Kevin and I got very bored on a long plane ride to Nationals, so we pulled out our phone recorder and started bugging coach with questions. Let's just say he wasn't too thrilled sitting between us. Salute.
I felt the need to repost this older blog from all the questions I have been getting lately about hot vs cold baths for max recovery. Plus the new Attitude Nation video is below that my lovely and talented wife put together. She has been working on the jerk like crazy........well shit, we all seem to be trying to tackle that damn Jerk. The Jerk is a Jerk, and you will see the battle below. Hope you enjoy it. Salute and see you back soon in our Dark Orchestra.
I say "no" to cold baths. I say "yes" to hot baths. Hot water is the key for not getting injured, being able to train to max every day, and a world of relaxation that every weightlifter needs. I have no science behind me, just my own experience that has proven me right every time. I have taken three ice baths in my career, and it will stay at three for the rest of my life. There are five things wrong with an ice bath.
1) Its damn cold
2) Makes me feel like the tin man going into training
3) Did I mention that it’s freaking freezing!
4) The week I started taking the ice baths I felt injury around the corner
5) Felt down, tired, no energy – hard to move like Ali
Five reasons why to take a hot bath over a cold bath.
1) Its hot
2) It feels amazing
3) It will keep you loose as a goose for big PR's
4) Great conversations
5) A great time to relax your body and mind from the hell of training
This is my daily hot water schedule for Americans 6 months out, to Win back my title, and the World Championships next year.
1) Hot tub in the morning before training
2) Hot shower right after first training
3) Hot bath before second training
4) Hot tub at night in the cool air after training
5) Hot shower or bath before bed.
I truly believe more weightlifters should use hot water for their training, it works for me, maybe it will work for you. But The Attitude Nation is all about doing what you want to do, doing what works for you, and giving the rest of the "know it all's" the bird. So feel free to give me the bird, and live your life the way you want to. Here is the New video below. JERK THAT DAMN JERK BABE!
A week in a small and far away Country called Siskiyou
County. A local bar is where I sit, writing
to you while I occasionally ask the bar tender for more coffee......please of
course.Everyone is bent over the bar
drinking their bud light, as I take out my ear piece from time to time to catch
small parts of their “when I was a kid” stories. They all know each other, and they all are probably
wondering who the city guy in the corner is drinking coffee on his liberal Mac
computer.I smile and nod when we catch
eyes, some nod back, and some just turn away.A parking lot full of trucks outside surrounding my little black on
black Audi, as if the trucks are about to kick my car's ass.It’s almost embarrassing.I love my car, but a truck is much needed
right now. I stick out like a sore
thumb.I envy them, I envy their
lifestyle.I wish I was a Country man, a
farm owner, a bucking hay and riding horses guy, a hard working man, a Cattle hand man who
meets his buds up after work and grabs a beer or two man, a go home to the wife after a long day
man, a do it yourself man, a kids these
days man, a move boy I don’t have all day man.Wranglers, like it wasn’t even a choice. Camo hats and cowboy hats line up straight
down the bar like music notes.......Awesome.Chew spitting, unshaved face rocking country music dancing mother fucken
bad asses.Attitude Nation soldiers, and
they don't even know it.I think I might
order a beer so I don’t look like such a pussy.Some of the cowboys are quite, and some are loud. Even though they are all mysteries to me, I
would love to hear some story's from the quiet cowboys.I bet I could learn a few things from
them.I guess in a way me and all these
Cowboys are the same.We both
work hard in our own profession.We both
love the down time with friends after a hard day’s work.They wear jeans, I wear adidas sweats.They lift bales of hay, I lift bars.Their hands are rough and callused, mine are
as well.They wear boots; Donny wore
boots in the war.Salute Donny, thank
you for serving this great Country, in weightlifting and with a gun.They dosey doe, I do the cat daddy.They rope cattle, and I like to rope up Coach
when he gets grumpy.I love this place,
I love these people.But this is their
world, not mine, and visiting their world makes me miss mine.The air is crisp and clean. The stars at
night are bright and loud.The sea of
rolling hills and flat land goes further than the eye can see.No freeways, no buildings, no Starbucks, no Priuses,
shit........no weightlifting for miles.... Heaven. Five hour drive to a
whole new land.Every hour that went by,
my body seemed to become more and more weightless, my eyes lids drew like shads, my heart
slowed down, and my worries and stresses seemed to catch the wind from the half
rolled down window, taken away by the air never to be felt or seen again.I have never been more relaxed. I have been in a weird place lately, and you will soon
figure out why.That’s all I can say at
this point.It’s good to get away and
visit my wife’s family for a while.A
place where we met, a place I played football at and graduated college from,
(aka) my associates degree. A great achievement
for me.How I got my AA, I still don’t know.
Seeing my old football coaches and
teachers is something that I needed to do for some time now. A place that
brought me friends for life, and memories that will stick with me until the day I die.Pause my life for a second and go back to
what made me the man I am today.Take a
breath of fresh air, and try to figure out what has happened to me the last few
years.I look in the mirror not recognizing
the face looking back at me.It seemed
like yesterday I was just a punk college kid flipping burgers part time at McDonalds
to pay off a high school DUI.A kid who
watched weightlifting videos and dreamed of becoming a National Champion.Day dreams in class of representing my
Country in this sport.Dreams of meeting
Coach Pendlay, and hopefully getting an autograph and picture with Donny
Shankle.Wow, now this has all happened
and I have no idea how.It still has not
set in yet, and I have trouble comprehending it.Now I write blogs with Donny and get hugs
from coach if I do well in a meet or in training. What? This is crazy.I need more coffee, one sec.
