Like Nobody’s Business.

March 29, 2012

Real quick because class is about to start.

Here’s the video with some footage of me from last Friday.  I think I only made that clean because Jon said “You can’t beat me, Ben.”  So true.  But I did clean the shit outta that weight.

Well, I don’t know if I cleaned the shit out of that 177, but I DID clean it.  And No, my hand doesn’t still hurt from punching the wall.  Thanks to Gregor for giving me a heads up on the video.


THIS happened last night.

110kg. Like nobody’s business.  I told CC when I first started coaching her, “When you turn 21, you get knee sleeves.  When you turn 25, you get to use a belt.”

I didn’t say anything about pink pants.

Kilos, My Friend.

March 27, 2012

I rarely deadlift.  I wouldn’t recommend including them often as a part of your routine if you are focusing on your Olympic lifts UNLESS #1) you are new to lifting and are trying to build up your general strength base, #2) like deadlifts.  I personally could take em’ or leave em’.  But a co-worker was talking shit to me the other day (OK, WE were talking shit to each other) about the upcoming tactical strength challenge being held at my work in a few weeks.  So I decided to do it.  I figured, it takes place after Collegiates and it could be nice for a little change of pace and to totally stick it to my co-worker.

Here’s a video of me hittin’ some deads after my workout yesterday.  I’m pretty sure this is the most I’ve ever done and I should be good for a little more if I add a belt.


I feel like a big guy like myself should at least be able to hit 6 hundo.  I might take these up once more before the competition to see what I got, but I’m still not too concerned about it.


Here’s some footage tonight.

That’s 2 hundred kilos, friend.  I’m really motivated to try and get that for a triple just so I can totally bury that landmark that I was stuck at for so long.


More pin-ups on the way.  I declare next week to be National Pin-Up Drawing Week.  I’m going to try and post one a day M-F (I may have to dig through the ol’ vault to see if I have some older pieces).  If you have any, feel free to e-mail them or post them to the comments section.


March 25, 2012

So I know I have a blog and all that, but I don’t know anything about computers.  Or technology in general.  Proof?  Here’s a picture of my phone:

This particular model has a camera on it.

The running joke at my gym is to see who can talk the most shit about my phone.  I mean, REALLY?  It’s like I’m the asshole because I don’t have a smart phone.  I personally could find a lot more things about myself that would be better to poke fun at for the LOLZ; like the fact that I’m still working on my bachelors at 25.

Speaking of which.

I was at school the other day and took advantage of the free scanners that they have on campus (mine is broken along with my laptop) to upload some of my drawings that I’ve done lately.  But like I stated earlier, I know precisely ZERO about computers, so I had to have my photographer/artist friend, Kiny help me with the computer stuff.  Thanks, Kiny.

Anyway’s here’s a pin-up that I sketched the other day.

What? If you have a problem with scantily clad/naked women, then you have a problem with ART.

I’ve always been fascinated with pin-up art.  I mean, what’s not to like?  I did a little “research” and googled images of pin-up models or women that consider to be retro-beautiful and this is what I came up with.  I think I’ll call her, Persephone.


I received an e-mail the other day, asking why I only upload black and white images and if I’m experienced in any other mediums.  The short answer is this: because I’m lazy and because I’m broke.

My medium of choice is inkwash sometimes combined with watercolor.  But this requires time and money; two things that are always in short supply for me.  Also,  I have no way of scanning anything I do in color and having it look halfway decent.  Pens are cheap.  Paper is cheap.  And   pen and ink work can be done swiftly and on the go.  Scanning my work in black and white simplifies the process even more because black ink on white paper looks the best when you see only the absolute blacks against the pure white background.

Are you an artist on the go as well?  If so, how do you deal with your time/money constraints?  Do you use pens or ink?  Do you invest in fancy pens or prefer cheaper alternatives?

ArtWOD:  Imagine a pose.  Sketch the outline once in one minute, once again but in 5 minutes, and then finally a 3rd time but in pen with unlimited time.  See what you get.


Friday, Heavy Friday.

March 23, 2012

Get it?

What?  Too cool for a U2 reference?  I totally just lost hipster points, huh?

