Category Archives for "Motivation"

Four Generations of Weightlifting with Dalas Santavy – The Barbell Life 326

Dalas Santavy comes from a long line of weightlifters.

He lifted well enough to compete in the Pan Ams, representing Canada.

And now his son, Boady Santavy, is ranked number one in Canada and fifth in the world.

So we talk about all that Dalas has seen change in weightlifting over the years, what his training protocols are, and how he trains his kids to have killer mindsets on the competition platform.

World-Class Powerlifting & Weightlifting Meet Preparation

Get Travis Mash's Guide to Meet Prep & Strategy

World champion and world-class coach Travis Mash boils down decades of experience to give you the tools and knowledge you need to crush your next meet.


  • Why the weightlifters from the past had more jacked upper bodies (and how you can have one too)
  • Adjusting National and International meet preparation due to COVID cancellations
  • Coach Crystal and her “come to Jesus” moment with her son Morgan McCullough
  • How he trained his kids from age 6- 22
  • The importance of strengthening the abdominals (and how he does it).
  • and more…

NFL, Racism, Mistakes, and Christ with James Townsend – The Barbell Life 319

I believe that James Townsend is the overall best athlete in weightlifting today.

But on this podcast we get deep on the struggles and the lessons he’s learned in his life.

To be sure, we talk about his ridiculous speed, his almost unbelievable power clean numbers, and how his coaches in school didn’t want him squatting below parallel (really, when will this end?).

We also get into some stories about racism and overcoming the odds – so I know this one will make you think deeply (and get inspired!) as well.


Make the quickest and most dramatic progress possible with the expert coaching of Mash Elite... combined with cutting-edge data-driven decisions.

* Fully Customized Programming

* Unlimited Technique Analysis

*Data-Driven Athlete Monitoring


  • Leaving the NFL to be a father
  • Christ and overcoming hatred
  • Ridiculous speed, power cleans, and training UFC fighters
  • How his gym has still thrived during COVID times
  • Racists who literally wanted to kill him
  • and more…

Sharpening the Brain

At the end of last year I made the decision to make a major change in my life.

God opened some doors for me to start a brand new weightlifting program at Lenoir-Rhyne University. This in turn gave me the opportunity to go back to school. My desire to further my education is like a small flame inside me that has grown with each and every year.

I met Dr. Andy Galpin a few years ago in Memphis while we were both attending the wake of Chris Moore. Within about 30 seconds of meeting him, I was completely fascinated by everything he was saying. Here was a guy who loved the barbell, and he had taken his love an entirely different direction than mine. I was in the practical world of coaching, and he was in the theoretical world of research and academia.

As we sat there talking I realized we had placed ourselves in a perfect scenario. I could bounce my ideas off of the current research, and he could ask me what was really happening in the weightlifting world. In some ways the research is just now catching up and confirming what the guys and gals in the trenches have known for years, such as going to failure is a great way to elicit hypertrophy. No kidding! But in some ways the research is showing us just how dumb certain things have been, such as the so-called dangers of the knees going past the toes on squats.

However there is an aspect that really intrigues me, and that’s the research that is light years ahead of what’s happening in the “real world.” For example, Dr. Galpin was going on and on about the muscle fiber type IIx, or what some people might call the super fast fiber type. It’s only found in a small percent of the population like world-class sprinters. I am guessing that Usain Bolt is filled with this type of muscle fiber.

It was during this conversation with Dr. Galpin that I realized I wanted to end up in this side of the industry. Why? That’s a great question I am dying to answer.

The Full Story

Our industry is filled with great athletes giving advice. You will also find lots of content with high-level coaches giving advice, teaching biomechanics, and debating programming. The web is also filled with research gurus sharing the latest research as if it’s the gospel. However I find if I spend too much time in any one camp, I will be missing a major part of the equation.

Most athletes only know what has worked for them and a few of their teammates. Most of the time they are missing the why. However they can inform other athletes about what to expect. If they have competed at the World Championships, then they know what it’s like to walk out on the platform while judges from three other countries are staring at them. If they have been to the Olympics, they know what’s it’s like to represent their country during that remarkable moment in time. Unless a coach has competed at that level as an athlete, they have no idea. There is no way to empathize because they haven’t experienced those moments.

