Category Archives for "Functional Fitness"

Movement, Mobility, and How to UnWOD yourself with PT Chris Wash – The Barbell Life 212

We all love the feeling of getting under a heavy barbell and pushing our body to the limit. Even better is breaking through those limits and getting stronger!

But the reality is that pushing your body to the limit can lead to getting hurt. That’s true for any athletic endeavor.

Chris Wash is an awesome physical therapist and he’s here with us today to talk about doing what we can to keep you from getting hurt – and then doing what we can to get you healthy again if you do get hurt. He worked with Coach Crystal McCullough on her back issues, and this guy is not your average PT.

Protocols for Aches and Pains, Muscular Imbalances & Recovery

Work Harder. Train Longer. Prevent Injury.

Prevent injury, reduce pain and maintain joint health with Travis's specific corrections for your individual muscular imbalances.

He also has strong opinions (and some incredibly smart ones) on mobility. If you go about mobility in the wrong way, you can set yourself up for some serious problems down the line.

Listen in to this one to find out how to do it in the right way.



  • THE absolute MOST important mobility aspect that will keep you healthy and safe (even more important than technique)
  • How he would prevent his double knee replacement surgery if he could start again
  • The rounded back – really that bad?
  • Why feeling pain doesn’t matter – and what does
  • When flexibility could be the worst thing for you
  • and more…

Navigating Research by Matt Shiver

Navigating through research can be intimidating and confusing. Especially if you don’t have a science background. There is a lot that goes into the writing of research that makes it hard to read. There are p values for statistical significance, there are charts and graphs that seem to be in a different language, there are plus and minus values, and LOTS of text.

I want to present some easy places you can find the most up to date research in the field of strength and conditioning and nutrition as well as teach you how to read the complex ones.

Before we begin, it is important to discuss the different types of research. The pyramid below covers the hierarchy of evidence.

Case Studies

Case reports or case studies are the lowest on the pyramid. They are typically a report on one individual and their response to an intervention. The problem with case reports, are they have a small sample size, have higher amount of bias, and don’t control variables as well as the higher forms of research on the pyramid. These are often the studies that you will find when someone reports an adverse reaction to an intervention or supplement when there are no other participants that were involved in the study.

The rest of the red and orange types of studies are good at identifying new variables that we should further research. They can show correlation between variables but lack the scientific rigor for coaches to take information from them and implement them into their training programs.

Randomized Controlled Trials

Randomized controlled trials (RCT) involve control groups and test groups that have been randomly put into their specific group. Most of the time the subjects don’t know what group they are in. RCTs are the meat and potatoes of the research world. This is where the work is being done to determine if an intervention is better than the current standard or placebo.

The problem with RCTs is that there is conflicting evidence in many studies. Some studies that share similar methods may have completely different results. That is why it is important to look up other research on the same topic after reading an RCT to see how it compares to past research. WE NEED MORE THAN ONE STUDY TO PROPOSE THAT SOMETHING WORKS.

Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses

Systematic reviews and meta-analyses are the next step. These are papers that combine findings from multiple RCTs to give you the most well-rounded picture of a topic is that has been researched. Here is where we can really take research and apply it to our coaching. Systematic reviews and meta-analyses are used to create practice guidelines that are used in all professions.

When looking at research, I typically suggest focusing most of your attention to systematic review, meta-analyses, and RCTs.

Resources I Use For My Research

Now on to the sites that I have found to be the most helpful for me to get my research. I’m going to start with the easiest ones to read first.

Stronger by Science:

Greg Nuckols and his team do an amazing job of synthesizing the most current research for anyone to read into about a paragraph. There may be some charts included as well. This is an easy go to! They include strength training, hypertrophy, nutrition, and supplementation.

Examine – Nutrition:

Examine allows you to search by supplement to find the outcomes from multiple studies. Here is an example below on beta-alanine. You see that the outcome that eight different studies tracked was muscular endurance. They found a very high correlation that there was a minor improvement in muscular endurance. The level of evidence bar is on the left which shows how much research has been done on the supplement. The higher the level of evidence, the more research that has bene done.

NSCA – Journal of Strength and Conditioning:

Here is where I go every month to search through abstracts for research to read. Abstracts give you a quick snapshot of what the article is about. It gives you the key findings, but not the whole story.

To get published in the NSCA’s Journal, the article has to be good quality. There are plenty of research that has been done but never gets published by journals because the research was not good. If the journal does not like how the research was conducted, they do not publish it.



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.

I use the NSCA but there are plenty of other sports medicine and strength and conditioning journal sites. If you are interested in subscribing, there is a monthly or annual fee that is associated with it. If you live close to a college campus sometimes you can get the articles for free by logging on through their library website or campus WI-FI.


