I wrote this for my team the other day.  It’s something that I’m going to have to say again and again as long as I coach for a job.  At first it’s going to sound like NOT the right thing to say from the business standpoint.  But in my opinion it is the moral and ethical thing to say as a coach.  And the longer I do this job, the more comfortable I get and the less I care about what other people do besides myself and my group.  Personally speaking, weightlifting was not a healthy habit for me for a long time.  That doesn’t have to be the case for you or any of my lifters.  Hear me.

Gang,

Learning and eventually mastering a skill set is both a noble and incredibly difficult thing; even for such a skill as irrelevant to your life as weightlifting. But you have to enjoy going through it. You have to learn to take progress as it comes (and goes) and get some level of gratification out of it. If you can’t do this, then I honestly would rather you didn’t lift at all or lift elsewhere. We have an incredibly competitive but also a positive environment. I want you to enjoy it.
Do this after every practice:
Say to yourself TWO positive things that happened or TWO things that you are proud of that you did at practice.
If you can’t do that, it’s time to take a break. Progress and enjoyment while lifting weights is a lot like your world view. If you think you’re shitty and you suck then guess what: your progress and enjoyment will reflect that. The same goes for the opposite end of the spectrum.  If you’re overly satisfied with doing the work that is expected of you, then obviously you won’t be hungry enough to earn progress.  Somewhere in there, there’s a happy medium.
As always, I’m a resource for you guys. Take me aside during team hours if you’re having a rough time with training and we can find a solution to make your training work for you.

With care and respect,
-Ben

I have a message for you,

Nothing bothers you for the next 3 weeks.  Understand?  All your problems that you have right now, and there’s sure to be many because ’tis the season and all that, WILL be there when you get back from Florida.  So relax.  You’ve come this far.  You’ve obviously made weightlifting a priority in your life even if you’re there to get dead last in the J session.  So take it seriously.  Unless you plan on stepping on the podium, you’re going to Florida to lose.  And that’s OK.  Take it seriously and go out there and compete.  That’s how you have fun in this sport.

“But that’s not a balanced or healthy mindset.”

Guess what: neither is peaking for sport; which by definition is not natural or done for health.  You obviously don’t care about that since you’ve gotten unnaturally strong enough to compete at the American Open.  So live it up for the next few weeks.  And when it’s all over, eat too much, have a drink or two with your true friends and take care of the rest of your life.  Don’t go right back to the squat rack (unless of course you ARE one of the top lifters in the country and this is basically your job).

I’m going to eat one last decent meal on Thanksgiving and enjoy my family and friends.  After that, I plan on being as extreme as I god damn want to be.  I’ll see you on the other side.

Embrace this Moment.

November 16, 2016

Last week, I trained with the team instead of by myself.  It was the most cathartic and healing feeling I’ve had in a long time.

Occam 2×15.

October 30, 2016

I’m back on here.  Just in time for my end of the year favorite tracks playlist.  My dad and I made this cab the other day to replace the purple one I made for the gym PA/my guitar rig. It’s got the same Eminence Redcoat series “Big Ben” 15’s that I’ve been using but the red wood stain suits my tastes better.  Peep the Occam symbols in the speaker hole cut outs.  The frame is 12 ply Plywood and the front baffle and back is regular 3/4 inch that we used for the competition platform of our meet we held last month.

I’m going to make an effort to post here once a week simply because I think it’s a healthy habit to sit down and write something every now and then.

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Big Lifts in LA.

August 18, 2016

I figuratively “hit some dingers” at my buddy, Jon’s meet in LA last weekend.  Snatches were OK. I hit 145kg on my 3rd.  But I went OFF on my clean and jerks.  3/3.  175kg, 180kg, 186kg for an all-time PR.  Footage shot by Rex Flores.  If you live in So-Cal and want some video work done by a pro, holler atchyer boi.

SoCal Rotation.

August 11, 2016

So If you have not already, go check out the Doom Charts for August.  A lot of really good recent releases are highlighted.  Here’s a few that will be on my rotation as I drive from Sacramento to LA this weekend.

