Category Archives for "Motivation"

When Training is More Than Just Training by Joel Slate

As I’m sitting here writing this, life is feeling pretty heavy. First of all, we were recently blessed with the birth of our fifth child, John Michael, who, like his mother, is incredibly healthy and well after the birth. We rejoice about this incredible event!

On the flip side, my parents, who are getting up there in years, flew down to visit and help with the new baby. They arrived from Oregon a week or so before the baby came. On the second night that they were here, my mother tripped and fell and managed to both dislocate and break her shoulder. A couple of days later, my father became ill and I took him to the ER at 3 am for difficulty breathing and severe back pain. He’s still in the hospital. He was admitted, then transferred to a rehab facility, and is back in the hospital. Right now, his vitals are stable, but he is having a lot of issues with infection and the impact on his internal organs. He just wants so badly to get well enough to come home and see the grandkids. I pray that he’ll be able to, but I don’t know if that will happen. A few weeks before all of this, our oldest son broke his arm at gymnastics practice.

Given all of these factors, it would be easy to pull back and crawl into a hole and just ask “why me?” After all, these are all things that are supposed to happen to someone else, aren’t they? NO..!!

In a way, I’m glad they happened to us. Don’t get me wrong, I really wish my dad wasn’t sick and nobody had broken any bones. That would have been much easier. The thing is, though, we weren’t put on this life for everything to be easy. I want to use this situation to glorify God and give encouragement to others who are facing challenges in their lives.

 

Why I train

How does training fit into this? Training is a huge part of what keeps me grounded and focused in life. Don’t misunderstand me, nothing is more important than my relationship with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and my wife and family. Beyond those two things, most things are pretty minor, but the biggest one for me right now is my training, and for a bunch of reasons.

First, staying on track with my program keeps me focused. Right now, I’m working towards an upcoming meet in mid-January. By staying on track and grinding on, I’m looking at the long road, not getting lost in the issues of the day, and not letting them overwhelm me. I’m staying focused on my long-term goals, and to achieve those goals, I’ve got to keep training. For at least a couple of hours, I can clear my head.

Second, training hard keeps me physically healthy, ensures that I take time to eat properly, get sufficient sleep, and get quality recovery. This is so important to fight the physical and emotional toll that a stressful situation can take. It’s so easy, during tough times, to take the easy route and eat from drive-thrus, live on coffee and soda pop, and be so stressed that you can’t fall asleep. Instead, eating as much high-quality food as possible (though I’ll admit we’ve hit Popeye’s a few times) and staying properly hydrated fights the effects of stress. Getting up at 4:15 am and training hard ensures that you are so tired that it’s no trouble falling asleep by 9:30-10: 00 pm. Fish oil and ZMA help improve the quality of the sleep that I am able to get.

Third, training through all of this has really shown me the value of being flexible with your training. Coach Jacky Bigger writes awesome programs for me. She recognizes the issues that I currently need to work on and balances those with making progress towards my long-term goals. However, some days, life situations get in the way and prevent me from following the programming exactly as written. I might only be able to do a portion of the scheduled movements or have to split it up into multiple sessions, or I might only be able to do powers instead of the full movements. Perhaps, I just flat out miss doing squats for a week. What I’ve found is that none of that matters in the big picture. If I miss my clean deadlifts one day because I don’t have time, or I don’t go as heavy on my front squats because I just don’t have the energy today, neither will derail the progress that we’re making towards the end goals. What I don’t do is make a habit of missing things. I try to avoid it if possible, but if I do miss something, I just move on and I don’t spend any time worrying about it.

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Fourth, and most importantly, training is keeping me motivated to inspire others. I’m seeing progress in my strength, speed, and technique. Sometimes the progress is small, maybe 1 or 2 kg on a lift, or one more second holding a position, but it is still progress. I hope other people, whether its friends and associates in the community, or individuals who follow me on Facebook or Instagram see me working hard, staying focused, and making progress, despite current events, and tell themselves that they can do it too. Maybe even someone will ask how I do it, and I can share my faith with them.

The 23rd Psalm tells us that the Lord prepares us a table in front of our enemies, even while we’re walking through the darkest valleys. He’s done that for me too. Even when life seems rough and things are overwhelming, he hasn’t forgotten me or my family. He’s provided us opportunities to thrive in the midst, and one of the most important has been my training. I hope you can see that He’s doing this for you too.

Reach out to me on Facebook or Instagram if you want to visit about this or anything else.

Joel Slate

Case Study: How Coach Mash Trains with Little Time

“You can still see results. You can get strong, gain muscle, and lose fat. You can improve functional movement patterns, increase work capacity, and feel more athletic. You can do these things with limited time, but you have to be smart and manage your time in the gym effectively if you want to stand a chance of making it happen.”

Many of you have approached me with concerns about reaching your goals with having limited time for training. No one knows this better than me. I get it, man. I am no longer the full-time powerlifter expecting the world to revolve around my training times. Those days are gone. Yes, I own a sweet gym, but that doesn’t mean I get to workout all day long. As a matter of fact, if I don’t want to go broke, owning a gym means quite the opposite.

I have priorities in life. Those priorities look something like:

– God
– Family
– Friends
– My extraordinary team
– My incredible new gym
– Coaching all of my sick athletes onsite and online
– Developing content
– Training

Between running a business and a family to care for, time for training is a luxury.

This is the short list, but it gives you an idea.

I have about one hour in the gym. If I am lucky, I have 90-minutes. I refuse to go to the gym and piddle. I would rather sit at home and get fat. I have goals, and I want results just like the rest of you. It’s a new year and many of you have set out to crush some big goals and get big results. Unfortunately, I’ve seen all too many people give up on their goals or fail to achieve a result due to a lack of using their limited time wisely.

