November 17, 2019 // Archive

Date based archive
17 Nov

Starting Strength Coaches Jeff Hairston and Grant Broggi discuss strength and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Jeff is a brown belt under the Mendes Brothers at Art of Jiu Jitsu and a coach at The Strength Co., and Grant is the owner of the Strength Co in Orange County, CA.

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17 Nov

I AM (Official Music Video) Fearless Motivation

 fearless-google-playfearless-google-play fearless-motivation-amazon_mp3_logofearless-motivation-amazon_mp3_logo

Download or Stream the track now, on iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, Google Music, Deezer, Amazon MP3 and MP3 Download Worldwide
I AM (Official Music Video) Fearless Motivation – Lyrics, Music, Speech: Copyright: Fearless Motivation
Artists: Alpha | Intro/Outro Speaker: William Hollis
Lyrics by Jones 2.0, Fearless Motivation 

I AM (Official Music Video) Fearless Motivation – WATCH FREE:

What are the 2 most powerful words in the English language?

The 2 most powerful words in the English language are I AM.
 Because what comes after I AM will shape your life.

What you SPEAK after I AM… What you BELIEVE after I AM… will control your decisions and shape your life.

I am powerful!
Whatever I want to achieve
I believe that I am capable
It’s all attainable…
and what you speak after the words I am…
will shape you.

Those words will really make or break you.
So be careful what you’re saying every day too
Don’t let the negativity come in and take you
Stay strong and positive
and you will make a breakthrough

The two words I am are so powerful…
So if you say that you’re stuck
and you’re stressed
then you are
But if you aim for the stars
and you shoot you’ll go far
It all comes from within
just think about it

If you believe that you’re great
You will attempt great things
When you affirm I AM STRONG
You know the power that brings!
The words will shape you in a powerful way
So make sure everyday
Look in the mirror and say that
I AM!!

I am powerful
I am a beast
I am a warrior
I am unique!
I AM! I AM!!!

I am powerful
It’s not just a phrase that you say
You’ve got to feel it, believe it,
You’ve gotta scream it and be it
Repeat it everyday
don’t let your power go to waste

Use this information
And write your affirmations
Turn them to incantations
Unlock your hidden power
Affirm I AM amazing
This is your recreation
No more procrastination
Now that you’re empowered
You’re no longer unconscious
Let the words I AM
seep into your subconscious
You’ve got so many options
I am anything and everything I wanted

The two words I am are so powerful…
So if you say you’re depressed
and you’re tired then you are
But if you say I am great
and believe you’ll go far
It all comes from within
just think about it

If you believe that you’re great
You will attempt great things
When you affirm I am strong
You know the power that brings?
The words will shape you in a powerful way
Make sure everyday
Look in the mirror and say
I AM!!

You gotta speak it into existence!
You’ve gotta be persistent.
Shake up the system
no longer I can’t….
from now it’s I CAN.
No longer I want
From now it’s I AM!
You can overcome anything.
You can achieve and over-achieve all of your dreams.
If you believe
and see it in your mind
you’re going to get there in the physical
So just remember these principles

Say it every day….. I am
I am capable of anything
I am powerful
I am strong
I am everything I want to be
I am Rich
I am successful
I am wise
I am more than enough
I am a winner
I am a champion
I’m an achiever
believer in myself
I am disciplined
I am health
I am whole
I am wealth
I am!
I am…..

Thoughts are powerful.
Thoughts lead to actions.
Actions over time become habits.
And habits lead to long lasting RESULTS.

I AM motivationI AM motivation

I AM. It’s not just a phrase that you say… You’ve got to feel it, believe it, scream it and BE IT

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Download or stream the album now, on iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, Google Music, Deezer, Amazon MP3 and MP3 Download Worldwide

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17 Nov


Magnesium is natural nutrient the body needs to thrive. In fact, it’s the second most prevalent electrolyte, and yet it’s one of the most undervalued nutrients available, as shared by Daniella Paciera, LDN, RD, CCN, presenter of last year’s webinar “Magnesium – An Undervalued Essential Nutrient.”

But just how beneficial is this mineral, you ask? According to the National Institutes of Health, magnesium plays a key role in regulating biochemical reactions in more than 600 enzyme systems in the body. It’s also necessary for energy production, oxidative phosphorylation and glycolysis, and it contributes to structural development of bones and the transportation of calcium and potassium across cell membranes. Essentially, without magnesium, your body would find it difficult to thrive.