So if you happened to tune into the Cal Strength live feed today, then you saw that  I finally managed to make the trip to get swoll with their team.  Totally worth the trip.  The atmosphere in that gym is electric.  Intensity is always high and it’s a great way to measure progress.  Sometimes, you gotta swim with the sharks to see if you’re just a minnow.  Just sayin.

Anyways, I made a 140 snatch and missed 45 a few times.  Honestly, I attribute that to a lack of mental toughness.  I just wasn’t mentally ready to get 145 again.  But I’ll get it net time.

Clean and jerks felt awesome.  Took it all the way up to 160 with no troubles.  The 170 that was giving me such a hard time  a week before went up and in a hurry.  PR time.  177.  I already had the number in my head.  I knew I was good for it.  Pulled it with everything I had.  Racked it.  Bounce. Bounce.  GRIND.  I stood up with it.  But by the time I went for the jerk there was nothing left.  I missed it a few more times just to be sure.  I had a great time though.

I feel competitive again.  And I owe it all to my training partners.  Without you guys I would’ve given up a long time ago.  Thank you to Tara and Camilo for giving me a wonderful workplace and place to train.  And finally, thanks to you for reading.  I feel like it somehow holds me accountable, which is good I guess.  Thanks to everyone who came up to me and gave me some words of encouragement last weekend.  It was cool.

Anyways,  if video gets posted from today, I’ll post it here.  (As if the Cal Strength youtube channel isn’t already on your subscription list.)

Also, I have some more sketches to post.  I just haven’t figured out how to convert the images to the correct kind.  Fucking technology.



March 22, 2012

A quick plug for everyone’s favorite favorite 105kg. champion, Donny:



This man is trying to make it to the God damn Olympics.  Lets help get him there.  Featuring artwork from yours truly, Brown Thunder.

You can also donate to his Paypal account HERE

Turkey Time.

March 21, 2012

We’ve been gettin’ after it pretty hard this week.  Here’s some footage from today.  Also, a turkey.

Too dunzo to write anything.  I need to drag my old bones to bed.  I’ll revise this post later when I have some time.


The So-Cal Trip.

March 19, 2012

CC and I traveled to Fullerton this weekend to catch a “yoke sesh” at a local weightlifting meet held at CSU Fullerton.  We checked the schedule on our local weightlifting committee’s website about a month or so back and thought it would be a fun to get out of town and see what local meets were like outside of NorCal.  Also, CC is currently preparing for The Collegiate Nationals held at LSU Shreveport.  This meet happened to be in synch with our current lifting schedule and would give us some time to re-evaluate our training and make adjustments if we need to.  As far as myself is concerned, I’ve been away from the platform for a long time and have had a rough few months of training. Working (as full-time as I can) and going to school (full fucking time) with a varying sleep schedule is not what I would call conducive for making gains in the gym, but more than that I lost a lot of confidence in myself.  After Americans, I just wasn’t sure if I wanted to do this anymore but continued to train regardless.   I gained some momentum from my PR front squats a while back and have been working my way back up slowly ever since.  This weekend was the first heavy day that I felt like myself on the platform again.  My bar was fuckin’ movin!  Brown Thunder!

I had been to a few smaller So-Cal meets in the past, so I expected to see around 30 lifters max.  WRONG.  This place was packed.  I’m talking like 50 dudes in one session and 15 more in the women’s session.   CC stole the show by finishing out the snatch session.  Well, it was pretty much a duel between her and another much more experienced 69kg lifter, Evelyn Hernandez.  Both wrote on their cards that they were going to open at 65/85 and both knew that they were going to bump up.  It was just a question of how much.  I’m not sure if those of you who are new to the sport are savvy with the warm-up process in a meet situation, but the coach actually plays a large role in properly warming a lifter up and strategically choosing attempts based on what you think your lifter can do and what you think her competition can do.  In the end, it doesn’t really matter because it’s a local meet and we were just there to PR, but CC had a great opportunity to go back and forth with an experienced lifter and I had fun choosing her attempts.  It feels kind of like gambling.  (I don’t actually know anything about gambling.  If I were to go to Vegas, I would go to drink and dance.)  Anyways, CC went 3 for 3 on her snatches (66, 69, 72 Meet PR).  Her clean and jerks were more of a battle.  CC opened at 86; Evelyn at 87.  CC took 90, cleaned it but missed the jerk.  Evelyn took the same 90 and made it.  The thing about CC, is when she’s in competition mode, she ALWAYS gets motivated after a miss by loading a few more kg’s on the bar.  Had this been a national meet, I would’ve had her stay at 90, but we came to make some meet PR’s and a 164kg total would be huge.  So we asked for 92.  She grinded out the clean like a champ but missed the jerk.  I knew she would be bummed about missing, but I still couldn’t be more proud.  She handled a high pressure situation like a champ and I know she’ll be able to do it again when it really counts.

