Category Archives for "Functional Fitness"

A Guide to Starting Running for the Strength Athlete

About the Author: Eric Bowman is a Registered Physiotherapist in Ontario, Canada who works in the areas of orthopedic physical therapy and exercise for people with chronic diseases. He’s also intermittently involved with the University of Waterloo Kinesiology program and the Western University Physical Therapy program. He also competes as a powerlifter in the Canadian Powerlifting Union and has completed the CPU Coaching Workshop & Seminar.

Over the last few years the popularity of hybrid strength coaches and athletes (such as Alex Viada and more recently Brandon Lilly) and the release of programs that combine strength and cardiovascular fitness (such as Do What You Want) has led to more strength athletes than ever lacing up their sneakers and starting to run. With the new year upon us, this is bound to increase as people pursue New Year’s Resolutions for weight loss.

Running is arguably the most popular form of exercise around the world. It’s easy and inexpensive to do, and it provides many cardiovascular, respiratory, and psychological benefits when done properly.

That said, running does have a high injury rate – even higher than that of strength sports. Competitive runners are more likely to have knee osteoarthritis than sedentary people. It may seem that this paragraph is contradictory to the previous one – but the key to safe and sustainable running comes down to being prepared for it and programming it correctly.

How do I know if I’m prepared to run?

My criteria to run is a combination of the criteria given by Tom Goom and Christopher Johnson (the two smartest physiotherapists I know in terms of working with runners) as well as my own professional experience in orthopedics, coaching, and cardiopulmonary rehab.

To be prepared from a cardiovascular perspective you should be able to walk for at least 45 minutes at a brisk pace without feeling short of breath and without it feeling like a max effort exercise.

As I wrote about in my article on heart health, I also advise you get a graded exercise test (or stress test) done if you have high blood pressure, high blood sugar, an abnormal heart beat, chest pain, or any other heart related symptoms or conditions. This test will enable you to determine if you are able to safely exercise in a moderate to high-intensity activity such as running. You can never 100% eliminate safety risks during exercise but you can minimize them through proper testing and programming.

To be prepared for an orthopedic perspective you should

  • not be morbidly obese. This should go without saying but, while there are exceptions, I’ve seen too many obese people hurt themselves from taking up a running program. For them – again based on the results of a stress test – lower impact activities such as riding a stationary bike, pulling a sled, and/or cutting down on rest periods during assistance exercises probably present better options to build cardiovascular fitness and assist in weight loss while sparing the joints.
  • be able to tolerate basic leg exercises such as squats, leg extensions, leg presses, leg curls, and hip hinge movements. Make sure you can walk (and squat) before you run.
  • be able to tolerate single leg hops. Running, in a sense, is a plyometric movement as it involves a series of stretch-shortening cycles. You don’t need to be able to do depth jumps off a 20 inch box with a weight vest on, but you should be able to tolerate very simple, low-level plyometrics prior to running.
  • have good frontal and transverse plane control. In simple terms you should be able to run, jump, change direction, and land without your knees or your trunk excessively swaying or caving inward or outward. This is a more controversial opinion as some great runners have dynamic knee valgus, but given the size of the athletes I’m referring to, and the high total load involved between absorbing the shock from running and absorbing the shock of lifting big weights, I’m a fan of moving in a way that causes the least amount of joint stress possible relative to the goal.
  • no pain pills or injections in your system.
  • be able to fully bear weight on both legs.

The last two may seem pretty common-sense but are violated a lot.

How do I program it correctly?

Without a proper assessment of the individual, I can’t arbitrarily prescribe a universal beginner running program for everyone. Some general themes to go by are:

  • When in doubt, start with less running volume.
  • Progress slowly. The 10% rule of not increasing your running volume by more than 10% per week is a good guideline to go by and has some research supporting it. That said, some athletes may tolerate a faster progression and some may need to progress more slowly.
  • Understand there’s going to be some give and take with your weight training. Beginning a running program while doing a Bulgarian squat program may not be the best idea. If the running volume goes up, the leg training volume needs to go down. It is what it is.
  • Keep training your glutes, hamstrings, and core muscles regularly.
  • Make sure you’re getting enough high quality sleep and food, and make sure that you’re maintaining good psychosocial health.


