Learn to Train 8 with EliteFTS: A 900lb Bench Press, Goal Setting, Razor Sharp Axes, Wizard Tips, and More

There once was a Viking.

This Viking was unusual. He preferred to chop trees with his battle axe rather than enemies.

One day he went to a logging company to chop a few trees down. On the wall he noticed there was a record of the most trees chopped in a day. Seven. Olaf, the man running the operation said “you look big and muscular (like all Vikings), this record should be easy for you to beat.” So the unusual Viking took to the challenge.

The first day he worked really hard and managed to tie the champion, chopping down exactly 7 trees. Unfortunately tying isn’t winning, the unusual Viking came to win. Disappointed in his performance, the unusual Viking decided he come back and try again tomorrow.

On day 2 the unusual Viking decided to wake up extra early so he’d have more time to chop that extra tree to beat the record. After working all day he only chopped 6 trees down.

On day 3 he decided this was the day to break the record. Not only would he get up early and stay late, he would also skip lunch so he could work throughout the entire day to make sure he chopped down 8 trees to beat the record. Hacking away for the entire day he comes well after dark with only 5 trees taken down.

Olaf then says to the unusual Viking, “you’ve worked so hard for the past 3 days and have come up shorter on each day. I have but one question for you; did you ever think to sharpen your axe before going back out?”

On the fourth after sharpening his axe, Olaf took to the trees again and low and behold, the sharpened axe and his will power chopped 8 trees down that day, making him the champion.

-Story adapted from Harry Selkow

So what does this have to do with training?

Well Vikings, it’s about sharpening your axe; making your tools precise and your swing true. It’s about learning and honing your craft to ensure progression. This is exactly what happened at Learn to Train 8 down in Columbus Ohio. We were the unusual Vikings in need of an axe sharpening. Hopefully some of the sharpening we picked up can help you on your quest for physical fitness, athletic performance and improving your quality of life.




Jonathan Mike

Jon’s presentation was on the topic of overtraining (OT) and overreaching (OR). There are many people who are scared of overtraining and who think they might be in an overtrained state when few people actually get to that point.

In reality people should be more worried about not training hard enough and following an intellectual plan than being afraid of a phenomenon that rarely occurs within the general population. OR may occur and planned OR can actually be beneficial in order to stimulate a specific adaptation, but overall, there are a number of people who get fixed on the idea of OT without ever actually TRAINING.

To put it in perspective there is a subtle difference between overtraining and overreaching.

Both can be defined as: an accumulation of training and non-training stressors that result in short term decrement in performance capacity, with or without related physiological or psychological signs and symptoms of maladaptation in the restoration of performance1.

The only difference between them is Recovery Time; OR may take a couple of weeks but OT may take months to years to recover from.

How many people do you know need to take months to YEARS off of training? I haven’t met a single one. That’s not to say it doesn’t exist, but the fact is that most of us aren’t even close to OT and only a few of us could be considered overreaching.

Lesson: Overtraining exists but don’t let the fear of overtraining prevent you from training hard.


Scott Stevenson

Scott Stevenson is a nutritional wizard. He presented us with the idea that peri-workout nutrition (nutrition around your workout) could potentially have huge impact on “gainz”.

Now, the idea of pre- and post-workout nutrition is probably nothing new to people. Eat a little something before training then have a shake or meal post training. Easy enough right?

Dr. Stevenson states that the real magic happens from the mid-workout nutrition, or the calories you consume while training. He presented us with multiple studies examining the benefit of peri-workout nutrition. Without going into too many details, the bottom line was that eating or drinking easily digestible carbohydrates and proteins during the workout helped prevent muscle breakdown and improved protein or muscle gain. It can be as simple as a little Gatorade mixed with some branched chain amino acids (BCAAs).

If you follow the “if it fits your macros” and you think this is a waste of time, you might be right. At the same time though, if adding a mid-workout shake to your routine was the difference in 10% of your gainz, why wouldn’t you? It’s something to think about.

Lesson: Having an easily digestible carbohydrate source with a little protein during training can help preserve lean muscle mass and can contribute greatly in the quest for bigger muscles.


Harry Selkow

For the lifting portion of our weekend, we were divided into groups.

During the squat clinic, someone in our group was caught watching the “nasty group” (the strongest and loudest group) squatting large amounts of weight. Harry stopped coaching and stared at this person until their attention came back to the coaching at hand. He then reminded us of the natural order of things.

