Category Archives for "Powerlifting"

Should we be icing our injuries? by Coach Matthew Shiver

“Mash Program Sampler 2” prices increase after this weekend! 2- Weightlifting Programs (1 directly from the MDUSA Days), 1- Powerlifting Program, 1- Super Total, 1 Athletic Performance (Tommy Bohanon’s Program), 1 Athletic Speed, and 2 Cross Training workouts! All profits go to help support our non-profit Team, so thanks in advance!

Should we be icing our injuries?

Icing is a modality that has been used for both minor and major injuries. When someone hurts a joint in an athletic event, the first thing someone normally says is “put some ice on it”. So, my question is why? You’ll be surprised to hear is that there is a lack of evidence in the effectiveness of icing. Physiologically, we can even make sound reasoning that icing can actually hinder the tissue rebuilding process.

In 1978 the term “RICE” was coined by Gabe Mirkin, MD. Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. It is common to see athletic training rooms and physical therapy clinics across the country give this recommendation to injured athletes. It makes sense right? To decrease swelling, we need to rest in order to allow the tissue to heal. We need to ice it because that decreases the blood flow to the area, so that must could stop the swelling production along with decreasing the metabolic process of the damaged tissue to hinder it from further damage. We need to use compression because it has been shown to work for treating edema patients for many years. It creates a pressure gradient to allow swelling to flow from a concentration of high pressure to an area of low pressure. And lastly, we need to elevate the injured area. The excess swelling may be decreased when we use gravity to pull it back down to the center of the body.

What most people do not know is that Gabe Mirkin, MD denounced “RICE” as the best acute injury treatment in 2014. While compression and elevation are still very valuable, the use of rest and ice need a little bit more discussion.

As research improved, we learned more about the process of healing. What we know is that inflammation is the first part of the healing process. If we don’t have the inflammation process, the joint misses vital metabolites needed for the healing process. The body is extremely smart. It should know how much inflammation an injured area needs to heal. When we ice an acute injury, we slow down or pause the process of inflammation. Once the ice is removed, the tissue heats back up and the inflammation process begins. We have all experienced this. We sprain our ankle playing hoops, we ice it, but by the time we get home our ankle is the size of a softball. Does icing really reduce the amount of swelling accumulation? The lack of research answers with: “We don’t know”. Many rehabilitation professionals now believe that the process of icing is just slowing down the healing process. If we can get the inflammatory response to start the healing process, we may be able to recover sooner.

Now what about swelling that has gone on for a few days or even weeks? Before making any more statements I want to ensure the importance of seeing a primary care provider if you do have or obtain an injury that lasts longer than several days or continues to get worse, or if its something of immediate concern. If you have a severe injury, it is better to get it looked at/cleared sooner than later. After making sure that the injured tissue is healing, we need to follow some simple protocols to improve the healing ability of the tissue and reduce the amount of swelling.

We know that icing CANNOT reduce the amount of swelling that is already in the joint. There is no mechanism that makes logical sense for how it could reduce swelling. Excess swelling is carried away by lymph channels, not through blood circulation. When we ice the injured tissue, it closes off the lymph channels, making it impossible for the excess swelling to go anywhere. Some rehabilitation professionals even claim that the channels can back flow causes the excess swelling to get even worse. Instead of icing, movement is the most efficient way to clear excess swelling. Movement opens up the lymph channels for the uptake of excessive swelling. Instead of icing injuries, move through a pain-free range of motion as often as you can. If you’re wearing a cast or brace, limiting your motion at that area, move the muscles around that area. Any movement is better than no movement. This is why the muscle stimulator units (Marco PRO, Compex) are so popular. They are shown to improve the recovery of damaged tissue.

With that, there are certain situations where icing is beneficial. Icing is great at reducing the amount of pain in a given area. With the pandemic of pain killers in America, ice is a safe alternative. If you are in serious pain, put some ice of the area. It will reduce the speed at which nerve impulses travel relaying information about the pain. Another time ice is beneficial is if you lose a body part. This is in fact where icing was first introduced. If you lose a finger you want to ice the finger and your hand to preserve the tissue in hopes to keep it from decomposing.