The Art of Combining:

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Strongman - Functional Fitness - Endurance Cardio

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

What about stretching and running shoes?

Two common beliefs about running injury prevention are: you should stretch before each workout and you should wear running shoes specifically tailored to your foot shape to prevent injury. But the research doesn’t support either.

Dozens of studies (with the odd exception here and there) have shown that stretching before running doesn’t really affect injury risk. And there’s some research that shows having a tighter achilles tendon can make you a better and more efficient runner. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t want anyone stiff as a board, but my rules of thumb for warming up (which I plan to elaborate on in a future article) are:

  • Use active movement strategies to warm up (such as brisk walking to light jogging, air squats, walking lunges, etc.), increasing blood flow through actively moving rather than holding static stretches
  • (If you’re a competitive athlete only) Stick within the range of motion needed for your sport(s), work, and activities of daily living. No more no less.

A series of studies done in the armed forces, interestingly funded by Nike, showed that fitting shoes to people’s foot shapes didn’t affect injury risk. What I recommend is for people to try the shoes before buying them, and try running in them if possible, in order to find a shoe that’s comfortable for them.

I hope this provides some useful advice for effectively starting a running program to maximize benefits and minimize injury risk. Have fun pounding the pavement.

Kelly Starrett of MobilityWOD – The Barbell Life 237

When anyone in the CrossFit world thinks about mobility, one name comes up first.

And Kelly Starrett joins us today to drop some wisdom.

Too often you don’t get answers straight from the horse’s mouth, but you only have opinions that have been formed by picking up pieces of information here and there.

So it was great to talk to Kelly today about all sorts of issues from knee valgus to elbow overextension to spinal flexion and more. Get ready for a dose of truth.

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.


  • The real deal on knee wobble in the squat
  • Spinal flexion – good or bad?
  • How to keep quad mass after surgery
  • Unilateral split squats working better than bilateral?
  • Protocols for strengthening lifters who are very elastic
  • and more…

Hip Thrusts Are Bad? The Safety Squat Bar Is Bad?

Hip thrusts are bad? Safety squat bar squats are bad? Stop with the absolutes!

When will the absolutes end? Scrolling through social media, I saw two of my respected peers tossing around absolutes as if N.A.S.A. were backing them. However, their accusations about two of my favorite movements were made with no scientific backing at all.

Look, I don’t care if you don’t like a movement. Maybe you don’t believe an exercise works. That’s ok. You don’t have to use it, and you don’t have to prescribe it to your athletes. But when you get on social media or take to your blog and claim that a certain exercise doesn’t work without any research to back up your claim, you could be keeping someone from the very exercise they need to break through a plateau.


A lot of people who I consider colleagues (and some I even consider friends) constantly hate on the hip thrust made famous by my friend Bret Contreras. Glutes are important for just about everything that’s awesome in sports. If you want to sprint fast or jump high, strong glutes are a must. If you want to snatch big weight or squat monstrous loads, powerful hip extension is a must. Have any of you yanked a big deadlift off of the floor only to have it stall right at lockout? It’s happened to me, and I’ve watched it happen to others. Glute bridges are the obvious choice.

But wait! Is this simply my opinion? Am I simply doing the exact opposite of the coaches screaming that hip thrusts don’t work? Well luckily I can back up my statements with mounds of research stating that hip thrusts are superior when it comes to strengthening the glutes. I just now did a quick search of the web, and I saw a few rants from coaches who want to seem smart. My articles aren’t written to convince you guys that I am smart and everyone else is dumb. My thoughts and systems are backed up with the results of my athletes.

