Category Archives for "Weightlifting"

Here’s How Harrison Maurus Just Made History

Folks, history has been made.

On today’s podcast we talked to my friend Coach Kevin Simons and his phenomenal athlete Harrison Maurus. Most of you probably know that Harrison just made weightlifting history last week – winning the first medal for the US men’s team in a Senior World Championships in twenty years, and he’s only a youth lifter. Are you kidding me? He also broke a youth world record in the clean and jerk of 193kg and eight total American Records. Not bad for a day’s work!

Photo Credit: Joseph McCray, LiftingLife/USA Weightlifting

Harrison’s coach, Kevin Simons, has used science and the love for his athlete to bring Harrison along in a holistic approach. He focuses on technique, muscular balance, and recovery to make sure Harrison improves at a steady pace while staying injury free. However, he uses a special weapon to quantify his decisions. Kevin created a spreadsheet that pretty much quantifies every aspect of Harrison’s training: total volume, k-value, average intensity, and so much more.

If you want to learn more about coaching and business, check out my upcoming seminar with Zach Even-Esh up in New Jersey.

This was such an amazing podcast. It’s probably one you’ll want to listen to a few times. Give it a listen:

Proud of Team USA

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-Basics of Velocity Based Training
-Over Eight different programs showing the use of Velocity Based Training
-How to use Velocity Based Training to teach athletes and new coaches intent, effort, and safety

Proud of Team USA

I am on a plane again. By the way I am deathly scared of flying, but obviously I am forced to do way more than I like. Luckily I love traveling more than I am afraid of flying. Anyway I have never been more proud to be a part of Team USA than right now. If you guys didn’t watch it, you missed an amazing competition.

First I want to say that I am so darn proud of Nathan Damron placing 8th in the World, hitting a monster PR Clean & Jerk of 201kg and a PR Total of 358kg. Brian Reisenauer placed 9th in his first World Championships, so that’s pretty darn good. Our coaching staff of Don McCauley, Vinh Huynh, and me has had the opportunity to watch this team develop over the last couple of years into something very special.

When MuscleDriver USA closed down, it was my dream to continue with a professional team. My company isn’t near the size that MDUSA was, but thanks to our amazing sponsors and all of you that buy our products, I have been able to continue supporting these athletes with stipends, the best coaches, travel expenses, and more. Most people consider me crazy, and at times I start to agree with them. However after this week, I know that I am doing exactly what I am supposed to do.

Jordan Cantrell was originally on the starting eight lineup, but the final team was chosen based on the strength of each class and potential of placing highly. He happened to be in the hardest and deepest weight class of the entire competition. However he did hit a monster 162kg Snatch PR in the training hall, and a PR Clean & Jerk of 193kg. He’s about to crush it at the American Open next weekend. He’s definitely the most improved athlete in America.

Yes our team killed it, but on Saturday two amazing things happened. First my man Harrison Maurus, the 17-year-old phenom, absolutely killed it. He Snatched 155kg for a meet PR, and he Clean & Jerked 193kg for another PR. Now let’s see if I can get all the accolades correct. The Clean & Jerk was a new Youth World Record, Junior American Record, and Senior American Record. His Snatch was a Junior American Record and a Youth American Record. His total was a Senior American Record, Junior American Record, and Youth American Record. There’s probably more, but this is what I know.

His performance brought tears to my eyes. I have hung out with Harrison and his amazing coach Kevin Simons for the last couple of years now, and it’s safe to say that they are family to me. I love them both, and they’re families. I was as nervous for Harrison as I was for my own athletes. Anyone that has followed this blog and my podcast knows that I have been calling this moment for a longtime. Their moment came this past weekend.

Right after Harrison competed, the beauty queen of weightlifting, Mattie Rogers, took the stage in the Women’s 69kg competition. Her performance was equally dominating. I am not sure of the records that she might have broken, but I know that she won three Bronze Medals. Do you believe that? It was amazing, and she was actually in the hunt for Gold. I couldn’t believe that I was watching an American battle for Gold. Here’s something that I want all of you to hear. She did all of this while studying like a maniac for her college Finals. She’s much more than just a weightlifter; she’s a driven young lady as well. She’s also very nice as I finally got to talk to her a bit this weekend. Her coach Danny Camargo is definitely one of the best in the business.

