The Smolov Experiment Part 2 - The Mentality

Yes, on the surface this was just a silly little competition, but it was really so much more than that.                
I've always wanted to go through the entire Smolov squat cycle, but have only ever done the base cycle.  The reason to complete the entire cycle was a contest to try to out squat the 173kg that 71kg female lifter Aria Bremner hit last year.               

This experiment began on 1/7/19.  42 years old, 69kg body weight, 130kg estimated max Back Squat.  No real training since February 2018, just an occasional workout, no real squatting.  Lifetime best squat of 205kg at 64kg body weight in the early 2000s.  The entire goal of the cycle was to hit 174kg.  44kg in 13 weeks, to beat a girl.  So much wrong with the entire premise, but I said I could while many said I could not.

I really did not look forward to the cycle.  I wanted to do it because I never had, but I REALLY did NOT want to do it.  I did, however, REALLY want to win. 

The predominant mindset during the 13 weeks was not "should I do it", "can I do it", "will I do it", or "do I want to do it"?  Rather, it was "I have to do it".  In my mind, I left no choice.  I simply had to do it.  Why?  Multiple reasons:

  • I hate losing

  • I hate failing

  • I said I would, therefore I must

  • I did not want to hear what would be said upon failing, or worse yet, quitting

  • How can I lead, if not from the front

  • People said I couldn't, so I have to

  • People said I could, so I can't let them down

  • People needed reminding that I once was an athlete

  • I had to prove what I preach daily, that you CAN do what you TRULY believe you can do

For all these reasons, I had no choice.  It had to be done.  This mindset is what drove me through every squat session.  I did not WANT to do a single session, but I HAD to.  The last 4 weeks was absolutely terrifying.  Looking at the daily programmed numbers literally caused fear and anxiety.  I lost sleep thinking about what I had to do the next day.  I had to go back into a dark place that I had not been since my competitive days.  Missing reps during the 1st week of the final Intense cycle caused doubt.  I had to hit the daily numbers on the sheet, or I would not hit my goal, and I can't make the reps on the first week? 

The pain in the legs the last 3 weeks caused serious doubts about the outcome, but I was now hitting my reps.  Every rep of each heavy set was done anticipating a serious injury, but I was still making them.  The knee tweak on the last heavy day the week prior to the final max made me question a lot of things, but again, I had no choice, and I was still hitting my reps.  So many people said I couldn't do it, so naturally I said "watch me".  Only a catastrophic injury was going to prevent me from hitting the goal, and I waited for it to happen every session.

The entire cycle, I trained primarily alone, in the morning or early afternoon.  Last minute, everyone wanted me to do the max at 6:30pm, in front of a crowd.  Great, my body normally starts slowing down at that time, so that was another thing to cause doubt.  But again, no choice.  It still has to happen, and the crowd will boost the adrenaline.

4:30pm, day of, I start getting anxious.  I began pacing a lot while coaching the other athletes in the gym, trying not to, but starting to think about having to make it happen.  6pm, took ibuprofen, put Tiger Balm all over the knees, began general warmup, and turned on the music of choice.  Historically, I have trained while listening to Broadway musicals, such as Les' Miserables and Phantom of the Opera.  Today, it is Les' Mis.  For whatever reason something about it reaches me very deep inside.  I get lost in it.  A gym full of noise, distraction, and shit talking goes silent.  There is only me, this amazing story performed by extremely talented artists, and my task at hand.

Before each heavy attempt, I get up, walk a lap around the inside of the gym, and zero my thoughts into what  I have to do.  Sit back down, wrap the knees, get up, grab the belt, embrace the nerves, tighten the belt, harness the adrenaline, and go.  Each attempt builds more confidence.  It feels light, it feels fast, and there is no pain.  6:45pm, success.

As I said before, for everyone on the outside, this was just a silly, fun competition.  But for me, it became my "it".  Whatever you decide your "it" is, if you dedicate yourself 100% to getting "it", you can.  If you decide nothing will stop you, you can make "it" happen.  Regardless of what the outside world thinks, what matters is what you truly believe.  Regardless of how important, or unimportant "it" may be to everyone else, if "it" is that important to you, then go do "it".  Do what you believe you can do, and don't let anyone change your mind.

What is your "it"?

Thanks to everyone for indulging me during this little saga. Hopefully someone finds some relevance, and can apply it to their own situation.   I especially appreciate everyone at the HWC for getting me back under the bar.  It felt great.

The Smolov Experiment Part 1 -The Physical Training

I've always wanted to go through the entire Smolov squat cycle, but have only ever done the base cycle.  The reason to complete the entire cycle was a contest to try to out squat the 173kg that 71kg female lifter Aria Bremner hit last year.               

This experiment began on 1/7/19.  42 years old, 69kg body weight, 130kg estimated max Back Squat.  No real training since February 2018, just an occasional workout, no real squatting.  Lifetime best squat of 205kg at 64kg body weight in the early 2000s.

The Smolov program is a 13 week Russian Squat program.  There is a 2 week Intro cycle with a total of 6 squat sessions and 3 stretching sessions.  That is followed by a 3 week Base cycle with extremely high volume, squatting 4x/week, ending with a Taper week and new max test.  The new test occurred on Feb 16, and the new max was 155kg.  I jumped to 165kg after the 155kg, but felt I could have done 160kg, so that is what I used to draw the training numbers for the remainder of the program.  So, a 25kg-30kg increase after the first 6 weeks.