Here’s another look at her 72kg. snatch courtesy of our new friend, WILMAR

That got me all fired up.  But now it was time to take my coach’s hat off and get into the lifting mindset.  No problem.  Throughout the day, I got a chance to meet a bunch of new homies; all of which were friendly, supportive bro’s with whom I formed instant bro-ships with.  That got me even more fired up to lift.  There was just one problem:  our flight was scheduled to take off at 6:55 and it was already 12:30 by the time the men’s session got started with 50+ lifters.  No biggie.  I’m not the type that likes to stress out.  I decided I would just snatch.  And if there was time left to clean, great.  If not, I wasn’t going to worry about it.  I’d probably just take them up really quickly in the warm-up area then bounce.

My snatch warm-ups went great.  I felt like I was brand new.  My knees felt great, my bar was moving and I felt so fast, the devil must’ve filled my legs with heavy metal and bad intentions.  I put down 130 as my opener and planned to take it in the back and bump up if it felt good.  I crushed it.  “Fuck it.  CC, let em’ know I want 134.”  I used this as an opportunity to teach CC how to count cards.  During my session, she and I would walk up to the card table and each of us would get an approximate count and then compare what we got afterwards. “10 out . . . I think.”  Sounds good to me.  I waited a few more and took a135 before I took my chair and sat in the gymnasium underneath the bleachers.  Her count was right.  By the time I sat down I was 3 out.  134, make.  138, miss.  Fuck it, gimmie 140.  MISS!

I was slightly angry.  I knew I was good for it, I just didn’t believe in myself.  I hadn’t walked 10 feet off the platform before CC runs up to me and asks (basically demands) that I take 140 again in the warm-up area.  The old Ben was back; the one full of piss and vinegar.  Her and I marched over to a warm-up platform that everyone was avoiding because of the absurdly shitty training bar sitting empty on it.  We loaded 140 and 5 seconds later it was over my ears.  It wasn’t pretty but I was happy.  This was the first 140 I’ve made in months.

By this time, there was about 20 minutes left before we had to leave.  So I decided to take up my clean and jerks (hurry-up style.  Load it and lift it.)  70, 90, 110, 130, 140, 150, 160.  I decided to go for it and get the 170.  3 misses later, CC and I exited the gym with new friendships and smiles on our faces.  On the plane ride home, we excitedly discussed what we think has been most beneficial in our training, what we need to individually work on and our plan for the next 4 weeks leading up to Collegiates.

SoCal, I hella love you.

March 17, 2012

CC and I just got back from our So-Cal adventure.  We had a great time and met HELLA homies.  Full write-up and videos to be posted later.  Now it is time to drink.


March 11, 2012

CC and I are traveling to Fullerton this weekend for a local weightlifting meet.  Should be pretty fun.  I’ve only done a few meets in SoCal . . . But I’ve done HELLA meets in the bay area.  Seriously though, it should be fun if only for a change in scenery.

So in preparation for next weekend, we decided  to do a small meet at HF headquarters today.

CC did her usual thing and broke some records.  Here’s her last attempt clean and jerk.  91kg. for another PWA JR record.

She ended up totaling 158kg.  Another PWA JR record.

PWA JR Record.

PWA JR Record.

OK.  I’m done.

I snatched a nice 130 and clean and jerked 160.  Dece.  I built some confidence for this upcoming weekend.  I’ll be looking for around a 300 total.  I got some video of today, but I don’t think it’s worth posting.

