Recently PFP Barbell became part of East Coast Gold Weightlifting. We were invited to join with them a few weeks ago and we were pumped . East Coast Gold has a long tradition of success over the last 30 or so years in USAW. They have an amazing group of gyms, coaches, and athletes that all train and compete as representatives of ECG. The character of the people attracted me to ECG. Phil Sabatini has been coaching me as an athlete since the January of 2018. During that time I have nothing but wonderful things to say about my experience. We had been discussing the possibility of PFP Barbell becoming part of ECG and I was 99% sold on the idea. After Nationals Camps I was 110% sold on it. Every coach and athlete I met that weekend confirmed what I already believed about the group. ECG is a group of smart, experienced, high character, and just overall good folks. Their(our) approach to weightlifting and training perfectly lined up with our values as a gym . We are honored to be part of this awesome group of people and cannot wait to grow with them.
So what is ECG Weightlifting all about?
DOING THE RIGHT THINGS FOR THE RIGHT REASONS
IN OUR PURSUIT OF WEIGHTLIFTING
1. PROVIDE ALL AGES AND SKILL LEVELS WITH HIGH LEVEL INSTRUCTION, COACHING, MENTORING, AND OPPORTUNITIES TO GROW THROUGH THE SPORT OF WEIGHTLIFTING.
2. DEFINE OUR ORGANIZATION THROUGH CHARACTER, CLASS, PROFESSIONALISM, AND KNOWLEDGE.
3. SUPPORT OUR ATHLETES AND COACHES PHYSICALLY, FINANCIALLY, AND PROFESSIONALLY.
4. WIN NATIONAL TEAM TITLES
5. DEVELOP NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL MEDAL WINNERS.
Head over to their website: eastcoastgold.org/ to find out more.
What does this mean for PFP Barbell?
Athletes: When you join PFP Barbell you become part of 15 time National Champion East Coast Gold Weightlifting
If you are interest in becoming part of the PFP Barbell/ECG team , we have two options.
1.) PFP Barbell Membership ($75/mo) : Programming, unlimited gym access, unlimited barbell coaching during coaching hours, and access to the PFP Barbell team private Facebook group.
Sign up here:
2.) NEW PFP Remote Athlete Membership ($50/mo) : Programming, 1/week Team Coaching , and access to the PFP Barbell team private Facebook group.
Sign up here :
If you want to give weightlifting a try email :
From Bodybuilding to Barbells: The Trials and Triumphs from transitioning from physique to strength sports.
“They can crack jokes. They can sit back and analyze and criticize and make all the fun they want. But I’m living my life, I’m doing it. What are you doing?” – Kai Greene
"You have a dad bod now!" "
"You look like the 'before' picture in one of those supplement ads"
"Look at your belly"
"I barely recognized you!"
As a trainer, a coach, and a gym owner these comments used cut me to the bone. I am supposed to be an example for my clients , employees , and peers . Was I doing a bad job? Was I letting everyone down? At least at first I thought I was . However, after a while, I realized I was still getting after it, even if my training results weren't exactly easy to see on the surface . It took a while , but overtime Weightlifting has helped me to love myself, like real unconditional love. As you'll read it hasn't always been that way.
As an shy overweight kid growing up , there are parts of me that will always have a tough time recognizing the man I have grown into . I have always marched to the beat of my own drummer. I played Magic the Gathering, spent most of my time in our local comic shop, loved karate , and over the top action movies. I got picked on like all kids do , but I wanted a way out. I wanted to be left alone and allowed to do my own thing without fear of what my peers would say or do to me .
I had my blueprint, I would become like my heroes, no one picked on Conan the Barbarian , Goku, Batman, He-Man, and any other overly muscular early 90's action hero . When I got old enough I would get a gym membership and show everyone. Luckily for me I found out quickly the gym was good to me. My good Eastern European genetics and obsessive personality were a perfect combination for success with weights .
Pretty much from the age of 15 forward , my physicality and physique, were two of my most defining traits. I was the definition of a workout warrior. I was strong but more importantly to me I "looked strong". I loved standing out as the buff guy, the workout warrior, etc.
Then in 2004 my freshman year of college, I tore my right labrum and couldn't lift for 6 months. My physique suffered, so did my mood, my entire world came crashing down. Coming back from that injury was a pretty tough time for me . Retrospectively, it was probably also the first time that I recognized that I had some body image issues. But, no big deal I figured the negative self worth would go away when I got my body back . Much as I expected , it did. As my abs came back my depression went away and everything was all good...yea right.
Flash forward to 2009 , football was over , and I needed a new way to fill my time and help me find that self worth I was so desperately searching for. I started competing in drug tested bodybuilding, and I was good, really good. I won my first show, had a real agent, was fully sponsored , and was published in multiple fitness magazines within my first 90 days of competing in Bodybuilding! Un'fricken real! Over the next 5 or 6 year I remained active in bodybuilding , doing 2-3 tested shows a year, winning my class in most of them , I even was published in Musclemag again towards the end of my tenure as a bodybuilder. On the surface , everything was F'n GREAT.
