Podcast Episode.

May 8, 2018

So my goal for this blog was to write something once a week just to practice putting out content; because, honestly, putting out content is just as important as knowing your information in this industry. However I’ve been really busy with my actual job of running the gym, developing my lifters and coaching at meets.

Here’s me after I was a guest presenter at Sac Stater for the Stinger Barbell Club meeting.  Stingers up.

Been jamming with Jef for over a year now.  We’re still working on a few ideas and we’ve added a third homie to the mix.  It’s still just a hobby and loads of fun.  Doing some bedroom recording and always doing artwork as well.

Rachael’s first meet was last weekend.  She went 6/6 and had a great time.

So here’s a short interview I did with a young man that goes by @mopeymac. Overall, I did a decent job of talking about myself and explaining some of my thoughts and processes when it comes to training. I stumble a bit when he starts asking me about stuff I like but that may be just because this took place on one of my early morning days which still admittedly fuck me up and I’m kinda running on fumes right now so to speak. If you’re wondering where I’m at right now, I’m full steam ahead with the gym which is going awesome, prepping for nationals, coaching at meets every weekend, actively jamming and making music and art. I’ve got a few creative goals for the summer after Nationals. Here’s the link to the podcast:

Podcast on Itunes

Compete.

February 1, 2018

 

Here’s a short little bit of advice for you folks out there newer to the sport. If you’ve been competing in weightlifting for less than 4-5 years, I suggest you get out there and compete more often than you probably are.

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Young Clara and myself at the first Occam meet held at Crossfit Another Level in 2015.

COMPETE.

I suggest that all my newer lifters compete around 6 times per year. Too many times have I let a newbie lifter who happens to advance quickly in skills start to act like a seasoned competitor and compete only 1-3x per year. Guess what happens: Their expectations are never met and they get way too emo about an activity that they’ve chosen to specialize in for a relatively short amount of time and eventually quit.

Whenever someone walks into my gym, I don’t see them. I see where I want them to be in several years; Several years as in MORE THAN SEVEN. It took me 5 years to get to my first National Championship and American Open. When I Identify someone with talent, I usually let them know what is a reasonable timeline to expect to get to get to that level and it’s usually less than 5. However, just because you advance to that level sooner rather than later doesn’t mean that you don’t have to pay your dues. It doesn’t mean that you’re a seasoned lifter. In fact it doesn’t prove that you know anything.

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Unrelated photo of me holding a book thus proving I know something.  This is in one of my favorite cities, Savannah GA.

Go get experience. Go have fun. Go participate in the sport that you claim you’re all about. Every meet you do, you will learn something new; I promise you. Handling yourself in a contest setting is a skill unto itself. Yes, eventually you and your coach will need to be more selective in which contests you do and which ones you will and will not prepare for. To try to remain in peak contest shape with no regard to actual strength building is just as bad and I’m not suggesting that. But don’t let me catch you polluting the internet with a bunch of instagram videos of you lifting weights if you won’t fork over the 40 bucks to sign up for a local meet and support your weightlifting scene and y’know . . . actually be a weightlifter.

Instagram videos don’t mean dick. Likes on your PR hang snatch double video don’t mean dick. Most importantly showing up to weightlifting practice every day DOESN’T MEAN DICK unless you actually go apply what you learn in a new and unique environment. To do so would be analogous to someone who spends 6 days a week at the batting cages, has never once played a game of baseball and claims that they are a baseball player.

Sincerely,
-The Wizard of Occam

Artist Statement #1.

January 17, 2018

Here is my first non-lifting related post since I’ve started blogging again.  I had to write an artist statement before I stared hitting up places around town to show my art so I figured I’d post it here.  Chances are I’ll revise it 2-3 times but I needed something on paper.  

Artist mugshot.

The human form has has always been fascinating to me. When I was a kid, I would draw comic book heroes during recess. While in college, I took figure drawing classes while I was studying exercise science. Today, I paint the human form after I’ve closed my business in midtown for the day. It is no coincidence that my job primarily deals with helping others understand and move their body more effectively. The human form is equal parts powerful and elegant, especially while in motion.

Owning a business and training as an athlete has not left much time for creativity for the past few years. Time spent doing art or music is considered sacred time. I am usually drawn to mediums that I can finish a piece in short 45 minute sessions at a time such as ink or watercolor. Only recently have I set aside more time for creative endeavors and now dedicate 2-3 nights per week with a new medium to me: oil. The amount of patience and care involved changed my creative process and I am excited to continue exploring the human figure with a new creative lens.

