A good coach is going to continually learn, add or change his perspective on his training process throughout his career.  New information can be gathered through the relationship he builds with his trainees, occasionally through his own experience, speaking to licensed and educated people in other fields or through looking at the literature (and I’m NOT talking about that shit you read for free on the internet).  In my opinion, only pulling from one or two of these sources, limits perspective when the goal is to try and gain a more comprehensive understanding of the trainee and the effect of your program.

I fell into some luck recently in my new situation by finding myself being surrounded by professionals who understand weightlifting but are also able to give me new insight on stuff we’ve been missing out on or neglecting.  As a result, I’ve made a few changes to my strategies that include sending athletes to get screened by professionals for muscle imbalances and getting them set up with the right corrective exercises.  One convenience is that since we all perform the same activity, we’re all going to have the same things to work on.  I’ve also implemented mandatory “prep” before my lifters are allowed to touch a barbell.  This prep changes day today and will change from training block to block to make sure all of our bases are covered.  This differs from my style even a few years ago where I would just leave it up to my lifters to take care of themselves before they lift.  Some would do a good job with a good mix of dynamic movements and activation routines, some would roll around on a foam roller for like 5 minutes and call it good and a few would do what I call “the Brett Farve warm-up” which is basically taking a knee or doing a few air squats before hitting the platform.

Here’s a little gem that I learned from a PT friend that I call “baby planks” because it’s part of a series that is based off of baby movements.  I’d like to state again that I DID NOT make this up and I’m not taking credit for it.  This particular version is the second step in the progression that gets pretty advanced.  Regular planks are pretty much useless because the stronger muscles lining your trunk will always take over.  Correctly set up, this plank is far superior for a number of reasons, the most important being that as weightlifters, we’re going to be prone to becoming lordotic if we don’t take care to correctly balance out our musculature.  Trainees might think that they’re building a strong ass but in many cases, they’re just getting more and more used to sticking their ass out; problematic when loading the spine and living pain free.

At the moment we run these 3x per week for just 5 ten second holds pre-workout.  It doesn’t take a whole lot to make sure your correct muscles are firing and we’ve got a whole series of stuff we have to get done before we hit the platform.

I could've done a better job getting rid of my lumbar curve. Next time I'm going to get a friend to tell me if I've hit neutral or not.

I could’ve done a better job getting rid of my lumbar curve. Next time I’m going to get a friend to tell me if I’ve hit neutral or not.

The set up is VERY important:

  1. Lie on the ground face down.
  2. Extend your arms in front of you, pinkies down.  Your finger tips should be touching and you should have enough space that your dome should fit in between your arms with room to spare.  DO NOT MOVE YOUR ARMS AT THIS POINT.  Trainees will try and cheat by putting their elbows lower.  Your weight will be pushed through your elbows engaging all the muscles lining your T-spine.
  3. Bring one of your legs up about 60 degrees.  This is the hardest part to get right.  The inside of your knee will be pushing into the ground with your foot in the air.  At this point, one of your hips will be raised.
  4. Bring your other leg up about 60 degrees.  At this point, your hips will be elevated with your belly still touching the ground.  This is your start position.  If somebody walks past you at this point, they’ll probably wonder what the hell you’re doing.  Just say that you’re “practicing” and they should “move along.”
  5. Elevate your torso.  Everything lifts up off of the ground at the same time by pushing through the inside of your knees and your elbows.  the lumbar curve in your spine should be disappearing.  If the trainee has a tough time with this, tell them to “Imagine that they are wearing a seatbelt.  Try and pull your seat belt towards your chest.”  Have a partner look alongside and make sure that all of the curves are taken out.  Some will be weak or hyper-mobile so keeping a neutral spine will be a challenge.  Some will begin shuddering like they’re doing 120MPH on the autobahn.  Rounding or bulging in the upper back is caused by dysfunction in the T-spine.

Yeah, I know.  I already made this video.  But I was way fatter back then and now I’m not so hopefully more people will listen and stop wasting money.

So to clarify:

If you like long straps (2 foot lengths) buy 12 feet and you get 3 pair.

If you like short straps for your little baby hands (1 and a half foot lengths) buy 12 feet and you get 4 straps.

Don’t be an idiot like me and buy 10 feet.

Nationals 2015 Video.

August 26, 2015

I finally got around to putting together a video from Dallas.

Hey, so I know I say “thank you” a lot but it doesn’t make it any less sincere.  I am fortunate enough to be the leader of a very special group of people whom I’d die for. I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without their help or without the help of my support system.  The list is long, so I’m just going to leave it at thank YOU.

Everybody loves Nat from Hookgrip.

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And for good reason.  He makes us look GOOOOOOD.

I’ll post video this week as well as some updates.

How it Ends.

