Archives For Uncategorized



Snatch to about 90%

clean pulls to max clean

Muscle snatch 5 sets of 5


Snatch high pull doubles up to max snatch

clean and jerk to about 90%


powersnatch to max

powerclean to max



Snatch to about 90%

Clean pulls to max clean

vertical lift 3 sets of 10


Snatch pulls to max snatch

Clean and jerk to about 90%

squat 4 sets of 8


Powersnatch to about 90%

Powerclean to about 90%



Muscle snatch 5 ets of 5

Clean and push press fairly light


Snatch to max

clean and jerk to max


Snatch pulls to max snatch

Clean pulls to max clean

Squats 4 sets of 8

To excel at something it must be done every day

Wisdom 101

glennpendlay —  July 11, 2010 — Leave a comment

Sometimes the coach doesn’t have the answer and the athlete just has to make it through the practice



2 Snatch high pulls + 1 hang snatch.  8-10 sets with roughly 75-80%

clean and jerk 5 singles with 75-80%

back raises


Snatch 5 singles with 85-90%

2 clean pulls + clean + jerk   6-8 sets with 75-80%

Muscle snatch 5 sets of 5, light


power clean + 2 front squats + jerk    8-10 sets with about 90% of best power clean

vertical exercise, 3 sets



snatch, 3 doubles at about 80%

clean and jerk, 8-10 doubles with a pause off the floor each clean.  75-80%

Back raises


snatch, 8 to 10 doubles with pause at knee, roughly 75-80%

clean and jerk, 3 doubles at about 80%

Back squat, 4 sets of 8


2 snatches + 2 overhead squats     8-10 sets, around 75-80%

Muscle snatch, 5 sets of 5, light



snatch 6 singles with a pause at knee.  Heavy as possible

clean and jerk 3 doubles with 70%

back raises


snatch 3 doubles at 70%

clean and jerk, 6 singles with pause at knee, as heavy as possible.


2 snatch + 1 snatch, 8-10 doubles with 75-80%

Back squat 4 sets of 8

My new friend Ruslev Khomenko, a Russian coach of Junior athletes, and I talked a fair amount about the Bulgarian system of training.  When I first brought this up, I expected him to dismiss it as inferior to how he trained athletes.  He did not do this, in fact he said it was a GREAT system, maybe the best.  The qualification was this, it is the best, IF IT WORKS FOR YOU!!!  In his opinion, it only works for some people…  and if you dont belong to this select group, you can still be a great lifter, you just have to try something else.  His best results were 135/160 at 62kg bodyweight, not good in his estimation, and the Bulgrian system hadnt worked for him.  According to him, some people get a real deterioration in technique when they train to max all the time, others, for whatever reason, get more and more effecient.  Some people thrive on frequent squatting, some simply dont.

This strikes me as a common sense attitude.  Do what works.  The Russians believe their “system” works for a wider variety of people, and doesnt produce as many injuries.  But they, or at least Ruslev, agrees that the Bulgarian system is the “ideal” for a person with no weak points.

All of this brings up another interesting observation.  There doesnt seem to be that much discussion among coaches from other countries about whos system is better or worse, who is right or wrong.  Based off of a weeks worth of conversation with coaches from multiple European and Asian countries,  it seems they agree on a few things.  One is that effecient technique needs to be taught.  Another is that a lifestyle has to be provided to the athlete and followed by the athlete that allows them to handle a high training load.  Another is that the athlete has to continue to follow the program, increase the workload and increase the weights.  Concerning training programs, I get the feeling that a lot of Europeans feel about the same way about this as Americans feel about the brand of shoes that a lifter wears.  Yes, everyone has a preference, but does anyone really think that the brand of shoes that one wears will determine whether he or she will become a champion or not?

