Category Archives for "Powerlifting"

Finding Time to Train as a Busy Woman by Crystal McCullough

“Balance is not something you find, it’s something you create.”
– Jana Kingsford

For most of us, we have obligations outside of the gym. Some of us work out simply for our health, while others of us are training at a high level for our sport (i.e. weightlifting, powerlifting, CrossFit). There is only a very small percentage of athletes who have the ability to treat training and recovery as their full time job without distractions. Obligations can be work related, school related, or family related. We can make a million excuses about not having time to go to the gym (and many of these excuses may even be valid). The bottom line is that we make time for things that are important to us. No matter how busy we are, if we prioritize our health and fitness as important, we will find a way. Balance is key!


Whatever combination of busyness you have, goal setting, prior planning, and time management are key components of successfully staying active in the gym and training. I am a wife, mother, coach, business partner, and elite athlete. Each of my days are spent doing a combination of these things:

  1. Spending time with Wayne and Morgan – My husband and I find time throughout the busy day to go on walks or go to breakfast so we can have couples time. Morgan and I spend time together watching silly TV shows and talking on the way to and from the gym. THIS is my number one priority, but I know that I can always do a better job.
  2. Coaching – I coach our morning adult fitness classes at L.E.A.N. two to three times per week as well as coach weightlifting with Travis each afternoon. I also travel to the National meets with the team to help Travis coach.
  3. Managing a gym – I am the general manager of L.E.A.N., and I have daily obligations of answering emails, marketing, membership recruitment and retention, programming, cleaning, etc.
  4. Training – I compete in powerlifting and train five to six times per week.
  5. Programming for online athletes – I have 30 online athletes who I program for through our Silver Level program. I have weightlifters, powerlifters, and CrossFit athletes.
  6. Customer service – I am the person you email when you need anything at the email.
  7. Podcasting – We spend three to four hours every couple of weeks talking to guests on the podcast.
  8. Homeschooling Morgan – We are on a break right now (thank goodness!), but when we are in session, I grade his daily work and issue his tests to him.

This may look like a lot – and if I’m being honest, it is. However, I wouldn’t give up a single one of them! I have an amazing support system with my husband, Wayne, and my son, Morgan. Wayne has taken on two to three mornings of coaching adult fitness classes at the gym for me, and he coaches when I go out of town with our weightlifters. He will also start helping me with marketing and membership recruitment. He brings Morgan to the gym to train on the days I can’t come home mid-day. He cooks dinner, does housework, and helps Morgan with school. I couldn’t do all of this without him. Morgan keeps me accountable with my training and pushes me to always be the best version of myself. Both my husband and my son help me to stay balanced.

I say all of this, not for you to feel sorry for me or to brag, but to prove to you that with the goal setting, prior planning, and time management, it is possible to stay on track with your health and fitness despite all of your obligations.

Short on time in the gym? Here's the blueprint you need to follow.

Get Travis Mash's Guide to Building Your Own Program

If your schedule is packed but you still want to smash weight, if you want a reliable method to break through plateaus, if you want to build a strength program that works for YOU, grab the Blueprint.


Women in the roles of wife and/or mom sometimes feel even more overwhelmed than men. We feel like there are certain things we are supposed to be doing. Giving up our own time for fitness is the first thing to go. We put others’ needs before our own. We identify as someone’s wife or someone’s mom, and we can lose ourselves if we don’t learn to find balance and prioritize.

I have found through trial and error that I have to go through a set of simple steps regularly in order to be successful. There are some weeks I am more successful than others. These are a few steps that I try to work on each week:

  1. Set aside time to go to the gym and train. Make an appointment with yourself!
  2. Set training goals. This can be as simple as getting in the gym x days a week or as specific as a meet or competition to train for. I personally find that I do better when I have a meet I am training for. When you have goals, you are more likely to keep the appointment you made with yourself. Be realistic with your goals.
  3. Make a list and prioritize all the tasks you have to complete throughout your day. Check off tasks as you accomplish them. Block out specific time blocks for each task.
  4. Lose the excess baggage. If there is something or someone bringing you down and keeping you from reaching your full potential, lose it. This can be as simple as getting off social media if it interferes with your productivity.
  5. Have open communication regularly with your family and friends to let them know what you need from them as a support system to be successful.

