Category Archives for "Bodybuilding"

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!

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Coach Mash Talks Strongman Training

We have used strongman movements in our workouts at Mash Elite for over a decade now. Each year we incorporate the movements more and more. Strongman is a huge part of my latest book Do What You Want. In the book I show how easy it is to make strongman work a core element of just about any workout plan. This article is about the benefits of strongman work. It’s also to explain the “why” behind the movements we use, and I’ll also reveal the ones we leave alone.


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...

Let’s start by looking at the Strongman movements we use and don’t use:

Strongman Movements We Use Ones We Leave Alone
Overhead Carries Stone Lifts
Farmer’s Walk Tire Flips
Unilateral Farmer’s Walk
Zercher Carry
Suitcase Deadlifts
Log Clean & Press
Axle Bar Deadlifts
Axle Bar Clean & Presses
Keg Toss
Weight Throws for Height
Sled Drags
Sled Pushes
Hand over Hand Car or Sled Pulls

My favorite reason for using strongman training within my programming is for carries. Carries are the number one way we strengthen the cores of our athletes. I have news for you, sit-ups and crunches are not that great for strengthening the core. The core is every muscle that supports the spine and pelvis. When you are carrying heavy weights for distance, you can be assured that every ounce of your core is being strengthened. Not only is your core being strengthened, but it is also being strengthened in a functional way.

Let’s Talk Functional Training

What do I mean by “a functional way?” I am talking about strengthening your core in a way that relates to strength sports, overall athleticism, and life in general. Carries strengthens the core with a vertical torso. Carries also strengthen the core while walking and vertical, which is even more functional. The spine is in a healthier position when it is vertical and neutral. The most important position to be in while carrying is vertical and neutral.

Unilateral carries are also important. Unilateral carries strengthen the core, while encouraging hip health. The quadratus lumborum lifts the hips up on each side. Unilateral carries are a great way to activate and strengthen these muscles that often become dormant hanging out too much at a desk. Unilateral carries can really help to stabilize the pelvis while encouraging proper movement.

Suitcase deadlifts are a great way to similarly strengthen the core by performing eccentric and concentric contractions. Carries on the other had focus on isometric contractions. It’s wise to always strengthen muscles and joints in a way that incorporates all three contractions. Suitcase deadlifts lead me to the other use of Strongman work.

I love movements that can be performed similarly to normal competition or accessory movements. This is the conjugate method at its finest. You can be performing the same plane, 99% a similar movement, and change the implement being lifted, and body will react immediately by trying to adapt to the new stimulus. Also when you are using implements that are slightly awkward, you will incorporate more muscle fibers especially in the core as it tries to balance the body.

An example is using the Strongman log for clean and presses. You still get tremendous hip extension, but the movement is awkward. This movement:

• Creates power
• Requires hip extension
• Strengthens the core
• Develops upper and lower force production
• Strengthens shoulder and overhead stability

The throws are amazing for force development and power production. You can perform throws for height and distance. When you throw for distance, you incorporate rotational force. Keg throws for distance are great for rotational athletes like baseball, softball, tennis, and of course throwers. The pushes and pulls are great for conditioning and strengthening without lots of muscular damage. That means you can still recover quickly from these movements mainly because there aren’t any eccentric contractions taking place.

The Movements We Exclude

There are only a couple of strongman movements I don’t like to use. The first one that we don’t use is the atlas stone. The main reason is because atlas stones force you to pick them up with a flexed spine. There is some debate about the safety of this type of movement, but when it comes to the spine, I am always going to defer to Dr. Stuart McGill. His whole life is dedicated to research regarding the spine and pelvis. His life is also been dedicated to treating some of the highest profile strength athletes in the world. That makes him pretty darn smart.

He doesn’t suggest trying to strengthen the spine in a flexed/rounded position. The spine isn’t designed to lift in that position. Some think that it will strengthen the back to protect it when it gets out of position. However, all that lifting with a flexed back gets you is a lack of capacity. When you train in that position, you weaken the back more and more each time. Eventually you destroy all the capacity that the back has to support the spine, and then injury happens. In reality, when you strengthen the spine in a neutral position, you increase the capacity the back has in a flexed position. That’s why we train 98% of the time in a neutral position. The only times we train with a flexed back is during max effort attempts that don’t go as planned.

The other movement that we don’t use at Mash Elite is tire flips. Personally I love tire flips, but there is one big problem with performing tire flips. The big problem is that they can cause bicep tears at an alarming rate. I love the triple joint extension that one reaches when performing this lift. They are a lot of fun to perform. However, the nature of the lift requires you to lift with a supinated grip. A supinated grip automatically recruits the bicep. You can tell yourself to relax the arm all you want, but the minute you supinate your grip the bicep engages. The bicep doesn’t do well with heavy and explosive movements, so the tire flip is a perfect storm for tearing your biceps.

There is one more thing that I want to mention about Strongman movements: they are a lot of fun! In a sport like Weightlifting where 80% of your time is spent snatching, clean and jerking, and squatting, athletes love the opportunity to carry or lift something differently. Keeping any type of strength training fun is the key to longevity. Too many people quit right before they get good. They miss the payoff for all their hard work because they got bored. I say give the Strongman movements a try. You will at least have more fun while getting better.

There is one last thing that I want to say before I go. When it comes to carries, drags, and pushes, here are the ways to progress:

• Load/ weight
• Distance carried, pushed, or drug
• Sets and reps
• Progression using any or a combination of these will lead to improvements

Now go carry something heavy!

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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.


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...

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


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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!