132lbs of Raw Power and can out bench your Dad, Mom, and probably the guy sitting next to you. “Bench Please”… Seriously though!

Interview with American Bench Press Record Holder Jennifer Weed Thompson

By Tasha Whelan and Dan Stephenson

Jenn Thompson

Congratulations to champion Bench presser Jennifer Thompson, who just competed in the USAPL Raw Nationals, rocked all three lifts and crushed every women in the Bench press….by a long shot. The Bench press monster talks with us about her experience at nationals, her training, inspirations and more.

T&D: First, how did you get involved in powerlifting? And how long have you been doing it?

Jennifer T: I have been powerlifting since my first competition in 1999. I know, it has been a while! I found powerlifting on my honeymoon in Venice Beach, California. We just happened to be walking by a competition on the beach, I talked with a few of the athletes and lifted in my first competition the following year.

T&D: You just competed in USA Powerlifting Nationals last weekend, how did it go for you? What numbers did you hit, and was it what you were hoping for?

Jennifer T: Actually, Raw Nationals was one of the toughest meets I have ever lifted in. My training was horrible and I was trying to stave off an injury. The week before, I missed a 300 squat (my best being 325) and a 315 deadlift (best is 445). So, going into the meet I had taken a week of rest and was just hoping to hit my openers of 276 squat and 356 deadlift. My bench was the only thing that went well. But, it goes to show you that mental toughness can take you high places. I ended up squatting 314, benching 313, and deadlifting 424. I just got into the zone and the pain was no longer an issue. The competitive adrenaline took over.

T&D: You broke the American record with your Bench press. That is AMAZING!!! How did that feel? Was that the heaviest bench you have lifted?

Jennifer T: It was awesome! I wasn’t sure it was there based on my second lift of 303. When I got the bar through the middle of the lift and it kept traveling I knew I had it. It was an “unofficial” world record since it was not an international competition. I had missed 315 at USA Powerlifting Bench Nationals four weeks before, so this really felt good.

T&D: What other records do you hold?

Jennifer T: I hold the IPF World Record Total in the 63 kg. weight class with 1071 lbs

T&D: I know all of your records had to feel amazing, but is there any one record that was the most memorable for you?

Jennifer T: It had to have been when I broke 300 lbs on the bench press. I had been after it for an entire year before I was able to hit it in competition. Plus, it was such an accomplishment for a female in general.

T&D: Was your training any different leading up to this meet in comparison to other competitions? (Did you have to cut weight, change diet, or make any big changes in training protocols).

Jennifer T: I tried a few new things in this training cycle that did not work at all. I usually only squat once a week, but had heard from several athletes that they squat at least twice, sometimes three times a week. With this being my weakest event, I thought if I added more squats into my workout I would get better at them. We also changed to a seven day lifting cycle instead of an eight day cycle. All these changes over trained me in a huge way. My numbers started to drop a few weeks out from Nationals. I started having trouble sleeping at night and would get really hot and then cold. Needless to say, I will be going back to my eight day training cycle with squats once a week and go back to working on them my way.

T&D: You have an incredible Bench press, far exceeded the majority or all women’s presses. How did you get such a high bench number?

Jennifer T: I really think it is because I have good upper body strength. When I was in high school, I took a class called Marine Fitness every quarter. It is similar to what Crossfit is to today. We did sit ups, pushups, pull ups, rope climbs, stairs, and weights. I believe three years of this helped me have the upper body strength to be good in bench. But, please know, I did not start off incredibly strong. I began with the dumbbells because the bar was a bit much. It was a slow process over the years, but I just kept getting stronger and stronger each month that went by. I think a lot my success relies in the fact that it is my favorite exercise. I think you try harder at the things you like.

T&D: Would you say the bench press is your favorite lift of the 3?

Jennifer T: Absolutely!! But I really like deadlifting as well. It is such an uncomplicated lift.

Jenn Thompson Deadlift

T&D: You have a youtube channel, can you tell us a little about what kind of content is on it and where people can follow you and your amazing work?

Jennifer T: I have two channels. 132 Pounds of Power is my personal channel that I post competition footage, PR’s and have a bench press 101 series (these are several years old).

