Eye of the Tiger

Eye of the Tiger

Travis Mash

Somewhere along my path, I lost my way as an athlete. I have worked out, but my love was gone. All I have thought about is coaching or business, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, I am not done as an athlete, and I have never been good at listening to others. People say to either coach or compete. People say that age is a consideration. I say, “Who are the ‘People’ saying these things?” I am a better coach when I am competing. I am more energetic and enthusiastic. I am more engaged!

Yesterday, Chuck and I were meeting with Ben, owner of Top Tier. On the way home, we drove by the legendary Jack King’s Gym. Jack King’s Gym is the place it all started for me. I Clean & Jerked my first 400lbs, Snatched my first 300lbs, squatted by first 800 and 900lbs, Benched my first 500lbs, and Deadlifted my first 700lbs. All I cared about was being the strongest man on earth. I didn’t think about being the best powerlifter or weightlifter. I just wanted to be the strongest man on the planet. It was raw! It was real! And it was Pure!

I have driven past that gym over 100 times in the past several years, and every time I kept driving because I knew what would happen. I knew that I would walk in that place, smell the cold steel, and the fire would return. I was afraid of the inevitable. Yesterday the fear subsided! Chuck and I drove past Jack King’s, and I suddenly asked Chuck to turn around. It was like an involuntary reaction. Almost like I was on the outside of my body watching it tell Chuck to turn around.


Chuck turned the car around, and we pulled into the Legendary Kingdom of Strength. The moment I walked into the door, it was as if I had never left. Immediately my very brain, heart, and soul came alive as if it were dormant. My desire to be strong filled me. I don’t necessarily desire to be the best powerlifter or weightlifter, just the strongest strength athlete. I desire to inspire others that dreams and goals shouldn’t be set aside due to age or circumstances. This is a chance to rewrite my past. I want to use this moment of my life to inspire and encourage.

Jack King’s Gym is an old school dungeon gym filled with every toy that an old school lifter could desire. There are original York Medal Plates and Dumbbells. There are platforms with bumpers, 1st generation Nautilus, and some select Hammer Strength. The smell is musty from the combination of sweat and rust. The existence of the gym is for the pursuit of strength only with no concern for membership. It’s one of the last true destinations for the athlete that desires true strength and honor.

When we left, we decided to start working out there next week. Chuck then dropped me off at my house and drove away. I couldn’t wait to tell Drew, my lovely wife, all about my adventure. When I saw her, I went on and on about how awesome my day had been. Then all of a sudden, I decided to wait no longer. I called Chuck, and told him to turn around. I decided to wait no longer. He picked me up right away, and we started our journey.

Travis Programming

We had an old school raw workout. We started with high bar back squats, and I worked up to an easy 500lbs. It was a good start. I followed that up with a 445lbs x 3 paused squats. Then I used cleans to warm up for deadlift. I worked up to 130k/286lbsx2, and 145k/319lbs x 1. Then I immediately started deadlifting. I worked up to 550lbs. I finished the day with leg curls which really aids in calming all back tightness. It was an amazing first day.

The crazy thing about it all was the way my body felt. All the aches and pains seemed to be relieved. I think it had a lot to do with being in a stress free environment. I am guessing that cortisol wasn’t a factor and proper amounts of serotonin were present to place me in an optimal training environment. It’s crazy what stress can do including: aches, pains, memory problems, inability to concentrate, dizziness, and more. Limiting stress is a huge part of optimal training, and needs to be talked about more.

I am so excited to embark upon this new journey with Chuck. I am developing a workout that will increase the big five: snatch, clean & jerk, squat, bench, and deadlift. I still want to work on conditioning, some gymnastics, and GPP. I am intrigued by the Grid League, and I believe that it plays to my unique skills. It allows teams to have strength specialists, and requires each team to have one male and female 40+ year olds on each team. God has given my some awesome opportunities that I believe can be used to inspire and more importantly bring Him glory.

Next year, I plan on competing in Powerlifting and Weightlifting. Of course, if possible, I will begin the new sport of the Grid. Forever, I have wanted to attempt to train both sports at a high level. Now I will. Will it be hard? Well of course, but that is what makes it exciting. The last year has been filled with men and women breaking free of the chains of traditional thought. Guys have run 100 mile races while back squatting 800lbs. People have competed in CrossFit at the highest levels while snatching well past 300lbs and clean & jerking 400+lbs. Now the flood gates have been opened, and now the water will flow.

The original strength athletes wanted a balance of physique and strength. My desire has always been along the same lines as my ancestors in strength. I will now take a pure approach, and I refuse to be influenced by anyone to do this or that. My path will be steady, and my approach will be calculated. Chuck and I will do battle several times per week to see just how far God will allow one to push their body. I will post the workout after it is fully constructed.

Here are the points that I will consider while writing the program that will allow me to reach these extraordinary goals:

• Keep it simple like Dan John says.
• Speed, timing, and technique on the Olympic lifts.
• Strength from the powerlifts that is complimentary to the Olympic lifts
• Mobility will be planned and well thought out
• Assistance work will be based around weaknesses and injury prevention
• I will use the conjugate method, but the exercises will be kept close to the original lifts
• Pauses in all positions and time under tension
• There will be bands and chains
• Squat three times per week at least
• Bench twice per week
• Deadlift twice per week
• Snatch twice
• Clean & Jerk twice

These are a few of the principles that I will use. When the program is complete, I will fill in all the blanks. I am more excited than I have been in a long while. Get ready for something extraordinary.

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