You have to learn to add and subtract before you can multiple and divide. You need to learn technique and move properly before you add load. He then told us “we want you to be in the nasty group, you just have to master the basics before we stress them.”

Lesson: Learn to walk before you run, or in this case, perfect technique then load heavy.

Bonus lesson: Take your socks off and walk around in bare feet more often. Feeling the earth beneath your feet has a very therapeutic effect on the body. It also helps you lift more.



JL Holdsworth

JL’s presentation was a bit out of the norm for a lifting seminar. Instead of talking about sets, reps, periodization schemes and how to set world records, JL gave a stellar presentation on how to run a fitness based business.

A great quote that really stuck with me from JL was “adapt and overcome”.

JL used this to describe his thoughts on how to make ends meet. This isn’t only applicable to training, but for life, business and anything that fights back when you stimulate it. Keep hustling, keep pushing and earn your keep.

Lesson: Hit a road block in training, sport, life, or business etc.? Adapt and overcome. Don’t let obstacles block your path.


Matt Rhodes

Matt Rhodes had a few solid nuggets of wisdom but what he said wasn’t my biggest take away. It was HOW he said it and his motivation to train with conviction.

This man commanded the room’s attention and when he spoke it sounded like a megaphone was in his hand. You had no choice but to listen. When the clinic was going on, there were weights slamming, clapping, screaming, and other loud noises, but the loudest of them all was Matt Rhodes getting everyone fired up to conquer some weights.

He was like King Leonidas in 300; the odds didn’t matter and your enemies (or in this case, the weights) were going to be smashed simply because he commanded excellence from everyone.

Lesson: To be a great coach you have to inspire. It doesn’t mean you have to be loud but your message should be.


Vincent Dizenzo

Do everything in your power to reach your goal.

What does that mean? Pick something you want to achieve; 500lb squat? Complete a marathon? Earn an extra $10 000 this year?

In the case of Vincent, his goal was to bench 900lbs. He made it his soul goal to hit that. Health didn’t matter because he had to gain and maintain weight. Training for the bench press took priority and every action was programmed with that goal in mind. Now we’re not saying you need to neglect absolutely everything in order to bench, but your actions need to be conducive to your goals.

Lesson: Do everything in your power to reach your goal and make sure the things you ARE doing are taking you closer to that goal, not further from it.


Dave Tate

It’s always hard to pick one lesson from Dave as he is just a brilliant individual in all areas of lifting, life and business.

At Learn To Train 8, his presentation on supplemental and assistance work was outstanding. Fortunately for everyone who couldn’t attend the seminar they’ve actually released the full presentation here for free. If it’s too long for you to watch and I had to summarize it, this would be it:

Build the 3 component pyramid of: main event (what do you compete in or care about most?) > supplemental > assistance. If you want the top to grow and get better, don’t forget about the supplemental and assistance work.

This is extremely applicable to athletic training – if it doesn’t have a direct correlation with increased performance in whatever sport you play, it is more than likely expendable and a waste of energy. That being said, to determine this transfer of effective supplemental work takes time and is often different based on each individual.

Similar to Vincent’s lesson, keep the focus of all training towards the goal. Program supplemental and assistance exercises with a purpose, not just haphazardly throwing it into a plan. Think and question why you would choose one exercise over another.

To better illustrate this idea, think of a volleyball player.

Jumping would be a huge component of their main event but in order to increase the height of their jump outside of volleyball, supplemental exercises such as deadlifts and squats should be added in to make the main event better.  The goal of the supplemental and assistance exercises is always to improve the main event.



We spent the weekend sharpening our axes at Learn To Train 8 in Ohio with some of the best and brightest in the business. Just being around like-minded people and coaches with this many years of experience inspired us to become better simply by walking into the lecture on the first day.

Just like the EliteFTS motto, “Live. Learn. Pass On.”, we want to share what we learned so that you can further your education and train like the Vikings you’re meant to be.

Never stop becoming better, just don’t forget to sharpen your axe.



1. Meeusen R, Duclos M, Gleeson M, Rietjens G, Steinacker JM, Urhausen A: Prevention, diagnosis and treatment of the Overtraining Syndrome. Eur J Sport Sci 2006;6:1–14.

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