Yes I will still train.Don’t worry coach calls, texts and even seems to pop up in my dreams at
night asking me how the workout went and what numbers I hit in training.I swear I can still feel his presence all the
way up the windy road of I-5.I can
still feel the famous Pendlay look staring through my soul wondering why I just
missed the lift."Hey coach what
it"."What do I need to do to
make it"?"Make it""Yes Coach" I will be training with the man who got me into this sport,
the man who saved my life from going down hill, and down hill fast.A man who was really my first coach before Jackie
Mah.A man who I look up to and
admire.He is Eagle football, he is the
best football coach, strength coach, and linemen coach in the world.His name is Coach Tim Frisbie.I will be here training away with him in the
football weight room.Coach Frisbie is
the mad scientist who invented the crazy, man in black, champ, most hated man
in USA weightlifting, slamming bars, jumping Jonathan North, Attitude Nation
soldier, me……Jon North.Thank you Coach Friz
for everything.Thank you Siskiyou
County for the peace you have brought me on this trip.
I bought a black
Cowboy hat at the local thrift shop in Mt Shasta.You ask why?Why, I have no idea, I have no care in the world right now.I just walk around wearing my funny hat with
a smile over my face.No cameras, no
live feed, no one on one coaching, or weightlifting classes.Just me and my black hat. Here is a video of yours truly performing a clean back in
College at College of the Siskiyou’s under Coach Friz.Go to 1:20 to see my clip.I was even more crazy back then!Arnold!
The day is sunny, while the air is cold and crisp. The early morning orange
glow has seeped through your blinds, covering your body with stripes of black.
The weightlifters rise out of their bunks with stretching arms and achy backs.
A warm shower hits your back as you bow your head towards your feet. Your eyes
are wide open, as your mind races through the checklist of who you are, what
you have accomplished, what you still need to accomplish, and flashing images
of the hell coach will cast upon you once this quiet early morning comes to a
close. You choose to drip dry as you brush your teeth bare naked, which goes
against your usual routine of drying off thoroughly with a towel. Your blood
starts to pump though your body a little faster the more you wake. You throw up
a bicep pose while the tooth brush takes a break to admire your strong muscles.
Fox news is in the background as you pour a bowl of cereal. The peaceful
chatter and the sound of the cereal hitting the bowl could make a grown man cry
from its simple beauty.
Quiet before the storm. Peace before war. Heaven before Hell. You gently
rest your hand over the coffee maker's left cheek, while singing a random
Christmas song to her. You are excited for Christmas even though it's only May.
You are excited for what she will give birth to in the next few minutes, and how happy it will make you feel
inside once you have her in the palm of your hands. The coffee drips with rhythm, as each drop has its own personality and
desires. You look up to see coach standing on your living room table, waving his
hands in the air while his eyes are closed shut, and his head tilted back. The
strings connected to his fingers are casting a web all over the house as you
try to maneuver closer to him. No, you can't touch him, for he is in a glass bottle.
Coach is connected to everything this morning has had to offer you. The small
little red dots all over your naked body are from the strings attached from
coach to you. You are a puppet, and everything you think you have control
over.....well, you don't.
When I watch our videos, another video is watching me. I then watch that
video of me watching the first video, only to feel the presence of another
video watching me watch the second video. Time and reality seem to be slipping
away. The red eye has lit up the morning from orange to red, and my front door has turned
from wood to a glass lens looking out into the gym. My teammates wave me in
from the other side as I stand there drinking my coffee, naked, and in complete peace. I have
surrendered to the whys and how’s. I have let down my conscience and I now just
dance when things don't make sense. This sport doesn't make sense, and how
coach went from standing in my living room to playing the violin on the other
side of the lens has confused me. I guess what all this means is that we must
train. We must train no matter what. You know what I mean? It doesn't need to
make sense to be understood. No matter what is happening in our lives we must
train through it, by it, and right over the top of it. When life doesn't add
up, the training will. Over time, all the training will pay off like a bank
account you have been growing for years and years. At the end of the day, I
guess the most confusing things in life are really the most simple. A peaceful
morning is only peaceful because of the pain you and I endure during the day. I feel
that weightlifters appreciate down time more than anyone else. We are at war in
the midst of the hardest sport in the world, so we must train.
Seeking to find answers in this sport will only lead you to
a snowy bank that falls hundreds of feet below.
The strong wind behind your back seems to be pushing you further and further
toward the edge, no matter how hard you dig your heels into the white
ground. The big bear behind you is a
certain indicator that you must just jump, jump or get eaten by the once black
now white frosty bear that has pulled up a seat behind you and is starting to
write a weightlifting article. He looks
up at you with those low glasses and a know it all sigh. Now your imiganation is playing tricks on
you. Now you have entered the wonderful
white world of lost. Your ongoing search
for answers has led the pitch black horse to nothing but more white sand. The water seemed to be there, but now your
lips will stay dry and chapped as you continue to look for the secret that you think
the wishing well has to offer. Oh
wishing well, wish me the correct understanding to reach my goals. Wish me the wish for all the answers I so desperately
feen for. The long rope that you have
been pulling on for some time now has ended with an empty let down. The well is out of water, and the hollow barrel
echoes your cries of a frantic obsession.
