Category Archives for "Motivation"

Athletes Need a Gym Culture

By now we have all heard the terms community and culture so many times that it’s kind of old news.

But why are those terms important? The new popularity of CrossFit and the barbell sports, along with the magic of the Internet, has spread these terms around the world and back. The main reason CrossFit became so popular was community.

CrossFit created a community of people coming together to get in shape and be healthy. Let’s face it – when we become busy adults, it’s not easy to go to the gym and work some more just to get in shape. However, when there are other people at the gym who are going to work and suffer with you, the whole process of getting in shape becomes fun and exciting. The common bond of working hard forms a family-like atmosphere that most of us are drawn to. Weightlifting, powerlifting, and strength and conditioning clubs all have a community as well. Whenever there is a group of people coming together to work on a common or similar activity, you have a community.


At Mash Elite, we have weightlifting, powerlifting, strength and conditioning, and adult group fitness – so we have a bit of everything. The community is simply a group of people coming together to reach their goals.

What about culture? That is where the rubber meets the road, as my father-in-law always says. Our gym is divided up into a front section, where all the adult group fitness and a lot of the accessory work for the athletes take place. In the back of the facility is where all the grinding takes place. The gym is separated by two big curves that allows for a nice flow from the peacefulness of the front to craziness in the back.

Once you’re in the back, things get way more serious. The athletes are there to be the best in the world. We still have fun, but there is a totally different feel in the air. The weightlifters, powerlifters, football players, and track athletes are there to do extraordinary things. They are trying to make an Olympic team, world team, earn a scholarship, or play in the NFL. That’s the difference in the back room and the front room. Everyone is trying to reach a goal, but the folks in the back are there to perform the extraordinary.

Our culture has been developed carefully over the last year and a half. Some people have moved on, and some have been added. All of it was for the best. Now we have a group who works together, trains hard, and likes to be coached. We support one another. We might pick on each other, but no outsider is allowed to pick on our teammates.

This is why we so carefully choose our members now. We require a 100% approval rate from not only the coaches but also the team members. It’s a tough process to join the team now, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love these folks. I am not looking for a new athlete like I did in the past. I have all the ones I want.


The main reason I am writing this article is to explain a phenomenon that occurred last week. Our team as a whole hit an astonishing amount of personal records then. It was really one after the other. I am talking about amounts you rarely hear about.

Nathan Damron snatched 170kg from blocks. Ryan Grimsland snatched 113kg and 115kg, hitting two personal records in the snatch and PRing his total as well. Morgan McCullough made personal records in the snatch, jerk, clean from deficit, and his total on Friday. 14-year-old Hannah Dunn snatched 70kg/154lb to get over the hump for a long awaited PR.

It wasn’t just my world team members. It was the entire team both on-site and online. We hit so many personal records that I can’t get them all posted, as they are getting lost in the photo stream.

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So how does this happen? That’s the question that has been ringing in my ears. I mean, it is the time of year, as most everyone is peaking for the American Open Series 3 happening a few weeks from now. But I have still never seen anything like this before. I’ve seen days that seemed to stick out but never an entire week of extraordinary feats.

I’m calling this phenomenon gym momentum, and I wish Greg Nuckols or Andy Galpin would perform a study on this supernatural happening. We’ve all experienced it in some form or another. If you’ve ever been to a Jon North seminar, you’ve probably witnessed exactly what I am talking about. It starts by someone getting jacked up and hitting a big lift, and the next thing you know the entire room is slamming personal records.

As a coach, this is one of the biggest reasons you are trying to cultivate and nurture a solid culture. This is the reason you might have to cut your top athletes if they don’t fit the culture you are trying to develop. You will never have a room like the one I have if you have the one bad apple who doesn’t allow the room to blossom. You know who I am talking about. I am talking about the guy who demands the attention to always be on him – or the grumpy athlete who makes everyone walk on eggshells. If that’s you, you need to change. No amount of victories or records gives you a right to steal the attention of the room. If you are a true champion, you would never want that.

When I was a world champion, I wanted my teammates to experience the same feeling. I remember bombing out at the world championships in 2006, and I immediately started coaching my teammate and best buddy, Ox Mason, in hopes that he would win. I promise you all that one day all of your athletic days will be behind you, and you don’t want to look back on a career that was totally self-absorbed. You will be pleased to look back and remember being a great team member and inspiring others to succeed.