Throughout this time, I really struggled. I went though multiple bouts of depression, toxic relationships, just overall unhappiness. But on the surface I was still thriving! I was ripped, jacked, buff, whatever word you want to use to describe it, "I had it all". After a while a stopped competing and found Crossfit. This temporarily filled that hole for a while. I was a Jacked Football player, then a ripped bodybuilder, and now a yoked Crossfitter! I had all the stuff, did multiple work outs per day, had a million abs, never had a shirt on, man I had found my thing. Until It wasn't my thing anymore. The happiness and the rush of belonging to a new group and being ripped wore off again and the depression and negative self work came back .
Then I found Weightlifting. Initially it was much of the same, I was a ridiculously ripped 94kg lifter, I have a big frame so for me to get to 94kg even at that time , took a lot of work. I competed at around 7-8% bodyfat at that first meet and went 1 for 6. I was all show ..no go. But I was hooked! As I lifted longer and longer , the weights got heavier and so did I . At first , I was really not OK with this at all , but luckily Weightlifting was about to change my life!
Over the next 4 years , as I focused more and more on my performance , I learned a lot about myself. I have found that if I train chest at all , I couldn't get into the positions I needed to. I also found out that too much bodybuilding work would cause severe bicep tendinitis in my biceps that would also put a damper on training. Like it or not , if I wanted to become a great lifter, my body was going to look different, whether I liked it or not. This forced me to make a choice, learn to love myself, or never progress in this amazing sport I'd fallen in love with. I chose Weightlifting and to love myself .
1.) You can be a real jerk!: If your reading this you probably are working toward some type of personal achievement. A lot of us (including myself) can get really far by working towards goals from a place of self loathing . However, progress can skyrocket when we chase goals from a place of love. As my body started to change, I couldn't help but compare myself to my competition days as a bodybuilder. This was a recipe for disaster for me . It took a lot of work but eventually I reframed my thoughts to realize, that I needed to stop being a freaking jerk to myself . When your fitness goals shift from appearance to performance it take a while to understand you are not going to see your progress in the mirror. For more daily victories that aren't physical check out :www.pfpbarbell.com/blog/when-the-pr-party-ends4-daily-victories-to-keep-you-motivated
2.) People can be jerks: As a Personal Trainer and a coach it can be confusing to friends and clients when you can appear to be getting "less fit" over time. When I competed as a bodybuilder ,100% of my energy was spent working on looking. As fit as possible. In weightlifting , progress is less visually evident. As I trained more and more to be strong and being a better weightlifter, my physique could do nothing but regress. As I have gone from newbie weightlifter to a 4 time National Qualifier and top 10 finisher, I hear a ton of negative comments. Most of them coming from clients, friends , peers, and co-workers . Initially hearing things like "dad bod", mention of me having a little belly instead of a six pack , "before" picture from a before and after picture, used to really get me down. It has taken some time to understand that those people will never understand the goals I am chasing are no longer visual. People are not always going to understand where you are going as long you need to understand you'll be OK . Find a great support system, whatever your goals are, there are coaches and teams of people chasing the same things you are , find a good team and don't look back.
1.) You are not a ___________: Throughout my life I defined myself as what I was doing. I was a "Football player" , then a "Bodybuilder", then a "crossfitter". By the time I began my journey in Weightlifting, I had decided that I was Thomas Duer, a man who along with many other things, liked to pick things up over my head. Once I experienced this shift , I learned to be defined less by my accomplishments and more my the quality of my character. This went a long way in helping me accept myself and not being defined by my physique. This helps even more while competing in Weightlifting. Meets become WAY more fun once you stop being defined by your total.
2.) Understanding I am a work in progress: For the longest time my external appearance was a direct reflection of how I believed I needed to be represented in the world. I didn't love myself when I wasn't "perfect" so why would anyone else. I am still working on this today but over time I have progressed considerable in this regard. Through a combination of Self-Care, my wonderful wife loving me unconditionally, and becoming more spiritual and nurturing my relationship with God, I have overcome this quest to present perfection (for the most part)
3.) Loving Myself: The experience of gaining weight and losing my facade of perfection has taught me to love myself UNCONDITIONALLY. We all should strive to this type of love. Don't get this twisted , this isn't a free pass to behave however the heck you want to . You still should strive to get better, call yourself out on your bullshit, and identify areas you want to improve upon. This simply means love yourself anyways , even when you come up short.
Here is the thing, successful weightlifters come in all shapes and sizes. I would be lying if I said there is part of me that I don't want to look sweet while lifting well. There are plenty of lifters who do . One day I will figure out how to balance my lifting performance with looking cool too . As I continue my journey in weightlifting and in life I can do so with my head held high with the understanding that even though I am a work in progress, I am enough . Life is about the journey and eventually we all have the same destination. I would much rather travel forward from a place of self-love than a place of hate.