The next two weeks were a Switching cycle with Squat Negatives, Power Cleans, and Box Squats.  Those were followed by the 4 week Intense cycle, heavy weight and high volume, squatting 3x/week, with every session getting to at least at 85% and above.  Those were followed by a 1 week Taper and new max test on April 5.

As additional work, I began Walkouts and Rack Holds during week 3 of the Intense cycle.  Began at 190kg, and worked to 220kg by the last programmed squat session.  No other lifting was done during the entire program, with the exception of accessory work.  Accessory work was Incline Dumbbell Presses, Weighted Hyperextensions, Plate Rows on a Roman Chair, core work, and a lot of stretching.

No supplements were taken until week 2 of the Intense cycle.   At that point, Creatine and Glutamine were added to daily Muscle Milk protein shakes.  No alcohol was consumed beginning the 3rd week of the Base cycle.  Caloric intake increased substantially, and bodyweight climbed to 71kg 3 days before the final max test, back down below 69kg day of.

Max day rep scheme was as follows:
20kg - 6
70kg - 3
110kg - 2
135kg - 1
153kg - 1, added belt and knee wraps
165kg - 1
174kg - 1 (goal weight)
182kg - x

So, the goal weight was made, but at a cost.  A knee injury occurred on the last heavy day of the cycle, 1 week prior to testing.  Hopefully nothing major, but a lot of swelling and tightness and swelling behind the knee, with pain in the front.  Time will tell.

Weekly Volume:

  1. 8,606kg, 96 reps, 90kg average weight per rep

  2. 1,320kg, 12 reps, 110kg average weight per rep

  3. 13,645kg, 136 reps, 100kg average weight per rep

  4. 15,005kg, 136 reps, 110kg average weight per rep

  5. 15,685kg, 136 reps, 115kg average weight per rep

  6. Test week

  7. Switching cycle

  8. Switching cycle

  9. 9,038 kg, 72 reps, 126kg average weight per rep (81% of max)

  10. 9,012kg, 68 reps, 133kg average weight per rep (86% of max)

  11. 9,330kg, 69 reps, 135kg average weight per rep (87% of max)

  12. 9,387kg, 66 reps, 142kg average weight per rep (92% of max)

  13. Taper and test week


Findings (and many of these were already assumed, but absolutely confirmed after the cycle):

  • This was a stupid idea

  • This is not a program that Weightlifters should follow in it's entirety.  Risk not worth reward

  • Recovery time is crucial for success and health

  • Only accessory work should accompany the cycle, no other real lifting

  • This program will absolutely work, if followed correctly, and if it does not break you

  • Unless you are 18-25 year old, and/or using restoratives(I did not use any), I highly recommend NOT doing this program

  • To survive this program, it MUST be your sole focus/purpose

  • Unless you absolutely have to add a massive squat in a short time, you should not follow this program

  • Count yourself fortunate if you finish the cycle injury free

  • Be prepared to have anxiety and fear before every session of the Intense cycle

  • Don't do this program

The Smolov Experiment

THE SMOLOV EXPERIMENT


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I've always wanted to go through the entire Smolov squat cycle, but have only ever done the base cycle.  I finally found a reason to do it, though at 42 years old, probably not the smartest thing to do.  Some of you may have heard about the squat competition between myself and a 71kg female weightlifter, Aria Bremner.  On the surface it may sound trivial, but there were several moving parts going on through this process.  Over the next 3 newsletters, I will go into detail and shed some light on the contest itself, as well as the physical and mental sides of it all.

The contest itself:

Important background information includes the fact that Aria has a 1RM Back Squat of 173kg.  She did this at a bodyweight of 70kg as part of normal weightlifting training.  Not as part of a special squat cycle.  Her training has always included the Olympic lifts and variations, pulls, squats, and presses.  Also important to note is that I had not done any real training since Feb of 2018.  No real squatting, no real lifting, just the occasional workout or challenge with our gym's athletes.  My all time best squat of 205kg was done in my mid-20s at a bodyweight of 64kg.  I am now 42, and have had 2 right knee surgeries(injuries not related to weightlifting).

The buildup to this competition could date to January of 2018 when I set a goal to out squat Aria's then 168kg squat, and did absolutely nothing to achieve it.  Lazy bum, I know.  This January, I said I would do it by Feb 16, after the Smolov Base Cycle.  Started the cycle with an estimated 130kg squat, and only worked up to 155kg after the Base.  Much hoopla was made about the fact that I failed, so a new competition was arranged with a ton of crap talk and signing of wagers and contracts by our team here.

The bets were:

If I failed to squat 174kg, I would have to do conditioning workouts for a week, designed by our lifters; do a conditioning circuit with UFC fighter, Jordan Rinaldi; never again program reps to failure; say something positive about every athlete, every day; throw an athlete appreciation party with everyone's specified requested foods/drinks; post a video of the failed squat to all social media; compete in every local meet where one of our lifters was registered.

If I succeeded in squatting 174kg, everyone who bet against me would have to recite a daily phrase apologizing for doubting me; if they failed to recite the phrase verbatim, they would have to clean a section of the gym; they would all be called on a day to clean and cut our running hill outside the gym; every Friday for a month, they would each have to bring me delicious chocolate treats.

So, we all had a lot to lose, and the next 6 weeks was full of nothing but crap talk from all parties, culminating in a gym decorated in negative reinforcement posters on the final max day.