 

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Happy Birthday to Elle’s younger sister, Clara, whom I’m smacking in the leg here to get her hyped up for a max lift in contest.  

I did another quick instructional video of the next exercises I would add into a strength/bodybuilding/fitness split in the globe-gym setting.  By now the trainee should have some experience with a proper receiving position for both the snatch and clean and has the fundamental understanding of the dip drive.  He/she can now safely handle weights overhead in regular tennis shoes with iron plates and crappy bars.  Now we get to add in some more advanced exercises which are more specific to Olympic weightlifting.  The trainee is free to add these exercises on any day of his split and the focus should be on higher reps instead of max weight 1) because these are still just meant to compliment his current training program and 2) he does not have the proper facilities to attempt maximum weights.

Enjoy,

-The Wizard of Occam

2010 American Open.

December 19, 2017

The American Open: I’m always super pumped to go to it but it rarely goes how I plan it to.  My favorite one so far was in Washington DC in 2014.  It was one of my big breakout meets as a super-heavyweight.

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140/170 this year as a 94.  Not bad but I can do better.  

My first American Open was in 2010 in Cincinnati.  I was finishing up most of my basic science classes at Sac State had been lifting for 5 years already.  This meet will stand out in my memory for many reasons but for brevity’s sake, I’ll list just a few:

  1. This was the first time I met Coach Zygmunt.  Kevin Doherty introduced us in the training hall and I happened to be holding my biology book (finals were coming up).  Zygmunt shakes my hand, points at the book and goes, “Student! GOOOOOOOOOD.”  And I’m thinking to myself, “No, student BAD.  Weightlifting GOOD.”  But we all know how that played out.  I finished my degree and I’m a better coach than a I am a weightlifter.
  2. The comeback meet of Zach Krych.  He had broken BOTH wrists while doing cleans with straps while training at the OTC and this was a triumphant comeback performance for him.
  3. I met a young man by the name of Mat Fraser.  I think he went on to do very well in other fitness related competitions.
  4. The 85A/94A men’s session.  This session was amazing to watch.  I knew I wanted to be in the mix like this one day.  I’m still finding my way there.  But I’m confident I’ll have a few more opportunities before I hang up the shoes.

After we all competed, me, Paul, Kari and the others went to eat at the only spot that was open during the snow storm; a sushi joint in the middle of a parking lot.

Happy holidays.

-The Wizard of Occam

 

So I don’t generally like putting out a bunch of informational content because whenever I see stuff like that, it usually looks like a bunch of broke ass, thirsty ass gofundme weightlifters or trainers looking to advertise with internet hits so they can do remote programming and fill their piggy bank.  However, I do like being helpful.  So if you have a question, just ask.

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Answering questions.  

So I was chatting with my homie TJ the other day and he mentioned that he’s like to start practicing the Olympic lifts but didn’t really know where to start.  He, like most people, work out in a bigger 24 hour workout type facility that is not equipped with bumper plates or lifting platforms.  TJ lifts.  He has covered his bases with the press, squat and deadlift and is a generally strong and fit person.  If this sounds like you, check out the video.  If that’s as far as you go with the lifts, that’s cool.  I genuinely think that most able bodied people should be able to do these movements.  These movements will also prepare you, should you pursue the lifts further by teaching yourself or finding a coach.

Enjoy.

-The Wizard of Occam

I have recently started dabbling in oil painting because I needed yet another hobby. Like most things that I get into, I more or less just acquired the necessary tools and started learning by doing. I’ve been doing art off and on since I was a kid, sometimes identifying as an artist but most of the times not. I stick to what I like which are high contrast pieces focusing on the human form. Based on my profession, education and other athletic pursuits I’m into, I obviously find the human body fascinating. Most other things (landscapes, abstract pieces and what not) don’t do a whole lot for me. Mostly, I do art because it brings me a sense of catharsis. It takes me to a sacred space for 45 minutes or so where I don’t worry about anything else except for the task at hand, the very same reason why I like crushing heavy weights.