The day you know it all, is the day you know nothing.The minute you try to figure out this sport,
is the same minute you will lose your mind.An odd idea if you think about it, but so true.Fish and catch fish.Love your mom, and well……. you will love your
mom.I didn’t miss the weight, I simply
am a weightlifter.It has taken years
and years of learning how to not use my mind. A much harder task than technique.A task that seems impossible, but if mastered
could be fantastic.The minute I think,
is the minute I lose.I could say the unoriginal
line over and over that many use on a daily basis that makes them think they
have some sort of clue or grasp on this sport, the line used with so much confidence,
"this sport is so mental".This sport shouldn’t be mental, it should be a fact.It should be art, that at times is just
splattered on the canvas with nothing but pure emotion.You should make the lift like 1+1=2. Is it possible to shut your mind off so much
that making a lift is nothing more than a reaction?Coach’s eyes coach me, not his words.The horse needs to keep running, not trying
to find water.You must jump to not be
eaten."Training must become a
reaction". - Donny Shankle. You
can think all you want while resting between reps, but when it’s time to lift
the barbell you must just react. Just like a lion in the woods that looks as if he is going to attack you, I promise, you will just start running. Grab
and go, jump and run, slam the bar with no thought process at all. My celebrations are 100 percent true and real,
100 percent me.You are witnessing true
emotion coming from my soul, not my mind.God rips out of my chest wearing a USA singlet and throws up a "I
am number one finger". Well because
shit..... God is always number one. Get
em God.I love God and what he has given
me.I thank him every day for the
emotions that I am allowed to spread all over the world to help motivate not
just me, but others all the way from garage lifters, to top lifters.You must react.The dog must sit with just one look.You must stop looking for water because the
minute you stop you will find it.Yes, I
know this is a common dating line, but it’s so true in training as well.
How is your coffee? Mine
is strong and powerful.The Dark Orchestra
is extra dark tonight.I love it.I love how we really don’t know where we are,
but we feel at home.This feeling has
always interested me.Why is it that
some places make us feel good, and some bad?It’s like a dog that likes some people, and viciously barks at others. What is that dog’s reason?Don’t be afraid to miss.Nothing upsets me more than a weightlifter that
always gets down on their selves when they are faced with the reality of missing.Even when they make it, if something felt
wrong they proceed to hit themselves over the head, followed by a check list of what they
did wrong. No! Stop!If you made the lift.... then good.If you missed the lift.... then good, you are a
Goodnight and salute to you all. I fucken love you.
Best technique in the sport. My favorite lifter. Fastest athlete in the sport. Best superman pull in the game....well Klokov is my second favorite. Klokov also has a superman pull from heaven, and looks as if Brad Pit and Ben Affleck had a kid. Down right sexy. If you don't have a man crush on Klokov, then you are simply lying to yourself.
The video below of Andrei lifting is the greatest video to watch for learning and helping you better yourself in the lifts. I personally watch this video at least three times a week to improve my lifting and stay motivated for what I want to look like. Yes, every athlete is different, but this man in my opinion is amazing. I love sitting down with a client and watching this video. The slow motion clips, combined with the close ups make this video hands down the best technique video in the world. Add the gladiator music behind the video, and a cup of miss brown eyes, and you got yourself a love affair with the legend, and Olympic Champion, Andrei Aramnau.
The bar does not touch Andrei until it strikes his hips aka Pendlay step one, aka belt line, aka Tyson hips. His shoulders stay back on the first pull (from floor to knees). Then his shoulders get over the bar beautifully on the second pull (from knees to finish position). His knees almost fully extend before he releases his hips. He brings the bar BACK throughout the whole pull, creating amazing force when bar makes contact into hips, giving that bar a half second of float time for this beast of a man to pull himself under. He always puts a slight bend in his arms right before the bar makes contact with his hips, just to add more collision for the finish. Arm bend is something that I get a lot of shit for, but every great lifter does it.
A man that knows how to defy gravity. A man who knows how to use his body to lift big weights over his head. He doesn't just make contact with the bar, but he drives his hips through the bar. Just like Tiger Woods swinging through the golf ball. The little white ball will not go as far if Tiger did not follow through his swing. The same applies to a weightlifter. You must not just hit and go under, you must hit through the bar, getting into what I call the Arched Angel. Arched Angel meaning full extension before going under. The athlete should be on their toes, hips in front of their body, and shoulders back behind their body right before he or she drops under the weight. Meanwhile keeping their balance and making sure their eyes and head are still facing forward, not up toward the ceiling. This will give the bar that full half second of not being taken down by gravity, letting the athlete pull himself under as if the bar was connected to a wall. Then the Ali feet come into play, (fast feet). He does not jump into the air, and this is very import to see and understand. The only time the feet move is when he is going underneath the bar once the Arched Angle is complete. While he is pulling himself underneath the bar, his feet are in the air dropping down fast, just as if someone cut the cable holding the elevator above ground. The elevator is dropping with amazing speed because of the weight it carries. He is guiding the bar BACK behind his ears while going under. This is so important. Many people miss the weight out in front because they are pulling themselves under the bar completely vertical, catching the bar right over head. No! You must catch the bar back behind your head! Up in this sport means back. Let's put it this way, if you never went under the bar, the bar should hit you right in the chest. That's why if I ever do snatch pulls I make sure the bar is striking my chest, leaving a bruise for the next day. A common expression coach says in training is, "if your going to miss, then miss behind".
The Arched Angel right before going under
You will see at times he will sit in the hole for as long as he needs to catch his balance. This is so crucial. The hole in the snatch is your best friend. Sit down there and watch a movie. Then when you and the weight have an understanding of one another, stand up. You should never have a problem standing up in the snatch because the weight is light compared to your squats in training and your clean. If you do have this problem standing from a snatch, well then its time for more squatting.
Why is it that I keep beating athletes every year that out squat me by 20 or more kilos? I have very weak legs compared to my competition. but the reason why I keep beating these rookies is because I have masted the art of using my body as a catapult system. Yes strength is king, but because of my speed and technique I am able to snatch 160 plus.