Here’s the deal:

You can still see results. You can get strong, gain muscle, and lose fat. You can improve functional movement patterns, increase work capacity, and feel more athletic. You can do these things with limited time, but you have to be smart and manage your time in the gym effectively if you want to stand a chance of making it happen. There are plenty of things that you can do to save yourself countless hours in the gym and make the most of your training time. Right now, I am going to share a few of the things I have done to make the most of my limited gym time and still make progress with my training.

 

Define Your Goals

Your first step in this process is to specifically define your goals. If you have limited time in the gym, you need to know exactly what you plan on doing.

– Are you trying to get strong overall?

– Are you trying to improve specific lifts?

– Are you trying to get jacked?

– Are you trying to lose body fat?

– Are you trying to improve movement and increase work capacity?

If you don’t have the answer to these questions, there’s no way you’re going to be efficient in the gym. However, once you have your specific goal narrowed down, then you can develop a plan that’s totally focused on that goal. If your goal is to get better at squat and deadlift, there is no reason to spend 30-minutes on Snatch and 30-minutes on seated shoulder press!

I am going to give you a case study to give you an idea of what I am talking about. We’ll be looking at an athlete that I am very familiar with, me. Then, I will give you several time-saving tips that you can apply to any program.

 

How I’m training when short on time

Since opening our new gym, I have a rejuvenated love of training. The energy in our club is contagious. I train every day with my longtime training partner Chris “Ox” Mason, so I am having fun again. Let’s take a look at what I am doing!

What are my goals? Of course, I want to be strong and that will never change. Right now, I am dealing with a hip that should be cut off, and I am still recovering from tearing my triceps tendon twice last year. Due to my injuries, I am strategically choosing in the exercises I want to focus on and strengthen. I have chosen:

– Cleans
– Front Squats
– Deadlifts
– Bench Presses
– Strict Presses (to a lesser degree)

These movements seem to allow me to train without causing massive amounts of pain and discomfort. They’re still pretty cool so I’m having fun. Once you’ve chosen the movements that you want to strengthen, you should spend the most frequency on those movements.

I want my accessory work to promote hypertrophy while targeting my hip and elbow weaknesses as well. I’m not interested in becoming a yogi anytime soon, but I am after optimal movement. The exercises that I have chosen promote that by nature, but there is still work to be done.

That’s the summary of my goals. Before we jump into my plan, understand that this program is specifically for my strengths, weaknesses, mobility restrictions, and etc. Part of what makes a good program is that it’s individualized to you and your goals. What I’m doing is likely not going to yield the best result for you. If you need a training plan, you should seek out a coach to write you a program or write your own for what YOU need.

Short on time in the gym? Here's the blueprint you need to follow.

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If your schedule is packed but you still want to smash weight, if you want a reliable method to break through plateaus, if you want to build a strength program that works for YOU, grab the Blueprint.

Now, let’s look at my plan:

Week 1

Day 1

Closegrip Bench Press – 3 x 10 at 60%
Deadlift – 70% 7×3 with 60-90 sec rest

Accessory

1a. Belt Squat Holding KB Out – 3×8
1b. Rows – 3×10
1c. Dips – 3 x submaximal

Day 2

Clean from Blocks & Press – 10RM Press, then no press 5RM Clean
Front Squats – 70% 7×3 with 60-90 sec rest

Accessory

1a. Belt Squat Kettlebell Hinge – 3 x 40 sec
1b. Reverse Hypers – 3 x 40 sec
1c. DB P. Cleans – 3 x 10

Day 3

ME Rev Band Bench Press – 5RM, then 85% Straight Weigh to Chest AMRAP
ME Deadlift Blocks Bar at Knee – 5RM

Accessory

1a. Belt Squat Holding KB Out – 3×8
1b. Snatch Grip Push Press – 3×10
1c. Dips – 3 x submaximal

Day 4

Hang Clean & Press – 5RM Press, then no press 5RM Clean
Front Squat – 5RM, then -15% AMRAP

Accessory

1a. KB Bottoms Up Z Press – 3 x 10
1b. Belt Squat KB High Pulls from Hang – 3 x 10
1c. Glute Bridges – 3 x 10


Week 2

Day 1

Closegrip Bench Press – 3 x 10 at 65%
Deadlift – 75% 8×3 with 60-90 sec rest

Accessory

1a. Belt Squat Holding KB Out – 3×8
1b. Rows – 3×10
1c. Dips – 3 x submaximal

Day 2

Clean from Blocks & Press – 10RM Press, then no press 3RM Clean
Front Squats – 75% 8×3 with 60-90 sec rest

Accessory

1a. Belt Squat Kettlebell Hinge – 3 x 40 sec
1b. Reverse Hypers – 3 x 40 sec
1c. DB P. Cleans – 3 x 10

Day 3

ME Rev Band Bench Press – 3RM, then 88% Straight Weigh to Chest AMRAP
ME Deadlift Blocks Bar at Knee – 3RM

Accessory

1a. Belt Squat Holding KB Out  – 3×8
1b. Snatch Grip Push Press – 3×10
1c. Dips – 3 x submaximal

Day 4

Hang Clean & Press – 5RM Press, then no press 3RM Clean
Front Squat – 3RM, then -15% AMRAP

Accessory

1a. KB Bottoms Up Z Press – 3 x 10
1b. Belt Squat KB High Pulls from Hang – 3 x 10
1c. Glute Bridges – 3 x 10


Week 3

Day 1

Closegrip Bench Press – 3 x 10 at 55%
Deadlift – 65% 6×3 with 60-90 sec rest

Accessory

1a. Belt Squat Holding KB Out – 3×8
1b. Rows – 3×10
1c. Dips – 3 x submaximal

Day 2

Clean from Blocks & Press – 90% of 10RM 1 x 10, then 1RM Clean
Front Squats – 65% 6×3 with 60-90 sec rest

