Category Archives for "Mash Business"

Developing a Champion Culture

The word “culture” has become such buzzword over the last decade. The word is used in businesses, churches, and gyms.

Culture is an important part of our facilities and an important part of our teams.

So what is gym culture?

GYM CULTURE

Here’s my definition of gym culture:

“Culture refers to the beliefs and behaviors of the members within a gym or team that affect training atmosphere, each other’s view of the mundane tasks required to be great, each other’s view of reality, and the interaction of members with each other inside and outside the training facility.”

Culture should be defined by the owner and cultivated by the coach. Normally the owner and coach are one and the same, as in my case. However, it’s probably optimal for the roles to be separate. In a perfect world, someone can be working on the business while someone is inside the business coaching the athletes. Both are full-time positions, but it’s tough to find good fits for each.

There was a time I thought “culture” was simply a buzzword with little to no value. I thought I would fill my gym with athletes, coach them up, and they would be great. Luckily I have the ability to draw athletes, so I did it. I started a gym in Advance, NC, and within a year or two we were filled with over two hundred young athletes – mostly high-school-aged. If you’ve never heard of Advance, NC, don’t sweat it because that’s my point.

However, filling a gym with athletes is one thing, while keeping those athletes and forming an optimal environment is another. The first thing I want to do is to define the real benefits of forming a solid culture as it relates to the bottom line and creating amazing athletes. If you understand the benefits of a great culture, you might be more inclined to work hard at developing the culture which fits your goals.

Benefits of a good culture:

  • Produces enthusiastic results
  • Cultivates lasting relationships
  • Increases referrals
  • Increases retention
  • Creates an entity that takes on a life of its own and people want to be a part of it

MASH ELITE CLINIC SUPER SERIES

This five-part clinic series stands above all others as the most comprehensive event for coaches and athletes alike. Level up your knowledge of technique, programming, business, and coaching.

Culture of Chaos

In 2017 I had a massive team. At the 2017 National Championships, I had more athletes than any other coach. I thought I had a great team, but all I had was a lot of good athletes. There’s a big difference! I had collected a lot of talented athletes with no consideration for culture. I hadn’t even considered the kind of culture I wanted to nurture. Therefore I nurtured a culture of chaos. It was a lesson I will not soon forget.

It was Sean Waxman who brought this to my attention. It’s funny he could see my gym imploding all the way in California. Luckily I have a friend like him who’s not afraid to tell me the truth. He told me I was going to have to make some really tough decisions, or my entire gym was going to fall apart. It wasn’t long before I could see the exact thing he was talking about.

I found myself hating the gym and hating coaching for the first time in my life. For the first time in my life, driving to the gym was like driving to work – and that’s never what I want the gym to feel like.

To make a long story short, I decided to define my culture, to eliminate the athletes who didn’t fit, and to continue to nurture my desired outcome. Most coaches wait their entire careers for just one Team USA athlete, and I needed to get rid of several. This was the hardest task of my life.

Building a good culture

But when I defined our culture and cut some people, things improved. Our culture is now one where people strive to be their absolute best, and their actions match their goals. We have an atmosphere where everyone gets along, and there is absolutely zero drama tolerated. We have produced way more Team USA athletes with way fewer top ranked athletes. Most importantly, I love the gym again – and I love my athletes again.

You don’t have to be a Team USA athlete to train at our gym, but you do have to want to be the best you can possibly be. Last year in 2018 we had four athletes at the World Championships. In 2019, we have eight including our international athletes. We have cultivated an environment where people succeed. We don’t tolerate excuses anymore for anything. If you miss a lift, it was no one’s fault but your own.

For all of you trying to run a business, this environment is one people want to be a part of. It means more members – and more importantly, it means more happy members. It’s in this environment that relationships can be cultivated because we are all on the same path. I am not saying everyone is trying to make the Olympics. I’m saying everyone is trying to become the absolute best version of themselves, and that is relatable among all my members.

Building Relationships

Courtney Haldeman is one of my newer lifters. She’s also in nurse practitioner school. She might not end up in the Olympics like Hunter aims to be, but they both come in and give it their absolute best. The common goal is something they both can rally around. It’s in this culture they have become the best of friends. It’s all I ask of any of our members – to give all they have to give. I want them to learn lessons which will carry over in life way after sport is no longer a part of their personal lives.