A great coach can tell you the why. They can formulate a macrocycle that leads right up to an Olympics four years away. They know how to extrapolate from the data what’s going well and what needs to change. But if he or she hasn’t ever been a high level athlete, it’s hard to prepare athletes mentally for something they have never experienced. The biggest negative I see in some coaches is an unwillingness to continue learning. They refuse to look at new research coming down the pipe, or they refuse to learn from other coaches who are being successful. This is an unforgivable quality, and one that all athletes should run from. I have watched great coaches with little or no athletic ability coach athletes all the way to the Olympics, but I have never witnessed a close-minded coach succeed.

At the time of my conversation with Dr. Galpin, I had been a high-level athlete and coach. I had already coached multiple weightlifters all the way to the world championships, powerlifters to the world championships, and field athletes to the pros. I realized that the only thing I was missing was my PhD. It was in that moment I decided I would someday pursue my doctorate.


This doesn’t mean I am going to stop coaching. Quite the contrary! I am taking all of my incredible athletes with me. I will be able to collect data and perform research on some of the best athletes in America, which will also give our program a fairly big advantage. The facilities and the tools at my disposal make the opportunity ideal for athletes and for me. We will have daily access to velocity based training units from GymAware, athlete testing devices from Omegawave, force plates, DEXA monitors for determining body composition, all the benefits of athletic training, cold and hot tubs, and so much more.

When Dr. Alex Koch presented this opportunity to me, I was all in almost immediately. Between Dr. Koch and Dr. Keith Leiting, the Exercise Science department at Lenoir-Rhyne University is one of the most progressive and forward thinking programs in the country. Not to mention, it’s a program centered on strength training, or at least it gives you a choice to focus on that route. If you are an aspiring strength and conditioning coach, there’s no better choice. As far as I am concerned, I have found my home.

So what does the future look like for me, and Mash Elite Performance? I will still coach the weightlifting team at LRU, I will still handle my top athletes from around the world, and I will still coach my amazing athletes from our online team.

I hope to help Coach Caldwell, the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at LRU, with some of the amazing athletes at LRU – so that I can keep progressing my skills as an athletic performance coach. But more and more I will transition into more of a research and professor role where I hope to bridge the gap between researcher/coach/athlete. Most of you have probably picked up on the fact that I am intrigued by athlete testing and data collection – especially where velocity based training, brain waves, HRV, and ECG are involved. I am sure that Dr. Koch and Dr. Leiting will get involved and help me take this thing even further.

Let me be clear: the future of athletic performance lies in the individualization of programming (and coaching because programming is only as good as the coach implementing the program). Some of you are going to fight this and debate the matter until your face turns red. That’s fine by me. Change is hard for everyone. The only constant is that some will adapt and thrive, and some will get left behind. I guess that is natural selection at its finest.


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.

Falling in Love

Now I want to get to the heart of this article. I really wrote this article to give you all some insight into my findings so far as a 47-year-old graduate student. First I want to say this has been the hardest year of my life as far as work load is concerned. I decided to take a ramp-up anatomy and physiology course that covered all 11 organ systems in one semester to get me back in the swing of things. I took the course at the local community college thinking it would be easy. Boy, did I have a rude awakening.

Evidently this course was a prerequisite for nurse practitioners, future physician’s assistants, and some looking to become RN’s. Our professor was Chris Sowers, who actually started his work at the University of North Carolina. He had no intention of letting a student slip through his class without understanding the material. He was incredibly firm but fair. In my four years at Appalachian State University, I never read and studied so much for one class.

You know what Professor Sowers taught me? He taught me to fall in love with anatomy and physiology, and he taught me to fall in love with learning. I was always the athlete. That was my identity. I was a pretty good student, but that wasn’t what people thought of first. He was the first professor who noticed my potential as an academi, and he pointed it out. At 47 years old I felt like a kid again with a second chance, and this time I was going to focus on exactly what I wanted to accomplish versus what I thought everyone else expected of me.

I think I stayed late after class 90% of the time discussing what I was learning. I started looking at the body as a puzzle – one big puzzle. When you realize the cardiovascular system is nothing without the respiratory system, the nervous system is nothing without the cardiovascular system, and so on, you stop looking at the organ systems separately and start piecing them together. However, once again this is not a lesson on anatomy and physiology. This is a lesson on learning.

At 47 years old I was scared I wouldn’t learn as fast as I used to. I thought I would be the old guy in the class not getting it. But I found out that wasn’t true at all. There were like four or five of us in the class who loved A&P and loved the process of learning. When I realized I was at the top of the class, I realized that I have morphed as a person. Like I said, I have made good grades my whole life – but I have never been the top of any class. As a matter of fact, I am pretty sure I was more of the class clown who interrupted the flow of the classroom and flustered the teacher. I was finally allowing myself to become the person I really wanted to be all along.

