Archives For

By Donny Shankle CPT

3lb Tri-Tip Beef Roast (organic)

Provolone Cheese (sliced)

Organic Baby Spinach (raw & stems removed)

French Bread Loaf


6 Plum Tomatoes (peeled)

3 Cloves Minced Garlic

3 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 Lime

1 Handful Chopped Basil

Sea Salt

Black Pepper

12 Okra Spears

1 Egg


Cayenne Pepper

1 Quart Canola Oil

I served up these babies at last years Don Wilson Classic. I had planned on serving them both days of a two day event but sold out quickly in one. Tri-Tip is a popular cut of beef out here in California and there are so many different ways to prepare it. This dish is just one of many coming to help you build strong muscles this year and for every one of these sandwiches you put down is a guaranteed 3 kilos added on your total.

First things first set your oven to 450 degrees and make sure your roast is at room temperature. Fill a mixing bowl with 2 Tbsp olive oil, 3 pinches salt, and 3 pinches black pepper. Roll your tri-tip in the mixing bowl until evenly coated on all sides and transfer to a baking dish. Put your tri-tip into the oven at 450 degrees for 15 minutes and then turn the temperature down to 350 and let cook for another 45 minutes or until the internal temperature reads 150 degrees. Let your roast sit for an hour before you slice.

To prepare your bruschetta topping finely chop your tomatoes and basil. Mix them both in a bowl with your garlic and add 1 Tbsp of olive oil and a squeeze of lime. Toss in a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.

Cut your french loaf into sandwich size servings and toast each side spreading with butter as soon as you pull it off the stove top grill.

When you slice your tri-tip be patient and get your slices as thinly cut as possible. It helps here if you have a deli-slicer so try to ask your butcher if he will do it for you. All weightlifters should have a good relationship with their butcher but if you don’t no worries. Just take your time cutting and lay out your slices on top your bread along with your slices of provolone. Assemble the rest of your sandwich with your spinach and bruschetta topping and fold both ends gently together.

Lastly give your okra an egg wash bath and coat generously with flour seasoned with cayenne. Drop your spears into canola oil that is at 360 degrees and give them a minute or two until they are golden brown. Take them out of the oil and place on a paper towel to drain. Toss on one more pinch of salt and serve with your tri-tip sandwich. Enjoy.


Donny —  December 13, 2010 — 17 Comments

By Cedric Unholz


Part 1 of 2

Hi Donny, thanks for taking the time to do this interview. Could you give my readers your background, and how you came to be an Olympic Weightlifter and Strength and Conditioning coach?

During a tour in Iraq I came across a link on the internet called On this link was an advertisement for Mike’s Gym in Bonsall, CA. Mike’s gym is a regional Olympic Weightlifting training facility and the man in charge of it is Mike Burgener. I trained with Mike for a few months preparing for my first national contest which I took a bronze medal at. From this moment I knew I could be good if I applied myself.

During my time at the American open I met with coach Glenn Pendlay who invited me to train at WFAC (Wichita Falls Athletic Club) owned by Mark Rippetoe. The talent Glenn has for coaching along with a great facility gave me a perfect atmosphere to refine my lifting style gradually without any interruptions. Over a 19 month period with Glenn I was able to break a collegiate record, hold numerous state titles, beat a defending world champion on a national stage, and qualify for my first international meet.

After about two plus years with Glenn I started to want to train with better weightlifters so I put in my papers for the Regional Olympic Training Complex located in Colorado Springs. I was graciously invited to train here under the watch of coach Paul Fleschler who helped prepare me for my first world championships. I spent a little over a year at the complex and was able to meet and train with some real champions in this sport.

From Colorado I decided I wanted a warmer climate and was asked to train with Jim Moser and his son in Maui. The training with Jim along with Hawaii’s pristine waters was perfect for any weightlifter to become as great as they believe they can. I was fortunate to lift for Tommy Kono towards the end of my stay.

Later I teamed up with David Spitz and American Weightlifting. David had brought the greatest weightlifting coach in history Ivan Abijaiev to California along with introducing me to Alex Krychev (Olympic silver medallist in weightlifting). Ivan and Alex both gave me a unique understanding of this sport experienced by few Americans. While training with Alex and Ivan I claimed another national championship and competed at the Olympic trials.