When people are in an environment that fits their personality, with all the necessary tools to help them reach their goals (coaching, equipment, and team support), they will tell others. Those people will be their friends and coworkers who are like-minded, so now your gym/team will grow with people who are more likely to fit your culture.

Of course you will need to continuously remind your team/members exactly what the culture is, and sometimes you will have to coach your team members up on the culture – helping them grow into better athletes and people. It’s the biggest part of coaching in my opinion. People will always make mistakes. A good coach sees mistakes as opportunities for growth.

A defined culture filled with members referred by team members will grow a gym filled with people who feel at home. It’s in this environment very few people will ever quit. Therefore retention rates will be high, which is where most gyms fail. If we would only focus half as hard on keeping members, there would come a time in all of our gyms where new members would no longer be needed. If we would all focus on the culture of our gyms, we wouldn’t have to put as much effort into marketing and advertising. We could focus on what we love, which is coaching up our athletes to be better men and women.

Part of Something Special

My main point is the most important thing I want you to take away today – if you want to create something special which people will want to be part of, you have to focus on the culture of your gym. At this World Championships, I have eight athletes – four from the United States, one from Great Britain, two from Denmark, and one from Ireland. I’ve had three international athletes from Australia, one from New Zealand, and several from Canada. My point is we have created something special at Mash that people from around the world want to be a part of.

This has been a dream of mine since I started Mash Elite. I want to positively affect people from around the world with my love of the barbell. I want them to experience the same growth I have as a human. I want them to set big goals, focus on reaching those goal, exceed those goals, and them apply what they’ve learned to life.

Culture can help you create something much bigger than a gym. Westside Barbell is no longer a gym. It’s a way of life. I don’t share their same values, but I definitely desire to leave an impact on the world much like Louie Simmons has done. My favorite compliment ever was by Coach Joe Kenn, when he said I was becoming the Westside Barbell of weightlifting. Those are some big shoes to fill, but I definitely hope to influence the world outside of my gym’s four walls. I want the world to see the beauty of the barbell. I want the world to see all the lessons that can be learned from the piece of steel in their hands.

MASH ELITE CLINIC SUPER SERIES

This five-part clinic series stands above all others as the most comprehensive event for coaches and athletes alike. Level up your knowledge of technique, programming, business, and coaching.

If you want to create something special, you better start focusing on the culture of your gym today. I am going to tell you just like Coach Waxman told me. If you want to build a place that is sustainable for athletes, you better pay attention to what’s going on. Athletes will come and go as they get older or lose interest, but you are there to stay. You better like what you have created, or nothing will last very long. I hope all of you will create entities that will last several generations after all of us are gone from this earth. That’s the real test.

Creating a Barbell Business in the Post CrossFit Boom Era

Hanging out at the Pan American Games was an incredible experience. It was an honor to be a part of Team USA with all the amazing athletes from the other sports. It gave me a glimpse into the future of just how cool the Olympic Games will be.

However, there was another benefit I am going to talk about in this article that will hopefully provide all of you with value.

The Boom Is Ending

My roommate was Dave Spitz, the Godfather of Cal Strength. Cal Strength exploded onto the scene along with the CrossFit Games, and they motivated and inspired a lot of us to open a barbell business. Some of us opened CrossFit boxes, while others opened Strength and Conditioning facilities. Some of us have been courageous enough to open weightlifting and/or powerlifting gyms. It was an era that I am proud to have been a part of.

However, now we have all experienced the pinnacle of the era I am calling “The Great Boom” – and now we are all witnessing a slight decline. The industry is self-regulating, and that’s fine. All that means is that the real players will survive and eventually thrive, while the pretenders will fade away. My goal is to help all of you be a part of the gyms that thrive. It simply means we are all going to have to operate like we are real businesses… because we are real businesses.

If you are struggling, don’t worry. Dave and I are both learning to adapt to the new era I have titled “The Post CrossFit Boom Era.” CrossFit introduced the world to the barbell, and along with the Cal Strength videos it caused a sort of barbell craze. Everyone wanted to pick up a barbell and feel powerful. People wanted to slam bars like Jon North. Some wanted to squat massive amounts of weight like Dan Green. Yet others wanted to embrace the barbell grind like Donny Shankle and live in a philosophical world that paralleled the barbell journey they experienced each day in the gym.