If you would like to meet to talk about your goals and create a road map to success, email me at email@example.com to schedule your free goal setting session.
Who loves hitting PR's? I know I do! What if I told you there was a way to PR on your next max-out day ? What if I also told you it has nothing to do with your physical abilities, training program, coaching, equipment , special supplement or even magic? You may be thinking "what else is there?" , I am here to tell you that you have been misusing the most powerful training tool in your arsenal , YOUR MIND. I have been training and competing for a decent amount of time , 15 meets , including 2 national championships, all while adding 67kg to my competition total. Now I am not saying I am a perfect weightlifter by any means however, in big moments, I answer the bell. I am relatively strong , but I would say that my best trait as an athlete is my mentality. I am going to go over a few tools I use in order to ensure , in big moments , in big meets , I make the big lifts. I am going to go over a few ways you can use your brain to bring you big gains in the gym and in training.
*No matter how strong you are mentally , in weightlifting you reap what you sew . If you haven't been training well , it will show up on meet day. These tips are not magic but they will make sure that you approach your max out in a way to show off all the hard work you've put in.
1.) Visualization: We can use visualization in a variety of ways. Here is a brief overview of how to visualize then we will talk about how to use it in your weightlifting. Almost all great athletes visualize , you are a great athlete (you may not believe it yet but you will). Its time to use this tool to become the person you're meant to be.
2.) Positive Self Talk: This is one I actually picked up at a weightlifting meet. Traditionally as an athlete I would come up short in big moments , but during one of my first meets I had an epiphany. I was getting ready to lift and I realized that for my entire athletic career I never expected to make the play. I would work hard and would make things happen in football or track , but I was never because I believed I would . It was just something that sort of happened. I as getting ready for a lift and that negative voice of doubt crept into my head and said "What if you miss?" then something amazing happened. A louder more powerful voice interrupted and said " WHAT IF YOU MAKE IT?". Guess what ? I did, then I made the next lift, and then the next. I ended up with a 24kg meet PR that day . All because I finally believed in myself . You need to develop and unwavering belief in yourself , even when things don't always go your way. It just takes practice. Here is how you can apply this practice right now.
3.)Being Present : This is the one that I have found the hardest skill to develop personally ( and am still working on it) . We all go into meets with goals in mind, 6 for 6, qualify for this, PR a lift, etc. Often times we end up short of these goals because we focus too much on the end result and too little on the process it takes to get there. Last year at Nationals I had this very thing happen. During snatches I took my lifts 1 at a time and focused on each attempt in front of me. I went 3 for 3 on my snatches and hit 1kg under my lifetime best. Then came Clean and Jerks. I said to my wife" Woah, I may go 6 for 6 here and smash my PR Total" . Then I went on to miss my first two clean and jerk attempts at an easy weight because all I was thinking about was my 3rd lift and a big PR Total. I lost focus on the barbell in front of me and my outcome showed it. I distincly remember leaving the session feeling as though I hadnt worked out because I closed my clean and jerks so low. DON'T BE LIKE 2017 NATIONALS TOM! .
Be like Gerald , Gerald is one of our more experienced athletes working on qualifying to bigger and bigger meets. This fall he had probably the best performance of any athlete I have EVER coached at a meet. One of Gerald's goals for the winter was to qualify and participate in the AO1 at the Arnold Classic. Here is the thing, in order to do this Gerald needed to go 6 for 6 and PR both lifts to do so. He needed a perfect meet and thats exactly what he did. O yea , he had hist first ever bomb out on his meet before this a few months prior. So we had on mission in the 2 weeks prior to the meet. Take one lift at a time. Every session, every lift was to be taken as if it was the most important lift of Gerald's life ( he missed a few during the week but thats ok ) . We ingrained in him the importance of practicing this way. He showed up that Saturday with a laser focus that was incredible . He came and hit every single lift that day. He knew what he had to do, had no room for doubt, and treated every single attempt as if it were the only thing of importance at that moment . To this day I have never seen an athlete execute that well. He went 6 for 6 because of his brain that day ...not his body.
Remember , these drills will only work if you are training hard and constantly. In weightlifting your training will ALWAYS dictate your outcomes . In order to properly express your training you ALSO need to get your head into the game . If you want to train your mind and body to be at its best contact: firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a Barbell Assessment today !
I had the opportunity to attend East Coast Gold Nationals Camp this weekend . After being unable to continue the workouts past the first session , I stayed on to observe and shadow to the coaches to pick up as much information as I could. I got to watch some of the best lifters in the country lift and get coached, cued, and corrected . There were two big technical take aways I got from this. These were the importance of your feet and head position on your lifts . These are not original concepts, my coach Phil Sabatini has talked in length about both of these things with me , but it was awesome to see it in real time with other high level weightlifters.