Here is going to be your gold standard. With that, it is hard to read! You are going to have to read a lot to really understand what you are reading.

While searching for articles, make sure to search for systematic reviews or RCTs. You have the ability to filter by article type. It will narrow your search by quite a lot. Also look for articles that are recent (past 5-10 years).

If you are reading an RCT, it is important to really assess the methods section. Do the methods make sense? Is it reproducible? Are there too many factors that are at play here that could have contributed to the outcome? Be critical of the articles you read. Then read the results. From there, you can start to piece together your own conclusion. See if your conclusion matches the authors.

The systematic reviews are nice because the authors of the review have already been critical of all the RCTs. If in doubt read reviews. You can skip about how they found the RCTs for their paper.

Review Articles

There are some websites that will post review articles of recent research. These are also a great place to start. They are typically simplified and easier to read. Like “

Follow Researchers You Like On Social Media

One of the easiest ways to get the most up to date research is following researchers like Dr. Andy Galpin and Dr. Bret Contreras on social media. They post about their most recent publications and the results from them on Twitter and IG. If you find a research article that you really enjoy, look at the name of the Authors. From there you can search the names of the authors on Pubmed to find more of their research. Most researchers specialize in a specific field.

Listen to “151 – Andy Galpin on Advances in the Science of Strength” on Spreaker.

A closing thought, be critical the next time someone tells you that “research shows ____ works better than ____.” You will be surprised of the limitations that research has. There are plenty of research articles that do not get published. For every article that supports something works, there will always be another article that says it does not work. You have to be critical and actually dig into the research to make your own opinions.

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

Barbell Shrugged’s Anders Varner – The Barbell Life 209

Anders has been into this crazy world of CrossFit longer than probably anyone else you know. He was also one of the first people to ever own a CrossFit box. And now he’s teamed up with Barbell Shrugged to expand their network of podcasts and to teach us all.

So listen in to this one to hear the scoop on where CrossFit has been and where it’s going – and what Anders would do if he were to open a CrossFit box today. And Anders drops some great insight into teaching people about fitness, the great guests that he’s met and interviewed, and what makes a guest truly incredible in his mind.

We also get into how Anders is currently training himself – because it’s not easy fitting everything in when life gets super busy.

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.



  • How he has been instrumental in Barbell Shrugged’s current direction
  • Why he got out of CrossFit and what he would do now if he were starting a gym
  • How to know an interview is killing it
  • The impact “Body for Life” had on him
  • Training to go slow?
  • and more…

Programming To Avoid Imbalances By Matt Shiver

When I program for my athletes I categorize my movement patterns into the following 6 main categories.

  1. Squatting
  2. Hinging
  3. Upper Body Pushing
  4. Upper Body Pulling
  5. Carries
  6. Trunk/core

Note: The weightlifting movements, deadlifts, and other complex movements are combinations of the movement categories. These six basic movement patterns can be combined to create more advanced movements.

I categorize these movement patterns so that I can make sure I am evenly working the entire body. I don’t want to create any imbalances or weak points. I want to make sure to have a balance between the squatting and hinging categories as well as the upper body pushing and pulling categories. That does not mean that I necessarily want a 1:1 ratio between all the categories. If someone has an imbalance, I may want the ratio to be 2:1 or even 3:1 to work out the imbalance. We may do less squatting and more posterior chain work to even out their leg strength. But if someone is very well balanced I do tend to stay around a 1:1 ratio.

For every set of squatting, I want to incorporate some sort of hinging to balance that out. I want to create well rounded athlete that will stay healthy. It is important to look at the training volume over the entire week. You can have one day be squat day and have another day being your hinging/posterior chain day where all the exercises performed that day are from that movement category. Or you can break it up evenly and have an equal amount of hinging and squatting exercises throughout each session of the week. It really depends on your personal preference. The most important thing is overall weekly balance.

I note this to be especially important in the upper body. For those of us who lived on the bench press growing up, we may have some limited shoulder mobility with an overdeveloped chest and a weak back. We need full shoulder range of motion! It is important to equal out your pushing and pulling of the upper body. Plus, big upper backs are way more impressive than big chests. Look at Dorian Yates and Ed Coan. If you have a big back, I know you are strong!

Protocols for Aches and Pains, Muscular Imbalances & Recovery

Work Harder. Train Longer. Prevent Injury.

Prevent injury, reduce pain and maintain joint health with Travis's specific corrections for your individual muscular imbalances.

