Essay: Social Media.

July 25, 2015

The modern day weightlifter is accused of being increasingly narcissistic as the number of social media outlets increases.  This is a matter of opinion and it’s not my intent to argue against this other than by saying that weightlifters have been boasting about their accomplishments since people started picking heavy things up off the ground.  It’s just that their legacy needed to be passed on through a far less efficient oral tradition instead of “hash tagging” 15 second snippets of themselves and then electronically uploading these snippets to the internet.  Hey, I get it.  I’m with it.  I’m hip.  That’s why I put the young people on the team in charge of our Occam Athletics instagram account.  But as far as I’m concerned, I’m always going to default to ways of communicating that provide a little bit more insight and effort.  I’m of the opinion that a 3 minute long youtube video set to music or a blog post serve as a more complete snapshot in time.

A snapshot in time.

A snapshot in time.

I look back on these memories and they help me look towards the future; help me find what I’m looking for.  Hard work is not special.  Dedication isn’t special.  Anyone who’s been halfway decent at something that they care about is going to work just as hard or harder than you.  Figuring out one’s purpose, on the other hand, IS special.

On your way to becoming a decent weightlifter, you’re going to develop a strong sense of self.  It simply comes with the territory.  You’ll need it.  Along the way you’re going to meet people that will try and tear you down; bring you down to their level.  For every one person that’s tried to reach out and touch the sky there are several more unremarkable individuals who will desperately grab at his heels.  Your sense of purpose and self will be the only thing that will protect you.

The team is settling down nicely in our new turf.  It feels like a fresh start.  I anticipate that we’ll be in our own space (Occam’s Lair) within a couple weeks or so.  Once that happens, we’ll be unstoppable.

Trust the process.

-Ben

Interview Repost?

July 24, 2015

I may have posted this a few years ago.

The nice thing about where I live is that there are plenty of other weightlifting coaches to draw inspiration from.  I’ve learned something from just about everyone over the years.  I’ll often look at guys like Greg Everett, Max Aita, the Doherty brothers (in Doherty we trust), Freddie Myles, Jasha Faye, Dave Spitz and Jim Schmitz just to name a few.

I remember watching this interview a few years ago and some of the concepts that Dave talks about still influence me today.

Answering the Call.

July 19, 2015

Something that has affected me over the course of several years and something that I’ll refer back to often is Bill Moyers’ interview series with Joseph Campbell, “The Power of Myth.”  Campbell discusses his thoughts on what he calls “the mono-myth” and the transformative process of the “hero’s journey.”  This is a concept that in his mind is not limited to mythology, storytelling or religion but all facets of life.  I’ll occasionally thumb through some of his writings or re-watch pieces of the interview when considering my own transformative process.

Lately this has resonated with me:

joseph_campbell

“The achievement of the hero is one that he is ready for and it’s really a manifestation of his character. It’s amusing the way in which the landscape and conditions of the environment match the readiness of the hero. The adventure that he is ready for is the one that he gets … The adventure evoked a quality of his character that he didn’t know he possessed.”

(The Power of Myth, Episode 1).

10 years ago I decided I wanted to be strong.  It was all consuming.  Though I didn’t have a clear idea why, it has taken me though a constantly changing landscape.  It took me several years before I realized that maybe my end goal wasn’t just physical strength.  If it was, my actions would’ve taken me down a different path.  The more I worked I realized that my actions are also firmly rooted in the community that I create.

“Occam’s Lair” is the fun little name we’ve given our new home.  Right now, we’ve got 4 temporary platforms set up on the main floor of Capital Strength and Performance.  We’ve got  a growing collection of (nice) barbells, plates and squat racks.  But once the lair is cleared and we move in, I’m going to pour every dime I have into turning it into our perfect little weightlifting dungeon.  I’m sure that it will serve as the final landscape of my high level weightlifting career.  But it will be the very beginning of something new; The next step of my journey.  It took me most of my 20’s, but I finally feel like I’m growing into the person that I was meant to be.

Trust the process.

-Ben

Dark Orchestra Shirts.

July 16, 2015

No, Jon does not need my help selling shirts.  BUT, he actually paid me to do one of the illustrations so I figured I’d post a link.  Can you guess which one?

The Dark Orchestra Store.  

Jon, Jess and I used to train together back at the old HF headquarters (like 7 years ago?).  Believe it or not, there was a short period of time where I could outsnatch him.  Wishing him and his family the best always.

If you’ve been wondering why I’ve been MIA lately . . . well . . . I’ve been a little bit busy.  I’m starting my own business.  The team and I have moved locations and we are now officially under the moniker “Occam Athletics.”  We’re still in the heart of Midtown; located inside of Cap City Strength and Performance on 23rd and S.  I was planning on making a move like this eventually but sometimes life happens and you need to take an opportunity when you see it.

Opportunity.

Opportunity.

It’s going to be a long road.  The bulk of my equipment will arrive in a couple weeks. I’ll be getting a few more essentials in the months to follow.  We’re eventually going to be set up with a 1200 square foot room dedicated to platform space; Our very own weightlifting dungeon.  Starting this week it’s back to business as usual. I’ll be running team practices and doing one evening strength and conditioning class on MWF at 5:30.  I’ve got more info for those interested.

But man . . . let me tell you, Shiah was right.  Nothing can hold you back.  Seriously if you want to do something, just do it. DO IT.

Me after I locked up at the new spot tonight.  Ok, maybe a slight exaggeration.

Me after I locked up at the new spot tonight. Ok, maybe a slight exaggeration.

Don’t Steal Me.