10 Interesting Facts About Magnesium
To stomp out the ignorance associated with this valuable nutrient, here are 10 things you probably don’t know in regard to magnesium:

1. Between 70 and 80 percent of all Americans are magnesium-deficient, according to Orthomolecular Medicine News Service.

2. By consuming too much calcium, you can deplete magnesium levels in the body.

3. Magnesium is vital for virtually every major body system, including brain function, muscles and organs, glands and hormones, bone structure, the cardiovascular system, the digestive system and the nervous system.

Try our Magnesium Complex today.Try our Magnesium Complex today.Try our Magnesium Complex today.

4. Those who are magnesium-deficient are more likely to develop chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, increased cholesterol levels and irritable bowel syndrome, as well as  experience symptoms like harsh migraines and heartburn. Additionally, those who take medication to treat such conditions deplete magnesium in the body.

5.  According to vegetarian lifestyle blog Love To Know, magnesium makes up less than 0.1 percent of the body, which gives new meaning to the phrase “a little bit goes a long way.”

6. Consuming too much magnesium through food cannot harm you, because the kidneys eliminate excess amounts, according to the NIH. But taking high doses through supplements can cause issues likes cramping, nausea and diarrhea.

7. Magnesium is essential for the production of RNA and DNA.

8. Magnesium aids absorption of vitamins D and B6 and converts B1 into its active form.

9. A magnesium deficiency can impact a woman during the menstrual cycle – increasing symptoms like depression, moodiness and cramps.

10. While magnesium is known to be abundant in green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, modern farming often depletes soil, which makes taking a magnesium supplement critical.

Note: Though we stated that most commercially purchased foods that are normally high in magnesium may be deficient due to modern farming processes, this doesn’t mean you can’t get any magnesium from your favorite vegetables and other plant-based food options. If you grow sustenance from your garden – or know your farmer personally and understand how he or she takes care of the soil – you can rely on a plant-based diet to provide a multitude of magnesium. Some of the best sources include leafy greens, such as spinach, chard and kale; nuts; seeds; legumes; sea vegetables; broccoli; beets; bananas and some organic whole grains.

Start Taking Our Magnesium Complex
Are you convinced that magnesium is a top-tier nutrient you need to prioritize? Then consider our Magnesium Complex supplement. Our formula is a blend of magnesium succinate, magnesium taurinate, magnesium malate and magnesium aspartate, a chemical combination that increases its ability to be absorbed rapidly. With this supplement, you can support your cardiovascular health, maintain normal blood sugar levels, improve bone structure and strength and more. So stop wondering how you can enhance your overall health and bodily functioning, and start taking our Magnesium Complex today!

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17 Nov

This homemade, healthy granola recipe packs a delicious pumpkin spice punch, perfect for fall, and it’s made entirely with good for you ingredients (200 calories or 6 WW points). It’s an easy make-ahead breakfast or snack and since it stores well at room temperature or in the freezer, it would be a great homemade gift!

We’re in the thick of pumpkin spice season, friends, and this homemade healthy granola is a hit at our house. It’s quick to make and every ingredient is both nutritious and probably already in your pantry: rolled oats, pepitas (a type of pumpkin seed), canned pumpkin puree, pure maple syrup, coconut oil, and warm fall spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. The maple syrup sweetens it juuust enough—not too little, not too much—and the aromatic cinnamon and ginger add warmth, depth, and help to bring out even more natural sweetness.

How To Make a Healthy Pumpkin Spice Granola

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine 3 cups oats and 1/2 cup of pepitas.
  • In a small saucepan, whisk together coconut oil, canned pumpkin, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, a pinch of salt. Heat the mixture over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until the coconut oil is melted and the mixture is warm. Pour this warm pumpkin mixture over the oats and pepitas and mix well with a spoon. Scoop the granola onto your prepared pan and use a large spoon to spread it in an even layer.
  • Bake until until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. The granola will further crisp up as it cools.
  • Let the granola cool completely, undisturbed, then break the granola into pieces with your hands, separating it into big or small chunks depending on your preference.
top down shot of easy granola on a baking traytop down shot of easy granola on a baking tray
overhead shot of granola on a baking trayoverhead shot of granola on a baking tray