It’s been a number of years since art has been my “thing.” In college, I’d make it a point to take one art class a semester as a way to force me to make time for art and take a step back from my busy schedule. Since then, I’ll sort of lazily doodle, sometimes diving in with ink or water color when it fits my mood. I like ink because it requires confidence. There’s no way to take it off the paper, so you have to be both aggressive and decisive about where you place your lines. Sometimes it works out for me, but most of the time not so much. Any project that takes more than 45 minutes will remain unfinished with a few exceptions over the years.

The only experience I’ve had with oil so far is when I had a girlfriend a number of years ago who would use that as her primary medium. We’d sometimes do art together and I’d bang out like 5 or 6 ink drawings trying to capture the figures and motion. She on the other hand, would spend weeks on these beautiful paintings, taking her time, being methodical, taking breaks and coming back to add layer over layer of beautiful depth. The finished work paid off wonderfully, but frankly the whole process seemed hella boring.

So here I am in 2017 ignorantly slapping paint on stuff like I know what I’m doing (not much unlike how I first started lifting weights) and finding myself forced into the same drawn out, boring process that she did. There are rules. You can’t just DO shit. You have to be methodical, play the game. But here’s the thing:

I love it.

Being forced to be methodical, keep a frame of reference in mind from start to finish over the period of weeks changed my entire creative process. She might’ve said the same to me but who knows. I’m a poor listener at times.

This mentalty for me is analegous to how my weightlifting process changed when I began coaching. As a coach, there is ONLY the big picture. The frame of reference that you have in your brain for every athlete is always present, even when assisting their day to day workouts. There is joy in seeing small changes over time. There is planning and constantly reminding your athletes that weightlifting is not today. Olympic Weightlifting is today, every day over the course of his or her career.

I change hats on a day to day basis. I wouldn’t recommend it. If you want to be an athlete be an athlete. Be fiery and expect progress every single day. That’s not reality but it’s not your job to keep that in mind. Leave it up to your coach to reign you in when needed and bounce ideas off of. Keep an open dialogue when you need it. The idea is that when it’s all over, you will be happy with the finished product.

Enjoy yourself.

-The Wizard of Occam

The Death of Alongthelinesof.

November 28, 2017

Hi there.

I’ve decided to start blogging again.  This time around it will be a little different though.  When I started blogging in 2010, I didn’t have any real idea of what that actually was so what ended up coming out was a sort of diary/training log/sometimes write some lifting related stuff/art/humor sort of thing.  It ended up actually being a good practice for me; kept me focused on my lifting goals, organized my thoughts on “paper.” At the time I thought I was a really good writer.  I feel like many weightlifters go though that phase.

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This is who I am now.  

Needless to say, I don’t feel like the same person as me in 2010 so I think I’ll start going through my old stuff and deleting most of the riff raff and stuff I’d rather not see or other people see.  I stopped because I got caught up with running the day to day of the gym.  It seems the better I get at that, the worse I get at everything else.  And honestly, actually doing my job is more important than telling people about it.  This time around, I will not be posting any artwork unless it’s just a photo of my art or I figure some other way to show off my stuff without people blatantly stealing it and putting it on their shitty fitness lifestyle T shirts or gyms.

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If you put this on your shitty T-shirt without paying for it, get fucked, you fuck. 

I’ve learned that you don’t get to pick the rules of the fitness industry.  You don’t get to pick what’s cool or what people buy into.  You only get to pick and choose which parts of the game you will play and I’ve chosen to only pick the ones that essentially get me no money but I get to sleep soundly at night.   No one reads blogs anymore.  But people love content.  Some people love weightlifting related content about as much as they love the sport itself.  So I’ll be doing the occasional weightlifting piece to practice putting out content even if no one is actually requesting it of me.  It’s good to do as a coach; keeps your chops sharp.  I will not be doing the boring as fuck technique pieces that pollute the internet and have clients thinking they’re not at nationals because they’re not finishing their quadruple extension.  The beginner/intermediate lifter of today already thinks too much do to the continued marketing bombardment.  And that’s exactly what it is: marketing.  I’ll be focusing more on advice pieces; short reads that are helpful, hopefully entertaining and fun to write.  I’ll also do the occasional anecdote and humor piece simply because that’s what I like to read and I also think it’s important.  I don’t think anyone cares about my opinion on art or music but I’ll write occasionally on those subjects as well.  I won’t be doing the basic blogger “top 20” lists because I’m too far out of college and am decidedly anti-cool.