The good thing is Pandora’s Box is opened now. That can never be undone. The question is what are we going to do with it. The new has worn off, but the curiosity is still there. Now it’s time to become the cream that rises to the top, leaving the rest behind.

More than Passion

A lot of you got into this industry because you wanted to change other people’s lives. That’s wonderful. You wanted to build a gym, open your doors, and coach hundreds of people each and every day. You fell in love with the barbell, and you wanted to share that love with others. Man, I get it! Me too! Some of you wanted to teach people how to get strong, some of you wanted to teach people how to get healthy, and some of you wanted to do a bit of both.

Perfect! That’s a great start. You have to be passionate about what you are selling. However, passion is just a part of the process. There are other aspects of business you will have to master if you want to survive in the new Post CrossFit Boom Era. There’s more to business, but these are the areas I am going to focus on in this article.

Become the Best

First, you really do need to become the best at what you’re doing. A lot of you think you are, but your videos say something different. If you want to be a weightlifting gym, you need to become awesome at coaching and programming for the sport of Olympic weightlifting. If you want to help people lose weight and get fit, you need to become an expert regarding nutrition, functional movement, and general health. The same goes for powerlifting, strength and conditioning, strongman, and all the rest.

How do you become the best in your chosen field? That’s the real question. Here’s the answer:

  1. Education and certifications are a start
  2. Know the research
  3. Find a mentor

Some of you would like to believe education doesn’t matter, and you’re just kidding yourself. You need the basics of anatomy, physiology, physics, and biomechanics to make educated decisions on the specific elements of programming, technique, nutrition, and metabolism. You need this basic background to weed through all of the information out there. This background can help keep you from making mistakes and keep you from following idiots who have no business putting out information.

Of course, all the science in the world without the practical experience of spending time under the barbell or spending time making healthy decisions on your own is worthless. You need both to become a true expert.

Guys, if Greg Nuckols can find value in a higher degree, all of us can find value. I promise none of you are smarter than him, and none of you have more experience than me. The moral of the story is to spend some time with your nose in a book or two.

Certifications sure don’t make you an expert, but they show the world that you care enough to study, pay attention, and pass a basic test. My favorite certifications are:

  • NSCA C.S.C.S. for basic science in the strength and conditioning realm
  • USA Weightlifting Level 1 Coaching Course for the practicality of teaching the basic movements that are important in the strength and conditioning world – like the snatch, clean, squat, press, and pull
  • Mash Elite Clinic Super Series for the science, practicality, and the business experience
  • Precision Nutrition Level 1 for the basics in nutrition and best practices.
  • Mash Elite Strength University for an Online Course on all things strength and conditioning

MASH ELITE CLINIC SUPER SERIES

This five-part clinic series stands above all others as the most comprehensive event for coaches and athletes alike. Level up your knowledge of technique, programming, business, and coaching.

Once you have a degree and get your top certifications that relate to your chosen field/passion, now it’s time to check out the research.

Is research everything? Absolutely not, but it can keep your from making mistakes. The work of Greg Nuckols makes the lives of all of us much easier. Greg and his crew perform multiple meta-analyses on topics like programming for women, truth about the back squat, and the use of caffeine – combining all the research and explaining what the data really says. However, you are going to need to familiarize yourself with PubMed because it’s the home of all the research. The research will only tell you what we already know. Then it’s up to you to figure out what we don’t know.

Last, you need to find a mentor. Who’s a good mentor? Well, you need to find someone who produces results with his or her athletes and someone who runs a great business. I think of people like Martin Rooney who have produced some of the fastest athletes ever to run in the NFL Combine, all while helping to build the Parisi Speed School Empire. Dave Spitz comes to mind for strength and conditioning and Olympic weightlifting, which makes him even more valuable because he has succeeded with two areas and two revenue sources.

You need to write your mission statement clearly, defining exactly what you want your company to become. Then you need to look around for someone who has already built such a company. Most people like Dave or me are more than willing to help out new people in the industry if you are simply nice and show us you are willing to do whatever it takes for your athletes.

If you get a chance to get mentored by someone like Zach Even-Esh or Martin Rooney, you need to pay them whatever they are charging even if you need to mortgage your home. These men and women are going to teach you more about succeeding in this industry than ten PhDs ever could. They are going to show you how to get results for your athletes. More importantly for your family, they are going to teach you how to get paid.

