Category Archives for "Powerlifting"

My Story-Shari Ruelas

Shari is a very dear member of the Online Attitude Nation Weightlifting Team because we share a very dear friend. Ladies and gentlemen I present Shari Ruelas:

Here’s my story for the for the AN Online team.

I started lifting weights when I was 28 years old in 1996. The Olympics were just wrapping up, and I was inspired by all the athletes. During that time I learned that women were going to be in the 2000 Olympics for the first time. I had never seen women compete in weightllfting and I was intrigued. I had been a decent powerlifter in college and thought I would give weightlifting a try. I found a coach, A.D. Moyer, who trained several high school boys in his garage, and he trained me every day after work. One of the young men that trained there was a promising lifter that made several International teams, named Corey Barrett Wilkes. He would train a few months at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and then come home and spend a few months training with us. His family was not supportive of his weightlifting and pressured him to work full-time and go to college. My husband and I saw Corey’s dream to make the Olympics and took him into our home so he could focus on his training. He became family to us and his dreams were our dreams. Corey continued to make great strides and ending up ranking #3 after the 2000 Olympic Trials. Unfortunately, the US only took 2 men that year and Corey was left home. His best friend Oscar Chaplin III did make the Olympics. When Oscar returned from Sidney, the gang went out to celebrate with Oscar. At the end of the night Corey hitched a ride back to the training center on a friend’s motorcycle. She lost control going around a curve, and they were both killed instantly. We was devastated to lose a friend and family member who brought so much joy to the world and had such a future in front of him. My love for weightlifting died that night and I stopped training.

Fast forward 11 years and Crossfit reintroduced me to the lifts, and I remembered how much I enjoyed lifting heavy weights over my head. I decided to do a local meet for old times sake. There I ran into an old friend that encouraged me to look into the Masters competitions. I had some success at the National level and was instantly hooked again. I started training by myself 5 days a week in my garage. I would search the internet looking for programs to follow and tried a number of them out there. During this time I discovered Jon’s podcast and was instantly drawn to him. He reminding me a lot of Corey, the original black sheep. Corey had come from a rough home life and managed to pull himself out of it. He was scorned by USA Weighlifting because of his tattoos and piercings (funny how common that is now), and he would love the spirit of the Attitude Nation. I would listen to Jon’s podcasts while lifting and not only be inspired to push myself, but I felt like Corey was there cheering me on.

I loved when Travis came onto the podcast. While I had high respect for his lifting accomplishments, faith and public witness, I became a huge fan when Travis mentioned Corey one day. Travis had trained with Corey at the training center and was telling a story about him. I was instantly filled with emotion that there was someone else out there with fond memories of Corey. When Travis offered online training, I knew this was the answer. I lift alone and need help with my technique and the support of a community. It is a great honor to call Travis my coach and to represent Team Attitude Nation. My goals are to lift barbells the rest of my life, to medal at the Masters World Championships and to set some US records along the way.

Living each day to its fullest,

Shari Ruelas
Houston, TX

To find out more about joining our team, go to

Barbell Life: Doing Life Together!

A few months ago several of my boys set me down, and presented me with the idea of a podcast called Barbell Life. The presentation included a tag line of: Fitness, Faith, Family, and F-ilosophy. My athletes at our training center get to hear my stories about life, views on family, and my journey of faith. All together it becomes my own F-ilosophy, and we wanted to let you all know how my athletes have been affected by their own life experiences.
The most important part is to be an open book. I want to share my mistakes as well as successes because if there are people out there that are going through some of the same things, I want them to know that they are not alone. My life is full of mistakes, but with the help of Christ, friends and family, I have been able to overcome. I wish someone had shared with me when I was younger. There were so many times that I felt all alone in my misery, but I wasn’t.
Our community at the Mash Mafia Compound is unique. We love each other like family. We win together, and we lose together. I want you all to be a part of that. I want the same love to be felt though out the world. Our team wants you all to be a part of us, and we want to be a part of you. I don’t know if all of that is possible, but we are going to try. I will be an open book for you all to learn from. If I can help prevent any of you from making some of the mistakes that I have made, then those same mistakes become a good thing. This is my so called F-ilosophy.
We will also be talking about all things strength: weightlifting, CrossFit, powerlifting, athletic performance, strongman, and all things barbell. We don’t want to leave any stone unturned. Hopefully you guys will be able to learn a lot of good information that you can take back to your own training or coaching. We want to talk about topics that appeal to you all. If there is a topic that you want discussed, email us at or on twitter @TheBarbellLife.
This podcast was created to help you all better your life. My goal is to help you get stronger, coach better, and live better. If I can take my mistakes and help you, then those mistakes become wins. If my pain can be your joy, then my journey through life becomes a conquest. I believe in using all things bad and good for God’s glory(Col. 3:17). Listen in at:
I am excited to go on this new journey together. When my life was falling apart in 2006, I wish that I had trusted my friends, family, and Christ with my pain. If I had shared with others, the pain would have been so much easier to live with. I want you all to know that you are not alone. We will do this thing together!