I just started my Thompson’s Gym channel and had been talking with my training partners about making a video series for years. I just finally decided to jump in and do it. The series itself is a little all over the place, but the topics range from exercises we use with tutorials, protein snacks, how to find a dress that fits athletic women and then just some videos of us cutting up.

T&D: I saw that You, Kimberly Walford, Frances Manias and Bonica Lough have a camp coming up in January, Iron Sisters training camp. Would you mind telling us a little about the camp and if this will be a regularly on going thing for the three of you? Is there still spaces available if women are interested?

Jennifer T: Kimberly and I have been a part of the Ironsisters Training camp in Canada the last two summers. After this last one we decided we needed to take this to the States. Obviously, Kimberly is the best in the world at the deadlift and I have the bench press covered, but we needed someone for the squat. So why not the best female squatter in the World? So we got Bonica Lough to sign on.

It really is about giving women individual attention on how to have good form in the three disciplines and then helping them with accessory exercises to improve these lifts. But, it is also about creating a community. Frances Manias of Canada creates this for us. By the end of the weekend we all leave as friends and know that we will see each other again in the future. The weekend is also full of socials and surprise speakers, product give aways …. A whole lot of fun.

Since we have launched our first camp this January in Omaha, Nebraska (Bonica’s hometown) we have had many people approach us to hold them all around the States.  I see us adding more camps all year and hopefully we will continue to do this for a while. It is something I truly enjoy doing.

Currently, we have just a couple of spots left in the Omaha camp. We will be launching Barbell Brigade and Juggernaut camp in California soon. Marisa Inda will be joining us for these camps.  We will have our annual camp in Canada, but are working on camps in New Jersey, South Carolina and Iowa.

T&D: Where can we expect to see you in the future in terms of competitions and events?

Jennifer T: Kimberly, Bonica and I are heading to the Icelandic Games at the end of January, then you can see us at The Arnold Classic. Of course the biggest honor will be representing the US at the IPF World Championships this summer in Minsk, Belarus.

T&D: What are your next goals (numbers) to hit?

Jennifer T: I have been chasing after 315 this entire year! I hope to hit it in Iceland. But really I want to increase my squat, I believe that is where my weakness is and it needs to get better.

Jenn Thompson Squat

T&D: What is the thing you struggle with the most with training and/ or competing?

Jennifer T: I used to struggle with competing in the very beginning. I think with experience comes knowledge and obviously after 17 years, I have a lot of experience. I have been working with Paul Revelia of Pro Physique and my diet and has been awesome my last few cycles which has led to some great results.  So many of the meets use wilks for the overall lifter, so I want to be as light as I can without losing strength.  I will work my hardest at training. I just started a high reps cycle that usually puts on some good overall strength before I start a competition cycle. I need to stay injury free and be all right with getting rest.

T&D: Who inspires you?

Jennifer T: So many people inspire me! My husband’s belief that I can do these amazing lifts and being a good role model for my kids inspires me. Seeing my high school kids start in my powerlifting club in August and make huge gains by our competition in November. Seeing these women come to our camps and make some minor adjustments to their form and then hit PR’s inspires me and reminds me of who I am and where I came from.

T&D: Any advice for other women who want to get to your level?

Jennifer T: Remember you have to put in the time and the work. Nothing comes fast, you have to be happy making small, consistent, improvements.

Try new things, always be willing to evolve, but be just as willing to discard something that doesn’t work for you.

T&D: Thanks you so much for you time. Congratulations again on an amazing accomplishment, American record and victory. We look forward to following you and watching you continue to succeed and reach your goals. You are a true inspiration!

Jennifer T: Thank you, I would like to thank the people that have helped me get to where I am. My husband, Donovan, training partners: Wheat, Sandbag, Angry Orange, Threads, Big Lanky, Sandbag and Lil Sis.

