Category Archives for "Functional Fitness"

Why I Love CrossFit by Coach Crystal McCullough, MSN, CSCS

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Why I Love CrossFit

by Coach Crystal McCullough, MSN, CSCS
Instagram: @crystalmac_72

It is absolutely amazing how much the fitness industry has changed over the last two decades. Depending on whom you ask, it could be considered a good thing or a bad thing. The reason why I say “good or bad” is that all trainers and not all CrossFit gyms are created equal. It is so much easier now, with the emergence of the World Wide Web and online certifications, for someone who has no business coaching or training to hold a certification to do so. So, this places the job to find reputable coaches and CrossFit gyms on to the consumer. This can be said about many professions to include dentists, doctors, general contractors, plumbers, so I am not just picking on coaches.

What I believe is that CrossFit has opened up so many doors for otherwise sedentary people to find an outlet. There is no longer the guessing game of what someone should do when they go to the gym. The person walks in, the workout is on the board, and the coach is there to lead the class. Not only that; the experience goes beyond the four walls of the gym and it transcends simply working out. There is a sense of community. Members get together outside of the gym and socialize. They truly know each other. I know from my own experience that my CrossFit gym became my family. Several deployments, my CrossFit family and the outlet I had at the gym, was my sanity. We have had Thanksgiving at our house where 20+ members have joined in the festivities. I love that CrossFit is more than an exercise routine or methodology. It is a mindset and a lifestyle.

For many, it is tough to work out alone or find the motivation to go to the gym when no one would miss you if you didn’t show up. I can guarantee you that people notice at a CrossFit gym and it makes people accountable and they feel like they are more than just a number. That gets them to show up and put the work in.

I didn’t find CrossFit until I was 34 year old. I was a competitive athlete into college and lost that outlet when I graduated. CrossFit has made it possible for even middle-aged adults to be competitive at a sport.

During my 7 plus years in the CrossFit community, many times, I’ve heard people say that it isn’t a sport and that just because someone works out, that doesn’t make them an athlete. Well, I disagree. Tell me what you think.

1. Sport is defined as “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.” Wouldn’t you say that when the clock counts down 3.2.1.GO, that the athletes whether they are in a competition or doing the daily WOD, they are competing against the clock, each other, or even themselves?
2. An athlete is defined as “a person who is proficient in sports and other forms of physical exercise.”
3. Let’s go farther. Proficient is defined as “competent or skilled in doing or using something.” So then the argument is that people who come in to a CrossFit gym with no skill or abilities are not proficient, so therefore they aren’t an athlete. When someone comes in and they are new and learning basic movements, technically they are in the learning stage, and it is fair to say they aren’t an athlete. Yet…. But at some point in the first few months of them training, they will become proficient at the movements to some degree and therefore, by definition, they would be considered athletes.

I am the first to say that the CrossFit Games and those who train to compete at that level is much different as a sport than what we see in local CrossFit gyms for our general population. CrossFit Games athletes and those aspiring to make it to that level subject their bodies to very high volume and the average general population person would not be able to handle it. That being said, a middle school basketball player is an athlete just as an NBA super star is an athlete. The difference is the level in which they are at.

Whether a person’s competitive desire remains within the four walls of their own CrossFit gym or they want to compete at the local, regional, or Games level, they are all athletes. If you are a gym owner, I recommend you encourage your athletes to sign up for local competitions if only to step outside of their comfort zone.

There are more than 13,000 CrossFit gyms in the world with a large percentage of them being in North America. Throughout the year, there are many local competitions that are hosted by CrossFit affiliates that have divisions for all skill levels and age groups. The Garage Games even runs a Masters Tour for age 35+. The Festivus Games has become very popular for novice and intermediate athletes. On a larger scale, there are the CrossFit Games that has masters divisions up through 60+. Those masters are amazing! People from all over the world compete against each other in all three of these events!

With the emergence of CrossFit, many who might never have known about weightlifting or powerlifting, have begun to compete in those sports as well.

If you go to the USAW website, there are competitions all over the country almost every weekend. There are several powerlifting federations with the USPA and USAPL being the largest. All of the sports have grown because of each other, so it is a pretty amazing mutualistic relationship that these three sports have.

We recently released a book called Time to Compete that is an amazing tool for anyone looking to compete in weightlifting or powerlifting. Whether it is your first meet or you are looking for smarter ways to prepare, this book is for you.