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

Here are a few additional pointers for moms and wives especially out there having a hard time balancing everything and on the verge of losing themselves:

  1. Work toward an integrated life. Perspective is crucial in order to create harmony in your life – by having a balance of time for yourself and time for your family. If you have these two things, there won’t be guilt over all the other things. Only you will know the formula that works best for you.
  2. Don’t feel guilty for finding a better version of yourself. What I mean is don’t stay home from the gym or fail to pursue dreams because you feel guilty for taking time for yourself. As my husband says (via a Rich Froning quote), “A happy wife is a happy life.”
  3. Realize that following your dreams only encourages your children to follow theirs. You teach your children a valuable lesson of how important health and fitness is in their lives by including them.
  4. Life will knock down even the best of us at times. Learn how to get back up, brush it off, and continue forward!

Creating balance in your life isn’t going to happen overnight. There are times you will feel overwhelmed. I still have my moments of being overwhelmed. Don’t let yourself get to this point if you can help it. Regularly go back to the steps and make sure your goals are realistic, the way you manage your time is working, and you have communicated your needs with your support system.

I hope this article gave you something to think about and can provide you with some simple strategies to maybe make your life a little less hectic without giving anything up you love!

My Amazing Athletes Teach Me So Much

We recently launched our new guide, Mash Files.

When we were talking about writing this book, we started talking about our mission. That’s kind of a trendy term at this point, but it’s worth talking about. I know one thing I definitely consider a mission: to leave the coaching world a bit better than I found it.

I want all of you who take the time to read my work and listen to my podcasts to benefit from our content. In this case, if you’re a coach, I want to teach you the exact method we are using to individualize our programming. Our process has led to some outrageous recent results.

We have so many success stories in so many sports, and we want to pass that success on to all of you. I don’t care about keeping my “secret” method to myself. That doesn’t help anyone but myself, and I promise that’s a lonely world. If I can help one of you create a program that allows one of your athletes to get better, then that is real change. That’s a life worth living, and the older I get I realize that’s more important than any personal victory.

My Family

Every time we drop a Mash Files book (yes, that’s a hint there will be more), I am going to write an article like this one explaining why we chose each athlete. In doing so, we hope to add to the information in the book. So why did we choose the athletes that are in the book? That’s a fun question to answer.

My athletes are extensions of my family, so this will be like bragging about my kids… just bear with me. Here are the athletes in the book:

  • Hunter Elam (Senior World Team Member Olympic Weightlifting)
  • Jordan Cantrell (Senior World Team Member Olympic Weightlifting)
  • Crystal McCullough (Silver Medalist USAPL Powerlifting Nationals and 41-year-old mother and wife)
  • Tommy Bohanon (starting Fullback Jacksonville Jaguars)
  • Nathan Clifton (CrossFit Games 4th Place in the World Teenage Division)


Principles and Real-Life Case Studies on How a Master Programmer Customizes a Program to the Individual

Peek inside Travis's brain... and learn how to individualize your own programs to fit an athlete's strengths, weaknesses, age, gender, sport demands, and unique response to training.

Hunter Elam

Hunter made the book for obvious reasons. Last year, she wasn’t on anyone’s radar to make a Senior World Team. Last year, she hadn’t even medaled at a National Event. I started working with her at the beginning of the year, and she responded like a charm to my programming. After a few months together, she medaled at Senior Nationals taking the Bronze Medal.

At that point, she became a believer. We decided to work on every aspect of her game as a weightlifter. She took control of her nutrition by hiring Jacky Simeone, Mash Eat What You Want Nutrition Coach, and hiring Lee Howard, DPT to be in charge of her recovery. Then the world of weightlifting was nuked with the new weight classes.