My new athlete, Derek has been training with me for about a month.  He came fresh out of the box with some pretty legit squatting power.   That being said, it’s pretty damn hard to get him to NOT power things when he gets jacked up for the big weights.  He totaled 85 and 105.  We’re still working on a few technical issues but I’m expecting some BIG numbers out of him pretty soon.

Funny Story:  

This is Derek’s first meet.  He learned of this meet on Friday (because I only learned of it on Friday).  He wasn’t quite sure if he wanted to compete because he’s only been training for a month and is right in the middle of a big squat program.  Friday night, he texted me, asking if he should still squat (7×5 at 296lbs.) on Saturday even if he decides to compete on Sunday.  Like a good coach, I forget to text him back and am mildly surprised to see him at weigh-ins, singlet in hand and equipped with his USAW registration.  I wait until he’s done weighing in and we go eat french toast.

Moral of the story: Squat?  Yes.  Compete?  Yes.  French toast?  Yes.

(I’ll upload the video tomorrow.  Sorry Derek!)

Snatchin’ A Hundo.

March 8, 2012

The following was written by my good buddy, Cameron.  Cameron is a quality dude.  We train, share laughs and wear awesome workout outfits.  Monday night, Cameron snatched a hundo.

This was a big moment for him.  Shit, it was a big moment for me.  I still remember the first time I snatched 100.  It was one of those defining moments that stuck with me through all the other attempts I’ve made in the seven years that I’ve been lifting.  And now Cameron has his.  And then we uploaded it to youtube.

Learning how to snatch has been a long journey for me. Perhaps it was made even more challenging by the fact that I was sedentary for more than 5 years before I started doing a general strength and conditioning program. I think that being sedentary for an extended period of time makes a person view many physical feats as being simply impossible, no matter what level of training may go into it. As I started training again and my interest in weightlifting grew, one milestone always stood out as the ultimate marker of success. It represented a level of proficiency, athleticism, and competence in weightlifting that proved an athlete had put some effort into the sport. That marker was a 100 kilogram snatch, and at the time, it seemed like an impossible goal.  This Monday, I reached that year and a half long goal. This is the story of the series of events that made this lift such a huge personal accomplishment.

My first weightlifting meet was at my home gym, Midtown Strength and Conditioning, about a year and a half ago. At the time, I practiced the lifts once a week or less, and I was not very familiar with the sport as a whole. That meet would be the first time that I met Ben Claridad.

Ben waltzed into the room on meet day like he owned the gym. Now, I need to clarify, this wasn’t the mohawk sporting, fun loving Ben we know and love now. This was the old school, “my veins pump piss and vinegar and my hair is long like Conan” Ben. He was, by far, the biggest dude I had ever seen wear skinny jeans. Ben and I recently had a conversation where I told him about my first impression of him.

Me- “I remember the first time I met you. You were wearing skinny jeans, and I thought you were a hipster”

Ben- “I still wear skinny jeans.”

Me- “I still think you are a hipster.”

Ben started training at MTSC shortly after that meet as he prepped for the 2011 nationals, which gave me one of my first opportunities to see an experienced weightlifter train. I started to gravitate away from conditioning and started instead training with Ben in weightlifting, and became more and more fascinated with the sport. As I watched him easily snatch 130 kilograms one day in practice, I would always think to myself “man, I could probably never even get 100 kilograms, no matter how much I train.”

I started fantasizing about having a conversation about it. I would be walking around a party like Ron Burgundy, wearing nothing but a robe and maroon undies while sipping on a glass of scotch. A young admirer would ask me “how much do you snatch?” to which I would reply:

“Oh, I snatch a hundo. I’m kind of a big deal.”

This is how Cam gets down at parties. Seriously.

Yeah, it was growing into an obsession. A creepy one at that. And Ben was making it worse.

One of the first posts I read on alongthelinesof was in response to members of the Crossfit community constantly asking Ben about the double knee bend. One quote in particular stuck with me.

“If you don’t snatch 100 kilograms, or don’t plan to in the near future, don’t ask me about the double knee bend.”

Later that year, I went with Ben and a couple other lifters who trained with us to a local meet in San Francisco. One of our fellow lifters, Chuck, asked Ben about the fine points of weightlifting wardrobe.

