Category Archives for "Weightlifting"

Tapering for the Arnold

Preacher Sam, here. As a rookie, this is the first real taper that I’ve experienced. I’ve heard Travis and Jon talk about tapers on Weightlifting Talk before, and I understood the importance of some of what they discussed, but this week I’ve seen and experienced it first hand.

Travis has done a great job explaining how and why the programming has been progressing up to this taper and what will begin to happen as we taper.

Now let’s discuss a couple extra things we all need to consider.

1.) It is time to begin to taper off straps if you use them. This may look different depending on how long you’ve been using straps or how many competitions you have under your belt. For me, this is my first training cycle using straps consistently, so it is taking my hands a little bit to readjust. A couple other lifters were fine after a couple sessions without them and are looking to hit big numbers in our last Max Out session. Even the champ, Jon North, has to work this into his taper to prepare himself.

2.) Another thing to consider in our taper is the use of clips. Whether you tend to use them on both snatch and clean and jerk or not, clips will be used on the day of competition. Jon North has talked a lot about how clips affect bar oscillation. For rookies like myself, this may be a minor adjustment since I’m not hitting big weights. But for those of you who are beginning to hit bigger numbers, the more weight on the bar, the more the bar will oscillate and the clips keep that weight tight causing even more oscillation.

These are just a couple things to consider as you taper. Next week we will begin to prepare both mentally and in training to be ready for the timing of the meet. Proper warmup, and warmup attempts can be the only circumstances within our control at a meet, so preparing for these will give us the best chance to do well.

For more blogs on tapering and meet prep visit

Travis goes more into depth in his Learn 2 Lift seminars. To sign up for a Learn 2 Lift Seminar or online coaching, go to

To host a seminar or for questions, email Travis at:

Road to the Arnold Taper and Wow!

4 Week March to the Arnold

We are four weeks out, and I couldn’t be happier with any of my team. They are all hitting PRs consistently each week, and the volume is through the roof. The next four weeks my guys will notice that the training sessions will look more and more like a competition. Here are a couple of things that I do to taper for a meet, and I must say that my taper works like magic.

1. First I use the squat to taper. I will drop the volume, but I will keep the intensity, so basically my guys will go heavy, but they won’t so a lot of reps and sets. This will allow their legs to be fresh for the extra Snatch and Clean & Jerk sessions. The cool things is that they will maintain the strength that they have worked for by going heavy.
2. Second I use assistance work to taper. Starting five weeks out, I will strip assistance work each and every week. The team will feel their shoulders, back, knees, and hips feeling like new. They just spent the last 8-10 weeks going through hell on earth, and now is the unveiling. Now we display our “masterpiece”.
3. Third I use recovery work to taper. We will increase the amount of soft tissue sessions, visits with the Chiropractor, and yoga sessions. I will make sure that hydration is maintained along with proper nutrition. I will do some one on one “PNF” sessions with the guys that require a little extra work.
4. The last thing to go is the volume of the lifts, and only the week of the meet will my lifters get a deload of the Snatch and Clean & Jerk. Then it is game on during the meet.

Check out this unbelievable video of our team:

This last month has been crazy at the Mash Compound, but we are excited about the changes. I love being the head coach of my Attitude Nation Mash Mafia Weightlifting Team. Jon is working harder than ever, and for only being back for a few weeks, he is killing it. Our team as a whole is getting better. Rabbit looks like that he is going to rock the 69k class this year, and we have some super recruits coming in after March.

We also have the addition of Coach Will Hall taking over as Head CrossFit Coach. I can’t begin to express how excited we are to have a guy who has been to the CrossFit Games as one of our coaches. Will is a guy who walks the walk and talks the talk. The guy is snatching 300lbs and clean & Jerking 375lbs as a CrossFitter guys! Wow!

I am more excited about Baby Mash than anything else. My wife Drew and I found out last week that we are expecting a child. We have been trying for two years, and we had just quit thinking about it. And then! Boom! Baby Mash is on the way. Look out world! I love my wife more than any man on earth loves their wife, but when I found out she was pregnant, I instantly fell even more in love. I just thank God for all the amazing blessings in my life.

