Monthly Archives: August 2013

The American Dream


​The other day I was at MashElite talking with one of our new athletes, Evan Bermudez. I always get a kick out of knowing all about my kids because I think that it is important to get inside your athletes to see what makes them tick. Little did I know that Evan would tell me a story that is worthy of a movie and book deal. When Evan was finished with his story, I realized that I had just heard a story describing the American Dream.

​Evan’s grandfather moved to America from Nicaragua at the age of 13. He had $20 in his pocket, and he realized that he had to kick butt or starve. He read the dictionary to understand the American language better than Americans. He studied harder than any of his classmates and was accepted into Stanford University. He put himself through college and then medical school. Now Evan’s grandfather is a successful Neurologist in Miami, FL. Unreal!!!

​I sit around and listen to Americans complain about why they are not happy, or why they don’t have the job that they want. My answer is put yourself in the shoes of an immigrant. You can’t fail, or you and your family will starve. Get off your butt and quit blaming everyone else for your failure put one foot in front of the other and start living your life! I am going to give you all a tool to have a life that is happy, so get turn off the TV, shut your mouth, and read!

​First, I suggest figuring out what makes you happy. What would you do if money wasn’t an issue? I’m not quite as abrasive as my co-host on Weightlifting Talk, The Champ Jon North, so I am not saying to quit your job. Yet! I am saying just figure out your dream. Then start a plan! Figure out the steps necessary to obtaining the goal. I suggest looking at that dream like an immigrant meaning that failure isn’t a possibility. If you work a job without a formal education, and you want to be a doctor, then start taking classes. If you are taking steps toward your goal, you will be surprised how much better that you begin to feel. The more precise the plan is then the more likely you are to reaching your Dream.

​Next, you have to be committed! I mean all in Jack! Are you starting to see how life is so much like weightlifting? If I want to go to the Olympics, then I have to have a plan. Then a weightlifter has to be unbelievably committed like a Jon North or Donnie Shankle. Are you willing to sleep in a chair because a bed hurts your back? Are you willing to not have a cell phone because you don’t want distractions? Evan’s grandfather was willing to do all of this and more. Nothing makes me madder than a lazy, non-working American complaining about migrant workers. Those jobs are available to anyone, but most Americans are too lazy to work them, or they think that they should be paid more. Look we were all told in school that if we didn’t go to college or develop a trade, then we would be left to the mercy of the business owner. My point is that if you didn’t take the time to become valuable then start working, but start working towards becoming valuable.

​My last piece of advice is to stay the course. Be patient! Stay committed! A person with a plan is unstoppable. I am blessed by my God to have the ability to be doing exactly what I love. I get to help people daily to get healthier. I also get to help people with direction in their life, and more importantly I get to share my love of Christ with others. Spend your life taking the gifts that God has given you, and set an example of greatness for the rest of the world. Then use your place in life to help others nothing is more fulfilling. I promise! Last use your relationships to Glorify God at least that is my prayer for my life. Jon is right when he says, “Love your life or change it!” I just say to have a plan to assure the change!

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A Summer of Learning and Evolving


I am sitting here with my daughter Bailey taking a little afternoon rest, and I am reflecting upon the summer that has flashed before my eyes. Mash Elite Performance has evolved from a local business in Advance, NC into a national and international company helping thousands of people reach their desired goals. It has long been my passion to help athletes and adults achieve their athletic and fitness goals, but earlier this year I wanted to find a way to help more than just the people in my area. I didn’t want to be limited on the amount of lives that I could affect. Several opportunities have presented themselves to me that have allowed me to reach my goal.