As I am typing this Team USA still has a few opportunities for Medals, so it’s not over yet boys and girls. So far I call this a massive success. Yeah we had one tough day that caused a lot of recliner coaches to come out of the wood works to give their unsolicited advice, but dang it Team USA came to the event with one thing on their mind; to battle. We came into this event wanting to gun for medals. When you do that sometimes things go awry, but here’s the thing that they don’t know. Team Points are worthless this year. We can’t earn points for the Olympics, so this was the year to go big or go home.

With that strategy, I’d say so far that it has been a huge success. I know that Jessica and CJ are going to come back stronger than ever. They are both tenacious competitors, but it was just a rough day for both of them. No one knows better than me. Sometimes it doesn’t matter what’s on the bar. It’s just not going to happen. That doesn’t make their coach a bad coach and doesn’t make them a bad lifter. Here’s the way you really judge them and their coaches. You wait and see how they respond. Do they come back and absolutely shred the competition, or do they fold? I am 100% confident that no one wants to compete against either one of these athletes the next time that they compete.

You know I sure hope that other coaches out there have my back like this the next time that one of our lifters bomb out. Instead of talking crap about each other, we should support one another. Remember at this level it’s Team USA not Team Mash, or Team Cal Strength, or whatever. I felt that camaraderie with the other coaches this weekend, and I can’t wait to see all of them next time.

Also guys and gals Team Mash Elite is a non-profit serving to help this young men and women reach their goals, while serving out community with our ‘at risk program’. You all can help this team immensely by donating to our cause at:

==> www.mashelite.com/donate/

I will offer a consultation via telephone for any donation over $50. I appreciate all of you supporting us day in and day out. We couldn’t do it without you!

Recliner Coaching

Recliner Coaching

Yesterday Team USA had a rough day. Two of our athletes that had real shots at medals Jessica Lucero and CJ Cummings bombed out. Today there are people all over the world talking about the mistakes made by the coaches and athletes. The problem is that none of these people know what they’re talking about. Most of them dream of coaching an athlete at this level or being an athlete at this level. The problem is that if you haven’t done either, then you have no idea. Of course that’s a part of sports that athletes and coaches must endure, but it’s almost comical that people do this.

I have been on receiving end of the criticism, so I know how it feels. After the Senior Nationals, everyone had an opinion of what I could’ve done better as a coach. I had to endure all of that. No one remembered all of the competitions prior, the records sets, or the successful calls. They could only see the mistakes of this competition.

Here’s what you guys and gals don’t know. There are multiple decisions to be made at an International competition or a National competition especially when you are at the top of the food chain. Think about all the questions that need to be answered:

Did they open aggressively striving for a medal?

Where they considering team points or not? (Hint: they don’t always worry about this.)

What needs to be hit to maintain or increase the athlete’s stipend? Very important for the future of the athlete/

Are they chasing an American or in this case a World Record? If so, then good for them for going for it.

Has the athlete’s training gone well? Consistent and/or big lifts?

Are the athletes used to World level event?

Did the warm ups go well or not?

What’s the strategy of the meet?

Look you may have coached at a National event or some local events, but don’t assume that strategy at this level is the same as your normal strategy. It’s not as easy as being conservative and trying to go 6:6. I have seen very little of this. I have witnessed about 3 bomb outs per weight class because athletes are going for it. Guys it’s the World Championships. People are here to win not to go 6:6. If an athlete has the ability to medal, they have to go for it. Yeah they could be conservative, go 6:6 and end up in eighth place. However that’s not what anyone wants. They want to make waves on the World level. That’s why athletes train. They don’t train 12 times a week to be conservative earning 8th place when they could’ve potentially won a medal. If you don’t understand that, then you’ll never coach great athletes.

Look I know both coaches. They might not coach like me, but I know that they are both amazing coaches. I also have witnessed both athletes destroy it on the platform, so I know that there are about to go back to work with one thing in mind. Total domination next time!

Unless you’ve been there, I encourage all of you to keep your thoughts to yourself. Read through this incomplete list of questions, so you can start to get an idea that there’s a lot more going on than you might think. I hope this article gives all of you some insight. I am sure that Reddit will roast me, but I am way over all of that. The advantage that I have over Reddit is that I am here, and they’re not. They’re somewhere in their mom’s basement typing away on their keyboard dreaming of actually being successful.

Go Team USA!

