Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Mobility and CrossFit

    Mobility and CrossFit

Why are we even doing it? Matthew Biolsi - June 21, 2016

How flexible are you.  Let's be honest most of us aren't nearly as flexible as we want to be.  Even those of us who are flexible, what is the point of it?  Mobility has become a buzz word inside the gym and it's becoming very controversial.  How much time should you spend?  Should you mobilize before or after your workout?  Should I follow Mobility WOD or ROMWOD?  These questions are asked a lot and I have my thoughts about each.  

When it comes to mobility everyone has their two cents.  I am often asked "how do I mobilize this?  It hurts."  Well it's probably too late for mobilizing that area.  You already have an injury.  What we can do now is rehab the injury to get you back to where you were.  Mobility is something that should be it's own separate workout.  We have become a society where we bypass the warm ups and go right into mobility.  From my experience, most of people's problems can be solved by properly warming up before working out.  Mobility is great and we do it before every class but it is no where near as important as properly warming up.  In my gym we generally do the same warm ups.  We start with a 400m run and we do basic calisthenics to get the blood pumping and the body moving.  Now I have seen games that get played and other ways to warm up and there is no right or wrong way to do things as long as you get moving.  Here is where I see a lot of people start getting lazy.  Many people skip the 400m because they don't like running.  Well news flash, I'm not making you do it for my benefit, I'm doing it for yours!  I want you to get your heart rate up slightly and the blood flowing.  By skipping the run all you are doing is hurting yourself.  "But Matt I suck at running!"  Well news flash again, you aren't going to get better by skipping it.  After our warm up we do some basic mobility, mostly with resistance bands sometimes with lacrosse balls.  Here is where I think many get confused.  Our mobility sessions are designed to teach you how to mobilize, they are by no means the sole mobility you should be doing.  Mobility should done on your own either before or after you workout.  My personal preference would be to mobilize the joints, with bands, before a workout.  The idea behind these bands is to place a joint in the proper location for movement.  For example, most of us sit for hours a day so our body adapts to this position by pushing our femurs into the front part of our hip capsule.  This puts us at a disadvantage for squatting as we now have a limited range of motion.  The other way to mobilize is to smash out with a lacrosse ball or foam roller.  This should be done after a workout.  I say this because of several reasons, but rolling on a foam roller doesn't do anything to get you ready to workout.  If anything it shuts the body down.  Think about a massage, have you ever walked out of a massage and said "man I can't wait to workout now!"  This doesn't happen because the body starts to go to a relaxed state.  This type of mobility is best before bed as you prepare to sleep.  The same goes for static stretching.  There has been no study ever proven that static stretching provides any benefit before a workout.  In fact, static stretching damages connective tissue and hinders strength training.  Once again I don't want my words twisted, yoga and couch stretching are not bad, but they are best for post workouts when the connective tissue is loosened up and begins to repair itself.  When it comes to Mobility again I say make time to add it to your schedule, 10-15 minutes a day will go a long way to improving your mobility.  

Now when it comes to mobility there are plenty of resources, Mobility WOD, ROMWOD, FMS tend to be the most popular.  Any one you choose is fine, I am biased to Mobility WOD myself and here's why.  I have met Kelly Starett and had the privilege of having dinner with him and some other friends.  One thing that I took away from him is his passion for what he does.  I have not met anyone who just lives and breaths movement and human performance like he does.  My biggest take away was he isn't a flexibility person, he is a human movement person.  His idea of mobility is to put you in better positions.  Yes it is important to be able to have full range of your posterior chain and be able to touch your toes while hinging at the hip (basic hamstring stretch) but what good is that if you can not control your hamstrings in a way that allows you to perform a squat to full depth and knees tracking over your toes.  When it comes to mobility, we have to make it functional to whatever movement we are trying to perform.  The purpose of mobility is to help us move better.  I have heard big guys say "mobility is overrated" and I have even heard some say "when you can lift as much as me, then you can correct me".  The problem is when we talk to people about mobility we aren't saying you are weak but what we are saying is you aren't reaching your maximum potential, and who doesn't want to reach that?  Mobilizing allows you to generate the full extent of power that your body is able to.  It isn't only about injury prevention and recovery.  If you move well, great things will happen.  

