May 25, 2015
Check it out. I finally threw down and made some shirts. If you’re in town, pick one up for 25 bucks cash. If you’re out of town, I’m working on it.
These shirts are actually pretty significant for me. For one, it’s a design that I drew. It’s honest. The design is based off of actual photos of us training. There’s no lions or other popular fitsperation gimmicks. The figures on the bottom represent our Yamdancer philosophy, a concept that I stole from Coach Paul of Hassle Free. On the back I chose to go with, “Trust the process.” This has been personally significant to me since 2005 after I went on a religious retreat.
I’ll still sell some of my work in the future. You can probably pick out which one is mine from Jon North’s new line. But this one is all me. All us.
Trust the process.
May 17, 2015
As I sat in the Kansas City Airport eating what must assuredly be the worst pastrami sandwich of my adult life, I finely found time for some self reflection; time to understand what a transformative experience I had just went through. As I sat in the Kansas city Airport eating the the worst pastrami sandwich I’ve had since 4th grade, I began to understand the depth of what I’ve been missing in my life and what I have to look forward to once this sandwich is eaten; banished to the depths so that it can no longer infect the world with it’s presence. It was a poor excuse for sandwich if I’ve ever seen one; possessing the minimum requirements of what could be considered a hand held vessel for meat consumption but without the soul required to satisfy discerning palettes.
I’m 28 now. Young enough to be at a station where it’s ok to still not have a finite plan together but old enough to know that there are consequences to every decision we make in this life; old enough to know that the cost of every decision is far too great to quantify. Time isn’t money. Time is life. It’s the only thing we really own before we return as dust. My sister just had a kid. I’m flying home from a wedding I was graciously invited to be in as a groomsman. Sitting in the Kansas City airport eating a vile excuse for a sandwich is somehow personally significant. It’s the first time since 2012 I’ve taken 4 consecutive days off from work for a non-work related trip; Not for the sandwich of course but for the wedding.
That in itself was a hard realization. The past 3 years have taught me much. But they’ve cost me just as much. If you re-read the paragraph above and interpret time as the only true currency, then consider me bankrupt. I’ve spent it all chasing dreams and unicorns. I’ve spent it turning this thing from a hobby to an obsession to a bonafide job. My church is now my office. In the past I’ve looked to nature for short jaunts away from my day to day. Self reflection had become a top priority. In my mind, it was the only legitimate reason I would need an escape. I am an exceptionally brief person by nature, so the last thing I considered as a means of self refection would be to surround myself with other people. People I don’t know. People who are not the gym. I never thought that my buddy’s wedding in Kansas City and the sandwich that followed would be the catalyst that would allow me to truly look inward.
I learned a few things this weekend:
1) The longer I chase this thing, and by “this thing” I mean the last 2-3 years of my high level athletic career, the more it will “cost” me personally.
2) I have a profound need for self validation at the end of all this. No one will truly care how far I get, at least as much as I do. But still I NEED to get to the end and tell myself it was worth it. In my mind, I think that’s getting a medal at Nationals or the American Open. I’ll know for sure after one of those things happen.
3) After it’s over, I’m going to be ok. I shove a lot of my basic needs on the back burner so I can focus on the day to day grind. I love it. I thrive on it. It completes me. But someday soon, I’m going to go on that extra long hike or that trip across Europe or pick up martial arts and rock climbing again or get a dog or move in with a girl. I see the light at the end of the tunnel and honestly it looks pretty good.
4) Weightlifting will always be a part of my life. After all, I’ve always identified more with Obi Wan Kenobi than Luke Skywalker . . . Han Solo too but that’s a different story.
5) I don’t have an excuse to not succeed. Neither do you if you think about it.
6) One day, I’m going to buy my own cat. In 2014, I realized that I spent my entire life not knowing that I liked them. He’s going to be a fat, furry, gnarly looking asshole.
My fellow man taught me a lot this weekend. I met the families and I was accepted as one of their own for a whole weekend, all because I love Nate. A few closing thoughts before I get on this plane: visit Kansas City if you get the chance, go to Arthur Bryants and order the burnt ends. Follow your bliss but never forget that you need at least a few other people to share that bliss with. If you set your eyes on a goal, go forth and fucking destroy it. If it’s worth your time, it’s worth your effort too.
This post is dedicated to Nate and Ryann and the awful, self reflective sandwich that followed a wonderful weekend with your family. For reference, Nate and I are exactly the same age, we have similar jobs but for as many similarities we share, we share just as many differences. I’ve learned a lot about myself from our friendship as you can probably gather.
May 10, 2015
April was a huge month for me. Check it out.
Also, this is one of my all time favorite songs.
I love my job. I love what I do. But gosh darn it, is it hard to find balance in life sometimes. Every year has been a learning experience for me. And every year I get deeper and deeper. Right now I’m thinking about Nationals. I’m thinking about coaching my team in the next 3 meets. I think it’s about time I turned on the gas and really put my head down going into the summer. If it’s not one of those things chances are it will be on the back burner indefinitely. I’ve got one more week where I’ll be out of town and then it’s full steam ahead, baby.
If you are a coach as well as an athlete, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section.
May 7, 2015
Let’s play a game.
8 attempts max.
2 misses allowed before the player is “knocked out.”
Clean and jerks went OK. I only made like 4. I blame it on me doing my squats in the morning session beforehand.
EMOMs aren’t all that common for us but this video is a good example of the team training cycle right now.