Back in the day the bar wasn't allowed to touch your body. So pulling and shrugging the bar to your eye balls is and was a great way to lift! Because it was the only way to defy gravity for that split second. Now that rule doesn't exist, thank the Lord because I am not strong enough to snatch 166 that way. I would be taking 8th place at nationals, and never would have gotten the great privilege to represent my country twice. It amazes me that there are still coaches out there all over the United States coaching the old pull and shrug way of lifting. But then again, there is more than one way to get to the top of the hill. Attitude nation = do what you want, and what works for you. This blog article is very broad, I will go over more in-depth details and other great tricks to lift more weight in both the snatch and CJ in the near future. Hope this has helped!
Here is another great video of Andrei completing a faster than lightening double in the snatch. Listen to the bar, and then the feet. This is how the snatch should look, feel, and sound. This is the superman pull.
Andrei 2012! I know......I still like Klokov, but I am rooting for Andrei!
American Open 7 months out. 2013 Pan Am's. 2013 Worlds. Olympic Games 2016. Train Train train. Miss Miss Miss, and then train some more. 160kg snatch followed by 185kg CJ that the video doesn't show, and a close 190kg CJ that I need to start making consistently. Here is the video below. Salute.
Hey, welcome back to the Dark Orchestra. Here..... here is some coffee I made for you. I threw in an extra shot just for you, so pucker up and enjoy the warm but ice cold kisses from Ms Brown Eyes. Welcome back my friend, it's always good to see you. Cheers. How has your training been going? Mine has been hard, as you are probably experiencing as well. At the end of the day we are both much a like. We both love weightlifting, and for having weightlifting be such a big part of our lives, that pretty much means we are the same damn person. I have nothing special or interesting to write about today. Some would call it writer's block, but I would call it just saying, hi. No technique talk, no coaching tips, no stories about a devil in the red dress capturing young weightlifters and ruining their career from the rest she casts upon them. This is just a simple hi how are you doing, and a cheers of the coffee. It is a simple chat about training and life. It is like a simple beer conversation with a friend, yes.... this is always the best kind of conversation. Why is it that a single beer sitting between two people makes each person open up with such ease and relaxation? Why is that? A single beer doesn't even need to be drank, yet it can make a social situation so comfortable that you can end up talking for hours upon hours. A conversation has come to life between you and your best mate, and you now feel closer than before. You have drawn a few tears, laughed hysterically, got mad, and hugged, all in the small window of time you have been sitting at the corner bar with a beer in front of one another. But have you noticed that you haven't even taken a sip yet? You haven't. You are in shock, because for a while you had the back up plan to announce to everyone around you how tipsy or even drunk you were getting. You thought you had that big glass of beer to fall back on from all the emotions and deadly truth you have been spilling out onto the half wood half brass bar table. You end up drinking about 7 more and the night gets crazy. It's almost like you try to hide the fact you opened up that much without being intoxicated. So the next day you talk and laugh about everything besides that first few hours. But why? I guess I find the psychology of beer interesting. I personally think the same goes for coffee, tea, and whatever else can alter the mind.
I didn't realize the impact coach had on training until he left. He was gone today, and he will be gone for the next week, and now I feel that I have been dropped off for summer camp and I already want to go home. I don't know how you garage soldiers do it. I salute you. I am having a hard time staying focused and motivated while coach is out of the gym. It would be so easy to just not train, half ass it, skip squats, or even skip the whole damn week of training all together. For the first time the front door is wide open. There are no bars caging me inside. There is no ball and chain around my ankle. I could make a run for it right now and never come back. I could go with rest and live with her forever, or at least for a week, but I don't know if she would ever let me train again. I heard that once you lay with rest, you are doomed forever. The small vacation time you thought you were on turns into a jail of its own. But today I stayed and trained hard. The world team next year is the only thing in life that matters to me. I am proud of myself for pushing throughout today. I felt I made a good impact on my teammates. They saw me training hard, so they trained hard. I am not saying they do whatever I do, but I feel that I am at times the leader, and today I led, hopefully making them better. I kept looking over at coach only to find an empty chair. My head would tilt to the side and I would begin to scratch my head. This is odd..... what is happening? It's like the world as I knew it was slowly crumbling down around me starting from the ceiling down. It's like wishing your parents would leave you a lone as a kid, and the minute they do you get sad. Shit, I already miss him. Who is going to yell at me to squat, and tell me my v neck is gay? Who is going to ramble on in training about food, how he made his food, how his food tasted, and how I missed out eating his home cooked food? I missed a lift and nothing happened today. There was no look from coach that easily read "what the fuck was that?". The miss was followed by quiet....... how odd. Coach please come back...... I need to be pushed. Without you I might be "him".
It was sad to watch him leave. It truly broke my heart. I wanted to run up behind him and catch him before he disappeared through the front door. The way his head hung low with his droopy eyes and rolled over shoulders showed defeat; he knew it, and I knew it. He is now just another weightlifter who has been killed by rest. Another soldier who has been taken down by the brutal training that will either make you or brake you. Another soldier down. It was as if the sharp rays of the sun striking through the door were pulling him towards the bright outside.