Chuck- “Hey Ben, what kind of underwear do you put on with a singlet? Like some compressions shorts or boxer briefs or something?”

Ben- “No. No underwear. When you are a big boy and snatch 100 kilograms, you go commando.”

The dream continued to grow. Aside from my own views on the accomplishment, there was constant reinforcement around me that this was a major milestone. My desire and determination to make it happen grew daily, though I was still uncertain that I had what it took.

I had a great meet in April of 2011 that started to really change my outlook on what I could actually accomplish in weightlifting. I went 6/6 and snatched 85 kilograms for the first time, and I began to feel that 100 was a strong possibility. However, the next 10 months proved to be very trying. I made some steady progress, but stagnated suddenly shortly after hitting a PR of 95. I had a number of small nagging injuries, from a thumb pain that made my hook grip worthless, to a more severe shoulder pain. However in retrospect, I think there was a bigger overhanging issue: a mental wall. That old way of sedentary thinking, that belief that a physical task of this magnitude was impossible for me to ever achieve was still lingering, and I was starting to get very discouraged.

This past Monday I came in to train after about a week and a half off as a result of being very sick while simultaneously on vacation. I still had that slightly reluctant feeling about weightlifting, and I contemplated just doing some light strength work and some conditioning, but then I saw Ben and Cecily jamming out some clean and jerks and having an awesome time. There is something really fun about lifting with those two, and I strongly believe that if I hadn’t seen them lifting as I walked in, I would have never attempted to lift that day.  I changed my plan and decided to at least take a light day and see what would happen. Ben was teaching the 5pm class, but caught my warm-ups on snatch.

“Bro, that looks good. You gotta take that shit up.”

So I did. After a miss at 95, I told Ben I would take one more then move on to clean and jerk. He shrugged, obviously slightly disappointed. It prompted me to revise my statement a minute later.

“You know, 95 is pretty unremarkable. I should just go for 97 and try to PR.”

Ben and I occasionally make strange wagers when it comes to lifts, particularly after having a miss. One time, it led to me proposing to one of the female clients at the gym (she didn’t say yes, but she also didn’t say no. I am pretty sure she is still thinking about it.) In that spirit, I decided to up the ante.

“If I make this, unicorns are real, and the government has been keeping it a secret from us.”

There we go. The fate of all unicorns was resting on my traps. Ben’s face conjured images of a grizzly Bulgarian weightlifting coach as he gave me a squat face and a determined nod. As I set up I reminded myself to get some good speed off the floor. I summoned every bit of strength I could muster, and I smoked 97. I knew it was time to conquer 100, and announced it to the gym as I came out of the hole.

I would say I did something really special or thought about something awesome, or made a big loud ruckus before I started my lift. Really, I just rested a couple minutes, asked Ben to get the camera, and set up. To be honest, it didn’t even feel that heavy.

“That was really 100 kilos right? Are any of those plates colored wrong?”

Ben nodded, and I fist pumped like Judd Nelson at the end of Breakfast Club.

This has been a huge milestone for me for many reasons.

1)      I shed a self imposed notion of impossibility

2)      I achieved a long term goal through persistence and hard work

3)      I can field questions to Ben regarding the double-knee bend whenever the fuck I feel like it

4)      I am part of the big boy club now, and can go commando when wearing a singlet.

5)      I confirmed the existence of unicorns.

6)      I feel like I could show up to a party wearing only maroon underwear and a robe, and people would not ask any questions.

Obviously, this was kind of a big deal for me. It is one of those great moments where you remember a general lesson: Most of the things that you believe are impossible in your daily life really aren’t. Every time I push for a PR, or in general attempt something challenging, I am going to remember the time I thought I would never snatch 100 kilos, and remember to scoff at anything that I may perceive to be impossible.

I want to thank Ben for all his help and coaching over the past year, as well as for pushing me when I needed it most. In addition, I want to give a special thanks to Camilo and Tara for getting me back into training in the first place and introducing me to weightlifting, and for overall being awesome coaches. Another special thanks to everyone Midtown Strength and Conditioning, especially Ben, Cecily, and Sarah for being such a fun group to train with. Whether you know it or not, training with you all encouraged me to turn around, and kick my self-doubt square in the balls.