Category Archives for "Motivation"

A Reminder Why We Coach

Sometimes in life I find myself in what feels like a hamster wheel.

I get up, write a bit, answer emails, train, coach, hang with my family, and go to bed. This goes on day after day, and week after week. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I wonder if I am really making a difference. If I am just collecting a paycheck, there are easier ways.

I coach because I want to help young men and women reach their goals. I want to see them become better humans, and I want to see them living a healthier lifestyle after they leave me as a coach. If this isn’t happening, I’m going to open a different business or just get a job.

A BLAST FROM THE PAST

This morning, I was training at one of my original gyms, Jack King’s Gym in Winston-Salem, NC. Number one, I love this gym because everyone leaves me alone to crush my grind, and it’s the most hardcore gym in America. You know – the kind of place that’s dirty with chalk-filled air. Man, I love it!

Toward the end of my grind, in walked one of my former athletes, Grayson Alberty. I didn’t even recognize him. Now he is tall, lean, and muscular. He also runs his father’s plumbing business, and he’s only 19 years old. He trained with me about six years ago. If I remember right, he was having a tough time in school, so he would come hang out with me right after school. He was into training for a bit, but then – like many people – he stopped coming. I remember being pretty sad because I invested a lot into this kid and had wanted to see his life improve.

Some coaches can just shrug it off when an athlete leaves. I am not wired that way. I connect very personally with each and every athlete. That’s why I am a good coach, but it’s also why I feel crushed when they stop.

GOALS AS A COACH

As a coach, I have a few goals with each of my athletes.

  • I want to help them reach whatever goals they have on their hearts. (Notice I said ‘their’ and not ‘their parents’ goals.)
  • I want to be a catalyst for the athletes becoming better human beings. I want them to be exceptional spouses, fathers, mothers, business owners, doctors, and lawyers. (We have an exceptional record in this department.)
  • I want them to take the gift of fitness and continue it for the rest of their lives – while sharing it with the people they love.

That’s it! These are my goals for all of my athletes. It’s got to be about more than just their athletic development.

INFLUENCE AS A COACH

Sport coaches are important to athletes for sure. My high school football coach was very inspirational in my life. Like most high school coaches, he also doubled as the strength coach. It was in the weight room we developed our relationship. In college I was way closer with my strength and conditioning coach, Coach Mike Kent, than any other coach.

As strength and conditioning coaches we have to keep this in mind. We will be with these athletes a bigger part of the year than their sport coach. We will also be with them in smaller groups, allowing us to form stronger bonds. Several of my athletes have thanked me at their senior banquets and senior games before their sport coach, which every time was a massive honor. However with honor comes great responsibility, or at least it should. Of course if you are a weightlifting or powerlifting coach, you will probably be even closer with your athletes. You are their strength coach and sport coach, and that’s a big responsibility.

Grayson is an example of planting a seed only to see the seed blossom years later. Our job is to plant as many seeds as possible, but ultimately it is up to the athlete to let the seed sprout and bloom. Today I got to see one of my seeds in full bloom, and it totally rejuvenated my desire to coach and help young people.

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DIFFERENT KINDS OF SUCCESS STORIES

Everyone knows us for our first goal because we have helped several athletes reach their incredible goals like:

  • Tommy Bohanon to the NFL
  • Cade Carney to starting running back for Division I Wake Forest University
  • Landon Harris making the Division I High Point University basketball team (after not making the team during the prior two years)
  • Multiple World Team members to Team USA in weightlifting (including four in 2018: Hunter Elam, Nathan Damron, Jordan Cantrell, and Meredith Alwine)
  • Multiple Junior World Team members (with two sitting on the team right now)
  • Multiple Youth Pan Am Team members to Team USA in weightlifting (including three in 2018: Morgan McCullough, Ryan Grimsland, and Jared Flaming)
  • Morgan McCullough taking the gold medal at the 2018 Youth Pan Am championships

That’s awesome, and of course I am proud of all my athletes. However, I am just as proud of my athletes who have gone on to become incredible humans.