Training was finally over and all the weightlifters seemed to gravitate toward the bench presses and free weights. Lots of grab-assing, laughing, and all around tom-foolery was taking place at this time. Coach joined in and gave a lecture about how we weren't pushing ourselves hard enough in training if we still had all this bull crap energy to fool around with this "curls for the girls" type crap. Everyone laughed and so did coach, but me, I had my eyes and emotions wrapped up in him, him being the soldier who desperately needed a hug. You would of thought I was a part of the crazy loud crowd by the bench, but I really wasn't. I wasn't laughing or grab-assing. I wasn't talking about how big my chest "pump" was, or showing everyone how much I can bench press. I was lost in the lost world of "him." I watched his every move. It has only been a week since he flew into train with us, yes, training has been beyond hell, but already? Is he already breaking down? Is the imagination and temptation of rest getting to him? These were the thoughts that were racing through my head as I watched him slowly walk around the gym picking up his stuff one by one as if he was a prisoner on the chain gang. He grabbed his back with his right hand as if someone just shot him with a paint ball gun. His eyes closed as his pain flowed though the air and hit me right in the face. I felt his pain, as I was once like him. He reminded me so much of myself at that moment, he reminded me of the hell my mind and body went through when I first joined the team and had to adapt to the training. His pain seemed to leave his body as he bent over supporting his weight by resting his hands on his knees. Sweat was dripping down his face like a waterfall. In the first few days of his arrival he was talkative, outgoing, and definitely would have been down here by the bench press messing around. But no, not that day, that day he only had one thing on his mind, and that was rest.
Then it happened, the most amazing thing I have ever seen happened right in front of my chalky face. Rest walked in the front door with her beauty blinding the room with light and love. In shock, I started hitting Tom next to me keeping my eyes locked onto her beauty. I told Tom to "Look, look Tom." But instead of the reaction I though he would give, he simply told me to stop hitting him in the arm and to leave him alone. To my surprise, no one in the gym saw her. They were going on with their everyday business as if nothing was happening. She wasn't walking, but floating across the gym straight toward "him." I stood there like a deer in the head lights, watching rest float across the gym with her smile, comfort, and ease. He saw her and broke down into tears of joy. He put his arms out like a kid wanting to be picked up by his mother. His smile was long and desperate, desperate to be saved by her, desperately wanting to leave this cold dark world that us weightlifters call home. She put out her open hand, and he took it. His eyes were wide open, completely focused on her every move. She smiled at him while pointing at the door behind her. He nodded and returned the smile. Rest started to lead him toward the front door and I knew I would never see him again. He is with rest now. She will take good care of him, or so he thinks. I wanted to say something, or even run up behind him and tell him no, stay with us, don't fall for her beauty. But no, I did nothing. I just stood there watching what others for some reason could not see. I thought for sure he would see her long red pointy tail. I guess her tail blended in well with the color of her red dress, because he did not see it. Then he was gone. He vanished outside into the bright sun never to be seen again. The light vanished and a second later hundreds of rusty black prison bars fell from the sky all around the gym. I was thinking about going with him, but I guess there is no getting out of this hell.
Goodbye him, farewell my friend, it was nice training with you for that short time. Tell rest hi for me and let her know that she might have gotten you, but fuck it, she will never get me.
100,000 Monsters, 100,000 coffees. 100,000 Attitude Nation Soldiers. 100,000 smiles, tears, and laughs. 100,000 epic songs dancing through my soul while writing side by side with Donny as if we were two gladiators fighting in the Colosseum. 100,000 haters trying to defeat the Attitude Nation. 100,000 victories we celebrated. We have raised 100,000 middle fingers high in the air for all to see. We have 100,000 black suits, playing only one guitar, that never stops playing, even late at night when the drunk crowd tries to boo us off stage. An army that started at one, one lonely Monster sitting at 7 Eleven in its cold refrigerator, waiting to speak its mind. One year ago, one iced coffee by the name of Ms. Brown eyes sat hopelessly waiting to be rescued my her knight in shinning armor. One year ago no one would listen to her, or even knew who Ms. Brown eyes was. She would try to speak her mind, but would be shunned by the green jungle's dictator. She would be thrown into her cell only left to cry and wonder, wonder if she would ever have the chance to be free and speak her mind. She would ponder if she would ever have the chance to make an impact on the world... or who knows, maybe even change it.
Ever since I was a child, I knew I was different. I knew there was a some sort of expression that was just waiting to be released. I was constantly muted by my own self insecurities and unsureness of everything, including myself. I had the thoughts, I had the words, but I was too scared to speak them, write about them, or act on them. I was too worried about what others thought, that it blinded me from ever seeing the Attitude, the Nation that gives me hope, freedom, and self worth. Soon I realized that I must not let the audience of life be the judge, I must be the judge. At the end of the day, I figured out that by writing something good on paper would bring real happiness and a release from my own self judgment. I would constantly hear the deep pounding drum against my chest, over and over as I walked to its rhythm. The marching soldiers in my head kept me up all night, and soon made me realize that I wasn't alone. I knew there were others out there, patiently waiting to attack the world as one well oiled machine. I just didn't realize there would be 100,000 of them armed and ready.
When the time came one year ago, I knew what I had to do. I had to start the attack. I had to release the beast. I had to bring the Nation together once and for all. I had to find the missing pieces to my life. I was a kid that was slowly transforming into what some would call a "grown up", a grown up with interesting images in my head that spoke to me at the oddest times. I had to write, or I was afraid I would lose it.
After falling in love with Ms. Brown Eyes and adopting Mr. Green Monster, the Nation was almost complete. I was missing two things, me as a writer, and you as the audience. I had no idea what kind of words would spill out onto the computer screen. I spent hours upon hours just staring at the white screen and blinking black line that constantly taunted me to write something, anything! But it had to be good, it had to come from the heart and it dearly had to mean something. I was sweating like a pig, and as nervous as a school boy about to kiss a girl for the first time. We all know in a situating like that you must go for it, and commit fully. So I did, and as I leaned in to start typing, Ms. Brown Eyes grabbed my hands and starting punching my fingers against the black buttons with such beauty and finesse. Mr. Green Monster was whispering ideas into my mind, similar to putting your ear to a sea shell. We were a team, and still are. I am not even writing this, they are.
