Category Archives for "Powerlifting"

The Art of Coaching

The ultimate competition preparation book is coming your way. We will cover programming the competition block, taper week, and every other possible variable of competing. The e-book will drop later this month as we move into a heavy competition part of the year.

Until then, you can download the FREE E-Book “Mash Method” to learn some cool ways to set personal records and to get on our list to be notified of our new book dropping. Check out our Free E-Book Below:

“Mash Method”

The Art of Coaching

I’m sitting on the back deck of the house I’ve rented for the week in Topsail Island overlooking the Sound. The sun is coming up, a pelican is standing on the dock, and the other creatures are starting make their music. Some might say that this is God’s art, and I would have to agree. As I drink my coffee I am contemplating the art of coaching. All coaches must be grounded in science, but there is so much more that makes a great coach.

Coaches are responsible for the programming, technique, and mental preparedness of each of their athletes. They are responsible for the culture in their gyms. The way that they put all of these elements together is their art. There simply aren’t enough absolutes out there to say that one program is the way or one technique is the way. Each athlete especially in America is simply unique. Some are similar in nature, but each athlete needs there own personal attention. Let’s look at al the elements that go into the individual:

• Technique
• Programming
• Muscular Balance
• Work capacity
• Mindset
• Nutrition
• Recovery

There’s no way to ever perfect an athlete’s training program. It’s like a sculptor working on the different angles of their piece. You might get an athlete’s technique dialed in, but their squat is weak in relation to their Clean. Maybe you are victorious at increasing their work capacity, but they struggle in competition due to a weak mindset. This is the exact reason that building a champion is so fulfilling to a coach. There are lots of pieces and gaps that must be filled to get someone on that Gold Medal stand.

We haven’t even touched on the aspects of genetics and an athlete’s ability to be coached. If you don’t have some decent genetics to work with, you can forget about it. If an athlete refuses to take direction, there’s nothing a coach can do to positively affect that athlete. It’s a frustrating situation to be in if you are a coach that cares. Most great coaches can look at an athlete and know exactly what that athlete needs, but they are powerless with a strong-willed athlete.

However if a coach is blessed enough to find an athlete with genetics and that is coachable, the joy in their lives at that point is irreplaceable. I have three or four of those on my team, and I can’t begin to describe the joy that they bring to my life. It’s a real honor to be a part of these athletes’ lives. This last year I have watched athletes go from fairly unknown to making a world team. I have watched a young boy blossom into an athlete like the United States has never seen. I have watched a CrossFitter come to realize that he might be one of the best young weightlifters in the country as well as an elite CrossFitter. There are several more stories like this, but these are the most recent and fresh on my mind.

All of this and we haven’t even covered culture and recruiting/growing your program. Without these two elements none of the aforementioned aspects of coaching really matter. If you can’t find any athletes, it doesn’t matter how good of a coach you are. As a matter of fact if you can’t find athletes, that’s a direct reflection of your abilities as a coach. You can’t just sit in your gym and expect athletes to come rolling in your doors. That’s simply lazy. In this day and age you better have some basic business skills, or no one will ever get to experience your coaching skills.

It drives me crazy when people tell me that they are coaches and not business people. If that’s the truth, you better have a partner. Getting the athlete in the door is the hard part. Coaching the athletes is the part that we all love. You have to do the hard work guys to at least get things rolling. Once you are up and rolling, then you can let your results do the recruiting for you.

Culture has become quite the buzzword lately, but most coaches have no idea how to create a winning culture. First the culture starts with your own attitude. Are you a positive and upbeat person, or do you feel more at home in a cemetery? The other issue that causes a poor culture is one bad egg. I have admittedly made this mistake in the past. You let one negative athlete ruin the atmosphere for all the other athletes. I am constantly on the outlook for athletes like this. I will warn them, and then they have to find somewhere else to train.

I have gone to the art studio with my wife, and I have witnessed all the different techniques and tools that she uses to create a piece. Normally there is a lot more than a brush, some paper, and paint that go into the creation of one of her amazing pieces. As you can see above the same goes for coaching.

Yes it’s all the different elements that drive us crazy, but it’s all of these elements that make winning so sweet. When all of these variables come together to equal a Gold Medal, American Record, or the Olympics, the coach at that moment can stand back and enjoy their piece of art. There won’t be a lot of masterpieces in your life, but if you work hard, there will be several beautiful pieces.

Part of my mission is to help other coaches create their own art. Here are a couple of upcoming ways that I am offering help:

This Friday we are dropping our latest E-Book: “Time to Compete”! This book is all about meet preparation including 7 four-week Taper Phases, meet strategy, mindset, Intra-meet Nutrition, and so much more that goes into the art of coaching a champion.