The type of momentum that we experienced last week will never happen at a gym unless a proper culture is a primary goal. If you want to be a world champion, this type of environment is mandatory. You will need a coach for direction and a team for support. When you are trying to be the best at something, a strong support base is crucial. You will have days that are harder than others. Having a teammate and coach to support you during those dark times is a must in all sports. On the other hand, it’s just as important to have teammates to inspire each other to higher and higher levels, which is what happened all last week.

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

Become a member of the Mash Mafia.

* Fully Customized Programming

* Unlimited Technique Analysis

* The Best Coaching in the World

Remember, forming a community is the easy part. The moment you open a gym, you will have a community. Culture is the hard part. It’s something you need to think long and hard about before opening a facility. What kind of culture are you looking to create as a gym owner? What kind of person fits that culture?

As an athlete, what type of culture do you want to seek out? How can you help that culture develop?

It’s more important than many might think.

Jay Ferruggia on Growth – The Barbell Life 213

If you’ve been around strength and the internet long enough, I’m positive you’ve heard of Jay Ferruggia. This guy has been in the game for a long, long time.

Jay could teach you about gaining muscle, getting strong, mastering nutrition, killing it as a personal trainer, building a successful gym, creating an online fitness powerhouse… you get it.

But what he’s really passionate about is something hardly anyone else talks about – just simply being an awesome person. Having confidence, getting rid of bitterness, building relationships, taking risks, and living a fulfilling and exciting life.

So give this one a listen. It might not be like many of our other podcasts, but I promise you that you’ll walk away with some new insight.

One area we talk about is the power of community. Jay is very intentional about surrounding himself with people who will build him up instead of keeping him down. That’s what’s great about this fitness industry. I don’t think there’s any other industry where people take care of each other like they do in fitness. Even competitors are barbell brothers. I was reminded of that recently as we’ve been raising support for Coach Don McCauley during this health crisis.



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  • His simple and powerful Instagram strategy that no one else is using
  • Advice to gym owners (why you need to say NO to your customers)
  • Working with Major League baseball teams
  • How he “invented” group training
  • Almost dying from tuberculosis (and how it was the best thing for his fitness business)
  • and more…

USA Weightlifting Is One Big Family

Saturday Night during the inaugural USA Weightlifting Coaching Symposium (amazing event by the way, great job Coach Mike Gattone and staff), I was talking to my friends JP and Mark. We were hanging out at the bar after a long week of coaching and presenting. These two men don’t realize it, but I look up to both of them. They are more experienced in the world of weightlifting, so for them to take the time out of their evening to chat with me meant that absolute world to me. They were both giving me feedback about my persona online versus in real life. That’s actually a really good blog for later that I look forward to publishing.

It was at that moment that I all of a sudden realized we are all so blessed to be a part of this organization. It’s a family, and the deeper you get into its very core, the more of a family it becomes. I witnessed the generosity of this immense family firsthand, when I announced the GoFundMe account for my long time friend and mentor Coach Don McCauley. The very first donation was from my buddy Chad Wesley Smith. This has to be the only industry in the world where competitors are buddies. Heck we help each other.



Help us give these young ones the chance to succeed at athletics and at life.

That couldn’t be truer with my friends like Dave Spitz and Dane Miller. I would let them both look at my complete infrastructure if I thought it might help them. We continually bounce ideas off of each other, and we celebrate each other’s victories. I would personally help any of these men if they failed, and I am sure that they would do the same. That’s the only way that one can find job security in such a new and volatile industry, through relationships.

Then when you look at what Phil Andrews and the crew at USA Weightlifting has accomplished over the last few years, you can’t help but to be excited for the future. Our athletes have never in the history of weightlifting been supported so well. Stipends are higher than ever. Athletes have access to help with nutrition, recovery, rehab, and so much more.

This weekend, we were told that USAW is about to roll out a scholarship fund for the top young athletes in America. No longer do we, as coaches have to send them off to colleges around America. Now thanks to the hard work of the folks at USA Weightlifting, our athletes can stay local with the coaches that they feel comfortable with and with the coaches that helped them get to where they are. This is not to say that the college programs aren’t good, they are a great option for some young athletes, but it’s nice to have this option for my young men and women.