Thank you all for your support over the last year. You all mean the world to me. This blog would not exist without you. Thank you for being a part of this team, this family, this creation we call the Attitude Nation.
I have competed, lifted, coached seminars on my own, helped with many Pendlay seminars all over the world, and I have never once seen anyone perform the "low bar squat". Actually, I didn't even find out what it was until a few months back when someone asked me if they should do high bar or low bar for the squats I just prescribed them. I am still in shock that athletes actually perform such a "nails on a chalk board" lift, especially for a weightlifter that should make the bottom position their home. The number one problem I see with beginner weightlifters is their depth, or lack there of. Watching a weightlifter low bar squat makes me want to take the elevator to the highest floor, and then jump. Low bar squatting is just as bad as a beginner doing power snatch and power clean more than the full lifts. Both of these weightlifting killers create incorrect movement patterns, horrible rhythm, awful consistency, and do not increase the novice weightlifter's flexibility. The low bar squat is not just ugly and painful to watch, but teaches you to move slower than a turtle that just drank two bottles of nyquil.
Brand new client, brand new dreams of becoming an Olympic weightlifter, in a brand new sport where the sky is the limit. We work on catching the bar in the hole over and over for hours. After catching a lift in the hole, I would have him sit down there and get comfy. I would throw him a bag of popcorn and tell him to watch a movie down there. I would tell him to bounce like tigger over and over to create stability, balance, and for the great practice of at times having to catch that second or third bounce to stand up with a heavy weight. I introduced him to his new home. He then started to make progress in the lifts, especially after I told him never to do a power snatch or power clean again, until he became a champion at the "full" lifts. A fist pump followed by a smile is the action and emotion that he got when he was able to lift more weight by receiving the bar as low as he could. I dropped out of physics, but I have the innate ability to understand that weightlifting is nothing more than a race against gravity. I get excited for him; I get excited for his new PR. We slap hands and drink more coffee, going over how the training went and what we both want in the near and far future. I think he thought the training session was over because he started to take his Pendlay shoes off. I then laughed and told him that the fire in Hell was still burning bright and high, and now we had to squat. Tired but still motivated, he took another sip of miss brown eyes, and began to slap the big bearded man's shoes back on. Back squats, 5 sets of 2, lets go. I had to take a number one from all the coffee that has been poured down my throat since I woke about 7 hours ago. In a full on sprint to the bathroom I yelled without looking behind me, "Get warmed up!". As I slowly started walking back from one of the best things God himself ever invented, I heard a bunch of little kids crying and screaming for their mothers. People everywhere where running past me to the door like the building was on fire. Coach Pendlay stood up and yelled for someone to call 911, and then he walked fast....not ran, because everyone knows that Coach never runs....well unless he is imitating my teammate Kevin Cornell. As I was spinning in circles trying to comprehend what was happening in the quiet town of San Ramon, Donny bumped into me spilling my coffee all over my deep v Attitude Nation shirt. He told me that a red fire breathing demon with sharp fangs and dinosaur scales dripping down its greasy back was killing people by its grotesque image alone. I pushed through the panicking crowd and to my horror, I saw my client doing low bar back squats.
We are caged animals in a gym with no windows. The holes in the walls are from us trying to dig our way out back to reality. The year could easily be 1920, and we would have no idea. Well maybe the techno music might be a give away, but I don't know...... I am pretty sure techno was just starting to get popular at that time. I have completely lost track of the year, date, and time. A zoo animal is what I am. I am hamster turning in a never ending wheel. It's hard not to lose my mind in a sport that keeps me standing in the same place 99 percent of the day. This is why I can't help but to dance, jump around, run in circles around coach, or scream and yell after making a lift. I do feel that at times I am really losing my mind, and it worries me. I will create different characters in training and act them out as if I was in a movie. Why do I do this? A smile will cross my face with no warning or apparent reason at all. I will occasionally sit outside staring off into the blue sky with my mouth open wide and my head resting on my hand until coach comes to get me, and then walks me inside leading me to my bar like a horse to water. "There you go Jon, there is your bar, grab it, good boy, now lift it above your head." All eyes on me, and at times I feel I have no privacy. The little red light from the live feed camera is always judging me, staring at me, clapping for me, and at times rolling its red eye at me. Everywhere I look there is now a camera in my face. I have no idea where Cal Strength gets all that footage from on the YouTube videos. I don't remember doing half of what's recorded, and if I do I didn't realize someone was filming me. Good Lord, let me dance in peace please.
A long car ride has my head out the window. A car ride is fun because it means I am not training. A car ride is pure heaven. In this world the sky is purple, and the grass is pink. My world is black, well besides the red light. My world looks so fun from the outside looking in. I watch the videos and they make me want to join the Cal Strength team, and I actually get excited. "Hey babe, tomorrow I am going to get into weightlifting and train at Cal Strength with this crazy guy named Jon!" I feel bad for the surprise that kid will endure.
Coffee is my love because it cures the pain momentarily. I drink so much of it; I cant get enough of it. I am drinking some right now and it always tastes extra good when writing to you. I try to escape through the hole in the wall, but coach grabs me by my legs and drags me back in. He holds me down with force as I put up a fight kicking and screaming. He jams the coffee straw down my throat and tilts miss brown eyes' beautiful butt in the air, draining the coffee into my stomach. I soon stop fighting, and become completely at peace. Damn....They have drugged me again.
Here is the brand new Cal Strength video below. Prepare to enter the wild zoo of my life. This is the footage that is not suppose to be shown, the footage of a weightlifter slowly losing his mind in a windowless, four walled prison called weightlifting. Salute my friends.