Since I have been in California I have thankfully been involved in the genesis of California Strength an Olympic weightlifting/strength and conditioning facility located in the bay area. I have become a certified fitness professional through the National Academy of Sports Medicine and have pursued a career in the health and fitness industry. I am now training again with Glenn at California Strength in pursuit of the Olympic games and am in the process of writing a collection of essays for a book dedicated to the weightlifter. I hope to complete this book soon but the process is proving to be very painstaking.

Could you give my readers an outline of your training philosophy/methodology?

    Because I have been educated about this sport from multiple renown coaches I eventually had to take the knowledge I learned and piece it together in a way that makes sense to me and keeps me interested in the original reason I became attracted to this sport. Because I am still an athlete and am interested in improving my own total, I had to develop a philosophy that resembled my most cherished values and use them to improve my own performance. I have a strong belief that technique refines itself and speaks to the weightlifter over time allowing them to correct mistakes solely with consistency in their training.

    The method I use when coaching is to push the weightlifter to learn what is essentially needed quickly, limit the details, and let them discover the gratification that comes with figuring out their own unique style. This must be done from the onset to see the commitment of the athlete. Unless that weightlifter portrays a hard work ethic and resolve to the pursuit of their chosen goals for this sport, I as a coach am no more than a pawn for them to vent on. The weightlifter must know the pursuit of improvement lies only within their commitment and optimistic outlook. Learning to be incited by discouragement will help enable you to do this.

    My philosophy champions the physical magnificence of man and sees the sport of weightlifting as the ideal way to display such grandiose competitive might to the world. I hold man and his companion woman as the most beautiful of God’s creations and that each sex possesses a strength within them that cannot be found without dangerous trial and steadfast conviction through either intellectual or athletic achievement. Competition breeds excellence which shines not only for the victorious moment but echoes for generations only to be outdone by men and women you will never meet but who will have heard your fame and studied your romantic example.

    The weightlifter must live a confident life of joyfulness and embrace ego if they choose to lift exceptional weights and be a marvel in today’s ethos. All weightlifters, I believe, share a similar background which signifies a rugged individualistic character epitomizing the hero or heroine. It is this common denominator which is a must to begin lifting weights you are truly capable of.

    You offer an online training service as a part of your coaching. Could you outline what this entails and how the readers could get in touch with you regarding this?

    I offer a Skype analysis of technique, answer questions the weightlifter may have on how to get better, and write an approach to training over a weekly basis. Clients send me videos of themselves and after careful study I meet with them through Skype and discuss what they could be doing better and what they should not be doing. I chose Skype for the video engagement and it is cheap for both myself and my client to communicate over large distances. I believe it is important to establish a relationship of trust between the athlete and coach. Because you can see my face and hear my voice you can feel my excitement at your progress when I learn you have made a personal record. This venture was thought of by me to save the time of those weightlifters who wanted to learn how to become great at weightlifting. Contact me at to learn more.

    How do you track and manage the recovery/regeneration of the athletes you coach as well as yourself?

    The word recovery is an evil word used by individuals who have no confidence in themselves. It is a word that has no place in a weightlifters vocabulary. Weightlifting is a sport that will test not only your physical might but your spiritual beliefs (if you have any), and your mental conviction. A true weightlifter and the person who chooses to begin weightlifting with seriousness must learn to see a vision within themselves and train the body to adapt gradually over the course of events in and out of competition to this vision without fear. Adaptation is what you must be thinking about, not recovery. When I am serious about training I do not think I ever must recover. Instead I allow my body to deal with its pangs by mentally being strong and remaining stoic as best I can.

Some things you can do which I believe in are aqua therapy both in regards to drinking plenty of water for mental clarity and glycogen accretion for the muscles. To help soothe discomfort take warm baths and consume mega doses of vitamin-C, omega-3,  and sufficient iron for female weightlifters.