When it comes to CrossFit, game day prep is similar when it comes to proper nutrition and mindset. The main difference is having to pick a competition that matches your skill level. Competitions will give you a set of standards that one must be able to meet in order to be successful in certain divisions. That can include gymnastics movements and minimum barbell weights. It is important to look over those movement standards before deciding if you want to do the competition.

I highly recommend anyone who can move well whether they are an RX, intermediate, or even novice athlete, to compete. It is fun, you meet amazing lifelong friends, and you can achieve more than you ever thought you could in the midst of the competition.

About Coach Crystal:

Crystal is one of our Mash Elite coaches. She is a nationally ranked 72k USAPL Open and Masters powerlifter. Her best lifts are 147k squat, 88k bench, and 177k deadlift. She is an RN with a Masters degree in Nurse Education and has her CSCS. She was a CrossFit affiliate owner from 2015-2017 before relocating to Mash Headquarters. She is also the mom of 14 year old weightlifting phenom, Morgan.

Variables of Programming

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Variables of Programming

Programming is a complex beast. It’s a beast that drives me as a coach. I am in a constant search for the Holy Grail of Programming. The maddening thing is that I am almost certain that doesn’t exist. I have watched one program work wonders for an athlete, while stagnating another one. Whether you are coaching weightlifting, powerlifting, CrossFit, or strength and conditioning athletes (football, softball, MMA, etc.), there are variables that must be considered. Those variables are different depending on the sport. I am not going to pretend that I have it all figured out because no one does. If someone did, then there would be a coach that had athletes setting personal records at every meet. However to date I don’t know of one single coach that fits that description.

There are coaches that have more success than others. Those are the coaches that I gravitate towards. I try to learn from each and every one of them. My favorite part of coaching at the Pan American Games was getting to talk to the best coaches in America for hours at a time. Great coaches like Sean Waxman and John Broz are more than willing to share information. Then there are the younger coaches like Kevin Simons who is literally an exercise science bookworm. I love my chats with him as we both try to solve the mystery of Olympic weightlifting.

This series is going to be for all of you coaches and athletes trying to figure things out. I have been pretty dang successful in multiple sports. I am going to list a few of my accomplishments not to brag, but to let you know my resume. Here we go:

• I have been the Weightlifting Head Coach for Team USA three-times within the last year and a half.
• I’ve placed athletes on Team USA Weightlifting in the Youth, Junior, and Senior Divisions. (2 Youth, 5 Junior, and 3 Senior all in the last 18-months)
• I have coached one Senior Athlete in Canada to the Senior World Championships, and one in New Zealand to the Youth World Championships
• I had four athletes at the USAPL Nationals including one American Record setting Junior, and two USPA National Champions and two World Record Setters.
• I have coached over one hundred Division I Collegiate Athletes in multiple sports like football, wrestling, softball, baseball, swimming, basketball, volleyball, and soccer.
• I am currently working with an Olympic Hopeful Tae Kwon Do Champion
• Personally I played football at Appalachian State University, was a Nationally Ranked Weightlifter training at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, and a world champion/world record holder Powerlifter to name a few.
• I currently coach two teenage CrossFitters including one that’s been to the CrossFit Games, and one that missed the games by one spot. I am coaching Team CrossFit Invoke in preparation for the Games 2018.

I am excited to bring this series to all of you. I am going to do one for weightlifting, one for powerlifting, one for CrossFit, and one for strength and conditioning. Today we will start with Weightlifting, and then each week I will tackle another sport. My goal is to give all of you coaches and athletes some ideas that might help your own training programs. I at least want to teach all of you the different variables, so that you might take a more comprehensive approach. I want no stones left unturned.

Weightlifting Programming Variables

I am going to start with listing a few of the obvious variable, and then I will explain each:

• Total Volume
• Intensity/Load
• Frequency

Total volume is a great place to start. A great tool to use is Prilepin’s Chart. This chart will tell you the optimal reps and total volume for various percentages of maximums. Here’s a copy of the chart:

A great place to start with Volume is in the Optimal Range. You will find that most people will fall within three categories:

1. Optimal Volume
2. High Volume
3. Low Volume

I recommend keeping notes on each athlete. I like to make notes during each block of training. Some athletes crush it during the accumulation and hypertrophy phases, while others do better in the Strength and Competition Phases. My goal is to figure out how to elicit the optimal response in each block. When you find a program that elicits a good response throughout, then stick to that program or at least keep the same parameters.