As a teenager and college student there was a part of me that didn’t believe I was good enough. I always assumed there would be someone smarter than me, so I didn’t see the point in trying. Looking back it was a fear of failure. That is where sports helped to change my mindset. I have written about my transformation as an athlete in several articles in the past. From being ok with just being on the team to deciding that I could be the best in the world was a shift that has related to everything in my life from coaching to business and now school.

My professor, and he will always be my professor, taught all of us about the skill of learning. He was the first person to talk about learning as a skill. I have never really thought about my study skills or analyzed them to look for improvement. The truth is that I have never really thought about it at all until this semester. Professor Sowers changed all of that. My goal with this article is to pass some of these lessons on to all of you, and let you in on the science behind the methods.

Tips to Learn

First I want to explain some of things I discovered on my own that worked for me, and then I will tell you what I have discovered after combing through the research. I want to give a disclaimer right up front that I have battled ADHD my entire life. My good friend Gabriel Villarreal is the first to actually diagnose me. I have known my entire life, but I grew up in a family that didn’t believe in psychology. Luckily learning came pretty easy to me even though paying attention did not. ADHD isn’t a death sentence at all for young students. There are plenty of incredible entrepreneurs, emergency room doctors, and CEOs who have ADHD. They simply learned to use it to their advantage. However, they still probably need to deal with it to maintain solid relationships and to avoid self-destruction. However this article isn’t about that, and I am not qualified to teach you about that… so go talk to Gabriel.

1. Study in small increments (30-50 minutes). The best thing to do is reward yourself for a job well done, so dangle the carrot of a cup of coffee or a 10-15 minute walk as your reward. The 10-15 minute walk will make the process easier anyways, but more on that later.

Short bouts of studying allows the prefrontal cortex (CEO of the brain), the hippocampus (cartographer of the brain), the amygdala (stores impactful memories), and the cerebellum (top assistant to the CEO) to process the information, recover, adapt, and get ready for the next session. I will go over each of these a bit later. This reward system keeps the dopamine flowing, which is also associated with learning.

2. Teach someone what I am learning. This is the best way to learn that I have found. I will take my break, grab a coffee, and tell my wife all about it. Learning is totally tied to all the senses. It won’t take long to find out if you learn from hearing, studying on your own, or a little of both. Personally I found that using as many senses as possible seemed to really help me grasp things.

3. Use a Coloring Book and/or App. I always thought an anatomy and physiology coloring book was silly until I used one. There is something about working with the system you’re learning about with the different colors. It makes it so much easier to distinguish the different organs and tissues from one another.

4. Get 7-9 Hours of Sleep per Night. This one might be a tough one for some, but the fact is the hippocampus works with the neocortex at night to store the information one learns the day before. REM sleep appears to be the stage of sleep associated with memory and learning whereas deep sleep is the stage where new movement patterns are stored.

5. Eat Healthy and Don’t Skip Meals. Glucose is the only energy source for the brain. If you don’t eat, it’s going to be harder for the brain to fire the neurons required for memory and learning. The body will actually start to inhibit glucose to conserve energy. If you’ve ever pulled an all-nighter, skipped breakfast, and rushed right in to take a test at 8am, you probably remember feeling dumb. I did this once in college, and it was the worst feeling of my life. It was as if everything decided to run together, and I simply couldn’t remember anything.

6. The Olfactory System is Crucial (Sense of Smell). This was one of Professor Sower’s first lessons in learning for the whole class. I recommend using an intense smell such as cinnamon while you are studying. Then bring that same scent to class on test day, and you will have a much easier time recalling the information. The olfactory bulb is directly connected to the hippocampus and the amygdala of the limbic system. The hippocampus is the place in the brain that memories are formed, and the amygdala determines the intensity of which to respond to certain stimuli especially like something scary or dangerous. When something scares you, that memory is etched in your memory forever. When you use smell while studying, you are using the same part of the brain to etch those memories into the brain forever.