As you can see, there are few areas in where icing is PROVEN to help recovery of a specific injury. If you have a minor ache or injury, you can do other things to help yourself heal. Now that we know “RICE” might not be the best modality for rehabilitating injuries, let’s go over what we can do instead.

Move through a pain free range of motion often. Elevate an injury above the heart as high as tolerable. Compress the tissue around the joint or injury site from distal to proximal. Smash or massage the surrounding tissue to work out the connective tissue and open the lymph channels.

I hope this helps! This is a very controversial topic in strength and conditioning and rehabilitation. Icing feels good! It may directly work as a placebo or even as a calming mechanism, but physiologically it doesn’t seem to add up. Until more research is done, blindly recommending icing for an injury may cause more harm than good.

If you are interested in learning more about Dr. Mirkin’s new position on icing check out his website:

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Strong, Jacked, and Conditioned at the Same Time

“Mash Program Sampler 2” has dropped! 2- Weightlifting Programs (1 directly from the MDUSA Days), 1- Powerlifting Program, 1- Super Total, 1 Athletic Performance (Tommy Bohanon’s Program), 1 Athletic Speed, and 2 Cross Training workouts! All profits go to help support our non-profit Team, so thanks in advance!

Strong, Jacked, and Conditioned at the Same Time

Lately I get a lot of people that are new to Olympic weightlifting and powerlifting. Over the last decade the barbell has become more popular than ever thanks to CrossFit and the Internet. People of all ages, genders, and backgrounds want to learn more about barbell movements. The benefits of the barbell are undeniable: increased muscle mass, overall strength, better movement, increased athleticism, stronger bones, and stronger connective tissue to name just a few.

Another benefit of training with a barbell is the quantifiable improvements that one makes. When you can add more weight to the bar, you are stronger. However there are even more quantifiable improvements that one can make like better movement patterns and better range of motion. There are improvements that all of us can work on every time that we are in the gym, and this is what appeals to so many people.

I am so thankful for the increased popularity of the barbell. The other day someone asked to take a picture with me, and then apologized for interrupting me. They said, “I bet you get this all the time.”

I laughed and explained that yes I get asked for a picture more than I use to, but I will never get tired of people wanting to ask questions or take pictures. When people ask questions or want a picture that means they care about the barbell. I have spent my whole life’s work learning as much as possible about the movements of the barbell. It was only during the last five years that the popularity of the barbell started to skyrocket. Until then, I felt like I was all alone at times. No one really understood anything about the barbell until around 2012, and no one really cared to know. There was a time that I thought my whole life had been wasted on something that no one really cared about, and now all of you want to know about strength and fitness. So no, I will never get tired of talking to any of you about the barbell, and no, I will never get tired of taking pictures. I thank God for all of you that want to learn more.

Lately I am getting a lot of people that want to get better at powerlifting or weightlifting, but they want to be jacked and in shape as well. A lot of people are apprehensive about the strength sports because they don’t want to get fat and out of shape. Guess what? Neither do I!

I am not quite sure how the stereotype of fat powerlifters and weightlifter got started. I am assuming that most people have watched the heavyweight classes during the Olympics or maybe Strongman on television. Those men and women are the exception and not the rule. Most great weightlifters and powerlifters are jacked and tan. Well they are jacked maybe not so tan.

Guys like Ed Coan and Dan Green are ripped. Weightlifters like Lu Xiaojun look like comic book heroes. I’ve got news for all of you: fat doesn’t lift any weight. Fat is pretty much useless when it comes to strength. Muscle does all of the contracting and lengthening while lifting weights. The goal of any strength athlete is to pack on as much muscle as possible in their weight class. If you ever go to a world championships or pro-powerlifting event, you will see a bunch of very muscular men and women.