I got the feeling over and over while talking to coaches who have a history of producing multiple Junior World champions, World Champions, and even Olympic medalists that we here in America are worried about the wrong things.  I got the feeling that we might better worry about sleep habits, eating habits, and various recovery methods than how often we go to maximum.  Of course, all this only after we worry about picking the right people to coach in the first place.  But I prefer to concentrate on what I can control.

This is not to say that how you train doesnt matter.  It shouldnt be hard for anyone to think of several training programs that would not work at all with little problem.  But the parameters that a successful program must exist within are well established,  and it is also well established that many different programs exist within these parameters.

What are these parameters?  Based on conversations with 8 of the male medalists and 3 of the female medalists at the 2010 Junior Worlds, as well as conversations with the Japanese, Korean, Russian,  and Turkish coaches, here is how the best are currently training.  The minimum training sessions per week that I encountered was 5, maximum 12.  Minimum hours spent training per week was about 8, maximum about 18.  I did not talk to the Chinese, who I dont doubt top this number.  Everyone snatches.  Everyone clean and jerks.  Everyone squats and front squats.  Everyone does power snatches and power cleans.  Most do pulls.  Many do some sort of pressing or push pressing.  This group of exercises makes up most of the work done.  Many have some sort of exercise which they do which isnt as widespread, some do jumping exercises, some bench press.  A few do some sort of good morning exercise or stiff legged deadlift variation.  Some do some variation of back raise, back extension, or Glute Ham raise.  In no instance which I encountered did these “extra” exercises make up any sigificant part of the training load.  No one does only singles.  No one does sets of 10.  Most use a variety of reps between 1 and 5.  Most do snatches and/or clean and jerks, or some close variation, every workout or almost every workout with significant weights.  The most interesting thing I encountered was a Russian coach from Chechnya who advocated lots of Kettlebell work for beginning lifters, including the throwing of the KB behind ones head.  He only advocated it as a warmup for lifters who are not beginners.

If the preceeding has closed one mystery, it has certainly opened another.  If the sets and reps, and time per week we go to maximum arent what is holding us back, then what is?  If we dont do enough pulls, or do too many…  if this is not the problem, then what is?  Well, I do not know if I know the answer or not.  But if the answer to that question is the same answer as to the question “what are the differences that I saw between us and the medalists?” then I have a few observations.

And that will be another post…


Based on our performance at the last few competitions,  training is going to change slightly.  What we as a team lack the most is consistency, and we are going to do a few things differently to address this.  The basic plan will stay as it was, but morning workouts will focus a little more on medium weights, with the emphasis being on consistent technique and no misses.  To make up for the decrease in intensity in morning workouts, we will add a little volume and even some assistance work, and we will try out some variety on how the competition lifts are performed on the morning workouts.

by Donny Shankle CPT

“Fall in!”

The sergeant called to his marines who scampered about to get into formation for an ammo inspection check. About an hour ago there was a miss fire which released a three round discharge somewhere off into the distance of the Kuwaiti desert not too far from a highway. As I was standing in formation I couldn’t help but laugh inside. I knew the rounds hadn’t hit anyone or anything but the dirt because my buddy Blake told me he saw the impact point. No, I was laughing because the machine gun which discharged was right above me when I heard it go off. I abruptly got inside the make shift plywood guard shack thinking it would provide me cover. The only problem was the guard shack hadn’t been reinforced with any sandbags yet. I would have received about as much cover as an umbrella in a category 5 hurricane.

As I was checking to make sure I still had both ears and no holes in the noggin sergeant came through under gunny’s orders and made sure all rifles were on safety and to relay the importance again of weapon’s inspection during change over. When one shift of marines comes off watch and another goes on the oncoming squad does a weapons check. One of the machine guns being cleared had a belt fed round in the chamber and well the rest is history. Almost my history.