The announcement left us with having to make some decisions. We had to decide:

  1. Stay at 71kg for a year and then go up or down.
  2. Immediately gain up to the 76kg class
  3. Immediately drop down to the 64kg class

We decided to approach the decision with a scientific approach. I sent her to my friend a longtime chiropractor Lawrence Gray, D.C. to have her body fat measured. We found out that we had plenty of room to move down to the 64kg class without losing any strength. This was of course a controversial call with the whole world of weightlifting wondering if we were crazy. It was funny how many coaches told me that was a smart thing to do after we made the world team. Just an FYI coaches, if you tell me that after the fact, I am going to lose a bit of respect. I prefer honesty up front if you want my respect as a coach.

Then came the controversial call at the AO Series that was heard round the world. Her snatches didn’t go as planned, so we were facing a 121-kilogram clean and jerk to lock in a position on the world team. We didn’t go to the AO Series to win the AO Series. We were there for one reason and one reason only – and that was to make a world team. We decided to open up at 121 kilograms, which was a lifetime PR. Two of my good friends, Sean Waxman and Spencer Arnold, helped me make that decision – but ultimately it was up to Hunter and me. It was an easy decision.

Once again, I was actually told about the coaches in the audience who thought I was being crazy. I was told that some even called me stupid. Of course they are the same coaches who will be at home watching the live stream of the World Championships on their couch, while Hunter and I will be hanging in Turkmenistan battling the best weightlifters in the world.

We had so many obstacles to overcome. The biggest was confidence. Hunter is very athletic with an immense amount of experience with team sports. However, weightlifting is an individual sport. It’s just you out there on that platform with the three old referees staring at you along with the crowd. Well, she made some amazing strides with confidence and performance.

I learned a lot as a coach as well. Coaching Hunter has been a welcomed challenge. This challenge led me to reading Brett Bartholomew’s book, Conscious Coaching, which explains the scientific approach to getting buy-in from your athletes. Here’s what I learned from Hunter: she’s a true “technician” as explained in Brett’s book. Technicians want to understand what they’re doing, and why it’s important to their sport. They want to know what’s going on.

Once I started explaining the process of strength training, Hunter was able to perform without a lot of stress. I had to explain that I am purposely giving her more stress than she can handle to cause the body to adapt and get stronger. I explained that at times she would go backward as the body strived to keep up. Just the other day during the peaking phase, she had a great day at practice just like I anticipated. She looked at me and said, “You want me to say that you told me so, don’t you?”

I just laughed and said, “No, but that’s what I am thinking in my head.”

We both had a laugh, and she continued to practice. The workout in the book is the very workout that she used to total 215 kilograms at 64 kilograms, which was a lifetime PR total in a weight class down. She actually lost 9 kilograms (she had a little too much fun after Nationals) in all and added 5 kilograms to her total. It would be cool for all the haters to admit they were wrong, but I am not holding my breath.

Jordan Cantrell

Jordan Cantrell was an obvious pick for the book. He was a lot like Hunter at the beginning of last year. Nobody was really picking him to make a world team. Heck, nobody was talking about him medaling at Senior Nationals. But by the end of last year, he was one of the best weightlifters in the country. We added 30 kilograms to his total in 28 weeks, which is unheard of in an athlete already at a high level.

Jordan is a lot of fun to work with, and a challenge at the same time. The biggest challenge is that he has mild form of spina bifida, which is a small separation or gap in one or more of the bones of the spine (vertebrae). It doesn’t really affect him that much, but we have to stay away from back squats. We also have to find creative ways to strengthen his back that won’t cause any flare-ups.

Our main focus is on the front squat, and it doesn’t really affect Jordan as long as we are smart about our approach. It’s a lot easier to get an athlete stronger with back squats, but we’ve progressed at a nice and steady rate with front squats only. The key is using all the different variables to stimulate the body like:

  • Varied repetition ranges (we use undulating periodization)
  • Different lengths of pauses
  • Pausing one or all of the repetitions
  • Chains or bands
  • Box
  • Tempo

As you can see, the variables are endless, so his body has never completely adapted. Therefore, we’ve noticed a nice and steady rate of growth. I’m leaving next week to meet Jordan and the rest of my athletes at the Senior World Championships in Turkmenistan. I’m excited to watch them battle it out with the best weightlifters in the world. Jordan is definitely one of the good guys who are easy to cheer for.