The information I pass on to you guys and gals is either proven by research or proven by the results of my athletes. I don’t pass on my random thoughts. I don’t look at an exercise and cast judgment without looking at the data. I don’t look at what someone else is doing and then write an article explaining why they’re wrong. I am interested in facts. I am interested in what works.

There is one more thing I want to say to my powerlifting brethren who are constantly criticizing the hip thrusts or making fun of it as a soft exercise. I was inspired to write this article when I saw a video of Stefi Cohen performing the hip thrust to improve her deadlift lockout. Of course she is y’all! It’s targeted hip extension, which is the lockout of the deadlift. Duh!

I prescribe hip thrusts to my Olympic hopeful weightlifters, champion powerlifters, and to my NFL Football Players. Are my athletes soft? If my athletes are soft, there are a lot of really soft athletes out there since we are beating most everyone else. Guys, I want you to look at the research and just think about it for a bit. If you want better hip extension, then find a way to load your hip extension.



World champion and world-class coach Travis Mash takes a look at Louie Simmons's Westside Barbell strength principles and applies them tom the world of Olympic weightlifting.

Safety Squat Bars

I had never heard anyone say a negative word about the safety squat bar squat until recently. A good friend of mine was answering questions on his Instagram story the other night. (By the way this is a good way to connect with your followers.) Anyway, he was asked if using a safety squat bar for squatting was a good idea for weightlifting. My friend replied that it absolutely was not – unless you or your athlete are injured. Once again, a colleague of mine is using an absolute without any basis (research) for his statement.

In Olympic weightlifting, a back squat isn’t specific to the snatch or the clean and jerk other than the angle of the torso, which is true with using a safety squat bar. Either movement is simply a way of building strength to get better at the sport of weightlifting. If you’re a powerlifter, one could make an argument around specificity – especially when getting close to a meet. But in either sport, the safety squat bar provides one major benefit. The safety squat bar increases the length of the spinal flexor moment.

As I explained in Squat Science, the spinal flexor moment depends on two factors: 1) the load on the bar and 2) the horizontal distance in the sagittal plan relative to the torso between the bar and any intervertebral joint.

There are three ways to increase the spinal flexor moment: 1) move the bar higher on the back or in front of the body, 2) increase the load, and 3) incline the body more (which increases the distance of the load horizontally to the floor from any intervertebral joint).

So here’s the point I want to make – the safety squat bar moves the weight toward the front of the body. The part of the bar that holds the weight is bent toward the front of the body.

Some bars displace the weight farther in front of the body than others. The more the weights are displaced toward the front of the body will equal a greater demand on the spinal extensor muscles. The front squat is also great for strengthening the muscle groups responsible for spinal extension. However, the front squat is limited by the shoulder’s ability to remain protracted and elevated – not to mention the rack position in general. Since the safety squat bar is still secured behind your neck, you can normally handle a bit more weight than in the front squat. Depending on the bend of the bar, you should be able to place more of a load on the spinal extensors. This is a great way to get the back strong while strengthening the hip and knee extensors as well.



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.

The weightlifters and the powerlifters on my team use the safety squat bar for this very reason: to strengthen the back. For a lot of weightlifters, they lack the strength in the back (mainly referring to the groups of muscles responsible for spinal extension) to maintain a good angle of the torso during the pull. Some lack the ability to maintain a neutral spine during the catch phase of a clean. Have you ever seen a weightlifter’s elbows drop and thoracic spine round during the catch? I know that I have. If this is you or one of your lifters, the safety squat bar is a great tool.


I’m all about specificity, but sometimes weightlifters can take this too far. Let’s think about it for just a minute. I’m only going to refer to my own weightlifters right now. We snatch and clean and jerk at least three times per week on each of these. We back squat with a straight bar one to two times. We front squat one to two times. We perform snatch and clean pulls. Do you really think that adding in safety squat bar squats is going to somehow mess up your technique? If that’s true, aren’t you at risk of messing up your technique when you perform any assistance movement outside of simply snatching, clean and jerking, front squatting, and pulling? I think we are all a little too overboard with specificity.