Lets talk about weight distribution first. Phil explains this in detail here: barbend.com/weight-distribution-lifting/. We talk about this of the time with our athletes , we want to keep full foot pressure into the floor and avoid shifting our weight front to back into our heels. This helps to keep the bar from looping and crashing in the clean and the snatch and stops you from jumping all around the platform to chase your lifts. I spent a considerable amount of time watching our national time lift over the weekend and I would stare at their feet to see this in action . Every single time I could see their weight shift, they would have to chase the barbell forward or lose it behind.
The second , more subtle thing I noticed was how important head control is when we are trying to stay over the bar during our lifts. In my own training I have noticed that when I wasn't conscious about my head positions, my lifts were all over the place. If I was having an "off" training session , this was usually one of the couple things that were the cause. During camp I got to see this in action with a few of our better lifters and it was pretty eye opening.
Two of our stronger lifters , Charles and Jill were both working on similar issues with their weight coming back in their feet and getting their shoulders behind the bar too early in their snatches. As Jill was lifting I watched a series of 3 snatches she took and noticed something that she was doing when the lifts "felt good" and what she hadn't done on her final lift that didn't feel right. On her first two she kept a neutral head up until extension, on the third her head shifted back during the second pull and then her shoulders soon followed.
From my own training, I had suspected this , however after seeing this happen with another lifter , I thought that I may be onto something. ( I am sure this is not a new thought or observation, but its new to me! ) So I decided to continue to watch our National Team all weekend and really focus on their foot and head position for the rest of the weekend and my suspicions were confirmed.
As I watched our folks lift all weekend one lifter really stood out as being the most consistent through out the weekend . Not super surprising it was Phil Sabatini. Every lift he took I paid special attention to his head and feet during the lifts. Every single lift the same thing, full foot pressure and exceptional head control . Below is a video , pay special attention to his head position throughout the lift.
So how can you apply these two tips to your own lifting?
1.) Foot Pressure: Grab the floor with your whole foot. We used the cue "eagle claw" at PFP Barbell. We teach our athletes to put pressure in the floor though our big to little toe and heel to get full foot contact into the floor. We pretend we are grabbing a fish out of the water like a majestic Bald Eagle . Because 'Merica and it really helps visualize grabbing with the whole foot. Then we want to push our shoulders and the bar away from the floor with our whole feet without shifting our weight front to back . I will not go too much into detail on this because Phil's article on barbend.com does a much better job of it and he does a much better job than me in explaining it.
2.) Head Control: This is a small tip that can make a big difference. When we lift we want to keep a neutral head until we open out hips and and soon as the bar clears our face we want to get our head through again. If you want to see a good example of this watch the video above of Phil's Power Snatch. Head control is important for a few reasons. During the first and second pull it helps keep our upper back tight and keeps the bar in a better position . As we drive through the floor that will allow us to get greater force into the bar during the finish. Actively getting our head through during the pull also helps keep us from getting behind the bar too quickly during the lift. Finally in the catch (in the snatch) , it will put us in a more stable position in our overhead rack to use our back to support more of he weight as we come up. We teach our lifters this by giving them the "Spongebob" Cue. We will put a 1.5kg plate about 10 feet in front of the platform and have them keep there eyes on the plate during the lift to remind them where there head is supposed to be . We use Spongebob because the plate we usually use in yellow,it is memorable , and if our lifters don't want to hear me yell "MORE SPONGEBOB" at them during meets they will control their heads while the lift .
To learn more about how to improve your lifts email :Tom@pittsburghfitnessproject.com or stop into PFP Barbell at 5500 Butler Street
Recently I became a member of the East Coast Gold Weightlifting Team. Phil Sabatini has been working with me for around 2 months and I have been progressing really well. I had an awesome meet at the AO1 going 4 for 6 and hitting both a 3kg Clean and Jerk PR and a 7kg meet PR. I got invited to come down and participate in our National Training camp and was extremely excited.
I coach a lot of athletes but rarely get a chance to lift with a coach myself . I had a chance to be coached by Brenden McDaniel for a few hours a couple months ago and it made a world of difference. This weekend was going to be awesome , not only would I get to work with my coaches , I would get to get help from Leo Totten, Walt Walt Neubauer , Travis Cooper , and James Tatum . I would also get to lift head to head with Charles McDonald and Phil . I’m usually the strongest person I train with by far so I was pumped to have these guys to push me to another level. This weekend was going to be AWESOME!
Then 30 minutes into the first session on the first day ....my weekend (of lifting ) was over. I caught a snatch funny and my back went nuts. My low back was toast. I wasn’t sure what was wrong but I knew I wouldn’t be picking up another Barbell that weekend . I worked with the therapist on staff to try to loosen up but nothing was working . I could barely walk , couldn’t drive , and definitely couldn’t lift.