Tommy Bohanon

Tommy Bohanon is the athlete I chose for athletic performance. Tommy’s story is a real American tale of overcoming. He played three years with the Jets before getting cut after a coaching change. He sat out a year and returned to the NFL via the Jacksonville Jaguars. He’s been of fire since being with Jacksonville.

Tommy is the hardest working football player I have ever coached. He loves the weight room, and it shows. He’s used strength training to build an incredibly powerful physique, which is crucial for the fullback position. This year, we switched things up a bit. We peaked his absolute strength early on, and then peaked him for the football season with a velocity-based program focused on speed-strength and strength-speed. This strategy ensured that he would enter the season powerful and fast.

That’s the very program we included in the book. If you’re an athlete (football, basketball, or soccer), this is the program I would recommend for optimal performance. I talked to Cal Dietz, associate director of athletic performance for the University of Minnesota, a few days ago. He told me that they peak their athletes in this manner. It totally makes sense for the speed and power, and it makes even more sense due to the lower load giving the joints a break right when athletes need to feel the freshest.

Crystal McCullough

Crystal McCullough is the athlete we chose to highlight for powerlifting and super total. She took silver at last year’s USAPL Powerlifting Nationals, but there is something even cooler about this athlete. She is 41 years old, she’s a mother, she’s a wife, and she works full-time for Mash Elite. She represents the working adult who is still able to make waves in the world of strength.

Crystal is the mother of our incredible man-child, Morgan McCullough. Obviously, he gets his incredible strength from Crystal. She squats 360 pounds, bench presses 200 pounds, and deadlifts an incredible 400 pounds. She loves teaching the Olympic lifts, so she normally follows a super total program that is technique focused in the snatch and clean and jerk. You guys are going to be inspired by the program of this hard working lady.


Principles and Real-Life Case Studies on How a Master Programmer Customizes a Program to the Individual

Peek inside Travis's brain... and learn how to individualize your own programs to fit an athlete's strengths, weaknesses, age, gender, sport demands, and unique response to training.

Nathan Clifton

Nathan Clifton gets the comeback of the year award. Last year in the CrossFit Games teenage 16-17 category, he didn’t quite make the cut. This year, he not only made the cut, but he also ended up fourth overall in the world. Nathan has a built-in engine that simply never ends. However, he needed some work in the strength category – so he came to me for some help.

All of you functional fitness junkies are going to love this program. It’s actually two different programs. The first is the off-season program that helped him peak for Junior Nationals. The second program was his pre-season program that focused on maintaining the absolute strength we built and maximizing his ability to move light to moderate weight as fast as possible. Strength endurance is also a goal for preseason CrossFit.

Nathan has now fallen in love with weightlifting, and his goal is to make an international team. Obviously for me, it’s exciting to watch an athlete go from wanting to get a little stronger to wanting to be the strongest young man in the world. We are having a lot of fun perfecting his technique. I am looking forward to this year’s Junior Nationals.

I hope this article has given you all a lot to think about when designing your own programs. A general program will yield general results. An individual program will maximize those results. There is nothing wrong with a general program in a class-based setting. People will see results from this type of program.

However the athletes that I referenced in my new book, Mash Files, are not into typical results. They desire to be the absolute best that they can be. As you can tell from their results so far, we are on our way to achieving greatness for each of them. I hope that this article will help all of you do the same.

Coach Travis Answers Your Questions – The Barbell Life 226

I always love these podcasts!

On this one, we get to questions that you guys have asked us. We always try to make these podcasts as valuable as possible for you guys – but when we’re answering questions that we have been asked, we know that this will be worth a listen.

We focus in this podcast on lots of questions about programming. It’s something we’ve discussed a lot lately because we just dropped our newest guide, the Mash Files. This one is 300 pages full of programs and content teaching you all about how you can customize your programming. Like I always say – make the program fit the athlete instead of forcing the athlete to fit the program.


Principles and Real-Life Case Studies on How a Master Programmer Customizes a Program to the Individual

Peek inside Travis's brain... and learn how to individualize your own programs to fit an athlete's strengths, weaknesses, age, gender, sport demands, and unique response to training.