Then October 18th thru the 21st we are hosting the inaugural “Mash Mentorshop” to be held at the Farm and in our Gym. We will go over all elements that make up the art of coaching:

-Business, recruiting and growth
-Balancing coaching, business, and life
-Correcting technical flaws
-We will end each day around a campfire going over whatever the attendees choose

Here’s the link to sign up for the inaugural Mash Mentorship being held October 18th thru the 21st:

Mash Elite Mentorship with Coach Travis Mash!

3 Mash Athletes Preparing for the Senior World Championships

The ultimate competition preparation book is coming your way. We will cover programming the competition block, taper week, and every other possible variable of competing. The e-book will drop later this month as we move into a heavy competition part of the year.

Until then, you can download the FREE E-Book “Mash Method” to learn some cool ways to set personal records and to get on our list to be notified of our new book dropping. Check out our Free E-Book Below:

“Mash Method”

3 Mash Athletes Preparing for the Senior World Championships

A couple of days ago USA Weightlifting made the official announcement of the 2017 Senior World Team. I am still in shock that we have three athletes competing in Anaheim:

• Nathan Damron
• Brian Reisenauer
• Jordan Cantrell (shared with Nemesis Sports Academy)

I will be the head coach for Nathan and Jordan. Brian will have Mash Mafia’s own Vinh Huynh, the leader of Mash Mafia MN. Along with Coach Don McCauley we have formed quite the coaching conglomerate that in 2017 alone has produced:

• 2 Youth World Team Members (including one from New Zealand)
• 1 Youth Pan Am Team Member
• 1 Oceania Youth Team Member and Champion
• 1 Junior World Team Member
• 1 Junior Pan Am Team Member
• 1 University World Team Member
• 2 Senior Pan Am Team Members
• 3 Senior World Team Members

I would say that we are off to the best year of our team’s existence. With all of this being said, this isn’t an article to go on and on about our team’s success. This article is to give you guys an idea of what goes into getting these folks to the next level. Hopefully I can give all of you aspiring coaches and athletes some ideas that might help you get to this level as well. At the end of the day we are all Team USA. Coach Dave Spitz, Team Cal Strength, and I talk about this concept quite a bit. Yeah we like to win at Nationals and what not, but at the end of the day we are all on the same big team. We are all trying to help Team USA medal on the big stage against all the other countries. We can only do this through cooperation and support of one another.

That’s why I am compelled to write articles and books that will help you guys and gals out. In this article I want to explain all that goes into preparing one of these athletes for that World level. Now I am hoping that a lot of this will apply to all of you whether you are at the State, National, or International level. We treat all of our athletes the same on our team. All that we require is that they have a desire to want to be the best that they can be. If you are trying to help your athletes be the best that they can be or you’re an athlete trying to be the best that you can be, keep reading.

Workouts are written for all of our athletes. Some are similar, and some are way different. If an athlete has been with us long enough, then we’ve had time to perfect a personalized approach. How does that happen? That’s the question isn’t it?

When an athlete starts with our team, here are a few basic questions that have to be asked:

• Does this athlete thrive from high volume, medium volume, or low volume?
• Does this athlete thrive with high frequency, medium, or low?
• Does this athlete handle high loads well?
• How many other commitments will interfere with training?
• Is this athlete efficient or inefficient?
• Are there any muscular imbalances?

These are a few of the questions that a coach must know. You can ask the questions. You can also look at their past training if they’ve kept a journal. Keeping a journal is something that I recommend all of your athletes to start doing. You can look at their journal and see patterns, successes, and poor performances.

You can also look at their backgrounds and get a lot of information. For example Jordan Cantrell came from the world of CrossFit, so I knew that he would thrive well with higher volume. The same would go for former soccer players or wrestlers.

Commitments outside of training are an unfortunate part of weightlifting life in America. Weightlifting in America is not a fully state funded program, so most athletes have to work a job. Yes USA Weightlifting has a pretty good stipend program, and I am thankful for all that they do. However until you are at the Olympic Hopeful level, you are probably going to have to work. Coaches will also want to know marital status, home life, and other aspects of the athlete’s life because all of these things can and will affect training. That’s ok. I am not saying that athletes shouldn’t have a life. I am just saying that the coach needs to consider all the stressors in an athlete’s life.

Is the athlete efficient of inefficient? John Broz explained it the best. Coaching a weightlifter is like balancing a scale. On one side of the scale is strength and on the other side is technique and movement. You add a little strength and the scale tips towards strength. Then you add some skill practice with the snatch and clean & jerk, and the scale starts to level out again. This process goes back and forth over the career of an athlete. In our book “No Weaknesses” we have a comprehensive 44 point test that will give you exact percentages, and that will tell you if you are efficient or not.

Are there any muscular imbalances? The answer is always yes. No one is perfect. Once again the test in “No Weaknesses” will tell you all about your muscular imbalances and give exact percentages. Jordan Cantrell has some issues that we are working through now. The back squat causes some major back pain, so we decided to take it out. We front squat with several variations, and we are working on strengthening his mid-line with assistance work.