July 8, 2015

So recently USAW posted one of my images that someone else had edited with a word bubble which I don’t have a problem with.  I actually LIKE when USAW ever posts anything about me.  It’s just too bad it’s never for my lifting LOLOLOLOL. However, it is interesting that this image more so than any other I’ve posted over the years DOES get stolen.  Then I have to contact whoever stole it for their shirts.  And then they pay me.  It’s happened . . . like a lot. Lesson learned.  Don’t post any artwork on  the internet unless you plaster your name all over it.  It’s probably too late for the ones that have been on here.  So I’ll just re-post this new version.

You like it?

You like it?

Here you go, internet.

Biscuitry.

July 3, 2015

Biscuitry: The state of being bigger than average while doing normal activities; In more extreme cases, doing activities that require above average agility or nimbleness.  The juxtaposition results in comedic relief.

Get a Hammock.

June 28, 2015

Lake Margaret.

Lake Margaret.

Life takes you to some pretty interesting places sometimes; “interesting” being a loaded descriptor.  You might go for months or years on end living every day exactly the same.  Maybe it was one day, maybe it was one moment and everything got turned on it’s head.  You’ve got the choice to either deal with it or let it overcome you.  Maybe it’s a little of both.

Both.

Both.

Sometimes the easiest thing to do is to put your head down and press forward. It takes confidence to look inward and ask where do I want to go from here.  One thing that I know through experience is that it’s a difficult task to be strong if you have no purpose.

Let us find it and be thankful.

PWA Championships 2015.

June 22, 2015

Here’s 22 minutes of lifting for you to zone out to while at work.

A complete portrait of strength at least by my standards, includes mastery of one’s own bodyweight.  Even at 286lbs I was still able to bang out a few muscle ups and do various tricks on the pull-up bar.  Now at 228lbs, my options once again are more numerous.  In 2005, I decided I wasn’t into any sort of bodybuilding anymore because it “did not serve a purpose.” I decided that instead I would supplement my Olympic lifts with bodyweight training and wrestling. It made for a pretty decent physique and let me be on my high horse when bros at frat parties would ask me how much I bench.

“BENCH? HAHAHAHA! OH, SUCH PEASANTRY. YOU SIMPLETON.”

I eventually grew out of that phase.  Although to this day, I rarely if ever bench press. I first mastered the muscle up in 2005 because my friend from high school said that DMX did them for upper body strength.  Yup, you read that right.  I actually had no idea what the blossoming company, Crossfit was at the time.  No.  I started doing muscle ups because I wanted to prove to myself that I was as good as fucking DMX, the rapper.  Standards.

But that’s actually not where my interest in bodyweight training started.  I can actually pin point the exact moment in my childhood that I first realized that mastery of one’s bodyweight is a skill that I never wanted to be without.

I was in 5th or 6th grade.  I was with my family on a trip to Monterey for Summer vacation.  My brothers were still pretty young at the time so my parents decided that we would visit the “Denis the Menace Park” pretty close to Cannery Row.  This was a basically a park with a legit play area for kids instead of a standard play structure.  Me being all mature at 12 or 13 years old had no interest in this.  Luckily for me, a skate park opened up just across from the park.  The only skate park I had ever visited before that was in Davis and that one was so small, it was surely meant for “posers.”  I wasn’t all that good.  I mean, at 5’6 I looked like I was about as wide as I was tall.  With the baggy shorts only leaving my “cankles” exposed and an oversized plaid shirt, I was basically a grunged out pirate ship while at full speed on my deck.  But still I was able to bust out a few tricks and shredded to my heart’s delight for two or three hours at the park up until my dad walked up to the chainlink fence letting me know it was time to go.

He told me to throw my board over and hop the fence.  Simple enough.  I tried 6 or 7 pathetic efforts.  Each time I would fall back to the ground weighed down by my pop-tart rich diet and shame.  Each time I felt the eyes of other boarders stopping to watch as the fat kid couldn’t hop a chain link fence.  Pitiful.  What was worse is the look on my dad’s face when he realized his kid probably couldn’t escape a burning building if he had to;  A one story building. Having enough, I let my dad know I was just going to take the long way around.

It was a long walk.

“Ey, Dawg. You should be ashamed of yourself.” I was, DMX. I was.

That moment probably affected me more than it should have.  By the time I was 18, I could leap over a fence or given enough effort pull the damn thing down.  Mastery of my bodyweight would always be a skill I’d want to develop.  But it didn’t just stop at pull-ups and decently strong abs.  I started working out at a rock climbing gym to take my game to another level.  I’ve eased up over the years.  I’m saving all my really cool bodyweight stuff for after my lifting career.  I’ll usually throw in 15 minutes or so of playtime after my workouts 3 days a week.  My lifters also work on these skill sets.  I don’t make them do most of the stuff that I do.  But I do prioritize L sits from both the seated and hanging position, strict pull-ups, chin ups and various torso strengthening such as side bends, Chinese Planks and crunches.  This to me represents the bare minimum of what an able bodied person should be able to do.

Windshield wipers are a favorite of mine.  I'm also working on my human flag and pushups without my feet on the ground.

Windshield wipers are a favorite of mine. I’m also working on my human flag and pushups without my feet on the ground.

It would be a hard case for me to make that bodyweight training is directly beneficial to success on the platform, especially given the relatively underdeveloped physiques of some of the world’s best lifters.  But I do like to have my lifters work on general strength skills because I like developing them to be generally fit and capable people; That and I don’t want anyone to have to take the long way around.

-Trust the Process.

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