Marketing and Advertising

Once you understand how to get results for your athletes, you need to learn how to get your athletes. If you don’t have anyone to coach, you’re not a coach. Not only are you not a coach, even worse, you are broke.

Too many of you came into the industry believing if you built a gym, then people would come beating down the doors to workout with you. Then you opened your doors, and now you can’t even get your friends to bring their children to your gym. Is it their fault? Nope it’s 100% your fault. It’s always your fault, and once you realize that you are free to be successful.

The first element of marketing is identifying a need and then identifying your audience. Is there a need for a weightlifting gym in your town? Is there a need for a better weightlifting gym in your town? What type of person needs your service? Once you identify the need and the audience, then you can begin developing your product and brand.

For example, at Mash Elite we are known to coach some of the best athletes in the area and even in the world. We are the place where someone goes to become his or her absolute best. Our gym is beautiful with all the best equipment. We have men’s and women’s locker rooms with showers, a hardwood floating floor for stretching and warm up, and our equipment is from the best suppliers.

You don’t have to be the best in the world. You just have to desire to be the best version of you. Our market is either athletes or the general public who desire the best coaches, the best equipment, and the best facilities. It’s a niche market, but it’s also a market that shares something good with their friends.

Once you’ve identified your audience and defined your product and brand, you have to choose a plan to get your product out to the identified audience. This process is called advertising. This process has never been so easy. Social media makes this process easy and cheap.

I recommend that all of you become experts on social media. Why? Because you can use social media to target the exact audience you have identified. Both Facebook and Instagram have made the process completely easy. You need to learn about the ins and outs of both Facebook and Instagram advertising. You need to learn about pixels. You can pretty much Google or search on YouTube to find out all about these areas. You can grow your market with quality information and a good understanding of each social media platform. Personally I recommend the following social media platforms:

  • Facebook, especially for developing a strong local business
  • Instagram for developing your brand with pictures and videos
  • Twitter for communicating and teaching to your target market
  • LinkedIn if you are doing anything business-to-business (for example, corporate health and wellness programs)
  • YouTube for developing your brand deeper and developing loyalty. Your audience will get to know you and your athletes or staff on a deeper level. You can develop the characters people will find at your facilities.

There are others, but these are the ones I recommend and use. There might be other platforms to use, but these are the platforms I know for a fact will help you. You have to develop your own strategy for each of them. You don’t want to share the exact post on all platforms. That simply won’t work. I have defined how to use each of them above. Here are a few suggestions for organic growth of each:

Daily $1.80
This is my favorite piece of advice from Gary Vaynerchuk. You can go on Instagram and search for a place or topic that relates to your location and/or business and find people to communicate with. Go on their pages and honestly give your two cents. Once you’ve identified people in your community who either come to your facility, are members who you would like to have, or have children who would be a good fit for your facility, you can go on their feeds, comment on their posts, and communicate with their friends. Their friends probably live in your community as well. The key is to be real with them. You can do the same on Twitter. The goal is to give your two cents (sincere comments or questions) 90 times every single day – equaling $1.80. Maybe you need to start with $0.90 or 45 times, but you need to start somewhere and be consistent.

Post content regularly that educates and entertains
Gary Vee does a great job of doing both. I recommend posting one to three times per day on your Instagram and Facebook feeds. You can post more regularly on Twitter with comments, reposts with statements, and questions. Twitter is great for coaches because you can discuss various topics and teach people. The key is getting to the point in a direct way that doesn’t offend others.

Go Live and film the whole thing
You will have communicated with your audience live, which they love. Then you have a YouTube video, an IGTV video, and multiple clips you can post on Instagram in your feed. You might even share the video or a few clips on Facebook, but I would probably share a different clip. You can educate your audience on Twitter, and then post a link to your IGTV video as proof. You can use the audio for a podcast. Do you see how one video session led to as many as ten social media posts or pieces of content?

Blogs and podcasts
Of course, I personally love blogs and podcasts to educate my followers – but the key is I love to write and I love to podcast. I suggest picking sources you love to do. You can’t podcast just because someone else podcasts. It has to be a medium you enjoy, and one you are good at.

Regardless of the platforms you choose to use to get the word out, you have to be consistent. You need a social media plan, and you have to be committed to that plan. Pixels are great for getting your followers who consume your free content to buy your paid services that best apply to them. For example, if you make a great free video about vertical leap training, you can retarget your followers that watch that video for your athletic performance classes. You can google ‘pixels’ to understand how that works.

