Last Saturday, my sister and I made our regular weekend trek to Total Performance Sports in Boston. Well, technically Everett, which is 20 minutes outside of Boston… just like every other town in Eastern Massachusetts. Anyone who’s read my blog knows that I love training at TPS. The equipment is top notch, the environment is badass and it’s hands down the best powerlifting gym within 100 miles of where I live. If you live in Boston, love fitness and don’t train at TPS, you’re doing it wrong.
Rather than our normal training session, Alex and I decided to do the TPS Deadlift Training Day. Every third Saturday of the month, the coaches at TPS put on a lifting clinic that covers one of the three powerlifts (squat, bench or deadlift). With Alex’s recent ventures into lifting and my struggles with deadlift technique, it seemed like a great opportunity to take advantage of the knowledgeable TPS coaching staff. Plus it was only $20 for close to three hours of semi-private coaching. It was a no brainer.
I can’t say enough about the attention and coaching we received from Russ and Dustin. The whole group had about 20 people, and the stronger guys worked with Russ (a Westside Certified coach) while the lighter lifters worked with Dustin (a USAW certified coach who studied under the legendary Dr. Ellyn Robinson). We spent about 10 minutes going over technique and got right to it. Since everyone had some deadlifting experience, we were able to dive straight into warmup sets and the coaches got to instruct on the fly. This made for a lively environment with no boring lecturing.
Russ is well versed in conventional, sumo, raw and geared deadlifting, so it was a great opportunity to get a keen eye on my sumo form. And for Alex, it was nice to have her work with someone who wasn’t her brother. It’s hard to take orders from a sibling who used to blow out your birthday candles when you weren’t paying attention.
I worked up to some heavy singles and they weaknesses revealed themselves: upper back tightness, lat engagement, speed off the floor. Nothing got by Russ and he was encouraging while being honest about my flaws. His suggestions: lat pulldowns with scapular retraction to strengthen my back, band hip abduction on a low box to beef up my hips, and lots of practice. While these were things I had a feeling I should be doing, it’s helpful to have a big, strong, smart person tell it to you straight.
Alex had never worked up to a 1 rep max before, but with so many watchful eyes on her, it was the perfect chance for her to cash in the hard work she’s put in over the past few months. After never deadlifting heavier than 175 for sets of 3-5 reps, she crushed singles at 185 and 205. Dustin called for her to take a crack at 225, and she nailed it. It was downright inspiring to see her reach such a big milestone and get high fives all around from the other lifters. She left TPS with a ton of confidence and validation that her hard work is leading her in the right direction.
As we headed home to Vermont for the holidays, I was reminded that I have a long way to go before I can count myself among accomplished lifters like Russ and knowledgeable coaches like Dustin. Russ also prompted me to take a long, objective look at my training and to stop running away from the style of training that works for me. Alex picked up some quality technique tips that will help her on the path to a 300 pound deadlift – her newest lifting goal. I couldn’t be more proud that Alex is walking the walk and serving as a shining example for girls everywhere that lifting heavy isn’t just for guys.
Maybe I can even convince her to do a powerlifting meet soon. Crazier things have happened.
Bottom line, TPS is THE place to train if you’re in the greater Boston area. Even if you can’t justify the travel to be a full-blown member, do yourself a favor and get yourself to one of their Training Days. I can guarantee you’ll walk away with some tips and tricks that will take your lifts to new heights – maybe even a new PR right then and there. You can’t get a better deal for $20.