Smart weightlifters and powerlifters are also in shape. Work capacity is a big part of getting stronger. The athlete that can perform the most volume without getting over trained will always win. That’s the name of the game! Now I realize that every person has his or her own genetic make up. Some of us do better with low volume, some with high volume, and some with an in-between amount. No matter what amount of volume that fits you the best, your goal is to always up that amount. You have to stress the body to force adaptation. If you perform the same amount of volume year in and year out, you will yield the same amount of results.

Therefore, it is important to increase work capacity. There are also several studies proving that basic cardiovascular work aids in recovery, so there is a place for rowing and biking in the strength world. The big question is, “How does all of this fit?”

1. Let’s talk about being jacked! Hypertrophy should always be a part of your training. At times hypertrophy should dominate your training. No matter it should always be a part. When you are the furthest away from a meet or peaking cycle, the main goal should be adding muscle. Here are a couple of article that I have written in the past to give you some guidelines:

“Multiple Ways to Emphasize Hypertrophy”

“Hypertrophy Cycles for Athletic Performance”

However even when you are in the middle of a strength cycle, hypertrophy is still a major concern. You will always want to target weaknesses with hypertrophy. The key is identifying those weaknesses. You will also want to target muscular imbalances with hypertrophy. Asymmetries are the biggest cause of injury. You will also find that a balanced body will always be the strongest body just look at Rich Froning.

Here are a few keys:

• If you are performing exercises that are majorly eccentric in nature or active stretching with a load like RDLs, Goodmornings, or Dumbbell Flies, you will need a couple of days to recover before targeting those muscle groups. I suggest putting these exercises in when you have a day off or an active rest day is following.
• Exercises that focus on metabolic stress (fancy word for a pump) with very little muscle damage can be used more often like pec deck, leg extensions, or lateral raises. If the majority of stress comes at the peak of concentric contraction, then it is an exercise with little muscle damage. If the majority of stress comes at the peak of eccentric (negative) contraction, the exercise causes a lot of muscular damage (ex. RDL).
• The close you get to a meet or peaking cycle, I suggest limiting the exercises that create muscular damage, but keep the metabolic stress movements coming.

2. How does one stay in shape and not fat? Here are a couple of ways:

• Low eccentric and low joint loaded movements are perfect for conditioning like sled pushes, sled pulls, and carries.
• Cardio performed at 75% of maximum heart rate is perfect for strength athletes. All you have to do is read Alex Viada’s book “The Hybrid Athlete” to understand not only is this something that strength athletes can do, but it is something that they should do. By the way he runs 100 mile races and squats over 700 pounds.

Here’s an article that I wrote about conditioning for strength athletes:

“Hybrid Workouts: Strong and Conditioned”

The moral of the story is that you can be strong, jacked, and conditioned. The key is programming it all properly. If programmed correctly, all three should improve the other. Louie Simmons has been talking about this since the ‘90s, so this isn’t anything new. I am just reassuring all of you that yes, you can have it all.

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Squat Every Day or Maybe Not: a Look at Squat/Exercise Frequency

The Mash “Program Sampler 2” comes out Friday with 8 all new programs (2 weightlifting, 1 powerlifting, 1 SuperTotal, 1 Athletic Performance, 1 Athletic Speed, and 2 Functional CrossTraining workouts). Today you can check out one of our nine existing 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)
• “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)

Check them out here: ⇒ Mash Elite E-Books

Squat Every Day or Maybe Not: a Look at Squat/Exercise Frequency

Obviously I am a proponent of the “squat every day” training ideology. I mean I did write the E-Book “Squat Every Day”. I definitely believe that the body will become more efficient the more often a movement is practiced. Coach Glenn Pendlay was a part of a study where the exact same volume was split up on a daily basis versus three days per week. The group that performed the volume on a daily basis got stronger and experienced a greater amount of hypertrophy.