Exercises for Squatting

Squatting involves any exercise that requires a bend in the knee and requires the body to “push” weight away from the body. The most common exercises of this category include all the variations of:

  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Leg press
  • Plyometrics
  • Step ups

Exercises for Hinging

Hinging involves any exercises that requires a bend (flexion) in the hips. Most of the time the bending (flexing) is followed by hip extension (squeezing the glutes and bringing the trunk back up to neutral). We tend to refer to these as “pulling” exercises. The most common exercises of this category include:

  • RDLs
  • Good mornings
  • KB swings
  • Back extensions
  • Reverse hypers

Exercises for Upper Body Pushing

Upper body pushing can further be broken down into horizontal pushing and vertical pushing. Horizontal pushing includes:

  • Bench press
  • Floor press,
  • Push-ups,

Vertical pushing includes:

  • Strict press
  • Push press
  • Military press
  • Dips

Exercises for Upper Body Pulling

Upper body pulling can also be broken down into horizontal pulling and vertical pulling. Horizontal pulling includes:

  • Any variation of rowing

Vertical pulling includes:

  • Pull-ups
  • Lat pull downs
  • Straight arm pull downs

Exercises for Carries

Carries are exactly what they sound like. Pick up a heavy object and move it. There is no easier way to get strong and increase your work capacity than just pick something up and move it for 30-45 seconds. Then take a rest and do it again. I really like to do these unilaterally to work out any imbalance an athlete may have.

Exercises for Trunk and Core

Trunk and Core movement patterns can be broken down into front, side, and low back exercises. Front exercises include:

  • Planks
  • Leg raises
  • Dead bugs
  • Front rack holds

Side includes:

  • Side planks
  • Unilateral carries can even fit here
  • Side to side leg raises

Low back exercises include:

  • Reverse planks
  • Back extensions
  • Reverse hypers

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

Breaking into the Strength and Conditioning Industry

The Strength and Conditioning world is a tough nut to crack. Most of the exercise science majors that I know are working in unrelated industries. It’s sad to see because it’s an industry with the potential to deliver an individual a life filled with purpose and excitement. My life is like a storybook for a guy that grew up in the deep mountains of North Carolina. I never would have dreamed that I would be traveling to three different countries and three different states all within six weeks.

This industry allows me to work with some of the best athletes in the world. I have written books that are being read and applied all throughout the world. I get to help people achieve their dreams. I have the chance to impact lives in a positive way.

So how did I get here? What choices did I make that led me to this point? One of my biggest passions is helping other people in this industry with becoming successful too. That’s what this article is about. If you want to succeed in the strength and conditioning world, this article is for you.

Step 1 – Narrow Down Your Options

The first step is narrowing down your options. Yes, there are options in the exercise science world. Here are a few:

  • High School Strength Coach
  • College Strength Coach
  • Professional Sports Strength Coach
  • Personal Trainer
  • CrossFit Coach
  • Weightlifting Coach
  • Powerlifting Coach
  • Cardiac Rehab
  • Corporate Wellness
  • Professor
  • Research
  • Online Instruction
  • Fitness Writer

There are more, but this gives you some ideas. A big key is narrowing down the focus as soon as possible. Once you find your area, then it is time to narrow things down even more. If you want to become successful in this industry, you have to become the expert in one specific niche in your field. Let me give you some examples.

Step 2 – Become A Niche Expert

The next step is becoming an expert in a niche within your field. Here are some examples:

  • My favorite is Dr. Bret Contreras also known as the Glute Guy. He makes a great living as a glute expert. He trains some of the best fitness women in the world on how to get the perfect glutes.
  • Greg Nuckols is the go to guy at breaking down the research on various topics and making it simple for the rest of us to understand. He also explains which research is trustworthy, and calls out the research not up to standards.
  • Alex Viada is the expert on concurrent training.
  • Mike Bledsoe focused on media and bringing the brightest among us to the world.

I have spent my whole life trying to understand the barbell. I got lucky to be honest. I had no idea that CrossFit would bring the barbell to the rest of the world. However, the fact that I followed my passion wasn’t luck. If you find an aspect of fitness that you love, I suggest following that love. I know this sounds kind of cliché, but it’s the truth. If you love something, you won’t stop until you perfect it.

I love weightlifting and powerlifting. I started out wanting to make myself the best strength athlete in the world, but now I want to make my athletes the best in the world. I am one of the go to guys in the weightlifting and powerlifting world because I have spent and continue to spend my life perfecting my craft. If you become the expert, you will in turn become valuable.

Step 3 – Network

The next step is getting to know the successful people in your chosen field and niche. I am a friend with all of the top weightlifting coaches in America. We help each other, and we are all talented in our own areas. Coach Kevin Doherty is the expert on handling athletes at weightlifting meets. Coach Sean Waxman is the expert in biomechanics. Coach Kevin Simons has programming down to a near perfect science. We help each other in the areas that we have perfected. That’s one of the biggest ways that we continue to learn.