The next morning it only got worse , it took me and hour to get out of bed , so I headed to the ER. Something was wrong . Luckily I got X-rays and they came up negative so thankfully I didn’t slip a disk or have any permanent damage. I had a choice to make , I could spend the weekend feeling sorry for myself or I could head back to camp and watch and observe and absorb as much as I could. Like Phil says “add to the atmosphere “ . I didn’t want to take anything away from any other athlete participating in camp. So I chose to make the most out of the weekend and absorb as much as I could from the side lines.
I’m not going to lie it was not always easy . I’m extremely competitive and there were a few workouts I wanted to participate in so badly . 2 times in particular the 2 front squats and a jerk and max power snatch , man o man I wanted to lift with Charles and Phil , those guys are so big and strong and in shape I think we could have pushed each other hard in those sessions . Getting to share a Barbell with James and Travis would have also been a pretty awesome experience .
Instead I watched ..and learned . It ended up being an amazing experience anyway . My roommate Mike , who is an amazing lifter had a great camp and went above and beyond to help me get around all weekend . I got to shadow all of these amazing lifters and coaches and they welcomed my questions and helped me understand what I was seeing and how they were working on correcting all of these great lifters. I met and got to know my new teammates and watch them have technical breakthroughs.
One of my good friends and one of our club coaches had to fly down to drive me back home and he was able to watch a few sessions and take pictures as well . The team welcomed both of us with open arms and it was awesome ! I’m thrilled to be part of such a great group of people and got so much out of this weekend .
The weekend did not go as planned , but it is an experience I will never forget. Time
to get to work and make sure my back is healthy and ready for nationals in May. I’m thankful for every second , and it all came from making a choice . I could have chosen to feel sorry for myself and be bitter . I’m happy I picked myself up and chose to get better . We can’t always choose what happens to us , but we always have a choice about how we respond. The choice is yours .
Come down and learn what I picked up from my weekend at at the ECG National Training camp and more by setting up your FREE technique evaluation. Email email@example.com to get started!
After a long weekend of coaching I was up to lift during the very last session of the AO1 , the 77th session I believe. I was really excited to compete in this group as it was going to be one of the most competitive of the entire weekend. Going in I knew that if everyone lifted well it would be a battle for 3rd place between 5 or 6 different super heavyweights. The first 2 spots were almost guaranteed as Fernando Reis was competing with a 420kg entry total(102kg above mine) and Cameron Swart who entered with 350kg total and was in the last olympic trial (and possibly the one before I'm not entirely sure. At these bigger meets I will always look at the start list to set my goals for the meet and see where I can land if I lift well.
Going in I had expected to be able to get the 3rd spot if I hit 5 or 6 lifts, judging by my training and the group that had entered. This was my first meet competing for East Coast Gold and training under Phil Sabatini and Brenden McDaniel . I just completed a 6 week volume block followed by a two week taper so I felt pretty good . My goals for the meet was to be 5 for 6 or better and to break 320kg in my total . During the Pan Am session my podium hopes were over once Justin Westfall totalled 342kg. I would need to PR both my snatch and clean and jerk by 10kg in order to total the 343kg needed for 3rd place. I can be a little ego driven in competition so I think going into knowing my first goal was out of reach actually helped me complete a smarter meet plan than I may have with the podium as a possibility .
My wife Maggie Duer has coached me in the back of every major meet I have ever done. She is really smart and knows me as an athlete and a person better than anyone. The day before we went over my meet plan over and over and developed a really solid gameplan for Sunday. I was really happy she was here to temper my expectation I had wanted to make some bigger jumps to put myself in position to hit 156/187 to reach the podium but after a long discussion we agreed that this was NOT the best course of action for how my training was going and what I am capable of at this time. We had decided to open my snatch at 138-142kg and taking my final attempt at 150-153kg if I made my first two snatches. The clean and jerks I wanted to open 170-175kg and take my final attempt at 180-185kg if I made my first two lifts. I was looking total between 320-335 depending on how I felt on Sunday.
Sunday came and I was ready to go. I was really excited and honored to be competing on East Coast Gold and be able to represent our home club PFP Barbell as well. There were 3 ECG lifters in this session which was awesome and I was pleasantly surprised to have Jim Storch and David Flemming in the back with us to help . This took a ton of pressure of of me and Maggie was able to work with them to execute the gameplan that we had discussed earlier in the weekend.
Snatches were up first and I was excited I have been really sharp in training and knew I could put up some big numbers in the session. Warm-ups went OK...I was a little over excited and a little all over the place missing 130kg a few times in the back . However, when I got to the platform that was a different story. I went 2 for 3 hitting 140kg and 145kg , then narrowly missing 150kg . I was in a pretty good place going in and right where I needed to be to hit 2 of my 3 goals for the meet.