The first thing that happened was Muscle Driver USA moved to Ft. Mills, SC, and for you that don’t know they had Jon North and Donnie Shankle two of the most animated and talented weightlifters in the country. I like thousands of others watched their videos, and what impressed me the most was the charisma and fire that these two athletes presented on camera. I was from an era in the 90s that followed the bar to the floor, and at most we gave a little golf clap. I never fully understood why we were so anti-climactic during our Personal Record attempts, but I didn’t want to rock the boat. Well these two lifters turned the boat upside down Brother! For the first time these guys were bar slamming, saluting, and getting people psyched about the sport that I have loved for years. Their coach Glenn Pendlay is one of the best programmers that I have ever met, so between Glenn, Donnie, and Jon I had to meet them. I got in my car and drove to Muscle Drive, and the rest is history. Glenn and I are friends, and one of the best lifters that I have ever trained Rebecca Gerdon is now on his team. They are a professional weightlifting team with tons of exposure, so it was in her best interest. Jon and I became friends right away, and I was blessed that he invited me to be a co-host on his Podcast “Weightlifting Talk”. Now thanks to Jon I have been baptized into the Attitude Nation Family, so immediately I have thousands on friends that are starving for information on the iron game. Now weekly I get to train with Jon and Donnie at the Attitude Nation Gym, get words of advice from Donnie, and rock the mike with Jon and our other host Ryan Grady (the world’s best Crossfit Coach). Check out Jon’s website, and I recommend becoming one the Nation. It is a family that lives the “Black Sheep” and “I Do What I Want” code!

Coach Joe Kenn is the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for The Carolina Panthers, and arguably the best strength coach in the business. We have been friends for several years, but now I am blessed to have him workout in my facility when he is at his home in Clemmons, NC. We also got a chance to do a seminar together earlier this year, and I got to see him bring the heat with a group of high school linemen. The guy is the most passionate coach in the business. I am living a dream! Everyone in the business that I respect or look up to is either my friend, workout partner, or business partner. I can’t imagine anything that I would rather be doing. Check out Coach Kenn’s website at:!

I now get to write for two guys in my industry that are absolutely turning things upside down with progressive ideas and programs: Greg Everett and Chad Wesley Smith. These two are strength coaches on the West Coast, and both have websites that bleed information. Chad is the owner of Juggernaut Strength, and his website is its Greg owns Catalyst Athletics, and his website is Both are amazing coaches and athletes, so naturally I admire both for practicing what they preach.

Two of my own Mash Elite family members Lyndsey and Greg Nuckols (Lyndsey notice your name first) were home for the summer, and this year we really changed MashElite for the better. Greg and Lyndsey are a huge part of the future of MashElite, and this year they showed me how bright that future really is. Greg (check out his blog at!greg-nuckols/cj4s ) is one of the most brilliant Exercise Scientists in the world, and he comes up with mind blowing concepts. I help fine tune them for the general population, and Lyndsey brings them to life. They have already changed my entire website to be more user friendly, and they have simply made it a rich source of information for our fans. We have added events like the one going on this weekend “The Mash Extravaganza”, and a whole list of others. The Mash Extravaganza is a weekend of Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, and strongman competition. Greg, Lyndsey, Rebecca, and Caleb Tilson are family members of Mash Elite took it upon themselves to put this great event together. It models some of the older strength pic nics of the past like in York, PA, and our hope is to bring together the strength athletes of the world in fellowship and fun. One of my favorite additions has been the Learn 2 Lift Seminars that are taking place all around the nation (email me at to bring one to your facility). The seminars are comprised of Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, and/or athletic performance. The host simply chooses, and I tailor it to their needs. The benefit that I have over others is that I have been a World Champion and World Record Holding Powerlifter, Olympic Hopeful in Weightlifting and Bobsled, and I played collegiate football at Appalachian State University. Not only have I done it, but I am a Professional Strength and Conditioning Coach that has produced hundreds of Division I Athletes over the last five years. My resume is unique, and now I get to share that knowledge with others. Thanks to Lyndsey and Greg I now provide online Programming and Consultations, so even more people can benefit from my knowledge ( in the store section). As of today I now train people via Facetime and Skype which was simply awesome! Now I am not limited by geographic location as to the number of lives that I can affect. Greg and Lyndsey were also the designers of our new supplement line that includes two extremely affective supplements: Fat Burner and Athletic Support. The “Fat Burner” makes coffee look like water, so I use it as a pre-workout. Whether you are using it to shred pounds or earth shaking energy this supplement will do you right. The “Athletic Support” has everything that an athlete needs to get jacked and recover! When supplements are designed by athletes for athletes, the product produced is a whole new form of Awesome. You can find these supplements on!store/crf1 !

My wife Drew has settled into her piece of the fitness puzzle with adult groups and her brand new “Tush and Abs”. The “Tush and Abs” isn’t a fluff class. It’s just a class filled with mostly women that like metabolic conditioning without a lot of barbell work. She incorporates healthy nutrition, butt kicking, and abs ripping exercises to help these girls transform their bodies. Drew uses her life experiences of weight loss and her personal battle with cancer to motivate her clients into choosing a whole new lifestyle of health and fitness.