Accessory

1a. Belt Squat Kettlebell Hinge – 3 x 40 sec
1b. Reverse Hypers – 3 x 40 sec
1c. DB P. Cleans – 3 x 10

Day 3

ME Rev Band Bench Press – 3RM, then 80% Straight Weigh to Chest AMRAP
ME Deadlift Blocks Bar at Knee – 3RM

Accessory

1a. Belt Squat Holding KB Out – 3×8
1b. Snatch Grip Push Press – 3×10
1c. Dips – 3 x submaximal

Day 4

Hang Clean & Press – 90% of 5RM 1 x 5, then 1RM Clean
Front Squat – 90% of 3RM for 3×3

Accessory

1a. KB Bottoms Up Z Press  – 3 x 10
1b. Belt Squat KB High Pulls from Hang – 3 x 10
1c. Glute Bridges – 3 x 10


Week 4

Day 1

Closegrip Bench Press – 3 x 10 at 70%
Deadlift – 80% 6×3 with 60-90 sec rest

Accessory

1a. Belt Squat Holding KB Out – 3×8
1b. Rows – 3×10
1c. Dips – 3 x submaximal

Day 2

Clean from Blocks & Press – 8RM Press, then no press 1RM Clean
Front Squats – 80% 6×3 with 60-90 sec rest

Accessory

1a. Belt Squat Kettlebell Hinge – 3 x 40 sec
1b. Reverse Hypers – 3 x 40 sec
1c. DB P. Cleans – 3 x 10

Day 3

ME Rev Band Bench Press – 1RM, then 90% Straight Weigh to Chest AMRAP
ME Deadlift Blocks Bar at Knee – 1RM

Accessory

1a. Belt Squat Holding KB Out – 3×8
1b. Snatch Grip Push Press – 3×10
1c. Dips – 3 x submaximal

Day 4

Hang Clean & Press – 3RM Press, then no press 1RM Clean
Front Squat – 1RM, then -20% AMRAP

Accessory

1a. KB Bottoms Up Z Press 3 x 10
1b. Belt Squat KB High Pulls from Hang 3 x 10
1c. Glute Bridges 3 x 10

 

Day 1

The Bench Press

First I start with bench press because it’s easier for me warm up for it.  I’m assuming because there are less total muscles being recruited.  That means I am able to get to the work sets sooner, which means that I can finish sooner.  I also use my rest periods to mobilize for the upcoming deadlifts.  

I am very specific in the movements I use to mobilize.  My ankles, hamstrings, and thoracic spine region are all very mobile, but my main problem area is the hip area.  I use three main band traction exercises that free my hips up to move functionally.  Sometimes if my hips are giving me extra trouble, I will break out a lacrosse ball and focus on the piriformis and capsule areas.  

I watch way too many people spend one hour on mobility and thirty quality minutes strength training.  That’s cool if your main goal is mobility, but that’s less than optimal if your goal is strength.  Find someone that can give you a quality assessment so you can pinpoint the joints that need focus.  Hardly anyone needs that much mobility work unless they’re a ballet dancer.

The Deadlifts

By the time I get to deadlifts, I have completed the warm-ups and my core body temperature is up a degree or two.  At that point, I am ready to start deadlifting.  Here’s a bombshell that I am about to drop on you guys.  The best way to warm up for a movement is to perform that movement.  That’s right, I use deadlifts to warm up for deadlifts.  All that I am saying is that I spend quality time with light weights before progressing to my work sets.  I warm up with light weights until I can get into an optimal position for the movement and until there is little to no joint pain.

Hypertrophy Work

I am trying to gain some hypertrophy during this first block while acclimating my body to hard training again.  The 3×10 in the bench press is great for hypertrophy, and the three-sets can be completed quickly.  The 7×3 in the deadlift is great for me because the multiple sets allow me to practice the movement gaining my efficiency once again.  The short rest periods allow me to complete the sets and reps rather quickly.  I can finish the entire set in 15-20 minutes without a problem.

That leaves me with the accessory work.  I perform all three movements as a giant set.  That means that I perform them at the same time one after the other.  The Belt Squats are designed to encourage optimal movement while strengthening my hip extension.  The Belt Squat has really helped to ease my hip pain.  The extra emphasis on extension has assured that my glutes are firing properly.  This helps to keep the femur, especially the ball, in a more neutral setting versus sliding forwards and causing the anterior pain that I have been experiencing.  

The belt squat while holding a kettlebell to improve posture.

Everyone should perform rows.  I mean have you ever seen a strong man or woman with a weak back?  I haven’t. Look at guys like Ed Coan or Pyrros Dimas, and you will see strong backs.  Was it a coincidence that they were also stronger than everyone else?  The dips are to slowly build my triceps strength at the elbow joint.  I have been rehabbing my triceps since March with movements like pushdowns and DB extensions, and now it’s time to get a little more advanced.  My goal is to build the stability in the elbow so that I can perform all movements by the end of the year.  

Performing all three back-to-back like that allows me to perform the work quickly and increase my work capacity at the same time.  Is it optimal?  I’m not 100%, but if I can progress the movements over the next four weeks, then it’s done its job.  Personally, I have always combined movements like this because at the end of my workouts I am ready to go home, so I hammer the accessory work and hit the road.

