Essentials in competing and training


Make sure the singlets are within the rules of the federation you compete in. Please don’t just assume especially because of regional event let you wear it and then someone that is actually enforcing the rules says “No. You can’t wear that to compete in.” I have seen it happen ALOT. Know the rules!
Amazon is always an option where I purchased before.

10 or 13mm refers to the thickness of the belt.  A beginner especially female will be fine with a 10mm. If they company has in stock that is great but some take a while to have made so plan ahead. All belts will need to be 4″ in height. It is standard.  Also Velcro is generally a no go…and poor quality anyway.

Knee sleeves
SBD is great and the long lasting standard. Are they essential? No. Great for training and keep the joints warm. Know the rules for your federation that you compete in. Is one federation ok while another isnt BUT you plan on competing in a couple of different feds? Cross reference and see what will make the most sense financially. Keep it simple in the end.

Wrist wraps
YES! USE THEM! Notice I said wraps not straps. Protect the wrists as much as possible please. Benching and yes squatting can beat your wrists up. You don’t want to be some old hip replaced, has-been with wrist issues because he didn’t use enough preventative care…I have heard.

Wraps can be softer material or very stiff which for some is distracting and uncomfortable. If you have the option start with a softer wrap and go from there. Again find out the rules for the length of wrap you are allowed to have in competition.

Additional tools I recommend:
Having bands up to an average band for most is pretty fantastic if financially affordable

Bench Blokz
Great to have the 1/2 board all the way to 5 board. Saves on the shoulders and let’s you do overload work.
ProLoc Collars
Fat grips
Standard blue is perfect!
Tourniquets (blood flow restriction training)
Lacrosse balls or “peanuts” are great to always have for self care.

“But wait! You didn’t mention shoes Shawn.”

No I didn’t. I have watched the industry capitalize on the shoe “need” for lifters. In general, your squat sucks because you are weak in some capacity. That can be fixed. Adding a shoe isn’t the issue. The fractional differences isn’t worth addressing. Wear a firm stable shoe. Leave it at that.

June 16 Updates

“Be careful to leave your sons well instructed rather than rich, for the hopes of the instructed are better than the wealth of the ignorant.”
– Epictetus

Best Tuna Salad (1 serving)
Nutrition Info

Calories: 296.7
Fat: 1.8g
Carbohydrates: 38.2g
Protein: 32.8g

1 can tuna in water (drained)
1/3 c dried cranberries
1/2 Fuji apple chopped
1 green onion chopped
2 tbs fat free miracle whip( to taste)
Salt (to taste)
Romaine lettuce
Directions (duh)
Mix all ingredients in a medium sized bowl except lettuce. Place lettuce on plate and top with tuna salad.

Video Tutorial:


Dr. Rhonda Patrick discusses how conditioning the body to heat stress through sauna use, called “hyperthermic conditioning” causes adaptations that increase athletic endurance (by increasing plasma volume and blood flow to heart and muscles) and muscle mass (by boosting levels of heat shock proteins and growth hormone). She also discusses the profound effects of hyperthermic conditioning on the brain including cognitive function.

Competitions upcoming
1. Emma APF meet June 22 THIS WEEKEND!!!
2. Chris USPA Nationals June 29
3. Lexington USPA Sunflower State Games July 27 & Conquer fundraiser
here in SLC where I am not sure who is all lifting again.

Can BCAAs alone build muscle?

“Technically, no, since your muscles are composed of all 20 amino acids. In practice, BCAAs taken alone can promote muscle growth — if your body can get the 17 other amino acids in some other way (it can synthesize 11 of them; the other 6 it may find in BCAAs some food you’re still digesting, for instance). Still, BCAAs or even EAAs taken alone stimulate MPS less than the same amount of BCAAs or EAAs from whey protein.

But isn’t leucine the most anabolic of the amino acids? It is, and yet, taken alone in a fasted state, it increases MPS (MUSLCE PROTEIN SYNTHESIS) and anabolic signaling (notably through the mTOR/p70S6K pathway) for about 1.5 hours only. MPS stops as soon as another of the EAAs gets depleted. BCAAs contain only 3 of the 9 EAAs: leucine, isoleucine, and valine.

One study compared 25 grams of whey protein (providing 3 grams of leucine), 6.25 grams of whey protein mixed with leucine (3 grams of leucine in total), and 6.25 grams of whey protein mixed with EAAs (0.75 grams of leucine in total, and as much of the other EAAs as in 25 grams of whey protein). At the 3-hour mark post-fasted-exercise, all three supplements stimulated MPS similarly, but at the 5-hour mark, only the pure whey protein still stimulated MPS. Without the exercise stimulus, however, even the pure whey protein could not increase MPS past the 3-hour mark.

All right. But it isn’t too surprising that, for a same amount of leucine, the pure whey protein (which contains more amino acids total) should win out. What would happen, though, if you increased the dose of added leucine? A follow-up study set to answer that question. It found that, at the 4.5-hour mark post-fasted-exercise, 25 grams of whey protein (providing 3 grams of leucine) and 6.25 grams of whey protein plus 4.25 grams of leucine (5 grams of leucine in total) stimulated MPS similarly, whereas 6.25 grams of whey protein plus 2.25 grams of leucine (3 grams of leucine in total) no longer stimulated MPS.