This brings me to my final point. A workout is only as good as the coach running the athlete through the workout. When I write a 16-week workout for one of my athletes, that workout is a simple outline. It is subject to change week to week. The key is the amount of communication between athlete and coach. If an athlete is getting too beat up, then a good coach will drop some volume. If an athlete is rolling through a program like superman, a good coach will up the volume because a certain amount of breakdown is required to force the body to adapt. It’s that simple.

At this point there is no one program that will work for everyone. Well if you are brand new to the barbell, just about anything will work. However for a seasoned veteran, they are going to need a coach that alters things weekly if necessary. They will also need a coach that can talk to them about the process. Training is hard. Athletes don’t know what to expect half the time, and it up to us to help them through the process.

Coaching is an art. I have spent my entire life trying to become the best coach possible. I have also had some of the best coaches in America work with me like Wes Barnett, Dragomir Cioroslan, and Louie Simmons. I am friends with some of the best coaches in the world like Coach Joe Kenn or the Carolina Panthers. If I am not hanging out with the best coaches, I am reading their books.

We released the date of the inaugural Mash Mentorship last week. October 18th thru the 21st we will be hanging out in my gym, on my farm, and all around North Carolina covering:

• Coaching (weightlifting and powerlifting)
• Technique and Programming (weightlifting and powerlifting)
• Art of Coaching
• Business
• Life
• Family
• Basically hanging out and helping aspiring people in the strength world succeed
• Every night ends around a campfire talking and answering questions

Find out more at the link below:

Mash Mentorship

Don’t forget, this Friday Sept. 22nd our new E-Book drops “Time to Train”. If you are a coach or aspiring weightlifter or powerlifter, you are going to want this book.

Time to Compete Variables

The ultimate competition preparation book is coming your way. We will cover programming the competition block, taper week, and every other possible variable of competing. The e-book will drop later this month as we move into a heavy competition part of the year.

Until then, you can download the FREE E-Book “Mash Method” to learn some cool ways to set personal records and to get on our list to be notified of our new book dropping. Check out our Free E-Book Below:

“Mash Method”

Time to Compete Variables

I have been thinking a lot lately about all the variables that go into competing. It can be overwhelming yet not many people talk about it. We talk about programming to get stronger all the time. I like talking about getting stronger as well. However what about when it’s time to get ready for a competition?

Every year I watch new athletes and coaches at the bigger National meets like Senior Nationals, American Open, and now the AO Series. This is a blessing to my heart to see the growth. However every year I watch them coming to meets unprepared. I get it. I remember clearly coming to my first National meet, and I wasn’t ready either. Luckily guys like Coach Sean Waxman and Kevin Doherty took me under their wings at big meets and taught me a lot. That’s what I now want to do for all of you.

Some things that you need to consider are:

1. Tapering and Contest Preparation

2. Weight Loss

3. Once You’re at the Venue

4. Post Weigh-In and Intra Meet Nutirition

5. Mindset

6. Warm ups and Attempt Selection

Tapering and Contest Preparation- this is where a lot of the magic happens. There are so many variables that will need to be sorted over time. Here are some questions that you will have to ask:

• Is your athlete a high volume, low volume, or somewhere in between athlete?
• Does your athlete respond better with a high intensity, low intensity, or somewhere in between?
• Low frequency, high frequency, or somewhere in between?
• What accessory movements should stay in the program, and which should go?
• Week of meet Taper is a big key.

There is no program that fits every athlete. The key is to make notes during each competition, and make improvement until the perfect meet prep program exists for the individual athlete. This is where the art of coaching comes into play. The goal is to write a masterpiece for each athlete.

Weight Loss- number one should you even be dropping weight. If you are competing in your first meet, please don’t cut weight just enter the contest, make some lifts, and have fun. However if you must cut to qualify for Nationals or make an International Team, make sure that you have a plan. Also I recommend that you are reasonable in your cut. Here are some recommendations:

Women 63kg and down- you should consider staying with 1-2kg within range.
Women 69kg and 75kg- no more than 2-3kg
Men 69kg and down 2-3kg
Men 77kg to 94kg 3-4kg
105kg 4-5kg at most

These are just averages. One thing to consider is your efficiency. That means you can Snatch around 65% of your back squat and Clean & Jerk around 75% of your back squat. If you are hitting these percentages or better, then you need to consider staying closer to your weight class. Efficient lifter are affected more directly from weight loss because they can’t afford any loss of leg strength.

At the Venue- you should immediately find the weigh-in area, check scale to check weight, training hall, warm up room, and of course the competition platform. You don’t want to be scrambling to find these areas. You will also want to find the sauna if you’re cutting weight. One last thing to check at a National Meet is the Final Schedule that will be posted after the Technical Meeting held normally on the Thursday before the meet.

Meet Nutrition- Don’t rely on the venue to have quality food. You will want to bring your own food and drink to ensure proper hydration and fuel for competition. I recommend eating in between snatch and clean & jerk something that’s easily digested.