 

Day 2

Cleans and Presses

I am more excited about the Clean than the Press really, but I still need to increase overhead strength if I want to get back to Snatch and Clean & Jerk.  Plus it’s pretty darn manly to Clean & Press.  I really just throw in the presses during the warm-ups of the Clean.  I will once again target my hips with the band traction as I warm up the Cleans, but the best way to warm up is to Clean the weight and sit in the bottom while taking five deep breaths.  There is no better way in the world to mobilize than with actual weight.  You can stretch, roll, and wrap anything you want, but it will never work as well as simply using the weighted exercise to warm up.  

Once I find the 10-repetition maximum, I start working up to find the repetition maximum for the Clean from Blocks.  Notice that the repetition and set scheme is very simple.  I haven’t trained hard in over six months so there is no reason to get complicated.  I am taking the advice of Dan John and keeping it simple until it no longer works.  I will get a little more complicated with things on the next block.  Right now I am just getting my body back to normal and the Max Effort Method is by far the best way to get strong.

Front Squats

I love Front Squatting after Cleans because I am already warmed up. Normally I will start front squatting where I left off in the Cleans. For example, if I hit a 120kg Clean for the repetition maximum, I will start with 120 or 130 during my warm-ups in the Front Squat.  That is a huge time saver.  I also time my rest periods with the Front Squats for the same reasons as in the Deadlift.

The accessory movements are also paired together. Again, I’m focusing on my hip and low back so that I can continue to train for as long as possible.  I love using time versus repetitions on accessory movements so that I can monitor the capacity of the hip and low back.  When I build that capacity, it assures me that I am getting more stable.

 I want this to be the healthiest year of my life.

Day 3

Reverse Band Bench Pressing

On this day, I’m going Max Effort all the way as I rebuild strength.  Once again, I start with the bench press and use the Reverse Bands.  I will probably use Purple or Mini Bands so I am not finding myself too far above my one-repetition maximum.  I’m working towards a 3RM, and then taking the bands off and hitting a prescribed percentage for as many reps as possible.  This makes sure that I’m ending with straight weight, and that I’m getting a little volume to keep the hypertrophy gains coming.  

Deadlifts from Blocks

During the bench press, we are once again warming up for the deadlifts so we are ready to move right into them after our last bench press.  One trick that you can use for saving time is to warm up for the deadlift during your rest periods of the bench press.  You can slap 135 pounds on the bar and take some warm-up attempts in between sets of the bench.  That way you are ready to start working up to your repetition maximum.  

Deadlifts aren’t that technical.  Some people try to make deadlifting technical, but at the end of the day you are simply picking something up.  I have never worked with as much volume in the deadlift as the other movements so I can preserve my recovery for other movements needing my attention–like back squats.  Deadlifting twice per week has always worked well with one day being a repetition and velocity based day, and the other day focused on maximum effort.  

550lb Deadlift! I have a new fire in my training. We will see where it goes. 

Working to a 3RM off blocks should be a fast exercise.  If you go into it warmed up, you should be able to work up to a 3RM in 10 to 15 minutes.  Deadlifts off blocks are not as taxing to the body because the range of motion is limited.  Supposing that I had already warmed up with 225 pounds while I was benching, my warm up and max attempts might look like this:

– 315lb x 3

– 405lb x 3

– 475lb x 3

– 515lb x 3

It’s all about taking advantage of every second in the gym.  That’s why you have to hit the gym with the mentality of going to work.  The only thing different with the accessory work is the Snatch Grip Push Presses to obviously strengthen that overhead position.

There is a lot of work to be done, and yes, I am using similar movements because I have identified the accessory exercises that mean the most to achieving my goals.  Specificity is the key to targeting specific weaknesses. When time is of the essence, you have no time for random movements. You are either performing movements that are taking you closer to your goals or you’re not.  

 

Day 4

Hang Cleans and Presses

This time I’m using the Conjugate Method to change things up to Hang Cleans.  I am still using the Max Effort Method with both the Presses and the Cleans in the same way as Day 2.  However, I am using undulating periodization with higher repetitions on Day 2 and lower repetitions on Day 4.  

Once again the Max Effort Method is faster to finish, and Prilepin tells us that weights 90% and above are the best to get stronger.  I will also warm up the hips during the cleans with the band traction work and pauses in the bottom of the catch.  I’ll begin the max effort front squats at whatever weight I end up cleaning with the down sets there just to help us get a little more volume for those hypertrophy gains.  

The accessory movements are once again strengthening my weaknesses.  I am targeting hip extension with both the belt squat work and the glute bridges.  The kettlebell bottom up Z-Presses are great for improving posture, stabilizing the scapula and shoulder region while strengthening the muscles required to press. As I’ve stressed before, specificity will create the adaptations that you are targeting.

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Let’s quickly look at the second block, and wrap this thing up!

Week 5

Day 1

Bench Press Volume – 80% 3×3, 85% 2×2, 88% 1×2
Deadlifts Velocity Based with 60-90sec rest – 75% straight weight 8×2 or 60% st weight & 20% Bands/Chains

Accessory

1a. Belt Squat Holding KB Out – 3×8
1b. Rows – 3×10
1c. Dips – 3 x submaximal

Day 2

Clean & Press ME – 5RM Press, then no press 3RM Clean
Front Squats  – 80% 3×3, 85% 2×2, 88% 1×2

Accessory

1a. Belt Squat Kettlebell Hinge – 3 x 45 sec
1b. Reverse Hypers – 3 x 40 sec
1c. DB P. Cleans – 3 x 10

Day 3

Bench to Chest  – 80% x 3, 85% x 1 (percentages based on raw max)
Max Effort Sling Shot, Reverse Band with Purple or 2 Board Bench – Max 5
Bench Press to Chest – 88% x 2, 90% for AMRAP
ME Deadlift  – Reverse Band Deadlifts 3RM