Interestingly, this same study also found that 6.25 grams of whey protein mixed with
BCAAs (5 grams of leucine in total) stimulated MPS less than 6.25 grams of whey protein plus 4.25 grams of leucine (also 5 grams of leucine in total). In other words, leucine stimulated MPS more when not taken alongside the two other BCAAs, possibly because all three BCAAs share intestinal and muscular transporters, so that isoleucine and valine compete with leucine for both absorption in the gut and entry into muscle tissue.

If you don’t get enough protein, you can take small doses of leucine to compensate — to some extent, and only with regard to muscle building. Importantly, BCAAs or EAAs taken alone stimulate MPS less than the same amount of BCAAs or EAAs from whey protein, which contains all 20 amino acids.”


My Storytelling Moment

In May, I was invited to attend a training class to formulate and express my story in regards to mental health.  After I was selected to attend the training and the speaking event I was emailed a questionnaire.  The instructors wanted to know the subject area of what I wanted to share.  I truthfully had no idea what to discuss.  Knowing that the story sharing time was a mere 5-7 minutes was intimidating to remain relevant while within the guidelines expected.

I asked my wife, Kristen what she thought regarding a topic to speak on.  She encouraged me to just pray about it and give it time; adding that whatever I pick will be great.  There is nothing like that vote of confidence that isn’t lip service, full of genuine belief.  Encouraged with my pep talk from Kristen I decided to weigh the topics I found to be most relevant for this actual event.

The JED Foundation was the group footing the bill for this amazing opportunity and their focus is suicide education with high schools and colleges.  I considered my personal experiences in relationship to this very current and devastating topic.  Unfortunately, I have alot of choices riddled with the epidemic that is suicide.

I decided on story from my life that profoundly impacted me for years.  The video in this is that story.  I hope it is helpful for you or someone you care about.  I am always open to questions and dialogue.  I am not a therapist but I have alot of personal experience to share or just listen.


Since sharing this video I have been contacted by numerous people looking to thank me, find resources, talk or just to say it helped them to find the words to talk to a friend.

Dave Tate of EliteFTS even reshared the video that I hope keeps speaking to a group of people that need to be reminded that strength isn’t always about what you can lift.

If you need support please check out the link below.
American Federation for Suicide Prevention
National Alliance on Mental Illness
Get free help now: Text CONNECT to 741741
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Submit a tip

Train the way you expect to compete

Squatting was always something I was just built to do well.  Add in hard work and study with good genes; you get some great results.   A good coach works with the lifter constantly.  No part is more important than the other.  It is always a partnership! Here are some tips that I have shared with lifters.  These are guidelines while working with a client in person I might make different adjustments as the lifter can have nuances that are very beneficial to the lifter already.

Warm ups:

These are a combination of active and direct warm ups.  Active can be cardio, rolling etc. Direct warm ups are done with the actual lift itself.  Never tire yourself out during warm ups and always use this as assessment time to see how you are feeling.  If things feel heavy maybe go lighter. Seems like common sense but too many times people are married to the idea of the set numbers.  Flexibility in programming is a precursor to long term success and longevity.

Warm Up Options

Set up:

Bar placement, bracing and the walkout are all part of the set up not excluding feet spacing as well.  Bar placement is the foundation to you success in the squat. So long as the bar is stable and works with your mechanics that is what matters whether low, middle or high bar placement.  Keep the humerus pulled in tight to keep the upper back engaged along with the rear delts. This will keep you from rounding as much when in trouble. Bracing is just learning to take in air in the stomach and lungs and holding to support the spine to a higher degree than the belt alone.  The idea is to push into your belt while sort of crunching down. Brace when lifting the bar off the rack and before you start your squat. Walkouts need no explanation beyond what we discussed but please practice them.

Squat Tips



Be aware of your surroundings particularly in a mainstream facility.  Never be afraid to approach people to give you space. Safety is paramount.

Foot placement:

This is partly comfort based but also based on the bar placement and the shoes you wear.  Be aware how these variables impact you as a lifter. A close stance in heels with a high bar is prone to balance issues for example.  Too wide can make depth challenging as too narrow can throw balance off. Remember regardless of the foot placement the power is from the midfoot to the heel.  Experiment and take the time to see what feels good based on our first rule: STABILITY.

Bar placement:

Already mentioned but learn and understand why you use the bar the way you do.  Understand which placement is best for your mechanics. This is always going to be something that is individual.  Be willing to experiment. Low bar is optimal for a powerlifter many times but can cause shoulder and bicep tendon pain over time for some.  High bar can work great if the person is very quad dominant and squats upright but getting out of that upright position can be devastating to a strong finish.


If not competing find a comfortable range of motion period.  If competing learn to lift every time like on the platform which includes depth on every rep.  Know what is good by feel not others telling you. The ping effect of the lifter hearing creates tentativeness and is very robotic.  The first sign of an unprepared lifter is bombing out of a meet for depth.

Opening Knees For Better Depth


Your feet, bar ride and depth are all factors of mobility.  Heels can  come     up because of high bar position pitching the lifter forward as can tight achilles      and hips.  When squatting your descent is based on bending at the hips first. Lifters than bend at the waist often get stuck being pitched forward and can even “lean into parallel” which is a crap shoot for white lights.

Mobility WOD for Ankles

Bar Path:

Sitting back is incorrect.  Drop. Drop it like its hot. Whatever helps you to understand. Raw lifters drop but we do stick our butts out. The bar should really travel in a straight line up and down.  Try some of the apps around to see the difference of a box squat and a regular squat. Perfect practice makes perfect so consider box squats as a secondary or assistance exercise at best.

Using elbow torque

Questions?  Feel free to email me.

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