Mindset- this is the big one that most new athletes and coaches mess up. The key is to stay relaxed and calm. The coach sets the pace on this one. If you are nervous and fidgety as a coach, your athlete is probably going to freak out. I try to laugh a lot and have fun, so my athletes stay relaxed. Competing should be a fun release.

Warm Ups and Attempt Selection- I recommend that you come to the meet prepared. You shouldn’t let another athlete’s opener affect your own. Here’s an article that details a solid plan:

Preparing for Competition

I hope this helps you guys and gals prepare for your own competition. I am writing a book now that will outline this process in-depth. If there is something that you want covered in the book, please comment on this blog and I will try to cover.

Thanks again for reading.

Variables of Programming

Check out one of the Online Teams:

• Mash Mafia Bronze
• Mash Mafia Silver
• Mash Mafia Gold
• Eat What You Want
• Eat and Lift What You Want

Check them out here: ⇒ Mash Mafia Online Teams

Variables of Programming

Programming is a complex beast. It’s a beast that drives me as a coach. I am in a constant search for the Holy Grail of Programming. The maddening thing is that I am almost certain that doesn’t exist. I have watched one program work wonders for an athlete, while stagnating another one. Whether you are coaching weightlifting, powerlifting, CrossFit, or strength and conditioning athletes (football, softball, MMA, etc.), there are variables that must be considered. Those variables are different depending on the sport. I am not going to pretend that I have it all figured out because no one does. If someone did, then there would be a coach that had athletes setting personal records at every meet. However to date I don’t know of one single coach that fits that description.

There are coaches that have more success than others. Those are the coaches that I gravitate towards. I try to learn from each and every one of them. My favorite part of coaching at the Pan American Games was getting to talk to the best coaches in America for hours at a time. Great coaches like Sean Waxman and John Broz are more than willing to share information. Then there are the younger coaches like Kevin Simons who is literally an exercise science bookworm. I love my chats with him as we both try to solve the mystery of Olympic weightlifting.

This series is going to be for all of you coaches and athletes trying to figure things out. I have been pretty dang successful in multiple sports. I am going to list a few of my accomplishments not to brag, but to let you know my resume. Here we go:

• I have been the Weightlifting Head Coach for Team USA three-times within the last year and a half.
• I’ve placed athletes on Team USA Weightlifting in the Youth, Junior, and Senior Divisions. (2 Youth, 5 Junior, and 3 Senior all in the last 18-months)
• I have coached one Senior Athlete in Canada to the Senior World Championships, and one in New Zealand to the Youth World Championships
• I had four athletes at the USAPL Nationals including one American Record setting Junior, and two USPA National Champions and two World Record Setters.
• I have coached over one hundred Division I Collegiate Athletes in multiple sports like football, wrestling, softball, baseball, swimming, basketball, volleyball, and soccer.
• I am currently working with an Olympic Hopeful Tae Kwon Do Champion
• Personally I played football at Appalachian State University, was a Nationally Ranked Weightlifter training at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, and a world champion/world record holder Powerlifter to name a few.
• I currently coach two teenage CrossFitters including one that’s been to the CrossFit Games, and one that missed the games by one spot. I am coaching Team CrossFit Invoke in preparation for the Games 2018.

I am excited to bring this series to all of you. I am going to do one for weightlifting, one for powerlifting, one for CrossFit, and one for strength and conditioning. Today we will start with Weightlifting, and then each week I will tackle another sport. My goal is to give all of you coaches and athletes some ideas that might help your own training programs. I at least want to teach all of you the different variables, so that you might take a more comprehensive approach. I want no stones left unturned.

Weightlifting Programming Variables

I am going to start with listing a few of the obvious variable, and then I will explain each:

• Total Volume
• Intensity/Load
• Frequency

Total volume is a great place to start. A great tool to use is Prilepin’s Chart. This chart will tell you the optimal reps and total volume for various percentages of maximums. Here’s a copy of the chart:

A great place to start with Volume is in the Optimal Range. You will find that most people will fall within three categories:

1. Optimal Volume
2. High Volume
3. Low Volume

I recommend keeping notes on each athlete. I like to make notes during each block of training. Some athletes crush it during the accumulation and hypertrophy phases, while others do better in the Strength and Competition Phases. My goal is to figure out how to elicit the optimal response in each block. When you find a program that elicits a good response throughout, then stick to that program or at least keep the same parameters.

Frequency and Intensity are also unique to the individual. Some athletes respond well with high frequency programs. That means they are performing competition and supporting exercises more often. You might have read my “Squat Every Day” E-Books. These books are great for people that respond well to high frequency. This type of training is great for perfecting the movements of the competition lifts. The strength gains from a program like this are more neurological in nature. Basically you are getting more efficient at the lifts because you are practicing them more often.