  1. Slow Season-Westing.  Like an idiot, I missed their set last week because I was busy eating tacos before Black Pussy put on an amazing performance.  These guys are like a modern Led Zeppelin.
  2. Mountain Dust-Nine Years.  Heavy HEAVY blues.  Check those vocals too, homie.
  3. Turnip-Window Killers.  Atmospheric, psychedelic and HEAVY americana.  This is my shit.
  4. Oak-Oak II.  Ballsy desert rock.  Also FREE.
  5. Vokonis-Olde One Ascending.  This one will make you want to put on a cape and start a LARP team on the weekends.

Again, go check out the blog for ALL the good shit that came out recently.  This is just what I’m going to be bumping this weekend while driving (along this the Khemmis album that dropped last year.  I saw them destroy eardrums last night.)

I haven’t done anything remotely creative in a while.  So here’s a video of some training taken this summer.  I fit a decent amount of the team on this one.  I also threw some noise on the background.  Overall I’m happy with how it came out.

I’d like to bring your attention to an all women’s art collective loosely based in Sacramento.

FEW AND FAR.

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Here’s a pic of me showing off the 2×15 I made in front of one of Meme’s art pieces.  This mural is no longer there but I will post more of her current work.

I first came in contact with this group through the artwork and murals painted in the alley that Occam Athletics resides in.  I love the artwork and I became very attached to the carnival/circus theme that was prevalent in the alley.  Then one day I met a woman who goes by the moniker, Meme.  She handed me a flyer and told me that her group was holding a block party that weekend and re-doing all the murals in the alley. Unfortunately, I couldn’t attend due to work but when I arrived the following Monday, the alley had been completely changed to a light blue women of India theme.  I dig it and will post pics at some point.  Meme will be relocating so the alley will stay as is for a while but she plans on periodically coming back and reworking the alley in similar fashion.  I’m happy to have met you, Meme, and thank you for adding a little color to my life every day I come to work.

One Year of Business.

July 18, 2016


It’s been a hellova ride so far.  And a hellova learning experience.  Im excited to see where this goes next.

That title in itself is sure to upset a keyboard warrior out there somewhere.  And actually he would bring some valid arguments as to why I’m incorrect.  So I’m just going to nip this one right off the bat.  We DO USE pulls of all sorts of variations to supplement our training.  In the sport of weightlifting, specificity is key.  So any exercise that resembles the contest lifts the most SHOULD have the most carryover; the key word in that being “should.”  In practice, this won’t always hold up as an absolute.

Young coaches, remember that before you address your trainee’s specific needs as a weightlifter, you must first cover their general needs as an athlete and a fully functional human.  The fact of the matter is that you will be coaching and dealing with regular people; people who go to school all day, sit behind a desk, stay up late with sick kids or arguing with their boyfriend.  ALL of these people will have some sort of movement pattern issue and the most common one you will see is people having problems with a proper hip hinge.  And while hinging at the hip obviously isn’t the ONLY thing that happens in a contest lift, it IS one of the most important moment patterns to perfect for the successful weightlifter.

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Image taken by THE Randy Strossen of Ironmind.  The RDL was originally brought to the USA by Nicu Vlad.  He demonstrated the lift to Jim Schmitz and others at the “Sports Palace” in SF and the term Romanian Deadlift was coined.

So, onto reasons why I teach the RDL before I teach the pull for the beginning/intermediate weightlifter:

  1. It helps to pattern a proper hip hinge.  Weightlifters (and most adults) will try to quad and low back their way through life.  DO NOT LET THIS HAPPEN.  Develop the hinge pattern the way God intended; with ALL the muscles of the posterior chain involved as the prime movers.  The RDL isn’t the only way to develop the hinge; far from it (Wattup to all my Hardstyle Kettlebell homies out there).  But it is one of the best ways to LOAD the hinge pattern.
  2. Your trainee’s pull won’t even remotely resemble what a snatch or clean looks like.  This is why when I first introduce the pull, I’ll do it in a complex with a snatch or a clean.  That way the trainee will feel if they pulled on the bar the same for every rep.  This will help develop the rhythm and feel for when the trainee is finally ready to load up the pull as a legitimate assistance exercise.

Summery:

We DO utilize all sorts of pulls in our training so shut up if you’ve come here to defend the clean pull because there’s nothing to defend.  I simply teach the RDL first for the reasons above.