Clean and Jerks were up next and I was ready to finally smash through the 177kg barrier I had hit over two years ago. Warm-ups started great , Jim Storch had given me a cue about pushing up and pulling out on the bar during on the jerks that instantly improved my overhead stability . We ended up gaining an extra lifter in the back with us as Kevin Cornell was opening near us and wanted to share a platform. It was a pretty cool experience because when I started lifting he was on of my original training partners. As warm up continued I realized that I was starting to get dizzy and lightheaded after my cleans and I would need to open heavier and skip some warm up attempts. I was feeling strong but the build up from a long weekend hit me like a ton of bricks.
We decided to have me open at 174kg because of this and the first attempt went up without issue , this gave me a new total PR of 319kg . The next lift I took was 178kg this was a weight that had haunted me as up to this point I had missed 177+ in competition 9 times. Clean went up easily, then I ended up pressing out the jerk. I was super bummed but because of how I missed I knew I was good for more. After the miss , we decided to take 180kg because I needed some rest and the 2 extra kg would not affect my lift very much. I ended up coming out and smoking the clean again but before the jerk I was having trouble getting my air. I collected myself and nailed the jerk! Only my 11th try in competition I finally PR'd my fricken clean and jerk! I ran out to the hall way to cry (because thats what I do) and got a PR hi-five from Olympian and World Champ Sarah Robles which was another cool moment to cap off an awesome weekend. I finished with 145/180 for a 325kg total for a new Clean and Jerk PR and competition PR ! I finally put together a meet where I snatched and Clean and jerked well!
Overall this was the most fun I have had competing and surreal for a lot of reasons. Seeing my wife who I think the world of as a coach working side by side with two super experienced coaches in the back and executing with confidence was awesome. I am obviously happy with my performance. I name dropped a lot of weightlifters in this article on purpose . When we started this weightlifting journey finding coaching in Pittsburgh was really difficult. We relied on youtube and articles online to teach us many of the lesson we learned about the sports. I couldn't count how many hours of video we have watched of MuscleDriver USA/Cal Strength/JTS videos, listened to every weightlifting podcast we could find, just absorbed everything we could find. As a guy who found the sport at 28 years old to have the opportunity to share the platform with , be coached by, and be on the team with so many of the guys I learned from (by watching and reading their stuff) is un-freakin-real!
As I head down to North Carolina for the East Coast Gold National Training camp, I can only believe that its just going to get more unbelievable from here! I cannot wait to share my experiences with you all when I get back ! If your an athlete who wants to give weightlifting a try and you live in Pittsburgh , Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
When we start as weightlifters, Personal Records can be a weekly or daily occurrence, however once the PR Party stops we must work harder to stay interested and engaged as athletes. At PFP Barbell we approach each session with a few different goals in mind.
These are :
1.) Skill Development
2.) Movement Quality
3.) Strength Improvement
4.) Mental Toughness
As athletes we cannot expect to improve each on of these qualities every training session. However, if we strive to improve each on we can gain small victories by simply improving a 1 or 2 of these qualities each training session we can expect to become better weightlifters over time . Weightlifting is and extremely mentally tough sport so these small victories are crucial for us if we want to stick with the sport and train past plateaus . Now lets cover specifically what each on of these qualities are and how we can improve them during each session.
1.) Skill Development : This one is something that almost every lifter can do in each and every training session. Skill development includes improving on any skill needed in weightlifting. These things could be working on your start position, practicing a better rack position on your lifts, or learning a new variation on your lifts. Making a conscious effort to improve basic weightlifting skills in each session is a great way to ensure continued progress in your training . This accumulation in skills will eventually lead to an accumulation of PR's once you break through your plateau.
2.) Movement Quality: This quality is the immediate followup to skill development . Movement quality is when we take skills we already have learned and work to hone and perfect these movements. This can be anything from keeping the bar closer to you during the lifts, proper weight distribution in your feet , working on proper head position, proper bar path , or any other of our established weightlifting skills. Weightlifting is a sport in which our goal of perfect movement is not actually attainable to by focusing on small improvements in our movement quality it ensures long term progress. Fall in love with the process and results will come.
3.) Strength Improvement: This one can be fairly straight forward however we can find strength improvements in a variety of ways. The obvious things are hitting a new 1rm in an exercise ,but since this is an article about what to do when the PR's stop coming this isn't what I mean. It could be a new 5 Rep max or 10 rep max, the ability to hit a high percentage at multiple sets, or even an improvement on the weights used during accessory work . Do not discount your progress in any of these things. As you train your 1 rep max may not change for months or even years, trust the process, understand their is no such thing as being 'too strong' and celebrate every victory.
4.) Mental Toughness : This quality is one we should be able to improve every single session. Weightlifting can be a grind at times. We have long , hard , detail oriented workouts that at times can be mentally taxing to complete . Toughness can come in many forms . We can can improve this through pushing through a tough workout, coming back to make a lift that we've been missing in training, or as simple as completing our workout with intention on a day when we really don't want to be there.
As you grow and develop as a weightlifter our primary goal should be to raise our Minimums( The amount of weight we can hit any day we work up to a heavy single in each lift.). The sports is about being consistent and hitting lifts on the platform. However, lets be honest everyone loves a PR party. Lets fall in love with the daily training it takes to get there.