Those are just a few of the techniques I learned from Professor Sowers and some that I picked up on my own. Oh yeah – and by the way I made a 95 in that class, which the last I checked was the top in the class. For a while there were a couple of students near me, but this was their second semester taking Professor Sowers’ A&P class because they made a C and their major required a B or higher. About 60% of the class failed it completely. My professor has no intention of giving anyone a pass. He wanted us to do the work, participate in class, and absorb the material. What he did was make me fall in love with school, and he helped me embrace my new role as a student, coach, and future professor.



It's finally here... Learn about technique, programming, assessment, and coaching from a master. For strength coaches and for athletes, these 53 videos (7 hours and 56 minutes of footage) will prepare you to understand the main lifts for maximum performance and safety. Get ready to learn...

There’s one more thing I want to mention before I wrap this article up. A year or so ago, my friend Gabriel Villarreal gave me the book “Spark” by John Ratey. It sat on my shelf this entire time until one day my wife picked it up and started reading it. She started telling me all about it, and the next thing I know I am reading it, buying the audio version to listen to it while I am driving, and researching the material down rabbit holes that have no end. I am totally intrigued, if not obsessed.

I don’t want to ruin the book, but I want to give some highlights you can apply to get smarter, more focused, and overall happier. The book starts out telling the story of a high school in Naperville, FL that added a fitness class into their school where PE had been taken out. I don’t want to ruin the book, but the school started crushing their testing. The author goes on the explain the science behind the findings. The big thing the author keeps coming back to in the book is the creation of Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor caused by exercise. BDNF is created in the hippocampus, and it is basically miracle grow for neurons in the brain. Neurons are created during exercise, and then BDNF helps the neurons grow, creates more dendrites on the neurons (which is where neurons connect to other neurons), and helps to create long term potentiation at the synapses. LTP is persistent strengthening at the synapses creating a long lasting signal transmission between two neurons. All of this is creating synaptic plasticity or a constant strengthening of synapse, making learning and memory easier as you go.

Based on the book, I recommend some cardiovascular work in the morning to get the hippocampus producing BDNF, and I recommend performing complex athletic movements like Olympic weightlifting or gymnastics. This will strengthen the neurons in the cerebellum, and the cerebellum is for a lot more than just motor patterns. In the same way the brain uses the cerebellum to coordinate complex movements like riding a bike or performing a snatch in Olympic weightlifting, the brain uses the cerebellum to subconsciously store information you’ve been working on as unconscious thought that might resurface as innovation or working memory sent to the prefrontal cortex as sudden insight or intuition. Besides this the cerebellum seems to coordinates thoughts, attention, emotions, and even social skills.

I am going to write an article all about the book and the research I am doing that’s inspired by the book, but I wanted to give you guys some insight. The bottom line is that all of you should perform a little cardiovascular exercise to strengthen the body’s ability to learn. Cardiovascular work will also help you focus, put you in a good mood, get you motivated, and get the brain firing. Cardiovascular activity has been shown to increase the flow of serotonin, dopamine, and glutamate, which are neurotransmitters responsible for brain activity, focus, mood, self-worth, and learning.

Working out in general gets the brain fired up, not to mention it gets the prefrontal cortex going. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for decision making and deciding which memories to keep. Exercise will keep the prefrontal cortex, hippocampus, and the cerebellum working efficiently together. There’s a lot more to the book, but I will need an entire article just for that book.

I hope this article has inspired all of you to get out there and start learning. It’s never too late to change your path. For me I am not really changing the path or mission. I am simply going in a bit deeper and helping athletes around the world in a different way. I hope all of you will come along for the journey.

Control What You Control

As I am writing this, we are working on Day 63 of this coronavirus quarantine with no clear picture of (the new) normal in sight.

In those 63 days, we have celebrated Easter and Mother’s Day as a nation. I’ve had a birthday and my family has also suffered a deep loss as my mother passed away from COVID on April 29th. The year 2020 will most definitely be one we will never forget as proms, concerts, sporting events, graduations, and so much more have been postponed or cancelled. States have started slowly opening up – phase one in North Carolina officially started on May 8th. This article isn’t about what states should be doing, whether we should or should not wear masks, or if gyms should be open or not. There is no hidden agenda here or political stance. So, just keep reading…

What We Can Control

There are so many things outside of our control now. Let’s be honest, it’s always that way, even if we try to fool ourselves into believing we are in control. The one way you can get through this without losing your sanity is to focus on all the things you can control – and if you are a believer like me, give the rest to God.