I can simply go by my own experience and the experiences of the athletes that I work with worldwide. When I performed the Mash Squat Every Day Program, I set personal records at 42-years-old that I hadn’t experienced since my 20’s. I was able to hit the following markers at 42:

• Snatch 135kg/297lb
• Clean & Jerk 170kg/374lb
• Jerk 182kg/400lb
• High Bar Back Squat 295kg/650lb
• Bench Press 405lb
• Deadlift 317.5kg/700lb

High frequency works! I don’t think that anyone who has tried it would disagree, but there is another side of this conundrum. I have witnesses quite a bit of injuries from people that have solely stuck with this training ideology. Now what I am about to talk about is simply observations, so you can take it or leave it. I have witnessed athletes in their early 20’s to early 30’s suffer numerous injuries. I would chalk it up to genetics if it weren’t for the great number of top athletes getting injured while training with the high frequency methodology.

I can say first hand that after six months my joints were starting to feel the wear and tear. Now I will be the first to admit that I didn’t adhere to my own recommendations of high volume bodyweight lunges to strengthen the ligaments and tendons. Here’s the thing. I was able to train at a high International level without injury until I was 34-years-old. That’s a pretty darn good streak not to mention that I started when I was 11-years-old. That’s a lot of miles without a major injury.

As we I got older injuries started to become a little more of a threat, but not in my 20’s and early 30’s. Guys like Ed Coan, Steve Goggins, and Kirk Karwoski were all able to train into their upper 30’s and into their 40’s without major injuries. All three of these men were able to sustain a long and successful career without major injuries. None of them used high frequency, so obviously you don’t have to use high frequency to get strong.

So does this mean that I am saying to abandon the Squat Every Day Methodology? No way! Here’s what I recommend for all of you reading this. I recommend that you take at least one or two 8-week blocks out of each year to focus on hypertrophy. I recommend that you take the time to cut down the frequency of all multi-joint exercises. During this time, I recommend that you focus on the following:

• Muscular balance
• High reps 6-15 at a moderate weight
• Focus on eccentric contractions to minimize load, to promote hypertrophy, and to increase stabilization.
• Focus on some movements that are neglected during competition or peak training cycles like unilateral movements and basic bodybuilding exercises.
• Focus on Recovery and Rest

If you are an Olympic weightlifter:

• Snatch no more than twice per week
• Clean & Jerk no more than twice per week
• Consider different variations of the competition lifts like hangs and blocks
• Squat no more than 3 times per week
• Pull no more than 2 times per week

If you are a Powerlifter:

• Squat no more than 3 times per week
• Bench Press no more than 2-3 times per week
• Deadlift no more than 1-2 times per week
• Consider different variations of the competition lifts like high bar squats, front squats, incline bench press, and snatch grip deadlifts.

I think that all of you “Squat Every Day” people could continue the process of 8 weeks of hypertrophy followed by 8 weeks of high frequency for a lot longer than simply squatting every day year round. Let me be clear, when I am talking about hypertrophy, I am talking about blocks of training with repetitions between 8-15 with moderate weight. I realize that hypertrophy happens at all repetition schemes. I am mainly talking about blocks that focus on the “metabolic stress” mechanism of hypertrophy. Basically it would be good for some athletes to take a few blocks to feel the burn and get a pump.

Guys like Cory Gregory still squat every day, but hypertrophy is still the major component of their training. He might squat every day and he might bench very often, but he is lunging almost every day and hitting all the body parts for that awesome pump session as well. Cory is also good at using the conjugate method, so he is really changing up movement patterns, types of bars, and strength curves with using bands and chains. If you are going to stick with a squat every day type of training, I suggest either full 8-weeks of hypertrophy here and there throughout the year, or follow Cory’s type of squat every day.