One of the most exciting changes this year has been the formation of “Smashed Crossfit”. I absolutely love the community that is crossfit. We partnered up with Pam Fox to run “Smashed Crossfit, and we also brought on Sal Scifo to teach the classes. Pam and Sal love helping people, and I love the fact that they won’t sacrifice form to advance their athletes. I want all of my crossfit athletes to have the best form at all of the competitions, and I want them to win. I am just not going to sacrifice one of my member’s health for a personal record or victory. I watched my team compete this weekend in Salisbury, NC, and I think that all the strength sports could learn from the way that everyone cheered for each other. The whole place was filled with energy and excitement. It was never quiet! Weightlifting and Powerlifting events can seem like golf matches way too often. I watched my athletes give it their absolute all yesterday, and if they weren’t competing, they were cheering for each other.

I am so excited for the future of Mash Elite Performance. We have the best staff on the planet, and I believe that our young staff will propel us into the future. Other strength coaches and owners of strength facilities should learn from my example, and when they have amazing talent on their staff, they should get over their pride and recognize these people young people. Greg and Lyndsey are planning on weekly Skype meeting with me, so that our momentum won’t skip a beat. Our goal as a staff is to revolutionize the strength and conditioning industry.

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Link for The Mash Elite Extravaganza:

Who Becomes a Champion?


​Last week I talked about the four necessities to become a world champion: minimums, maximums, fearless attitude, and a positive group setting. This week I am focusing on the individual human component required to become a champion in any sport or anything. The traits that I am talking about in this blog apply to all people who want to Great! If you want to be President of the United States, Olympic Gold Medalist, or the best teacher in America, you will be required to have these traits: Extraordinary Desire, Relentless Determination, and a Fearless Attitude. If your goal in life is to do something absolutely amazing, look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself, “Do I really have these qualities present in my life?” If not, get them or be honest with yourself. Let’s take a look at each of them!

​An extraordinary person has to have an Extraordinary Desire. No one ever does something amazing without having a burning desire to be amazing. My friend and co-host on my podcast Weightlifting Talk (!/show/the_jon_north_show) Jon North had an Extraordinary Desire to be the best weightlifter in America, and that desire took precedent in his life. He lived in his car with his wife, just so he could train with the best lifters in California. He worked out 3-5 times per day, and he performed workouts so brutal that one of his teammate’s rib cages collapsed under the pressure of the bar. None of the grueling workouts, poverty stricken conditions, or the never ending expectations of coaches could make Jon sway from his goal of becoming the champ. Steven Jobs wasn’t going to allow anyone to stop him from growing the most dominant software company in America. All of these people demonstrate an Extraordinary Desire as a common characteristic that they all possess that sets them apart from others. This Extraordinary Desire gives them that edge to do the things that others won’t. This gives them the ability to become the Masters of the Mundane, or the ability to do the little things. These people will eat to win, sleep to win, study to win, practice to win, or whatever it takes to dominate their passion.

​This Extraordinary Desire has to be present along with Relentless Determination to turn dreams into reality. This determination is what gets you out of bed every day, it’s what gets you to practice, and it’s what gives you the ability to eat like others won’t. Desire without determination is useless. Determination allows the person to have an unyielding commitment to not quit, and it allows them to form a plan that they refuse to sway or alter. Donnie Shankle, America’s best 105kilo Weightlifter, demonstrates “Relentless Determination” more than anyone that I have ever met. Donnie sleeps in a recliner because a bed hurts his already battle damaged spine. This guy has suffered a broken neck from a bar loaded with 374lbs crashing from overhead directly on his cervical spine. He is 32 years old, and he doesn’t have a cell phone. He recently dislocated his shoulder during training. The normal person would have quit long ago, but Donnie refuses. This guy has one thing on his mind, and that is the 2016 Olympics in Brazil. His determination will not allow him to quit until his dream is reality.

