Wed, 23 July 2014
Sun, 20 July 2014
Wed, 16 July 2014
This week on Barbell Shrugged we are joined once again by the one and only Kendrick Farris, two-time Olympian for USA Weightlifting, tattoo aficionado, part-time comedian and all around amazing dude.
Kendrick always gets us fired up when he speaks, but it’s quite another to actually see Kendrick lift. Imagine, a man his size easily tossing almost 500 pounds overhead, or easily squatting 550 pounds rep after rep. It’s incredible. On the world stage this guy is as strong as any lifter his size, period. The Olympics are always a really tough competition for the United States, sure, but I for one can’t wait to see Kendrick on the Rio platform in 2016. The Barbell Shrugged crew will be right there in the stands, sipping Caipirinha’s and cheering him on as loud as we possibly can.
To get that damn good, you would think Kendrick has sacrificed everything for the sport of weightlifting. It wouldn’t surprise you if he came off as obsessed, hyper-competitive and all that. But the truth is that he lives a remarkably balanced life. Kendrick’s Instagram feed is not just a showcase for his lifting prowess. It’s mostly pictures of friends, family, and more than a few tattoo sessions. He’s the type of guy who loves and shares openly. He wants you to be better than him one day, which is probably exactly why he’s such an amazing lifter. Attitude is everything.
Kendrick doesn’t compete to impress anyone, especially not himself. He’s just interested in learning what works best for weightlifting. Sure, dominating the platform is the ultimate goal, but only because it creates a platform for Kendrick to inspire, teach, and share his remarkable point of view on lifting and living. It also gives him the opportunity to meet the best coaches in the world, to mix and share ideas, and to push the community forward.
Between Kendrick and the lovely Diane Fu there’s never been a better time to learn the sport of weightlifting. They both have such an amazing, open attitude to coaching and sharing information. Their seminars really are some of the best coaching experiences you could hope to have, really.
You can check out dates for Kendrick’s Bless the Gym Tour here. Also, if you want some Diane Fu in your life, check out her event schedule. You’d be silly not to go, especially when they coach together. Do it!
If you want a summary of Kendrick’s wisdom look no further than his attitude towards weight and diet. Lifters often obsess about cutting weight before a big competition. The rationale is clear enough. If you can cut hard, then regain weight after weigh-ins you will have a clear competitive advantage over the other folks in your weight class. And that’s true, but more often than not the cut leaves you feeling like shit. This is what happens when you spend more time thinking about the competition, forgetting what it is that’s best for you. Likewise, diet is cool and all, but there’s no sense in obsessing over it. The details, demands, and strict food limitations aren’t necessary. That’s time and effort that could otherwise be spent with the barbell, which is a far better way to become a great lifter. Does Kendrick eat Paleo? Does he have a personal chef or catering services provide him meals? Hardly. He seems to spend most of his time crushing bags of trail mix in between training sessions. It’s not ideal, but he seems to love it. Maybe that’s the only dietary detail that matters.
Get with a great coach, or two, or three. Move efficiently, but find out works best for you. There are no hard rules. Do your thing. Refine it. Put together a long-term plan and be patient. Train hard, and with a community of great lifters. Eat what you need to eat. Weigh what you’re going to weigh. Be the strongest possible version of yourself.
If you want more Kendrick in your life, make sure to follow him on Instagram. You don’t want to miss any of his pancake sessions or heavy squat workouts, trust me. You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
Bless the gym!
Tue, 15 July 2014
Info on our Road To Regionals programming.
Tue, 15 July 2014
Info on our upcoming 6 Month Muscle Gain Challenge.
Wed, 9 July 2014
This week on Barbell Shrugged we are joined by the incomparable Travis Mash, high level strength coach, world champion powerlifter, and to be honest, one of our absolute favorite human beings in the entire world.
If Travis’ name sounds familiar it’s for a good reason. This is his second appearance on the show. The first time around on episode 97 we got the chance to talk about the barbell and all of the life lessons it has taught us. As good as that show was, I think that round two is even better. Really, this might be our best strength discussion to date.
For me it’s easy to see what makes Travis such an incredible coach. First, he is incredibly kind and empathetic. Right when you meet him you feel like you’ve known him all along. And when you see his work you realize just how important it is for a coach to build strong relationships with their athletes. That connection makes extraordinary strength possible.