  • Scheduling Time and Proper Planning
  • Nutrition
  • Sleep
  • Mental Health Practices
  • Exercise
  • Staying Engaged with Family and Friends

Scheduling Time and Proper Planning

Just remember the 6 P’s: Prior Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance

I wrote an article a few weeks back about bettering yourself during this quarantine. There are a lot of things I have been working on both personally and professionally. It has been interesting – with a learning curve to be sure. It’s hard to remember what day it is sometimes! It has only been the last two or three weeks that I have really been able to dial it in and become efficient with my time.

What I have found is I need to write it down and not put it on my calendar in my phone. I have a sheet of paper where I write down everything I want to accomplish that day in a numbered fashion. As I complete a task, I mark it off the list. I write everything down! This includes my personal time of reading and my training. In order for this to be successful, you have to prepare in advance. On Sunday, I sit down and look at what I have that needs to get done for the week. This includes programming due that week for athletes, coaching obligations, podcasting, checking emails, writing articles, etc.

I then look at what I would like to accomplish that week and put it on lighter days when I might not have certain commitments. This includes professional development like watching roundtables, reading articles, or doing continuing education courses. I also have to look at things like making a run to the store or post office, getting Morgan’s school assignments ready each week, and any other item that might come up.

Here is an example of a common weekday.

  1. Fasted cardio (I try to do this three to five times a week)
  2. Read for 20 minutes (something spiritual or uplifting and not related to my profession)
  3. Online athlete video analysis
  4. Check emails
  5. Write programs for ‘x’ number of clients that day (I try to string those out over a few days depending on how many I have to write that week)
  6. Zoom practice with team (Travis and I do MWF team practice)
  7. Finish article
  8. **Transcripts and VA (as I am going back to get a second degree this fall – more to come in another article)
  9. Strength training (I still have a meet in 17 weeks!)
  10. Shoot videos for Mash Elite Exercise Library
  11. Professional development for 30 minutes

Some of those items are recurring and others are obviously one or two times depending. I was finding if I didn’t write down at the beginning of the week what I needed to accomplish on a daily basis, I would get to Sunday and have to work all day finishing up programs. That’s no fun! Keeping a schedule and planning in advance has helped to keep my stress level down and made me a lot more productive. Try writing everything down, including your personal time, and see how it works for you!



For Coaches and Athletes

Strength and Conditioning, Olympic Weightlifting, Powerlifting, Technique, Programming, Business, and the Art of Coaching


If there was any time you have control over what you put in your mouth, it is now. This is the time to start forming better habits. Everything has slowed down and people are spending a lot more time at home. This means you can cook more and be mindful of what you are eating. If for no other reason – nutrition has an impact on your immunity. What you put into your body matters.

Protein is important for healing and recovery. Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants with immunity boosting properties. Beta carotene is found in sweet potatoes, carrots, and green leafy vegetables. Vitamin C is found in red peppers, oranges, strawberries, mangoes, broccoli, and other fruits and vegetables. Vitamin E is found in spinach and broccoli as well as in nuts and seeds. Others to note are vitamin D (which is found in milk products and fortified cereals), and zinc 9which is found in nuts, pumpkins seeds, lentils, and beans). If you find you don’t eat a lot of these types of foods, you should seriously consider adding them to your meals. Or at the very least, start taking a good multivitamin and greens supplement.

Your body needs a minimum amount of calories for it to function with involuntary actions such as breathing, hormone production, etc. Add in any activity to include any type of movement and the body’s requirement increases. It is important for you to make sure you are getting enough calories every day. According to Scientific American, when you are sick, your body needs even more calories, saying “Fever is part of the immune system’s attempt to beat the bugs. It raises body temperature, which increases metabolism and results in more calories burned; for each degree of temperature rise, the energy demand increases further.” Staying hydrated by drinking water is also important and a natural way to boost immunity.

This pandemic is affecting people in different ways. For some, life has slowed down and gotten better. For others, it has been destructive mentally and financially. Wherever you are on this spectrum, take time to give yourself grace on a daily basis. With or without a pandemic, moderation is your best bet at sustainability when it comes to your eating habits. Guilt has no place here if you don’t eat healthy 100% of the time. I just want you to be aware of the benefits of eating healthy and make decisions based on information. More times than not, make healthy choices.


It was crazy how long it took me to get on a sleep schedule when this quarantine first started. When your daily routine gets distorted and obsolete, it takes some time to adjust. Sleep is important for so many reasons. Sleep can affect your overall quality of life!