I just had to re-post this 20 question interview I did with coach Glenn Pendlay because.... well.... it was just awesome. 20 random questions that have nothing to do with weightlifting makes it more interesting, fun, never been done, and plus it gets him out of his comfort zone. It's been over a year since I posted this on my blog, so I thought I would throw it back up in case you missed it. So buckle your seat belts and get ready, because it's time to get up close and personal with the big guy himself!
PS: Training was hell today. Somebody please come save me from squatting!
Once an idea has drilled its way into your a head, that idea is very hard to remove. Once an image flashes
in your dreams, that image is very hard to forget. Thoughts are nothing but air, you can't touch them or show others. Ideas are nothing but dirt. You are held captive by your own images. There is no unseeing what you have seen. There is no turning back from the path you have stumbled upon. You must walk, you must take one step at a time. You must sacrifice to reach your dirt, because dirt is all your dreams are to others. This is why you must be selfish. You must carry on no matter how painful the journey may be, or how dark the path may become. Will you take your handful of dirt and run with it? Will you chase what others say is impossible? Will you put in the work to get what you want? Will you go through hell to achieve heaven? Or, will you throw your dirt on the ground and walk away. Will you surrender to society and what others say? Will you call your dirt... just dirt? Will you quit?
Long nights in a small garage labeling and pumping product. We were a long row of family side by side working for the same dream. With every bottle we pumped product into a smile came over our faces. With every label we slapped across the bottle our dirt pile became bigger. My step dad quit his job, and my mother sold her salon. We were then broke, living in a small house hardly getting by. We went through hours and hours of work, and hours of constant excitement followed by constant worries and doubts. The black crow was always there, circling around us, letting us know that if we didn't make it then he would get something out of it. He would peck at our eyes, and knock over containers full of product. He would try his hardest to take our dirt, but our strength as a family was too strong. He soon flew away once we made our first big deal, and bought a small warehouse moving us out of the stuffy garage. It was a life changing event. It was a "we made it" event. Our dirt pile outgrew our small humble house, our 447 Brookside Drive house that brought me great memories that will follow me for the rest of my life. After school my sister and I would work long hours in the new warehouse. We wanted more, we wanted more dirt. My whole family would play on the dirt pile after a hard days work. We would just sit on top of it with silence and comfort as we bathed in our success, still in shock in what we were creating. Our dream was finally coming true, as we turned our slow walk on the windy path into a full sprint to the American dream.
Just an idea, thats all it was. Three more upgraded warehouses, world wide sales, and a company that is worth a lot of rubber band stacks has turned the dirt into gold, and a small idea into an empire. They were dream chasers, now they are dream catchers. They were broke, now they are rich. They were employed now they employ. They took a chance on their idea, and won. They held tight to their hand full of dirt and never let it slip through their fingers.
Here is a video of my mom describing the family business below. A dirt to gold video.
What should I write about today? What should I rant on about today? Should I write a technique article, or a drink five monsters in a row article? Should I talk about the second Attitude Nation Certification seminar that is taking place tomorrow, or will I just be beating a dead horse? Donny is back, yes sir, Donny is back. Take my hand and jump into my mind for a second. First drink this monster with me, chug with me, cheers with me, then smile and slap hands with me.
He walked into the front door and I jumped with joy. A memory flashed through my head as I was walking through the gym to meet him half way. Long strides with a smile on my face, long strides as I looked down at the ground excited to look up for the reunion. Why do we do that? Look down when we are walking to something important. I guess it's the excitement we are to nervous to show others, so we bow our heads keeping our smile below our chin. A memory about my father flashed through my head, cutting off my smile and slowing my walk down to a complete stand still.. A memory of me sitting cross legged on the floor with my sister watching the X Files flashed into my head like a teacher turning on one of those damn projectors. Late at night, dark room, with the TV's glow covering my sister and I as if the TV was an alien space ship sucking us into its ship. A big blue house in the country, a gravel bus stop, horses for miles, old rusty trucks and tractors that lay dead in the tall grass, and the common "mom, Jon is being mean!" line that my sister used quite often. A house full of life and love, a farm full of family and happiness, a time that my sister and I will never forget. A support group that could take down a pro football team is what we were....well, and still are. But this night was different, this night was like a dream that sticks with you for the next week or two. A dream that sits on your back like a monkey from the zoo, hitting you over the head while your wife is trying to take a picture of you. No mother in sight, not even a clue where should could be. Lost in the always creepy and weird world of the X Files. Sister by my side, even though I couldn't see her from the glare of the blazing TV light. The door behind my sister and I opened, how we knew was simple, the door makes a screaming noise, and I could actually see my dad through the reflection of the TV. Thank God the show had a dark scene so I could see him, if not the noise alone would have given me that fear of panic...you know, the instant reaction of looking for your mom, especially at that young age. If you can't find her, well, then I think the next move is just to sit there and start crying. Right? My sisters pony tail hit me in the face from her turning her head so fast. I then followed, starting to stand up before even getting my head all the way around to see him. Watching TV too long, or playing a video game too long always gave me a "homesick" feeling. An uneasy stomachache that put me far from reality. Once my dad walked in, that feeling vanished, the TV had lost me, I was no longer trapped in its bright light. My sister beat me to him, hugging his right leg while she was somehow still able to jump up and down. I followed like a sprinter taking second place, still happy, but jealous that he was already giving her the attention first....damn. I held onto his left leg with my eyes closed, and my two feet standing on his one foot. When I opened my eyes I saw a Kit Kat bar in my dad's big squishy bear paws, yes! Kit Kat! Thanks dad! My sister was even more happy and excited than I was.
Soon after the fighting got worse, and my parents got a divorce; but at that moment everything was perfect. At that moment nothing else mattered.
I then shook Donny's hand and we began to lift weights.