  • How do you figure out if you’re doing enough in the gym… or if you’re doing too much?
  • Preventing plateaus
  • Why the optimal frequency for squatting is so different from the deadlift
  • Using the Mash Method for meets
  • Moving on from 5/3/1
  • and more…

Six Factors to Coaching Success

If you read most blogs written by coaches (weightlifting, powerlifting, or strength and conditioning), you will read about programming, technique, or preferred exercises. However, there are so many elements to coaching outside of what you typically hear – especially if you are a coach in the private sector. It’s these factors no one talks about that really make a coach great or not. And these are what hold a lot of coaches back.


I started focusing on the sport of weightlifting at the end of 2013. By 2015 I had athletes on Team USA. This year we had four of our team members on the Youth World Team, and we have four team members heading to Turkmenistan for the Senior World Championships. Eight total Team USA athletes gives us more than any other team in America. Next year we are projecting to have four Youth, four Juniors, and four Senior World Team Members.

Before weightlifting, Mash Elite Performance had one of the most successful Athletic Performance programs in America. At one point we had three locations and were constantly sending athletes to Division I programs in sports like football, basketball, softball, baseball, wrestling, track and field, swimming, and even water polo. We have worked with NFL, NBA, MLB, and MMA professional athletes. I must also mention we’ve always had amazing powerlifters, even though they don’t get enough of the spotlight.

Although I am very proud of what we’ve accomplished at Mash Elite, none of this is meant to be bragging. I just wanted to show all of you that success is a formula. There are certain elements I apply to coaching that have helped to bless us with amazing athletes.

Contemplating our success one night at the AO3, I started wondering if I could teach these factors to other coaches. The answer was a definite yes.

But here’s the thing: for coaches to learn, they have to put their pride aside. Pride is the number one reason most coaches aren’t succeeding. They want everyone to believe they have all the answers. When another coach starts producing better athletes, they would rather make excuses and false accusations instead of learning from that coach. This is the biggest mistake in coaching, and it leads me to my first element that leads to success in coaching.


You might hear this one a lot, but do you act on it properly? I have learned from so many coaches – like Joe Kenn, Louie Simmons, Dragomir Ciorsolan, Zach Even-Esh, and Sean Waxman just to name a few. Finding a mentor is critical if you plan on being successful.

Finding a mentor isn’t as easy as just calling a coach and asking to hang out. You have to find someone who matches your personality. I recommend going to coaching conventions, symposiums, and clinics and getting to know coaches who are doing better than you. When you meet one who seems to click, someone who could actually be your friend… there’s the one.


Here’s another key: you need to give as much as you take. Actually the key is giving more than you take – especially in the beginning. Hopefully this comes naturally to you.

When I met Mike Bledsoe, one of the creators of the Barbell Shrugged Podcast, we became friends almost instantly. Immediately, I wanted to do as much for him as possible simply because he was a buddy. I started coaching him for free without wanting anything in return. I wrote for Barbell Shrugged’s website without wanting anything in return. I just liked Mike and all the dudes at Barbell Shrugged. Those guys literally changed my life as you know it by teaching me about this wild and crazy online world. Now I can affect the lives of so many more people while hanging out with my children on a daily basis. If you have to be in the gym from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm everyday, it’s hard to make time for the family.

I became friends with Vinh Huynh at the end of 2014. By 2015 Vinh’s gym (Undisputed Strength and Conditioning in Eagan, MN) became the first Mash Mafia Affiliate Gym. In 2014, I reached out for help to all the gyms in Minneapolis. I have a daughter in Minnesota, and I wanted to establish a base in Minneapolis for seminars and clinics. I wanted to see her more often, but I needed help. From the moment Vinh agreed to help, we became like brothers. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for him.