The stage is set, many of you already know the outcome, but the next two newsletters will describe the physical and mental aspects that went into the training and brought about the final result.  There will be a lot of interesting information for the programming and cognitive application geeks out there.  Stay tuned.

2018 USA Weightlifting Youth National Championships

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2018 USA Weightlifting Youth National Championships

The Youth National Championships is, by far, the most stressful event of the year for us. We have many kids, and many sessions, to plan and coordinate for. There are many different personalities, and each lifter needs something different from us as coaches. That being said, it is also probably the most fun and rewarding event of the year. When things go well, we get to celebrate with them so many times over.

It is a very special thing to watch these kids zone in, and focus so hard, to do their best, and begin to love as much as you, the sport you are so passionate about. This year was no less special than previous years, and maybe more so now that our own son has started to lift.

Our weekend started with our son, Sebastian, age 10, and a 6am weigh in. After less than 2 months of training, he had a 4/6 day when he Snatched 16kg, Clean & Jerked 21kg, for a total of 37kg which tied the best he has done in the gym in those 2 months. He placed 9th overall in the 11u, 31kg division. He showed great perserverance after missing his 2nd C&J due to a press out and not understanding why. He began to get very upset, but pulled it together and make the correction to have a good lift on his final attempt.

12 year old Camila was up next. Lifting at the bottom of her new heavier weight class, she weighs 41kg in the 44kg weight class, she did fantastic. She had a 4/6 day when she Snatched 24kg, just barely missed a new PR at 28kg, then nailed all 3 of her C&Js, with an amazing fight for a 2kg PR of 38kg on her last attempt. She finished with a PR Total of 62kg, and 14th place overall in the 13u, 44kg division.

10 year old Ansley finished out Friday with an amazing performance in her first National appearance. She had a perfect day, making all 6 lifts, and receiving 3 white lights on every lift from the judges. You only need 2 whites for a good lift. She won the Snatch competition with a competition PR of 41kg, took 2nd in the C&J competition with a PR of 46kg, and took 2nd overall with a PR Total of 87kg in the 11u, +58kg. 1 Gold and 2 Silver medals for Ansley!

Saturday began with 14 year old Brandon, who has recently hit a growth spurt and had to move up a weight class. We just wanted to get him more National experience and make some good attempts on the platform. He Snatched 48kg, just missing a PR at 52kg, and hit a new PR C&J of 62kg, and took a hell of a shot 65kg. He finished with a Total of 110kg, and 12th place overall in the 14/15, 56kg division.

14 year old Trevor finished out Saturday with a very entertaining session. He went 5/6, with a competition PR Snatch at 69kg. That gave him 3rd in the Snatch by 1kg. C&Js were a battle to the end. We kept putting on the bar whatever he needed to stay in 3rd place, as the top 2 were well ahead of everyone else. Coming down to the last lift, he had to hit 91kg to sweep all 3 Bronze medals with a total of 160kg. If he misses, he gets 4th in C&J and Total. 91 was his current PR, so we were very confident, but his hip and leg were noticeably irritated, as he was limping on and off the platform for each lift. Trevor is a gameday athlete, so of course he nails the lift to sweep the Bronze. It was a very lively back and forth battle, and was so much fun to be part of. 3 Bronze medals for Trevor!

15 year old Camryn started off Sunday with another 6am weigh in, yay. That did not affect her at all. She showed up ready to lift, and absolutely crushed it. She went 5/6, by absolutely smoking a PR Snatch at 61kg, after missing 58kg due to a technical error. She then nailed all 3 C&Js, with a 2kg PR at 72kg, for a PR Total of 133kg and 7th place overall in the 16/17, 69kg division. I now have to make good on our bet....

15 year old Ava was up next. Lifting up 2 weight classes and an older age division from last year, she had her best performance to date. She went 3/6, with a competition PR Snatch of 54kg, barely misssing 2 more PRs at 57kg and 61kg. Fighting hard for a medal spot in C&Js, she new she had to make 73kg, and she absolutely crushed it for a new competion PR. With one lift left, and a shot at an overall medal, we took a huge jump to 79kg, and swung for the fences. Many lifters would have clarked it, or not attempted it all. She stepped up to the plate and went after it. She damn near got under it, and we could not be more proud of such a gutsy performance. She finished with a PR Total of 127kg, 4th in Snatch, Bronze medal C&J, and 4th in Total in the 16/17, 53kg division. Can't wait to see her numbers after a full year at this heavier bodyweight.

16 year old Abbey finished out our weekend in her last Youth National appearance. She has not had much time in the gym lately due to school and extracurriculars, and training has been a struggle. She showed up full of determination, and ready to lift, and had an amazing day. She went 4/6, kept her head together after missing her opening Snatch, nailed her next 2 and finishing at 59kg. Her C&Js looked more solid than they have in some time, and she finished at 70kg, just missing 74kg due a press out. She has not been able to get more than 65kg overhead in a while, so this was an absolutely wonderful performance on gameday. She finished with a 129kg Total, and 12th place overall in the 16/17, 69kg division.

Every one of these kids makes us so proud. We are fortunate to have lifters that excel at every level of this sport from Youth to Juniors, to Universities and U25s, to Seniors, to Masters. We have had medalists at the highest National level, and are now moving to the International level, which is astonishing for this young 5 year old club, and we love each lifter at every level we have. 