Besides a simple safety squat bar squat, there are a couple of more movements with the safety squat bar that I recommend. I am a fan of safety squat bar goodmornings (and all variations like seated, chain suspended, off pins, etc.) and safety squat bar box squats (I know, I know… this is taboo).

Safety squat bar goodmornings are my absolute favorite for strengthening the spine – especially when a hip hinge is involved like during a pull of any sorts. With my weightlifters, I normally stick to a regular goodmorning, but there are several variations you can try, such as wide stance, suspended from a chain, off pins, seated, and with bands or chains. (This sounds like a chance for another article.)

Depending on the variation, you will be working specific weaknesses. For example, a goodmorning that starts lower on pins will more closely mimic starting in a more static position – like a pull with an initial concentric contraction. This will focus on performing a concentric contraction without the advantage of the stored kinetic energy you gain from a typical eccentric contraction. Once again, I am working on an article fully dedicated to variations of the goodmorning.

Safety squat bar box squats are great for strengthening the spinal and hip extensors. Now I agree that this movement isn’t specific to a squat necessary in weightlifting, so I only use it sparingly and in the off-season (at least eight or more weeks out from a competition). I only use this movement once per week and in conjunction with at least two to four other straight bar squat sessions. The most non-specific part of this movement is that I have the athlete sit back. I want them on the box with a vertical shin and a more horizontal torso. This movement is designed to strengthen the pull more so than the squat portion of the lift. However, you will reap the rewards of strengthened hips and back muscles.

Obviously this isn’t a great movement to strengthen the quads because the range of motion at the knees is minimal. However, the range of motion at the hip is maximal or near maximal depending on the height of the box. The demand of the internal spinal extensor moment is now through the roof because 1) you’re using a safety squat bar with the weight is distributed in front of the body and 2) your torso is inclined.

This movement is excellent for strengthening the pull especially at position two (when the bar is at or slightly below the knee) when the shins are vertical. The box will teach the body to fire the proper muscles from a static position with the advantage of stored kinetic energy produced by the eccentric phase of the lift. This movement is still great for strengthening the parts of the body required for squatting (back and hips), but it’s not a replacement for high bar back squats and front squats. I consider this more of an accessory movement, whereas back squats and front squats are primary strength movements for Olympic weightlifting.

Once again, the moral of this entire article is to relax with the absolutes. Unless science has proven that a particular movement won’t work or is dangerous, there’s probably a time and a place in training that it will help a lifter. Specificity is key especially in the sport of Olympic weightlifting, but let’s not go overboard. One of Hunter Elam’s biggest competitors is Mary Peck, and she uses low bar back squats in her training. With a 211kg total at 64kg bodyweight, I’d say that the low bar back squat isn’t interfering with the specificity of her lifts at all.

As long as we stay true to specificity the majority of the time, some variation is a good thing. Of course, it’s key to know your athletes. Some athletes respond really well to variation, and some don’t respond well at all. It depends on the individual’s overall athleticism. Athletes that grew up playing multiple sports are normally better with variation. Once again, as a coach you have to know your individual athletes. The big takeaway is to not throw away the baby with the bath water. Almost all movements have a time and place that’s up to us as coaches to determine.

Cal Dietz on Triphasic Training – The Barbell Life 227

When I was talking recently with my friend Dr. Andy Galpin, he mentioned he was a big fan of Cal Dietz’s Triphasic Training.

And if you’ve been in the strength game for any amount of time, you’ve surely heard of it.

I was so excited to have Cal on the podcast today to talk with us. He’s doing a lot of crazy things in the gym that sparked my curiosity – stuff like having his athletes squat with their heels up. Or Cal’s love of the single leg squat with a safety squat bar.

Cal talks about such profound training concepts, but he has an ability to break it down and make it sound so simple.


The concepts Cal talks about with us could allow any athlete to make big changes or just slight changes to their training – whether the athlete is into weightlifting, powerlifting, CrossFit, or field sports.