You Think That You’re a Great Coach? Meet Coach Kevin Doherty

Check out our latest E-Book “Bar Speed” by Coach Spencer Arnold of Power and Grace Performance, and Coach Travis Mash. You can check it out at:

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-Basics of Velocity Based Training
-Over Eight different programs showing the use of Velocity Based Training
-How to use Velocity Based Training to teach athletes and new coaches intent, effort, and safety

You Think That You’re a Great Coach? Meet Coach Kevin Doherty

When I meet most coaches, all they want to talk about is programming, equipment, or motivation. Guys and gals there is so much more to coaching than those three things. That’s just the beginning. Most rookie coaches have researched their favorite coach or team and semi-copied their programming, so they’re probably on the right track with that. However, have any of you considered the following:

• Qualification totals for youth, junior, senior, and master Nationals
• What about the American Open or American Open Series?
• What about qualifying for youth, junior, senior, and master International events?
• What about stipends for youth, junior, and senior athletes?
• Did you know that youth and juniors could get stipends?
• Did you know that you have to be signed up for the random testing list with USADA for at least six months before being eligible for an International Team?
• Are you going to have a team? Do you understand Team Scoring?
• Do you know the documents required at weigh-in during a National and International event?
• Do you know the best practices at a meet in regards to coaching your athletes?
• Do you have your warm ups prepared with a plan that times them perfectly?

These are just a few of the things that a coach must consider. Coach Kevin Doherty is the master at understanding all of this and then some. No one is better at a meet than Kevin. He has helped me more than once at meets simply because he wanted to help my athletes and me. That’s what makes him an amazing coach. He wants to see all the athletes and the coaches in the United States improve, so that we can get more and more competitive as a country.

For each of his athletes, he knows exactly what they need to:

1. Get the biggest possible stipend to assist with their living and training expenses.
2. Qualify for a bigger meet.
3. Set any potential records
4. Place as high as possible during the meet.
5. Lift a new personal record.

Kevin spends countless hours reading through the information on the USA Weightlifting site along with the IWF site, so that he can understand exactly what he needs to do to help his athletes the most. Guys that’s coaching! That’s what a coach does. They help their athletes reach their goals. A great coach is an advocate for their athletes. They go above and beyond to provide for their athletes.

This week at the World Championships, I have watched Coach Doherty comb over the International Qualification Charts and the Stipend Charts. He’s found multiple mistakes that USAW has missed. That’s not a knock on them. These lists are like a foreign language, and USAW runs off of a small staff. They do the best that they can do, and personally I am grateful that they help our athletes at all.

Instead of a knock on USAW, this is more of me applauding the efforts of Coach Doherty. He runs all the numbers, and he compares them throughout the lists to make sure that everything makes sense. His efforts not only help his own athletes, but they help all the rest of us as well. I am very grateful for his efforts, and his willingness to create a few waves to ensure progress throughout our entire organization.

The reason that I am writing this blog is to show you guys the intricacies of coaching. Yeah this article references weightlifting, but really it goes for all coaching: CrossFit, Powerlifting, Strength and Conditioning, or whatever. If you desire to be a great coach, you must look to master all the intricacies. It’s a lot of work, and it requires a lot of dedication.

I suggest finding a mentor in your chosen profession. I have had several along the way, and I am grateful for all of them. I still have coaches that helping to guide me along the way. I am still a relatively new coach compared to the rest of these amazing people. Some of the coaches that are with me at the World Championships have been coaching at this International level for over twenty years, and I have only been coaching at this level since 2014. I still have a lot to learn, and I think that my best attribute as a coach is that I am open to learning.

Coach Kevin Simons told me that I simply come across as a coach that is open to new ideas, and that other coaches feel comfortable teaching me their ideas and philosophies. I have found that each coach here has something amazing to offer. If I learn from each of them, I can ultimately become better overall coach. It’s more important to me that I learn new things that I can apply to the coaching of my athletes. Too many coaches want everyone to believe that they are the ultimate coach, so they don’t learn from anyone. That one characteristic will prevent them from ever becoming what I consider a great coach. This is by far the most common flaw amongst all coaches.

I also wanted to introduce all of you to Coach Kevin Doherty. If you don’t know him, you should. If you get a chance, you should introduce yourself at a National meet because he is a wealth of knowledge and willing to share with just about anyone. Hopefully I will bring more and more of Coach Doherty to all of you.