The people that I am seeing that are getting hurt are using the high frequency methodology, and they are also using high amounts of specificity. Basically they are using competition bench press, squat, and deadlift at a very high frequency. They are using pauses, slight variations in grips and stances, and that’s basically it. It would appear that specificity on top of high frequency simply leads people down the over use road leading to injury. Once again this is simply an observation. There isn’t a lot of research to go by on this topic.

In summary, you might want to adhere to the following guidelines to continue high frequency training:

• Take at least 1-2 blocks per year for 8-weeks of hypertrophy training with 3 being optimal.
• Save the more specificity training for the last 6-weeks before a competition.
• Only compete at the most 2 times per year when you are at an International level. This will help avoid the amount of time needed for specificity.
• Spend the majority of your high frequency training using the conjugate method to avoid overuse. I recommend using bands, chains, and multiple bars.
• High repetition training should never be avoided even when performing high frequency and/or specificity. I recommend keeping in those lunge sessions, and DB High repetition benches and flies to keep the ligaments and tendons strong.

By all means continue squatting every day, but let’s be a little smarter about it. You can go into any chiropractic office in America and see that most injuries are due to overuse. With some smart training blocks, you can continue getting stronger at a rapid rate while avoiding unnecessary injuries.

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Some Athletes need more Hypertrophy than Others

“MashJacked: Hypertrophy for Strength, Performance, and Aesthetics” and “Train Stupid: the Training and Philosophy of Nathan Damron” are live! Introductory prices increase on Monday:

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Some Athletes need more Hypertrophy than Others

I have noticed over the last several years that athletes in general are not alike at all. No two athletes are the same. There are so many variables to consider:

• Frequency
• Total volume
• Muscular balance
• Amount of focus on competitive lifts
• Amount of Hypertrophy

With USA Weightlifting Nationals coming up this month, I am making notes on all of my athletes. That’s the way to produce the best program for an individual. You write a program, and note the results. If the results are favorable, you are on the right track. If not, you probably want to try something totally different.

Today I am specifically talking about the amount of Hypertrophy training that an athlete should partake in. I have found that this aspect of programming is totally individual. Some athletes thrive during the hypertrophy phases and high volume phases. Other athletes just need a few weeks of hypertrophy, and then they are better off to focus on high intensity, high frequency, and low volume.

Here are the characteristics of my blocks of training:

Accumulation- moderate volume, low intensity, rep average 8-12 per set, mostly non-competitive movements

Hypertrophy- high volume, moderate intensity, rep average 6-10 per set, mostly different versions on complexes of competitive movements

Strength- high volume, high intensity, rep average on strength movements 5 per set, mostly competitive movements.

Absolute Strength- low volume, high intensity, rep average on strength movements 3 per set, and a focus on competitive movements.

I noticed during this cycle that a few of our girls excelled during the hypertrophy phase. Immediately after their hypertrophy cycle, most of the girls on our team crushed PRs for the next four weeks during their strength cycle. The strength cycle is designed to cause a lot of stress on the body forcing adaptation and compensation during the absolute strength block.

For most of the men and some of the women, this worked like a charm. There was a group that set all of their personal records during the strength phase. They basically held strong during the absolute phase. This worked out fine because at the end of the day the necessary gains were made. December Garcia set massive personal records in just about every movement that we test during the strength phase. She has maintained that level during the absolute strength phase.

So what am I going to do with this information? With December, Sarah, and a few of the other girls, I will design the program around hypertrophy and strength phases with a short absolute strength phase. Guys and gals this is the fun part of coaching. We are all in search of the perfect program that yields the maximum results. I maintain written notes on all of my athletes. The next week is when I will take the most notes.

Here are some points that coaches should be looking for during competition weeks:

• How did the athlete respond to training?
• During which block did they excel the most?
• How did they respond to the taper?
• W
• How did they handle cutting weight?
• How were they in the warm up room: nervous, overly excited, calm, or focused?
• How did that carry over to the platform?
• Where they prepared with meals after weigh-ins?
• Did they have Intra-Contest food?
• Did they have energy during the entire contest?