Travis Mash shows you all the details and reasoning behind the recent off-season program for Tommy Bohanon (starting fullback for the Jacksonville Jaguars)

Then you can use these principles to individualize your own programs to fit an athlete's strengths, weaknesses, age, gender, sport demands, and unique response to training.



  • Why he has his athletes squat with their heels up
  • The power of the single leg squat with the safety squat bar
  • Eccentrics, isometrics, energy systems, potentiation clusters, and cortisol management
  • Going from squats to light kettlebell swings?
  • The injury prevention aspects of triphasic training
  • and more…

My Amazing Athletes Teach Me So Much

We recently launched our new guide, Mash Files.

When we were talking about writing this book, we started talking about our mission. That’s kind of a trendy term at this point, but it’s worth talking about. I know one thing I definitely consider a mission: to leave the coaching world a bit better than I found it.

I want all of you who take the time to read my work and listen to my podcasts to benefit from our content. In this case, if you’re a coach, I want to teach you the exact method we are using to individualize our programming. Our process has led to some outrageous recent results.

We have so many success stories in so many sports, and we want to pass that success on to all of you. I don’t care about keeping my “secret” method to myself. That doesn’t help anyone but myself, and I promise that’s a lonely world. If I can help one of you create a program that allows one of your athletes to get better, then that is real change. That’s a life worth living, and the older I get I realize that’s more important than any personal victory.

My Family

Every time we drop a Mash Files book (yes, that’s a hint there will be more), I am going to write an article like this one explaining why we chose each athlete. In doing so, we hope to add to the information in the book. So why did we choose the athletes that are in the book? That’s a fun question to answer.

My athletes are extensions of my family, so this will be like bragging about my kids… just bear with me. Here are the athletes in the book:

  • Hunter Elam (Senior World Team Member Olympic Weightlifting)
  • Jordan Cantrell (Senior World Team Member Olympic Weightlifting)
  • Crystal McCullough (Silver Medalist USAPL Powerlifting Nationals and 41-year-old mother and wife)
  • Tommy Bohanon (starting Fullback Jacksonville Jaguars)
  • Nathan Clifton (CrossFit Games 4th Place in the World Teenage Division)


Principles and Real-Life Case Studies on How a Master Programmer Customizes a Program to the Individual

Peek inside Travis's brain... and learn how to individualize your own programs to fit an athlete's strengths, weaknesses, age, gender, sport demands, and unique response to training.

Hunter Elam

Hunter made the book for obvious reasons. Last year, she wasn’t on anyone’s radar to make a Senior World Team. Last year, she hadn’t even medaled at a National Event. I started working with her at the beginning of the year, and she responded like a charm to my programming. After a few months together, she medaled at Senior Nationals taking the Bronze Medal.

At that point, she became a believer. We decided to work on every aspect of her game as a weightlifter. She took control of her nutrition by hiring Jacky Simeone, Mash Eat What You Want Nutrition Coach, and hiring Lee Howard, DPT to be in charge of her recovery. Then the world of weightlifting was nuked with the new weight classes.

The announcement left us with having to make some decisions. We had to decide:

  1. Stay at 71kg for a year and then go up or down.
  2. Immediately gain up to the 76kg class
  3. Immediately drop down to the 64kg class

We decided to approach the decision with a scientific approach. I sent her to my friend a longtime chiropractor Lawrence Gray, D.C. to have her body fat measured. We found out that we had plenty of room to move down to the 64kg class without losing any strength. This was of course a controversial call with the whole world of weightlifting wondering if we were crazy. It was funny how many coaches told me that was a smart thing to do after we made the world team. Just an FYI coaches, if you tell me that after the fact, I am going to lose a bit of respect. I prefer honesty up front if you want my respect as a coach.