But there really is nothing quite as rewarding as working with these kids. Yes, Coach Dan does get emotional, and may shed a tear sometimes. It is hard to explain the emotions we coaches go through with the youth lifters. They are starting to grow up. They are learning about life through failure and success in sport. They are showing us their character in the good and bad times. Their emotions go up and down, and ours follow suit. We cry with them when they fail, and we celebrate with them when they succeed, and there is nothing quite like the celebrations after success. There is nothing much worse than the look of disappointment, and nothing much better than the reaction of absolute joy on the face of someone you have grown to love, who has poured their heart and soul into this. How can we as coaches not do and feel the same? We know their struggles better than most, and when they break through, it is an unbelievable feeling.

These kids will grow up and move on someday, and it will hurt. We just hope that they each know how proud we are of them, and just how much we love them. 

Weightlifting is fun.

Year Round Training

Year Round Training

All athletes, and especially those that play only a single sport, should be participating in a year round strength and conditioning program.  Middle school, high school, male, female, football, baseball, soccer, basketball, softball, volleyball, etc. etc. etc.  Everyone can benefit from a properly designed strength and conditioning program.

The problem is, most middle/high schools do not have one.  The football coach, or the baseball coach will put together some workouts that they think the athletes should be doing.  Without trying to be offensive, most of these coaches are not qualified to design these workouts.  Their specialty, and their focus, should be the actual sport itself.  Many of them are not overly concerned with the long-term health and athletic success of their athletes.  They are most concerned with wins and losses for the year.

A true strength and conditioning program should take the individual athlete in question, and cater to his/her particular needs, strengths, weaknesses, practice schedule, study schedule, nutrition habits, injury history, etc. in order to produce the best possible results for that individual athlete.  We understand that is nearly impossible to do in the school setting, which is why private gyms such as ours exist.

We have the ability to incorporate everything the athlete needs, into a year-round (and they should be training year round, even during the season) program to be able to set the individual athlete up for long-term athletic success.

Those athletes that play a single sport to do not have the benefit of improved athleticism via cross training in other sports.  They are at an even higher risk of injury from overuse doing the same sport.  A program such as ours incorporates aspects of other sports into the training to give them what they have been missing.

Females normally have much less access to the weight room at school vs their male counterparts.  Here, they have unlimited access, and absolutely thrive in this environment.  We absolutely love working with our girls.  Watching them grow, get stronger, and improve their confidence and self-esteem is amazing.

If the goal is to move to the college level, strength and conditioning is a requirement.  Get used to it, and gain a leg up by starting it now.

 

UPCOMING EVENTS

 

SEP 23

SEPTEMBER WEIGHTLIFTING TECHNIQUE CLINIC

  • Saturday, September 23, 2017
  • 11:00am  12:30pm

$20.00

90min open technique training for anyone.  No membership required.  Have a specific issue you want to work on?  Need some drills or corrective exercises?  Want to learn how to do a specific movement?

These are monthly clinics available to anyone wanting to work on their lifting.  Weightlifters, crossfit athletes, sport specific athletes, coaches wanting to work on their cues and corrections, those that have never touched a barbell, whoever wants to get better at lifting.  We will cap each clinic at 10 participants to afford everyone plenty of attention.

Saturday, Aug 26, 11am-12:30pm.

REGISTER HERE



SEP 30/OCT 1

USA WEIGHTLIFTING LEVEL 1 WEIGHTLIFTING & SPORT PERFORMANCE COACHING COURSE

  • Sat, Sep 30, 2017 8:00am  Sun, Oct 1, 2017 2:00pm

UNC-Greensboro Leonard J. Kaplan Center for Wellness
1301 W. Gate City Blvd
Greensboro, NC  27403

REGISTER HERE



OCT 14/15

NC STATE WEIGHTLIFTING CHAMPIONSHIPS

  • Sat, Oct 14, 2017 7:00am  Sun, Oct 15, 2017 7:00pm
  • Registration ends Fri, Sep 15 at 9pm EST

HWC member coaching fee - $20

REGISTER HERE



OCT 27-30

MASTERS WORLD CUP & PACIFIC RIM WEIGHTLIFTING CHAMPIONSHIPS

  • Fri, Oct 27, 2017 7:00am  Mon, Oct 30, 2017 7:00pm

Surfer's Paradise, QLD

HWC Member Coaching Fee - TBD



OCT 28

2017 HWC FALL OPEN

  • Saturday, October 28, 2017
  • 7:00am  7:00pm

THIS WILL BE A FINAL QUALIFIER FOR THE 2017 AMERICAN OPEN!!

HWC Lifters - we will only allow 10 HWC lifters to compete(first come, first served), and all are expected to help with judging, loading, score keeping, weigh ins, check ins, etc

USAW Sanction # 13-17-95519

Registration will end on Wednesday, Oct 11, or when we reach the cap.

This meet will follow all IWF rules.  You must abide by IWF rules in order to qualify for any National event. You may qualify for the American Open Series III, and any National events beyond, at this meet.  Capping at 20 male, and 20 female lifters.

REGISTER HERE

Find Out More

Expansion, new hours, and upcoming events

1 year ago, we moved out of our old space.  Thanks to everyone's continued support, we went from a 1,000 square foot hole in the wall, to our existing 2,000 square foot space, and this week, another 1,000 square foot hole in the wall expansion is starting, and we are adding "unofficial" morning hours. 

Most Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, we will be open from 830am-1030am.  We have some fighters that train during those times, and are going to open it up to everyone.  These are subject to change without notice, so always check with me ahead of time before just showing up.  

If you know of someone wanting to train here, but could only make it in the mornings, let them know.

