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Sub Ex #1

By Donny Shankle

I prefer doing push-ups with my hands clinched in a fist because it’s easier on the wrists. This will keep the pressure more evenly dispersed along the length of the entire forearm. Elbows are kept tucked into the sides of the body and the eyes are looking at a 45 degree angle. Do not let the head drift forward and down as this will cause a strain on the neck. The torso is held in perfect alignment from the feet to the crown of the head improving the isometric strength of the entire body. As you push up, the concentric phase is held for two seconds with the arms completely locked. The pectoral muscles, front deltoids, and triceps are the prime movers. The muscles of the abdomen and along the spine are the stabilizers. The isometric stability of this exercise teaches the weightlifter to keep their body as rigid as possible when standing up from a clean, snatch, or when dipping for the jerk.

SETS: 2-3
REPS: 10-20
ADVANCED WAY: add weight plate across the back



9th Must
By Donny Shankle

When all else fails, get aggressive. This Must has to be applied especially at the heavier weights. Every time you increase the weight on the bar, your aggression increases. Aggression is the key to unlock the potential of every other Must instantaneously. The more pissed off you get, the tighter you will hold your back, the more violent you will use your hips, the more quickly you move your feet, etc. Great weightlifters can turn their aggression off and on like a switch. You do not see champion weightlifters approaching the lifting stage from the warm-up room with fear or doubt in their eyes. In that one moment they possess a prolific amount of confidence and are the baddest sons-of-bitches walking the face of the earth. Their shoulders are rolled back, there is an eagle’s stare in their eyes, and their hands can’t wait to get on the bar. If you can’t unleash this aggression within you for the few seconds it takes to lift a heavy weight over your head then maybe you are in the wrong sport.


Ya Gotta Eat!

My Favorite Foods For Getting Stronger
By Donny Shankle


Eggs are easy. They can be prepared a variety of ways and are a great source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. One large egg contains approximately 70-80 calories with 5-7 grams of complete protein. Some hard core people out there like to eat eggs raw. I would suggest you do not do this unless you want to risk the chance of acquiring salmonella. Free range eggs are higher in certain vitamins and minerals and are especially higher in Omega-3’s. I eat about a dozen eggs a day when I am training hard and trying to build muscle. One of my favorite snacks or quick meals is fried eggs served over rice. The preparation is easy and it gives me plenty of protein and carbohydrates. Keep a storage container of hard or soft boiled eggs in your fridge. When you get hungry, snack on them with some vegetables and plenty of water. Before you go to bed eat a couple eggs. Bring some eggs with you to work for your lunch or snack on one or two during training. The protein in the middle of your training will help to pack on the muscle and give you energy. Any way you look at it, eggs are convenient, good for you, and one of mother nature's miracle foods.



8th Must
By Donny Shankle

Moving with speed and a sense of purpose takes a conscious effort on your part. I can either walk from point A to point B lazy and disinterested or I can get there like my life depends on it. All this takes is a greater effort from the weightlifter to move at exactly the right moment and to move like you mean it. Just before you lift, you should sit down and go over in your mind everything you could be doing to make the lift perfect. Once you stand up and put your hands on the bar, you react. There is no more thinking at this point.

There are no nuances when I speak of speed. See this speed in your mind, get aggressive, then attack. The platform is not the place to be uncertain. You see this lack of speed in weightlifters who lack emotion when they lift. They either do not move under the bar fast or they do not commit. This lack of attentiveness is typically caused by nerves, over-thinking by the athlete, over-coaching by the coach, a lack of motivation, or poor nutrition. Any wane in energy or focus to move under the bar with conscious speed needs to be addressed immediately.



7th Must
By Donny Shankle

When a boxer throws a punch he does not start with his fist tight because this makes the punch slow. A solid jab for instance is fast because the boxer does not tighten up his fist until the moment of impact. He stays relaxed so he can dodge and weave. His arms and shoulders are relaxed so his punches can move fast. Your entire body acts the same way when you are lifting. The only part of your body that's tight prior to pulling is your back. Every other muscle should feel like jello.

You never see a great weightlifter tense before he lifts. He is always cool and relaxed. The more you can relax the faster your snatches, cleans, and jerk will be. One of my coaches used to say, “Do not fight the bar”. If you are fighting the bar, you are not moving with the bar. Relax, trust in your hook grip, go someplace else mentally, then react without thought. Thinking causes you to anticipate which makes you slow.



Q: Could you explain what you mean by “a master is a person who lives without fear?” 

A few days ago while I was waiting for the Metro, I was watching a billboard sign worker putting up a new sign. He had to have been a good four stories off the ground as he dangled from his rope ladder but showed no fear of falling. His hips carried rolls of parchment in a satchel ready to be pieced and glued together. He had his razor blade in his back pocket ready to make necessary trims, and a darby to smooth out the folds of the sign once up. The sign he was working on was a standard sized billboard. Each time he glued down a section, he had to climb back up his rope ladder and move over two to three feet giving himself enough arms distance to work. He did all of this with a certain type of relaxation and speed that drew my attention. After he had finished his sign, he immediately began work on the next one. This worker’s productivity was a clear indicator he had mastered his trade.

His first day on the job, this billboard sign worker may have had knots in his stomach as he went over the threshold. It’s OK to be afraid. I am not ashamed to admit I am afraid sometimes. It’s not OK, however, to let fear cement you. It is not OK to let fear keep you from taking action. The fulfillment of this worker’s own personal goals would give him the strength to take the plunge. It would keep him sharpening his tools at night and checking the strength of his ladder each morning. With each sign he put up, with every three feet he worked, and every time he reached behind him to grab another section of paper to be glued, he got better, faster, and more confident. Initially, the repetition abated his fear. As pride in his work set in, it died. Pride is the destroyer of fear. Belief in yourself seeds pride. Taking action is its water. Competition is its sunlight.

Wisdom I have found is not in the scholars and academics. It is in the doers, tradesmen, and fighters. Men of action, who by example, keep putting in the hours of practice showing us what it takes to become great at something. The athlete, like the working man, develops his craft resolutely until the “something” he creates is an example of the best in his species. The wise master knows fear but he does not show it. He gets on with it. He starts laying the brick one by one or putting the parchment up piece by piece. The master lives without fear because this needs to be done in order to take action. You have the choice to let fear keep you from going over the threshold. Or to take pride in what you do and do it better than anyone else. The competition is too great to not continuously improve. The competition is too great to remain afraid.

 For training consultation and/or video analysis of lifts, you can email Donny at Fee is donation-based.



6th Must
Keep It Close
By Donny Shankle

Keeping the bar close to the body when you lift facilitates speed. The closer the bar is to your line of balance, the faster you will move under the bar during a snatch and clean. Plus, keeping the bar close will keep you off your toes and keep you from chasing the bar with your hips. Less effort is wasted when the bar is close to your body. All of your power can be directed at moving up and then quickly reversing direction down. The further away the bar is from your body, the heavier the weight will feel and the less coordinated you will be.