Then came the controversial call at the AO Series that was heard round the world. Her snatches didn’t go as planned, so we were facing a 121-kilogram clean and jerk to lock in a position on the world team. We didn’t go to the AO Series to win the AO Series. We were there for one reason and one reason only – and that was to make a world team. We decided to open up at 121 kilograms, which was a lifetime PR. Two of my good friends, Sean Waxman and Spencer Arnold, helped me make that decision – but ultimately it was up to Hunter and me. It was an easy decision.

Once again, I was actually told about the coaches in the audience who thought I was being crazy. I was told that some even called me stupid. Of course they are the same coaches who will be at home watching the live stream of the World Championships on their couch, while Hunter and I will be hanging in Turkmenistan battling the best weightlifters in the world.

We had so many obstacles to overcome. The biggest was confidence. Hunter is very athletic with an immense amount of experience with team sports. However, weightlifting is an individual sport. It’s just you out there on that platform with the three old referees staring at you along with the crowd. Well, she made some amazing strides with confidence and performance.

I learned a lot as a coach as well. Coaching Hunter has been a welcomed challenge. This challenge led me to reading Brett Bartholomew’s book, Conscious Coaching, which explains the scientific approach to getting buy-in from your athletes. Here’s what I learned from Hunter: she’s a true “technician” as explained in Brett’s book. Technicians want to understand what they’re doing, and why it’s important to their sport. They want to know what’s going on.

Once I started explaining the process of strength training, Hunter was able to perform without a lot of stress. I had to explain that I am purposely giving her more stress than she can handle to cause the body to adapt and get stronger. I explained that at times she would go backward as the body strived to keep up. Just the other day during the peaking phase, she had a great day at practice just like I anticipated. She looked at me and said, “You want me to say that you told me so, don’t you?”

I just laughed and said, “No, but that’s what I am thinking in my head.”

We both had a laugh, and she continued to practice. The workout in the book is the very workout that she used to total 215 kilograms at 64 kilograms, which was a lifetime PR total in a weight class down. She actually lost 9 kilograms (she had a little too much fun after Nationals) in all and added 5 kilograms to her total. It would be cool for all the haters to admit they were wrong, but I am not holding my breath.

Jordan Cantrell

Jordan Cantrell was an obvious pick for the book. He was a lot like Hunter at the beginning of last year. Nobody was really picking him to make a world team. Heck, nobody was talking about him medaling at Senior Nationals. But by the end of last year, he was one of the best weightlifters in the country. We added 30 kilograms to his total in 28 weeks, which is unheard of in an athlete already at a high level.

Jordan is a lot of fun to work with, and a challenge at the same time. The biggest challenge is that he has mild form of spina bifida, which is a small separation or gap in one or more of the bones of the spine (vertebrae). It doesn’t really affect him that much, but we have to stay away from back squats. We also have to find creative ways to strengthen his back that won’t cause any flare-ups.

Our main focus is on the front squat, and it doesn’t really affect Jordan as long as we are smart about our approach. It’s a lot easier to get an athlete stronger with back squats, but we’ve progressed at a nice and steady rate with front squats only. The key is using all the different variables to stimulate the body like:

  • Varied repetition ranges (we use undulating periodization)
  • Different lengths of pauses
  • Pausing one or all of the repetitions
  • Chains or bands
  • Box
  • Tempo

As you can see, the variables are endless, so his body has never completely adapted. Therefore, we’ve noticed a nice and steady rate of growth. I’m leaving next week to meet Jordan and the rest of my athletes at the Senior World Championships in Turkmenistan. I’m excited to watch them battle it out with the best weightlifters in the world. Jordan is definitely one of the good guys who are easy to cheer for.

Tommy Bohanon

Tommy Bohanon is the athlete I chose for athletic performance. Tommy’s story is a real American tale of overcoming. He played three years with the Jets before getting cut after a coaching change. He sat out a year and returned to the NFL via the Jacksonville Jaguars. He’s been of fire since being with Jacksonville.