This is my dream. Now I can go out there and tell parents that there is a real future with weightlifting. If you have the skills, you can go to college, earn big stipends, and travel the world for free with Team USA. Coaches, it is up to us to get out there and spread the word. Suzy Sanchez is crushing it, but we are already submerged in our communities. We have to get our butts out of the gym once in a while and make an impact within our communities. USA Weightlifting is now doing their job. Now it’s our turn.

How Coaches Can Contribute

I have listened to coaches complain about this and that. Well Phil has pretty much handled every complaint that I have heard mentioned. Now it’s time that we look ourselves in the mirror, and ask, “What are we prepared to do?” That’s a big question man.

Here are a few ideas:

  1. Free Informational Clinics- once a month we could open our doors, have our athletes put on a show for people, and explain to them all the benefits of weightlifting. We could explain how it helps performance in other sports, and now we can talk about the benefits of being a top athlete in our own beloved sport.
  2. Get Involved- this is one that I am personally going to work on. Join your chamber of commerce, and let them know what you are doing. Let them know the accomplishments of your current athletes. You can join other clubs and organizations and simply get to know the people around you.
  3. Put on Demonstrations at Schools and Community Gatherings- let them see exactly what can be accomplished with the sport of Weightlifting if taught properly.
  4. Produce- there is no better marketing than winning. When you win, make sure that you are contacting the newspapers and local television news sites. We have already received lots of free publicity from stories that the television stations and local newspapers have run on us. The cool thing is that it gets easier each time because you will develop relationships with the reporters.
  5. Pick an Outlet- obviously I like to write. With the Internet, all of us have several options to get the word out. Now you can blog, podcast, vlog, and we can all use social media. It’s a must. You can avoid it all you want, but you will only be hurting your club, your athletes, and the whole sport. We are all provided with these many ways to share our thoughts about the things that we love. Personally I want the whole world to know how much I love Weightlifting. I want the whole world to fall in love with it like I have.

Thanks to the efforts of USA Weightlifting, our coaches, and our amazing athletes crushing it at the International level, we all have something special to share with the world. We are finally a part of something that we have all longed for. We are WINNING at the world level! There is no denying that anymore. Our athletes aren’t satisfied with just being there.

I have watched the culture shift from last quad to this one. No one has an easy route to the Olympics anymore. You have to earn that mess now! Last quad, I heard athletes creating strategies to sneak on teams. This quad, I hear athletes creating strategies with their coaches about winning World Championships and the Olympics. It’s here y’all. We don’t have to sit around complaining and dreaming. We are living that dream.

The point to this message is that we should all stop for a moment to enjoy what we’ve all been a part in creating. We are all about to be a part of the biggest competition in the history of Weightlifting at the AO3. It’s all of you that work hard to climb the ladder of success in the sport that is fueling the fire for USA Weightlifting. It’s all of you coaches preparing your teams and recruiting new members. If the sport weren’t growing at a record rate, there wouldn’t be any funds for our top men and women. We wouldn’t be winning without this popularity.

So when it’s a little crowded in Las Vegas, I want all of us to remember that we have to have this progress to get where we all want to go, and that’s winning Olympic Gold Medals. Once again, thank you all for supporting Coach Don McCauley and our team during this rough time. He is having surgery today on his brain tumor, so I will let you all know the results as soon as I find out. Once again, if you want to support Coach McCauley during his battle with congestive heart failure and now this tumor, you can go to the link below:



Help us give these young ones the chance to succeed at athletics and at life.

Guys, we are a part of something great. If we can all continue to support one another, we can truly change this sport forever. Our dreams can all come true, and we can be a part of one amazing family during it all.

Love you all,

Coach Travis Mash

Breaking into the Strength and Conditioning Industry

The Strength and Conditioning world is a tough nut to crack. Most of the exercise science majors that I know are working in unrelated industries. It’s sad to see because it’s an industry with the potential to deliver an individual a life filled with purpose and excitement. My life is like a storybook for a guy that grew up in the deep mountains of North Carolina. I never would have dreamed that I would be traveling to three different countries and three different states all within six weeks.