“Intensity” is often confused with “effort”. Intensity is actually referring to load or the weight on the bar. Some people love to go heavy every day like Nathan Damron, and high intensity works well for him. His body is designed to take the beating of load, but not really designed for high volume. High volume is better left for Jacky Bigger. If you drop the volume too much for Jacky, you will get a decrease in performance. She’s probably the most complex to program for, but definitely the challenge is paying off.

Here are some other variables that people don’t talk about as much:

• Daytime Job
• Stressors in life
• Relationships
• Age
• Training Age
• Gender
• Relationship of Competition lifts to Strength Work

Daytime Job- You have to know if your athlete is working a real jog. If so, you need to know what kind of job. Are they on their feet a lot? Are they lifting things in their work? Is their job keeping them up late and cutting in on their rest times? These are all variables that should play into your programming for them. You can’t just write a program, and then force it on your athlete. The program should fit the athlete, but many people try to force the athlete to fit the program.

Stressors in Life- Man this one is huge. What’s going on in the lives of your athletes? This is where a coach has to be more than just someone who coaches them at practice. You have to know your athletes, and you need to care enough about them to get to know about their lives. I coach because I love helping people. Yeah I love when they win Gold Medals, but I love helping them navigate life. I want them to have more success than I ever did without all the mistakes.

If your athlete is dealing with stress, it’s going to affect them. Money, relationships, work, and more can crush an athlete’s energy levels. Stress can have literal physical effects on the body like tightness, weakness, low energy, and recovery issues. When your athlete is going through challenges in their life, I suggest pulling back on the volume and intensity. Let them get through the bump, and then you can crank the volume back up.

Age- We already discussed that all athletes are different. Some will perform better with Optimal loads, some with higher volume, and some with lower volume. That might not change as they get older, but there will need to be adjustments. Whatever workload an athlete has established, it will need to change, as the athlete gets older. Every athlete is different, but in my experience volume and intensity needs to be dialed back a bit for men over 26-years-old and women over 30-years-old. That doesn’t mean that their gains will stop. It just means that you will want to be a little wiser in the approach.

There are the outliers like Colin Burns. He’s 34-years-old, and probably outworks every weightlifter in the country. Once again you simply have to know your athlete. Colin is a very unique athlete.

Training Age- This is one that most people ignore. You might be coaching a 21-year-old, but if he’s been training for ten years, you are going to have to be careful not to over work him. I coach Nathan Damron that is 21-years-old, and he’s trained over ten years. He’s going through a bit of a tough time, so we have to look at changing things up a bit. Nathan could continue to improve for the next ten years, but we might make adjustments to his volume a bit to get him to the next level.

Gender- The biggest difference is that most women need higher volume than men. This is just a safe place to start. Let’s look at three of our top girls. Jacky Bigger needs high volume the entire program. December Garcia needs high volume during the hypertrophy phases and moderate volume thereafter. You can’t drop it too low or have it too high for her to peak properly. Hunter Elam is like a darn man. She needs moderate to start shifting to low volume and high intensity and the end to peak.

Relationship of Competition lifts to Strength Work- This is the most unique one to the lifter. Some like to peak the strength work right along with the competition lifts, and others need phases that are separate in nature. For Jacky Bigger I have figured out that her squat should be peaked early on, and then maintained throughout. There isn’t volume high enough on strength movements like squats, pulls, and presses to negatively affect her. However when the volume is increased on the competition lifts, that volume affects her more negatively. The competition lifts are way more abusive on the joints, which can be harder to recover from.

I recommend taking notes on each stage of your programming. The relationship between strength work and the competition lifts is a major key to a successful program. Each program is a chance to get closer to the perfect individual program. Once you’ve locked in on a program that works best for an athlete, I suggest sticking with that format. You don’t ever want to repeat a program exactly, but repeat the basic traits of a successful program as long as that program works.

I hope this article helps you. I wish that I had read an article like this one five years ago, but hey I like being the guinea pig for all of you. My athletes put their trust in me. It’s my responsibility to design them the best possible program. The key is closely observing and making notes on each and every athlete, so that you can pinpoint the pros and cons.

Check out one of our Eleven E-Books:

• “Squat Every Day” (High Frequency Squat Programming)
• “Eat What You Want” (Nutrition, Macros, and a built-in Macro Calculator
• “Squat Every Day 2” (Part 2 of High Frequency Squat Programming)
• “No Weaknesses” (Defeat Muscular Imbalances crush the Recovery Game)
• “Mash Program Sampler” (Athletic Performance, Oly, Powerlifting, and Functional Programming)
• “Mash Program Sampler 2 (8 More 12-week Programs)
• “The Mash Blueprint for Program Design” (Learn all about Programming)
• “Performance Zone” (Defeat all Mental Roadblocks)
• “Train Stupid”(Programming and Philosophy of Nathan Damron)
• “MashJacked” (Hypertrophy for Performance and Aesthetics)
• “Conjugate: Westside Inspired Weightlifting”

Check them out here: ⇒ Mash Elite E-Books

The Three Things You Should Be Doing at the Gym by Nathan Hansen

If you enjoy this article, check out the E-Book that Nathan and Coach Mash co-authored: “Performance Zone”. The biggest element that most athletes are missing is mindset. This book will help you reach your goals. Check it out now:

==> “Performance Zone”

The Three Things You Should Be Doing at the Gym
by Nathan Hansen

This is not an article advising which movements, what rep schemes, or how much cardio you should incorporate into your gym program. The “perfect program” doesn’t exist because focus, goals, and fitness levels vary between athletes. But while the physical aspects of our training differ, the mental aspects are surprisingly similar.