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If you want to learn more about Coaching and Competition for both Weightlifting and Powerlifting, check out our E-Book “Time to Compete” at:

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Senior Worlds 2017: A Different Insight

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Senior Worlds 2017

A lot of you might know that I am hanging out at the Weightlifting Senior World Championships with three of Mash Mafia’s finest: Brian Reisenauer, Jordan Canrtell, and Nathan Damron, and our entire coaching staff of Vinh Huynh, Don McCauley, and me. However this article isn’t about their preparation, our programming, or anything like that. It’s about the other aspect of sport that people rarely talk about. It’s the real reason that we have World Championships and the Olympics, or at least it should be the real reason.

I was reminded of underlying goal when I was at breakfast this morning. I ate breakfast with men and women from all over the world. I was in the same room as Iranians, Italians, and Koreans. I waited in line with them, and I sat beside them. You know what I noticed? They were just like me.

Yeah we didn’t speak the same language, but they interacted with their peers the same way that Americans do. They laughed, and they joked with each other. It was a beautiful to just sit back and watch. This was a room full of athletes and coaches with dreams just like mine. None of them was really caring about the differences in religion or government. For this small moment in time, we were all the same.

We are all the same! We are just humans trying to survive this crazy world. I have to believe that it is the governments and the media that create the divides for power and money. I can’t believe that humans at the very basic level care one way or the other. Yeah I love my God, and I rely on my faith. Yeah I believe that it would be advantageous for everyone, but I don’t hate anyone for not believing like me. I don’t think that most humans really care.

Sports at an International level remind all of us that we can all get along. It should remind us that we are all the same at the most basic of levels. All of us want a chance to improve our lives. All of us want a purpose on this earth. All of us want to protect our families. All of us want the ability to worship and believe in the way that we choose without anyone or any country trying to hinder those abilities. We just want to be respected for the way that we want to live our lives. You don’t have to agree with me nor I you, but we must respect each other. Empathy is so hard to find in this world. However when athletes come together at a World Championships or Olympics, empathy can be found in abundance.

I grew up in the mountains of North Carolina in an area with a 1% minority population. I dreamed of meeting people from around the world. Racism was fairly copious in the mountains. The locals seemed to fear people that weren’t like them. A lot of the locals believed that people were dangerous if they didn’t look like, act like, and believe like them. I wanted to put these beliefs to the test.

I have never had the ability to believe people simply based on their opinion or their thoughts. I have always wanted proof. Heck I got into trouble more than once in middle school and high school for debating teachers. I didn’t believe that I was smarter than them. I just wanted proof from time to time.

Athletics have led me all over the world. I have met people from countries around the globe, and I am yet to meet a group of people that frightened me. As a matter of fact I often find way more similarities than differences. Last night Coach Vinh, Coach Sean Waxman, and I ate with a group of lifters from England. It was the most amazing time. I felt like I was eating with characters from “Harry Potter”. I loved it. I guess I just exposed the fact that I love “Harry Potter”. Yeah it’s true.

For all of you athletes out there aspiring to compete Internationally someday, I hope that you realize that there is something much more special about the opportunity than simply competing. It’s the experience of coming together as a Planet. It’s realizing that we are all so similar. Sports have the unique ability to spread this understanding of one another.

Look I am not some overly optimistic kid right out of college. I get it. We live in a world filled with some good and some bad people. As long as there is money and power to be had, governments and powerful people will try to get more than their share. Ultimate power corrupts ultimately! That doesn’t mean that all the rest of us have to succumb to the same evil.

Athletics has blessed me with the ability to travel all over the world. I thank God for that opportunity. Last night when the athletes from England told me that people in England used my programming, I realized the opportunity that God has given me. Who would of thought that a boy from the mountains of North Carolina would have people from around the world reading his books and using his workout programs? I never dreamed that this would be possible.

My goal is to show the rest of the world that people are all the same. None of us are really that different despite what you might hear on television or worse Facebook. Today a guy from Iran passed me the ketchup, and we exchanged the universal gesture of kindness, a smile. In that small moment, I realized that all the negative things that I have heard about Iranians are false. They are people just like me. They have dreams and hopes just like me. They have sons and daughters, moms and dad, and wives just like me. Today I pray to God that He gives us all the ability to love one another just like He commanded multiple times in His word.