Frequency and Intensity are also unique to the individual. Some athletes respond well with high frequency programs. That means they are performing competition and supporting exercises more often. You might have read my “Squat Every Day” E-Books. These books are great for people that respond well to high frequency. This type of training is great for perfecting the movements of the competition lifts. The strength gains from a program like this are more neurological in nature. Basically you are getting more efficient at the lifts because you are practicing them more often.

“Intensity” is often confused with “effort”. Intensity is actually referring to load or the weight on the bar. Some people love to go heavy every day like Nathan Damron, and high intensity works well for him. His body is designed to take the beating of load, but not really designed for high volume. High volume is better left for Jacky Bigger. If you drop the volume too much for Jacky, you will get a decrease in performance. She’s probably the most complex to program for, but definitely the challenge is paying off.

Here are some other variables that people don’t talk about as much:

• Daytime Job
• Stressors in life
• Relationships
• Age
• Training Age
• Gender
• Relationship of Competition lifts to Strength Work

Daytime Job- You have to know if your athlete is working a real jog. If so, you need to know what kind of job. Are they on their feet a lot? Are they lifting things in their work? Is their job keeping them up late and cutting in on their rest times? These are all variables that should play into your programming for them. You can’t just write a program, and then force it on your athlete. The program should fit the athlete, but many people try to force the athlete to fit the program.

Stressors in Life- Man this one is huge. What’s going on in the lives of your athletes? This is where a coach has to be more than just someone who coaches them at practice. You have to know your athletes, and you need to care enough about them to get to know about their lives. I coach because I love helping people. Yeah I love when they win Gold Medals, but I love helping them navigate life. I want them to have more success than I ever did without all the mistakes.

If your athlete is dealing with stress, it’s going to affect them. Money, relationships, work, and more can crush an athlete’s energy levels. Stress can have literal physical effects on the body like tightness, weakness, low energy, and recovery issues. When your athlete is going through challenges in their life, I suggest pulling back on the volume and intensity. Let them get through the bump, and then you can crank the volume back up.

Age- We already discussed that all athletes are different. Some will perform better with Optimal loads, some with higher volume, and some with lower volume. That might not change as they get older, but there will need to be adjustments. Whatever workload an athlete has established, it will need to change, as the athlete gets older. Every athlete is different, but in my experience volume and intensity needs to be dialed back a bit for men over 26-years-old and women over 30-years-old. That doesn’t mean that their gains will stop. It just means that you will want to be a little wiser in the approach.

There are the outliers like Colin Burns. He’s 34-years-old, and probably outworks every weightlifter in the country. Once again you simply have to know your athlete. Colin is a very unique athlete.

Training Age- This is one that most people ignore. You might be coaching a 21-year-old, but if he’s been training for ten years, you are going to have to be careful not to over work him. I coach Nathan Damron that is 21-years-old, and he’s trained over ten years. He’s going through a bit of a tough time, so we have to look at changing things up a bit. Nathan could continue to improve for the next ten years, but we might make adjustments to his volume a bit to get him to the next level.

Gender- The biggest difference is that most women need higher volume than men. This is just a safe place to start. Let’s look at three of our top girls. Jacky Bigger needs high volume the entire program. December Garcia needs high volume during the hypertrophy phases and moderate volume thereafter. You can’t drop it too low or have it too high for her to peak properly. Hunter Elam is like a darn man. She needs moderate to start shifting to low volume and high intensity and the end to peak.

Relationship of Competition lifts to Strength Work- This is the most unique one to the lifter. Some like to peak the strength work right along with the competition lifts, and others need phases that are separate in nature. For Jacky Bigger I have figured out that her squat should be peaked early on, and then maintained throughout. There isn’t volume high enough on strength movements like squats, pulls, and presses to negatively affect her. However when the volume is increased on the competition lifts, that volume affects her more negatively. The competition lifts are way more abusive on the joints, which can be harder to recover from.

I recommend taking notes on each stage of your programming. The relationship between strength work and the competition lifts is a major key to a successful program. Each program is a chance to get closer to the perfect individual program. Once you’ve locked in on a program that works best for an athlete, I suggest sticking with that format. You don’t ever want to repeat a program exactly, but repeat the basic traits of a successful program as long as that program works.

I hope this article helps you. I wish that I had read an article like this one five years ago, but hey I like being the guinea pig for all of you. My athletes put their trust in me. It’s my responsibility to design them the best possible program. The key is closely observing and making notes on each and every athlete, so that you can pinpoint the pros and cons.