Thanks to my sponsors: SSP Nutrition, LVD Fitness,  and SBD

Social Media: Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest: jenthompson132

Facebook: 132 Pounds of Power

Website: www.132poundsofpower.com

MEET THE MAN WITH THE 1,005 RAW SQUAT

INTERVIEW WITH RAY WILLIAMS

By: Tasha Whelan and Dan Stephenson

Ray Williams

Ray Williams was the first person to raw squat (knee sleeves and belt only) over 1000 pounds (1005 pounds in fact) in a sanctioned competition.  Not only did Ray put up a monster squat but he managed to put together a 530 pound bench and an 844 pound deadlift for a total of 2379 lbs.

First off, I would like to congratulate you on your recent achievement at this year’s USA Powerlifting Nationals in Atlanta GA.

  • T&D:  How did you get involved in powerlifting? And how long have you been doing it? 

Ray: I have been lifting since October 8 2012, and honestly I have always loved the weight room, but I got into the sport just due to the fact that I never stopped lifting after college and I figured that if I’m going to be big and strong I might as well put it to some good use.

  • T&D:  You just competed in USA Powerlifting Nationals last weekend, how did it go for you? What numbers did you hit, and was it what you were hoping for? 

Ray: I squatted 1,005, I bench 530, and I deadlifted 844.  Squat was exactly what Coach Gary and myself had planned, but the deadlift was actually through the roof.  I had attempted 855 a few times in training and always came just a little short so I figured why not and just went for 844 and I got it.

  • T&D: You broke the American record and an unofficial world record with your squat. That is AMAZING!!! How did that feel? Was that the heaviest squat you have lifted?  I believe I have seen a training video in which you squatted 1,000 pounds.

Ray: In training I have done 1,000 but that was in the gym.  I wanted to nail it on the platform and put that chapter behind me now I can focus on bigger numbers.  The feeling was unreal, because the atmosphere at this past meet was crazy I think it was just as impressive as the Arnold.  So the thrill of completing the lift and the energy of the crowd it was crazy!!

  • T&D:  How long does it take for you to recover after lifting this kind of weight?  What does your deload look like after a meet?

Ray:  Well it took about three days to totally get the soreness out and recovery like for example my first squat session this Monday will probably be 800 for 10 sets of 2 just to get back going.

  • T&D: Was your training any different leading up to this meet in comparison to other competitions? (Did you change your diet or make any big changes in training protocols).

Ray: I pretty much do everything the same no matter what because I don’t believe in switching things up.  If it’s not broke I will never change it, so far what I have been doing has been working.

  • T&D:  What lift do you enjoy training the most? 

Ray: I love to squat, but recently deadlift is becoming one of my favorites because I actually know how to do it now.  In the beginning I hated it because I was so terrible at it.

  • T&D: Your recent success has been noticed by various media outlets (ESPN, WorldStarHipHop.com, Bleacher Report, etc.). How does it feel to see yourself on ESPN? 

Ray: I don’t look at it as me, I see IPF/USAPL getting massive amounts of attention.  I want powerlifting to make it to that Olympic stage, and I would love to represent my country as an Olympic athlete.

  • T&D: Where can we expect to see you in the future in terms of competitions and events?

Ray: As of right now I do not have anything scheduled, but the Arnold and Worlds are definitely locked in.

  • T&D: What are your next goals (numbers) to hit?

Ray: I’m in the process of seeing how training goes so that I can realistically set goals for my next meet.

  • T&D:  What is the thing you struggle with the most with training and/ or competing? 

Ray: Sitting still, I love to be in the venue and talk to people.  As a lifter at some point in time you have to get off your feet and rest.  That is the part I struggle with the most.

  • T&D:  Who inspires you?

Ray: Too many people to name, but the two people that inspire me to be great the most are my two sons.  Tae’Sean and Daniel, as a proud father when those to look at me they see Superman and my oldest son Tae actually wants me to come and be his show and tell at school once football season is over.  So my boys are the pride and joy of my life.

  • T&D: How can people find and follow you on social media?

Ray: My Facebook Pages profile is Ray Williams Powerlifting, My actual Facebook page is Ray Orlando Williams, my IG profile is optimusprime_334, and my twitter is Coach_Williams1

  • T&D: Any tips or words of advice for other lifters who want to get to your level of competition? 