They also translate across sports.

To a degree, we are all guilty of allowing our situations to control us—whether those conditions involve tangible items or the demeaning whispers from our subconscious. And when we find ourselves engulfed by situation, we tend to lose focus. We begin to doubt our abilities and perceive ourselves as failures. To reverse becoming a victim of circumstance, start doing these three things at each gym session: remove distractions, accept your emotions, and focus on the present.

1. Remove all distractions. What I mean is you need to put away your tech—your phone, tablet, or whatever device that may distract your focus. The post-Digital age has been revolutionary in terms of information sharing and connectivity; however, when we bring technology into the gym, we become more concerned with what is happening in the virtual world than in the present. In scrolling through social media, we are likely to compare ourselves to others: we see our failures against their achievements, which feeds our frustrations and dilutes our performance. In receiving text messages or emails, we may have the urge to respond immediately, finding ourselves either caught in an enduring conversation or the opposite: hoping the other person emails or texts back. Even using our technology to record our workouts can be a distraction, especially as many of us are prone to focus on the immediate review of the exercise or the differences between past and present performance. Technology pulls us from the now into another time, another place—anywhere except where we need to be at that moment.

Removing distractions will enhance your awareness and clear your mind, allowing you to focus on the workout and the experience—the reason you’re at the gym in the first place.

2. Accept your emotions. When failure or fear appears, we typically take two approaches: we allow the emotion to consume or control us, or we attempt to bury it and ignore it. Unfortunately, neither of these options is effective. We obviously want to avoid feeding negative emotions, but suppressing them can be just as harmful. Instead, we can unearth our emotions, study them, and use them to enhance our training.

Emotions as Guideposts. We can use our emotions to help guide our training methods. For instance, frustration with a workout may indicate that we are pushing ourselves too hard, that our focus is not where it should be, or that our desired outcome is not necessarily feasible at our current level of fitness. Instead of driving that frustration into the ground—in essence, burying it and ignoring it—we should change our perspective, reflect on the situation, and consider why that emotion may be present. And if you’re not in the state to reflect, move on and work on something else. Continuing to feed that frustration isn’t going to help you improve.

Emotions as Teaching Mechanisms. We often find it difficult to acknowledge our emotions during less-than-stellar performances. We believe that accepting our emotions means we’ve given up and are doomed to fail. In reality, recognition allows us to move forward and even use the experience as a learning point. If we can identify the causes for our emotions, we can develop solutions to address them, build upon them, and thrive. Experience is a great teacher, and these perceived failures are opportunities we can use to grow as athletes.

Emotions as Motivation. In addition to learning from our emotions, we can also use them as an unconventional form of motivation. When we approach a new experience, such as a new trail, a new PR attempt, or a competition, several emotions may arise—namely fear and anxiety—and may cause us to question our abilities. While the temptation is to suppress these emotions, this action allows them to linger and gnaw at our thoughts, encouraging error or ruining the experience altogether. Instead, we should accept the emotions, challenge them, and include them in our sport. We can turn fear of a competition into a heightened sense of focus, and the challenge can be reimagined as an opportunity for success. In essence, we can take a negative and turn it into a positive. Work on developing your own strategy for tackling fears, and you’ll be better prepared to overcome them when they arise.

The adage of turning life’s lemons into lemonade applies heavily in the case of emotions. How a situation unfolds is less important than how we react to it. There will be negatives and positives that occur during our training sessions, but we can leverage even the worst experiences to reflect, assess, and grow.

3. Focus on the present. As athletes, we are often caught moving between where we were before or what we hope to become. We linger on the achievements of yesterday and hope for the successes of tomorrow, but existing in any state save the present will lead to disappointment.

When we exist in the past, we compare our current situation to a previous one (e.g., “I made that lift last time. There’s no reason I should be failing today.”). While this thought process may not appear damaging, it allows doubt to consume us. We begin to doubt our capabilities as athletes, and we may even lose motivation to continue. Living in the past may be especially damaging to athletes suffering or returning from injury: the urge is strong to reach previous levels of performance, but returning to those levels takes time.