If you want to learn from me, meet me, and hang out, I will be in Eagan, MN at Undisputed Strength & Conditioning May 31st for a Meet & Greet. I will be at Gaglione Strength for a Level II Learn 2 Lift June 7th in Long Island, NY. Go to to learn more!

Barbell Life and Other Announcements!

Barbell Life and Other Announcements

The Mash Mafia Team has started a new podcast called Barbell Life. We will be talking about all things jacked with a theme of Fitness, Faith, Family, and F-ilosophy. Our team has a unique core of characters, and I want the world to know us all. We want to share our knowledge, trials, and struggles with you all in the hopes that maybe we may have a positive impact on your life.

There will be nothing held back! We want to show you that we have all been through our own trials, and in one way or another, we came out on the other side. This podcast is simply to help you all. Nothing more! Nothing less! We will be going live every Thursday at 8:30a, and you can check us out at:, go there and follow us!

So listen in, tweet questions, and we will start taking calls after the first few weeks!

We are hosting the biggest barbell festival in the south August 30-31st! Get ready for The Slam Bars Festival brought to you by The Attitude Nation and The Garage Games. Get ready for Weightlifting, Powerlifting, and CrossFit in one huge weekend! The full details and sick promo video will drop by the end of the week. Stay tuned at

The online Attitude Nation Weightlifting Team will be completed in four more weeks. Remember, I will be your coach, and Jon North, Jared Enderton, Rabbit, Eze, and the rest of the crazy team will be Your Team. You will get a personalized workout, video analysis from me, a secret group on Facebook with your team, and so much more. To find out more, go to:

Last thing, we are hosting a weightlifting and powerlifting seminar, and open house at the Mash Mafia Weightlifting Center this weekend May 17th and 18th. The price is only $99 to learn from me, and hang with our crazy team. All the money goes towards our team and their expenses. Sign up at!

Lessons from Lisa G

Lisa Lift I am writing this the day after losing my friend Lisa Gniewek, or simply Lisa G. In January of 2013, Lisa was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. Lisa sent me a text on a random Saturday morning asking me if I would be in the gym that day. I replied, “Yes”, but I was really concerned right away. I knew that something wrong, but I figured it was just something that I had done or said. Lisa was famous for setting me straight. What she would tell me, would change my life forever. Her fifteen month battle is over, and I am convinced that she won. Right now she is in heaven giving her also famous crinkled face glare at cancer in complete defiance. She is cured!

Lisa G was so incredible special to the whole Mash Family, both in our compound and around the world. Both Lisa and I were introduced to Jon North’s Attitude Nation last year around the same time as her diagnosis. The Attitude Nation embraced us both as one of their own, and helped spread her story around the world. I want the world to know why she was so special to me, and that is why I wanted to write this little piece.

I met Lisa in 2008 when I was first starting Mash Elite Performance in Advance, NC. At that time, I did a lot of personal training, and Lisa was one of my first clients. To say the least, she was a mess physically. Lisa was a Pediatric Registered Nurse, mother of two, and wife of her childhood sweet heart, Matt Gniewek. Like most nurses, she didn’t do a good job of taking care of herself. She was a little over weight, physically inactive, and very weak. I would have Lisa do a body weight squat, and she would squat down and couldn’t stand up. She literally couldn’t stand up with her own body weight. I thought to myself that Lisa would probably quit after three weeks, but she never quit right until the very end.