Accessory

1a. Farmers Walk – 40yd
1b. Snatch Grip Push Press – 3×5
1c. DB Bench Press – 3 x 10

Day 4

Clean from Blocks – 75% straight weight 8×2
Front Squat Velocity/PAP (Post Activation Potentiation) – 4×2 or 60% st weight & 20% Bands, then 2RM w Bands, & 2RM no Bands

Accessory

1a. Suitcase Deadlifts from 4″ Deficit 3×5 ea side
1b. Belt Squat KB Deadlifts 3 x 10
1c. Glute Bridges 3 x 10


Week 6

Day 1

Bench Press Volume – 80% 3×3, 85% 2×3, 88% 2×2, 90% 2 x 2
Deadlifts Velocity Based with 60-90sec rest – 80% straight weight 7×2 or 65% st weight & 20% Bands/Chains

Accessory

1a. Belt Squat Holding KB Out – 3×8
1b. Rows – 3×10
1c. Dips – 3 x submaximal

Day 2

Clean & Press ME – 3RM Press, then no press 2RM Clean
Front Squats  – 80% 3×3, 85% 2×3, 88% 2×2, 90% 2 x 2

Accessory

1a. Belt Squat Kettlebell Hinge – 3 x 45 sec
1b. Reverse Hypers – 3 x 40 sec
1c. DB P. Cleans – 3 x 10

Day 3

Bench to Chest  – 80% x 3, 85% x 1 (percentages based on raw max)
Max Effort Sling Shot, Reverse Band with Purple or 2 Board Bench – Max 3
Bench Press to Chest – 90% x 1, 93% for AMRAP
ME Deadlift  – Reverse Band Deadlifts 1RM

Accessory

1a. Farmers Walk – 40yd
1b. Snatch Grip Push Press – 3×5
1c. DB Bench Press – 3 x 10

Day 4

Clean from Blocks – 80% straight weight 7×2
Front Squat Velocity/PAP – 4×2 or 65% st weight & 20% Bands, then 1RM w Bands, & 2RM no Bands

Accessory

1a. Suitcase Deadlifts from 4″ Deficit  – 3×5 ea side
1b. Belt Squat KB Deadlifts – 3 x 10
1c. Glute Bridges – 3 x 10


Week 7

Day 1

Bench Press Volume – 1RM, then -20% 2×3
Deadlifts Velocity Based with 60-90sec rest – 85% straight weight 3×1 & then max or 70% st weight & 20% Bands/Chains

Accessory

1a. Belt Squat Holding KB Out – 3×8
1b. Rows – 3×10
1c. Dips – 3 x submaximal

Day 2

Clean & Press ME – 90% of 3RM 1 x3, then 1RM Clean
Front Squats  – 1RM, then -20% 2×3

Accessory

1a. Belt Squat Kettlebell Hinge – 3 x 45 sec
1b. Reverse Hypers – 3 x 40 sec
1c. DB P. Cleans – 3 x 10

Day 3

Bench to Chest  – 80% x 3, 85% x 1 (percentages based on raw max)
Max Effort Sling Shot, Reverse Band with Purple or 2 Board Bench – Max 1
Bench Press to Chest – 88% x 2, 93% x 1, 95% for 1, max, then 85% for AMRAP
ME Deadlift  – Deadlift from 2-4″ Deficit 2RM

Accessory

1a. Farmers Walk – 40yd
1b. Snatch Grip Push Press – 3×5
1c. DB Bench Press – 3 x 10

Day 4

Clean from Blocks – 85% straight weight 3×1 & then max
Front Squat Velocity/PAP – 3×1 or 70% st weight & 20% Bands, then 1RM w Bands, & 1RM no Bands

Accessory

1a. Suitcase Deadlifts from 4″ Deficit 3×5 ea side
1b. Belt Squat KB Deadlifts 3 x 10
1c. Glute Bridges 3 x 10


Week 8

Day 1

Bench Press Volume – 80% 2×3, 85% 2×2, 88% 1×2
Deadlifts Velocity Based with 60-90sec rest – 70% straight weight 8×2 or 55% st weight & 20% Bands/Chains

Accessory

1a. Belt Squat Holding KB Out – 3×8
1b. Rows – 3×10
1c. Dips – 3 x submaximal

Day 2

Clean & Press ME – 1RM Press, then no press 1RM Clean
Front Squats  – 80% 2×3, 85% 2×2, 88% 1×2

Accessory

1a. Belt Squat Kettlebell Hinge – 3 x 45 sec
1b. Reverse Hypers – 3 x 40 sec
1c. DB P. Cleans – 3 x 10

Day 3

Bench to Chest  – Max Bench Press
ME Deadlift  – 1RM

Accessory

1a. Farmers Walk 40yd
1b. Snatch Grip Push Press 3×5
1c. DB Bench Press 3 x 10

Day 4

Clean from Blocks – 70% straight weight 5×2
Front Squat Velocity/PAP – 1RM

Accessory

1a. Suitcase Deadlifts from 4″ Deficit – 3×5 ea side
1b. Belt Squat KB Deadlifts – 3 x 10
1c. Glute Bridges – 3 x 10

In this block, the pairings are all the same to guarantee a perfect flow of training.  Even though things are getting a little more advanced, the same principles apply.  The accessory movements are still being paired together, and they are all chosen based on my weaknesses and goals.

 

Key time-saving principles from the case study

Pair movements together that flow!  

For example, bench press gives you time to warm up for deadlift, or cleans prepare you to front Squat.  This pairing will make the second exercise go by much faster.

Focus on the Gold!  

By this I mean to get rid of anything not needed.  If you can’t directly answer why a certain exercise is in the program, get rid of it.  Specificity is key for accessory movements.  