This industry allows me to work with some of the best athletes in the world. I have written books that are being read and applied all throughout the world. I get to help people achieve their dreams. I have the chance to impact lives in a positive way.

So how did I get here? What choices did I make that led me to this point? One of my biggest passions is helping other people in this industry with becoming successful too. That’s what this article is about. If you want to succeed in the strength and conditioning world, this article is for you.

Step 1 – Narrow Down Your Options

The first step is narrowing down your options. Yes, there are options in the exercise science world. Here are a few:

  • High School Strength Coach
  • College Strength Coach
  • Professional Sports Strength Coach
  • Personal Trainer
  • CrossFit Coach
  • Weightlifting Coach
  • Powerlifting Coach
  • Cardiac Rehab
  • Corporate Wellness
  • Professor
  • Research
  • Online Instruction
  • Fitness Writer

There are more, but this gives you some ideas. A big key is narrowing down the focus as soon as possible. Once you find your area, then it is time to narrow things down even more. If you want to become successful in this industry, you have to become the expert in one specific niche in your field. Let me give you some examples.

Step 2 – Become A Niche Expert

The next step is becoming an expert in a niche within your field. Here are some examples:

  • My favorite is Dr. Bret Contreras also known as the Glute Guy. He makes a great living as a glute expert. He trains some of the best fitness women in the world on how to get the perfect glutes.
  • Greg Nuckols is the go to guy at breaking down the research on various topics and making it simple for the rest of us to understand. He also explains which research is trustworthy, and calls out the research not up to standards.
  • Alex Viada is the expert on concurrent training.
  • Mike Bledsoe focused on media and bringing the brightest among us to the world.

I have spent my whole life trying to understand the barbell. I got lucky to be honest. I had no idea that CrossFit would bring the barbell to the rest of the world. However, the fact that I followed my passion wasn’t luck. If you find an aspect of fitness that you love, I suggest following that love. I know this sounds kind of cliché, but it’s the truth. If you love something, you won’t stop until you perfect it.

I love weightlifting and powerlifting. I started out wanting to make myself the best strength athlete in the world, but now I want to make my athletes the best in the world. I am one of the go to guys in the weightlifting and powerlifting world because I have spent and continue to spend my life perfecting my craft. If you become the expert, you will in turn become valuable.

Step 3 – Network

The next step is getting to know the successful people in your chosen field and niche. I am a friend with all of the top weightlifting coaches in America. We help each other, and we are all talented in our own areas. Coach Kevin Doherty is the expert on handling athletes at weightlifting meets. Coach Sean Waxman is the expert in biomechanics. Coach Kevin Simons has programming down to a near perfect science. We help each other in the areas that we have perfected. That’s one of the biggest ways that we continue to learn.

Finding a mentor is even better. A good mentor can lead you down a path of success. I have had several mentors that have helped me immensely. Coach Sean Waxman continues to mentor me in this crazy sport of Olympic weightlifting. Guys like Mike Bledsoe and Coach Joe Kenn helped me find my way in the business side of strength and conditioning. Sooner or later no matter which route you take, you will need to sharpen your business skills. In today’s world, you will need to learn about social media, marketing, websites, networking, and product development.

My suggestion is find a mentor that cares about you. You should find someone that is doing something similar to what you want to do. Whatever you do, don’t just take and take from this person. You need to find a way to give back and be of value to your mentor. Lastly, I suggest that you never forget and always give credit where credit is due. This little piece of advice will go a lot further than you can imagine. Remember these mentors are human. They are helping you because they care about you. When you give them credit, you are affirming that you care for them right back.

Step 4 – Never Stop Learning

Step 4 is never stopping learning. People used to get away with learning a few things and then spending the rest of their lives passing on that information. That will not happen in today’s world. The internet allows us to have all the information of the world at our fingertips. The internet also allows your customers, bosses, and colleagues compare you to the rest of your peers. If you start getting passed up, you can guarantee that your customers and bosses will start looking elsewhere.

There are so many ways to learn nowadays that you really don’t have an excuse. There are audiobooks that you can listen to as you drive. There are eBooks you can download with one click. There are podcasts, articles, and videos that are free, so you have no excuse. If you aren’t continuing to learn, you are one thing, lazy. If you fail due to laziness, that’s your fault and no one else’s.