Tips for Better Granola

  • Be sure to line your baking sheet with parchment paper so that the sweet stuff sticks to your oats rather than the pan.
  • Heating your wet ingredients and spices (coconut oil, canned pumpkin, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and salt) in a small saucepan serves to melt the coconut oil (like butter, coconut oil is a solid at room temperature), allowing it to combine more easily with the other ingredients, and ensures that all of the flavorful ingredients and spices are evenly mixed into a sort-of sauce that you can pour over your oats.
  • Instead of heating your wet ingredients on the stove, you can whisk them together in a microwave-safe bowl and then heat them for 45 seconds to 1 minute.
  • For chunky granola, gently press down on the granola with the back of a spatula after spreading it on your baking sheet before baking. Not stirring the granola halfway through baking also helps to create a clumpier texture.
  • Don’t bake the granola too long—just until it’s golden on top. It might seem a little soft to the touch when you remove it from the oven, but it will continue to crisp up as it cools.
  • Using pepitas, a type of pumpkin seeds, makes this recipe nut-free, which would make the granola an allergy-friendly option for your kids to bring to school. Pecans, almonds, or walnuts would work just as well.
easy granola recipe in a serving glasseasy granola recipe in a serving glass

How Long Will Homemade Granola Last?

After your granola has completely cooled, store it in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to 10 days. You can also freeze the granola just as you would cookies or other treats—either wrapped tightly in a layer of plastic wrap and a layer of aluminum foil or in resealable freezer bag.

Check Out These Other Easy Breakfast Recipes

Cashew Ginger Granola with Dates and Sesame Seeds
Roasted Butternut Squash with Granola and Greek Yogurt
Toasted Coconut and Pineapple Granola
Slow Cooker Oatmeal 3 Ways
Superfood Green Smoothie Bowl
DIY Breakfast Toast Bar
Banana Oatmeal Recipe by Chocolate Covered Katie
Healthy Blueberry Muffins by Well Plated

If you have tried this Easy Granola recipe, or any other recipe on my blog, please let me know how it turned out in the comments below! You can also follow me on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM and PINTEREST to see more delicious, healthy, family-friendly food!

Healthy Pumpkin Spice Granola

Prep Time10 mins

Cook Time25 mins

Total Time35 mins

Course: Breakfast, Snacks

Servings: 12 1/4-cup servings

Calories: 208kcal

  • 3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • ½ cup pepitas (or chopped pecans)
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • ½ cup canned pumpkin puree
  • cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • pinch ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

  • In a large bowl, mix the oats and pepitas.

  • In a small saucepan, whisk together the coconut oil, pumpkin, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and salt. Heat over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until the coconut oil is melted and the mixture is warm. (Alternatively, you can whisk these ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl and then heat for 45 seconds to 1 minute.

  • Pour this pumpkin mixture over the oats and pepitas and mix well with a spoon. Spread mixture onto your prepared baking sheet and bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool completely, undisturbed (it will crisp as it cools). Once cool, break the granola into pieces with your hands if you want to retain big chunks, or break it apart with a wooden spoon if you don’t want extra-clumpy granola.

  • Store in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to 10 days.

Calories: 208kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Sodium: 62mg | Potassium: 184mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 1906IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 34mg | Iron: 2mg

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17 Nov

If you struggle to build a thick, wide back it is probably not because your program sucks. The answer is likely much simpler than that—your technique is crap and you cannot develop a mind-muscle connection (MMC) with the muscles of the back.


Chief amongst these muscles is the latissimus dorsi (lats). The lats are the muscles that give you that awesome v-tapered look. To build your lats, the solution isn’t doing more of the same. After all, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different outcome.



Tons of sets of poorly executed reps won’t make up for a lack of quality. Tweaking your rep scheme isn’t the answer if your reps are not effective. You must improve form, develop the MMC with the lats, and establish the capacity to create tension in the muscle. Only once you have done this does it make sense to increase training variables like volume, intensity, and/or frequency.


The Single Arm Breakthrough Pulldown

To achieve this, I suggest you use the single-arm breakthrough pulldown. The single-arm part of the name is fairly obvious. The breakthrough portion relates to the fact you are going to try and drive your elbow to “breakthrough” the leg pad at the bottom of the lift.


This exercise has a few key benefits compared to a traditional lat pulldown.