Go to to check out our Learn 2 Lift Seminars. We have a lot coming up this year, so sign up for the seminar near you. If you are interested in hosting a Learn 2 Lift, email me at
Also if you are looking for an online coach, go to to sign up for programming. Programming now includes ongoing video analysis, weekly feedback, and ongoing coaching.

Programming, Coaching, Atmosphere, and Truth!

Right now at Mash Compound, we have an unbelievable atmosphere with PRs happening daily. We also have a growing number of online teammates, and as time goes on the approach we take with these individuals continues to evolve. A solid program is super important, but without ongoing coaching the program isn’t as affective. Atmosphere is another thing that really helps get the athletes to another level. Atmosphere can be formed in a garage by yourself if you are self-motivated individual. Today I want to explain what a perfect situation looks like.
If you attend a Learn 2 Lift Seminar or an Attitude Nation Seminar, you will normally set Personal Records and leave on a natural “high”. There are several reasons for the new PRs: better technique, group competition, and excitement. This past weekend I taught at the Attitude Nation Level II Camp. Almost everyone there set a new PR, and sometimes huge PRs. No doubt we teach a better more efficient technique, but Jon and I also bring a unique type of “energy” to the table. A type of “energy that is contagious! I coach several Mash Mafia Team Members online, and I have found that using skype, facetime, and video analysis increases my effectiveness three fold.
I believe that my programming is second to none, but making weekly changes based on the athlete’s technique, feedback, and results simply doubles the results. I do the same thing with all of my athletes at the Mash Facility. Whether it’s Jon North(Olympic Hopeful), Tommy Bohanon(NY Jets Fullback), or one of my Division I Athletes, I make weekly changes to their program to attack weaknesses. That is where the magic happens!
Weekly I try to analyze mobility issues, strength ratios, and technique. There are certain mobility issues that are common like Thoracic Spine, Ankles, and different regions of the hip. These are areas that we target anyway, but some people need more focus than others. Strength ratios are important due to injury prevention for example the hamstrings should be about 67% as strong as the quads. With Jon, this ratio is way off. If you are following our programming(if not, go to: to sign up for free), you will notice that Jon has a lot of hamstring work. I am definitely trying to get him stronger, but more importantly, I want his body to last till 2020.
Technique issues are normally due to immobility and bad patterning. If it is mobility, we will assign exercises both weighted and non-weighted to target the issue. If it is bad patterning, then we will assign technique drills to target the problem.
Now you get an idea of what goes into developing the perfect program. It is a whole lot more than some complex numbers on a computer screen. The programming at now comes with video analysis and weekly feedback. My goal is for our online clients to be just as much a part of the team as my guys on site.
I will be teaching about programming, atmosphere, and targeting of weak spots at the “Learn 2 Lift” Seminars. We have several scheduled this year including: Keystone CrossFit in Dunmore, PA, Underground Strength Gym in Manasquan, NJ, Camel City CrossFit in Winston-Salem, NC, CrossFit Soul in Miami, FL, CrossFit Broken Chains in Orlando, FL, and CrossFit Vengeance in Myrtle Beach, SC. Go to to sign up!
We have several more scheduled for later this year including: Rhode Island, Wilmington, NC, San Antonio, TX, Minneapolis, and several more are waiting to get scheduled. We will now be scheduling for next year, so to get on the list, email me at We are so excited to visit new places, meet new people, and to spread the Barbell Life around the world.

Pulling Power

Pulling power is like the squat. You attack it if it is a weakness! I prefer that my athletes have the ability to perform a strict Clean Position Deadlift with at least 30% more than their max clean. If they can’t, we target the pull until it’s not a problem. We have Jon North working on his pulls right now for several reasons: improve pull acceleration and to stabilize his scapula region during the pull. Here are a few ways to improve the pull and stabilization:

1. Paused at Knee Deadlifts: Isometrics are great for stabilization and punching through a sticking point. You can pause on the way up, the way down, or both. I vary the times with my volume waves. We are going through a paused Deadlift cycle right now that you can sign up for free at in the Jon North v. Rookies box.