With the expansion will have room for more lifting platforms, and a bigger, more dedicated conditioning and speed/agility area.

For the next 2 months, we are also doing a referral program.  Contact us for details.

UPCOMING EVENTS


SEP 16/17

USA WEIGHTLIFTING ADVANCED COACHING COURSE

  • Sat, Sep 16, 2017 8:00am  Sun, Sep 17, 2017 2:00pm

King Haigler Athletic Club

Camden, SC

REGISTER HERE



SEP 23

SEPTEMBER WEIGHTLIFTING TECHNIQUE CLINIC

  • Saturday, September 23, 2017
  • 11:00am  12:30pm

$20.00

90min open technique training for anyone.  No membership required.  Have a specific issue you want to work on?  Need some drills or corrective exercises?  Want to learn how to do a specific movement?

These are monthly clinics available to anyone wanting to work on their lifting.  Weightlifters, crossfit athletes, sport specific athletes, coaches wanting to work on their cues and corrections, those that have never touched a barbell, whoever wants to get better at lifting.  We will cap each clinic at 10 participants to afford everyone plenty of attention.

Saturday, Aug 26, 11am-12:30pm.

REGISTER HERE



SEP 30/OCT 1

USA WEIGHTLIFTING LEVEL 1 WEIGHTLIFTING & SPORT PERFORMANCE COACHING COURSE

  • Sat, Sep 30, 2017 8:00am  Sun, Oct 1, 2017 2:00pm

UNC-Greensboro Leonard J. Kaplan Center for Wellness
1301 W. Gate City Blvd
Greensboro, NC  27403

REGISTER HERE



OCT 14/15

NC STATE WEIGHTLIFTING CHAMPIONSHIPS

  • Sat, Oct 14, 2017 7:00am  Sun, Oct 15, 2017 7:00pm
  • Registration ends Fri, Sep 15 at 9pm EST

HWC member coaching fee - $20

REGISTER HERE



OCT 27-30

MASTERS WORLD CUP & PACIFIC RIM WEIGHTLIFTING CHAMPIONSHIPS

  • Fri, Oct 27, 2017 7:00am  Mon, Oct 30, 2017 7:00pm

Surfer's Paradise, QLD

HWC Member Coaching Fee - TBD



OCT 28

2017 HWC FALL OPEN

  • Saturday, October 28, 2017
  • 7:00am  7:00pm

HWC Lifters - we will only allow 10 HWC lifters to compete(first come, first served), and all are expected to help with judging, loading, score keeping, weigh ins, check ins, etc

USAW Sanction # 13-17-95519

THIS WILL BE A FINAL QUALIFIER FOR THE 2017 AMERICAN OPEN!!

Registration will end on Wednesday, Oct 11, or when we reach the cap.

This meet will follow all IWF rules.  You must abide by IWF rules in order to qualify for any National event. You may qualify for the American Open Series III, and any National events beyond, at this meet.  Capping at 20 male, and 20 female lifters.

REGISTER HERE

Choices

3am, wide awake as I begin writing this.  Not sure if out of obsession or frustration, probably both.  Regardless, I can’t sleep, and I can’t stop thinking about choices athletes have to make.  Maybe I obsess too much.  Maybe I spend too much time trying to find ways to motivate my athletes.  Maybe it’s because I know if my athletes don’t start making the right choices, right now, they will never realize their full potential.

As a sedentary person, with no aspirations of athletic achievement, you literally have to do nothing.  As an athletic person, with goals/dreams/aspirations of achieving athletic greatness, there is so much you have to do, and so many choices/sacrifices you have to make.  For the purposes of this blog, I am going to keep it very simple, and break it down into 3 major components.  There is a lot more to it than what I am going to say right now, but this should be easy to understand.  Eat, sleep, train.

Whatever your chosen sport, chances are you have to be stronger, faster, and more explosive than your opponents in order to succeed.  Sure there are sports that have exceptions to this, but generally speaking, this is true.  To become stronger, faster, and more explosive, you must subject your body to a particular stress (training) in order to bring about the desired change.  Not only must you subject your body to stress, but you must also feed it the proper nutrients, and allow it sufficient time to recover.  These 3 go hand in hand.

If you don’t eat the right foods, you will not have enough of the proper fuel to train effectively.  If you do not sleep enough, your body will not recover properly to allow you to train effectively.  If you cannot train effectively, your athletic performance will suffer.

Did you have to wake up today at 6am to go to school/work?  Then you should have been asleep no later than 9pm last night.  Why?  Sleep is when your body heals/rebuilds/repairs itself from all the damage you do to it while subjecting it to stress (training) in order to bring about the desired change.  You need 8-10 hours of sleep, every night.  If you do not sleep enough, your body does not fully restore itself, and your progress will be delayed.  Just like bad weather does not allow the crews to work on building this stupid bridge by the gym, and delays the entire process.  So, didn’t sleep enough last night?  You will probably have a crap training session today, and I am going to be frustrated with you.  Getting the right amount of sleep, is a choice you have to make.  Maybe you should have stayed home instead of going out.

How much did you eat, and what did you eat yesterday, the day before?  You should be eating a meal every 3 waking hours.  Why?  Your body needs the proper fuel to allow you to subject it to the proper stress (training) in order to bring about the desired change, and to aid in the recovery process your body goes through while sleeping.  If you do not eat enough of the right foods, you cannot train effectively enough, and recover quickly enough in order to do it all again tomorrow.  Haven’t been eating right?  You will probably have a crap training session today, and I am going to be frustrated with you.