Ray: Find what works for you. It’s super easy to see a guy crushing big numbers and want to follow a program, but if that program is not for you then what?  So if you are a young lifter find a mentor who can guide you through as much as possible then once you outgrow his/her teachings then you find your own way.

Ray, Thanks again for taking time out of your day to talk with us. It is so inspiring and motivating to watch you compete and see you continue to progress and succeed. We wish you the best of luck in your future competition and endeavors, and look forward to seeing you on the platform!

 

 

 

 

Heavy Hitters Representing in Everett

The Heavy Hitters Powerlifting group were well represented Saturday January 14th at the UPSA Push Pull event held at EGO Strength and Performance in Everett, WA.  Including Tasha and myself, there were 13 lifters from our group in this competition and nearly half of them were first time competitors.  From a coaching perspective, this was a blast to be a part of so many lifters’ first experience with powerlifting.  From an athlete perspective, this was more of a “fun-meet” being that the we were there to coach and support our team and enjoy competing next to them.

Overall, this was an awesome meet!  It was well organized and ran like a well oiled machine.  The guys up at EGO are great and have an awesome environment to lift and compete in.  As a pleasant bonus, the meet also had an amazing videographer/photographer, Bridget Raftery, capture the event and put together lifter videos for a very affordable cost.

As a team, our athletes did very well for themselves.  Everyone from our group put up a total (nobody bombed out) and many set PR’s.  Many even won or placed in their weight class.

Great job team: Deb Booth, Lauren Elkin, Janet Yeilding, Chris Leiter, Beth Zborowski, Erica Shepard, Amy Jenks, Kevin Bereta, Lisa Dimak, Morgan Smith, and Steadman Mathis III.  Way to represent and congrats on all of your hard work.  Also a huge thanks for all that came out to support and for all of those that were involved in putting this meet together.

Check out some of the photos and videos from the meet below:

USPA Medals
Photo credit: Bridget Raftery

Best Lifter Trophy
Photo Credit: Bridget Raftery

Morgan Award
Photo Credit: Bridget Raftery

Deb Award
Photo Credit: Bridget Raftery

Tasha Award Ceremony
Photo Credit: Bridget Raftery

Heavy Hitters Group Photo EGO PP
Photo Credit: Victoria Lynn Heft


Boosting the Bench Press

There are a number of things that can be holding you back from a big bench press.  In order to get your bench press moving in the right direction, here is a brief checklist of what your training should address:

  1. Practice proper technique.

There is a difference between training movements and training muscles.  When focusing on increasing your bench press, you need to practice the technique and aim to perfect the movement.  It pays to be as efficient as possible with your technique.  This means finding an efficient bar path, minimizing excess range of motion, and creating a stable environment to transfer force.  If you are utilizing the bench press to train the chest, you won’t make it very far in pressing big weights.  The technique used to “target” a muscle is going to much less efficient at moving heavier weights.  There are other exercises that can be better utilized for targeting certain muscle groups such as your pecs.

  1. Follow a properly planned program

If you are not following program of some sort, you are doing yourself a disservice.  There is so much information on training that is easily available these days, there is no excuse to not have a plan for each workout.  Progress takes patience.  You will not progress very much if you are testing your max every week.  It takes time to fine tune technique, build up strength, and adapt to the stresses of training.

  1. Increase muscle mass

There is merit to focusing some of your training to targeting muscles.  An increase in muscle size will almost undoubtedly increases that muscle’s potential for greater strength.  The larger the cross-sectional area of a muscle, the more contractile units it exhibits, therefore increasing its potential to produce more force when trained properly.  Therefore, do not completely neglect training bicep curls and chest flies.  Keep the primary focus of your training on strength but add-in some bodybuilding style lifts and sets to supplement your strength gains.  Personally, I prefer to end my strength workouts with a good muscle pump.

If you would like to learn from one of the best benchers in the world and you are in the greater Seattle area, be sure to make it out to EGO Strength and Performance in Everett, WA this Saturday October 10th to meet Adrian Larsen.  Adrian has held the world record for his amazing 585lb bench press at a bodyweight of only 220lbs.  He has an incredible story to tell as he has overcome much adversity in his life to achieve this goal.