  • Adee Cazayoux is the CEO of Working Against Gravity – a multi-million dollar business that pretty much owns the nutrition world.
  • Jared Enderton is now a social media celebrity and the head weightlifting coach for Invictus Weightlifting.
  • Malcolm Moses-Hampton is a doctor in Chicago.
  • Michael Waters, former Penn State Wrestler, is now in the Special Forces.
  • Hayden Bowe is one of the founders of Hybrid Performance Method and Gym.
  • Greg Nuckols and his amazing wife, Lyndsey Nuckols, are the owners of Stronger by Science. They’ve been featured in Forbes Magazine.
  • Landon Harris, the same guy who made the basketball team for High Point University, is now a banker applying to MBA Schools. I actually wrote a recommendation for his Harvard application.

RESPONSIBILITY AS A COACH

We have a big responsibility as strength and conditioning coaches. Our responsibilities go way past helping our athletes reach their goals. Our goal should never be to glamorize ourselves as coaches. We become popular by the results of our athletes, and by the recommendation of our athletes. Our legacy is our athletes. It’s what our athletes do in their sport, and throughout their lives. It’s in the information we share with the world.

Becoming a coach is much like becoming a pastor. Being a pastor is hard work. If you are contemplating going into the ministry, most pastors will tell you that if you feel in your heart that you can do anything else, you probably should. But if you can’t imagine a life where you’re not a pastor, then pursue it.

It’s the same with being a strength coach. Don’t do it for the money, and definitely don’t do it for the fame. Do it for the love of others. I have never written anything more true, and I hope all of you men and women out there considering becoming a coach will read this before making a decision.

Today was a great day seeing Grayson Alberty. It’s days like today that encourage me to push on. However, there are a lot of hard days you will have to endure as a strength coach. With all of this being said, the beautiful days are simply amazing, and I can’t imagine anything else outside of my family and my God bringing me so much joy.

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Jim Wendler (Part 1) – The Barbell Life 240

Anyone in the strength game has heard the name Jim Wendler.

He’s the creator of the legendary 5/3/1 system – and he’s been a part of such strength dynasties as Westside Barbell and EliteFTS.

So take a listen to this one to hear his story and all that he’s learned along the way. This one is an inspiration.

The Mash Elite Video Curriculum: Coming Soon

We're in the process of creating a massive video curriculum series on technique for the main lifts, programming, mobility, and coaching. Thanks to those who pre-ordered... and get ready for the full resource to be released soon!

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

  • How he trained for years and then suddenly gained 65 pounds in 3 months
  • Training at Westside Barbell – and why it’s stupid to hate on Louie Simmons
  • Seizing opportunities
  • The start of EliteFTS and what made them so successful
  • The origins of 5/3/1
  • and more…

The Reason Some Great Athletes Are Still Weak

When you talk about sports psychology with an athlete, most will shut down almost immediately. Sports psych has a bad stigma among athletes in America – and that’s very unfortunate because it’s the one area where most athletes need help.

‘CLARKING’

I have a young female athlete who should definitely be the next one to make Team USA. I’m not going to mention her name because I didn’t ask her permission to write this. This young lady is amazing. However, she’s gone through several months of Chronic Clarking, and honestly I didn’t have the answers.

For all of you who don’t know what Clarking is, I will explain. Ken Clark was an amazing weightlifter in the 1980s. But at the 1984 Olympics, Ken pulled his clean to his waist but didn’t go under the bar on his second and third attempts. So now, when someone performs a snatch pull or clean pull without going under the bar, most English-speaking athletes from around the world call the lack of going under the bar a Clark. It’s sad because Ken was an amazing athlete. Heck, he was an Olympian, which is something most people will never be. Regardless if it’s fair or not, the reality is when a lifter refuses for whatever reason to complete the third pull (pull under the bar), it’s now considered a Clark.

EVALUATING THE REAL ISSUE

Let’s get back to my young athlete. I was at wits’ end trying to figure this out for her. If you are a coach, athletes are coming to you in hopes you will help them reach their goals. I take this very seriously. If one of my athletes is struggling, I am struggling as well. We win together, and we lose together. That’s the deal.