Tommy is the hardest working football player I have ever coached. He loves the weight room, and it shows. He’s used strength training to build an incredibly powerful physique, which is crucial for the fullback position. This year, we switched things up a bit. We peaked his absolute strength early on, and then peaked him for the football season with a velocity-based program focused on speed-strength and strength-speed. This strategy ensured that he would enter the season powerful and fast.

That’s the very program we included in the book. If you’re an athlete (football, basketball, or soccer), this is the program I would recommend for optimal performance. I talked to Cal Dietz, associate director of athletic performance for the University of Minnesota, a few days ago. He told me that they peak their athletes in this manner. It totally makes sense for the speed and power, and it makes even more sense due to the lower load giving the joints a break right when athletes need to feel the freshest.

Crystal McCullough

Crystal McCullough is the athlete we chose to highlight for powerlifting and super total. She took silver at last year’s USAPL Powerlifting Nationals, but there is something even cooler about this athlete. She is 41 years old, she’s a mother, she’s a wife, and she works full-time for Mash Elite. She represents the working adult who is still able to make waves in the world of strength.

Crystal is the mother of our incredible man-child, Morgan McCullough. Obviously, he gets his incredible strength from Crystal. She squats 360 pounds, bench presses 200 pounds, and deadlifts an incredible 400 pounds. She loves teaching the Olympic lifts, so she normally follows a super total program that is technique focused in the snatch and clean and jerk. You guys are going to be inspired by the program of this hard working lady.


Principles and Real-Life Case Studies on How a Master Programmer Customizes a Program to the Individual

Peek inside Travis's brain... and learn how to individualize your own programs to fit an athlete's strengths, weaknesses, age, gender, sport demands, and unique response to training.

Nathan Clifton

Nathan Clifton gets the comeback of the year award. Last year in the CrossFit Games teenage 16-17 category, he didn’t quite make the cut. This year, he not only made the cut, but he also ended up fourth overall in the world. Nathan has a built-in engine that simply never ends. However, he needed some work in the strength category – so he came to me for some help.

All of you functional fitness junkies are going to love this program. It’s actually two different programs. The first is the off-season program that helped him peak for Junior Nationals. The second program was his pre-season program that focused on maintaining the absolute strength we built and maximizing his ability to move light to moderate weight as fast as possible. Strength endurance is also a goal for preseason CrossFit.

Nathan has now fallen in love with weightlifting, and his goal is to make an international team. Obviously for me, it’s exciting to watch an athlete go from wanting to get a little stronger to wanting to be the strongest young man in the world. We are having a lot of fun perfecting his technique. I am looking forward to this year’s Junior Nationals.

I hope this article has given you all a lot to think about when designing your own programs. A general program will yield general results. An individual program will maximize those results. There is nothing wrong with a general program in a class-based setting. People will see results from this type of program.

However the athletes that I referenced in my new book, Mash Files, are not into typical results. They desire to be the absolute best that they can be. As you can tell from their results so far, we are on our way to achieving greatness for each of them. I hope that this article will help all of you do the same.

Coach Travis Answers Your Questions – The Barbell Life 226

I always love these podcasts!

On this one, we get to questions that you guys have asked us. We always try to make these podcasts as valuable as possible for you guys – but when we’re answering questions that we have been asked, we know that this will be worth a listen.

We focus in this podcast on lots of questions about programming. It’s something we’ve discussed a lot lately because we just dropped our newest guide, the Mash Files. This one is 300 pages full of programs and content teaching you all about how you can customize your programming. Like I always say – make the program fit the athlete instead of forcing the athlete to fit the program.


Principles and Real-Life Case Studies on How a Master Programmer Customizes a Program to the Individual

Peek inside Travis's brain... and learn how to individualize your own programs to fit an athlete's strengths, weaknesses, age, gender, sport demands, and unique response to training.



  • How do you figure out if you’re doing enough in the gym… or if you’re doing too much?
  • Preventing plateaus
  • Why the optimal frequency for squatting is so different from the deadlift
  • Using the Mash Method for meets
  • Moving on from 5/3/1
  • and more…