Check out www.larsenpress.com for more information.

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Cutting Weight for Competition from a Female Athlete’s Perspective

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As a women whose training partner is a man, I can say cutting weight next to him is very annoying. Doing the same weight cut as my training partner seems to be quite more of a struggle for me than it is for him. Given, as a women, hormones come in to play.  Women, having higher levels of estrogen, which is commonly associated with weight gain by slowing down the metabolism. Progesterone, which plays a big role in women’s menstrual cycles, influences the body to hold on to water a bit more. These are factors that contribute to the greater challenge of cutting weight for women.

I’ve done weight cuts where I just focus on a water weight drop (miserable), and weight cuts where I took the more gradual approach (i.e changing my diet, adding more cardio (ugh))… Neither are enjoyable. It’s exhausting, miserable, and pisses me off.

For someone who competes in the 132 weight class, I find it that much harder to cut down. Changing diet up can really screw up my strength, especially when 90% of the time my diet is very clean, so to clean it up more than it already is, can be quite challenging.

How can I make weight, and preserve as much lean mass, strength, and energy as possible? It’s tough for sure. I have found myself sitting in hot tubs, steam rooms, and saunas, fully clothed doing cardio to just lose .25 of a lb.. UGH!

What I have found to be the “easiest” approach, is the gradually cut. More recently, I sit at about 140 and need to get to 132. I clean my “all ready clean” diet up a bit more… usually 4 to 6 weeks out.. Bye-bye jars of peanut butter (sigh)… No cheat meals, no pancakes.  Hello to lots of chicken salads, salmon, sweet potatoes, and protein shakes. Not too horrible really, as long as you are getting in carbs especially post workout, and keeping enough protein in.

As long as I can drop a few “bad” pounds, preferable 4-5 through diet, and keep the water cut to 5 lbs or less… seems to be the best… but again, HARD, as a women, not having too much weight on you to lose, 1 lb can be painful and disgusting to drop. You have to do what you have to do right…

Water loading prior to the dehydration phase is very important. This helps get the water out easier, along with water pills, dandelion root, and magnesium citrate supplement to help extract the water. Steam rooms, and low intensity cardio for the sweat, but be careful to not expend too much energy at a higher intensity as you will need this to recover.

When cutting, do ask yourself, do I need to do this, is it necessary? If you are competing to compete, to get more experience, then I suggest not cutting weight, not only does it take a physically toll on the body, it is stressful and mentally exhausting as well. If you are looking to break records, or hit a certain lift at a different weight class, then sure, do what you got to do, but do prepare yourself for a challenge, a very tough challenge.

When refueling and rehydrating try to avoid going all out and scarfing down as much food as you can immediately as this is not the best way to go about it. First and foremost, your body needs to rehydrate so get some water, sodium, and electrolytes back in. The first thing I have is Pedialyte. This allows me to have a great start to the rehydration process. This process can easily be done wrong. I myself have taken the route of stacks of pancakes, steaks and omelets, hash browns and whatever else I could “uncomfortable” get in my body to try to get the energy and strength back up. Sodium and water is the first priority, then gradually get food back in.  Don’t get me wrong, go and eat a good amount of food, but I don’t suggest getting terrible full like at Thanksgiving. Your body has just been through a massive depletion and needs time to process what you are putting back in so everything will starting functioning (digestive system) as it should. Be smart, be passionate, and only cut if necessary.

Risk Vs. Reward

Reward

  • Being more competitive at a lower weight
  • Better chance of breaking records or placing on top
  • Putting weight back on after weigh in (weigh more than your competition= stronger)
  • Qualifying for bigger competitions

Risk

  • Losing strength
  • Not recovering well enough from water cut (if part of your personal process)
  • Possible psychological effects on the brain due to severe dehydration (i.e. depression, mood swing, aggression etc.)
  • Physiological effect on the body (Reduced blood volume, heart must work harder to supply oxygenated blood,
  • “Dehydration results in reduced muscle blood flow, waste removal, and heat dissipation, all of which are necessary for sustained, high power muscle action in events such as boxing and judo.” (Armstrong, 1992, p.29)
  • Feeling like crap during the entire dehydrating process

-Tasha

As seen on The Alpha Project

Keeping the Fire Ablaze

As a fitness professional, I spend a lot of time in the gym.  It can be a wonder of how someone such as myself could keep up a high motivation for training myself and others.  After working with clients all day and spending most of the day inside the gym, motivation does not come easy.  I have learned a few things over the years that have helped me to continue to drive myself to train as hard as I need to and to push my clients in the same way.