Frequency for Strength

If you have movements that you want to get stronger, perform them more often.  Once again, leave out strength movements that you don’t care about.

Specificity for Mobility

Stop mobilizing for an hour and training for 30-minutes.  Pinpoint the joints that need targeting and use 2-3 go to movements to prepare them for work.  

Use the Strength Movements to Warm Up

Every great strength athlete will tell you that the movement you are about to perform is the best way to warm up. If you are going to squat, doing a few band movements and then grab a dang bar and start squatting.  The same goes for weightlifting.  If you want a better position in the front squat, then front squat more often and consider performing pauses with deep breaths in the bottom.  Thanks Greg Nuckols!

Timed Rest Periods! 

If you are performing velocity-based repetitions, I recommend using a 60-90 second rest period between sets. This keeps you focused on the task at hand and also improves work capacity.  

The Max Effort Method

This is the best way to get strong quickly, and it’s a faster workout.  You warm up, work up, hit the number, and you’re done.

 

A few more tips that weren’t covered in the case study

Keep your headphones in and head down

This sounds like I am being anti-social, and that would be the correct assessment.  Look I love people.  I love helping people, but dang it, when I am training, I am training.  I forgot this principle for the last three years.  Not anymore!

Have a Plan 

If you go to the gym without a plan, you will either take thirty minutes deciding what to do, or you will simply waste the entire time.  

Set the Culture

If you own the gym, you have the ability to create the culture. Teach people that training is a time for work, and chit-chat can happen afterward somewhere designated. Most people will learn to appreciate this culture.  That doesn’t mean that you’re not supposed to cut up and laugh.  It just means that we aren’t talking about relationships and politics during training.

Have your Workouts on Paper

I know that we live in a world filled with apps, but the phone is a distraction.  You go to your phone to check your workout, and the next thing you know you’re on Instagram or Facebook.  My wife uses her planner as it has a place for goals, the date is already there, and there is a section to write the workout, how you feel, and your nutrition.  There is something to be said for using paper because you can easily look back at the past to plan for the future.  I used to do that when I was competing, and now that my wife mentioned this I am going back to it starting tomorrow.

 

A Final Word

I am ready to make 2018 the best year ever.  I am getting in shape.  I am becoming a better husband and father.  I am growing my gym like New York City and I am growing Mash Elite Performance 10-Fold. Priorities are key! Having a Plan is key!

I hope this article allows you to reach your goals in the gym without spending thirty hours per week training.  If you dedicate 4 to 6 quality hours per week with the right plan and mindset, I know that you can achieve all of your fitness and strength goals. If you need help with this, reach out to us for coaching, programming or start by getting the Mash Blueprint where I share more 3 and 4 day-a-week training templates you can use to craft your own efficient programming. 

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Now get to it,

Coach Travis Mash

Setting Goals by Crystal McCullough

“The victory of success is half won when one gains the habit of setting goals and achieving them. Even the most tedious chore will become endurable as you parade through each day convinced that every task, no matter how menial or boring, brings you closer to fulfilling your dreams.” – Og Mandino


Goodbye, 2017! Hello, 2018!! This is always the time of year we talk about setting goals.

Goal setting is a huge part of each individual person’s success in fitness (or anything in life for that matter). When goals are not set, what keeps you, the athlete, coming back day after day and putting in the hard work? The answer is nothing. In order to truly have success, you need to sit down and really think about short-term and long-term goals you want to set for yourself. Working toward something always fairs better commitment-wise than doing something for the sake of simply doing it.

 

Short-term vs. Long-term Goals

Short-term goals refer to something you want to achieve within a short period of time (less than 6 months). Long-term goals refer to something you want to achieve in the distant future (could mean years).  I recommend having at least 2 short-term goals and a minimum of 1 long-term goal. As a goal is reached, replace that goal.

This can be looked at from two different perspectives: that of the athlete and that of the coach. As an athlete, you need to be honest with yourself and set realistic goals. Communication with your coach is essential. You must be willing to work hard if you want to reach the goals you have set. As a coach, being aware of your athlete’s goals allows you to help them work toward those goals.

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At the gym I used to manage, we had a “Goals” board (they still have it!) next to our “Results” board that I encouraged all of the athletes to write their goals on. They would write a goal for the month (short-term) as well as something they want to accomplish within 6-12 months (long-term). This makes you accountable to yourself and to each other. Really think about and write them down! It always helps to have accountability and having a visual reminder will continue to motivate you.

 

Why you should set clear goals

So, what are the benefits you might ask to setting goals?

  1. It gives you a sense of direction of how your training should look like. It is also beneficial to share these goals with your coach so they can mold your training in a way that gives you the best possible chance of reaching those goals.
  2. It provides you with the motivation you need to continue to return to the gym and work hard. Without a clear goal, it is easy to lose motivation.
  3. Writing your goals down on paper where they are visible to you makes you accountable to them.
  4. Set goals that are measurable and specific. For example, if you want to lose weight, give yourself short-term markers and long-term markers as ways to mark your progress. It can be disheartening to have a long-term goal of losing x amount of weight in a year without setting short-term goals for yourself to mark your improvement.

 

Now it’s your turn

Whether you are a recreational runner or a competitive CrossFit athlete, powerlifter, weightlifter, or arm wrestler (you get my point), setting goals will optimize your performance. If you are working toward something, you will be less likely to feel stagnant because you are shooting for something beyond what is happening right now.

After reading this article, I want you to sit down and have a nice long talk with yourself. Define short-term and long-term goals for 2018 that are achievable.  

I promise you will be more likely to be successful in any area of your life if you take this approach.

Thanks for reading,

Crystal

So, You’re Having a Bad Training Session… by Jacky Bigger, M.S.

Everyone has off days. In fact, you’re supposed to have off days.