August 16, 2015

You have a right to re-invent yourself.  Be the best version of yourself.  That person will and should change over the course of your journey, even during the relatively short life of your weightlifting journey.  When you finally get to the void; the unknown.  Don’t just stand there. Jump in.

I lift this evening At nationals in Dallas.  Regardless of the outcome, I’ve got a community at home.  I’m going to show them how I want it to be done; give them a snapshot at my journey through the process.  By my estimation, I’ve got about 2-3 years left of high level competition which makes these last few years my twilight years.  Very soon I dive into a different kind of void, gaining more knowledge of self, further growing the community.

Trust the process.

-Ben

The 2015 Kono Video, Bro.

August 14, 2015

Here’s some video shot from people’s phones with my voice talking over it.  Enjoy if you’re into that sort of thing.

I didn’t get/post video of everybody but I had 11 lifters compete and I’m proud of every one of them.  I’m also proud that the rest of the team banded together and helped out the counting/warm-up process.

HERE is the link for the Nationals webcast.  I thinks’m lifting on Sunday Afternoon.

I’ll see you in Dallas!!!

Say that 5 times fast.

Over the past month or so, I’ve been really stepping up my game on balancing out my team’s Olympic Lifting training with prehab exercises, functional movements and activation stuff to keep us healthy and prepared to train.  Part of this has been surrounding myself with the right people. Amadeo, the owner of CSP (the gym we share space with) is extremely educated on these movements and I do my best to steal information from him whenever I can.  Additionally, I’ve enlisted the help of a young hot shot who works at the premier athletic PT facility in Sacramento.  It never hurts to ask questions.  And I’m a firm believer that to be successful in the fitness industry, it’s best to stick to what you’re good at.  People don’t come to me to fix hips.  People come to me to fix their snatch, get stronger, faster, more balanced and better looking.  So I’ve been asking more questions and arming myself with more information. When the situation calls for it, I’ll ask others for help or even send my people elsewhere.

This handy little prep exercise is something I’ll throw in the beginning of a team workout or group exercise session.  I’ve been doing it myself for a few weeks now and it’s helped me uncover a gap in my armor.  Obviously this exercise is meant to prepare the glutes for extension (ya’know . . . like in Olympic lifting).  Having the calfs resting on the foam roller helps turn off the hamstring and keeps the exercise focused on the glute only.  If the trainee (in this case, myself) feels the movement work muscles in places BESIDES the glute, this could be a sign of weakness and overcompensation from other muscle groups.

The bottom from is the start position.  The top is the finish.  Have the trainee hold this position for 5 seconds or so until he/she feels the burn in the correct muscle (dat ass).

The bottom from is the start position. The top is the finish. Have the trainee hold this position for 5 seconds or so until he/she feels the burn in the correct muscle (dat ass).

2-3 sets of 5 on each leg is plenty.  You can superset this with other prep exercises in your toolbox that work different muscle groups.  In my case, I noticed that my left glute was actually significantly weaker than my right which may or may not be part of the problem puts me at a higher risk for low back injury.  I actually felt this initially in my right low back when I was trying to work my left glute.  Hold the top position isometrically for about 10 seconds until you feel your correct cheek come to life.  Other problems when doing this exercise is having the foam roller too low on the leg shank.  Put it high up on the calf so your brain doesn’t have such a tough time turning on the correct muscles.  Remember, this is for your ass, not your hamstrings.

Use this to compliment your hip abduction, external rotation and knee flexion prep exercises and your low half should be good to go with a proper dynamic warm-up.

The team competed yesterday for the first time under the new name, new gym, new life.  Jake took first and Emelie took second overall by sinclair.  Jen took a shot at the AO total.  Alexa and Conor competed in their first meets.  Zander closed in on his goal of breaking the master’s American record clean and jerk for his category.  Sammi hit the AO total at a different weight class.  Paige, Katie, Heather H and Yezmin got out there and represented well.  It was an overall success.  And it wouldn’t have happened without the rest of the team there to support.  I taught a number of my people yesterday how to count attempts and help in the warm-up area.  It ended up being a beautiful symphony of communication.  Thank you Heather, Deb, Alexa, Nick, Paige, and even you, Nile. Together we made it happen.

Counting at the card table.

Counting at the card table.

The photo on the left was taken 9 years ago at the first Kono.  I feel like Tommy has probably aged better than me.

The photo on the left was taken 9 years ago at the first Kono. I feel like Tommy has probably aged better than me.

July was the most productive month of my entire life. I will never forget it; both the ups and downs.  I really feel like I’m ready to start acting like the leader that my people think I am whereas before I felt like I was just pretending.

I’ve always been motivated, though for what reason I couldn’t really identify.  Now I have purpose.  And it is through purpose that we find true strength.

Trust the process.

-Ben

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