Always beware of buzz words.  When it comes to mobility, there are a ton of resources and seminars to go to, but always know your limits.  Know the difference between being injured and sending your athlete or yourself to a doctor and needing to mobilize.  If you are truly injured no amount of rolling on a lacrosse ball will fix it.  Be smart when you mobilize and always do it with a purpose.  


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

American Youth and Weightlifting

It's been an amazing week for Team DCL Weightlifting.  I had the privilege of taking Danielle and Makinley to the USAW 2016 National Youth Championships and our girls performed phenomenally over these past few days.  Over the weekend I had made several observations of the future of weightlifting in America.

This past weekend there were over 700, 731 to be exact, young athletes show up to The National Youth Championships in Austin, Texas.  It was a great weekend with some amazing athletes.  The biggest take away was how many of them qualified.  To see so many young people interested in the sport of weightlifting was so great to see.  To watch these young kids be so passionate about a sport that, until recently, has seen very little interest in our country.  What I witnessed was nothing short of exciting and filled me with so much pride.  I saw 16 and 17 year olds clean and jerk over 100kg/200#.  I watched a 14 year old girl snatch 84kg/185#.  These kids are doing amazing things and putting up higher numbers than most 20 year olds i’ve seen.  I, like most people, never got involved in the sport of Weightlifting until I started doing CrossFit.  Although I still consider myself a CrossFitter, I am hooked on this sport as well.  One thing that has always gotten me about this sport is the lack of interest in America.  I consider myself a red blooded American though and through.  I love my country and I love sports and I want to see my country excel in all variations of fitness and sports.  For the 1st time since getting involved, I can see a future for our country in weightlifting.  Just yesterday, I watched CJ Cummings set a junior world record and a senior American record on the clean and jerk for his weight class. You will find female athletes like Mattie Rogers and Jessica Lucero setting multiple records in meets and lift heavier weights than most males their age.  These are amazing athletes to watch.  We have to keep our youth interested in this sport.  Weightlifting, like most sports, has to be trained and developed when these kids are young.  We can't wait until we are in our 20's and 30's and expect to compete with the rest of the world.  We as a country have to get rid of this fallacy that lifting weights are dangerous.  It really angers me when people who have no background in strength and conditioning try to tell us that lifting weights is dangerous for young kids.  Weightlifting is statistically safer than football and basketball, yet we don't see people warning us that these sports are dangerous.  As with any physical activity, there is a degree of danger; but with proper coaching, that risk is dramatically reduced.  We have some stellar weightlifting coaches here in America and I'm proud to say we have some great coaches here in Tennessee.  This was very evident as we had multiple athletes at the National Youth Championships from the state.  

I am extremely proud to say that the future of Weightlifting in America is bright.  We have some top level athletes coming out from our younger age groups.  I just hope to increase the interest in the sport to kids in our community and develop athletes in future national level competitors and if we are really lucky a future Olympian.  

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Are you a competitive CrossFitter or are you looking to be fit for life?

This article is intended to address where we have come as a sport in CrossFit.  The concept of CrossFit was ingenious.  We are told to focus on functional movement patterns and movements to increase our general physical preparedness, or GPP.  The idea is great and the methodology is without question changing the way we view fitness.  The question for most is do we participate in CrossFit for GPP or for a sport.  Chris Spealler said it best, there is a huge divergence of the sport of CrossFit and the methodology as a life style.  

For those people who participate in CrossFit as a life style we need to start looking away from our times on the white board or leaderboards.  The idea behind the methodology of coming in and working out with a class is designed to make you feel good about yourself.  Majority of us are confined to cubicles at work are are working jobs we don't love.  When you come into a CrossFit gym you should feel at home.  Working out with your class and talking and joking is just as important as hitting that big PR back squat.  Why is that?  The endorphins that your body creates will make you better mentally and the calories you burn should make you feel better about yourself.  A personal record, PR, is great but the fact you made it into the gym is an accomplishment in and of itself.  We live in a sedentary society where people who move and exercise are hard to find.  Come into the gym be happy and have fun, your body will adapt and you will experience change. 