2. Banded Deadlifts: We normally use the bands from a deficit, and we use regular Deadlifts, RDLs, and Clean Pulls. These are great for compensatory acceleration. Below is a video of Jon North, and you will see him using bands:

3. Overload off Boxes: we do this to simply get the CNS use to heavy weight. I would keep the bar at or below the knee, and I would keep the reps at 3-5.

This year, Learn 2 Lift seminars are scheduled all over the US: Dunmore, PA, Jersey Shore, Miami, Charlotte, Winston-Salem, Orlando, Myrtle Beach, San Antonio, Rhode Island, Wilmington, NC and we are scheduling Minneapolis and as we speak.

For any questions regarding Learn 2 Lift Seminars or Online Coaching, go to:

Or if you are interested in hosting a Learn 2 Lift Seminar on the topics of Olympic Weightlifting, Powerlifting, or Athletic Performance, email me at:

Jon North v. Rookies Max Out Friday


Snatch to Hang Snatch max (2 misses) max Snatch if feels good
Clean to Hang Clean & Jerk (2 misses)max Clean & Jerk if feels good
Jerk Position Jerks 5 reps x 3
Pull-ups 8 reps x 3

Jon North:

Snatch 80%/1rep x 3
Clean & Jerk 80%/1rep x 3

Snatch Snatch to Hang Snatch max, if you feel good max in just Snatch
Clean & Jerk Clean to Hang Clean & Jerk max, if you feel good max in the Clean & Jerk
Push Press 5RM then -5% and -10% for 5

Jon North v. Rookies Findings and Insight


Today is a day off, so I have a little time to reflect. This week has been full of great happenings with the uniting of the MashMafia and Attitude Nation Families. Jon and Jessica bring so much positivity to the compound that spills over into all areas of the facility. My young athletes push themselves harder than ever when they see an Olympic hopeful weightlifter hurling 400+ pounds through the air. My weightlifting team has switched gears since being joined by the Attitude Nation. No one is satisfied with average at our gym, and now everyone has kicked their personal goals even higher.
So far in the first week of training Jon, I have identified several needs that will help to improve his training. My goal is to increase volume without injury or setback. My other goal is to identify any weakness in his structure, attack the weakness, and become stronger in the process. Here are a few weaknesses that we have identified and are targeting:
• Hamstrings
• Upper back
• Low Back
• Shoulder stabilization

Here are some of the ways that we are targeting the weaknesses:
• GHRs, Russian Leans, & heavy pulls
• Rows, pullups, & scap work
• Dr. Stu McGill approved low back stabilization
• Dr. Gray approved shoulder stabilization(all coaches should work closely with a practitioner for best results)

To increase recovery, prevent injuries, and to help expedite the correction of the identified weaknesses, we are doing the following:
• Mobility targeting identified tightness
• Soft tissue work with lacrosse balls, peanuts, and foam rollers
• Dr. Gray performing A.R.T., Graston, K-Laser, acupuncture, and spinal adjustments
• We are slowly changing his nutritional habits and supplementation
• Next week we are administering a blood test that will identify any vitamin and/or mineral deficiencies, so that we can rectify
• Every workout is followed by P.N.F. stretching and soft tissue work

This is what we are trying to do for all of our athletes. We will be performing the following with any existing and incoming athletes:
• One on one interviews to establish goals, and to find out what has worked and what has not in the past
• Functional Movement Screen to target any deficiencies
• Visual assessments during training identifying any weaknesses

Every human is different! No one program fits everyone, but certain things are universal:
• Group atmosphere is a must
• A fearless mindset must be present
• Volume must increase to produce different results
I’m excited to embark on this new adventure. I hope that writing about the experience will be enlightening to people in the future that are competing in or coaching the sport of weightlifting. I feel like we are on this journey together.

Next year, Learn 2 Lift seminars are scheduled all over the US: Dunmore, PA, Jersey Shore, Miami, Charlotte, Winston-Salem, Orlando, Myrtle Beach, Albuquerque, San Antonio, Rhode Island, and we are scheduling Minneapolis and Wilmington, NC as we speak.

For any questions regarding Learn 2 Lift Seminars or Online Coaching, go to:

Or if you are interested in hosting a Learn 2 Lift Seminar on the topics of Olympic Weightlifting, Powerlifting, or Athletic Performance, email me at: