A Look Back At One Year Of Training at MDUSA

While signing some paperwork and needing the date, it dawned on me that today is the 1 Year Anniversary for my time with Team Muscledriver USA.  After being invited following the tryout in May of 2013, I worked and saved for the trek across the country.  I competed in the California State Games in San Diego on July 21st and left with my car packed up and my girlfriend in the passenger seat.  We spent time  in a few cities and then arrived in Charlotte where she flew back to California.  From there on, I was on my own, and my first day of training was July 28th 2013.

Just drove across the country Sean.
Just drove across the country Sean.

If I remember correctly I came in with a measly 296 total (James Tatum was totaling somewhere around 306 at this time) and last week at USAW Nationals I totaled 321 (James did 324 that sonuva’….).  This is a 25 kilo improvement, nearly 10%.  I forget what the classic Soviet standards for year to year progress are of lifters between Classes 1-3 and Candidate for Master of Sport, but I don’t think it was as high as 10%.  I like to think that’s some pretty good improvement from a statistical standpoint.

Nearly 1 Year at MDUSA Sean
Nearly 1 Year at MDUSA Sean

Aside from the numbers, which are great to improve because that is the point after all folks, there are a few other crucial things that have changed.  The first is my technical style and understanding of technique.  Despite my best efforts, I was a very raw lifter when I came in, probably much less technically sound than a lot of the lifters I coached at the time.  Even for the first few months until Don McCauley came to MDUSA, my technique did not improve much.  It was him who pointed out I was using my legs entirely wrong.  We have started there and continued to progress.  This has completely changed my Clean which has seen most of the progress in my total.  Unfortunately the Snatch is more fickle, and there was a great deal of unlearning to do first.  I feel that just now my snatch is in a place where I will be able to make PRs in the near future.  That’s how messed up this sport is.  A year of training 9xWeek to unlearn and then begin to truly develop.

Beware the dreaded Catapult.
Beware the dreaded Catapult.

The second important lesson is how to train.  By this I don’t mean programming or exercise selection.  It has taken me a year to adapt to the workload and understand the responses my body will illicit given a certain tonnage week to week.  I know how much sleep I need, how is best for me to hydrate, what foods to eat, how I need to warmup, what stretches work best for me, etc.  I’m not saying I’ve got it 100% figured out or that I’m not open to learning new methods in the future.  But I have a much better understanding of what it takes to train like an Olympian, and what is going to help me aspire to that ideal.

Super secret, serious Super Heavy warmups.
Super secret, serious Super Heavy warmups.

I don’t believe either of these lessons can be written in a book, or filmed on a dvd, in anyway packaged or condensed.  Training, like life, is a process that you have to practice at and learn from everyday.

One of the more difficult lessons I’ve learned is how hard it is to be away from your family, friends, and most of all the woman I intend to spend the rest of my life with.  A year apart from Katie has felt both simultaneously longer and shorter.  I feel as though I just put dropped her off at the airport yesterday, but somedays at home alone it has felt like an eternity and I would give just about anything to have her walk through the door and be able to make her dinner.  Without her steadfast support to follow my dreams, I don’t think this would be possible.  My family has also been more supportive of me now in pursuing this than any other endeavor in my life, and without them also this would not be possible.  They however are forced to put up with me, why Katie does I’ll never know.

Miss this person a lot.
Miss this person a lot.

I have been blessed to be given the opportunity to train in a wonderful facility, with the best coaches and teammates an athlete could ask for.  The athlete support at MDUSA is second to none.  I feel we athletes show our heart and spirit everyday in training and utilize our situation to help spread the sport to others through multiple outlets (despite recent accusations that we are less dedicated and deserving than other competitors).  It takes a great deal of commitment to put your life on hold, move across the country with no idea where you’re going to live, who you’re going to live with, or where you’re going to be able to make money, leaving your family and significant other behind.  Trust me, I know.  But the ticket is worth the cost and I’ve got a long way to ride.

Miles and miles of Heart.
Miles and miles of Heart.

Team MDUSA Arnold Recap

I’ve been wanting to write a recap of The Arnold Weightlifting Classic from my perspective but have been delayed for the past few weeks, namely due to travel and not having a vehicle such as this website available for me to publish my thoughts.  Now that things are up and running I figure I better get to it before I forget.

Let me start by saying this was my first time at The Arnold.  Columbus seemed like an interesting city from what little I saw of it traveling from hotel to convention center and back.  The event itself is a massive production with hundreds of thousands of people involved in this sport or that sport or just there to get free supplements.  I personally had zero interest in being in tight quarters with a multitude of spray tanned people trying to take a peek at every event.  I spent all three days with my team either in the warmup room, training room, or next to the platform.  This was entirely fine with me because I love weightlifting an unhealthy amount.

My man, 50 Grand.
My man, 50 Grand.

I was able to help some of my teammates out in warmups by counting cards, timing attempts, and loading the bar.  I learned, without a shadow of doubt, that I do not want to ever leave weightlifting in any capacity.  The action is addicting and when I can’t lift any more coaching will have to feed that addiction.

The Beast From The East
The Beast From The East

In Becca’s session was Spanish weightlifting superstar Lidia Valentin.  I didn’t really spend anytime with Lidia other than grabbing a quick photo op, but I have these things to say:

  1. She’s pretty adorable in an innocent, foreign sort of way.  She never shied away from taking time to any of the numerous people who approached to speak to her or ask for a picture.
  2. Girl is jackt.  Straight thick.  Aside from huge legs and glutes she had back development that impressive for any gender, without robbing her of femininity.
  3. World Class.  I train with some of the best weightlifters in the country and I have to say that film does not do her justice.  The sheer speed and positions she maintains are clearly a step above your typical talent.  This is someone who has been developing certain qualities for the sport for a long time and it shows.

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This was also my first time seeing Kendrick Farris lift in person.  The same speed I saw in Lidia’s lifts were apparent in his attempts,  That guy is not only crazy strong, but incredibly quick around a bar.  Again, I lift next to very talented people everyday and this even hosted world class lifters from Poland and some of America’s best.  That’s why these two standing out is all the more impressive to me.

The Team’s performance overall was sort of a mixed bag.  We were coming off a very strong performance at the American Open and were in a transitional phase.  Most of us went home to see family for the holidays and stayed there for some time.  This left really only 8 weeks to train together, get back in shape, and prepare for The Arnold.  I think this showed: some of us PRed, some of us didn’t.  I think we’re all excited to be back in training and having the opportunity to address our respective weaknesses and have a very dominant performance at Nationals.

What I took away from the meet:

  1. Team MDUSA really is a family.  I felt like a kid at camp.  We drove in two vans for hours and didn’t want to strangle each other.  We instead had many good laughs and stories.  We supported each other whole-heartedly.  This is the best TEAM in the country, of that I have no doubt.
  2. I know precisely what I need to work on, and what I’m doing right.  Although the numbers don’t quite show it, I’ve made some strides my technique lately.  I have some things to get used to in the snatch and I need to be diligent about addressing some weaknesses.  However I was happy to have given an honest go at 181 and feel that this number will quickly fall to the way side.
  3. When my lifting career is over I will not be able to walk away.  I know that this is what I love and am determined to help others do.  I’ve coached for a few years now, continue to coach, and no matter what way my professional career leads I will always be a coach.
Me and The Machine are going to be doing this for a long time yet.
Me and The Machine are going to be doing this for a long time yet.

For those who haven’t seen it, I’ve attached the video our Videographer Josh made of all our lifts.  Please subscribe to our YouTube Channel if you don’t already as Josh will be churning out more content there and elsewhere.

Welcome to Heavy Metal S&C

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If you’ve stumbled upon this humble web page then you were likely referred here either having met myself in person or Coach K.  Hopefully we made a positive enough impression on you to want to learn more about us and continue to grow with us.

Heavy Metal is a special ideal to Coach K and I.  It started out as something simple, became a gym, became something else, and then died out for a little while.  We’re proud to revive the brand here and now, if only to appease ourselves, to provide quality information in regards to all things training, rebuild and expand the Heavy Metal community, and offer our own array of services.  We hope to enrich your life and that you will enrich ours by sharing your journey with us.

Now go train.

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