I often get asked why then don't I see changes.  I always go to two questions, what is your diet like? And how many days do you go to the gym?  Usually I am told "I eat really healthy" but if I made you write down everything you eat for a week one of two things are discovered.  A) you aren't eating as healthy as you think you are or B) you aren't eating nearly enough.  There are many resources out there for you to change your eating habits.  Results don't come easy and they won't happen in a day.  I tell everyone to give a diet 30 days and after 30 days then you can make changes.  2 weeks is not enough to see change.  The second part to the question is, how many days do you go to the gym?  By far the most popular membership in my gym is 3 days a week.  This is the most popular option because it's the cheapest option.  The problem with this is you are putting your wallet over your health.  Yes I know that not everyone can financially afford to go to the gym that much but I know many people who get paid the same and they come more than 3 times per week.  What's your excuse now?  It's all about priorities.  You can pay the gym/grocer now or you can pay the doctor later.  If you only work out 3 times a week, what are you doing the other 4?  You are literally doing nothing less than you are working.  Again people tell me , oh I'm doing stuff other than the gym.  Ok great but are you really?  A study was done at a "globo gym",I won't go into names, but in the study they asked people how much time did they spend in the gym a day and they usually responded with1-2 hours.  But when they were asked to swipe their card every time they entered and left they were surprised to find that time was far less and much of that time was spent on the hydro message beds or the tanning beds, not much time was spent working out at all.  My point here is how much work are you doing outside the gym?  If I were to "scan your card" would you be shocked to learn that you don't do nearly enough to stay fit?  You only have to be honest with yourself.  

The next part of this article is to talk with those who do CrossFit competitively.  If you want to compete in the sport of CrossFit you first have to understand that this sport is a professional sport now.  The winner of the CrossFit games now receives a purse of 2 million dollars.  People who are in the sport at that level are working out 3-4 times a day working with specialized coaches on gymnastics to weightlifting, powerlifting and anaerobic capacity.  They are shelling out thousands of dollars a year to compete on that stage.  Very few, if any, can handle a day job and compete on that level.  So you have to be honest with yourself.  Did you play on a competitive collegiate level team?  If not then this level may be out of reach.  I'm not saying don't try but again I'm saying be honest with yourself.  If you realize that this level is out of your capacity then look to compete locally.  These events are always, in my opinion, way more fun because more communities are involved.  I once had an athlete who said "Matt as long as I can win money to pay for my trip to be here then I am happy", and I think that's the attitude more of us should have.  It's not about how many sponsorships that you can throw on your Instagram account it's about having fun and if the competition ends up paying for itself that it's a double win.  Sponsorships are great and who wouldn't want to compete at the CrossFit Games, but you have to ask yourself "at what cost"? CrossFit Games athletes obliterate their bodies and are injured more than they care to admit.  Case and point last year we saw Scott Panchick and Emily Bridgers both admit to have pretty serious injuries after the games.  Doing high intensity workouts at that level will do this to you.  The emotional side is just as damaging.  How much time is spent in the gym and away from family.  This can be seen in the case of Rich Fronning who opted to go teams as he wanted more time to spend with his daughter and his wife.  Being a professional athlete will tear apart relationships if you aren't careful.  Egos and stress can get the best of anyone.  So be aware of what you are getting into if you want to be on that level.  

Again there is difference between CrossFit as a fitness methodology and CrossFit as a sport.  CrossFit as a methodology is changing the world and we have yet to see its true potential.  CrossFit as a sport is exciting to watch and amazing to see what the human body is capable of.  From Masters all the way down to the Teen division, athletes are showing tremendous ability to perform on levels we have never seen before.  Know why you do CrossFit and do it to the best of your ability!!! 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

1st pull in the snatch and clean

If the Pull is off, the lift will be as well.
The 1st Pull in the Snatch and Clean makes the difference between a successful and missed lift.

Trenz Pruca - March 17, 2016
The importance of the 1st pull


A lot of powerlifting coaches will tell you if you have a bad lift in the squat then the rest of the meet will go poorly .  It's so important to start off on a good note.  By the same token, it is vital to have a good 1st pull on your olympic lifts.  Kelly Starrett says it all the time, "you can't regain a good position from a bad position.”  One of the biggest faults I see in my training of Weightlifters is poor positioning from a bad first pull.  A bad first pull is the difference between a PR and not even hitting lifts close to your max.  If this sounds like you, don't fear, it's an easy fix for most:  The key is patience.  
Faults in the 1st pull can and inevitably do vary.  You will see several faults, such as yanking the bar off the ground to a deadlift set up.  Let's talk about this fault in particular. The most common error I see even from some "advanced" weightlifters, is yanking the bar off the ground.  Over and over again I see this fault as one of the most problematic.  Like I stated earlier, patience is key.  As the weights get heavier athletes have a tendency to try to pull faster off the floor.  I tell everyone the same thing, you need to pull 135lbs the same way you pull 300lbs.  When you change your pull your timing will be off as well as your ability to meet your positions.  Many people do three position snatches and cleans, but very few people understand their importance.  The whole point of the drill is to understand physically and mentally what each position feels like so as you pull the bar you know you are hitting all positions correctly.  When you pull the bar too quickly off the floor your first position will be off, and if position 1 is off the other positions will be off as well.  You have to remain patient off the floor and pull to your knees in a controlled manner, wait until you get to your "power position," and then speed up through your second and third pull.  One drill I use for this is the pause variation of the snatch or clean.  I force the athlete to pull easy off the floor and keep the shoulders over the bar as long as possible.  Once the athlete passes the knee, there is a pause in that position. I then will give the cue of "launch" or "go."  Over time this will drill into the athlete's head to remain patient over the bar and also learn the positions.  
Second common fault I see in the first pull is the athlete setting up like a deadlift.  What I mean by this is the knees starting too far back, almost perpendicular to the ground.  This makes it nearly impossible to load the hamstrings properly.  As the bar is lifted off the ground, the the athlete needs to be able to push the knees back so as to load the hamstrings and accelerate the barbell as it goes up.  If the athlete sets up with the knees vertical, once the barbell comes up he or she is forced to use the lower back as the primary mover.  This makes the movement far less efficient and also has a higher chance of injury.  The proper set up would be to have the knees slightly over the bar.  The first movement would be to push the knees back and out of the way of the bar which then loads up the hamstrings.  Your hamstrings load like rubber bands.  In order for the body to properly launch the barbell you want to then release the built up tension in the hamstrings.  The tension is released by moving to your launch position.  Your launch position pushes the knees forward slightly and shoulders back and now the bar can accelerate further through the movement.  If your knees set up to vertical and you rely on your lower back the bar will decelerate and result in a failed lift at maximum weights.  
Setting up properly and performing a proper first pull is imperative for a successful lift.  Be patient over the bar and keep your shoulders over the bar for as long as possible.  Lifting should be fun, don't get frustrated, and always go back to the basics.  Get a good 1st pull and the lift will take care of itself!!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Breathing Mechanics

Breathe People…Breathe!! 
Proper Breathing Mechanics for Weightlifting and Metabolic Conditioning

Dcl Blog #3 - February 17, 2016You have to breathe!!!
From the day we are born, we have involuntary muscle movements.  Our body is born knowing how to do certain things.  It knows how to pump blood throughout the body, it knows how to digest food, and it knows how to breathe.  Breathing is a basic part of life.  The problem with involuntary muscle contractions is we take them for granted.  We train every muscle group we can to look better or to increase our athletic potential.  You will constantly see people seek a coach to work on their squat, the clean and jerk, or their gymnastic abilities but what we often forget is that, just as all these are skills that must be practiced, breathing should be worked on as well.  

Practicing Breathing as a skill
Admit it, we have all done it: following a high intensity workout, we lay on our backs and we gasp for air hoping to somehow recover and get our bearings back.  I know how it is, it is a miserable place to be in. This, however, is the worst thing we can do.  When we lay down after a workout, it is the equivalent of a car going from 75 MPH to zero.  Your body has no idea what just happened to it.  Anyone who has spent a day at the lab knows, I’m the annoying guy yelling at you as you lay down and telling you to go for a walk and bring your heart rate down gradually.  When you do this, it forces you to breathe.  I make my athletes go outside and take nice, slow, deep breaths in through their nose and out through their mouths.  By doing this, you bring your heart rate down naturally and prepare yourself for the next challenge ahead of you.  By taking deep breaths through your nose and out of your mouth, you will notice considerable changes in your heart rate.  I recently worked with a female athlete who is using a heart rate monitor and by  controlled breathing through her nose,  she was able to bring her heart beat down 20 beats per minute in 3 breaths.  One of the best aspects of yoga is taking your mind out of the equation and letting your body focus on breathing.  Former Navy SEAL and Founder of SEALFit, Mark Divine, is a big advocate of controlled breathing.  During his SEALFit Camp he brings his athletes through yoga sessions to help teach people to take their minds out of the equation and focus on their breathing.  It is such a critical aspect of sports training.  If you follow UFC, you will hear Joe Rogan discuss breathing mechanics regularly when he is describing who is losing a fight.  Someone who is losing will be seen inhaling and exhaling through their mouths in a sign of panic.    
In the CrossFit world, one coach who has been on the forefront of breathing mechanics is Brian Mckenzie.  Brian has been teaching a “Breathing and Performance seminar” and has been well received thus far in the community.  Lately, I have been watching his videos and applying what I have learned to my athletes and they have seen tremendous results.  One tool he uses is the Altitude Training Mask. I know this is where I might lose people, but hear me out.  At the Lab, we haven’t been training with the mask on but we have been resting with it on.  In between running intervals, I have made several of my competitive athletes rest for 3-5 minutes with the mask.  One thing we notice immediately is how deep the athletes breathe.  Before using the mask, we would see the athletes breathe in a manner i call “trap breathers”; this is using only their upper lungs and not the entire system.  When you take these fast, choppy breaths you don’t use the diaphragm like it was designed to be used.  Brian has a really interesting video where he has a runner on a treadmill, and the runner immediately fixes his posture when he puts the mask on, because he is forced to breathe deeper, using his diaphragm fully.  Brian is doing tremendous work with this mask, and I recommend everyone check out his videos.  Since using this mask in our rest intervals, I have managed to bring down athletes 400m times by 10-20 seconds, depending on the athlete.  We are still experimenting with the proper work to rest ratios, but so far we have seen great results and I’m really excited to see where we can go from here.  
Breathing mechanics aren’t just for performance.  They should be used in our daily lives.  We must constantly focus on breathing.  Kelly Starrett has been preaching this for awhile.  While mobilizing, you should constantly be focusing on breathing.  In CrossFit, you  find people mobilizing and so many people can be found in the "pain cave”, but are mobilizing so deeply into the tissue, they stop breathing.  You have to learn how to breathe while you are mobilizing.  In order to do this better, once a week I use Jill Miller's Corgeous ball and smash my diaphragm and abdominal area.  Since starting this weekly routine, I have seen tremendous improvements in my ability to hold my breath and my ability to breathe deep in the middle of my workouts.  Even my strength lifts have increased and I credit it, partially, to my ability to take in deeper breaths and hold these breaths throughout the lifts.  A common error I have seen in athletes who enter my gym is their breathing mechanics during lifts.  When you squat, deadlift, press, etc. many athletes will be seen breathing out as they complete the lift.  A better technique is to hold your breath during the lift and only exhaling as you finish the lift.  The reason for this is your body uses the air filled abdominal cavity to assist in bracing your spine.  If you exhale as you are lifting, odds are, your core will collapse and with it, the lift itself.  Now, I am not advocating holding your breath until you pass out.  If you get tunnel vision, breathe out, but instead of letting it all out, exhale out just enough to keep conscious but not any more than that.  Breathe out at the top, take another deep breath in, and complete your sets.  Try this strategy and see if you feel more stable during your lifts.  

Breathing is an involuntary reflex.  Just because it's involuntary, doesn't mean it is a reflex that can't be trained as a skill.  Proper breathing drills both during your workout, as well as during recovery, will benefit you in and out of the gym.  Take this skill seriously as it will affect all aspects of your life.  

Monday, February 15, 2016

Importance of Box Jumps in Explosive Training

Importance of box jumps in explosive training.
Matt Biolsi

DCL Blog #2

            It's time to clear up some misconceptions of explosive training.  Lately, I've been working with a couple of rugby athletes and they were asking me to help improve their "explosive power".  Even though I knew the answer already, I decided to inquire about what their coach had them doing to improve their explosive power. They answered, “power snatch and power cleans.”  This is the common answer I get when people talk about explosive training.  When it comes to strength there are several different forms.  There is absolute strength, speed-strength, strength-speed, and explosive strength.  One must be proficient is all forms of strength.  When it comes to explosive strength, I have learned there are a lot of misconceptions.  I feel there is a major misconception about what explosive power really is. 
            The definition of explosive strength is "the muscles ability to display significant tension in a minimal period of time".  What does this mean?  Well, in simple words, jumping!!!  Explosive force is built by jumping!  Olympic lifting is considered, by some, to be an "explosive sport" but Olympic lifting is a speed-strength sport.  The confusion lies in the definitions of the two.  "Speed- strength" is defined as "the ability to overcome resistance with a high speed muscle contraction".  So, we have speed strength and explosive strength.  When we jump, we have a fast eccentric motion countered by a fast concentric motion.  This is the basis of explosive strength.  The faster and more powerful we over come the eccentric (downward) movement, the greater the explosive power.  If you need an example of this, try bending your knees, pausing, and then jumping versus a quick dip and drive and see which produces better results.  The father of jumping and explosive power in the old Soviet Union was Dr. Yuri Verkhonshansky.  The studies that he performed on his athletes are detailed in the book "Special Strength Training Manual for Coaches".  He discovered the phenomenon of stretch reflex while working with Soviet triple jumpers.  Dr. Verkhonshansky prescribed many different variations of jumps in order to build explosive power in Olympic level sprinters and Olympic Weightlifters.  I build explosive power in my athletes by doing various types of jumps.  We do jumps from knees, jumps with weights, broad jumps, and various other jumps.  Dr. Verkhoshansky prescribed up to 80 jumps a week.  We do these jumps on Tuesdays and Thursday's.   This allows us to do 40 jumps on Tuesdays and 40 jumps on Thursdays as our “cash out” work.  In the conjugate style system, we consistently change the style of jumps to prevent accommodation.  We typically do one style with weights and one body weight style jump. 
            How do jumps help us in sport?  Explosive power is displayed in sport performance.  It is displayed in the acceleration off the blocks in sprinting and in the Olympic lifts.  This is where the confusion lies.  Olympic lifting displays explosive power but it doesn't build explosive power.  As Russian scientists have said, the speed strength index, (which is the ratio of maximal force to the time it takes to reach it) is utilized for the quantitative assessment of explosive strength. 
            Now, I don't suggest just going right into weighted jumps and different styles of jumps without first conditioning your body to start a jumping program.  Jumps are very stressful on ligaments and tendons.  It is critical to properly warm up and strengthen these before starting a jump program.  Hamstring curls with ankle weights and banded hamstring curls are great ways to increase the strength of the tendons and ligaments before you start a jumping program.  In the sport of CrossFit, you must beware of people doing rebounding box jumps.  Those that follow the sport will remember Julie Foucher rupturing her Achilles’ tendon during a chipper in regionals.  This is common in people who fail to allow their heels to touch the ground during jumps.  When this is done, the Achilles' tendon is under constant load.  The tendon can only handle so much tension before it ruptures. 
Rebounding box jumps are a form of depth jumps.  Many pro athletes because of the high risk involved, though very effective in building explosive power, avoid these sorts of jumps.  I advise all athletes to beware the dangers of not prepping before doing rebounding box jumps.  I'm not saying "don't do them”, but I am saying make sure your Achilles’ is warmed up before you go about training them. 
            Explosive training is a critical part of athletic training.  What I have noticed is a lot of coaches don't know how to build explosive power.  All strength and conditioning coaches should know the difference in all forms of strength.  When you train your athletes, you have to train for their specific weaknesses and know how to train those weaknesses.  When it comes to explosive training, learn how to train optimally!!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Weightlifting...My thoughts

 Technical issues or something else?