I actually reached out to two of my colleagues, Spencer Arnold and Sean Waxman. They both concluded maybe her average intensity was too high, and maybe she was experiencing some neural fatigue. I was saving that for after the Junior Nationals coming up, since we were only four weeks out. However, I wasn’t 100% convinced because her bar speed and the height of the barbell were both above par compared to what other athletes produce. It honestly looked like a mental glitch – like at the last second there was an interruption in the brain. Plus this young lady is an ex-gymnast, so she is used to high volume.

I recommended to her mother that she look into finding a sports psychology professional. Her mother knew a female sports psychologist, so they contacted her. This young lady has had only two or three sessions with her new sports psych, and now it’s as if I have a brand new athlete. She’s quickly becoming the very athlete I knew she could be. In the last few weeks, she has set personal records in the snatch, clean and jerk, and of course total. She’s only experienced one Clark – which she actually overcame in the same session.

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THE STIGMA AND THE SOLUTION

Here’s the sad part. The fact I have to withhold her name is the very reason most of you are failing. The fact that there is a bad stigma around sports psychology is the reason most of you will never reach your goals. Instead of reaching your goals, you will:

  • blame your coach.
  • blame the program.
  • blame your friends.
  • blame your significant other.
  • blame your parents.
  • blame your circumstances.

I have news for you. When you miss the lift, that’s your fault. The minute you admit that important fact is the minute you can start to improve.

This point can also be made by looking at coach-jumping. Coach-jumping is more common in America than it has ever been. It’s not uncommon for athletes to have three to four coaches in a two-year span. Silly really, because every time an athlete jumps to another coach, they have to adapt to the new programming, new technique, and new coaching style versus experiencing continued improvement. Most of the athletes I see making these jumps all have one thing in common. They need a sports psychologist to help them become more successful.

Guys – it is not weak to seek out a professional. It’s weak being afraid to do so. I see so many of you getting a weightlifting coach, nutritionist, rehab professional, yoga instructor, and so many other professionals – but the one thing that would help you the most is somehow taboo. Ridiculous!

ATHLETIC ADVANTAGES

As athletes, we are all searching for an advantage over our opponents. Luckily in America, we’ve cracked down on drug use with the help of the United States Anti-Doping Agency and its year-round out-of-meet testing of our top athletes. We can’t take drugs for an unfair advantage, but there are several things all of you can do to give yourself an advantage:

Seek out advice and support through a good:

  • sports psychologist
  • nutritionist
  • chiropractor
  • physical therapist

And practice self-care through:

  • massage
  • addressing sleeping patterns
  • proper warm ups
  • optimal cool downs and stretching
  • recovery (ice baths, Marc Pro, MobilityWOD, etc.)

If you do all of these things, you will have an advantage because you will be the 1% who actually handles all the different areas. Heck, you will be in the 1% if you are the one who hires a sports psychologist. Too many Americans want to think they are too mentally tough to need a sports psychologist. If you believe that, I’m going to say right away you are the very person who definitely needs a sports psychologist.

USA Weightlifting has partnered with Colin Iwanski as their sports psych professional, and I think he is amazing. If you have the opportunity to work with him, I 100% believe you should. If you want to be a true master of the mundane, I believe it should start with sports psych. If the brain is functioning properly, everything else will function much more smoothly.

The brain is a crazy place. I for one tried everything I could think of with this young lady, and I couldn’t get through. I’m not a sports psychologist. There isn’t an athlete on the planet who couldn’t stand to get stronger mentally. If you have the funds, have the time, and you know of a good sports psychologist, I recommend immediately reaching out to them. If they’re good, I can almost guarantee improved results.

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If you don’t know of one, you can message us. I have three I recommend. You could contact all three and decide which one works the best for you. It’s not weak to hire a sports psychologist. It’s only weak if you don’t. I promise you this one last thing… “If you don’t first become the strongest athlete mentally, you will never become the strongest athlete physically.”

NSCA Coach of the Year Jason Spray – The Barbell Life 238

“A little puking never hurt anybody.”

