neural efficiency in the movements that are more important to you as an individual.

There are a few more keys to living a healthy and strong life that I am applying to my life. I am trying to be active everyday with a minimum being to take a 10-minute walk. I am at the beach with my family right now. My wife Emily Drew and I totally took advantage of the public park yesterday. My workout was filled with dips, pushups, pull-ups, squats, rows, and explosive step-ups. We followed up this workout with a swim in the ocean.

It’s funny to see me transitioning to the stage of my life. I was consumed with a desire to lift the heaviest weights on the planet, which was all I cared about. It’s exciting to be entering this new world of fitness. Recently I have watched so many of my powerlifting and strongman friends die in their pursuit to be the strongest men on earth. I have four babies I want to watch grow up, and hopefully I will get to see them become parents. I want to be the most jacked grandfather on the planet – which will require me to live long enough for that to take place.

I will never be an aerobic fitness bunny hopping around in my tight outfit encouraging people to jump around with me, but I can get in better shape. I can encourage others to do the same. When I think about it, it’s a bit more fulfilling to inspire others to live longer and more healthy lives versus inspiring them to lift the most weight on the planet. With a little thought into the program, we can have both. Let’s lift some heavy weights and get fit. Coach Dan John has been preaching this for years. I want to see my athletes living long lives – heck, Morgan McCullough is my godson. I sure don’t want to see him dying early.

Yes, I want to pass the torch of strength to my children and my athletes. However, I want to pass the torch of health and fitness as well to my children and my incredible athletes. It seems way more fulfilling to coach balance rather than coaching absolute strength. As this workout evolves, I will pass it on to all of you more and more.

Here's the key to unlocking even more gains in 2019...

Become a member of the Mash Mafia.

* Fully Customized Programming

* Unlimited Technique Analysis

* The Best Coaching in the World

Christian Thibaudeau on the Industry, Coaching, and Dopamine – The Barbell Life 267

It was such an honor to talk on today’s podcast with Christian Thibaudeau.

I tell the story of being a young man at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado – the early days of Testosterone Nation Magazine. I kept hearing people talk about Christian again and again.

And for good reason.

Coach Thibaudeau joins us today to talk about the realities of the strength business and how everything has changed with social media. But he also tells us about what makes a truly great coach.

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.

LISTEN IN TO TODAY’S PODCAST AS WE TALK ABOUT:

  • Canadian steroid controversies giving Christian an opportunity
  • Gaining the credibility to work with high level athletes
  • Crying in the backroom and adrenal responses
  • Dopamine, kids, and fast food relationships
  • God and the meathead paradise
  • and more…

Greg Nuckols on Training Men, Women, Young, and Old – The Barbell Life 264

Chances are if you’re reading this, you know who Greg Nuckols is.

I am so proud of this young man. He has gone from being an intern at my facility to now being a pillar in the strength industry.

Greg joins us today to talk with us in depth about what he’s been studying lately related to men and women. We talk about their different training needs and challenges – and we also talk about how men and women differ dramatically as they age.

LEARN HOW TO FIT A PROGRAM TO THE ATHLETE

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.

LISTEN IN TO TODAY’S PODCAST AS WE TALK ABOUT:

  • The affects of different birth control prescriptions on lifting
  • Major differences in the specificity needs of men and women
  • How men and women lifters change as they get older
  • Why Greg will NOT be getting a doctorate
  • Hormone replacement therapy for men and women
  • and more…

Your Questions Answered – The Barbell Life 260

I have to say this is one of the most fun things I do.

Today, we have a listener Q&A podcast – where we get to the questions that you have written in. I love these podcasts because I get to just talk about what I love so much, but also I know that I’m answering people’s burning questions and really helping them with their problems.

So give this one a listen to see if there’s any nugget of knowledge that you might find helpful.

COACH MASH'S GUIDE TO HYBRID TRAINING

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...
and DO WHAT YOU WANT.

LISTEN IN TO TODAY’S PODCAST AS WE TALK ABOUT:

  • Training for tactical events (where you have to do it all)
  • Fixing issues with hip extension
  • The crucial differences between strength training and power training
  • Dealing with horrible DOMS
  • Combining HIIT with leg training
  • and more…
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