The training is only a part of achieving your overall desired athletic performance.  You can’t just come to the gym and say, “Hey, I’m here”, and become great.  It is so much more than just what you do in the gym.  If you are not eating and sleeping properly, you will have crap training sessions.  If you have crap training sessions, you will not become as strong, as fast, or as explosive as you need to be.  Maybe you aren’t quite as strong as your opponent on the platform, and you lose by 1kg.  Maybe you aren’t quite fast enough getting around the bases, and get thrown out at home.  Maybe you aren’t quite explosive enough and the linebacker drills you as you come through the hole, stopping you short of the goal line.  Maybe you aren’t quite quick enough, and get dunked on in front of your home crowd.  Maybe you don’t make the varsity squad, maybe you don’t get into the school you want to, maybe you get overlooked for that team you are trying to make, maybe the recruiters and coaches don’t notice you.  Maybe you never perform on an athletic field again after high school, and nobody ever remembers your name.

What you choose to do today, can have an enormous impact on what you are doing 10 years from now.  Coaches can only make suggestions.  We can only give you the proper tools with which to perform the task at hand.  You, as the athlete, have to choose to use them.  Are there exceptions to these rules?  Sure.  Think you are that 1% who is just genetically superior to everyone else, and can just do whatever they want and still be great?  Think again.

Roots

In Memoriam – Jerry C Arline, Sr

The man pictured is the #1 reason you are standing here today reading this.  My coach.  I owe everything to Coach.  Who I am today, what I’ve done with my life, my wife, my children, my career, this gym.  Everything.  Coach took a 14 year old punk kid, and gave me an outlet into the world of fitness and weightlifting.  The things he taught me, molded me and shaped me into the person I am today.  Coach was a big guy, full of life, with a passion for the greatest sport I know.  He was the most generous person I have ever known, and his influence on me saved my life, literally.  My life would have taken a very different path had it not been for me not wanting to disappoint Coach.  His influence on my life guided me to a point to help form a company early in the 2000s that now employs and provides for numerous people and families.  While I have moved on from there, I know many people’s livelihoods are still made possible by what he did for me.  He is a shining example of how touching the life of 1 person can lead to changing the lives of countless others.

Coach was taken away from us far too soon, before I could really thank him for what he did for me, and before he could see what his influence has been able to do for others.  Not a day goes by that I don’t walk into this gym and think of him.  My ultimate goal, with what little knowledge I have, is to have the same influence on someone else that he had on me.  Thank you, Coach, for everything.  I will cherish forever the time you invested in my life.  It was not a waste.  I will remember forever our training sessions, our long drives to competitions, and the countless hours of watching old weightlifting videos.  I miss you.

Dan Rose

4F Sports Performance and the Harrisburg Weightlifting Club

The Reason

I get asked often why Yashi and I do what we do.  Obviously, it’s not for the money, so here goes.  When I was 14, I got my first taste of Weightlifting from my coach, who opened his home gym to me.  I was a sophomore in high school, and was being home-schooled that year.  I had been an athlete my whole life leading up to that point, so my parents had found my coach, Jerry Arline, Sr. as a way for me to remain active.  My father was the pastor of our small town Southern Baptist church, where Coach was a member.  I consider myself extremely blessed to have been introduced to my coach, and learn how to lift at such a young age.  This was back in the early 90s, when weightlifting was an even more obscure sport than it is now, and there was literally nowhere in driving distance of our small South Florida town of Pahokee, FL where anyone could train these lifts.  Were it not for these circumstances, and the generosity and passion for the sport that Coach shared, you would not be reading this today.

At that time, the Olympic lifts were just part of normal, everyday physical training.  Much of the training you see now that has been so heavily popularized, such as the high intensity, and interval type training you see, were part of what we did on a daily basis.  I learned so much from Coach Arline, that I still apply to what we do here today.  We worked on Weightlifting, powerlifting, bodybuilding, martial arts, speed training, agility work, plyometrics, endurance, track and field, etc.  My whole purpose for all these types of training was to get bigger, stronger, and faster for football and basketball, since I would be returning to high school the following year.  As a 5’5”, 115lb kid, I needed all the help I could get.

As I mentioned, the Olympic lifts were really nothing special at that time.  Just part of our normal training, and I did not even know that it was a sport.  It wasn’t until after my senior year in high school, that I discovered the greatest sport in the world.  For me, personally, there is no greater individual sport than weightlifting.  I believe it is the truest test of strength, speed, power, and athleticism.  I was a decent lifter, and have had a decent career.  Now I get to share my passion for weightlifting and athletic performance with those that want to have the same.  All I want for these athletes is success.  I want them all to be better than I could have ever hoped to be. 

Every day, I get to spend the entire day with people of all ages, shapes, sizes, backgrounds, and desires.  All of them with the same general focus, to get stronger, faster, and more powerful.  Some of them just for themselves, and some of them with the dream of attaining the highest levels of sport.  Regardless, they all share the same passions I have, and Yashi and I get to help them on their journey.  One person in my life made such a difference that it literally shaped my entire life and made such a positive impact on who I am.  I now have the opportunity to, hopefully, do the same for someone else.

Like I said, it’s not for the money, haha.  Anyone that has spent time around weightlifting knows there is no money to be had.  I do have a wife and 3 boys to feed, so I do have to charge dues to pay the bills.  The biggest return I get out of this is watching other people develop the same passions I have, develop unmatched self-confidence, laugh/cry/bleed with training partners, forge relationships that will last a lifetime, and hopefully be that one person to someone someday.  I love this sport, I love my athletes, and you are all family to me.  This is why we do what we do, and we have the greatest job on the planet.

