January 28, 2013

I’ve got a special guest write-up today from one of my new lifters who competed in her first meet last weekend. She wrote this and graciously allowed me to share her experience for those out there who are new to the sport.  But first, a few words of advice:

1) There is no “right” time.  Face the facts, you will not get out there and wreck shop the very first time you compete.  I don’t care if you can clean 150, you will never be a weightlifter until you play the sport of weightlifting.  One does not simply learn to hit a golf ball really far and call himself a golfer.  You must first learn the rules and strategy and then play an actual game.

2) Set yourself up for success.  No one cares if you placed first in a local contest.  So taking an 11 kilo increase to “beat” some other guy in your weight class is just plain asinine.  You go to these things to make lifts.  Unless you’re trying to break a record (an actual record, not a PR) or if you’re on the national stage it’s usually not a good idea to pull a Kevin Cornell and take a do-or-die attempt at 195 to get a medal.  And let’s face it, odds are you aren’t Kevin Cornell.  Make. Lifts.  This means opening up a dialogue with your coach and choosing attempts that you know you can make.

If there’s anyone out there looking to compete in his or her first contest but has questions/reservations, shoot me a comment or an e-mail and I’ll do my best to answer.

And now, the write-up.  Enjoy.

Last weekend I participated in my first Olympic weightlifting competition at Abraham Lincoln High School in San Francisco. There are tons of sites available that can better explain the details of Olympic lifting and how a competition is run than I can, but for the sake of this story, I’ll try to provide some basic information. The Olympic lifts are the Snatch and the Clean and Jerk. In competition you get 3 attempts (at each lift) to make your heaviest lift. Add up the weights of your heaviest Snatch and your heaviest Clean and Jerk and that is your total. The person with the highest total, based on the lightest body weight, wins.

If your head is spinning already, I feel your pain, but bear with me.

I’m not new to lifting and I thought I was pretty strong, until I met Ben. Ben Claridad is my lifting coach. He teaches Olympic lifting at my gym on Saturdays. He also coaches a team in Midtown, but more on that later.

Ben is big, strong and intimidating yet patient and professional. He is very knowledgeable and lifts crazy heavy weights at speeds I never thought possible. He is also a blogger, artist and without sounding like I’m all sweet on him, a generally remarkable person. He is someone I trust and trust is very important to me. 

After a few months of Saturday training, Ben invited me to lift at his gym in Midtown and I decided to give it a try. I was so excited!

How can I best describe my experience? With a random Patrick Swayze movie reference of course!

Ya know that scene from Dirty Dancing, when Baby carries the watermelon into the staff area at Kellerman Resort and observes “dirty dancing” for the first time? It was like that. I was completely stunned. This was not the pretty, sanitized lifting I’d been doing. This was hard core, bad ass lifting of incredibly heavy weights! It was loud music, graffiti, kilos, pit bulls and big guys in spandex, but it was also supportive and fun. It was freaking scary and amazing at the same time, as was the Olympic lifting meet last weekend.

I’d prepared as much as I could prior to the meet, but my stomach was still in knots. On the ride to San Francisco, my head was a mess. Why am I doing this? I’m too old for this. What if people laugh at me? Will I be sued by spectators who go blind veiwing me in this god awful singlet? 

As nervous as I was, I couldn’t wait to get there. I knew once I was at the meet, I wouldn’t have to think anymore. Thinking was Ben’s job and he had a plan for me. All I had to do was follow the plan and that is what I did. 

Weigh-in. Warm up. My turn. Lift the bar. Hold the weight until Ben tells me to drop it. Go sit down. Repeat 3 times for each lift. Done.

Wait. What? That was it? 

I apologize if you were expecting some dramatic Rocky-esque ending to this story, where Ben tells me to dig deep, I find the strength of 10 Grinches, lift more than I ever have before to win the meet! 

But that is not how it happened and I’m so grateful. A less experienced coach could have set me up for failure. Ben could have started me at much heavier weights hoping I would make my lifts in an unfamiliar place in front of dozens of strangers. Instead, he selected weights he knew I could lift and set me up to succeed. He gave me a perfect meet. 

I’m still trying to figure out how Olympic lifting will fit into my life going forward, but for now I am just happy. I had an awesome first meet experience, which is all I could ask for and just what I needed.

Electric Avenue.

January 23, 2013

Here it is.  Cam just finished the compilation video from this weekend.  I also had two new lifters who went 6 for 6.  My boss, Camilo, had a great showing and also my little brother lifted.