One day she comes into the gym, and announces that she wants to try powerlifting. I was perplexed to say the least. My goal has always been to help my athletes reach their dreams no matter how high the bar is set, but this was a pole vault bar. The first few weeks were frustrating, but with Lisa G always a good time. She was quick to laugh at herself, and she didn’t let anything bother her very much. Her smile would literally light up the room, and like some drug, it caused everyone near her to feel happy and excited about life. We were excited when she could squat 65 pounds. I never dreamed that she would one day squat 215 pounds.

During the first few months of her strength training, we would get to know each other on a much more personal level. I was in pursuit of my one and only true love, Emily Drew. She was my dating instructor. I heard way too often, “You big dumb, dumb!” She consoled me through so many emotions sadness, frustration, and finally happiness. She helped me decide how I would propose, and she made sure that I asked Emily Drew’s father for her hand in marriage. She was front row when I married the woman of my dreams, and she has been there during every major event, competition, and holiday ever since. She was and will forever be a part of our family.

Some of the most memorable times were the discussions that we had about God. She was a Christ lover, and she desperately wanted to know all there was to know about her God. When I met her, we were both relatively new Christians. As much as she loved lifting heavy weights, nothing excited her more than a discussion about the bible. Now the mystery held within those pages has been fully divulged to Lisa G. I will never forget the excited look on her face when she would come in the gym having learned something new about God. She just couldn’t wait to tell me what she had learned.

Lisa would come to love the strength sports. We were able to get her ready for a powerlifting competition, and from the first moment that she walked onto the competition platform, she had found her sport. During her first competition in Asheville, NC, as always, she traveled with Drew and me. We had a fun tradition of weighing in, and then seeing just how much weight we could gain back. We would all be so bloated, but the laughs that we all shared with Team Mash still echo in my brain like beautiful notes of music from Mozart. The smiles that come to my athletes’ faces, the laughter, the community at Mash, and the reaching of goals are all parts of my musical concert. This is my art. This is the ministry that God has given me.

During this first competition, I hired my friend Chris “Ox” Mason to help coach because I was going to do my farewell powerlifting meet. Lisa was opening with 155 pounds on the squat, but her nerves were getting the best of her. She was warming up with 75 pounds, but when she squatted down, she fell backwards with the bar on her back. Chris looked at me with a confused look on his face, and I just said, “Go heavier!” Times like that were par for the course with Lisa G. You simply never knew what to expect, but you could bet your bottom dollar that her contagious smile would make everything OK.

Lisa, Drew, and I would travel to every competition that we could find. Every competition would be a mini vacation full of the Mash Team, heavy weights, and lots of food. The Mash Team is a family! When we compete, there is just something so different about our team that other athletes want to be a part of it. Lisa loved her Mash Family, and it was very important to her that we nurtured that family. If I ever lost focus for one second on the Mash Family, she was the first to tell me. If any team member had a problem with me, they would tell Lisa. Then Lisa would for sure let me know about it. A true friend will always let you know when you are being stupid. A bad friend will just tell everyone else.

In 2012, I introduced the sport of Olympic weightlifting to Lisa. I was surprised at how well she took to the sport. When I watched her Clean & Jerk 160 pounds, it felt like I was at my own gallery opening, and Lisa was my masterpiece. I had taken an overweight nurse that couldn’t squat her own body up off the ground, and now she was taking 160 pounds from the ground to over her head. Her determination, drive, and love of the sport has inspired us all to say the least. The best part of it all is that the 160 pound Clean & Jerk was performed after her diagnosis, and I will forever hear that bar slam ring life victory bells within my ears.

Thanks to my podcast Weightlifting Talk that I host alongside “the champ” Jon North, Lisa’s story was heard around the world. She would inspire millions to not let anything get in the way of dreams. She created awareness that more needs to be done in the fight with cancer. We hosted two Lift 4 Lisa weightlifting and powerlifting competitions over the last year to raise money for Lisa in fight. Now we will host a Lift 4 Lisa weightlifting/powerlifting competition every year for as long as I live in her honor with proceeds going to help with the fight against cancer. Her husband Matt has already approached me because he wants to continue with the Lift 4 Lisa movement.