I have come to believe that social media is where most of your money and time need to be focused, but there are a few other areas that need some attention as well. For example, newsletter marketing is still very powerful. Of course you can use lead magnets along with social media to grow your newsletter list. For example, you could write a small ebook about vertical leap training or training for a faster 40-yard dash. Then you could give that resource away for free in exchange for a simple email address. You can use Facebook and Instagram to target the exact customers that you have identified.

Last, there’s still a need for some good old-fashioned guerrilla marketing. You need to make a calendar with daily goals for getting out in your community and meeting your neighbors. My favorite tool is free seminars once per month. You need to pick topics that will interest the customers you have identified. Then get out in the community and invite people, give away fliers, and simply get to know people. For example, plan to host a free vertical leap seminar. Then get out in the community and invite every coach, every parent, and every athlete who would care about a higher vertical leap. I used to send evites from Facebook and/or evite.com to every local coach, every parent I knew, and anyone else who possibly knew of an athlete who would like to jump higher. I would follow up those evites with a phone call. Then I would visit the people and coaches I could. It was a powerful tool.

Retention

Once you have the people in your facility, you need to keep them there and keep them happy. It’s a lot cheaper to keep a member than it is to recruit a new one. How do you keep people? Here are a few ideas:

  • Get them the results they are after.
  • Listen to them. They will tell you everything you need to know to keep them if you simply talk to them.
  • Keep the place clean.
  • Be nice. This seems simple, but many people frankly aren’t good at this
  • Build a community. Plan baseball trips together or watch an MMA Fight at your gym together.
  • Know their names and use their names when talking to them.

Guys, if you simply do the little things, not only will these people stay in your facility, they will also become your number one source for new members with referrals. If you can afford to hire one person responsible for retention, I recommend doing so. This job is the number one way to grow a facility. If you open the doors with 40 members from your pre-sales and advertising, you can easily have over 100 members within a year with only adding five new members per month… if you keep your members.

I hope this article helps a few of you with some new ideas to build your business. I can’t wait to see you guys and gals at our Mash Elite Clinic Super Series. My goal over the next few years is to help this industry take its next step in this Post CrossFit Boom Era. Together we can make sure that the barbell world is a thriving one for many generations to come.

MASH ELITE CLINIC SUPER SERIES

This five-part clinic series stands above all others as the most comprehensive event for coaches and athletes alike. Level up your knowledge of technique, programming, business, and coaching.

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

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

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

And for good reason.

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

A World Class Coach's Guide to Building Muscle

Hypertrophy for Strength, Performance, and Aesthetics.

World champion and world-class coach Travis Mash has combined the latest research with his decades of practical experience to bring you an amazing resource on muscle hypertrophy.

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

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

Understanding the Olympic Lifts Before Teaching Them

I am a huge proponent of teaching the Olympic lifts – the snatch and clean and jerk. They are great movements for sports performance, at times general fitness, and for competitive sport of course.

For sports performance, you get the most bang for your buck when performing these Olympic lifts. For starters, you get a pull, a squat, and an overhead press with one movement versus three separate movements. In a field where time is everything, you can’t beat it. You also get:

  • force absorption when you meet the bar during the catch phase.
  • power production which is second to none in the weight room.
  • kinesthetic awareness as you learn to move around a heavy bar in space.
  • mobility because it is required with these movements.
  • core stability – especially in the torso as it stabilizes during the pull and catch phase.

If you are coaching general fitness, CrossFit has shown us all that the Olympic movements are great for coaching adults… if the adults are able to perform the movements properly. A simple assessment using the front squat, overhead squat, snatch deadlift, and the strict press will tell you if the athlete is capable of performing the movements. This goes for athletes and general fitness adults. If they can’t perform these four movements, then you probably need to start with teaching them these four movements and helping them improve their movement patterns.

Guys, a 40-year-old accountant who has been strapped to his desk and computer for the last twenty years isn’t prepared to snatch. They might never be prepared to snatch. That’s ok! They can do other movements that will improve their mobility and strength without hurting them. This is part of the main point of this article. As coaches we have to be experts in what we are teaching. If we aren’t experts, then we shouldn’t be teaching.