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Chill with the Absolutes and Insults! Oh yeah Happy Thanksgiving!

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Chill with the Absolutes and Insults

We are a couple of days out from Thanksgiving, and tonight I am thankful for a conversation that I had on Facebook today. The topic was force absorption and the Olympic lifts, but that doesn’t really matter. The point that I am making is that we had a pretty good conversation, and no one really got mad. It was pretty darn refreshing.

Where there any minds changed today? I don’t know. It was just fun for me. I mean, it’s just strength sports, athletic performance, and fitness that we are talking about. I have seen online arguments that appeared to be politics and/or religion, but it was just Olympic lifts versus powerlifting. Who cares? It’s not worth calling people names, and slinging insults. It’s just not.

Guys we aren’t saving the world. You might convince the world that low bar squat is superior to high bar, but people will still be dying, getting divorced, and going to war. There is so much more that all of us could be doing, and I am not necessarily talking about health and fitness. Don’t get me wrong. I want to see the world lose some weight and get in better shape. I would love to see McDonalds going out of business because people have decided to more healthy. However there are things so much more important.

As coaches we have a chance to alter lives in so many ways. We have a chance to teach our male athletes how to treat women athletes. We have the ability to show our athletes how to be good parents. We get a chance to show them how to love and treat others. The ripple effects of such actions could actually make the world a little better. This is so much more important than back squats versus deadlift.

Not to mention there simply aren’t a lot of absolutes in the sport no matter how much all of us really want there to be. Yet I have seen people insult others over such topics as:

• Olympic weightlifting technique
• Necessity of plantar flexion in the Olympic lifts
• Sitting back versus sitting down in the back squat
• Looking up versus looking down in the back squat
• Full range of motion squats versus quarter squats
• Cardio versus strength training

These are fun to debate, but they are just fun. There is no real way to prove your point. There simply isn’t enough research out there in our field to answer a lot of these topics with a definitive answer. Who really cares?

Here are the questions that you have to ask yourself:

• Are my athletes/clients improving and reaching their goals?
• Am I getting better each year as a coach or trainer?
• Are my athletes leaving me a better person?

If you can answer yes to all three, you are doing a great job. If you answered no or you were unsure with one, then you have some work to do. Look I love strength as much as anyone that I have ever met, but I refuse to hate someone because they don’t think like me.

Sometimes I am pretty darn convicted about certain things that I teach. I might spend some time pleading my case online in hopes that I might teach someone something slightly new. I have a lot of experience as a high level athlete, and I have coached some of the best athletes in the United States. I owe it to all of you to pass on the things that I have learned, but there is something that I want all of you to learn that could change your lives forever.

I have never learned a lot when I was doing the talking or the typing? I am a good coach because I have listened to others, studied the research, and processed the information. I have learned from people older than me and younger than me. I have learned from people that I don’t necessarily agree with. There is normally always something to learn from other people especially people with a descent amount of experience.

Here are some examples:

Sean Waxman- Coach Waxman is about my age. He has taught me so much in regards to nurturing the culture of my gym. One athlete is never more important than the overall culture and atmosphere.

Zach Greenwald- Zach is much younger than me, but no one has taught me more about muscular balance than this young man. It’s not about perfect balance. It’s about addressing the major imbalances and working towards symmetry slowly over time. The key is quantifying all of this.

Louie Simmons- Louie has taught most of us a thing or two. He’s taught me so much about velocity, work capacity, and maximum effort. One big thing is the importance of general physical preparedness. At the end of the day, the strength athlete that can put in the most quality work will be the one on top.

These are just examples of people that I have learned from. Let all the losing coaches spend hours on the Internet arguing their case. Their identities lie in their beliefs as coaches. My identity lies in my ability to give my athletes what they need to be successful and to become better people. I don’t really care if another coach agrees with me or not. I don’t need a coach out there to validate me. Here’s the thing. My results validate me. I leave for the World Championships on Monday along with my three athletes. That’s more than any other coach in America, so that’s my validation.

Yet there is something that is so much more important. I have athletes that are now happily married. I have athletes that are running million dollar businesses and employing other people. I have athletes that are inspiring others to be better. That’s my true validation. At the end of it all, when I am on my deathbed, these will be the things that I am most proud of. All of you can keep your crazy absolutes. I have my results.

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