Dan Rose - Harrisburg Weightlifting Club

Who Do You Want To Be? - Part 2

Part 2

What I am about to say is for competitive athletes only.  People who want to win more than anything else.  Those who exercise and workout to simply stay in shape, and better themselves from a physical standpoint, please don’t be offended by any of this.  This is not directed at you. In fact, you should stop reading right now.  This is not for you.  I have great admiration for those of you who diet and exercise for nothing more than personal betterment.  Don’t stop.  The sacrifices you are making are so worth the reward of being healthy and fit. 

This is for those that are actively competing in something, especially weightlifters, because at the end of the day, I am an extremely competitive weightlifting coach.  As I’ve said before, I love to win, and absolutely hate to lose.  I’ve been to the podium at multiple National events, and was absolutely furious because I wasn’t the guy on top.  I’ve been at the top of the podium on the world stage, and was absolutely furious because my lifting sucked.  I didn’t hit numbers I wanted, and as a result, the competition was close.  In my mind, I should have absolutely destroyed my competition.  Obsessive?  Maybe, but I’m ok with that.

Athletes, listen up.  If you are offended by what I am about to say, then you probably are not a true competitor, and should not be reading this anyway.  If you are truly serious about being a competitor, and training to win at something, then this is for you.

I want to talk about personal records.  Long, long ago at a time when I was a decent weightlifter, I really didn’t have any idea about personal records, what they were, or what they meant.  My personal best numbers really didn’t matter.  All they told me was how much further I had to go, and how much harder I had to train to be the best.  They told me how much better all the good guys were than me.  “I snatched more today than I ever have before!  Great, I still have a long way to go to be the best.”  That’s all PRs told me, so they were nothing for me to be happy about.

Now don’t get me wrong, personal records are a fantastic way to gauge your progress in sport.  They tell you if your programming is working.  They tell you if you are working hard enough to make gains.  They tell you if you are better at this time and place than you were previously.  They tell you if your blood, sweat, and tears are paying off.  They tell you if you are progressing better or worse than your training partners.  Log them.  Track them.  You should be applauded for being better today than you were yesterday.  Celebrate them with your training partners, briefly, and then move on.

Look at those personal records, and then compare them to your competition.  Not just your competition at your particular gym.  It’s easy to be a big fish in a small pond.  Look at those numbers, and then see if they are the best in the gym.  No? Then work harder so you can be the best in your gym.  Yes?  Fantastic!  Celebrate briefly, and lose the ego.

Are your numbers the best in your state?  No?  Then work harder so you can be the best in your state.  Yes?  Fantastic!  Celebrate briefly, and lose the ego.

Are your numbers the best in your region?  No?  Then work harder to become the best in your region.  Yes?  Fantastic!  Celebrate briefly, and lose the ego.

Are your numbers the best in the country?  No?  Then work harder so you can be the best in the country.  Yes?  Fantastic!  Celebrate briefly, and lose the ego.

Are your numbers the best in the world?  No?  Then work harder so you can be the best in the world.  Yes?  Fantastic!  You are the best in the world.  Celebrate briefly, and then work harder to beat your own numbers, and separate yourself so far from the pack that nobody can ever catch up, because I guarantee you that someone right now is working harder than you, so they can be better than you.

If you are a true athlete and competitor, this MUST be your outlook.  No matter how good you think you are, you can always be better, and there will always be someone else who is willing to work harder to be better than you.  Never get complacent.  Never get comfortable.  Never look at someone else who is better than you, and say “their numbers are unattainable, I can never do that”.  That’s a bunch of BS.  Quit making excuses.  That person did it.  Why not you?  Records are indeed made to be broken.  Whether you are the one setting them, or the one striving to reach them, one day they will be broken.

I’m prepared to catch a lot of flak for writing this.  We live in a modern day culture where everyone gets a trophy for participating.  So I know there will be some folks extremely offended by this, but I warned you not to read it, because it wasn’t for you.  Schools these days are afraid of giving out Fs for those who are failing.  Our youth don’t really know how to fail, because there is no such thing.  Show up, and you’ll be rewarded.  Just try a little, and you will succeed.  Those of us that live in the real world know that’s a bunch of crap.

Everyone gets a pat on the back just because they show a little effort.  That’s all fine and dandy for general recreation.  If you show up and only put forth a little effort in a competition, your competition is going to smash you in the face, run right over you, and never look back.

If you want to be better than everyone else, you have to be willing to do more than everyone else.  You say you want to be the best?  Prove it.

Who Do You Want To Be? - Part 1

This is part 1 of a 2 part article.  Nothing written here is purposely written to be offensive, though some may take offense to it.  Caveat, I am an extremely competitive weightlifting coach.  I love to win, and absolutely hate to lose, probably even more than I love to win.  All-time favorite quote?  From Remember the Titans, “I’m a winner. I’m going to win.”  I don’t mean to be offensive in any way, but speaking as a former competitive athlete, who deals with many competitive athletes on a daily basis, I have some things to say.  If you find part 1 offensive, DO NOT READ part 2.

Within each of us there lives an athlete. What type of athlete you are, or will be, is completely up to you.  It isn’t something your coach can control. You decide if you are a casual athlete, a casual competitor, a competitor, or a champion.