To punch your ticket to your next PR Party Email: Tom@pittsburghfitnessproject.com to start your 14 day free trial at PFP Barbell !
"Hi I'm John Doe, I want to join the club! But I don't really need coaching I've been lifting for a while and I have my insert weekend certification here." As a gym owner I get a handful of these folks coming in every few months. I typically would let them join with no problem and even train with the team. However recently I have encouraged those athletes to train elsewhere (If your still at the club and are a weightlifter I am not talking to you) . Pride and uncoachability are poison and stunts or completely stops progress and can spread to the whole group .
One recurring thing I see as a coach/business owner/leader is pride getting in the way of personal development. For the purpose of this article I am not talking about being proud of yourself (that is a great thing ) I mean pride defined as: irrationally believing that one is essentially and necessarily better, superior, or more important than others, failing to acknowledge the accomplishments of others, and excessive admiration of the personal image or self .
The 3 things I have noticed with these athletes are:
1.) Stagnate: Never get any better. This one is pretty self explanatory, weightlifting is a sport based off of skill development and practice. If you are unwilling to accept feedback you will never grow.
2.) Isolate: Alienate themselves from the rest of the athletes at the gym . Usually these uncoachable athletes carry this trait as a badge of honor. They will act superior to the group as a whole , while training off to the side drawing attention to themselves while not actually helping themselves or those around them .
3.) Migrate: These athletes usually don't last long in any group that they join. They jump gym to gym wearing out their welcome with the coaches and athletes that they train alongside. As much as weightlifting is an individual sport, people really flourish as part of a team .
Here is the thing, coachability is a learned behavior. It takes practice, being able to take and apply criticism is a skill and a necessary one if you want to get better with a barbell . EVERYONE needs coaching. The more advanced you are, the more coaching you need. Weightlifting as a skill is easy to learn , but nearly impossible to master. Find a coach who you believe in and who believes in you.
I have been coaching people for my entire adult life. I coached myself through 10+ bodybuilding shows, multiple national and international fitness publication photo shoots, qualified for USAW Nationals without a coach.
-Crossfit Level 1
-4 time USAW National Qualifier
-8 time Class winner in Bodybuilding
-NCAA Football and Track and Field
Guess what ? I still needed coaching to truly thrive. First, my wife Maggie Duer in person, whenever she can. She has some of the sharpest eyes and technical knowledge of any coach that I know. I recently became part of East Coast Gold weightlifting under Phil Sabatini and Brendan McDaniel . I have an entire team around me working to help me grow and develop as a lifter. People I trust and that have my best interest in mind. If I need a coach so do you.
If you are an advanced athlete looking to take your Snatch and Clean and Jerk to the next level and live or work in Pittsburgh, contact me at email@example.com to set up an assessment today.
Last weekend PFP Barbell attended the Arnold Classic Sports Festival in Columbus Ohio . USA Weightlifting hosted the American Open Series 1 and we had 3 athletes compete. We also helped coach another 3 during their sessions over the weekend. Overall there were 77 sessions of Weightlifting over the weekend so we spent a lot of time surrounded by some really awesome lifters and coaching really awesome lifters.
First up was Marisa Galli our 58kg lifter . She lifted in the very first session of the weekend. Marisa is one of our newer lifters , this was her second meet ever, but one of our most talented she moves really well and is hungry to learn and get better. She entered the meet with a 102kg total and was ready to improve on it. She started us off with a bang going 5 for 6 . In the snatch she went 45kg, 48kg, and missed 52kg which would have been a lifetime personal best. In the Clean and Jerk she went 65kg, 68kg, and 70kg. Marisa came into the meet at the 64th seed and finished 41st overall! We always talk with our athletes about working to beat their seeding and she did that in a huge way! She set the tone for the weekend and we are pumped for her future.
Next up was Gerald Hayes our 77kg lifter . Gerald is one of our more experienced lifters and has really come into his own this year as an athlete . This was his first meet of this size and as we expected , he responded excellently. He had to lift at 9pm on the first day which we were a little concerned about , however he ended up going 4 for 6 and attempting a PR on his last snatch only coming up slightly short. On the Snatches he went 80kg, 84kg, then missed 88kg . On the Clean and Jerks he had a session that we were all really proud of, we hit 100kg , missed 104kg , then came back and made 104kg. Coming back from a miss and making it immediately after on such a big stage is something to be really proud of . Gerald ended up placing 48 of 68 athletes beating his seed by over 20 spots ! Gerald left super inspired and we expect really big things this year from him !
Throughout the weekend we got to work with a few athletes that aren't "our"
athletes, meaning they don't train with the team regularly , don't use our programming etc. Most are friends of the club or local Pittsburgh based athletes who want extra help in the back .