These are just a few of the variables that you should make note on during competition times. The goal is to better prepare for meets each and every time. I am so excited for this competition. Our team as a whole is the most prepared of any other time. Our Men and Women’s Team are both prepared to excel at this competition. We have 9-10 athletes that will be battling for International Teams. We have about 14 athletes that could potentially medal.

With that being said, a lot can go wrong, and that’s what makes weightlifting so exciting. You never know what can happen. All you can do is lay down your cards, and see how it all unfolds. I know that we are bringing a good hand this time, so we will just see what everyone else is bringing. You guys are going to want to watch the live stream this time for sure. As USA Weightlifting grows, so do the rivalries and the competitiveness. This makes the sport more exciting than ever.
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Programming for a Masters Athlete

“MashJacked: Hypertrophy for Strength, Performance, and Aesthetics” and “Train Stupid: the Training and Philosophy of Nathan Damron” are live! Check them out at their low introductory prices now:

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Programming for a Masters Athlete

I believe that it’s really hard to program for a Masters Athlete if you aren’t one. You might have an idea of some solid protocols, and there might be some solid research. However, you will have no idea what’s going on in their brain until you are one. You will also have no idea how their body feels and recovers until you are one.

I am no saying that it is impossible for you to program for them. I am just saying that it will be a huge challenge. That’s why I am writing this article. I want to help all of my fellow master athletes, and I want to help the coaches that are programming for them.

When I am talking about a Masters Athlete, I am talking about an athlete 35 and up in age. Obviously as we age, protocols will change. Hormone levels will decrease over time making it harder to add muscle and harder to recover, so we are going to discuss things in stages.

Testosterone Peaks in Males at around 18-years-old at a range between 300-1200 nanograms per deciliter, and then they level off for adults at between 270-1070. After 30-years-old, these levels will normally decrease about 1% per year. These numbers are exactly what make it hard to program for older athletes.

Let’s start with the range. 270-1070 is a huge range. That means that some men go into their thirties with four times the testosterone as other men. That means that some men will naturally put on more muscle than others and recover more easily. If you have 1070 nanograms per deciliter going into your thirties, you are going to handle aging quite a bit better.

Women on the other hand also peak at around 18-years-old, but they peak at 20-75 ng/dl. Then they level off around 15-70 ng/dl, and they don’t have significant drop offs with age. This makes programming for a female a little easier, and I will explain more on that later.

Before we get started, here are some points to consider:

• Gender
• The Individual
• Age
• Training Age
• Children
• Demands of Work
• Marriage life
• Sleep
• Past experiences

Let’s look at each:

Gender– from the numbers above women can get stronger for a lot longer than most men. Their testosterone levels never get as high as men, but their levels never start to decrease after 30-years-old like men. All you have to do is look at the USAPL Women ‘s Champions like Jennifer Thompson, Priscilla Ribic, or Suzie Hartwig-Gary. These women are all considered Master Athletes, but they are all continuing to crush big weights.

Men on the other hand are going to start to drop off, and every year will be a little harder. Obviously some will roll into their thirties with more natural testosterone than others, so the effects won’t be notices as quickly. For example I wasn’t affected by aging that much until my forties, and then things got a little harder. Now every year it gets a little harder to recover, so I simply need to adjust things a bit.

As a coach you will either need to get a blood test, or get inside the head of your athletes. You will want to ask them how things have changed. You will want to know if recovery is getting tougher. This will be an ongoing process for the duration of their training life. Every year, most male athletes will notice changes, and it is up to the coach to adjust the programming for these changes.

The Individual– Some people have cookie cutter programs for master athletes. That’s insane. People don’t all of a sudden become exactly alike after the age of forty. We are all still very different. When I was doing Squat Every Day in 2015 at the age of 42-years-old, that didn’t mean that was the protocol for forty-year-old men. I was able to hit near lifetime maxes in the snatch, clean + jerk, squat, bench, and deadlift, but a lot of men my age would have been destroyed by that volume and especially by the loads that I was using.