Anyways, hope to see you around.

-The Wizard of Occam

I personally find the terms “stoner” and “doom” to be rather limiting.  A lot of the bands listed here blend many influences together, however fans of these two genres will most likely find some common ground with most picks on this list.  I did have to eliminate a few releases that were awesome but would hardly qualify.  I had a hard time getting it down to 25 since there was so much good shit that came out last year.  You’ll see a lot of repeats from most year end lists with a few random picks that struck me personally but might not have been quite as popular.  The numbering system is mostly arbitrary, though I feel pretty confident in my top 10, some of which will contribute to my top 20 favorite tracks of last year list (not doom-specific).

1) Mountain Dust-Nine Years.  This one also has some of my favorite cover art for the year.

2) Khemmis-Hunted.  Cover art also dope as fuck.  This album rips so hard and is such a fun listen.  They’re like Pallbearer and Un if they partied harder.  JK those dudes probably party.  But you know what I mean.

3) Beastmaker-Lusus Naturae.  These homies from Fresno put on such a sick live set.  

4) Sumac-What One Becomes.  Probably the heaviest thing I got into last year.  Live set was massive.

5) 

5) Jayle Jayle-House Cricks and Other Excuses to Get Out.  I love this shit so much.  So much tension and americana goodness.  Minimalism at it’s finest.

6) Pallbearer-Fear and Fury EP.  These guys are blowing up and they deserve it.

7) Turnip-Window Killer. So sparse and AMAZING. Favorite song is “Coming for You.” I like this type of shit better than most standard doom and stoner shit.

8) Oak-Oak II.  Download this for free, my dude.  So robust and manly.  

9) Cobalt-Slow Forever.  This might’ve been higher if I had heard this earlier.  Still digesting but this is heavy as fuck.  

10) Cult of Luna-Mariner.

11) Conan-Revengence.  Conan throws in (GASP) blastbeats?  Their most listenable record so far.  They were honestly too low and heavy for me until I saw them live.  Then I REALLY got it.  “We are all nothing.  You are nothing.”

12)SubRosa-For This We Fought the Battle of Ages.  Seeing them live was amazing. 

13) Brant Bjork-Tao Of The Devil.  The way the dude says “Gree-heen” is hilarious.  Check out this music video.  Literally going to buy a van now.

14) 1000 Mods-Repeated Exposure To . . .

15) Graves at Sea-The Curse that Is.

16) Holy Serpent-Temples.

17) Lament Cityscape-Soft Tissue.

18) Ortega-Sacred States.  I with I had heard this earlier too.  

19) Elephant Tree-Elephant Tree.

20) Youngblood Supercut-High Plains.  I fucking love this track.

21) Slowmatics-Estronomicon.

22) Cough-Still They Prey.  They doom hard.

23) Truckfighters-V. 

24) Gozu-Revival.  Rock and roll, brother.  

25) The Hazytones-The Hazytones.

So you made weight.  Congratulations.  Now it’s time to do what you actually came here to do: the whole lifting of the weights thing.

I weighed in a whole kilo under what I needed to be last weekend.  and I was comfortable as fuck too which means I did a good job.  It then came time to ingest nutrients and more importantly, fluid as fast as possible so I wouldn’t be bloated and lazy when it came time to actually lift.  Remember, at BEST you only have 2 hours before your session starts.  I ended up with about an hour and a half.  So I took a grocery bag with me to weigh ins containing:

-Pedialyte

-Chocolate milk

-A banana

-Nutella

-Spoon

-Doritos

Remember a few key points from nutrition class: your body’s preferred fuel source is sugar, excess protein will basically be useless in the next 2 hours and fat slows down your digestion process.  So unless you want all this stuff sitting in your gut and not moving, I suggest you take it easy on anything fatty.  I had a spoonful of nutella to make me feel full and I was money.  The Doritos were just something salty to snack on but really served no other purpose.  The chocolate milk should be consumed first followed by you sipping on Pedialyte.  I drink other liquids as I compete, mostly just Redbull and shit like that.

If you start cramping while competing, don’t panic.  Just continue moving around and DO NOT sit down.  Pacing back and forth is preferred.

Once you’re done, go eat something delicious.  Just remember that you’re body will not be happy with you for the next couple days so don’t expect to feel really amazing right off the bat even after getting real food in you.

Hope this helps and good luck out there.

-Ben