Finding a mentor is even better. A good mentor can lead you down a path of success. I have had several mentors that have helped me immensely. Coach Sean Waxman continues to mentor me in this crazy sport of Olympic weightlifting. Guys like Mike Bledsoe and Coach Joe Kenn helped me find my way in the business side of strength and conditioning. Sooner or later no matter which route you take, you will need to sharpen your business skills. In today’s world, you will need to learn about social media, marketing, websites, networking, and product development.

My suggestion is find a mentor that cares about you. You should find someone that is doing something similar to what you want to do. Whatever you do, don’t just take and take from this person. You need to find a way to give back and be of value to your mentor. Lastly, I suggest that you never forget and always give credit where credit is due. This little piece of advice will go a lot further than you can imagine. Remember these mentors are human. They are helping you because they care about you. When you give them credit, you are affirming that you care for them right back.

Step 4 – Never Stop Learning

Step 4 is never stopping learning. People used to get away with learning a few things and then spending the rest of their lives passing on that information. That will not happen in today’s world. The internet allows us to have all the information of the world at our fingertips. The internet also allows your customers, bosses, and colleagues compare you to the rest of your peers. If you start getting passed up, you can guarantee that your customers and bosses will start looking elsewhere.

There are so many ways to learn nowadays that you really don’t have an excuse. There are audiobooks that you can listen to as you drive. There are eBooks you can download with one click. There are podcasts, articles, and videos that are free, so you have no excuse. If you aren’t continuing to learn, you are one thing, lazy. If you fail due to laziness, that’s your fault and no one else’s.

Listen to “Barbell Life” on Spreaker.

However, you can’t just say that I am going to read a book or listen to a podcast. You have to schedule it just like anything else. You have to plan. You can listen to your audiobook on the way into work. You can listen to your favorite podcast every Friday by getting up a bit earlier. You can do whatever you want as long as you plan it.

Step 5 – Educate Others

Step 5 is to educate the world. No matter what field or niche, in today’s world, you have the ability to share what you are learning. There are several avenues to share your thoughts like blogging, podcasts, videos/vlogs, and social media. Whether you are a college professor or a personal trainer, you can increase your value by growing your following. Andy Galpin is a professor, but now he’s even more valuable because the whole world knows how brilliant he is. That’s valuable to the school because he attracts more potential students to apply. If you are a personal trainer, it’s a way of getting new clients.

I give free information because I love to teach people about the things that I am passionate about. Meanwhile the people reading my free articles and listening to my free podcasts are learning to trust me as an expert. That makes them more willing to buy my books and join my online team. I have found that the more quality free information that I put out is directly proportionate to the number of items that are purchased on my site. It’s weird how the universe works.


World champion powerlifter and world-class weightlifting coach Travis Mash shares his powerful neural activation technique - proven to instantly increase your strength as well as lead to more long-term gains.

This industry is amazing. I spend my days thinking on new and better ways to educate my readers and listeners. I get emails all the time thanking me for helping them reach one goal or another. Sometimes people email me thanking me for making them want to be better parents or husbands, and admittedly those emails are my favorite. I love fitness, but nothing is more important than family and God. This industry is beautiful in the way that we get to help people. If you focus on helping others in as many ways as possible, you won’t fail. I won’t lie though, it’s hard work. If you want to work 40-hours per week, this is probably not the industry for you. You don’t punch out with this industry. You are always on the clock. But you know what? I don’t want to be off the clock.

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

Ten-Time CrossFit Games Athlete Ben Smith – The Barbell Life 208

If you know CrossFit, you know Ben Smith. He’s been to the Games nine times, he won in 2015, and he recently qualified for the games this year. That will be his tenth time in a row going to the Games… talk about an amazing accomplishment in CrossFit.

So how does he do it? How does he stay competitive year after year? That’s what we get the chance to talk about on today’s podcast.

Ben’s philosophy on training is so simple… yet so smart. He intuitively understands how to balance everything you need to be excellent at CrossFit, and he certainly knows how to train hard without beating yourself down and getting hurt.

You don’t get to the Games ten times unless you’re doing something right. He knows how to get stronger while maintaining his energy systems. He knows how to combine weightlifting with gymnastics and everything else he has to excel at.


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...



  • How he trains for CrossFit
  • The changes he’s seen in CrossFit over the years
  • How to stay competitive in CrossFit for the long term
  • Advice for those wanting to dominate CrossFit
  • Getting better at weightlifting by… not weightlifting?
  • and more…
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