This is the time when the body repairs, growth hormone is released, and the body is relaxed. The brain stays active while we sleep, so much so it is thought sleep plays a role in removing toxins from the brain that we build up while awake. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, “Research shows that a chronic lack of sleep, or getting poor quality sleep, increases the risk of disorders including high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, and obesity.” Needless to say, getting a good night’s sleep as often as possible is essential! Some strategies to providing an environment conducive to a good night’s sleep according to The Sleep Foundation are:

  • Have a sleep schedule seven days a week. Go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time every day. This allows your body to regulate.
  • Have a bedtime ritual that helps you relax.
  • If you are a napper and find it hard to fall asleep at night, remove those naps for a week and see if it helps.
  • Exercise daily!
  • Take a look at the room you sleep in. Make sure the room is at a proper temperature and not too hot (ideally 60-67 degrees). Make sure the room is dark and distractions are minimal or not present.
  • Consider reading an actual book before bed rather than using electronics or watching TV. This has a calming effect and you might find it easier to fall asleep.
  • Avoid caffeine in the afternoons and heavy meals close to bedtime. I would also avoid drinking any fluids close to bedtime as it can disrupt sleep having to go to the bathroom.

This is not an end-all be-all list. I would just recommend if you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, you might want to try to implement some or all of these strategies and see if it helps. As far how much uninterrupted sleep you should get a night, it varies. Studies show teens and children need more sleep than adults, and the average adult thrives best on seven to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep.

Mental Health

For the sake of this article, I’m not talking about clinical diagnoses or medication. That is way beyond my area of expertise. I am simply talking about strategies you can use on a daily basis to put you in a right frame of mind. There is so much going on right now and it is scary. Learning how to cope with the daily stresses of the unknown by using some simple tools can go a long way. I reached out to our good friend Gabriel Villarreal, a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), and we had a great chat about some strategies. I told him what I have been doing each morning and he put a name to it. Here are the four things he gave me to do:

  • Practice mindfulness. This just means anything done in a particular way in the present moment, on purpose. This is something I have started doing each morning. I wake up, shower, come downstairs, and make a cup of coffee. As the weather is warming up, I take a book outside, set a timer for 20 minutes, and focus only on reading for that time. I am finishing up week two of this and it has been a game changer for my mental health. I look forward to it every morning. I just finished the first book, Shaken by Tim Tebow, and I highly recommend it. I started a new book this morning, F*ck Your Feelings by Ryan Munsey. I will let you know how it is when I finish. This 20 minutes in the morning will be filled with books for my own personal development. I have allotted time later in the day to work of professional development.
  • Focus only on what is three feet in front of you. Rock climbers do this. They call it “three-feet world.” While climbing, they don’t look at the big picture of getting to the top. Instead, they focus on the steps immediately in front of them. As they move forward, they shift focus onto the next obstacle as they make their way to the top. Morgan and I used to do this when Wayne would deploy. Instead of looking at the entire year and how long it was, we would break it up into segments. This could be holidays or special days coming up or trips we had planned. It helped, especially with a young child, to focus on something much closer, get through it, and then shift our focus to the next thing coming up. This is definitely helpful in times like this to not look so far ahead, but to focus on the more immediate.
  • Read the Serenity Prayer often, realizing we are not in control and being ok with it and finding peace.
    “God, grant me the serenity
    to accept the things I cannot change,
    the courage to change the things I can,
    and the wisdom to know the difference.
    Living one day at a time,
    enjoying one moment at a time;
    accepting hardship as a pathway to peace;
    taking, as Jesus did,
    this sinful world as it is,
    not as I would have it;
    trusting that You will make all things right
    if I surrender to Your will;
    so that I may be reasonably happy in this life
    and supremely happy with You forever in the next.”
  • Control your breathing. Mark Divine, creator of SealFit, sums it up nicely. “Awareness of our breath, and control of it, is the best tool to bring initial control over our mind. Breath control will bring a present moment awareness absent of fear or future unknowns. We are just present when we practice breath control, and our minds begin to focus and able to tap into greater energy.”

Learning to utilize one or all of these tools on a daily basis will have a huge impact on your mental health as we all continue to find our way through this pandemic.


Exercise has major benefits during a time like this (and all the time). For one, moderate intensity exercise has been associated with improved immune function. Exercise also plays a part of the reduction of stress and anxiety!