His weightlifting team exploded onto the scene almost right away. Less than two years after opening his gym in 2015, Vinh had three of his athletes on Team USA: one senior on the World Team, one youth on the Youth Pan American Team, and one collegiate on the University World Team. Instead of congratulating him and learning from him, a lot of the other coaches in Minnesota started spreading rumors that he was just getting lucky or cheating. They said his programming was too hard. They constantly tried to steal his athletes – and are still trying to this day. This is the behavior I was talking about when I referred to pride being the number one cause of mediocrity in coaches. Whether it’s Vinh or me, I don’t understand why the coaches simply don’t ask us what we are doing. I would allow any coach to come hang out, ask questions, and learn. I know Vinh would do the same.


My mentors are also my friends. People like Sean Waxman, Kevin Doherty, and Don McCauley helped me when there was nothing in it for them. Now there is nothing I wouldn’t do to help them. In weightlifting, we are all on the same team. At least we should be. We should all desire to see Team USA improve year in and year out. Lately we have done just that. We’ve watched our athletes improve at the International level. A big part of that is the relationships that are forming between coaches.

Danny Camargo just taught me that at the AO3 like no one has ever before. Meredith Alwine, one of my athletes, was trying to qualify for the World Championships. At the same time, she was trying to beat Mattie Rogers, Danny’s athlete. During the snatch portion, we were struggling a bit, and he had the opportunity to steal our two-minute clock. Instead, he looked at me and said, “Let me know if you need extra time, and I will slow things down a bit.”

I couldn’t believe it. I thanked him, and he told me that we are all on the same team. That’s class! I’ve never had a coach help me during the heat of battle. I can say I learned a valuable lesson I will definitely pass along.

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


This goes hand-in-hand with the first element. Pride and arrogance will also keep coaches from continuing to learn. A big red flag is using the exact same program template, the same exercises, and/or the same technical cues year in and year out. A great coach is always improving and always evolving. Not one of my athletes has ever performed the same program twice.

There are lots of ways to continue the learning process. One convenient way I just discovered is audio books. I am listening to Conscious Coaching by Brett Bartholomew, and it has already helped me connect with my athletes in a better way. I’ll probably listen to it twice in order to really put it to use. If you are like me, you have a few minutes every day as you drive to and from work. You can either waste those few minutes, or you can put them to use. I choose to improve myself as a coach.

There are also clinics, courses, seminars, articles, and traditional hardback books you can use to improve as a coach. With the Internet, your options are endless. The only limit holding you back is making time. I recommend choosing a source you enjoy, putting time on the calendar, and committing to constant growth.


This one sounds easy, but unfortunately most coaches struggle with this one the most. They have this sense of old school-ism where they have to be cold and withdrawn. I don’t understand this at all.

My athletes come to me because they know I care about them. We have a lot of fun. I tell them when they do well. I encourage them to be the absolute best they can be in athletics and life. I use encouragement rather than negativity to coach my athletes. They hear more about the things they are doing right than the things they are doing wrong. This leads me to the next element.


I fill my team with coaches and athletes who are also encouraging. My athletes are going to see more smiles and hear more encouragement than they will ever see me shaking my head or shouting negative comments. I expect the same thing from my athletes.

Nathan Damron and Hunter Elam do incredible jobs mentoring the other athletes. You should see the faces of Morgan McCullough or Hannah Dunn when Nathan and Hunter encourage them. We are a team. We win together when one of us succeeds. We lose together when one of us doesn’t do well. Lately there has been a lot of winning.

Culture starts with the coach. The athletes’ attitudes will normally reflect the attitude of the coach. Athletes will normally be attracted to programs with coaches who share the same values and attitudes. Now that doesn’t mean that a few bad apples won’t show up, but it’s up to the coach to either mold that apple or cut it from the tree. We made this realization about a year ago, and that’s when I instituted our latest policy. Now if an athlete is looking to join our team, they have to do a tryout. I have to approve them, but that’s not all. The entire team has to give them a thumbs up.


This is the one most coaches fail at. They expect athletes to walk in their doors, and they get mad when the athletes end up in someone else’s gym. If you read the entire list of elements, you will see a list that leads them to certain coaches. Athletes naturally flow to clubs with coaches who are always learning, coaches who are nice, and gyms with good coaches.