Blake was a good friend of mine who like myself was also from Louisiana. He was brilliant at knowing his job, had one hell of a right hook, a sarcastic sense of humor and used the word “rugged” when describing almost anything that was well, rugged. Both of us were MUX radio men which means we graduated a little ahead of our class giving us the chance to work with the big microwave radios instead of the smaller carry on your back vhf kind. We were detached with a force protection unit as camp commando was going up in preparation for the other marines on their way. I was the corporal in charge and part of my duty was to assign post detail for all the marines on our watch. I usually always assigned myself to the front gate/guard shack with Blake. I figured it was the shittiest, if not the most dangerous, detail because of all the traffic coming in and out the front gate. Big trucks carrying mostly concrete scud bunkers made from some where else had to be stopped and searched for bombs. Any one of them could have hit the gas and ran our asses over sending that fortified kitty box from here to kingdom come. That never happened though. The most we came across were a couple of mouse traps hidden down in door jams or a suspicious new driver. I figured that was the spot you would get to see the most action and I didn’t trust anyone else to have my back as as I did Blake. For as great a marine I thought he was for some reason the staff and officers always thought he was up to no good.

That night after the accidental discharge Gunny was seen walking over to the guard shack. Gunnery sergeant had a swagger to him not unlike a lion in the African long grass. Rarely did you see him approaching and I’m sure he was watching your every move even when you may have thought you were safely out of sight. I had a good idea about what he was going to say and who it was going to be said too the moment I saw his dusty boots, broad shoulders, and tilted cover walking in our direction.

Hey, hey whats going on here devil dogs!”

Good Evening Gunny.” (both Blake and I said)

We are going to need some sand bags filled for that guard shack.”

How many do you want us to fill Gunny about 50?” responded Blake.

No let’s make it about 250.”

We didn’t say anything out loud but I did hear Blake say under his breath, “God Damn!”

As Gunny walked away both Blake and I laughed. Two hundred and fifty sandbags between two marines in full gear to be filled is a bitch especially at night. You sling your rifle over your shoulder and get to it but the damn thing has a habit of always swinging back and the front sight tip hits you square in the back of the neck. Taking a knee I held the sandbags open with elbow up to wrist on one hand as the other pulled the bag apart for a space. Blake took his e-tool which is just a short fold-able shovel (short for entrenching tool) and started filling them. About every fifteen minutes or so we would switch off. Better it was at night I thought because the days can be hotter than fried catfish straight from the deep fryer. I don’t remember how many we got filled but we did get half the guard shack finished in rows of three surrounding each side. My arms and back ached at first but eventually you just got used to it. Especially since tomorrow would just bring the same thing.

That wasn’t that bad was it Blake.”

Your crazy Shankle that was awful.”

Wasn’t planning on getting a work out today.”

Neither was I , I just wanted to shoot some terrorists. That was rugged man.”


Strength training can take many forms but they all end in serving the same purpose, getting stronger. Along the way your health improves as you lose weight and your conditioning gets better too as the instructor pushes you to a heavy sweat. Nothing like those blistering days out in the desert but just enough to feel like you’ve done something you’ll feel tomorrow in the back of the arms and butt. Sandbags offer a cheap means to get in shape with a group of people all looking for the same goals you are. There are a variety of exercises you can do all of which I picked up on overseas. Its functional strength training in the simplest terms meaning you do a series of exercises in the range of motion your body was intended to move, instead of isolating muscle groups which you hardly ever do out in the real world. Sandbags can be filled to a weight of your choosing and unless you’re using body-bags instead of sandbags the weight will roughly go to no more than about 40lbs or so. That’s more than enough weight to get a good resistance workout with. The program is not so rigidly structured that you can’t make some changes. If you know some other exercises please feel free to share them with me. A couple of the ones I like are listed below.