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Check out one of our Eleven E-Books:

• “Squat Every Day” (High Frequency Squat Programming)
• “Eat What You Want” (Nutrition, Macros, and a built-in Macro Calculator
• “Squat Every Day 2” (Part 2 of High Frequency Squat Programming)
• “No Weaknesses” (Defeat Muscular Imbalances crush the Recovery Game)
• “Mash Program Sampler” (Athletic Performance, Oly, Powerlifting, and Functional Programming)
• “Mash Program Sampler 2 (8 More 12-week Programs)
• “The Mash Blueprint for Program Design” (Learn all about Programming)
• “Performance Zone” (Defeat all Mental Roadblocks)
• “Train Stupid”(Programming and Philosophy of Nathan Damron)
• “MashJacked” (Hypertrophy for Performance and Aesthetics)
• “Conjugate: Westside Inspired Weightlifting”

Check them out here: ⇒ Mash Elite E-Books

How Do CrossFit Coaches Gain Respect?

Check out one of the Online Teams:

• Mash Mafia Bronze
• Mash Mafia Silver
• Mash Mafia Gold
• Eat What You Want
• Eat and Lift What You Want

Check them out here: ⇒ Mash Mafia Online Teams
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How Do CrossFit Coaches Gain Respect?

OK first let me say that there are plenty of CrossFit coaches that I respect. The title was to grab your attention. I am working with more CrossFitters than ever, so of course my attention is turning more and more to CrossFit. I am working with an amazing team CrossFit Invoke along with two teenage stars Ryan Grimsland and Nathan Clifton to name a few. I am friends with some amazing CrossFit coaches like Ryan Grady, Kenny Kane, CJ Martin, and Spencer Arnold. These men are all amazing, and I would let any of them coach any of my athletes or me for that matter. This article isn’t about them.

This article is for the CrossFit coach starting out, or the one that just isn’t getting it. Heck this is for any type of strength coach. It’s hard to do well or meet expectation if no one has ever explained those expectations. Look I am not proclaiming that I am the CrossFit police. I am just giving you guys and gals some ideas that will make you better for your members, and some ideas that will gain the respect of some grumpy old weightlifting coaches in the meantime. Personally I love CrossFit and all that it has done for two of my beloved sports of powerlifting and weightlifting. Unfortunately some of my colleagues are not so accepting, so one of my missions in life is to bridge the gap.

Here are some ideas:

• Find a “good” weightlifting coach to teach you technique, proper coaching, and solid programming.
• Do the same for powerlifting.
• Implement a screening process
• Be in charge and don’t let the member dictate what they are doing.
• Keep your members’ goals in mind when programming. Don’t just kill them.

Let me explain each. Coach McCauley and I get to work with CrossFitters on a daily basis. We are able to teach them safe and effective technique for maximal strength as well as barbell cycling. It’s a fun and challenging process. We get to work with the team from CrossFit Invoke as a group at times. It’s definitely a challenge, but they are getting it.

As a coach if you can spend some time with a competent coach, it can change your life forever. I was able to do that when I coached at MDUSA. It was amazing getting paid to coach alongside Coach Don McCauley and Coach Pendlay. I immersed myself in everything that they said. I was forever changed as a coach. I would have done it for free. Heck I would have paid good money to have that experience.

I recommend that you guys and gals do the same thing. You should find a coach, and ask them to do a mentorship or apprenticeship. There is so much to learn from a good coach. It’s not just how to teach technique. It’s what to do to correct faulty movement patterns. It’s how to spot faulty movement patterns. It’s learning how to program for females versus males. It’s learning how to program for hard gainers versus beasts like Nathan Damron. There’s a lot to learn.

The same goes for the powerlifting movements of squat, bench, and deadlift. I think that CrossFit offers some pretty good seminars with people like Laura Phelps Sweatt, but spending some quality time with a coach is even better. You will get to know exactly what it takes. You will see how the champions squat big weight. Odds are it will be the best way. There are so many cues that you can learn like: drive into the bar for squat, squeeze and break the bar for bench, and shoulders behind the bar for deadlift. There are a million more, but the question is when do you use them and for who? If you get a powerlifting coach like Louie Simmons to mentor you, your life will forever be altered. I promise.