Once again I suggest talking to your clients before programming. Don’t just send them a questionnaire, and then start going to work on a excel sheet. You will need to get inside the brain of your athlete. Some of the following criteria are things that you are going to want to know.

Age– There is a big difference between 35 and 50. Remember that a males testosterone level will drop about 1% each year, so at 35 they are probably still going strong. However at 45 they will probably start to notice some changes. Women will be pretty steady throughout the process.

Training Age– I have been training for over thirty years. You can’t compare me to someone that has only trained for five. I am going to have the capacity to handle higher volumes and loads. However, I am at a higher risk of injury because of the wear and tear on my body.

Children– man this is a huge one. I have three children. They are my priority not my training. If I were a 44-year-old without children, it would be a lot easier to focus on recovery, nutrition, and training. You will want to find out how many children that your athlete has, and what ages he or she has. Obviously when they hit middle school age life is going to get busy with ballgames, practices, and school functions.

Demands of Work– A doctor working 60-hours per week is going to have a harder time recovering than an accountant working 40-hours per week. Some people work in environments that are stressful and demanding. Personally I get to work from home a lot banging out articles and books for all of you. My life isn’t very stressful at all, so I have that one thing going for me.

Marriage Life– This is a big one. Are you happily married or not? If not, you are going to struggle in the recovery department. Nothing on earth is more stressful than a failing marriage. I suggest getting that in order first. I have an amazing marriage, and I can attest that nothing is better for all the things in my life than that.

Sleep– If a person doesn’t have time for at least seven hours of sleep per night, I suggest taking their volume way down. You can train as hard as you want, but if you aren’t recovering, you will go backwards. This is the first question that I ask when people of any age are struggling in the gym.

Past Experiences- This is one of the most important. You need to communicate with a masters athlete. You will want to know what has worked in the past, and especially what hasn’t. You don’t want to repeat something that has crushed them in the past. With all of your athletes, you will want to know this information.

I am excited to see the growth in Masters competing more often and at higher levels. A lot of these men and women are more competitive than the younger athletes that I coach. That’s all that I require. If someone wants it badly enough, I will work with them. As coaches, our job is to get them to their goals without hurting them and without affecting the other areas of their life. That’s the hard part, but now you know some of the questions to ask.

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Strength Athletes need Bodybuilding and Bodybuilders need Strength Work

“MashJacked: Hypertrophy for Strength, Performance, and Aesthetics” and “Train Stupid: the Training and Philosophy of Nathan Damron” are live! Check them out at their low introductory prices now:

==> “MashJacked”

==> “Train Stupid”

Strength Athletes need Bodybuilding and Bodybuilders need Strength Work

After researching to write my new book “Mash Jacked: Hypertrophy for Strength, Performance, and Aesthetics”, I have had hypertrophy on the brain. During the research phase, many of the instincts that I had over the years were proven true. However there was plenty of light shed on the things that I could have done better. Here is one point that all of us should adhere to: if someone is getting results from what they are doing, it’s probably pretty darn close to right.

I think that it is funny when people try to tell Mr. Olympia how to add muscle. It’s always a skinny dude that has spent way too much time hidden behind a book, and zero time under the bar figuring out real life results. It’s equally funny when someone tries to say that Ed Coan (king of all powerlifters) could have been stronger if he had trained this way or that way. He’s the greatest of all-time. I am pretty sure that his training worked.

Early in my career, I trained with my lifelong friend, Chris “Ox” Mason. At the time he was a bodybuilder, and I of course was a powerlifter. Here’s what we knew. Most of the great bodybuilders spent quality time lifting heavy, and most of the great powerlifters spent quality time getting jacked. We assumed that there must be a correlation, so we decided to train together.