April 28, 2015
This will be a first installment in a series of posts describing certain accessory exercises we do and my rational for why. First and foremost, I’d like to say that NONE of these exercises are NECESSARY for improvement of the Olympic lifts. They do not reinforce technique and they do not provide a primary adaptive stimulus. That’s why I use them an accessory lift. If you’re reading this (or any post on the internet like it) thinking that one of these exercises will become the ONE TOOL essential to your progress then you’ve come to the wrong blog, hombre. Also, I am married to none of these exercises so my views on them are subject to change. These are simply things that I include in bodybuilding style circuits for my competitive lifters on our accessory days to finish up the workout.
Now that I’ve got that over with, lets talk abut the heavy KB swing.
Whenever a coach of a different discipline validates the KB swing as a tool for improving things other than swings or lungs, KB fanboys get immediately overly excited. Calm down. I currently am including the two handed version of these in a bodybuilding circuit for the team once a week for 3×12. So If I had to assign a % of how important this is to our training, it might be like 3%. I developed a new respect and appreciation for the swing after listening to a presentation on the swing done by Russell Dunning. When done correctly, the swing will bias the often lacking posterior chain. Olympic weightlifting by nature is a very quad dominant sport down to the way our shoes are built. So if I want to build a sexy butt and hamstrings to fill out my Levis, I’m going to have to do some extra work. So over the past few years I’ve begun including much more posterior chain work for the team including lighter accessory movements such as single leg DB RDLS, GHR’s, GH bridges with furniture sliders, BB hip thrusters, banded external rotations of the hip, reverse hypers, ETC.
Keep note that much like an RDL, a vertical shin with your weight placed towards your heel is necessary to bias the posterior chain like you’re supposed to. Hmm . . . is there a position in weightlifting that is similar to this one? Perhaps as the bar passes the point of our knee?
Are there other ways to swing a kettlebell that are also correct? Sure, maybe. I don’t care really. I’m not a kettlebell expert. This is how we do them and why.
April 27, 2015
It seems that youtube videos are not as in style nowadays. People would rather watch a 5 second cut up clip, most of which is shot on video phones rather than watch a feature length shot on an ACTUAL camera. If I’ve learned one thing about fitness and pop culture, it’s that YOU DON’T GET TO PICK WHAT IS IN STYLE. YOU CAN ONLY CHOOSE TO PLAY ALONG OR SIT OUT. As far as I’m concerned, I’d much rather sit and watch a decently filmed and edited youtube video rather than contribute to the short attention span of today’s youth. But hey, that’s just me. I actually get some enjoyment from putting out videos from a particular time period or paired with a song I like. They’re like little snap shots in time for me and provide hours of enjoyment and self reflection. I’m also much more likely to re-watch something that is at least decently visually pleasing.
Here’s a new video from my buddy Sean Waxman. Good ol’ youtube training footage. Like an ironmind video for a new generation. Enjoy.
April 27, 2015
Saturday wrapped up the longest stretch of consecutive coaching/work days of my career. 4 weeks by my estimation. Worth it? Most certainly. I started lifting weights as a sport 10 years ago. I never thought it would take me here. That being said, If you know and are friends with me on a personal level, I owe you both a congratulations and an apology. I don’t think I’ve willingly or been happy about answering my phone for at least the last 3 weeks.
Young strength coaches or trainers, find balance. Like me, you might find yourself with a few hours of actual free time on your hands only to find that you have no one to spend it with. All your friends will have given up.
I’d now like to share with you a picture of personal significance to me.
One thing that they don’t tell you about getting into the strength and conditioning or general fitness field is the amount of time that you will be spending doing work related things OTHER than coaching at the gym. More often than not, training will be the first thing to suffer. You’d think that working at a gym means unlimited gym time with your mental state complexly focused on your sport goals. That might be true for the first couple years while you’re building your base (and are poor) but when you finely find yourself with your feet underneath you, you will also find your church has been turned into your office; albeit the COOLEST office ever.
The photo pictured above is taken from the NSCA Norcal State Clinic. I was lucky enough to be one of the featured speakers. For me, this represented a personal milestone. This is the first crowd that I came in contact with in 2005 that actually KNEW about Olympic weightlifting. I can remember eagerly walking into the CSUS weight room and some of the masters kinesiology students were in there practicing their lifts or getting ready for competition. These were my first weightlifting heroes. Some of those people were actually present this day when I spoke and it gave me a special feeling of closure re-meeting these people; this time on the professional level.
A final closing thought: The grind IS worth it. Just make sure that by the time you’re done grinding, you have a plan for the future and people to spend it with.
April 18, 2015
My group has grown. We are strong and happy to train together. Every day is a privilege and sometimes I get so lost in keeping this thing going (and improving) that I forget that.
Here are a few clips taken over the last few months of training and contests.
My mind has changed
my body’s frame but god I like it
my hearts aflame
my body’s strained but god I like it
April 15, 2015
The last 2-3 weeks have been incredibly busy for me, as is often the case with small business people.
I just got back from coaching that the Master’s National Championships. Two of my athletes competed: Lindsay and Duffy. Both got themselves some meet PR’s and had a great showing at their first national meet. Both have been with me for a long time and I’m proud that we made it that far together. I also helped out another athlete from Virginia; a talented one at that. She also snuck away with some meet PRs.
This weekend I’ll be be speaking at an NSCA conference held at Menlo college. My presentation is called, “Practical Programming for the Novice and Intermediate Weightlifter.” I’m actually pretty excited. I haven’t given a power point presentation since college, but collegiate and high school strength coaches are folks that I don’t normally get to talk to on a regular basis. I’ll be glad to branch out and exchange ideas with people.
The following day, I’ll be coaching the team up at a meet we’re hosting at our gym. If you’re in the area, come check it out. We’ll be there all day. 5 bucks at the door. BYOB. You get in free if you bring me a beer. Just kidding.