Meeting Matt Wenning — Powerlifting Legend

I was nearly shitting myself at the thought of finally meeting Matt Wenning yesterday. I started the drive early in the morning and brought a friend along for moral support and help with my nerves & anxiety. I am pretty sure, the whole drive was nothing but seemingly loud music, frequent pee breaks, and eating food, oh and minor chit chat — that helped to raise my confidence… (mostly singing though, car karaoke, I love it). The drive only took about a hour and half – maybe hour and 40 min, Columbus isn’t too far from where I reside. 

My friend was FIRST to spot his gym, there were no signs; only reason someone would even know the building was a gym is if they had a GPS, and noticed the small wording on the door (which I had not noticed) — otherwise they would be driving up and down the road looking for it like I almost did. The outside appearance was that of an old building, nothing stylish, just an old building with street parking (minimal) and parking behind the building as well (minimal) but thankfully we were able to find parking. Not to mention, I don’t think his gym gets crowds like a Planet Fitness gym would — it is more of a gym for the experienced and invited and possibly for those who honestly get into contact with the dude; so if you are lucky, you probably would have had this opportunity. 

 

Before walking inside, I said a small prayer and took a deep breath, then took a photo — yes always taking photos so I can capture memories of my travels. Walked in, small room and no one present, but I could hear people in the next room, not many but some, I decided to stay in the empty room for a while to get a feel of the place, to change shoes, to mix aminos in with my water, to look around at some of the posters, and trophies, apparel, etc. I also took that time to talk out my nerves with my friend, and say a mini prayer once more. I literally took another 10 min, just farting around doing nothing productive, debating on when to walk into the other side of the gym and greet everyone. I found the right time when I looked at the clock and it read 10:45 am ( I was scheduled for 11am) guess this is it, all or nothing. I learn something today and hopefully give it my all. 

 

Walked to the other side of the gym through a new entrance and observed about 4 people talking and using some dumbbells. 2 females and 2 males. I don’t any of these people but NONE of them were Matt, I knew that for sure. I just found the area where everyone put their belongings and settled in, I didn’t do much nor speak with anyone outside of my friend, I just paced myself in a small area of the gym waiting for the dude of the hour to show up — he shows up 7 min later and I realize he is definitely in an amazing shape, big dude and smiled as he greeted me. I felt comfortable right then and there because I felt a good ora around him, no longer was I as scared as I was walking in, I was calm. He ask me the BIG question of the day: “what did you want help with?” ; if I am being honest, I I was quite sure how to go about answering it, but my reply “I want help in powerlifting, I am planning on competing this summer or late fall and I want help getting there, I want help with my lifts, I want help with being a powerlifter, and I willing to take whatever I learn today and utilize it”. Matt was smooth when he replies with “okay, let me introduce you to Brooke (a woman at the gym whom I assumed worked there) and she and myself will both watch you and we will start with the basics — I want to see your warm up in full, everything you do to warm up before lifting,I want to see”. I wasn’t prepared for this moment, me having to warm up in front of  a legend and someone I didn’t quite know; I knew my warm up methods weren’t horrible but that doesn’t mean they were good either or good enough. I did my whole warm up (the gym had maybe one treadmill or two, 4-5 racks maybe 6, and maybe two machines, resistance bands, benches, and plates. possibly DB’s but I didn’t observe well enough to see how many or the amount of weight. At the end of my warm up, we went straight into squats (back squats)

 

He had me do squats the way I normally do them, not to change anything, just do them (he also asked me my one RM) I did my high bar shoulder width apart squats (10 rep bar warm up), 10 lbs 10 reps warm up set and then TA DA .. started in on the heavier lifting. I was told to do 3 reps after adding weight so they can watch my form and movements — find my weaknesses and strengths. 

My weaknesses: hips, glutes and hamstrings (all in that order) hips being the most weak area. My strengths: back and quads  — during my squats. He said my quads are strong, real built but they carry all my weight and the rest of my lower body suffers because they are weaker and so when it comes to lifting heavier weights — my quads are doing all the work and in the long run that will cause injury or prevent me from lifting heavier. He started me on LOW bar. WIDE stance squats, because I will focus on hip, glute and hammie development, it will force me to use all my muscles together and make the drop to the ground shorter and refrain me from using only my quads. The goal for my squat is to use all the lower body muscles to develop that movement. My warm up for squats will include 12-15 min worth of 3 exercises done in a circuit with 4 x 25 each  (the exercises will be hip, glute and hamstring development since those are weak areas)