During my time with Lisa G, she would teach me several valuable lessons that I want to share with the world. I will never forget them, and I will never let the world forget about Lisa G. I will start by teaching you all what I learned famous Lisa G.

1. Never Sway From the Path! Lisa G helped me and my wife build Mash Elite Performance. She helped paint the walls, pull the carpet, and place the mats. Her husband installed the ceiling fans. She will always be just a much a part of that place as me. We built that place on community, family, goals, and God. My heart was in helping my athletes reach their goals and become better people. She saw the way that I love my athletes, and that is what made her and most of the parents that work out at Mash Elite Performance decide to trust their families with me. Sometimes I have swayed from my calling for this reason or that, and Lisa G would always be the first one to shake me and say, “Don’t be dumb.” Lisa I will never be swayed again.
2. Focus on What is Important! Like most men, I will sometimes focus on money, size of my business, and what people think of me. Lisa G taught me to focus on the things that are important like my God, my beautiful wife, my daughter Bailey, Baby Mash(my wife is pregnant), my mother, my family, my Mash family, and my friends. I want to inspire others to do the same, just like she did me. I want everyone to set goals and have dreams, and I want them to be determined to reach for their dreams. The key is to never let a dream or goal over shadow God or your loved ones. As a matter of fact, let your motivation be to Glorify God, and to inspire and impact loved ones and the rest of the world.
3. Never Ever Quit! Lisa slammed bars until she could no longer pick them up. Whatever God has given you on this earth, I recommend that you nurture and care for that ministry until you die. Never waste a moment to help, inspire, and love those around you every day. Lisa inspired the world! You should do the same!

My friend Molly told me that our friend Lisa Sokolosky heard Lisa G say, “Ok Jesus let’s do this!” That is so Lisa G. I stopped in to see her yesterday morning just hours before she passed, and I can tell you that she was Lisa G to the end. She was trying to pull the IVs from her arm, and her niece told her to stop. Lisa gave her that wrinkled face stare as to say, “Hey I am Lisa G! I do what I want!” My heart is absolutely broken right now, but I am so glad that I got to see her one more time. When I left, I told her that I loved her, and her voice echoes in my mind like a cool breeze on a hot summer day saying, “I love you too!” Those are the last words that she ever spoke to me. Very fitting!

Heaven is one saint bigger now. Until I see Lisa G again someday, I will continue her fight. Lift 4 Lisa will go on! Cancer will be defeated! More importantly I will never stop loving the people that God has brought into my life!

Mash Elite Performance will forever be the home of Lisa G!

Life Changing Front Squat Routine! Just ask Eze!

Below is another excerpt from my upcoming book, Preparing For Battle. This section provides you with the best front squat program for strength and stability that I have ever used. It is also very transferable to the snatch and especially the clean & jerk. It literally transformed my adopted son, Eze from a chump to a contender is nine weeks. Enjoy!

Life Changing Front Squat Routine

This book would not be complete without a section on a Front Squat Routine that has literally changed people’s lives or at least their leg strength. Eze Onwurah “Mash”, basically my son, is an athlete and employee at the Mash Mafia Compound. When he started with me in 2010, he was the weakest athlete that I trained out of high school. He couldn’t budge a 315 pound deadlift off the floor. Three years later, Eze could clean and jerk 330 pounds. It was one of the most dramatic transformations that I have ever witnessed.

For the longest time, Eze’s upper body was surging forwards, but his lower body was significantly behind the other athletes. At the end of 2012, we put Eze on a front squat program that would literally change the game for him. After a nine week program, Eze’s leg strength and stability roared light years ahead. Eze went from being the team’s worst weightlifter to the best on the team, and this program was the catalyst of the whole thing.