For the fitness professional

  • Find a different gym to train at other than where you work.

If you work in a gym, chances are most people know you and feel comfortable enough to approach you whenever they see you “available” in their eyes.  This is a good thing for business but it can be a problem when it comes to your personal workouts.  I suggest that you get the heck out of there whenever you can and train at a different gym.  Being unknown or at least keeping to yourself is sometimes necessary to get the work in that you need and to keep your focus during your training sessions.

  • Plan your schedule wisely

One of the greatest things about working as a personal trainer is the freedom to manage your own schedule.  Conversely, one of the worst things is that your schedule is at the mercy of your clients.  This often leads to trainers working split shifts.  Many trainers can manage the split shift just fine but it does take some planning ahead to pull it off successfully.

Be sure to prioritize yourself into your schedule setting boundaries of when you are “available to clients” and “unavailable to clients.”  This includes limiting the extra-early morning clients and the late-night clients that turn a 10-12 hour day into a 14 hour day.  Plan your shifts so that you can provide an honest quality service to all of your clients and to get in your own quality training sessions throughout the week.

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For the competitor

  • Find a gym that supports your sport/style of training

This should be a big priority for those who are serious about their training.  It is hard to improve your deadlift in a gym that doesn’t allow chalk, doesn’t have bumper plates, and frowns upon loud crashing weights.  It is also helpful to get in an environment with like-minded people and people that are stronger than you.  You might be the biggest fish in the pond but there is always the ocean.

  • Remember that your competition may out-train you… if you let them

While you may want to take a day off or only push yourself so far, just remember that you are giving your competition the chance to out-train you.

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For the general public

  • Establish a few realistic, specific, and time sensitive goals

Goals are important.  More precisely, specific goals are important.  They provide your training with purpose and help to establish a means to measure progress; both of which are motivating.  Training with purpose and recognizing (and celebrating) progress is a good way to keep motivation alive.

  • Find your “Fitness Identity”

Finding a fitness identity can be tricky for some but once you have it, it does wonders for motivating your training.  A fitness identity is a trait that one can identify with that is related to fitness.  An example of this would be associating an activity, such as running, to an individual.  “I run often, therefore, I am a runner,” or “I train to improve my total, therefore, I am a powerlifter.”

Once a fitness identity is established, training purpose is established or reinforced and you may find that other aspects such as nutrition and lifestyle choices may coincide more with the new found fitness identity.

To summarize, your training needs to be a priority if you truly want to reach your goals.  As Adrian Larsen would say, “Good things come to those who wait… go out and f*cking earn it!”

-Dan

As seen on The Alpha Project

Lone Wolf or Dynamic Duo?

All the best superheroes have a partner, a team mate. No one rides alone successful. The greatest success’ and accomplishments are those that are usually shared.

It has always been said, two (muscle) heads are better than one.

Protection, safety, rescuer. All is fun until you get stuck under a weight. Its never fun to be “that guy/gal” who tries to PR on their own, or feels cocky under a heavy weight and all of a sudden that weight is a bit more than expected. No partner, no one to help move that weight up or off you, so you become “that guy/gal” screaming for help while pinned under a barbell. You don’t want to be remembered in the gym for being rescued. It happens more frequently that it should. This won’t happen with a training partner (given the partner is experienced enough to spot properly).

When spotting, know what your partner likes and dislikes in a spot. Knowing your lifter’s preferences could be key to their lift being successful. A bad spot can ruin a potential PR or just an entire set alone. Talk to your partner figure out what cues help them and what spotting technique works for them. More importantly, always be prepared. If a lift goes wrong, that person is relying on your to bail them out. Be ready for anything. Eyes open and focused on them. Period.