Programming here at Mash Elite is designed to temporarily break you down and beat you up a little. Later in the cycle when the volume drops and your body gets a chance to rest and recover, you’ll build back up stronger and better then you were before. It’s called supercompensation.

So how do we approach these “bad” days of training? Well, you have a couple of options:

  • 1. Throw in the towel, go home, eat some more food, and spend the extra time relaxing and focusing on recovery.
  • 2. Drop the weight a bit and finish up the training session, focusing on good movement and good technique.
  • 3. Throw a fit, cry to your coach, and tell yourself you’re going to quit weightlifting forever because you suck so bad and aren’t getting any better.

Obviously, the first two choices are going to be the better options, but how do you know which one to choose? If you have an onsite coach, ask them. They’ll tell you exactly what to do based on how things are looking.

If you don’t, here’s how I’d choose. Base it off of your mindset.

Are you frustrated, hating lifting, and hating life during your training session? If so, go home, rest, and come back ready to work with a more positive attitude the next day.

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Before you go home, take some time to reflect on your training session and to figure out why you weren’t feeling so good. Take a step back and think rationally.

  • Did you hit a big PR earlier on in the week?
  • Were you on your feet all day long before training?
  • Did you get enough sleep?
  • Did you eat enough before training?
  • Ladies, are you about to start your period?

All of these things can affect your training. After you’ve thought things through, simply forget about the training session and go relax. A short-term memory is a great quality to have as a weightlifter. One bad day doesn’t have to lead to another.

On the other hand, if you’re in good spirits and motivated to train, but you’re just not moving well, drop the weight down and finish the session. Focus on technique and just have a fun, relaxing training session. Go off script a little bit. Do some extra bodybuilding or GPP work. Keep things light with minimal eccentric loading. This will allow you to recover and get ready for the next day of training.

Long story short, a bad training session is not the end of the world. What matters most is how you respond to these bad days. Like most things in life, there will often be times when you’re put in circumstances that are outside of your control. How you respond to those situations is what you can control – and a positive, proactive response can make a big difference.

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Is an Injury a Blessing in Disguise?

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Is an Injury a Blessing in Disguise?
by Coach Travis Mash, USAW Senior International Coach

In early 2004 I started experiencing major low back pain. The pain was shooting down my leg. I was also experiencing some major weakness in my right leg. None of these symptoms were advantageous to a powerlifter trying to set world records. The pain and weakness had me on the sideline for the first time in my career. At 31-years-old I was experiencing my first real injury.

31-years of being injury free is a big reason that I was able to amass that amount of strength. If you can train for long amounts of time without injury, eventually you will be stronger than everyone else. That’s just simple math. Genetically my body was very durable. I say genetics because it sure wasn’t that I was so smart in my training. I simply used the max effort method everyday, so there wasn’t a lot of thought that went into my programming.

This lack of thought in my programming along with the heavy weight had finally led to a major injury. One of my buddies at the time was a very gifted orthopedic doctor. He sent me for an MRI, so that a proper diagnosis could be made. When he received the images back, he called me in to discuss the findings. I went in assuming that he was going to tell me to rest 3-4 weeks, take a few pills, and then back to training. However that was not what he told me.

Now before I tell you exactly what he said, it’s important that you realize that this doctor was a powerlifter too. He wasn’t some fat guy in a white coat telling me that powerlifting is a bad sport. He wanted to see me crush records as badly as I wanted to crush those records. I tell you that because most doctors are going to have a biased opinion regarding putting 1,000lb on your back.

Anyways I go into his office in high spirits because I just wanted to get the news and get back to training. However, he looked me dead in the eyes and told me that I was at risk of paralysis. Pretty darn scary! I had two discs in my lumbar spine that were majorly herniated.

I was going to have to make some major decisions. Was I really going to retire at a point right before breaking the all-time world record? There was more to the diagnosis as well. I would also be at risk of impotency. I mean that normally goes along with paralysis, but sadly that’s what scared me the most. I was 31-years-old and single, but did imagine a life after sports with a wife to share that life.

I took a week to think about things and do my own research. My research led me to two individuals: Dr. Lawrence Gray and Dr. Stuart McGill. Dr. Gray is the leading sport chiropractor in my area, and Dr. Stuart McGill is the leading spine and hip researcher in the world. After speaking to them both, I at least had some hope. It was going to take a lot of attention to detail for once, but these changes are the very reason that I broke the records.

Here’s what I did:

1. Dr. Gray became my Chiro- I started seeing Dr. Gray on a weekly basis whether I was in pain or not. He kept me aligned. He also worked on any soft tissue area that seemed to be causing issues. His office is filled with instruments geared towards recovery. We started strengthening weak muscles and lengthening tight muscles based on his assessments.

2. McGill Core Work- Dr. McGill taught me that the hips need to be mobile and the low back needs to be stable. He recommended lots of core work. That core work didn’t involve any sit-ups ironically. Here’s what it did involve-

• Bilateral Carries- the key is to monitor total volume with carries just like anything else. Most people make a big mistake by using the same weight week in and week out. Guess what? Nothing is improving that way. I suggest starting with 3-5 sets of 60 feet, and then each week either increase weight, distance, or sets.
• Unilateral Carries- I like these the best because they address asymmetries. You will also wake up that lazy quadratus lumborum muscle (QL).
• Zercher Carries
• Bird Dogs and all there variations.
• The McGill Curl Up- you can Google most of these.
• Planks and all of the variations.

3. Implemented proper warm ups- before my injury I would simply get under the bar and start squatting. After the injury, I would mobilize the hips and wake up the glutes. I wouldn’t touch the bar until I could perform a pain free air squat. By pain free I am talking about the achy joints that all strength athletes experience when they first walk in the gym. Basically I would shake off the cobwebs first.