The first one of these athletes was Tim Larkin . He lifted Saturday morning in the 77kg class. Tim is an athlete over at Crossfit Athletics in the southside and moves exceptionally well. His snatch is his better of the lifts so we were excited for him in this session. Tim ended up going 5 for 6 hitting a 98kg , 103kg and missing his final snatch (and PR attempt) at 106kg. His Clean and Jerks ended up going much better hitting all of his attempts at 115kg , 120kg, and 123kg . He placed 21st out of 68 athletes .
Brian Bauman was next up , Brian is a fun athlete to watch and is in great shape . He and his coach Dylan Snyder of Crossfit Mt Lebo have non-traditional approach that works really well for Brian that they have had good success with. Brian is in amazing shape as Crossfit is his primary form of exercise so he takes a ton of attempts in the back especially in the Snatch. He hit an 88kg , 96kg, and 105kg snatches during the session . I believe his 1st attempt was the first or second attempt of the entire session and then his 3rd attempt was the heaviest snatch session. I have never seen that before but it was awesome to see and he crushed it! Brian ended up 4 for 6 on the day with a 231kg total after hitting a 126kg clean and jerk in the second half of the meet. Brian is a super talented lifter and will only continue to get better and better .
Jackie Bobsled Rodgers was next to go she is a coach and athlete at Crosfit Mt Lebo as well! She lifted in a very competitive 69k B session on Saturday. Jackie is a really good friend , an amazing athlete, and may be the only person we have every met who is more energetic and goofy than Coach Tom . We love working with Bobsled you never know what you're going to get . She is a great competitor who is always capable of doing something that makes you go "WOW". In this case her entire effort this weekend had that effect on us. Battling some injuries we weren't sure how her session would go and she ended up going 3 for 6 after having a great snatch session followed by some press out issues on her Clean and Jerks. In typical Bobsled fashion, when the pressure was on she smoked her 3rd and final Clean and Jerk attempt to place 26th overall and get 3rd in her age group! Great work Jackie
Last to go was Coach Tom . I will be doing a separate post about this session as it was a pretty special . Tom Duer went 4 for 6 on the day for a 325kg total a lifetime PR . On Snatches he went 140kg,145kg and missed 150kg. Then the clean and jerk session he went 175kg , missed 178kg on a press out , then hit 180kg for a 3kg PR . This is the first time in over 2 years Tom has hit a personal best clean and jerk in training or competition. Tom ended up finishing in 5th place overall in a very stacked field.
Overall is was a pretty amazing an surreal weekend for the PFP Barbell. Last year we only had one athlete compete and probably three athletes total as a club. To have 3 compete well and to be able to help 3 more was a pretty amazing experience. We are excited to be growing the Weightlifting community in Pittsburgh . If you are interested in trying to sport of weightlifting email : firstname.lastname@example.org to set up your free Weightlifting Assessment .
Let me start this by saying I am extremely grateful for ever single person who I have ever coached. I am thankful every single day that I have made a living from coaching for the vast majority of my life. We have built a wonderful club with wonderful athletes who I am impressed with more and more everyday. I wake up everyday pumped and thankful I have the opportunity to teach people to move barbells for a living. From time to time I can lose sight of this and when I do I try to remind myself of one of our seminars we held last year.
Last Year while teaching at a Weightlifting Seminar I confided(complained) to the owner of the gym who hosted the clinic about how I couldn't understand why people in the city of Pittsburgh where so hesitant to have us help their athletes with their Olympic lifting. My wife and I had been coaching and lifting ourselves for a few years now , I was getting ready to attend my second USAW National Championship (I had qualified for 3 but didn't attend the first year), my best lifts at the time were 146kg(320lbs) snatch and a 177kg(390lbs) Clean and Jerk, I think I was ranked around 15th in the country at the time in my weight class. More importantly for most of that time Maggie and I were learning and Coaching ourselves . We were doing a ton of coaching hours, we had spend the last year prior teaching clinics for free at as many of our friends Gyms that would accept us just to get experience, and competing in 10+ meets over those first few years . I was frustrated and pissed. We just wanted to get in front of people and share what we had learned and I couldn't figure out where the disconnect was.
She had given me advice that I still have to remind myself to this day. She said "Our guru's must come from at least on mountain away." . Then Judy went on to explain that when we become familiar with each other it is easy to forget how exceptional those in front of us are. I know I am as guilty of this as anyone and I need to be more conscious of supporting the amazing coaching community in Pittsburgh as well. . It can be easy for me at times to get frustrated because I LOVE weightlifting , I love training , I love competing, and I really really love teaching the sport. That conversation has stuck with me since the day we have had it .
Flash forward to today, I still find myself at times getting frustrated with the same situation. However, I have learned that my situation is not unique and I am extremely blessed to have the amazing group we have assembled at PFP Barbell. I would love to continue to add to the team . If you think that competing in Weightlifting is something that would be fun email: email@example.com to set up a Weightlifting Assessment (its FREE) and give weightlifting a shot.