My athletes do most of the recruiting for me. They enjoy their team, and they tell other athletes about their experience. We have fun, we get strong, and we win. Athletes see that. It draws the type of athlete who wants to win and who wants to have fun. We just acquired a new athlete who’s going to take the sport of weightlifting by storm. She met one of our incredible youth athletes, Ryan Grimsland. Ryan told her how much he has improved with our team, and he told her how much fun we have as a team. The next thing you know, we have another amazing athlete. The same goes for our athletic performance athletes. If you help athletes get results while having fun, they are going to tell other people.

Being nice at competitions goes a long way. If someone needs help, then I’m there to help. You’ll be surprised how many athletes you pick up just being nice. That shows what a terrible culture that weightlifting had before this new wave of coaches.

Last thing, I recommend using Instagram as a tool. If you see a promising athlete who looks to be without a coach, I recommend sending them an encouraging message. If they don’t have a coach, you could offer your services. If you don’t know them, this is not the time to give them technique advice. I see this mistake all the time. You come across as a jerk with unsolicited advice. You have to earn the right to coach someone. It makes me chuckle when I see a so-called coach critique someone online. Remember, when you comment on someone’s video, the first thing they’re going to do is look at your profile. If you don’t have any athletes to your credit, you are going to get laughed at. Right or wrong, that’s what’s going to happen.


Soon we will be releasing our newest book, The Mash Files. It’s all about individualizing each program for your athlete. It’s not just programming, however. There are so many elements that are personal to each athlete: recovery, nutrition, accessory work, and coaching relationships.


Principles and Real-Life Case Studies on How a Master Programmer Customizes a Program to the Individual

Peek inside Travis's brain... and learn how to individualize your own programs to fit an athlete's strengths, weaknesses, age, gender, sport demands, and unique response to training.

Guys, you can’t coach each athlete the same way. I recommend all of you read Conscious Coaching by Brett Bartholomew. You have to spend quality time getting to know each athlete – and only then can you get to know what makes each athlete tick. If you are putting some program on a board for your entire team to follow, you can rest assured you are not going to beat my athletes.

If all you do is sit around and talk about how your technique is the best or your programming is the best, you are going to die an unfulfilled coach. If you lurk on social media giving unsolicited advice, you will die a joke. I am being aggressive with my wording because I want the best for all of you reading this. It’s easier to be a nice guy. That’s the main moral of this story. If you’re nice and surround yourself with nice athletes, you will probably succeed and have a great time doing it. I hope this helps some of you and opens the eyes of the rest of you.

The Path to Being a High Paid Coach with Jeremy Augusta – The Barbell Life 223

Jeremy Augusta is the owner of – so he would know better than anyone else about the recent trends in the fitness industry.

And he’s got great news for everyone who loves the barbell!

Right now there are coaching jobs out there for $90,000 – and Jeremy thinks that’s just the beginning. Strength training is on the rise, and we may soon reach the time where more people are back squatting than jogging. It is so exciting to think that it’s now possible to have a full-time, high-paying career in powerlifting or weightlifting.

Are you one of those who’s looking for a job in the industry? Then you’ll definitely want to listen to Jeremy’s advice on how to go about crafting the perfect application on your hunt for your dream job.

Travis Mash's Masterpiece for Strength Training and Programming

The Mash System

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



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Why Strength Athletes Should Condition by Crystal McCullough

My own athletes have questioned the reasoning behind why I add conditioning to their programs.

“I’m a strength athlete, why do I need conditioning?”

“Will doing GPP affect my strength?”

Eric Bowman wrote a great article about heart health and how it relates to the strength athlete. His focus was mainly on bigger athletes, and I completely agree with his assessment of how those athletes can begin to make improvements in their cardiovascular health. My focus for this article is on the strength athlete in general – and why it is a good idea for all strength athletes to condition.


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Both the sports of weightlifting and powerlifting have become more mainstream in recent years partly due to the popularity of CrossFit. I find there are generally three types of CrossFit athletes:

  1. The athlete who does CrossFit for their health and for the community.
  2. The athlete who does CrossFit, finds a passion for competing, and may aspire to make it to the CrossFit Games one day.
  3. The athlete who finds CrossFit and, as much as they enjoy it, finds a passion in a specialty within the sport with either weightlifting or powerlifting.