 

Low bar wider stance squats are something for me to get to used to, it was harder because I don’t do them and because I have weak areas and so used to just pushing through with my quads and back and ignoring my hips, glutes and hammies. I learned if I want to move weight and perform better, I will need to use this stance — and really strengthen my weaknesses. High bar shoulder width stance IS NOT BAD, is NOT WRONG , but it will make lifting heavier squat weight harder because I will have to go a lot further down (I am tall) so we want to make the lift shorter and easier for my height. He would understand this, because he is a tall dude himself. Deadlifts were next …

During this training, we did Sumo deadlifts — but he wants me to continue implementing both conventional and sumo. He wanted my lift during the pull — it wasn’t bad, I just had to note that I need to remember to “pull my shoulders back” before lifting, so that I am lifting straight up with the bar. Another noted thing is, I am going to have to start training deadlift and squat on the same days instead of separate like I have been (obviously one deadlift type with the squat, and another deadlift type with squat on another day) — the female trainer said “they believe in hard leg days”, so guess what? I am going to have to start having hard leg day sessions. LOL This isn’t a bummer, but just means more time at the gym.. I should be used to this; I practically live there. The warm up routine he has me doing for squats, I need to focus on the same weaknesses for my deadlift. Yay! easy enough. Moving on once more…

Bench press — MY WORST LIFT in my opinion, because it is not only my weakest lift but also the lift that hits plateaus the most, the lift that I have issues with most of the time and the lift that I have been screwing up on. I practically warned them that this would be something for the books because I already knew I had issues with this lift — but they both agreed to still watch me perform. I found out that my issues with the bench are: weak lats, weak triceps, and weak rear delts; BUT .. both my pecs and shoulders out power the rest of those other weaker muscles which makes my lifting harder for the bench. Again, being able to strengthen the weaker muscles so they can be utilized is important. Also, I need to get used to having my shoulders against the bench and not following the pull, my wrist need to be straight and not bend back (out of habit) and I need to use my legs with the heavier weights to help with my lifting as well with bench press. My warm up expectation is the same routine: 4 x 25, 12-15 min warm up, a circuit with three different exercises that hit each of my 3 weaknesses separately. Oh what fun!

I was told to stay away from isolated quad exercises and isolated anterior delt exercises — because I am strong in those areas in my body ( this will only be for the time being, we shall work on these areas of the body again at later date) so this means I will be focusing only on the weaker muscles and core lifting. I should be working out 4 x a week now, but if I want to implement a 5th day (like I have been), then I can make it an accessory day to work on weaker muscles and get a good pump. He didn’t recommend any specific days to do cardio, basically make my circuit warm up my cardio. 

By the time the session was finished up, he basically explained to me what he would like to see from me, what we will set up in the future with workouts (he gets back into town in May) so I won’t see him until then, how to go about warming up, what exercises to implement (examples), and encouraged me in way that let me know I can do this, I can be a good powerlifter, I have the potential. He even took pictures with me and we video taped everything 🙂 Overall it was a fun experience, one I am looking forward to in the future! Check out some of the pictures & video footage we took while at the gym: Meeting Matt Wenning

Thanks for reading and sorry for the long novel, I wanted to give everyone a glimpse into my world on Tuesday when I met this dude, because it is a once in a lifetime situation and we never know if we will have the same opportunity twice.

Shay-lon

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Tip #7: Don’t more than you can handle

Easier said than done. 

Most people assume you have to lift heavy to see results, but what happens is they compromise their form in order to do so. 

My tip is straight forward: Don’t lift more than you can handle, gradually increase but don’t compromise the form/technique in order to do it, because otherwise you will suffer a possible injury. It’s best to do increase the load over a period of time than to go in balls deep and hurt yourself in the process. 

 

Fitness WonderWoman,

Shay-lon 

Tip #6

Come to the Gym with a Plan in Hand

I am a huge advocate with coming to the gym with a “plan in hand”. Now for some of you, you already do this and for others of you, you don’t like having all the extra papers lying around or don’t like bringing your electronics to the gym with you BUT I am telling you, as tedious as it might seem, it is always better to come to the gym with exercises you already have planned out vs coming to the gym and having to pace around or stay on the treadmill until you decide what to do next. 

My course of action is written the night before or the morning of the workout as soon as I wake up, because typically I already have an idea of what muscle groups needs to be worked on or have a program I am following and so having it written down will allow me to stay accountable and also allow me to keep track of everything. I have two whole notebooks full of workouts and tons of random sheets of papers with all my workouts since day one of keeping track of my workouts – I am able to look back on everything I have done (but I also have another purpose intended for why I do this).