All of you should implement a screening process like the functional movement screen, or any type of movement screen. The key is to understand which member should be doing what. Some people are simply not meant to do a snatch without a ton of work. Just because the workout of the day says to snatch or jerk doesn’t mean that every member should do it. Just because you can get a bar somewhat overhead doesn’t mean that you should snatch. If your member can’t get snatch proficiently, they shouldn’t be snatching. This is where it all goes wrong. A lot of you know how to snatch properly, and most of you know how to teach the snatch properly. The problem is that you let people snatch, so they can be more a part of the class. You aren’t doing them a favor.

Here’s a good start for the Olympic lifts. I would have them overhead squat and front squat. If they can’t do those two things properly, there is no reason to snatch or clean & jerk. If they can’t do a body weight squat proficiently, there is absolutely no reason to put a bar on their back. It’s as simple as that.

This brings me to the fourth point. You have to be in charge. A lot of us are coaches because we want to help others. We enjoy making people happy, and sometimes that gets in the way. We let our members do things that they shouldn’t just to make them happy. The problem is that it’s not in their best interest. You have to establish yourself as the expert. If you’re a coach, you dang well need to be an expert. If you aren’t qualified, that’s a whole other story. I recommend that you at least know the basics of physiology, anatomy, physics, biomechanics, and nutrition to name a few. If you don’t, start studying right now. A weekend certification is going to cut it.

My final point is to keep your members’ goals in mind. If your member is a 40-year-old working mother, they probably don’t need to snatch to reach their goals. They need general strength training, some metabolic work, and some basic nutrition guidance. They don’t need joint issues or back trouble because you are having them do movements that they aren’t capable of. Just because you see something in the CrossFit Games, doesn’t mean that your entire gym should do it. It probably means that you definitely shouldn’t have your gym members do it unless they are CrossFit Games hopefuls.

I want all of you to check out the programming by my friend Kenny Kane. He owns CrossFit LA with about 1,000 members, and the majority of them are mainly general fitness. His programming is perfect, and I would suggest all of you get to know him. It’s a great mixture of general strength, metabolic conditioning, mobility, movement, and recovery. That’s a coach that cares about his members, and that’s why he has 1,000+ members.

I hope this helps give you guys and gals some targets to shoot for. I love CrossFit, and I want every coach to be successful. I refuse to snarl and point fingers like some other coaches. Heck there are plenty of so called weightlifting coaches that could learn a lot from a good CrossFit Coach. Personally I think that Coach Kevin Simons is one of the best weightlifting coaches in America, and he came from the CrossFit world. Kevin reads everything that he can get his hands on. When he is around other coaches, he is a sponge for good information. We should all strive to be a coach like him.

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Check out one of our Eleven E-Books:

• “Squat Every Day” (High Frequency Squat Programming)
• “Eat What You Want” (Nutrition, Macros, and a built-in Macro Calculator
• “Squat Every Day 2” (Part 2 of High Frequency Squat Programming)
• “No Weaknesses” (Defeat Muscular Imbalances crush the Recovery Game)
• “Mash Program Sampler” (Athletic Performance, Oly, Powerlifting, and Functional Programming)
• “Mash Program Sampler 2 (8 More 12-week Programs)
• “The Mash Blueprint for Program Design” (Learn all about Programming)
• “Performance Zone” (Defeat all Mental Roadblocks)
• “Train Stupid”(Programming and Philosophy of Nathan Damron)
• “MashJacked” (Hypertrophy for Performance and Aesthetics)
• “Conjugate: Westside Inspired Weightlifting”

Check them out here: ⇒ Mash Elite E-Books

Does CrossFit Need Weightlifting or Vice Versa?

Guys “Conjugate: Westside Inspired Weightlifting” has dropped. The price of $29 goes up at Midnight:

==> www.mashelite.com/conjugate/

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Does CrossFit Need Weightlifting or Vice Versa?