​Donnie’s “Fearless Attitude” is what gives him the ability to hurl himself courageously under the same or greater weights that have been the cause of his injuries. Donnie told me that the one thing that all coaches would agree on as to what genetic trait must be present in an athlete for them to be great is a “Fearless Attitude”. In the sport of weightlifting that manifests itself as the ability to go under heavy weights and catch them above one’s head. This same ability is what gives an athlete the ability to catch a football knowing a 250lb linebacker is about to deliver a crushing blow. It is what gives a basketball player the confidence to make a game winning three point shot. This trait is the one that is most commonly absent in athletes, and it is the hardest to teach. Over the years of coaching I have learned to improve this characteristic, but if it is completely missing, it probably won’t appear. This is that certain something that incredible athletes and individuals demonstrate while their competition does not.

​These three characteristics are rare! Not many people have them all together, but when they do, amazing results are the outcome. Take a good look in the mirror, and ask yourself these three questions, “Do I have an extraordinary desire? Do I demonstrate a relentless determination? Do I really have a fearless attitude?” Your answers will tell you the potential that you possess!

​We have a Level I “Learn 2 Lift” Seminar coming up August 24th in Atlanta. To find out about this and our other events and products go to:

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Check out this 168lb MashEliter’s Determination:

Learn 2 Lift New Jersey Shore


​This past weekend I took the MashElite “Learn 2 Lift” show on the road to Zach Even-Esh’s Underground Gym in New Jersey. The New Jersey shoreline is incredibly beautiful. Before my visit I had a picture of New Jersey that was totally false. I thought it was only cities and highways, and I thought the people were just a bunch of fast talking city slickers. Wow was I wrong! The people were nice, and they welcomed this southern redneck with open arms. All day long the people treated me with respect, and showed a real interest in hanging out with and getting to know me and my family. I can’t wait to book the next “Learn 2 Lift” in the New Jersey/New York area. This was my third seminar in the last month and a half, and I realized this past weekend that I have a real passion for the “Learn 2 Lifts”. I have spent the last 29 years learning how to snatch, clean & jerk, squat, bench, and deadlift, so that I could get stronger. Now thanks in big part to Crossfit I get to teach it to others that now share the same love for strength. When I was in my twenties, most people couldn’t have cared less about the lifts that I loved and performed in competition. Now adults ages 20-70 eagerly come to my seminars in hope that they might learn some golden nugget of information that might help their strength game.

​At the seminar we got them started with a mobility warm up that was specific to performing the snatch and clean & Jerk. We focused on the shoulders, thoracic spine, neck, hips, knees, and ankles. The best part of the warm up happens with the bar. I explained to the group that weightlifters come alive on the platform, so most of the warm ups are done with a bar. I taught them a series of movements that mimic the lifts that would also warm up the joints. This is called complexes, and I suggest spending the majority of your warm up time performing these movements. A big mistake that I see is rookie lifters spending countless minutes stretching, foam rolling, and lacrosse balling, but very little warm up time with the bar. I recommend a few minutes with mobility, foam roller, and lacrosse balls, then grab a bar and get to work. I do recommend spending quality time after the session to cool down, stretch, and foam roll to improve recovery.
​We then went over the snatch, clean & jerk, and the squat. I teach a top down approach which means to work the positions of the lift from the bar at the hip area down to the floor. There are several tricks that I have learned over the years that I pass on in the technique section of the seminars. I also have the advantage of lifting and hanging around the greats of today like Jon North, Donnie Shankle, and Glenn Pedlay, so I am continuing to learn every week. The jerk is a little different of course, but same in the way that we teach the position of the jerk first. A little secret is that most rookies to the sport simply need to spend time with the bar above their heads, so they can become comfortable with a metal bar weighing several hundred pounds that could crack their skulls wavering above their heads. With the squats we talked about little tricks that could increase their maxes, and we practiced each trick. Eye position, breath against the belt, and speed are some of the techniques/tricks that were taught.

​The Q&A and programming section was the money of the event in my opinion. The group bombarded me with questions for a solid hour, and then I actually went to the white board like a college professor and mapped out a typical MashElite workout. The group’s enthusiasm to learn ignited my fire to teach, so class was in session for as long as my group wanted to learn. More people teaching these seminars should do Q&A because you never know what your attendees really want to learn unless you open the floor up for questions. Donnie Shankle was the one that told me that the Q&A section should be the majority of any seminar, so the “Lion Killer” was spot on again. We went over the basics of programming, and I explained that a lot of plans work. I just wanted them to know the aspects that had to be present no matter what the plan, and I let them know the science behind the MashElite plan. Programming is important, but a coach that can give feedback, a supportive group, and a fearless attitude are just as important.