I’d like to thank all of my lifters, even the ones who didn’t compete for giving me something to look forward to every day.  Watching you get better gives me purpose and I’m glad to be a part of it.  I’d like to thank Midtown, the strongest gym in the west, for being a strong support system and home for a growing team.  Thank you Tara and Camilo for believing in us and giving me the freedom needed to build a team.  Thank you Sarah for being a friend, supporter and motivator when times got hard.

Here’s to a new year, gang.  I’m excited.  Time to MAKE ALLL KINNNDZZ OF GAAAIIINNZZ.


January 22, 2013


The team had a good showing this weekend.  I’m as proud as a mother bear whose offspring just caught her first salmon.  The brainiacs in the IT department are working on a compilation video of all our lifts.  Hopefully to the tune of “Electric Avenue.”  In the meantime, here’s some pictures and a video of me snatching 140 for the first time in approximately hella long.  And then flexing afterwards.

I'm riding through your hood, you can bank I ain't got no ceiling.

I’m riding through your hood, you can bank I ain’t got no ceiling.

Garcia AKA The Dark Knight killed it this weekend with a monster PR clean and jerk at 196!

Garcia AKA The Dark Knight killed it this weekend with a monster PR clean and jerk at 196!

My lifts feel like they’re coming back again.  Excited.

PWA Championships.

January 17, 2013

This weekend we’ll be competing in a local weightlifting contest.  And when I say we, I mean pretty much everybody on my team plus around five or six others from my gym whom are not coached by me, plus one other that I’m coaching who doesn’t train at my home gym.  Basically we’ll be mobbin’.


I’ll be getting some lifts in as well.  I’m not expecting very much as my wrist is still not 100% and I’ll have my attention divided up into like 16 other people.  Generally it’s not a good idea to lift AND do a full day of coaching as I learned on our trip to Redding.  That was pretty much the worst athletic performance of my entire life (But my team did well).  Still, I’m itching to get lifting again and at this point any practice is good practice.  That being said, as soon as our local weightlifting committee posted out 2013 schedule I marked off meets that were for me and those that were for my team.

In conclusion, I’m super pumped for us.  It should be an exciting weekend as a set of DHS bars is up for grabs. Ooooooooohhhh!

To any coaches out there that may be reading:

Do you even lift Do you still lift (serious question)?  How do you handle balancing your team’s performance with your own? Have you been forced to make changes to either your training program or theirs to accommodate any conflicts of interest?

Special Message.

January 14, 2013

Unrelated. But awesome.

Unrelated. But awesome.

And now a SPECIAL MESSAGE from the one and only, Glenn Pendlay.  I encourage you to e-mail our governing body if you have an opinion on this.


Chances are if you were interested in that, then you will also be interested in this SPECIAL MESSAGE that was written in response to the last.

End of (Supersquat) Days.

January 7, 2013

I wanted redemption.  Earlier that week, I was talking to my buddy Brian about my 172 attempt for 20.  He then put that data into a stupid 1RM caluculator thing and apparently I’m supposed to be able to squat around 270, which would be pretty decent.  I only take my back squat up to a max once or twice a year because frankly I just can’t handle any more than that and I usually would rather use the back squat as a strength developer by utilizing a few more reps rather than a pissing contest.  Nonetheless, I decided right then that I would take up my single up to 240 and if it felt easy, I’d have myself a personal pissing contest. Sure enough it felt EZPZ.  So did THIS PR attempt at 260.  What the hell, lets add another 10kg and get SUPER AGGRO and see what happens.

Overall I’m pretty pumped.  Squatting for volume seems to work well for me as does being a bigger person.  If you can find videos of me over a year or two old, you can see how much bigger I’ve actually gotten.  Now onto that set of 20.

The last time I did supersquats was a little over 4 years ago.  My best ever was 170 for 20 and 180 for 16.  Honestly, if I kept going with this, I don’t think it would be too difficult to hit 180 or even 190.  Typically after 4 weeks or so, you would start over with a slightly heavier work set than the first time.  But as fun as it was, it’s time to bunker down and make some real gainzzz with my lifting.  The sooner I hit the numbers I want, the sooner I can diet down to a normal size and get super jack3d and tan(er).

Check my youtube page this week because I have some video of my athletes hitting their sets that I’m going to post.


I’m lucky to have such a supportive team who will take pictures of me on my death bed.