The CrossFit Games were pretty dang exciting this year. There was a 1RM Snatch, a dang heavy clean and muscle-up ladder, and a strongman event. Now that’s what I call an awesome CrossFit Games. The best part was the athletes that ended up on top. Here’s what USA Weightlifting’s CEO Phil Andrews said on Facebook:

Congratulations to former IWF Jnr World Team member Mat Fraser, Australian Olympian Tia-Clair Toomey, IWF 2017 Youth World Team member Kaela Stephano, former Youth Nationals competitor Angelo DiCicco, and former USAW Club Wasatch CrossFit on their Championships at The CrossFit Games.
Some other notable placements:
2017 IWF Youth World Team Member, Taylor Babb – 5th Place 16-17
Pan Am Youth Team Member, Shelby Neal – 6th Place 16-17
National medalist, Romy Gold – 11th Place 16-17
National competitors, Carson Culpepper & Brooklin Smith, Top 20 16-17
National competitor, Vincent Ramirez, 5th Place 16-17
World University Team member, Lauren Fisher, 30th Place, Women
Former OTC Resident, Steve Swistak, 13th Place, Masters M40
#WeightliftingWorks

It’s hard to argue that strength wasn’t the dividing factor at this year’s Games. I just finished looking over all the leader boards, and all you have to do is look at the 1RM Snatch, Clean ladder, and Strongman event to see why people made it to the top 5. If you’re weak, you’re not going to do well at the Games. I think that we can all agree on that.

I was super pumped to see two of my athletes from Youth Pan Ams (I was Team USA Head Coach) last year killing it. Kaela Stephano won the Female Teenage Division, and Shelby Neal took 6th. Shelby is also from my home state of North Carolina. These girls killed it for me last year, so it was amazing watching them roll through the games. Watching their performances is what sparked this article.

At first glance, I was thinking to myself how badly CrossFit athletes need competent strength coaches that are competent in weightlifting. That’s for sure true, but then I started thinking that maybe young weightlifters need a start in CrossFit. Kaela is the best Youth 53kg lifter in the country. Shelby is one of the best. Maddy Myers is the highest ranked 63kg lifter in the country, and we all know her CrossFit skills. Two of my best young athletes started in CrossFit. My 13-year-old phenom Morgan McCullough started in CrossFit and still absolutely loves it. We continue to add CrossFit to his workouts for overall athleticism and general physical preparedness. My 15-year-old Ryan Grimsland missed the games by one spot. I have no doubts that he will make it next year. He won Bronze overall in his first Youth Nationals.

I could go on and on with examples, but I think that I’ve made my point. So which is it? Does CrossFit need weightlifting, or does weightlifting need CrossFit. A lot of people are going to be mad at my answer, but I by now I am use to making people mad. The answer is obvious in my opinion. The answer is they need each other.

CrossFitters need strength and conditioning coaches that understand weightlifting in my opinion or hybrid coaches. I consider myself a strength and conditioning coach first, but I love weightlifting. My friend Spencer Arnold is a perfect example of this hybrid coach. He is known for weightlifting, but he’s just as good of a strength and conditioning coach. What’s the difference? A weightlifting coach understands the sport of weightlifting. A Hybrid Coach understands movement, all aspects of sport programming, and the applicability of weightlifting.

An aspiring CrossFit Athlete should find a coach that understands:

• Physiology
• Biomechanics
• Basics of Physics
• Basics of Anatomy
• Mechanics of Weightlifting
• Mechanics of Powerlifting
• Mechanics of Strongman Movements

I think that it’s time for CrossFit athletes to either find a CrossFit coach that is also one of these Hybrid Coaches, or you need a strength and conditioning coach just like other sports. Kristi Eramo, 13th at this year’s Games, had Spencer, and used Westside Barbell to help her with special exercises to strengthen weaknesses and for extra GPP. If you’re not strong, there’s no point in worrying about your butterfly pull-ups. That’s one thing that was proven this year.

If you’re a youth interested in weightlifting, I recommend finding a coach that understands CrossFit. The general physical preparedness that CrossFit gives an athlete will pay dividends in the sport of weightlifting. Handstand walks, handstand pushups, pull-ups, muscle-ups, and double-unders teach athleticism, while stabilizing the athlete for years of hard work.

I have no doubts that CrossFit has helped to make my 13-year-old Morgan McCullough the best 13-year-old in the country. Yeah he’s big a strong, but he moves better than the smaller 13-year-olds. He’s fast under the bar, and he moves around the barbell better than most of my older athletes. CrossFit is at least partially responsible for his kinesthetic awareness and balance.

So before all of you weightlifting coaches go walking around with your chests puffed out next week, maybe you will want to consider the ways that CrossFit has aided our sport. I think more than ever that it’s a great marriage between weightlifting and CrossFit. I hope that the 2017 CrossFit Games sparks people to work together more than ever to make both of our sports better than ever. I can promise that more and more of my athletes are going to be incorporating CrossFit types workouts and movements into their training. I am also excited to be working with CrossFit Invoke (Christmas Abbott’s famous gym) as they look to prepare a team for next year’s CrossFit Games. I am also working with several local CrossFitters including Ryan Grimsland 21st top teenage athlete 14-15 y/o, and CrossFit Games Teenage athlete Nathan Clifton. I plan on being at next year’s Games with a few of my own athletes. I am excited more than ever to immerse myself in the sport of CrossFit.