     I'll confess, as I write this blog I am sitting here watching the AFC Championship Game and not watching the East Coast Championships, which are live streaming.  I love sitting down watching two future hall of famers, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, go head-to-head in what could be Peyton's last game.  What does this have to do with Weightlifting, you ask?  Well, a lot really.   You see, in America, we are always fighting for championships.  We dominate in basketball with athletes like Lebron James and Kobe Bryant, we always compete for gold in gymnastics with athletes like Mckayla Maroney, compete with the best of them in baseball with athletes such as Derek Jeter and Ken Griffey Jr., and even our women's soccer team has won the World Cup under the guidance of Amy Wombach.  We strive for greatness in America on all levels of sport, but we seem to be lacking in a major area. As a country, we struggle in the sport of Weightlifting.  Why is this? 
     I can name a player or athlete in any sport that America dominates, but naming an athlete in American weightlifting becomes much more difficult to do.  We have very few, if any, "heroes" in Weightlifting.  Sure, if you have heard or follow Weightlifting you can name a couple of people, but ask a kid in high school if they have heard of any of them and you will probably get blank stares.  On the contrary, you would be hard pressed to find a kid in high school who hasn't heard of Tom Brady or Lebron James.  If we are ever going to stand on the podium of the Olympics we have to get high school kids involved in the sport.  Most of us who follow Weightlifting these days are past our prime and will not make it on an elite level.  The Chinese, North Koreans, and Russians all get involved in the sport when they are still in grammar school.  We have to give kids American athletes to look up to.  Even most of the people I follow on Facebook or Instagram make posts about lifters from other countries, Dmitry Klokov being the most prominent.  We can do our part and include posts of CJ Cummings, Chad Vaughn, Kendrick Ferris, and Mattie Rogers. 
     Enter CrossFit!! I know, I know. I'm walking a fine line here.  Even mentioning CrossFit in most weightlifting gyms is like cursing in church, but I truly believe that American Weightlifting has been saved because of the sport of CrossFit.  It is increasingly common to find kids inside of CrossFit Gyms working technique on their Clean and Jerk or their Snatch.  These are kids who would have never even heard of these movements if it weren't for the sport of CrossFit.  Hell, one of the best Weightlifters, pound for pound, in my town, is in high school.  She started Weightlifting due to CrossFit.  We have seen a huge influx of Weightlifting popularity and much of it can be attributed to CrossFit.  Yes, yes I know there are tons of videos of poor form in CrossFit gyms but there are just as many videos in other gyms.  CrossFit doesn't lead to bad form, bad coaching leads to bad form.  I can walk into any weight room and find poor lifting techniques. It is the responsibility of coaches to fix these issues, it is not the fault of the sport.  CrossFit has changed the face of weightlifting in America and its effects will be seen well into the future. And, the future looks bright for the USA. 
     Finally, I want to preface this part by saying I totally agree that the problem with America in Weightlifting is not the coaching.  I firmly believe that we have some great coaches and are world class in the sport.  One thing we are lacking is strength coaches.  When it comes to spotting flaws in the snatch and clean and jerk, our coaches can spot flaws with the best of them.  So if our coaches are so good at technique and spotting flaws, what is keeping us off the world stage? American coaches should look to other countries like China and Russia to see what successful strategies they can apply to American weightlifters.  One coach I look to and feel many have ignored is Louie Simmons.  The conjugate system he follows for powerlifting is based off weightlifting from the old Soviet Union.  He has spoken to great depths on weightlifting and has been ignored by much of the western Weightlifting community.  His knowledge of strength training is years ahead of most of us and if we only opened our ears and listened, we would be in a better spot.  The crazy thing is he openly admits he did not create any of this but simply took knowledge and studies already completed by scientists such as Dr. Mel Siff, Dr. Y. Verkhoshansky, and Nikolai Petrovich.  I am by no means saying that these are the only methods of strength training, but they are worth looking into.  I have used these methods with my weightlifter and have seen tremendous results.  These methods have been used with great success since the 1970's.  Why reinvent the wheel and follow an already proven strength training program?
    I love my country.  I served my country for 11 years and always wanted my country to be on top.  I devoted myself to making sure whatever unit I was a part of, we were the best unit we could be.  Now, I am in the strength and conditioning world and I want my country to be the best it can be.  I hope that one day our flag can fly and our national anthem be sung at a world Weightlifting championship or in the sport of Weightlifting in the olympics again.  I may never get the opportunity to coach a champion weightlifter, but maybe someone who reads this will and this will resonate with them.