The Shankle Outline and The North Process

Below is another excerpt from my upcoming book “Preparing for Battle”. The book will be all that rookie and intermediate weightlifters need to be successful in the sport of weightlifting. Today I reference two extraordinary athletes that I am both friends with and work with. The excerpt is taken from a section of my book entitled “Requirements of Success”.

Remember we will be in Kissimmee, FL on March 28-29 at Obsessive CrossFit Disorder, and then Zach Even-Esh and I are teaming up May 16-17 for the best Certification Ever! Check out all of the Learn 2 Lift Certs. below:

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Last week we released the Online GridStyle Team, and it is awesome! Come get a program that is tailored to your own genetics to make your strengths stronger while eliminating all weaknesses! Check it out:

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With all of that being said, enjoy the excerpt.

The Shankle Outline and The North Process


My friend, Donnie Shankle, often speaks about the requirements for success. Donnie is one of the most driven men that I have ever met. He sleeps, eats, and lives the sport of weightlifting. Most of his studies are centered on the sport including nutrition, programming, and philosophy. The man sleeps in a recliner because his back is irritated by a normal bed. He has broken his neck, ripped his shoulder out of the socket, and these are just the ones that I know of for sure. To put it simply, the man is a modern day gladiator. Most of Donnie’s friends would agree that he was born in the wrong era. Donnie is definitely better suited for a time such as the middle ages where he might find himself on a horse with a brigade of knights preparing for battle to save the King of England.

Donnie has a four part outline for an athlete’s ability to become a world champion: Minimums, Maximums, Competitive Group, and a Fearless Attitude. I believe that all athletes that want to succeed in the sport of weightlifting need to know and understand this simple outline. The four components do not guarantee a world championship, but they guarantee the athlete will have the opportunity to reach their genetic potential. That is the reason that I believe the Shankle Outline to be relevant to all weightlifters that want to do their very best.

Minimums are the first aspect of the Shankle Outline. We all have that weight in the Snatch and Clean & Jerk that we know we can make every time that we are in the gym. This number is one that needs to be tracked on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Your goal is to increase that number each and every week. The minimum is normally a veteran lifter’s opener. Most of us know to track our maximums, or the maximum weight that we have completed in the Snatch and Clean & Jerk. Our goal should be to get our mimimum as close to our maximum as possible. The closer we get our minimum to our maximum, then the more consistent we have become. The goal is to get the minimum less than 10 kilos of the maximum which in theory would set the athlete up for a new maximum at a meet. Newer athletes normally set new maximums a little more often that once per training cycle, but they still need to know both numbers at all times.

One aspect of the outline that is pertinent to all athletes is the need for a Competitive Group. Athletes need a team environment for so many reasons, but the most important reason is competition. Competition is the driving force behind all successful athletes. I have watched athletes miss 140 kilos in the Snatch only to have another athlete Snatch150 kilos. I have then watched the athlete that missed the 140 kilos go on to hit 151 kilos. Ladies and Gentlemen, the nature of humans is one of competition. That is the way most humans were made, and champion athletes received extra doses of that competition bug.

Athletes feed off of one another as well. When a rookie athlete witnesses Donnie Shankle back squat 600 pounds, then the 500 pounds that they are about to attempt no longer looks so impressive or scary. Humans need each other to push through those training sessions that would be easy to cut short if left alone. All athletes need this group aspect not just world champions. This aspect of the Shankle Outline is the very thing that has made CrossFit so successful. Every day during a CrossFit workout, athletes are brought together to perform a scheduled workout that is both challenging and competitive. These athletes compete against each other, and at the same time they motivate each other to push on. At the Mash Compound my weightlifters do the exact same thing every day. They try to beat each other, support each other, and sometimes pick one another up when the sport seems to get the best of their teammate for the day. Weightlifters of all levels should do the same thing for one another.

A fearless attitude is the final aspect of the Shankle Outline. The sport of weightlifting asks an athlete to hurl hundreds of pounds loaded on a bar through the air while violently pulling themselves under the deadly metal object. This is not a normal activity that the brain asks the body to perform. Most normal people look at the Olympic weightlifting movements as crazy, but a true weightlifter looks at the lifts as something beautiful. I have competed at a number of sports in my life like basketball, football, baseball, wrestling, powerlifting, and even bobsled, but nothing has intrigued me more that the sport of weightlifting. The sport of weightlifting requires strength, balance, speed, mobility, precision, and most importantly it requires fearlessness. A coach can spot that athlete that isn’t afraid to rip themselves under a heavy bar from miles away. It is that trait that is absolutely necessary to become great at this crazy sport.