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Check out one of the Online Teams:

• Mash Mafia Bronze
• Mash Mafia Silver
• Mash Mafia Gold
• Eat What You Want
• Eat and Lift What You Want

Check them out here: ⇒ Mash Mafia Online Teams

Barbell Intangibles

Come check out the “Mash Strength Spectacular” on September 2nd. Find out more:

==> https://www.mashelite.com/2017-strength-spectacular/

-Powerlifting
-Weightlifting
-Strongman
-or Just hang out
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Barbell Intangibles

There is so much more to lifting weights and strength than simply picking up a heavy barbell. Yeah that’s fun, but there is something so much more that most people are missing. Actually sometimes it feels like the world has forgotten the best parts of the strength world. One of my main missions in life is teaching all of you about the roots of strength training. I want you all to experience relationships that can form simply from a common love of the barbell.

My two best friends from college were not my fraternity brothers or classmates. They were my training partners Chris and Kristi Mason. Yeah they are married now. We formed a relationship based on bleeding together in the weight room. We were there for each other during our successful competitions, and we were there for each other when we didn’t quite hit the mark. We cheered each other on during never-ending sets of squats. We kept each other safe as we pushed the limits of human capabilities.

I remember most the days of Appalachian Fitness Center in Boone, NC while we hung out around the entrance after grueling sessions. Once we were all talking about our love for training. I remember tears running down my face as I explained how much the barbell meant to me. I mean the barbell allowed me to transform my body into just about whatever I wanted. I was in control for the first time in my life. For a kid that grew up in a broken home, that’s a pretty amazing feeling. I couldn’t share thoughts like that with anyone else. They simply wouldn’t get it.

York Barbell got it back in the days of the York Picnics. People from all over the world traveled to York, PA to lift weights together, and more importantly just to hang out together. Was it competitive? Well yeah, but that’s now what it was about. It was about being around people that understood each other if only for a weekend. The barbell bonds people in a way like nothing else. I have met people that I consider family, and the main connection that we had was the barbell.

Maybe I am old school, but it doesn’t seem like a lot of people get that nowadays. People lift weights, take videos, and run home to get on Instagram, and it appears that they are missing the most important part. I remember going to a party with Steve Jeck, Ed Bodenheimer, and Chris Mason during my days at Jack King’s Gym. A couple of beers later and we are lifting logs and stones together like it was the World’s Strongest Man Live from Winston-Salem, NC. If you don’t know Steve Jeck or Jack King, I’ve pretty much made my point.

Here’s the thing. You can have one million followers, and I will say cool you must be a good businessperson. However, that many followers will never allow you into the barbell fraternity. Only blood, sweat, and camaraderie will get you in that club. You have to endure those sets of ten on squats to earn your way into that club. You can take all of the cool videos you want, but it won’t get you there. Hey maybe you don’t care. That’s fine, but it will be you that missed out on the most important part of the barbell experience. Personally I’ve earned my badge. I can look people like Ed Coan, Steve Goggins, Brandon Lilly, and AJ Roberts in the eye, and they will know dang well what I sacrificed during my days with the barbell. You can’t fake that man. True players know! Right Coach Kenn?

In September, I am hosting an event on my family farm in Mocksville, NC called the “Mash Strength Spectacular”. We are hosting it September 2nd over Labor Day Weekend. We are having weightlifting, powerlifting, and strongman, but more importantly we are bringing all the worlds of strength together. This isn’t about money as all proceeds go to my non-profit team, so I am not getting a dime. It’s all about bringing back that York Barbell experience.

We are going to lift weights, set records, and crush PRs, but we are more importantly going to hang out into the wee hours of the night talking about training, life, and love. That’s what it’s all about man. It’s all about the community centered around a inanimate object, the barbell. It’s the process that we all go through that brings us close together. The only way in this club is through that grinding process. If you know, you know. If you don’t know, you don’t know. Period!