  1. Doing it one arm at a time helps you to focus all of your intention on one side. This means you can really feel the lat of the working side contracting.
  2. It also means your scapular muscles can move more freely and can get into a full stretch easier. When both arms a moving the range is somewhat blocked by the movement of the other shoulder blade.
  3. Using a rotating grip allows you to supinate your arm and reach up and away in front of the body. This creates an excellent stretch on the lats. By pre-stretching them, they can activate better when you reverse the movement. A pronated grip does not allow for this extreme stretch.
  4. Finally, and this is where the real magic of this exercise kicks in, using the leg pad as an immovable object to drive into guarantees you use a full range and provides some resistance to work against at peak contraction.


Often lifters hit full range, relax, and let the weight drop back into the lowering phase. As the set progresses and fatigue kicks in, they don’t even manage to reach the full range. Single-arm breakthrough pulldowns make it very obvious if you cut range.


Doing these properly with a full range on every rep has you driving into the pad for a few seconds at the bottom. This means the muscle doesn’t get any letup. Instead, you get a deep, almost cramp-like feeling in your lats which really improves your ability to feel them on other exercises. This feedback tool is an excellent way to fast track your ability to recruit your lats and make all of your back training more effective.


The way you perform your rows and pulldowns can have a massive impact on their effectiveness as lat builders. Effectively training your lats is largely down to the angle you pull at and where your elbows start and finish. Your arm path will determine if you hit the lats or your upper back and biceps more.



Lat Anatomy 101

The anatomy of the lats dictates how best to train them. The lats originate at the spine and insert onto the inside of your humerus (upper arm). The lats cover a large surface area and start out broad before arrowing in on the insertion point.



As a consequence, the fibers of the lats form a fan-like pattern. The upper fibers are more horizontal while the lower fibers have a more vertical line of pull. To best train them you need to take them through a full range and challenge them from fully stretched to their fully shortened position.


To create the v-tapered aesthetic look of golden era bodybuilders, you need to develop the lateral, lower portion of your lats. These fibers are predominantly vertical in alignment. To train them you should align the resistance in the same path. This is done by training in a vertical pull movement pattern (aka. pulldowns).


The Clue Isn’t Always In the Name

Exactly how you perform your pulldowns will determine if the lats are effectively stimulated. Almost every gym junkie uses a wide-grip, pronated lat pulldown to try and build their lats. Sadly, what they don’t realize is that this will probably build their upper back more than the lower lats that they are hoping to challenge. This is because the line of pull allows other muscles to create leverage and move the load instead of the lats.


Don’t get me wrong, pronated wide grip pulldowns are a good exercise, but they aren’t ideal to train the lats. This is especially true when the goal is the get the lower fibers fully shortened into a good quality peak contraction. The flared arm position of regular pulldown limits the workload of the lats and their ability to get into a fully shortened position.


For the lats to create leverage it is best achieved with the arms moving in an arching pattern from out in front of the body and driving in by the side—almost like a straight arm pullover pattern. Single arm breakthrough pulldowns allow you to mimic this pattern with the added bonus of having the leg pad to drive into at the end of each rep.


Hone Your Single Arm Breakthrough Pulldown Technique

Use these technique points to magnify the effectiveness of the exercise:


  1. Let the arm reach up and in front of the body to achieve the lengthened position—this will immediately place tension through the lats.
  2. Initiate the movement by pulling the elbow down and in front, NOT back. Doing so will keep tension on the lats and avoid the upper back taking over.
  3. Keep your arm path out in front for as long as possible. Keeping a long lever arm creates and maintains maximal tension in the lats.
  4. Only at the bottom of the lift do you finish by driving your elbow around into the spine.
  5. Imagine trying to stab your elbow through the leg pad towards the base of your spine to achieve a great peak contraction. Hold this for a 2 count.


After a few sets of 10-12 reps like this, you will feel your lats like never before.


Every rep of every set is a growth opportunity. You should aim to place tension and stimulate the target muscle on every single rep. To build your back, invest some time and effort into improving the activation of your lats with this exercise.


It will yield far superior returns than mindlessly battering away on the deadlifts, rows, and pull-ups you’ve always done. Instead, it will enhance the effectiveness of all these exercises and allow you to build that wide, powerful-looking back you want.

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17 Nov


No tricks, just treats. These Skeleton Cheesecake Cups are a fantastic holiday activity for friends and family. You don’t have to be cornered into just skeletons, feel free to top your cheesecake creation with any spooky seasonal creature. Whatever you decide to top your treat with, rest assured, when you bite into it, it’ll be tough to eat just one.