Similarly, when we exist in the future, we create expectations for ourselves and rely on the happiness that should be realized in achieving that outcome; however, we fail to experience the motions and processes that lead to that outcome—i.e., the work. Furthermore, we arrive at the previous expectation, only to realize that expectation—that marker of success—has moved forward. We are left unsatisfied, burned out, and with little room for celebration. Granted, we’ve grown, but we’ve been so focused on what we wanted to be instead of enjoying what is.

The present has the potential to be amazing, but with the constant shifts of focus and comparisons, what we see isn’t always glamorous. When we recognize that our current state of mind is the present, we start seeing action and growth occur—where our work has lead and will lead to more achievements. By focusing our energies on the present, we become aware of our developments, appreciate our achievements, and are ultimately happier in the process.

During your next gym session, consider applying these principles. Remove the distractions—both the technological and the mental—and focus on the present. And when emotions attempt to consume you, buckle down and make some lemonade.

About Nathan, the Author:

Nathan received his first Masters in Behavioral Psychology and his second Masters in Clinical Counseling from Bellevue University in Omaha, Nebraska. He currently is a Licensed Professional Counselor-I and a Certified Life Coach through the International Coach Federation. His education did not stop here as he frequently attends training and hold several certifications in therapeutic interventions, Crossfit, and holds several athletic accomplishments from a young age to the present. Nathan has developed a personalized therapeutic concept to use with his clients that has shown immense success. Athletes he has worked with went from struggling to perform, to making the podium and obtaining control in their life. His clientele ranges from elite athletes looking for a competitive advantage to High-Schoolers learning to balance life and sport.

Those he has worked with include Professional Mountain Bikers Kyle Warner, Lauren Gregg and others, Olympic Lifter Rebecca Gerdon, and others, several high school programs, and a diverse amount of Crossfitters.

Check out one of our Eleven E-Books:

• “Squat Every Day” (High Frequency Squat Programming)
• “Eat What You Want” (Nutrition, Macros, and a built-in Macro Calculator
• “Squat Every Day 2” (Part 2 of High Frequency Squat Programming)
• “No Weaknesses” (Defeat Muscular Imbalances crush the Recovery Game)
• “Mash Program Sampler” (Athletic Performance, Oly, Powerlifting, and Functional Programming)
• “Mash Program Sampler 2 (8 More 12-week Programs)
• “The Mash Blueprint for Program Design” (Learn all about Programming)
• “Performance Zone” (Defeat all Mental Roadblocks)
• “Train Stupid”(Programming and Philosophy of Nathan Damron)
• “MashJacked” (Hypertrophy for Performance and Aesthetics)
• “Conjugate: Westside Inspired Weightlifting”

Check them out here: ⇒ Mash Elite E-Books

Supercompensation: An Athletes Perspective by Jacky Bigger, MS

Check out one of the Online Teams:

• Mash Mafia Bronze
• Mash Mafia Silver
• Mash Mafia Gold
• Eat What You Want
• Eat and Lift What You Want

Check them out here: ⇒ Mash Mafia Online Teams

Supercompensation: An Athletes Perspective

by Jacky Bigger, MS

Jacky is one of the top Mash Mafia Weightlifters, and she is also a coach for Mash Mafia Online Team and the Eat What You Want Program. This article will help explain the process of training, so all of you can sleep a little better at night. Enjoy!

“The body is always seeking to maintain a state of homeostasis so it will constantly adapt to the stress from its environment. Training is simply the manipulation of the application of stress and the body’s subsequent adaptation to that stress to maintain homeostasis. The adaptation that occurs is fairly predictable. In training the desired adaptive response is called supercompensation.”

If you’re a strength athlete, like I am, or have ever been on any periodized training program, odds are you’ve experienced the frustrations and glories of supercompensation. Supercompensation is a process that is extremely important for all coaches, and their athletes to understand. Many athletes don’t know or understand this concept and are blindly following a program, unaware of the natural cycles that occur in their training, leaving them frustrated, and discouraged.

According to “Athletic Development” by Vernon Gambetta, supercompensation is a four-step process. The 1st step is the training load and your body’s response to that training load, which should be fatigue. Step 2 is the recovery process, which would be the deload week. Step 3 is supercompensation, and step 4 is the loss of that supercompensation or detraining. Now, I’m not going to go into any more detail or science of supercompensation, instead I’m going to walk you through what you could be expecting as an athlete experiencing supercompensation when following a program like we do here at Mash Elite. I’m hoping that by knowing what to expect, you’ll be able to simply trust the programming, and avoid much of the frustration and discouragement that comes along with Step 1 of supercompensation.

Here we go.