Last of course, the snatch and clean and jerk are great movements for competitive sport. At Mash, we coach some of the best weightlifters in the world. However, if you want to coach the sport, you dang well better understand the movements and the ins and outs of the sport. FYI there are a lot of ins and outs. Too many athletes get burned out and/or hurt by coaches who simply don’t understand the sport. It never fails, no matter how many ‘how to’ videos and articles I produce, we see rookie coaches who literally have no idea what they are doing at meets.

KNOW YOUR CRAFT

Here’s the main point of this article: If you don’t know how to teach the Olympic lifts, please don’t try and teach them. If you are dead set on teaching them, then take a USA Weightlifting Level 1 Coaching Course and get a foundation. From there, find a mentor near you to shadow and ask questions. I’ve had so many great mentors over the years who have helped me with the lifts – like Coach Sean Waxman, Coach Don McCauley, and Coach Kevin Doherty. Don’t let your ego get in the way. Your athletes deserve better.

I am not talking about specific technique, degree of plantar flexion, or how much to move one’s feet. I will save all of that for a pure weightlifting article. I am talking about teaching the lifts in a way where the athletes will be able to perform the competitive lifts safely and in a manner where the aforementioned benefits will be realized by the athletes. I am going to break the concerns into two categories: Safety concerns and performance concerns.

Safety Concerns

There are four main things I am looking for to determine the safety of the Olympic lifts:

  • Properly tracking feet and knees
  • Neutral spine
  • Safe rack position in the clean
  • Safe overhead position in the jerk and snatch

Properly tracking feet and knees: Two days ago I got into a Twitter argument with a lady about a video I posted. I had found a video of one of her athletes on a meme account on Instagram performing the worst clean I have ever seen. First he was performing the clean with some sort of free moving machine, which was the first mistake. Regardless if they were using a machine or a barbell, you always want the athlete pulling, catching, and squatting with knees that track with the first two toes (big toe and pointer toe). Significant amounts of valgus or varus (knees inside the feet or knees outside the feet) are bad for an athlete over time and can cause injury if left untreated. The athlete was demonstrating massive amounts of knee valgus during the pull and the catch phase. The worst part of the whole thing is the coach had no idea they were putting the athlete at risk. One could wonder – what made the coach believe they were qualified to coach athletes? I tried to offer the coach free help to teach them basic biomechanics, but instead of taking me up on the offer she just tried to make excuses and defend their style of training. Coaches – don’t let a silly thing like pride keep you from improving in your chosen craft.

Neutral Spine: Keeping a neutral spine is the most important part of the equation for the safety of the athlete. During a deadlift there is some pretty good evidence that pulling with a flexed thoracic spine will not end up in injury – noting that’s when the athlete begins the pull with a flexed spine and maintains that degree of flexion throughout the pull. When your spine starts moving while in motion and under load – that’s when injury can quickly yield its ugly face. Personally, I have never had any back issues since adhering to the teachings of Dr. Stuart McGill. As far as I know, he’s performed more research on the spine, especially where sport is concerned, than any other scientist of his kind. Therefore, I have to go with neutral spine most of the time with my athletes.

FORGET OPINIONS ON THE SQUAT. HERE'S THE SCIENCE.

TRAVIS MASH'S SQUAT SCIENCE

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.

When it comes to the dynamic Olympic lifts, I recommend neutral spine all of the time. If you let your spine flex during the dynamic pull of the snatch or clean, you are asking for a major injury. If your spine flexes during the catch portion, you are putting yourself at significant risk by flexing with a massive load at those speeds.

If you are a sport athlete, you will negate the benefits of force absorption if you catch with a flexed spine. The goal is to teach the athlete to absorb force with a flat back (aka neutral spine), so they can then turn around and deliver the blow to their opponent. If you watch really good rugby players or NFL football players, you will notice their backs never budge during collisions.

Safe rack position in the clean: There are a few necessities when it comes to the rack position in the clean. An athlete will be required to have optimal shoulder protraction and elevation to form the resting position for the bar. The bar will sit behind the front delt and in front of the traps. There is a nice little crevice for the bar to rest in between the delt and trap if the athlete has proper shoulder protraction. The athlete will also be required to have good lat and triceps mobility to allow for proper elbow height as well as good mobility to allow the elbows to get around and up in a quick fashion.

If the athlete can’t get into a good position, they are at risk of hurting their wrists – especially on a mistimed clean – causing the elbows to hit the knees and trapping the bent wrists with the barbell. The collarbones are at risk if the athlete can’t protract and elevate their shoulders. Athletes have actually broken their collarbones over time by not having proper rack positions.