Unfortunately, gyms are still closed in a lot of areas. Don’t use that as an excuse not to get or stay active. For competitive athletes such as weightlifters and powerlifters, not having access to gym equipment will have negative effects on them in relation to their specific sport. Frequency of the competition movements is crucial to get better in their sport, but they can still find benefit in daily physical activity until they can return to the gym. We have created some programs through our bronze level for just this purpose. Here is what the American College of Sports Medicine recommends:

  • Two and a half to five hours a week of moderate intensity aerobic exercise.

    • Walk, run, bike, or row
    • Dance
    • Circuit training with bodyweight movements
    • Gardening or yard work
  • Two sessions per week minimum of resistance training.

    • For those with equipment, hit the weights!
    • Bands, backpacks, suitcases, and isometric holds are great when you have minimal equipment.

The way you can train in this moment might not be your ideal way to train, nor will it help you reach specific goals if you are a competitor. I know that is tough. Just realize there is still so much benefit to your physical and mental health when you move daily!



These new programs from Coach Travis Mash are designed to strategically and creatively make the best use of limited equipment (or even no equipment). These programs aren't just generic bodyweight exercises - these are programs specifically geared toward the strength needs of weightlifters, powerlifters, or field athletes.

Staying Engaged With Family and Friends

I definitely think this ties in closely with mental health as well. This holds especially true for people who live alone. While I love my family dearly and we have enjoyed having this time together, I get excited to interact with people outside of my nuclear family. I equate this to a new stay-at-home mom who craves adult conversation. We are social human beings and social distancing is the opposite of that. Zoom calls, FaceTime, etc are not the same as an in person interaction, but it can do a person good! I love coaching our athletes in person so much more, but there is something to be said seeing their faces three days a week even if it is through a computer screen!

What I want you to take away from this article is to focus on the things you can control. Believe me, I know it is easier said than done. This pandemic has affected people in different ways, some positive and some negative. There are those who have lost jobs, lost family members, and are having a rough time. I empathize with you, especially losing a family member. My hope is that if you will implement self care into your daily routine by using the strategies and activities discussed in this article, you will come out of this a healthier and more resilient you.

About Crystal: Crystal is Travis’ right hand person! She is a USA Weightlifting National Coach and holds her NSCA – Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist certification. She is an RN with a Masters degree in Nurse Education. She also holds multiple other certifications to include CFL2, USATF, Precision Nutrition, and Flex Diet. She is also an international elite ranked powerlifter.

Learning How to Learn – The Barbell Life 307

I write often on this site about training to make our bodies stronger and fitter.

But on this podcast, we talk about a subject I rarely speak on: training our minds.

I recently went back to school to get my PhD, and the amount of learning I had to take on was enough that I contemplated quitting on more than one occasion. But instead, I developed some strategies, read some material, and learned a lot about how to learn.

And of course everything I’m learning about the way the brain works is just going to help me refine the training of my athletes. Monitoring brain patterns during their training is something I’m eager to try out more and more soon.

Travis Mash's Masterpiece for Strength Training and Programming

The Mash System

World champion and world-class coach Travis Mash gives you every trick in his programming toolbox plus FIVE 12 week strength programs for weightlifting, powerlifting and athletic performance and more.


  • The most important thing to do in the morning to create the chemical balance your brain needs to learn
  • Using cinnamon as a “cheat” in a test?
  • The power of the Omegawave
  • Stress and the athlete
  • The subconscious mind and how sleep rewires our brains
  • and more…

Next Level Recovery with Cory G – The Barbell Life 306

It’s always a blast talking with Cory G.

I was so excited to talk with him at the recent Arnold Classic. Get this – he found out that he completely ruptured a rotator cuff muscle and needed surgery. But he worked hard on rehab and is now back lifting heavy again… after having a COMPLETE tear. That is unheard of.

And speaking of unheard of, we also talked about how he’s using front squats to increase people’s deadlifts – and wild ways he’s using bands.

Even better – you’ll hear how Cory can recover from intense workouts… with still only needing five hours of sleep.


Get Travis Mash's Guide to
High Frequency Programming

If you want to get better at a movement... maybe you should do the movement more. High frequency will work like magic as long as you avoid certain pitfalls.


  • Rehabbing after a COMPLETE rupture of a rotator cuff muscle
  • How ab wheels help lifters in surprising ways
  • Measuring sleep quality – and manipulating hormones to maximize sleep quality
  • The Mash version of French contrast
  • Cory’s powerlifting team that front squats four days a week
  • and more…