Sandbag Clean & Press

Sandbag shoulder squat on each shoulder

Sandbag high pull and heave

Sandbag Row

Sandbag duck walks and lunges

Sandbag twists

Sandbag get-ups

Each of these exercises can be done in succession or one at a time and if you can complete three rounds in under a half an hour you are certainly not sand bagging (slang term used to define laziness.) Roughly for the clean and press you would do ten reps. Five squats on each shoulder , five high pulls then pulls to the shoulder , ten rows, a twenty meter duck walk wrapped up with some easy standing twists for the abs and then everyone’s favorite the get-ups. Get-ups are just holding the sandbag as you lay down and then you guessed it get back up. You would do these for ten then move on up from there to exhaustion. Everything from the shoulders , legs, back, arms and abs all get exercised at once making you stronger , more flexible and get in overall better shape. The whole point in this is just to show you can get an effective workout using the simplest of ideas and its with an idea that great things can happen if your determined enough to follow through and make it happen.


We kicked off our boots to let our feet get some air. It was that time of the day where I guess all the drivers were off eating their lunch. I looked down at my feet and within seconds a swarm of flies had covered the cracks between my toes like mardi gras beads around a topless girls neck on bourbon street. Our guard shack had been completed by now and up at the front gate we got our own scud bunker which was also sandbagged in. We took one of the sleeping cots from the billeting tent to use as a seat. Careful not to sit on that thing too long especially at night in fear of falling asleep. Blake’s toes also had flies all over them but we didn’t seem to care. We both seemed to get amusement out of the silliest of things.

Shankle look at those guys just going nuts over that stink.”

Ya , I think you have more on your feet than I do on mine.”

Ha, it kinda tickles. Makes me think of that girl back in San Diego…I ever tell you about her.”

No you didn’t but get up there’s a truck coming.”

As we got up and put our boots back on we took the safety’s off our rifles and made our way out in the open. Whenever a truck approached you always had your weapon at the ready in preparation for who knows what. The heat that day was pushing 115 degrees easily. The sweat pouring into my eyes combined with the glare from the windshield of the truck made it impossible to see the driver clearly. Both of us waved him too a halt and signaled him to climb out from the cab. The drivers were mostly from the surrounding countries like Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt etc. because the Kuwaitis didn’t have to work. I looked at his identification which I had seen a hundred other times, asked him to face the other way and patted him down as Blake checked the truck.

He’s good. All clear Shank.”

Blake walked up to the front gate to open it as I stood by the truck to walk it in. Another bad choice of mine since the sand kicked up from the truck and the exhaust you breathe in make one hell of an uncomfortable feeling in the back of your throat. I think we both had an analogy for it, “like smoking ass rolled in sand paper.” Both of us sat back down, put the safety’s back on, removed our boots, and waited patiently for the shift change over. After about another 40 or so trucks and stories about what we would do upon our return home I got up to stretch my legs and walking over to a couple of sandbags stacked up for our defense. Grabbing one I picked it up to my chest and did some military presses followed by some french presses. I remember the sand pouring out all over my head because one of the corners was torn.

That kinda winded me , B.”

Cause we don’t do anything but sit on our asses all day waving these trucks in.”


I looked out over the horizon. Nowhere else on the earth does the sun set quite as beautifully as in the desert. I’ve never been much of an art man but recently I went to an art museum and the artist Monet stood out to me for all the bright colors he used in his works. The desert sky lights up in the most mystical and serene contrast of colors I have ever seen. It was like a piercing arrow strung by the ancient Pharaoh’s which divided earth from the heavens as a wash of celestial vibrancy is left in your memory.

Look at that B.”

That’s cool man.”

Let’s have a platoon PT (physical training) session in the morning.”

Alright… whatever. You know the marines might not like you for it.”


I did a couple more repetitions with the sandbag, one that didn’t leak this time. The blood started to flow again. Won’t take long I told myself before I think of crazier things to lift out here in this desolate, barren wasteland. It took me a lot less time than I had anticipated before I was lifting sandbags regularly and finding other odds and ends to keep me in shape.