He’s kind, but he’s also been around for a really long-time (it’s OK, we’re all getting older together). He’s performed at a very high level in both weightlifting and powerlifting for many years, has even made a run at national level bobsledding. More impressive still, he’s been coaching athletes and directly applying that hard-earned wisdom for over fifteen years. So, when Travis makes a recommendation on how you can get stronger, you listen.
This show was running over with but nuggets and pearls, but a few super useful lessons jump right out at me. First, competitive fitness athletes still have a lot they could learn from powerlifters and bodybuilders. One of the best examples is the row. Above any other assistance movement, this is what the average Crossfitter needs most of all. Barbell rows, chest supported rows, one-arm pulls with a super-duper heavy kettlebell, any kind will do. It hardly matters, as long as they are done often. Forget what you’ve heard, there’s nothing more functional than adding pulling power.
Lessons, lessons, how about the importance of patience? If there’s one key mistake that’s keeping a lot of people weak it’s this - They don’t give the adaptations time to set in! They start out on a mission to get strong, because that’s what they need most of all. But they freak out when results don’t come immediately, or when their WOD times fall off a little bit.
This is all by design.
Real strength takes time. As Travis will tell you it’s a lot like working a blue collar job, like a construction gig. At first the work is just too much. You’ll hate it, no doubt. Recovery will be a struggle. You will feel like shit while everyone around you runs around like the work is no big deal. That’s when you need to hold on and be patient.
The secret to getting really, super-duper strong is allowing that adaptation to take hold. You have to fight for it. The training should be really hard, but just like a bulletproof and sun-hardened construction worker, you need time to get used to it.
Be patient! Find great programming and stick with it, don’t jump around. You will get faster, more efficient, and strong as hell as soon as you earn it. You just can’t be afraid of walking through hell first. Take your ass-beatings first, that’s the only way this critical and enduring adaptation can take hold.
The final lesson for those looking to get really strong is this - you have to conquer the fear of lifting really heavy weights. You have to have the courage to put weight on that barbell. That’s why having a great coach like Travis is so important. You need someone, as he would say, “…To call you out when you’re being pussy.” You also need to surround yourself with great training partners who are much stronger than you, just to change your standards.
If there’s a secret to training at a place like Westside Barbell it’s just that. Programming matters. You need certain tools and ideas. But never underestimate the power of a brutal training environment. These place are less like gym and more like iron forges. The whole point is to raise the expectations under pressure.
That’s also the whole idea behind Travis’ top secret chain squatting program. There’s actually no secret to it. It works because it breaks down the fear. You start to get used to the way really heavy weight feels, and in time you start to believe that you can actually lift it. Once that belief starts you begin to train harder and without artificial limitations. And once that happens, watch out. There’s no telling what you might be able to lift.
For more from Travis Mash and the coaching services he offers make sure to check out his website atMashElite.com,
Travis, we’re lucky to know you, dude. When can we go for round 3?
Sun, 6 July 2014
Wed, 2 July 2014
Lindsey is in an incredible position. First, she’s one of the very first women ever to sign onto a professional fitness team. Better yet, the Reign, and all other founding members of the National Professional Grid League, are actually coed.
That’s right. For the first time there is a mainstream professional sports league featuring women and men competing together on the very same field, or in this case, the very same “Grid.”
In competitive fitness, right from the start, men and women have both received equal spotlight and attention. The same can’t said for any other professional sports league, or quite frankly, our culture as a whole. Despite our progress, most playing fields are anything but level.
The truth is that women and men are equally capable when it comes to moving heavy barbells, crushing races, and entertaining an arena full of cheering fitness fans. Also, as Lindsey herself pointed out, those incredibly fit, powerful and beautiful ladies - the coed angle - might just be the NPGL’s secret weapon when it comes to breaking into brand new markets.
That’s really the most exciting part of this entire movement. Consider the classic sports fan with their weekend fantasy leagues and pick-up games, or maybe the aspiring young athlete who might not fit in or dig traditional sports like Football, Baseball or Basketball. Think of the influence an athlete like Lindsey could have on the average young girl who’s seeing a strong, successful woman slam barbells in front of a packed arena for the very first time.
That’s a damn incredible thing, indeed.
In all fairness it’s too early to know. There are no guarantees that the Grid thing will catch on. But it just might, and that could mean an incredible future where Eleiko barbells start arriving under Christmas trees during the holidays, right alongside shiny new bicycles and video game consoles (one can hope!). It could also mean waves of brand new, inspired clients pouring into local gyms and boxes, which is great for absolutely everyone.