Check out the full recipe below:



Yields: 7 Servings |  Serving Size: 1 Cheesecake Cup

Calories: 210 | Protein: 9g  | Fat: 15g | Net Carb: 6g 

Total Carb: 6g 

Prep Time: 5 mins  | Cook Time:  15 mins  | Total Time: 20 mins




  • 1/2 tbsp gelatin
  • 1 scoop Quest Vanilla Milkshake Protein Powder
  • 2 tbsp zero cal sweetener
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 8oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup sugar-free chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Cut the Quest Bar into pieces and place it on the baking sheet.
  3. Bake the pieces for 4-5 minutes.
  4. Once cooled, place the pieces into a food processor and blend for 10-20 seconds or until fine crumbles form.
  5. Place the crumbles and the butter into a bowl and stir until combined.
  6. Distribute the mixture between 7 cupcake liners and press the crust flat.
  7. Bake for 4-5 minutes.
  8. In bowl, stir together the gelatin, protein powder and sweetener.
  9. Add in the boiling water and stir until smooth and then set aside.
  10. in another bowl, beat the cream cheese, sour cream and vanilla until smooth.
  11. Add in the gelatin mixture and beat until smooth.
  12. Divide the cheesecakes between the cups.
  13. Chill for 2 hours.
  14. Melt the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl in 15 second increments until smooth.
  15. Transfer to a piping bag and decorate the cheesecakes with skeletons.
  16. Enjoy your treats!

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17 Nov

Why You Should Do The Olympic Lifts as a Strengthlifter – and Vice Versa

by Carl Raghavan, SSC | November 12, 2019

While spending some time in Houston recently, I was fortunate enough to be hosted by Josh and Shelley Wells, two SSCs and expert Olympic weightlifters. It was great to spend some quality time with old friends, but what really struck a chord with me was the compelling argument Josh put forward about weightlifting. Up late one night in the living room, we were talking shop and Josh mentioned the importance of the power clean. The power clean is a weightlifting variation, and we use it in Starting Strength to train power: the idea is that as you gain in strength and size you should also gain in general athleticism, making the program more complete and well rounded. 

You may be wondering what I mean when I say “weightlifting.” After all, isn’t Starting Strength about lifting weights? What’s the difference? Well, I’m using the word in a specific sense. Weightlifting is a sport centered around two movements: the snatch and the clean & jerk. At competitions you have three attempts to execute a snatch and three for the clean & jerk. Your best lift for each movement makes up your total, and the biggest total in each weight category wins. It’s a great sport, but my feelings about teaching the power clean are mixed. 

When Josh brought it up that night, my initial reaction was typical: I rolled my eyes and blew out a short sigh. With my clients I tend to drop the power clean. Usually they’re just too old, too weak and/or are not blessed with much kinesthetic skill, to put it kindly. The wasted time – time that should be spent getting stronger – and risk of injury outweigh the benefits, so for these reasons I put the power clean on the backburner. Surprisingly, even those of my clients who can perform the lift correctly often don’t enjoy it. That’s not to say I don’t like it; it simply hasn’t shown enough bang for most of my clients’ buck. What I really want is for my lifters to get strong as safely, logically, and effectively as possible.

And yet – efficiency isn’t everything. Josh’s argument about incorporating weightlifting was essentially this: “Why not? You’ve trained hard with the Big Four (squat, bench, deadlift and press), so why not express your strength in the most athletic way possible?” And let’s be honest: as a feat of athletics, Olympic weightlifting is far more interesting to watch than a strengthlifting meet. 

In fact, if anything, I find it a little too interesting. I get way too excited watching my lifts go up. It’s addictive. I end up wanting to max out my snatch and clean & jerk every session, which is not smart. Usually I hit PR after PR until I catch one heavy clean badly and hurt my wrists, then I take a year off to let the pain subside, focusing meanwhile on the Big Four, and then repeat the cycle. Weightlifting has always felt like fun – rather than like real training – so I’ve always approached it in that spirit, incorporating it at the beginning of my sessions when I’m fresh to mix up my routine and break the monotony of a strength program. Weightlifting, I’ve always felt, is the spice of strength training. Not that I’d advise this approach for my clients (or anyone else, for that matter) – I always tell them to do as I say, not as I do. I might be okay with making dumb mistakes and getting injured, but that doesn’t mean they should be. 