Accountability. Hands down the most valuable component of having a training partner is accountability. How many people have hit there snooze button on a planned early morning training session?  It is too easy to make excuses; staying in a warm, cozy bed for longer, stayed up too late last night, too hungry to get ready in time to train, next thing you know you have to get on with the rest of your day.  Evening training sessions can be just as difficult to make; too tired from the day, dinner was too heavy, etc.  Next thing you know… damn a workout is missed.

It can get way too easy to miss a workout. Maybe you’re in a bad mood, low on energy, would rather watch Sons of Anarchy, whatever the excuse, chances are if you know someone is waiting for you at a given time, you’re going to show. Work out will be complete. One step closer to those goals.

Results:  When training with a partner you are more inclined to pick up the training intensity. Again, if you have the right training partner, who does not slack off or leave you hanging. We all want results, to reach our goals, to lift and train with purpose. It’s much easier to let yourself down than to let another person down. If someone is expecting you to be there to train, you’ll show up, work hard, accomplish the day’s training program, and therefore lead you to key results.

Time-saver: Having a training partner can really eliminate time not only spent in the gym, but during working sets, rest periods etc. A lot of people may not realize how much time can be wasted setting up equipment, racks, getting gear ready etc. Having someone to help move this proves along quickly can make all the difference in a workout when you’re in a good groove and flow.

Notice Technique Flaws: We don’t always know how we look when we are lifting. A lot of the time we focus on moving that weight and if we finish the lift, we will feel accomplished. Well, form, technique, cuing; all crucial to gains, success, progress, and injury prevention. It’s important to have a set of eyes watch the things you can’t see. Maybe your knees are buckling in during a squat, or back breaks a little in a certain part of a deadlift, or your elbows are flaring too much during a bench press. It feels great to you, but that lift could have moved much smoother by fixing the things you don’t notice. Partners give you the eyes you need when you “can’t see”.

Encouragment. Training alone: “I missed my lift, I’m pissed and feel like a weak piece of garbage”. This can ruin your day. That weight should have flown up. “I’m not strong enough, I lost my strength, and I thought I was better than that.”

So easily we put ourselves down, become these self-loathing individuals, the Debby-downers, the negative-Nellys. When you’re just not feeling like superman and more like the garbage man, you need to hear some words of encouragement. Training partner: “You got this Bro. take a moment, re-group, and hit it again.  Today might not be the best day. There’s still tomorrow, and the next time. This is one day. You’ve lifted it before. You work hard, you’re a freaking bad-ass. It’s a bad lift, it happens. You got it next time.”

Instead of walking out of the gym completely defeated by a bad lifting day (we all have them, it’s normal) A training partner can at least make you feel a little bit better, and that little bit can go a long way. Keep on encouraging and motivated your team mate. It’s important. DO NOT LET THEM FALL TRAP TO INTERNAL EXECUTION. Wah. Bad day. Head up bad ass. Not only for missed lifts, but for praise when you hit a PR. It is nice to get recognized for that, maybe a high 5, a slap on the ass, a chest bump. HA. Whatever it is, it’s always nice not to share the experience of success and gain alone.

Afraid to increase the weight? Think you’ll miss it? Partners are there to push you, keeping your mind in the game, mentality is huge when lifting and gaining. You need to keep the positivity there and having a partner there to reinforce the positive thoughts can be night or day difference in the gym.

Right kind of training partner. The right training partner is someone that shares your vision. This person is driven and dedicated to the same level as you. He or she is not flaky, nor is he or she training for a completely different sport or goal. Someone training for a marathon would not make the best training partner for a powerlifting or vice versa, even if they were best friends or husband and wife. The goals must be the same or similar. Gender should not matter. Sometimes training with the opposite sex can actually be better. Who doesn’t like to impress the opposite sex and work hard, and show off a little?