I’ve noticed on more than one occasion that when people go to a gym almost always there left standing there at first twiddling there thumbs not knowing what exactly too do. It doesn’t matter if that gym is filled with platforms and barbells or if its one of those gyms bursting at the seems with fancy machines lined with mirrors all around the walls. Seemingly, the same reaction occurs as that person tries to make a go for it not knowing what they are doing and eventually they end up in a squat rack doing curls. Or wasting their time in some machine that may get you a few feral glances from auspicious eyes but isn’t doing anything to help you with getting stronger or losing weight.

Your going to be told countless ways on how to devise a strength training program that best suits your lifestyle. Everyone is different you see and what worked for Joe may not work so well for Susie. To keep it simple for that person who first walks into a gym lets go over real quick on how your body works in case you didn’t know already. There’s three main motions going on here:

  1. Pulling with the arms and back

  2. Pushing with the arms and shoulders

  3. Squatting with the legs and body

Knowing these three simple ways your body works should be a start for anyone on how to devise there own strength/weight loss program. So the next time your in a gym with a weight room and you feel left out just think to yourself , “I should do some type of squat , pull and press,” the rest is just fill in the blanks.

This should take you roughly 20 minutes and that’s a good start for a beginner. As you progressively become more advanced prolonging your training is just a matter of doing the exercises your already doing longer or getting slick and adding a few more different variations to what your already doing. If there is ever any doubt about how much weight you should use just start slow and continue to add 5 lbs until you can’t add 5 lbs anymore. Sandbags are a great tool at first because they teach you to get creative and the weights are fixed as things you probably lift already, like a 5 lb bag of potatoes , a 20lb bag of bird seed or a 40lb bag of dog food.

Strength training is also a great way for people looking to get in shape but who aren’t very motivated by running. Whether your lifting barbells , sandbags or cinder blocks your heart rate will increase with continued repetitions. This can be a fun alternative to,”just put one more foot in front the other.” Strength training is easy if you just break it down in its simplest terms and try to not get intimidated by all those torture device machines set-up for who knows what. An effective way of strengthening your muscles and conditioning your body is easier than you may think. So the next time your in a gym just think to yourself,”how do I move already.” Don’t be afraid of what other people think about you because in all honesty most of them have no idea what there doing themselves. And above all keep going back, because its consistency not novelty which produces results.


You ready Gutierrez.”

Aye Corporal Shankle”

You ready Sergeant”

Let’s do this already”

Hold on!”

I slid the gearshift into neutral and placed my hand on the parking brake. As I pulled back my face waxed pale and my chest tightened. The ridge line we were on was at least 3000 feet up or so , I’m not quite sure as I’ve never been great at math. I had done a trial run before with my foot on the break and all seemed fine. Slowly the Humvee began its decent and quickly picked up speed. I could hear Gutierrez scream with excitement as he stood there in the gun turret. Sergeant had the look in his eyes that maybe this was not such a good idea. As we barreled down the mountainside I began to feel the Humvee shaking and see the sand kicking up all around us. Midway through our decent there was a precipice that jutted farther out from the mountainside which if we didn’t slow down for would have launched us out like Thanksgivings day deep fried turkey left in the deep fryer to long. I tried pushing down on the breaks but it was too late. Now I can’t recall exactly how long we were flying through the air and all I heard was a bass chorus go out from me and the two other marines with me. Briefly so much flashed in front of me. Like, if we came through how much trouble I was going to be in after this but mainly how much this was going to hurt when we landed. If I had to guess I would say after a good 3-5 seconds of flight from a vehicle that ain’t intended to drive much less fly we hit the ground with a mighty thump. Our heads crashed hard on the roof top , good thing we were wearing our Kevlar helmets. Poor Gutierrez at the gun mount almost got launched out of there , to this day I’m amazed that boy’s feet stayed planted. Instantly I pulled hard on the steering wheel which turned us into a halt.


I shouted while at the same time laughing hysterically.

Everybody OK?”