That’s what Jason Spray said as we were talking about mental toughness. Sure, he doesn’t run kids until they’re sick – but as I share in this one, sometimes I think that’s what some kids need.

Jason Spray is one of those coaches who can not only motivate and drive athletes, but he’s got the knowledge and experience to really get results. In fact, that’s why he was recognized as one of the NSCA Coaches of the Year.

We talk about training, we talk about safety, we talk about the realities of coaching in a high school environment… and we talk about the crucial career advice Jason has for aspiring strength coaches.

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

  • Preparing an athlete not only for the game… but also for practice
  • Mental toughness on the field
  • When to stop squatting heavy
  • The most important thing coaches can do to advance their careers
  • The movements he loves and how he organizes training
  • and more…

Tips for the Athlete Going through the Rehab Process

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

If you’re a serious athlete – at some point you’re likely gonna get hurt. It’s part of competitive sports regardless of whether you’re in a strength sport like powerlifting or weightlifting, an endurance sport like running or cycling, or a contact sport like football or rugby. Competing at a high level isn’t healthy, and the efforts needed to be a high level athlete can break the body down over time.

As a physiotherapist who competes in powerlifting, I see many athletes – ranging from teenagers trying to make a college team, to weekend warriors, to retired professional and strength athletes. They each have their own story and their own goals … but over time I’ve found many common themes to be present across the rehab process for athletes and for people in general. Here are five tips for the athlete going through the rehab process.

Tip #1: Make sure it’s a good time for you to start rehab

I’ve seen many athletic and non-athletic people struggle to make progress with rehab due to external factors that interfere with the process.

The first problem with this is that time, family, work, and athletic commitments can make it difficult for a client to do rehab exercises and optimize all the necessary aspects of successful rehab – such as proper sleep, training program design, and psychosocial factor management. If you’re in the process of moving, going through a divorce, or taking university classes while working full-time, how much time do you have to do rehab?

The other issue is that these factors can prevent you from making the necessary activity modifications to recover from a pain episode. If you’re moving and have to lift furniture all day, how is that going to help you recover from an acute, inflamed shoulder? Is playing multiple basketball tournaments every week the best for your patellar tendonitis?

I’m not saying you should shy away from the rehab at the first inkling that life isn’t perfect – as it never will be. But you should ask yourself honestly if you are in a good position to put a reasonable effort into the rehab process. High quality rehab is expensive – and if you put the money into it, you want to be in a good position to get the most out of it.

Tip #2: Stay off the forums and social media threads

I cringe whenever I see a strength athlete asking for medical advice on Facebook or on a forum. It makes me shake my head – they’ll put tons of time, effort, and money into eating, sleeping, supplements, coaching, and training – but they’ll cheap out on finding a good rehab professional.

At the end of the day, most strength coaches – unless they’re Charlie Weingroff, John Rusin, Dani LaMartina (Overcash), Stefi Cohen, Scotty Butcher, Zach Long, Quinn Henoch, Christina Prevett, or myself (among others) – likely don’t have the requisite training to diagnose and treat musculoskeletal pain conditions. Most importantly, the biggest reason to stay off the internet medical community and see a proper professional is to make sure your pain is the only problem, and isn’t secondary to another medical condition – like cancer, a fracture, or an infection.

Tip #3: Find a good rehab professional who you click with

I wrote about this in more detail on my own site last year. For the Reader’s Digest version, some traits to look for are:

  • They don’t run you through an assembly line – 40 minutes for assessments and 15 minutes for followup treatments are my bare minimums.
  • They understand pain science and the biopsychosocial model – which I intend to write more about in a future article.
  • They don’t need to be an elite athlete but they should understand lifting and athletics.
  • They ask you about your general health.
  • They take the time to listen to and communicate with you.
  • They value continuing education and self-improvement.
  • While I’ll get some flack for saying this one… they give you exercise, education, and self-management strategies, and not just make you dependent on hands-on therapy and modalities.

Sites like Clinical Athlete are good ones to go to if you’re looking for a rehab professional who fits the bill in these areas.