It is centered on time under tension and stabilization. All the reps are pause a certain amount of time in the bottom position and a certain amount of time in the top position. Not only did Eze get stronger, but his stabilization also improved significantly. Eze has always had perfect mobility, and with a 42 inch vertical leap, no one produces more force. His problem was catching the weight with a vertical back and not getting bent over. It was also standing up with the weight, and with this one program both issues were improved. Below is the plan:

Front Squat Time Paused in Bottom and Top Reps and Sets
week 1 7 seconds in bottom, 15 seconds in top Max, then 80% 3×3
week 2 7 seconds in bottom, 15 seconds in top Max, then 83% 3×3
Week 3 7 seconds in bottom, 15 seconds in top Max, then 85% 3×3
week 4 5 seconds in bottom, 12 second in top Max, then 80% 3×3
Week 5 5 seconds in bottom, 12 second in top Max, then 83% 3×3
week 6 5 seconds in bottom, 12 second in top Max, then 85% 3×3
week 7 3 seconds in bottom, 10 seconds in top Max, then 80% 3×3
week 8 3 seconds in bottom, 10 seconds in top Max, then 83% 3×3
week 9 3 seconds in bottom, 10 seconds in top Max, then 85% 3×3

The workout consists of a determining a max with the prescribed pause time, and then there will be three down sets also performed with the prescribed pause times. Three reps will take around 75 seconds, so it’s not your typical three reps. The plan is tough, but see it through and the results will be amazing.

We are still accepting athletes on our online team. We are taking new teammates for the next five weeks, and then we will be capping the team out for right now. We will all be preparing for an August 30th Attitude Nation Weightlifting Competition that we are partnering with the Garage Games to bring you all the most exciting weightlifting competition of all-time. Get ready for greatness! To find out more about the team, go to

I just got back from CrossFit Broken Chains in Orlando Florida teaching a Learn 2 Lift Seminar. Nate and his wife Annette are two of the most amazing people that I have ever met. The people that I meet are always the most exciting part of the seminars. To find out about a seminar near you, go to

Join the Attitude Nation Weightlifting Team

This week we are releasing our Attitude Nation Online Team Program. We have been working on this program for over six months, and we are very excited to offer it to you all. With this program, you are literally on the team with me as your coach, Jon as your team captain, and the rest of the Attitude Nation Weightlifting Team in your corner. Below are the three levels, and what you get:

• Choice of three programs: third pull, position strengthening, and general strength.
• Mobility plan with different options based on your needs
• Group Chat Room with teammates and a ANW Coach
• Recovery and Nutrition advice
• Video Library for tips on all exercises
• Access to team uniform and singlet
• Limited access to email questions

• Customized Program based on your goals, needs, level, and equipment. This is perfect for all levels of weightlifters, CrossFitters, and all other athletes.
• Video Analysis of 5 videos per week. Awesome way of improving Technique!
• Unlimited email access for questions
• Mobility plan with different options based on your needs
• Group Chat Room with teammates and a ANW Coach
• Recovery and Nutrition advice
• Video Library for tips on all exercises
• Access to team uniform and singlet

• Customized Program based on your goals, needs, level, and equipment. This is perfect for all levels of weightlifters, CrossFitters, and all other athletes.
• Video Analysis of 5 videos per week. Awesome way of improving Technique!
• Unlimited email access for questions
• 1 Skype Session per month with an ANW Coach! This is a full workout, and we have found it to be unbelievably effective.
• Free visits to the Attitude Nation Weightlifting Hall
• Mobility plan with different options based on your needs
• Group Chat Room with teammates and a ANW Coach
• Recovery and Nutrition advice
• Video Library for tips on all exercises
• Access to team uniform and singlet

Remember I will be your coach just like I am Jon’s. I will be at all National Events coaching you and the rest of the team. I will be at as many local competitions as possible. I look forward to working with you all. Go to to find out more and sign up.

If you get the free online program, you will see that I added this week’s program for our youth team in preparation for the Youth Nationals. Our Youth Team is quickly becoming the best Youth Team in America. We already have the 8th best youth in the Nation, Dylan Cooper. After the Nationals, I have a feeling that we will have several more that are highly ranked. You can join our youth team at the gym, or a youth can also join the Attitude Nation Weightlifting Online Team with Coach Mash as your personal coach.