Technique worship

If strengthlifters are sometimes unnecessarily dismissive of weightlifting, the opposite is also true. Weightlifting and strength training (what I’ve been calling “real training”) both involve strength, but, strangely, the importance of strength to weightlifting is often downplayed. I learned this while coaching at a CrossFit gym, where weightlifting was a core component of the philosophy. Strength, however, was undervalued. How do you know if you’re strong? Well, can you do fifteen strict pull ups? Can you do a double-bodyweight squat? Or a 2.5-bodyweight deadlift? Or a bodyweight overhead press? Then yeah, you’re strong. The better CrossFitters were able to do most of these things, but often they stopped focusing on strength and pursued more “fitness”-oriented goals. This became their biggest downfall. They neglected strength. 

Occasionally I would train with them, trying to lead by example, even though on the whole I hated the CrossFit approach and thought it was stupid. Still, some workouts appealed to me, so I’d cherry-pick the occasional WOD (Workout of the Day). Usually they left me in a puddle of sweat, flat out on the gym floor like a starfish. My favorite training, however, was weightlifting – and they all respected and appreciated strong weightlifters. 

Yet as I trained among the CrossFitters and learned more about their mentality, I discovered a recurring theme. They focused – and I’ve found this among other weightlifters, too – far too much on technique and not enough on strength. It was frustrating. Weightlifting is a strength sport, which means you need a big squat, press, deadlift and bench press to truly succeed. 

Why did American weightlifting legends Paul Anderson and Tommy Kono perform so well? Was it their dashing good looks? No. It was their strength that shone. Tommy used to call the butt “the seat of power”, and the best way to develop powerful glutes is to squat. Weightlifting isn’t ballet. It’s not Olympic diving or gymnastics. Those are technique-heavy sports. In weightlifting, you’re not marked down if your technique is poor; you’re given a white light if you make the lift or a red light if you fail. It’s that simple. No bonus points for arching your foot or executing a textbook-perfect rep. That’s not to say that technique is irrelevant, but it’s usually overemphasized by inexperienced lifters. After all, if strength weren’t important, why would Olympic weightlifters take steroids? They want to be stronger. PEDs have no impact on their technique. Yet all I heard at CrossFit was that it’s all technique, bro. No, it’s really not. Just look around you. 

Have you ever tried to deadlift 246 kg? It’s heavy, right? That’s what Ilya Ilyin clean & jerks. Dmitry Klokov deadlifts 300 kg and strict presses 160 kg every other day according to his Instagram account – and he’s been retired since 2015. Lü Xiaojun can squat 275 kg and Lidia Valentín squats 180 kg for a double. If you can’t see where I’m going with this, I’ll spell it out: these are very strong people and very successful weightlifters, and that is not a coincidence. These athletes have worked their asses off to build strength, because they recognize that strength is the cornerstone of successful weightlifting. 

Strength, not technique, is what separates the gold medalists from the rest. At Olympic level, everyone has good technique, and usually great genetics too. Strength is the often-overlooked third main pillar. You can’t snatch 200 kg like Lasha Talakhadze by using a PVC pipe for twenty minutes, having a positive metal attitude and watching a Tony Robbins DVD. You have to be brutally and animalistically strong

Back in the day, when weightlifting was a three-lift event – the clean & press, the snatch, and the clean & jerk – the focus was on pressing strength, and strength in general. When the clean and press were removed, the emphasis shifted more towards jerks, and less on raw strength. This was a pivotal moment: old notions of training underwent a seismic shift, changing (in my opinion) for the worse. Back when Tommy Suggs weighed 106 kg he pressed 152 kg, snatched 138 kg, and clean & jerked 186 kg. We need to get back to that type of strength in weightlifting, right across the board. That’s why focusing on raw strength lifts as well as the competition lifts is so crucial, and it’s the only way we can restore weightlifting to its former glory. 