Tip #4: Be patient and don’t ride two horses with one rear end

As Stan Efferding said in one of his may recent podcast interviews (paraphrased), you need to give yourself the freedom and time to get yourself healthy before chasing high performance goals.

Many athletes, myself included, are impatient and eager to get back on the horse – whether it’s due to the love of the game, fear of losing performance, or both.

For most people – if you’ve built a good base of strength, conditioning, and skill for your sport, it shouldn’t take long after the rehab process is done to build back up to peak performance. But conversely, trying to rush the rehab process and cycling back into extreme pain can delay your recovery by months or years.

Tip #5: Look at the rehab process as an opportunity

This time is a chance to enhance general physical preparatory qualities and to optimize other contributors to peak athletic performance.

A good rehab professional should give you a list of activities that you CAN do to maintain (and even improve) your fitness while recovering from your issues. In addition, a good therapist will likely give you novel exercises to help with strength, endurance, hypertrophy, mobility, and/or motor control in areas that may be lagging.

This should be seen not as rehab purgatory (to quote John Rusin), assuming it’s done properly, but rather as a means to improve general physical qualities such as mobility, strength, and movement – which may enable you to improve your overall performance in the long term.

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Optimizing Rehab and Performance

Also, as I said in my podcast interview with Travis Mash earlier this year, there are many commonalities between optimizing rehab and optimizing performance. Some of those areas include:

1) Optimizing sleep: Poor sleep is a big risk factor for sports injuries, chronic pain, and impaired performance. However, the methods to improve sleep are straightforward and include

  • going to bed and getting up at the same time every day.
  • preferably waking up naturally without an alarm clock.
  • minimizing, if not eliminating, caffeine and alcohol consumption after mid-afternoon.
  • having a sleep environment that’s cool, dark, and quiet.
  • minimizing, if not eliminating, screen time before going to bed.

If these strategies don’t help with sleep, then it may be worth trying to get in to see a specialist – especially given the high number of larger athletes (i.e. powerlifters, strongmen, football players) who have sleep apnea. The symptoms of sleep apnea can, although not always, be minimized and potentially eliminated through losing weight and aerobic exercise (interestingly regardless of weight loss). Some athletes may not always be able to do that, potentially due to performance demands, and may need other professional options to improve sleep.

2) Psychosocial factors: high levels of stress, anxiety and depression can put you at risk of sports injuries, chronic pain, decreased performance, and decreased recovery.

Simple steps to improve these issues can include

  • eating right, exercising, and getting good quality sleep.
  • learning to say NO.
  • staying organized: I use Google Calendar and a To-Do-List app (todoist.com) to keep track of everything I need to do and schedule it accordingly.
  • getting enough down time and time with friends and family.
  • taking part in relaxing, low-stress activities (i.e. 10 minute walks after 2-4 meals a day or leisure bike rides) depending on your training needs, goals, and tolerances

Beyond that again is where you may need to seek other professionals, especially if these are impeding your performance and/or your recovery from a pain episode.

Recovering from an injury is not always fun, but these tips can make it easier to go through the process and also make it more rewarding for you and your athletic career in the long run.

Swede Burns on the 5th Set Methodology – The Barbell Life 230

He’s the creator of the 5th Set Methodology, and he was named Powerlifting Coach of the Year.

I can see why. He’s not only a strong lifter himself, but he’s knowledgable about programming – and most of all he has a powerful desire to help people. It’s common in the powerlifting world for coaches and lifters to be… well, terrible people. I wasn’t the nicest a lot of times when I was on my way to a world championship. But Swede is a rare breed.

Burns

So listen in to this podcast because we hit hard on something that lifters don’t think about… but it is crucial to their success. In fact, it may very well be the most important aspect of being a powerlifter. And of course we talk a ton on this podcast about programming – so get ready!
 

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:

  • The absolute best assistance exercise for the bench press
  • Why there’s really only one way to determine proper sets, reps, and percentages
  • Racking up the 2000 lb totals
  • What is the most important factor in a competitor reaching their potential
  • Why he went raw when everyone else was equipped
  • and more…