Nutrition is very important here and quite often is not understood by many weightlifters. A weightlifter must EAT! To combat exhaustion in training the weightlifter must have a great appetite, knowledge of their metabolism, an understanding of nutrient dense foods and how to prepare them. Soy, processed foods, alcohol, gluten, sugar, preservatives, and unhealthy fats need to be eliminated from the diet. Eating whole and organic proteins, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats must become autonomic in your lifestyle as a weightlifter, athlete, or anyone for that matter who stays active.

To track any weightlifters diet I have them record their bodyweight daily along with their water intake by the ounce. Speaking about diet is a recurring discussion for every practice. I tell every weightlifter to pick 2 days of the week to prepare most if not all of their meals. Planning what you will eat in advance will save you from impulse eating and looking for quick but unhealthy meals. Supplementation is a great resource for the weightlifter but will be different based upon gender, age and the fitness of the athlete. Since much of my clientèle are men and women over the age of 35 I had to go in search of a supplement I believed in and could stake my reputation on. I now offer a product specific to the needs of weightlifters whose metabolisms are not 20 years old any more. The meal replacements and post exercise shakes I offer meet those demands and offer a hormonally balanced option. To learn more please contact me.

    What, in your opinion, is the biggest problem you see within the field today?

    The same as yesterday I suppose. The use of drugs and the devaluation of the possibility within man at becoming ferociously strong free from the use of chemicals.

    You currently compete in Olympic Weightlifting (Donny is a 2x U.S. National Champion and World Team member and is training for the London 2012 Olympics), and train athletes from other sports. You also spent time training under Ivan Abadjiev who is a world-class Bulgarian Weightlifting coach. What have these experiences been like and how have they shaped the way you train yourself and your athletes?

I will discuss this in complete detail within a chapter of my book which will chronicle my entire time with uncle Abadjiev. I have been asked by many people what it was like to train with the man and wanting to know more about my experience with him. For now, I can tell you Abadjiev was a man you could not impress no matter how hard you tried but he still shook your hand when you made a personal best. He did not care if you could barely walk after training and did not want to hear excuses. However, he truly wanted the best for you as a weightlifter. He was full of charismatic joy and wisdom which as a young man I am very fortunate to have been a part of. Whenever an athlete of mine makes a personal best I shake their hand in remembrance of the time with him. For myself, I learned what it takes to become a master at this sport and through him I learned how to attack the bar constantly no matter how many misses or how I felt fearlessly going after more weight again and again until it is accomplished. I try to relay this dogged pride in anyone who takes up weightlifting but this is something you cannot teach. Rather you must be inspired to lift like this.

    What in your mind are the key differences between training competitive weightlifters and strength-power team sport athletes, and how would the specific programming variables (volume, frequency, loading parameters/progressions etc.) differ?

    Parameters for the weightlifter

# of exercises in a given session : 1-4

Effective percentage intensity: 95% or greater

Rest interval: no more than 2 – 3 minutes between sets (for ATP/CP levels to return)

Sets: 8 – 12 (4-7 at below 95% of maximum)

Times per day: 1 – 8

Times per week: 3 – 7 (determined by whether the weightlifter has gone through puberty)

Concentric/Eccentric tempo: Seconds/Split Seconds

Repetitions: 1-2 (advanced) / 1-3 (non-advanced)

Mental Outlook: Joyfulness

Progression and loading follow the SAID principle over a period of years with change in the cycle of training only occurring before competition to rest the nervous system and strengthen the will to win. Gradual increase in weights attempted varying in the size of increase depends on how fit the weightlifter is both physically and mentally. Once the weightlifter has adapted to quickly getting to maximum weights then the training is nothing more than recursive maximal performance.

The term “strength/power athlete” needs to be more specific in choice of discipline to give a decent answer here. Strength is the MOST essential quality for any athlete of any sport. Because an advanced weightlifter is the epitome of strength purely along competitive standards (Olympic) all related disciplines should take a similar approach to the parameters given unless specificity of action requires change. There are no parameters, for example, behind hypertrophy and hypertrophy is NOT an essential quality needed behind sport. Appetite and genetics determine an athletes size if size is essential for their discipline.