A great partner is someone you feel can push you, motivate you, and excite you to lift. A training partner who comes to the gym, not prepared, bad mood, constantly complaining, or never following through with the planned workout, etc., would not make an ideal workout/ training partner. If your current training partner is not helping you reach your goals, then now is the time to reevaluate what you want in a partner. It’s not selfish to “fire” your training partner if it’s not working out well. You will never accomplish or be successful with your goals if you let someone take you away from achieving them. What is selfish about following your dreams and reaching your goals? Nothing. So say bye-bye to the bad partner and get a new one. IT IS WORTH IT. If you want a good reliable partner you need to pay the same respect to that person. Show up, be ready, be motivating, be open minded, and be a teammate. HAVE FUN!!!

Check out these training buddies. Now this would be an ideal training session 😉

-Tasha

As seen on The Alpha Project

Breaking through Mental Blocks

You can be your own worst enemy when it comes to training.  Hitting new PR’s can be more of a mental game than it is physical strength.  Try these three strategies the next time you gear up to set a personal record.

Visualization

There is a saying that “on competition day, a champion athlete has already completed his/her task 1,000 times over in the mind.”  I’m not entirely sure who said it but it speaks truth.  Repeatedly visualizing every step that needs to take place in order for you to complete a lift will do wonders for your nerves when you actually attempt the lift.  Mental practice is key to continuing to see success.  Many of times, our worst habits will surface when the weight gets heavy enough.  This is one strategy to gain more focus and eliminate the mental clutter when you attempt your next PR lift.

Change your Warm-up Sets

I can almost guarantee that you have done the same weights in your warm-up sets leading to the top weight for the past few months.  Am I wrong?

Try changing up your loading pattern for your next workout.  Instead of going up by the same plate increments each time, try making different jumps up in weight for each set.  For example, instead of going from 135lbs to 185lbs, skip 185 and go to 195.  This works well in your first few warm-up sets because taking a bigger jump has less of an impact on your overall performance.  You might find that you can move some weights easier because you haven’t exhausted yourself too much on the lighter sets.

You might even try playing around with more or less sets with fewer reps working your way up in weight.  The point of warm-up sets is to prepare the body for the heavier weight NOT to fatigue you before you get there.

Blind Sets

If you have a training partner that you trust and that knows your strength well, have them choose your weights for you for your next work out.  Try your best not to add-up what is on the bar and just lift it.  In this way, you can cut out all of the mind games that you play on yourself when attacking a certain weight.  There will be no expectations only assumptions as to how that weight may feel.  You might find yourself lifting a weight you have never lifted before and assume that it is lighter than it truly is.

-Dan

As seen on The Alpha Project

You Cannot Do it Alone

If you were looking to start your own business, would you take the risk of doing it all yourself?  No, at least I hope not.  You would seek out the advice of someone who has a successful business, and possibly an attorney, banker, and maybe even a contractor.  Why should your approach to your personal health and fitness goals be any different?

The point of seeking out a good coach or mentor is to gain from their knowledge and experience in order to help you be more successful with your goals.  You will learn from their mistakes, saving you the time of figuring it out yourself, accelerating your progress.  Here are a few more reasons that you should seek out a good coach:

Passion for what they do:

Most of the trainers and coaches that I know never stop learning.  The day you stop learning is the day you lost your passion.  The live what they preach.  A quality coach is constantly pushing themselves to improve whether it be with their knowledge, skill-set, and their own personal fitness.  You will benefit from all of the extra hours that a quality coach puts into his or her craft.  Honing their craft is a high priority of good coach.

Different from your training partner:

An argument could be made that a good training partner would suffice in place of a coach.  A good training partner is important but there are additional benefits to hiring a coach as well.  A training partner can be great for accountability, pushing the intensity, spotting your lifts, etc. but more than likely you and your training partner train together because you train similarly.  It can benefit you both to seek out guidance on your training, technique, exercise programming, etc.

People of all skill levels can benefit:

Have you ever noticed that even in individual sports such as MMA, the fighter will have an entire coaching staff behind them?  Anyone from beginner to elite athletes can benefit from coaching.  An additional set of eyes that can spot holes in your game or technique is valuable to anyone.  Depending on your goals, you should seek out a coach than can elevate you to that next level, whatever that may be.

-Dan

As seen on The Alpha Project titled “Why you Should Hire a Great Coach”