I looked over to my right and all I could see was Sergeant laughing with me. Gutierrez’s feet stayed planted alright and after he dropped back into the cab his ass stayed planted also. We all survived it turned out after all. I opened the door and got out , dropped my flak jacket and took off my helmet getting ready to see what I thought was going to be a camouflaged pretzel. To my surprise all I had broke was the driver’s side headlight. No problem there as a buddy of mine in the motor pool owed me a favor. Sergeant and Gutierrez got out to check the damage with me.

How bout that Sergeant, our only casualty was a busted out headlight.”

That was insane Shank , what the hell is wrong with you. What’s wrong with me for that matter going along for the ride.”

Ya’ but what a helluva ride.”

I thought I we was going to die corporal.” Gutierrez said

No way man we got bigger fish to fry out here, it ain’t our time just yet. Well Maybe for me its not , I’m not to sure about you.”

Gutierrez started laughing at that remark and I laughed with him to let him know I was being facetious.

Let’s get back to the tent, I need to lie down.” Sergeant said

I second that.”

The force protection tent was surrounded by a bunch of heavy sandstones I had collected outside the gates of camp. Stupid thing to go out that far looking for rocks now that I think back, for that place was told to us was crawling with mines. There were also some oxygen tanks I had picked up taller than me which I tied ropes to for handles. I also made me a poor man’s grill out of broken bricks and a retired Humvee radiator screen. Every now and then we were let out as groups to go over to Camp Doha and collect goodies. Mostly it was just smokes and mag’s with half naked women in them but sometimes I would buy some meat and split it up with the marines. You could be sure if the sky at night had fiery embers floating through the air it was coming from the force protection tent. Turns out all my stones, oxygen tanks and sandbags caught the eye of the camp commanding officer. He asked Gunnery Sergeant why the marines were being hazed.

Sir all that stuff belongs to corporal Shankle, he likes to pick those things up on his own free time.”

Tell that marine to get his PT(physical training) in the camp gym just like everyone else. Picking up all those heavy rocks can be dangerous.”

Aye Sir.”

Now the camp gym was nice and all for BOWFLEX had donated some machines for us. But even today I can’t get myself into one of those contraptions. Just doesn’t seem natural to me and I always think one of those flexible arms is going to break and come back across my face or the back of my head. Instead I moved all my big stones and other things outside of camp on over to a nice little spot I had found just for me. I left the sandbags where they were and when I was done with them I just stacked them back up against the tent for cover from fire. Whenever I wanted to get some PT on my own I would go out there and take off my shirt in the desert sun and start pressing , squatting , and pulling. The main exercise was just picking it up from the ground , rolling it up your chest and pressing that big 230 lb. stone overhead. Its the same exercise I use in Sandbag training only this time the weights much lighter and there’s no fear of getting sunburned.

The day had been long and night was fast approaching. You’d be amazed how cold it can get in the Arabian desert at night. I finished my watch and started to make my way back to my tent. When I got in I found B asleep with his legs hanging over the side of his top bunk. I pushed them in and covered him up. Sitting down I unlaced my boots and stacked them upside down to keep the scorpions from getting in them during the night. I lied back on my rack in complete exhaustion looking up at the mattress above me where I had tucked some pictures of who’s now my ex-wife and then closed my eyes for sleep.

Happy Birthday Donny.” (I told myself)

The tent flap was open just enough to let in a cool breeze. All the lights had been shut off and it was completely dark. With one final yawn I was finally asleep not knowing what awaited me for tomorrow. Turns out tomorrow brought a lot more than I or anyone else had hoped for, but patiently knew was coming.


For a video of me doing some sandbag training go to the link below.

Jo Ann Arnold 82kg Clean and Jerk

admin —  November 10, 2009 — 2 Comments

Jo Ann Arnold 82kg Clean and Jerk

Donny going for 200kg in Practice

Donny Cleans 205 kg at Friday Practice