​Since February I have learned that I have a major passion for seminars and online programming because it opens the whole world to my knowledge. I want to affect as many people as possible while I am on this earth, and these two things broaden that pool of people. Coming from such a small town/village in the North Carolina Mountains I thank God for the opportunity to meet all these people from around the globe because if I had never learned to lift weights, I probably would never had left that little place. Don’t get me wrong my hometown of Jefferson, NC is beautiful, and the people are unbeatable. I am just a person who wants to experience other people and cultures, and I just love people in general. God has given me this platform, and I want to show the world His love through me. I can’t wait until my next seminar to meet more incredible people, and next year I am going to do a Level II seminar at the same place.

​I am filling my calendar right now for the next year. I am booked through October, so from November on I am open. If you are interested in seminars or programming, go to my website:

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Donnie Shankle loves weightlifting and so do I.

Donnie Shankle Loves Weightlifting and So Do I


Yesterday I was sitting on the couch at The Attitude Nation Gym talking to Ryan Grady and Donnie Shankle about weightlifting, strength and life. The couch at ANP is one of my favorite spots in life because I can sit down with Jon, Donnie, Alex, Ryan, and the others, and we can bounce ideas off of each other. It is also a spot where everyone is comfortable: transparent. This allows for everyone’s true self to surface, or as Jon would put it “the Skeletons”. Yesterday we discussed the: importance of nutrition, compared IQ levels and personality traits of weightlifters (introverted and smart) versus powerlifters (extroverted and… not as smart), and general solutions for the problems of life. Midsentence concerning the “golf clap” at a weightlifting meet, I announce, “I love Weightlifting!” Donnie replied by saying, “Me too man! I love weightlifting!” But why exactly? Why do we love a sport so much when 80% of the sport is torture? My answer so far is not complete, but here is what I know.
​In a world full of chaos, corruption, and disappointment, Weightlifting is pure, beautiful, and orderly. In a world filled with unfair advantages and rejection, Weightlifting is a place of refuge where you can put in the work and reap the rewards. If you put in 10,000 hours at the gym, you will become a master of the sport that we call Weightlifting. If your legs are weak, squat! If your jerk is terrible, practice the jerk. If you are weak overhead, then practice movements overhead. Problems and weaknesses will surface, but concrete solutions exist in this beloved sport. The answers are clear. Only one question: Are you willing to do whatever it takes?
​We talked about the madness of the sport as well. Weightlifting requires you to basically perform three movements everyday: snatch, clean & jerk, and squat. We spend 80% of our time training in hell, perfecting the snatch and clean & jerk with only 20% of heaven as reward, if you’re lucky. We perform thousands of reps chasing just one personal record that might happen once a month or less. But when the barbell, loaded with one more kilo flies up off the floor in your hands, makes contact at the perfect place and continues its path upward, while you drop into the perfect squat and catch the barbell in the sweet spot with ease, one perfect snatch falls into place, there is nothing so sweet.
Bar slam. It makes every training session, every missed attempt, and every tear totally worth that moment of victory.
But a great weigtlifter is never satisfied. The chase is on for the next PR…
​Our passion for Weightlifting is what makes us true Black Sheep. Jon, Donnie and I pay our bills doing exactly what we want, and so none of us will ever work again. The people telling me that I work too much don’t realize that I am having fun when I do a seminar or write a blog. I am sharing my passion with the world. Helping and loving people is my ministry; Weightlifting is a platform that God has given me. I am the most blessed man in the world. God has given us all passions, talents and platforms, and it is up to us to take these gifts and put them to work. Jon always says that we are doing much more than just teaching people to lift weights- anybody can do that. I am teaching people a new outlook on life! I am teaching people to “Love your life or change it”! Dream, write it down, formulate a plan, and commit it to action! Don’t get caught up in what society says is successful. A Black Sheep is someone who doesn’t follow the herd. I’m not saying to be a rebel without a cause. I am saying being a rebel with the greatest cause in the world! Black Sheep is a lifestyle! Are you living it?
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