Training athletes to achieve maximum strength performance requires adapting them to the movement of specificity. Over the course of years sentient coordination is established between the mind and body of the athlete. Coordination and confidence is what gives the athlete the much sought after grace displayed by champions. This graceful showing of immense strength no matter what sport you are involved in demands punishing hours of training. Any demand outside of your chosen sport must be kept as minimal as possible in order to not disrupt timing or waste your efforts. This is especially essential for the athlete who competes alone but is also important for the athlete involved in a team sport. Exercises outside the actual discipline are only to be applied when they will improve maximal strength or if needed for rehabilitation. Strength increases performance along every dimension if it is approached appropriately and consistently.


Donny —  December 5, 2010 — 7 Comments

(I did a Skype session this morning with David Woodhouse a Weightlifter in the United Kingdom. He left some very nice comments I would like to share. STAY TUNED to listen to a clip from the session and learn some secrets behind becoming a great weightlifter.)


Just wanted to send you a quick note to say I really enjoyed our session today.

There are a number of points you made that I think will benefit me:

1. I can still improve even approaching my mid 30s!
2. Take a good 20 or 30 minutes between snatches and cleans to ensure the quality of the cleans is maintained
3. Importance and function of drop down (flushing) sets
4. Use of hypers post workout to help with recovery
5. Importance of at least doing bar work on off days
6. Minimising the amount I jump back during the pull (all horzontal movement is lost vertical movement)
7. Eat alot more calories – especially quality meat!! (this means being organised and preparing foods)
8. Reduce (eliminate) the use of anti inflammatories

I’ll check in with you again with an update at the end of January

Best regards


(If you would like to schedule your own Skype consultation with Donny please email him at

Donny Shankle is a three time national champion and world team member in the sport of weightlifting. Donny is the only weightlifter in the United States to beat in competition a defending world champion in over 30 years and was named the country’s most inspirational weightlifter in 2007. Donny is also the only American weightlifter to have trained both as a resident athlete at this country’s regional Olympic training complex and under the tutelage of the world’s greatest weightlifting coach and teacher Ivan Abadjiev. Donny is a marine corps veteran of the Iraq war and resides in San Ramon, CA. He is currently in pursuit of the London Olympics.


Donny —  November 17, 2010 — 2 Comments

By Donny Shankle CPT

12 1/2lb. Veal Patties (get your butcher to prepare them for you)

12 Mini Brioche Buns (organic flour)

2 Handfuls Fresh Baby Spinach

12 Slices American Cheddar Cheese

¼ Cup Hot Cream Horseradish

½ Cup Stubb’s Hickory Bourbon BBQ Sauce

Couple pinches of salt

Fresh Ground Black Pepper

Nothing irks my nerves more than driving past a burger joint and seeing them advertise ¼ lb. burgers like its some grand spectacle I should be thankful for. ¼ lb. MY ASS! Here is a recipe for burgers that is guaranteed to add a whopping 15 kilos to your total.

Get enough coals hot to last you about 30 minutes of cooking. Salt and pepper up you burgers then put them on the grill directly. Wait about 3-5 minutes before you flip them and then layer a piece of cheese over each one. Burgers are done when the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees. Cut your buns in half and spread some horseradish on the bottom half and Stubb’s on the top half. Place each one of your burgers on the prepared buns and put a generous portion of spinach on each. Don’t be shy to add any extra fixins’ you want. Serve with some pickles and for those weightlifters who need to gain weight we are getting close to the holidays so drink down those bites with some organic egg nog. Enjoy.

By Donny Shankle CPT

Not Competing enough (8)


Competing as often as you can will shape you into an awesome competitor. Showing alacrity at every chance to compete will teach you so much about weightlifting.

Do not get caught up in the vainglorious idea of, “I’m so good I only need to compete on the big stage.” This does nothing for you and will only cause you one day to “bomb out” on the big stage. Get in their and show people all the hard work you have done.

Weightlifters are competitors and thrive off winning and learning more about their weaknesses to continue winning so one day their persona becomes legendary. Leonardo went through countless rough drafts and portraits for hire before he painted his Mona Lisa. You in turn will compete many times before you display something the world will never forget.