Raw strength is crucial not merely for performance but for longevity. Too often, the latter doesn’t get enough airtime. Fact is, if you train hard enough for long enough, injuries inevitably creep in. They’re a product of not sitting on your ass, as Rip says. Technique and smart programming can help reduce this risk, but sooner or later anything done at a high level always comes at a price. This is especially true of weightlifting, which is a high-impact sport on the joints. Now, some people are okay with that. They want to be remembered as a bad mother, and that’s it. After all, if you’re an Olympian, no one remembers your injuries: they remember the glory and inspiration you passed on to the next generation. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take sensible steps to reduce the risk of injury and increase your training longevity, and this is where the Big Four come into play. A stronger body can endure harsher training and recover faster from injuries. Strength builds resilience. Strength enables your body to bounce back from almost anything you want to throw at it. 

Strength training has plenty to offer weightlifters, and vice versa. The snatch and the clean & jerk are beautiful lifts, and they’re a rewarding way to express your hard-earned strength and build athletic power. So please don’t be alarmed if you see me snatching – I’m not going over to the Dark Side. I still have some Big Four goals that I’m hungry for. I’m not going to start lecturing you about how it’s all technique. But I am becoming increasingly convinced that not only can weightlifting and the Big Four happily coexist in the same strength program, but that they can benefit each other. I’ve started to incorporate weightlifting into my own training, and not just as spice. I look forward to displaying my strength and maybe showing up a few technique-worshipping naysayers in the process. Let’s make weightlifting strong again!

Discuss in Forums

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17 Nov

Your shoulders say everything about you—from the mid-level office employee sitting in his cubicle 9 to 5 with rounded shoulders to the powerful high-level executive standing erect as he leads meetings—your shoulders define how others perceive you.


Tiny narrow shoulders make you look weak and timid—like Bambi.



Massive broad shoulders make you look powerful and confident—like Superman.


If you’re reading this, you and I know two things:


  1. You’re tired of the way your body looks after you slowly roll out of bed and look at yourself in the mirror each morning before a long day at work.
  2. You’re confused about how to train hard and deal with the aches and pains that have developed around your creaky nagging shoulders.


Whether you’re wearing an expensive suit or a tight t-shirt, you want massive eye-popping shoulders that tell people you command respect. Imagine dominating every meeting and social occasion because you made the decision to add strength and size to your shoulders.


Does that sound good? Yes?


Great. Let’s begin by unpacking five ways for you to turbo-charge your training for healthy, jaw-dropping shoulders.


Tip 1: Fix Your Pull Versus Push Ratio

I know you’re excited about gaining massive shoulders that make you feel like a superhero. Hell, I’m excited for you. You’re probably planning to head to the gym today, grabbing the first barbell you lay eyes on, and pumping out 10 sets of overhead presses. Stop. That’s not what you should do.


If you want to have massive eye-popping shoulders, fixing your pull versus push ratio is the key that unlocks the door to you looking like a confident stud.


Here’s why:



Your body has twice as many internal rotators of the shoulder versus external rotators. When the internal rotators like your pecs and the front of your shoulder are continually flexed by obsessive overhead pressing, they naturally become stronger.


It may sound great, but this sad state of affairs will eventually lead to rounded shoulders also known as kyphotic posture. It’s the type of posture is what you see in people who look meek and lack confidence.


Is that how you want other people to perceive you? I hope not.


How do we fix this? In the words of 90s R and B sensation Montell Jordan, “This is how we do it…”


Your shoulder has three different heads: the anterior (front), medial (side), and posterior (rear) deltoids (delts). Exercises like the shoulder press and front raises hit your anterior deltoids hard. You don’t need a ton a variation and volume to make them look phenomenal. For well rounded, muscle packed shoulders, you need to focus more on hitting the medial and posterior delts often.


Your rear delts are vital for shoulder health and appearance. They’re a major contributor in both bringing your shoulders back to give you that powerful confident look as well as fixing nagging shoulder pain. You must build them up.


With the 3 Way Band Pull Apart Sequence you’ll concentrate on stimulating the muscle fibers in your rear delts by hitting them at three different angles: high, middle, and low.


For every set, perform 8 reps of each variation with zero rest in between.



When you’re isolating one muscle, focus on muscle failure and even going past it.


After you’ve completed a set of lateral raises, don’t stop there. Continue by adding in partial reps to help stimulate muscle growth. Go after the extra pump! For partial reps, raise the dumbbells halfway. Your medial delts should feel like they’re on fire at the end of each set.


Perform 3 x 12-15 plus 8 partial reps.



Next, you’ll use the same method you did with the lateral raises.