That’s really the main point now. There’s no room in this movement for a scarcity point of view. It’s time that we stop trying to compare Crossfit and the NPGL, because really, they are fundamentally different things.
As Lindsey points out, “Crossfit is about finding the fittest men and women in the world, period. The NPGL is all about putting on a show. It’s spectator friendly. It’s fast moving. It’s entertainment, like the NBA or NHL.”
She nails the point, concluding, “The Crossfit Games are basically like the Olympics. There are players who play in both - The NBA and the Olympics, for example - But nothing can replace the Olympics.”
We agree. In our point of view the emergence of professional fitness can only create more great opportunities for athletes, coaches and business owners. That’s really all that matters.
To learn more about the NPGL make sure to check out our interview with league founder and CEO, Tony Budding. We also had a great chat with NPGL President Jim Kean, where we talk all about the technology and future of this brand new sport.
Lindsey, please keep inspiring folks and kicking ass! We look forward to seeing it all unfold.
Mon, 30 June 2014
Wed, 25 June 2014
This week on the Barbell Shrugged podcast we are joined by Andrea Ager, former collegiate track & field athlete turned high-level Crossfit competitor. If that name rings a bell it’s for a very good reason. Andrea is one of the most well-known and recognizable athletes on the scene, which is actually a very interesting topic of discussion all in itself.
“You may know Andrea from her Instagram feed, where she can’t stop smiling.” I figured this topic would come up at some point during the podcast, I just didn’t realize it would be the very first thing out of Mike’s mouth. “In fact, Chris Moore has described you as, ‘Smiling too much.’”
The obvious downside of being well-known is that there will always be haters and trolls, that’s for sure. They are going to comment about you, your style, your choices, your beliefs, your mistakes and short-comings, and yes, even your smile. I was ready to take all that on at the start, I just didn’t expect being called one myself!
Mike was smiling just as wide as Andrea ever has, so it was obvious he had this move planned. I was left squirming with nothing to slide underneath or behind, so I tried to back away slowly to higher ground, without much success I might add. “Now, hold on, I was simply saying that, Wow, Andrea smiles a lot. Let me say, having met you, I get it. I think I’m smiling more often now myself.” Even a bit of kind editing leaves me sounding guilty. Mike easily blocked the shot. “That’s not how I remember the conversation.”
He was right to pin me down. I had done a bit of hating, at least in his view. In truth I think I was just envious, maybe a little aggravated. I might have even been more motivated by Andrea than I would have liked to admit. That’s because, if nothing else, she is a reminder that the clock is ticking. If there’s something you really love in this life, like training and sharing your fitness story for example, then you should probably spend more of your precious time doing it. Sure, why not smile more often and just as wildly?
After chatting with Andrea it became clear that she was more than just a really happy Crossfit chick with a popular social media feed. She’s an experienced, high level regional competitor who has been part of some really tough competitions. She’s learned some valuable lessons the hard way, like the importance of setting better, more intrinsically focused goals and spending far less time comparing yourself to others.
That last bit might be the most important lesson of the show. You just cannot make the most out of your training, your situation, and your uniqueness if you’re worried about what others are doing, what they are capable of.
Andrea’s also surprisingly open minded and receptive to new training ideas and styles, which is something aspiring athletes should really pay close attention to. She waste’s no time, surrounding herself with the very best training partners and coaches she can find. That might mean flying into San Francisco to drill weightlifting with the magnificent Diane Fu, or maybe it’s committing to a wild and novel three-month training sabbatical with THE powerlifting master, Louie Simmons.
It’s clear to us now why Andrea is so well known. It’s not luck. It’s not the smile and looks alone, although this certainly does help, who are we kidding. But no, the bulk of Andrea’s success still comes from where you would expect. She has devoted her life to becoming a better athlete and coach. She works incredibly hard, takes on the risks, makes all the necessary sacrifices, and delay’s gratification today in exchange for better performance. Let me say, I’m glad I got the change to know her better. She’s the real deal.
To learn more about Andrea, or to book her for a seminar, make sure to visit TheAndreaAger.com. You can also check out her YouTube page for some cool training videos. Who know’s, you too might find yourself looking past the smile.
P.S. Make sure you to check out this weeks TechniqueWOD during the break. Doug will teach you all you need to know about the front squat. Who know’s, maybe you’ll learn how to grow a killer pair of Ager Bomb style quadriceps!