 

Sometimes in order to get results you have to do trial and error and keeping up with your workouts will be helpful to you in doing so. I even have to track my eating habits come Monday, so I have an app for that and I am debating on having a notebook for it but that might be a little redundant (but helpful if I lose my phone, etc) anyways, the point is, when you come to the gym prepared it lessens the time having to think about what to do and puts more emphasis on the actual workout time, it might help take away some anxiety, it allows you to remain accountable, it will increase your likelihood of sticking with a program, tracks your plateaus, allows you to make new goals for yourself, and in the long run might serve as an reward for all the hard work you put in! 

 

Do you track your workouts? how do you track them – paper or electronically?

 

Fitness WonderWoman

Shay-lon

Tip #5: Do deadlifts right, or learn how

So, today’s tip goes along with a particular exercise – the DEADLIFT! we might have talked about this before but I want to get it ingrained in your mind – WATCH YOUR FORM, DO THE CORRECT TECHNIQUE! If you want to lift heavier weight, do it the right way, because on your journey to being Mr/Miss “Badass” you will find out REAL quick that lifting heavy don’t mean shit if you can’t do it properly and safely. I love lifting, & like the majority of you, I love lifting heavier weights because it just feels so good and gives us that ego boost – you know I am right! lol. In the same context, there is no point in lifting heavy if I can’t properly do it and end up with an injury that puts me on my ass for months at a time because I thought I’d be a cool kid and not listen to Shay’s advice and lift it however the fuck I want. Well guess what buddy?! GO ahead and lift it however the fuck you choose, but when and if you should hurt yourself, don’t come to this post talking loads of crap about how nobody told me so, or “I have been doing it this way for years” or any other excuse that comes out like gas and smells because I will not respond with a smile on my face. If the weight is to heavy for you to do it correctly, then suck up your pride and put your ego aside and lower it and work up to it gradually. 

 

If you are a personal trainer, you should know better and should be watching your client’s form and technique, no excuses because ask yourself, do you want your client injured? do you want the possibility of losing them as a client? NO, so pay attention! 

 

Listen to my podcast over aRomanian deadlift advice

Fitness WonderWoman

Shay-lon

Tip #4: choose your running style

Choosing your run style is what will create a better space for you when you get into the zone. I don’t particularly like running long distance and so I don’t force myself to in order to get results, I have found that as I have gotten older, I prefer short burst of speed vs long distance & it works for me because I am able to do it, see results and it challenges me. I will be the first person to raise my hand and admit that I am not a huge cardio fan , BUT it doesn’t mean I don’t implement in my workouts, I have to, so I do but I find ways to do it that keep me on my toes, make it more fun and challenging and gives me a reason to continue to utilize it in my workouts. 

 

The point I am trying to get across is, running can be done in different ways, different variations and on different terrains. For those of you who LOVE running for longer periods of time, do it, and for those of you who hate running and would much rather run shorter periods of time, DO IT! because regardless of what style who you choose, it will show results. If you want to challenge yourself, add in hills, or intervals or resisted running. Not saying that it will change your mind about cardio or running but it can make it a lot easier on you when you find a running style that serves you best. 

 

I mentioned my kind of running is sprints .. and I also enjoy interval running and resisted running when I am feeling up to the challenge. What is your favorite type of running style? and if I didn’t list it, feel free to add it in the comments! 

 

Fitness WonderWoman,

Shay-lon 

via GIPHY

 

Fitness/health Tip #3: Quality of life

https://soundcloud.com/shay-lonfitnesswonderwoman-moss-fitness-wonderwoman/fitness-health-advice-3

To have a good “quality of life” is important for good health. We seem to always strive for a nice physique, for wealth and success – which is fine. But some of the more happiest of people, more healthiest of people, & genuine of people tend to have a quality of life that is rather amazing. When I say quality of life, I mean overall, how you choose to live your day-to-day, how you take care of yourself mentally and physically and the attitude you give off to others and the type of people you allow in your circle. All of which add up to your quality of life, and some people find their quality of life changes as they age and become more versed with the world and all it has to offer & become more picky as to how they spend their life. I want to strive to have a good quality of life, to have my priorities in order and be somebody that others can see that in the way I carry myself, my attitude and values. 

 

Have you ever thought about what it means to have a good quality of life? what does it mean to you? 

 

Fitness WonderWoman,

Shay-lon