Most people fall into the casual athlete. They are focused on basic fitness and improvement of themselves. They are less concerned with winning as they are with having done their best. If a PR was set in the process then that is the icing on the cake. It isn’t to say they can’t be competitive but it may not mean as much to them. I have great admiration for this group because basic fitness and disciplined nutrition takes a lot of work.  You should be applauded for getting of the couch, and trying to better yourself.

Then there is the casual competitor. They compete with a goal in mind. They like the competition but are still focused on their own performance and PR’s. They will train hard but, may not have the single minded focus of the competitor or champion.  Usually people will be in it for the fun but not take the competition aspect so serious. They compete with the goal of doing better than the last time.

Then there is the competitor. They are in competition with not only themselves but others around them. They will push themselves harder than the casual competitor in an effort to get the prize. They will celebrate any victory or PR then set their sights on the next goal. They know what they want. They will put in the blood, sweat and tears. They compete with the goal of winning their weight class or session.  

The champion. The person who gives it everything. They don’t make excuses. They are doing whatever it takes to get the W. They push through the pain. They never quit. They fight through every training session. They don’t have to be motivated to train. They know what their numbers are and the numbers of the competition. They aren’t satisfied beating just themselves. Personal records mean nothing to them, because they have world records on their mind.

But let me share a secret with you.  Almost anyone can be a champion, if you want it bad enough. But to do that you must fight. You must persevere.  Every time you step in the gym and put your hands on the bar, you fight. Champions aren’t born and potential will only carry you so far. A champion is not made on game day. A champion is made the hours, days, weeks and months leading up to game day. It is about who put the work in. Who got their mind right and did the work? Who gave every training session everything they had? Champions are made fighting out of the hole after a heavy clean. Champions are made fighting to hold a snatch overhead and just sitting at the bottom. A champion looks at their strengths as well as their weaknesses. They aren’t ever happy being a big fish in a small pond. They know there is always someone out there working just as hard if not harder. The champion doesn’t ever say they will never be able to do something or beat someone. They tell themselves it is only a matter of time. The champion is never intimidated by the competition and their records. Records are made to be broken. They look at the competition and their numbers and say “Challenge accepted.”

I deal with every level of athlete at my gym every day.  I don’t have a favorite type.  Regardless of where each person is personally, everyone here wants to be better.  Whether being better simply means getting off the couch and taking the first step of coming to the gym, or whether being better means better than everyone else in the world.  If you want to be better, then I want to help you achieve that.

Not everyone can just be a casual athlete, and not everyone can be a champion.  There is nothing wrong with either end of this spectrum.  Some casual athletes may look at champions as being overly obsessed, and some champions may look at casual athletes as having no drive.  Everyone is at their own personal level, so there is no right or wrong.  Whatever level you are, just be all that you can and stay true to yourself.  When you walk in the gym, know who you are, and train accordingly.

If you are a casual athlete, be smart.  Be safe.  Don’t overdo it.  Give 100%, but don’t risk injury.  You ultimately have your best health and well-being in mind.  Have fun, and enjoy training and being around like minded fitness enthusiasts.

If you want to be a champion, you better be willing to risk it all.  You’re going to have to push your body past limits you never though you could. You will have to deal with extreme amounts of pain. There will be an extreme, inherent risk of injury, because all that is on your mind is winning, and you will do whatever it takes.  Be smart outside the gym.  Don’t do other things that carry a risk of injury.  You should be of a single focus. If it’s not going to give you a better chance at winning, you shouldn’t be doing it.

Part 2 will follow shortly, and will only be directed at true competitive athletes, and will be very offensive to those who are not.  You’ve been warned.

The Grind

Olympic Weightlifting is hard.  It is a brutally hard sport.  I think it’s safe to say we have more bad training days than good.  There are so many factors involved in this sport and these lifts that it is just too easy for things to go wrong.  In order to make lifts, everything has to go right.  Your strength has to be up, your timing has to be right, your pull has to be right, your catch has to be right, your speed has to be there, your mobility has to be there, your core has to be there.  If any one of these elements is not firing right, chances are you are going to miss lifts.

You can be feeling very strong, but your timing is off.  You will miss lifts.  Your timing can be right, but you are sluggish and slow.  You will miss lifts.  Your strength can be up, your speed can be on, your timing can be right, but your core gets loose at the bottom.  You will miss lifts.

Bottom line, in this sport, you are going to miss lifts.  ESPECIALLY as a beginner. If you are not missing lifts, then you are not training hard enough.  This is the beauty of this sport.  It’s the challenge.  It’s the idea that you have to train your body to fire on all cylinders each time you step up to the bar.  It doesn’t happen easily.  It doesn’t happen quickly.  It takes months upon months, and thousands of repetitions to teach your body to be consistent.  To be in the right place, at the right time, every time you pick up the bar.

Then, AFTER being consistent and dedicated to your training, a magical thing happens.  Those lifts that you were missing over and over again, are now lifts that you are warming up with.  Lifts that you are doing complexes with.  Lifts that you are doing on your light days.  Then you start to notice that you are no longer missing as many lifts on a regular basis.  Far too many people give up way too early and never get to experience this.  They experience the beginner’s high, when PRs come more frequently.  Then the first plateaus come, and they experience only the frustration, without sticking it out to see the fruits of their labor.  You have to stick with it.  Trust your programming.  Put in your dues, and you will see the payout.

 

Dan Rose

USAW National Coach, Harrisburg Weightlifting Club