I hope that this article, rant, or whatever you want to call it resonates with some of you. I want you all to experience the beauty of the barbell fraternity. Lisa G is a lady that some of you might remember. She was a 40-year-old nurse that couldn’t do an air squat until she met me. She went on to fall in love with the barbell and the process. She competed in weightlifting and powerlifting, and she killed it. She died a few years ago, and her passing rocked my world. My heart was crushed. It was as if a sister of mine had died. I have come to realize that it was a sister of mine who died. I hope all of you will experience family like that. family that is created and nurtured in the gym center around the barbell.

They say that blood is thicker than water. Well I say that Iron is thicker than blood!
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Come check out the “Mash Strength Spectacular” on September 2nd. Find out more:

==> https://www.mashelite.com/2017-strength-spectacular/

-Powerlifting
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So CrossFit is Stupid?

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So CrossFit is Stupid?

There are a lot of people that hate on CrossFit. So-called experts complain about the programming and the technique that “they” use. My question to them is, “Have you ever been in a commercial gym?” If so, why are you singling out CrossFit? I went to L.A. Fitness in Atlanta this past Friday and a local gym tonight, and man did I see some of the craziest movements of my life. Actually I am not sure that I can even call what these people were doing, “movements”.

Tonight I looked at my wife and said, “Wow this is real! People actually do this insanity.” I shook my head as a group of teenage boys came in the gym, slapped 205lb on the squat bar, and proceed to perform the most rounded back, knee-knobbing, and high squats that I have ever seen. Not to mention they of course were using the sissy pad to protect their precious little necks. I almost threw up, and that’s when I was inspired to write this blog.

You can hate on CrossFit all you want, but I have never seen more insane movements and awful technique than in a commercial gym. Now before I become the first hater of commercial gyms, I want to say that good things do happen in commercial gyms. Heck Ed Coan trained in a commercial gym. Nathan Damron trained in a commercial gym. I just trained in one tonight, so obviously there are people doing it right in commercial gyms.

Here’s the point that I want to make. Whether you are in a CrossFit, commercial gym, collegiate strength and conditioning room, or any other type of gym in America, there will be good coaches, bad coaches, ridiculous people, and amazing people. It doesn’t matter the genre of strength that you love. There will always be good and bad.

I just want to make this point once and for all. I want all of you to know that there isn’t a strength genre that is perfect. There are no absolutes, and that goes both ways. I have met some amazing CrossFit Coaches like CJ Martin, Kevin Simons, and Ryan Grady. They are masters of their craft, and are dang good weightlifting coaches as well.

I have been in CrossFit where all the movements were beautiful. That’s pretty darn impressive because there are a lot of movements to perfect. I have also seen some pretty crazy stuff like a 60-year-old snatching when they had no business snatching. I have watched people snatching that needed to learn how to air squat properly.

I have also been in Division I strength and conditioning rooms where I was actually confused about what was going on. I am talking about major universities with strength coaches that weren’t qualified to teach a spin class at your local YMCA. I have also watched guys like Coach Kenn from the Carolina Panthers run a room as if he was conducting an orchestra with athletes performing exercises with perfect movement.

The problem is that there isn’t enough regulation anywhere in the strength world. A guy goes to a CrossFit certification over the weekend, and now he’s a coach. A guy takes his C.S.C.S and now he’s coaching Division I Athletes because he knows somebody in the organization. Heck a guy or gal goes online tonight and takes some certification, and then gets a job at L.A. Fitness tomorrow. Are you kidding me? Clients and athletes deserve better.

Instead of everyone hating on each other, we need to find common ground where we can judge all coaches. Here is a list to judge a coach/trainer by:

• Have they produced quality athletes?
• Basic understanding of physiology, anatomy, physics, biomechanics, and kinesiology.
• A desire for continued education and an overall thirst for knowledge.
• An eye for movement
• A sincere desire to help their athletes/clients.

If they possess these qualities, you have something to work with. If not, they need to keep working until they have them. I want this industry cleaned up. I want people to get the help that they deserve. There isn’t one genre worse than the other. This is an entire industry problem. Let’s stop pointing fingers, and let’s look around and see where we can help.

CrossFit has done a lot for the strength world. It has introduced more people to the barbell than anything before. CrossFit has been the catalyst for millions of people to get off the couch and into shape. It has done a lot more good than bad. Personally I am a big fan, and I enjoy programming for my CrossFit clients and gyms.

Let’s all stop hating and get to work cleaning this industry up as a whole. Let’s become better coaches and trainers. Let’s work our best to help our clients reach their dreams.

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