Guaranteed to add a couple kilo’s on your total

By Donny Shankle CPT

Inability to Keep a Tight Back (1)


The most common mistake made by weightlifters first starting out is their inability to keep their back straight while pulling the bar from any position. Every lifter will develop his or her own style which is conducive for them. In fact, some of your elite champions do not follow textbook style technique (whatever that is.) However, there are certain positions through the lift which must be followed very strictly in order to complete a successful lift. Holding a straight back is essential for the weightlifter to generate the most power out of the legs and keep the chest from dropping in either the pull or finished catch position. A bar caught with a rounded back and collapsed chest and shoulders leaves no position for the bar to be received. Elbows in turn will drop to the knees which can seriously damage the wrists and in competition this action is illegal. A rounded back when pulling from the floor will leave the bar out in front of the body instead of against the body which will result in a slower lift, missing the lift, and the overall safety of the weightlifter is in jeopardy.

Many young weightlifters develop this bad habit initially from not practicing good posture throughout the day. More and more young people are living very sedentary lives. Through years of playing video games and being on the computer hunched forward looking at the TV or monitor has grossly affected their physical development. Even while you are reading this now how is your posture?

The spine is in a weak position lazily hunched forward, additionally, the chest being forward causes the lungs to not develop properly (another mistake discussed later.) If the torso is continually supported by leaning forward and bracing the elbows on a table or your knees, then the stabilizer muscles become inactive. The result of this is clearly seen on the platform when a young lifter struggles to keep their back straight chest and chin up. All the more reason in today’s technological age to encourage an exercise program for young people. Lack of physical play is detrimental to a young person’s growth and development of kinesthetic awareness.

Constant reiteration by the coach and continual concentration by the athlete on keeping the back straight is the first step in breaking this bad habit. Exercises like the back raise and squat can be applied to training to help strengthen the muscles of the back. A straight back is crucial to applying the most force against the bar safely and efficiently. Once the back is strong enough to stay out over the bar until maximum extension of the hamstrings has been reached, the weightlifter will begin to move heavier weights quicker and with more confidence.

*Over the next 20 days I am going to talk about 20 mistakes a weightlifter can avoid to achieve victory on the platform. All advice given was collected through observation and experience as a competitive weightlifter. Topics discussed will be random and in no particular order. Everything from the basic’s above, to diet and the metaphysical will be discussed. It is my hope these idea’s will help bring any weightlifting aspirations you may have to fruition before the eye’s of the world. I realize each idea could be elaborated on in more detail, but I leave that for you to contemplate and discover.

Roasted Prime Rib

Donny —  October 25, 2010 — 2 Comments

"That'll build some muscle on ya!"


Donny —  October 25, 2010 — 2 Comments

By Donny Shankle

One 5lb. Prime Rib Roast (bone out)

Black Pepper

2 Yellow Onions

4 Garlic Cloves

3 Tablespoons Olive Oil

1 Tablespoon Lee & Perrin’s Worcestershire Sauce

Prime rib is one of my favorite meals. I always enjoy finding new ways to cook this gorgeous cut of meat. Here is a simple way you can prepare a “no moobs” dinner.

You may notice the first thing in this recipe is no salt. I cook the roast over hot coals with a chunk of hickory wood on top. I let the hickory and charcoal do its thing and find salt is not needed this way.

First get you grill going with enough coals to cook for about 2 hours. While your coals are getting hot make sure your roast is completely thawed and trimmed. Take a knife and score holes throughout the roast and insert your garlic cloves. Cover the entire roast in olive oil and generous portions of black pepper. Set your coals to one side of the grill for direct and indirect grilling. Place your roast over the direct side and turn about every 3 minutes. Once all the sides have a light char on them move your roast to the indirect side and put the lid on. Check the internal temperature about every half hour. Once the thermometer reads about 150F take the roast off and wrap in foil. Wait ten minutes and carve up the thickness you want. Should be perfectly medium rare/medium.

Saute’ your onions until caramelized with your L&P. Take a pinch of those onions and place on top of your steak. This dish goes great with grilled asparagus and baked sweet potato fries.