Listen to “Barbell Life” on Spreaker.

However, you can’t just say that I am going to read a book or listen to a podcast. You have to schedule it just like anything else. You have to plan. You can listen to your audiobook on the way into work. You can listen to your favorite podcast every Friday by getting up a bit earlier. You can do whatever you want as long as you plan it.

Step 5 – Educate Others

Step 5 is to educate the world. No matter what field or niche, in today’s world, you have the ability to share what you are learning. There are several avenues to share your thoughts like blogging, podcasts, videos/vlogs, and social media. Whether you are a college professor or a personal trainer, you can increase your value by growing your following. Andy Galpin is a professor, but now he’s even more valuable because the whole world knows how brilliant he is. That’s valuable to the school because he attracts more potential students to apply. If you are a personal trainer, it’s a way of getting new clients.

I give free information because I love to teach people about the things that I am passionate about. Meanwhile the people reading my free articles and listening to my free podcasts are learning to trust me as an expert. That makes them more willing to buy my books and join my online team. I have found that the more quality free information that I put out is directly proportionate to the number of items that are purchased on my site. It’s weird how the universe works.


World champion powerlifter and world-class weightlifting coach Travis Mash shares his powerful neural activation technique - proven to instantly increase your strength as well as lead to more long-term gains.

This industry is amazing. I spend my days thinking on new and better ways to educate my readers and listeners. I get emails all the time thanking me for helping them reach one goal or another. Sometimes people email me thanking me for making them want to be better parents or husbands, and admittedly those emails are my favorite. I love fitness, but nothing is more important than family and God. This industry is beautiful in the way that we get to help people. If you focus on helping others in as many ways as possible, you won’t fail. I won’t lie though, it’s hard work. If you want to work 40-hours per week, this is probably not the industry for you. You don’t punch out with this industry. You are always on the clock. But you know what? I don’t want to be off the clock.

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

Become a member of the Mash Mafia.

* Fully Customized Programming

* Unlimited Technique Analysis

* The Best Coaching in the World

The Power of Language with Mike Bledsoe – The Barbell Life 203

I’m sure you’ve heard of Mike Bledsoe. One of the biggest reasons for me getting into this whole podcasting thing was what he was doing on Barbell Shrugged.

This guy has had tons of conversations with experts from around the world on training, nutrition, recovery, programming, technique, business, and everything in between. But he’s developed a fascination recently on something that is so important and so powerful – something that not a lot of us talk about.

Today, we’re going to be talking about the power of language.

I was blown away hearing about how our words can influence our brains, which can physically affect our genetics and so much more. It got me thinking about how the power of language can make me a better coach and can help my athletes so much.

Want to Win the Mental Battle in Training and Competition?

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Mash Elite brings you a proven approach to increasing confidence, eliminating negative thoughts, confronting fear, and functioning at peak capacity.



  • How to turn your thoughts around
  • Getting unplugged
  • Weak language vs. strong language
  • Developing a culture of success through language
  • The three focus points to achieve goals
  • and more…

And don’t forget – if you want to hear more about this stuff in person – you definitely want to check out one of Mike’s seminars. He’s coming here to Winston-Salem in just a few short days. You can register and learn more here!

Jason Coker, the World’s Best Bench Presser – The Barbell Life 200

Not many people have benched over 900 pounds. And not many people have been my good friend for over 20 years. Jason Coker’s done both, so he’s a pretty amazing guy.

He’s my go-to expert on cutting weight – and as a longtime lifter at Westside Barbell, Jason knows better than anyone what Westside is really like. This podcast has a lot of knowledge in it and a lot of perspective… and it’s also got a lot of great stories.

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

Become a member of the Mash Mafia.

* Fully Customized Programming

* Unlimited Technique Analysis

* The Best Coaching in the World



  • Getting a job with me after prison and other wild stories from the past
  • Dynamic days, max effort, and what Westside really does
  • Passing out naked at a powerlifting meet… and how you can cut weight in a better way
  • Truly great powerlifters and what so many get wrong
  • Dealing with sciatica and still setting records
  • and more…
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