Personally, I started out in category two and (after a couple injuries) moved to category three. The benefit for the athletes who come into the sports of powerlifting and weightlifting through CrossFit is they generally like to condition and have built up a good work capacity. They don’t have to be convinced to do GPP. This will normally carry over in some form or fashion into their new sport. It is the athlete who finds weightlifting or powerlifting through other avenues who might be de-conditioned and not see the value in conditioning.

What GPP Really Is

General Physical Preparedness (GPP) is defined by Athlepedia as “a preparatory phase of training that is intended to provide balanced physical conditioning in endurance, strength, speed, flexibility, and other basic factors of fitness… it can be considered all-around fitness.”

Merriam Webster defines conditioning as “the process of training to become physically fit by a regimen of exercise, diet, and rest.”

If you live a balanced life, which for your sake, I hope you do, your sport does not define you. You have family, friends, and a job. Training only takes up a small portion of your 24-hour day.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Can you walk across a room without getting winded?
  • Can you walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded?
  • Can you easily get up and down off the floor?
  • Can you sit Indian style on the floor?
  • Can you touch your toes?
  • Can you squat barefoot?

If you said no to any of these questions, then you have room for improvement! What is the point of being able to lift a huge amount of weight if daily tasks are difficult? I don’t know if I’ve ever heard someone say, “Man, I wish I wasn’t in such good shape.” Have you?

While strength may be your focus in the gym, the conditioning gets you prepared for other important things outside of the gym:

  • Flexibility to get on the floor and play with your small children
  • Endurance to get out in the yard and throw a football or baseball with your teenager
  • Energy for sex

Adding in Conditioning

Generalized conditioning for both a powerlifter and a weightlifter would include some of the following:

  • Low impact steady state cardio at 75% heart rate. You can do this on a bike, rower, or treadmill/road. You could start with 20 minutes and slowly build each week up to 60 minutes depending on how much time you have. I personally prefer not to run. I feel it too much in my lower back and hamstrings the next day. You can speed walk if you don’t have any other equipment.
  • Row or Bike Intervals. You can do anywhere from 10-40 sets with varied timed intervals. You can start out on the low end and build each week . My favorite is 20-30 seconds of work with 30-40 seconds of rest. Eventually, you can remove the rest and do 20-30 seconds fast and 30-40 seconds recovery pace for the same number of sets.
  • Strongman implements are great for conditioning. You will feel it while you are performing the movement, but there is usually no residual muscle damage or soreness. I like to do these as part of my accessory work and treat it like a conditioning piece. Most days, I am limited on time, so I get more bang for my buck by turning it into:
    • Carries – Zercher, farmer (unilateral and bilateral), overhead carries (unilateral and bilateral), front rack, sandbag
    • Sled work

Conditioning for powerlifters and weightlifters should be a complementary piece and can be done wrong IF you are choosing exercises that cause additional muscle damage on top of what you already get with your sport. Movements to avoid are anything that has an eccentric portion, especially with load. Examples of the eccentric portion would be the descent in the squat or deadlift. Research says the eccentric portion of the movement can cause DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). Because you get all the benefits from eccentric training in your strength movements, there is no need to add additional muscle damage and soreness in the conditioning piece.

For my CrossFit athletes who are in a strength cycle, they will do barbell cycling during downsets as part of their conditioning. Being able to barbell cycle during a workout for competitive CrossFit athletes is extremely important. Speed and efficiency with these movements can make or break a workout.

Something important to note for competitive weightlifters is when lifting in a meet, you may not know how much time you have between lifts. You may think you have two minutes, but then someone takes your clock. That puts you right back up in the hot seat. Conditioned athletes are prepared for that moment. It’s the deconditioned athlete who comes off the stage winded from an attempt that may crumble if they have to step right back up.

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I hope you read this article and can now see the value in adding conditioning to your training if you didn’t before. You receive benefits directly related to your sport from conditioning – but more importantly, you are able to enjoy all the little things in life that require you to have energy, endurance, and flexibility.

Eccentric Exercise: A Comprehensive Review of a Distinctive Training Method