Some of this fearlessness is given to us at birth, and the rest is earned in battle. All of us have pulled on a bar that we refused to go under after the bar was peaked. We have all refused to go under lifts that we could have made if only we had managed the courage. This courage is earned after years of not quitting, and years of pushing on until finally gathering enough will to attempt going under the seemingly impossible weight. Some of us are born with more courage than others, but the majority of courage and fearlessness is earned after years of training and forging on. I encourage you all to continue that battle, fight the fight, and I promise that you will be left with an amount of courage and fearlessness that you could have never imagined. This courage is something that you can take throughout the rest of your life. Without courage, nothing great can ever be accomplished in life.

Jon North is one of my athletes that has an absolutely incredible view on succeeding in life. I will call this “The North Process”, and I give him total credit. If you have never heard of Jon North, I recommend heading over to to learn more about his amazing athlete and his wife Jessica North. The North Process is a four step process that he relates to a gold miner extracting gold. The first step is having the courage to go down into the mine. Most of us don’t even have the courage to begin a new adventure. People see the sport of weightlifting, and they are intrigued. They desire to learn more about the sport, but they never have the courage to try it out.

The second part is seeing the gold that you are going to extract. You have to see it before you can actually get it. Weightlifting is no different at all. One has to see their potential in the sport before they begin the work of realizing that potential. I have had countless athletes cross paths with me that had extraordinary potential, but they could never see it. I could talk to them until I was blue in the face, and they still just couldn’t grasp the concept of their ability to be a champion.

Once gold miner spots the gold, now it is time for the miner to put on the hard hat, get out the tools, and go to work. The gold will not put itself into the mining cart. A weightlifter that realizes they have potential must now put the work in. Weightlifting takes countless hours of snatch, clean & jerk, squats, pulls, and other exercises to develop the lifter into a contender. Weightlifting is a brutal sport, and a weightlifter should realize that they are in for a lifetime of hard work. A lifter has to embrace that process, and they should learn to enjoy it. A lot of those days will be filled with frustration, but the ones that are those brilliant moments of progress far out shine the frustration.

The final step for a miner is to actually take the gold out of the mine. This step is the most obvious one, but it is the most difficult aspect for many. Thousands of athletes have recognized their potential, put in the work, but have simply walked away from the sport having never reached their true potential. I blame this entirely on a fear of failure. A lot of us would rather talk about what we could have done than to ever risk the chance of failing at something. I am not quite sure where this comes from in humans, but it is a dark part of some people’s soul. It is a dark spot that needs to be identified, dealt with, and conquered before any amount of peace can be had in an athlete’s life. I tell all of my athletes that the result of one’s work isn’t the real point. The biggest point is to be able to look at yourself in the mirror at the end of your life, and be able to say that you gave it your all. You want to be able to say that you did everything that you were capable of, and the result will take care of itself. To sum it up, the North Process is as follows:

The North Process
1. Go into the mine! Have the courage to go into the mine, and begin the process.
2. See the gold! One has to be able to see the potential in whatever they are doing.
3. Dig the Gold! You have to put in the work!
4. Finally take the Gold! Finish what you start!

The North Process can be applied to all aspects of life as well. If a person wants to be a lawyer, they have to go to college/Go into the mine. They have to see their potential to make the grades necessary for law school/See the gold. They have to put in the work required to make the grades that are required for entrance to a law school/Dig the gold. Last they have to take the LSAT, apply to schools, and actually go to law school/Take the gold. This process is one that we should analyze all of our endeavors with before embarking on the journey.

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This week we released the Online GridStyle Team, and it is awesome! Come get a program that is tailored to your own genetics to make your strengths stronger while eliminating all weaknesses! Check it out:

Online Team GridStyle

My Learn 2 Lift Seminar Series kicks off again in March. I will be at Obsessive CrossFit Disorder in Kissimmee, FL March 28-29. Go to to sign up!

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