Safe overhead position in the jerk and snatch: If you want to see a bad overhead position in the snatch, simply visit a poorly coached CrossFit. If the coaching staff is forcing all members to snatch, you will see some middle-aged adults trying to snatch with techniques that will make your skin crawl. I am not talking about simply bad technique. I am talking about snatches that are literally risking the orthopedic health of the athletes with each and every repetition.

EVALUATING WHEN WE SHOULD NOT TEACH

I’ve got news for you all. Some people are never going to perform a proper snatch. If they have been working at a desk for the last twenty years and have naturally poor movement, they are going to be restricted. Some are never going to get the movement required to snatch, and that’s okay. They simply want to be healthy. It’s our jobs as professionals to help them get healthy without hurting them.

A snatch requires shoulder mobility and spine mobility, especially in the thoracic spine. The scapula will need to move properly as well. The athlete will be required to place the bar at arm’s length somewhere over the ears or slightly behind that line. The athlete will need to maintain a neutral spine and be able to keep their ribcage down. If they can’t keep their ribcage down, they are getting movement from their lumbar spine as opposed to the thoracic spine. The lumbar spine is meant to be stable during loaded movements. When it starts moving under load, an injury is probably going to occur.

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For a good coach, there are several other options for adults – like snatch pulls, dumbbell snatches, kettlebell snatches, or snatch pulls from blocks. Meanwhile, you can work on their mobility unloaded in a safe manner. The goal is to have your adults leaving your facility feeling better than when they walked in. They shouldn’t be driving home cringing in pain from snatches they weren’t meant to do.

Some coaches use the excuse that their adults won’t listen to them. I’ve heard coaches say their adults want to do what everyone else is doing, so they grab a bar and start snatching even though their coach had told them not to. My response is for them to be the professional. It’s all about communication. Your athletes/clients have to trust that you have their best interest at heart, and they have to believe you possess the knowledge to best lead them in a direction most suited for them.

Let me be clear on something: I am not just talking to CrossFit coaches working with adults. I am talking to you coaches working with young athletes. If you can’t teach the movement proficiently, then you shouldn’t teach the lifts at all. You can always learn to teach a perfect squat, pull, press, and row. Then you can add in some plyometrics and med ball throws to have a perfect program. The Olympic lifts are only awesome if taught properly.

Let me end by saying the Olympic lifts are great movements. But they are only as good as the coach teaching them. If you are a strength and conditioning coach, put your time in and learn the lifts properly. You can normally find a weightlifting coach in your area who would love to mentor you on the movements. CrossFit coaches – you need to do the same thing. All coaches need to realize not everyone is ready to learn the Olympic lifts. You need to always have regressions in your toolbox. Your athletes trust you, and they believe you have their best interest in mind. It’s up to us meet these expectations.

Athletes and Entrepreneurship with Sheridan Lintz – The Barbell Life 262

Sometimes it takes an “athletic identity crisis” to show us who wee truly are.

And that’s exactly what happened with Sheridan Lintz. After a trek through Nepal, her knees were in crippling pain.

It made her question who she was as a lifter. And it let to her digging deep and finding out what really matters in life.

Now she takes those skills and works with an organization training the next generation of entrepreneurs. As you know, that’s something we’re excited about because we want to help our young men and women reach their dreams.

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

  • Why athletes make the best entrepreneurs
  • Out-squatting her older brother when she was 11 years old
  • Her “athletic identity crisis” in Nepal
  • The difference between good coaches and bad coaches in her past
  • How you can work now to set yourself up for entrepreneurial success later
  • and more…

Dane Miller of Garage Strength – The Barbell Life 256

Dane Miller gets people snatching to increase their bench press. And he’s a proponent of getting athletes snatching right away.

He’s setting off Lunk Alarms all over the country.

He joins us on the podcast today to talk about training throwers, wrestlers, football players, and all types of athletes.

Dane also owns Garage Strength and is part of Earth Fed Muscle, so we talk about the brutal realities of business.

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

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

  • Snatching to increase your bench press?
  • The realities and difficulties of starting a business
  • Combining training for throwing and Olympic lifting at the same time
  • The bad aspects of training football players
  • The missing factor of rotational and anti-rotational work
  • and more…
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