4. Focused on Nutrition- If you want optimal recover, you have to focus on nutrition and sleep, which brings me to my next point.

5. Proper Sleep- too many people don’t take sleep seriously. That’s a big mistake for anybody especially an athlete. I started getting off the computer two hours prior to bed. The last hour was reserved for reading, and I am not talking about powerlifting magazines. I wanted to read literature that would relax me not excite me. I made sure the room was completely dark and cold around 68 degrees. All of these changes were miracles towards my recovery and performance.

Here’s the point to the entire article. An injury is often times a crossroads that all athletes are going to find themselves. You can take the most common path, which is simply quit your sport and move on with life. That’s the road most often taken, and I totally understand. You can also take the other road, overcome your injury, and finish out your sport. For me, that led to two more world championships and two more all-time world records in the total. That doesn’t mean that you will win a world championship. It just means that you will maximize your potential. Therefore you will finish your journey and leave your sport with zero regrets. That’s all any of us can ever ask for.

My injuries eventually made me into an even better athlete than before. They also taught me to master the mundane tasks that most people ignore. I became a better athlete, and these life lessons left me better at coaching. I learned things that would help athletes for many years to come. I also learned a lot of things not to do, so my athletes can avoid certain pitfalls that led to my injuries.

If you are injured right now, I encourage you to look at it as a necessary step that most all athletes will have to take. The goal needs to be to come out the other side stronger than ever with an even better mindset. Injuries are normally a blessing in disguise, and are simply wake up calls for crazy athletes like me. I recommend embracing that blessing and becoming a wise and fearless athlete.

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Squat Every Day a Little Deeper

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Squat Every Day a Little Deeper

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Squat Every Day a Little Deeper

2016 has been an amazing year. Rock (my son), is growing up. Every day he changes into a little man more and more. Emily Drew and I are expecting another little boy at any moment. I have traveled the world as a Coach for Team USA thanks to coaching some of the best athletes in America.

Squat Every Day has done a lot more than just get me strong. I am moving better, and I feel more athletic. Crushing my first ever Super Total Meet (Snatch, Clean & Jerk, Squat, Strict Press, and Deadlift) last year reminded me that anything is possible if I put my mind to it. Now I am inspired to teach all of you not only how to get stronger and more athletic, but I also want to teach you how to conquer life. That is what Squat Every Day has really done for me.

Here’s what I am talking about:

1. It’s all about Mind Set! It really is. What is your paradigm? By paradigm, I mean what is your reality, or your view of reality. I have news for you! Your view of reality is probably a lie put there by negative family and friends, and then reinforced by society. Trust me I grew up in a place where nothing really amazing happens. It took me getting out and seeing the world to understand that my view of reality was totally messed up.

The view that I had of me as an athlete was messed up. I thought that I was good, but not great. I am from the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. How could I be great? We are just a bunch of rednecks. Aren’t we?

The answer is no! We are the strongest group of people that I have ever met. I have been all over the world, and I am yet to meet a stronger group of men and women. The problem is that no one told us that until now. This discovery inspired me to help others discover their inner-greatness. I don’t want to let negative opinions shape the men and women that I am in contact with. That means “You” the one reading this right now.

Squatting Every Day has allowed me to lift massive weights at the age of 42. These are weights that I never dreamed where still possible, but they were possible. Great things are possible for you as long as you let go of all the crap that was fed to you by the people in your life.

A great way of letting it go is to forgive the people that told you those negative things. They didn’t mean too. They were just passing on the same negative things that were told to them because those negative things were their reality. Your job is to kill those negative thoughts right now, and refuse to pass them on to anyone in your life.

2. Simplify your life to the important things! Squat Every Day is all about picking out the important exercises, and then performing those exercises often. I am focused right now on Super Total Meets, so I am going to Snatch, Clean & Jerk, Squat Press, and Deadlift often. I am also going to lunge, row, and pull-up because those things are important just not as important.

This simple concept applies to life so well. If family is important, then make QUALITY Time for them daily. Let’s call it “Family Every Day”! Then pick out the important parts of your career, and focus on them. With me, writing, coaching, and teaching are the favorite aspects of what I do. Therefore I do them almost daily, and then I have hired out the rest. You will always get best results from focusing on what is important and letting someone else handle the small details.

My relationship with God is the most important part. Funny how we let the most important part slip the most. This year, I have definitely improved, but I am still only touching the surface. 2016 has to be God Every Day for me.

Hopefully you get the point. If it is important, then do it often, and do it well. If we are not careful, we will let distractions keep us from what’s important. Laser focus in the key to reaching great heights.

Last year, I let business pull me from coaching my athletes. That was a big mistake because I found myself totally unhappy and grumpy. I am called to be a teacher/coach. If I vary from that calling, then I can only expect sadness. God gifted me with the ability to teach and inspire. I am now back on a track that I will never sway from again unless God calls me somewhere else.

3. Nothing is better for overall human health that proper movement. I fractured a vertebra in my cervical spine in 2007. That injury has caused major issues for the left side of my body. The radial nerve has been compromised, and that makes holding and pressing on the left side very difficult. Squatting Every Day has strengthened my left side dramatically. I am now Snatching 297lb, which is right at that 300lb mark. I am bench-pressing 400lb again.

If you want to get mobility and stability in a movement or exercise, then perform that exercise often. You can do all the lacrosse balling and foam rolling that you want, but nothing beats the movement to improve the movement. You don’t get better at basketball by playing baseball.

I hope that these points help you in life. I want you all inspired to crush 2017. Squat Every Day, love your family every day, and worship every day! That’s where I am heading for 2017. Where will you?

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