His job was to get me jacked, and my job was to get him strong. We assumed if I got Ox stronger, he could lift more weight for more reps and in turn get bigger. We also assumed if he could help me add muscle size (hypertrophy), then I could take that added muscle size and make it stronger. Well after further research, it turns out that we were on to something. We could definitely have done it a little better, but our instincts led us down a successful path.

Here the simple answer for why we were correct in our thinking. There are three main mechanisms to hypertrophy:

• Mechanical loading- basically adding more and more weight to the bar
• Metabolic stress- getting a eye popping pump
• Muscle damage- muscle soreness caused from stretching an activated muscle, new training effect, and increased load and/or volume.

A lot of bodybuilders focus on Metabolic Stress and Muscle Damage, and a lot of strength athletes focus on Mechanical Loading and Muscle Damage. They both have the muscle damage in common, but then each is lacking in one of the mechanisms. The research proves that each population would benefit from adding the missing piece into their training protocols.

Strength athletes are definitely better served by spending most of their time leading up to a big meet lifting heavy and focusing most of their time on specificity. There is no doubt that practicing the competitive movement exactly like competition day will pay off big with maximum results. However there are two ways strength athletes should use bodybuilding/hypertrophy in their programs:

1. Hypertrophy phases: These are phases of training where strength athletes emphasize getting jacked. These phases should be performed as far away from a competition as possible. I prefer programming a 4-8 week hypertrophy phase. This is a good time to move away from specificity to give the joints a break. One thing that I have noticed is the guys that focus on frequency and specificity too long seem to get injure often. Ed Coan spent a great deal of time focusing on hypertrophy phases, and his career spanned many decades with many championships and world records in each decade.

2. Accessory work that’s hypertrophy focused in nature- If you watch the incredible Chinese lifters train in the training hall at an International competition, you will see them performing lateral raises, triceps extensions, and dips. Of course they prioritize the classical lifts and squats, but then they get jacked just days before a competition. If accessory work has kept you balanced and strong, you should probably keep some levels of it for the duration of your program.

Bodybuilders need absolute strength phases in their training as well. I started out my weight lifting career fascinated by the popular bodybuilders of the time. I remember watching Arnold, Franco, Dorian, and later on Ronnie Coleman. They were freaks man. They also lifted that heavy a#* weight. Right Ronnie? Franco Columbu deadlifted 765lb weighing right around 198lb. Ronnie Coleman squatted 805lb for two repetitions. These guys realized that being strong was an important component to getting big muscles.

There are two phases that I would use strength training for bodybuilders:

1. Absolute strength phases- Once again I would perform this phase as far from a bodybuilding competition as possible. I recommend 8-12 weeks of focused training on strength work. The goal is to increase 1-3 repetition maximums. When they go back to hypertrophy training, they will be able to lift more weight for more repetitions causing more muscle damage and more metabolic stress than before. In this case more is definitely better.

2. Prioritize a strength movement during hypertrophy phases- I would recommend that bodybuilder prioritize at least one movement during a training session to focus on strength. For example, on leg day I would squat first for let’s say a simple 5×5 progression. There are still hypertrophic gains from 5×5 strength work in the way of mechanical loading and muscle damage. Then spend the rest of the session getting the skin-popping pumps. Spending a little time focused on strength will keep your gains that you earned during your absolute strength phase keeping you able to bang out more reps with more weight.

If you go to a lot of gyms in America, there always seems to be this division between strength athletes and bodybuilders. It’s like there is a wall between the two worlds just because one wants to look strong and the other wants to be strong. This wall needs to tumble down like in Jericho. This wall is inhibiting gains from both sides. We can learn from each other. Heck, Ox and I proved that we could (and still can) train together for optimal results. The truth is that we can all look and be strong, and for the best results we should.

“MashJacked: Hypertrophy for Strength, Performance, and Aesthetics” and “Train Stupid: the Training and Philosophy of Nathan Damron” are live! Check them out at their low introductory prices now:

==> “MashJacked”

==> “Train Stupid”

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