You’re starting a brand-new training cycle, motivation is high, your body is feeling awesome and you’re itching to get back into the gym because coach made you take a mandatory week off last week. You have 16 weeks to train for your next competition and cannot wait to get started. If your training is anything similar to what we do here at Mash Elite, you’d start off with a 4-week block designed to get you back in-shape, to give your joints a rest from all the heavy lifting, and to pack on a bit of muscle mass in the process. These first four weeks are known as the accumulation phase, because they are designed to get your body accustomed to training at higher volumes again. During this phase of training, odds are you’ll still be feeling pretty good. Your legs are fresh, the barbell is still moving quickly, and your work capacity is going back up. You’re psyched with how well things are going so early on in the cycle and are already planning all the massive PRs and numbers that you’re going to hit at your next competition.

Then comes the hypertrophy phase, weeks 5 to 8. This is where the supercompensation process really begins. Step one, the training stimulus, and your body’s response. The volume of this phase is very high. Maybe it’s 10’s in the squat, triples in the snatch and clean and jerk, crazy long complexes that are almost impossible to remember, and nothing below 5 reps in anything else. Which for us weightlifters and powerlifters feels like cardio. As the week goes on you start feeling a bit tired, Max Out Friday didn’t go quite as well this week as the week before and the barbell isn’t moving so quickly anymore. You’re always hungry, SO hungry. All the chicken, rice and broccoli in the world won’t satisfy the empty pit that is your stomach. Your body is expending way more energy than usual and it’s trying to recover and grow. So, you turn to good ole Ben and Jerry, maybe some Oreos and an entire jar of peanut butter to top it all off. (Now, if you’re still trying to fill out your weight class, this is a good thing, so eat your face off, allow your body to grow, pack on that muscle mass. However, if you’ve already got your weight class topped off, it’s a whole other story. Stick to your macros, and do your best to keep things under control and try to stay with-in 2-3 kilos. Now is not the time however, to be trying to cut weight.)

By the time week 7 hits, you’re tired, oh so tired. You’re sore, your body hurts, 85% is almost impossible some days and you’ve questioned your life choices and contemplated quitting the sport multiple times these past couple of weeks. Some days you absolutely hate the sport, and it takes every ounce of energy that you don’t have to force yourself to go to the gym each day. The barbell is HEAVY and no matter what reassurance your coach continues to give you, you feel like you’ve lost all your strength, aren’t making any progress and are going to be weak forever. (This sounds dramatic, but we’ve all been there. Am I right?) But you know it’s coming, you’re almost there. Week 8, the deload week.

You’re so beyond thankful for the deload week, because by the time it gets here everything hurts and you can barely move. You’re ready to take it easy and ready for your body to feel good again. The workouts are short, and you feel like you’re barley doing anything for your training, so you spend extra time on stretching and recovery. Yet, your body continues to hurt, and maybe even feels WORSE some days than it did before the deload started. You’re expecting to feel better and better as the week goes on, but in fact, the exact opposite thing is happening, you begin to feel worse and worse. You’re fatigued, discouraged and forever weak. That’s what you think anyways. Until week 9, this is where the magic happens. Step 3, the supercompensation begins.

You ate the world and slept all weekend, knowing that you’re programmed to go heavy on Monday. You’re praying to God that your body feels better and that the deload worked. You wake up feeling pretty good. You’re fresh and ready to go, but you don’t want to get your hopes up quite yet. You get to the gym and are feeling awesome! Your legs are strong, the bar is moving fast and things are feeling great. Your timing is a bit off, but the barbell is feeling LIGHT! Week’s 9-12 are filled with big lifts, you’re recovering better and are putting heavy weight on the bar almost every single day. Odds are you’ll be hitting some PR’s during this time as well. You’re loving training again and can’t wait to get to the gym every day. You’re stronger than ever before and believe that your weightlifting future is bright.

Weeks 12 to 16 are all about getting ready for competition. You choose your openers, and dial in on your warm-up attempts. Your technique is sharper and sharper. Your coordination is back 100%, and you may even hit another PR or two. You’re ready to compete, itching to get out on the platform. However, the volume is so low, the workouts are short and you can’t wait to get back to “training hard again”. You crush it at your competition, and promise your coach that you’ll never question the programming again, even though deep down you know that’s a big fat lie. Because after your mandatory week off post competition, the supercompensation process begins all over again.

Check out one of our Eleven E-Books:

• “Squat Every Day” (High Frequency Squat Programming)
• “Eat What You Want” (Nutrition, Macros, and a built-in Macro Calculator
• “Squat Every Day 2” (Part 2 of High Frequency Squat Programming)
• “No Weaknesses” (Defeat Muscular Imbalances crush the Recovery Game)
• “Mash Program Sampler” (Athletic Performance, Oly, Powerlifting, and Functional Programming)
• “Mash Program Sampler 2 (8 More 12-week Programs)
• “The Mash Blueprint for Program Design” (Learn all about Programming)
• “Performance Zone” (Defeat all Mental Roadblocks)
• “Train Stupid”(Programming and Philosophy of Nathan Damron)
• “MashJacked” (Hypertrophy for Performance and Aesthetics)
• “Conjugate: Westside Inspired Weightlifting”

Check them out here: ⇒ Mash Elite E-Books

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