Key in on your range of motion. Your goal is to target the rear delts, nothing else. As you pull the weight up, stop the motion as you reach your torso. If you go past that, other muscles will get involved and you won’t receive the full benefit of the exercise. Also, use a supinated (underhand) grip with the dumbbells to increase the external rotation of the shoulders.


Again, perform 3 x 12-15 plus 8 partial reps to help stimulate muscle growth and get your extra pump.



Tip 2: Change Your Grip

Do you experience achy, nagging shoulder pain when performing barbell overhead presses?


Imagine being able to build powerful shoulders without aggravating them in the process.


Does that sound good? Yeah? Pay close attention to the next part.


The barbell overhead press is a great exercise. It makes you feel like you’re Godzilla holding a building over your head about to throw it 10 miles away, but it’s not essential for massive powerful shoulders.


Switching from the barbell to dumbbells to build massive shoulders allows you to lower and lift the weight in a natural path for your shoulder joint.


Save yourself years of agonizing shoulder pain by using a neutral grip. Instead of the barbell overhead press, implement the Standing Neutral Grip Dumbbell Overhead Press.


For strength gains, control the weight on the eccentric (lowering phase) of the movement. Once the dumbbells are back down by your ears, be explosive and press them up.



For powerful strength gains, perform 5 x 5.


Several lifters just like you with achy shoulders primarily use dumbbells for overhead pressing exercises. The lack of pain will lead to better consistency and results.


Tip 3: Control Your Tempo and Dominate Each Shoulder

If you want to pack on the maximum amount of muscle possible, put more emphasis on the eccentric and keep your shoulder under constant tension during each set. You have greater potential for muscle growth when you concentrate on the eccentric portion. Here, you’re going to isolate each shoulder and place them under immense stress for a large amount of time.


Use the 2-1-1 Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press.


Press the weight up overhead with both arms. Then, lower the dumbbells one side at a time under control as you squeeze your shoulders as hard as humanly possible against the resistance.



I’m sure you want your shoulders to be equally strong, right? Of course, you do.


Here’s a tip: Lower the stronger side first, then lower the weaker side. The weaker shoulder needs more time under tension so it can play catch up to the former. This alone can provide the shoulder development you’ve been looking for this whole time.


Perform 4 x 8-10 and it will leave your shoulders trembling.


Tip 4: Add a Half Rep Before Each Full Rep

Do you want to get some extra blood pumping through your shoulders? Who doesn’t!


Use the 1.5 Dumbbell Z Press.


The 1.5 rep technique forces you to perform a double contraction of the targeted muscle. Instead of hitting your shoulders once, you get to crush them twice in the same movement.


Press the weight all the way up for your full rep, go slow, and lower the weight halfway. Next, pause for a second, then press the dumbbells up again for your half rep. Finally, complete the movement by lowering the weight all the way down. That’s your 1.5 rep.


If you want to get the maximum benefit of the exercise, make sure your half rep takes the same amount of time as your full rep when lowering the weight.



If your shoulders can handle it, perform 4 x 6-8.


Tip 5: Dominate Every Muscle Fiber

If you like to train hard and fast, this part is for you.


Training density is the amount of work done in a certain period. You can do more work in a set period or more work in less time. Increasing training density does a few things:


  1. Increases caloric expenditure leading to more fat loss.
  2. Trains your cardiovascular system without you having to step on a treadmill.
  3. Keeps you focused, allowing you to waste zero time in the gym.


I know it sounds awesome, but how do you use this information? I’ve got the answer right here.


Use a triple set to target each head of the shoulders. Normally, you would perform three exercises on their own. Including rest periods, this may take you 20 minutes to complete during a workout. During a triple set, you complete three consecutive exercises with no rest between each. So, what usually takes you 20 minutes quickly turns into 10 minutes.


Destroy your delts by performing the following for three sets:


  • Seated Neutral Grip Dumbbell Shoulder Press – 8-10 reps, no rest.
  • Seated Dumbbell Lateral Raise – max reps, no rest.
  • Seated Rear Delt Raise – max reps, rest 2 minutes.


The Takeaway

There’s no need to overcomplicate things—packing on muscle for powerful and healthy shoulders can be simple. Just follow the tips above.


If you train every inch of your shoulders, place them under different types of stress, and vary the exercises, you’ll be able to dominate your time in the gym and feel like Superman until you decide to retire your cape. (Which shouldn’t be anytime soon!)

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