I still don't know what to write about. I don't even know what I just wrote. Maybe tomorrow I will write something worth telling. Today the Monsters and coffee combined took me down a road that has been grown over by tall grass and weeds. A road less traveled. One of those old memories that sticks with us for life, and we have no idea why. Why that memory? I am assuming there are many more that has escaped our memory. I guess we must hold on tight to the ones we still have.
Good night, talk to you tomorrow. Thanks for reliving a very great childhood memory with me.
A short film called The Artist And The Olympian is in the process of being written and directed by Adam Scheiner. Last night Adam sent me two awesome videos that had me jumping on the coach and swinging from ceiling fan to the hanging lights all around my living room like Tarzan throwing back multiple monster energy drinks. The first video is a update film for the fundraiser of "The Artist And The Olympian", featuring the Cal Strength Mafia and the legendary Dimas. The second video is narrated by the director Adam, and goes into much more depth of what this movie will be about. I love both of these videos, and I am excited for the growth of our sport. Plus I am very happy for my team mate and good friend Donny Shankle for landing the lead roll in this movie! The Attitude Nation thanks you Adam Scheiner for the light you have shined on the most bad ass sport in the world!! Salute!
He walked with pep in his step. He wore his Bright Reebok clothing that made him feel athletic and fit. His smile was of confidence and joy as he hopped down from his freshly washed truck. His shoes were tied tight; vitamin water in his right and his salad in his left. My cold Starbucks chair outside soon became warmer, as his glow of light from across the parking lot lit up the whole city. The two white doves that flew right by him, gave him a corny chuckle and a” gosh darn those birds” fist pump. His glowing shaved face got closer to our meeting point. He saw me drinking my coffee right outside the green jungle. His open hand raised high in the air while his heels lifted off the ground onto his toes like a ballerina. His eyes opened as if lightning struck him from above, and he began to wave at me as if I couldn’t see him. His walk was long and powerful, that created a gust of wind that hit me from his energy.
He was so excited to start his first session with me; he was excited to become a weightlifter. What he didn't know was that soon his excitement was facing its last days. My face was half cover by the shade, with my smile showing in the sun, and my sad frown being hidden in the dark. He reminded me so much of myself when I first got into this sport. His innocence and determination gave me a warm feeling that made me feel free again. His arm stuck straight out like a soldier’s sword running at the enemy. But this was no attack, just a much anticipated hand shake. His grip was tight, and his eyes burned right through mine.
Hopefully he saw the tears running down the left side of my cheek, so he could see what I Have turned into. Don’t come any closer Danny Lehr, please run away. He was blind from excitement, only seeing my USA weightlifting shirt, not the blood stains around it. He saw my happy mask, not my sorrowed beat up face.
My national gold medal looked intriguing to him, like a new drug you want to try for the first time, or the first time you fall in love on the football bleachers under the stars. He had no idea what kind of world lived behind the gold medal, and what kind of creatures lurked in the darkness. His mouth moved a thousand miles an hour, but I couldn’t hear a word he was saying. It was like I was seeing my mother for the first time.
I was drawn to his positive presence and enthusiasm. I wanted to reach out and touch his face. I am trapped in this dark symphony, screaming at him to save me, but he could only see my smile. Why can’t he hear me? Please Danny Lehr save me, and then run far away and never look back. Every minute you sit with me, you fall further away from reality and deeper into my dark world. You are not talking to me Danny; you are talking to a weightlifting slave that has trapped me for life. Can’t you see! Can’t you see the black bird that sits on my shoulder? Can you see that my coffee is red and not brown? Your tree is green and blooming, mine is burnt and dark. How can you not see the handcuffs I wear and the thorn in my heart?
Please Danny Lehr, run away while you still can.
(AW) After Weightlifting
He walked with a limp, dragging his right foot behind him. His loose gray sweat suit was stained with coffee and ketchup from McDonald's. His eye lids were heavy, as they drooped down his face like window shades. His presents was followed by a red sky, and a barbell tied to his ankle. The black bird was now sitting on his shoulder, while he started mumbling to himself. The mumbling is the first sign of insanity, and that’s when I knew I had ruined his life. Danny’s five fingered shoes were now broken sandals that made a sound of a chain rather than a flop. We made eye contact from a distance, but this time there was no wave of excitement. Just a sad look, that spoke two words that said “save me”. This time I was completely in the dark sitting in the chair outside the green jungle, and my half smile was now a sagging smile of hot dripping wax.
I feel for him, I really do, but there is nothing I can do now, I already tried. Every PR he gets he slips deeper into hell. We are now brothers, we are now just alike. The white dove’s now lay dead on the ground as he walked over them. This time he had nothing corny to say, just a small ache in his lower back and shaky hands from his coffee withdrawals. Now we can play together Danny, now we are best friends forever. I wanted you to run and be free, but now that you are here I am happy. We can train together and cry together. We can play tag around the concert hall, while the others sleep. Don’t worry Danny; I left the green light on in case they need to find us. You are family now, and I will never let anything happen to you. We will ride the monsters together and slap hands while the skeletons try to kill us.
See Danny your loneliness becomes your best friend, and your eyes will adjust to the dark over time. Please trust me. It will make this a lot easier. Danny stop looking around….there is no way out, now come help me lift this bar. Danny to answer your question, the white eyes you keep seeing are the blog viewers who check up on us from time to time, don’t be scared, they are friends. Now go back to your cell for the night Danny Lehr, we have a big day ahead of us. And Danny………I know you miss your old life, family and wife, but your crying is keeping me up at night, so please keep it down. Good night brother, and welcome to hell.
Here Is a video of Danny Lehr in his new world of weightlifting attacking a PR.