Controlling A Raging Fire: A Coaches Journey To The Pan American Championships


Every so often in a coaches life an athlete comes along that changes you.  That athlete is transformative in the sense that they make you a better.  They challenge you to become something more, not through explicit demands but through sheer appreciation for their raging fire to master their athletic disciplineWes Kitts is one of those athletes. Coaching Wes compels me to work harder, be more creative, more organized and ultimately more accountable because I simply refuse to let him down.

It is difficult to put into words how much he's accomplished so far this year, all of which has happened without stepping onto the competition platform a single time.  After the American Open in December where Wes Snatched an American record 174kg and totaled 374kg we finalized our 2017 plan.  

First, we decided to forego the trip to Chicago for the US National Championships.  Instead we gambled by standing on the 374kg total from the American Open in order to earn a birth to the Pan American Games.  That meant sacrificing a team title (Cal Strength took 2nd to East Coast Gold) and missing out on the chance to defend his National Title from 2016.  The gamble paid off and as a result we've been able to train for 6 months uninterrupted where the time could not have been better spent.  

After a brief Reactivation Phase we set out on our Accumulation Phase.  This phase lasted a total of 8 weeks and we pushed the squat, pull and accessory volume like never before.

From there we moved into our Transmutation Phase, where we experimented with a new approach that I called the Dual Priority Transmutation Phase. Because Wes wasn't competing, I felt compelled to guide him to create PR performances in each of the three Mesocycles during this Phase.  For each four week cycle, I selected one strength variation and one Olympic Variation that we would highlight in order to set a new PR in those particular exercises.  

After 12 weeks of crushing performances that included a 237kg BTN Jerk, a 305kg Clean Deadlift, a 220kg Clean, a 250kg Front Squat and a close miss at a 180kg Snatch, we were ready for our Realization Phase. 

Our Realization Phase was comprised of two, 3 week Mesocycles. An important component of the Realization Phase is to ensure that Wes is in shape to take multiple attempts at high intensities in both the Snatch and Clean & Jerk, during any given workout. In order to produce a respectable total, we understood that back to back great performances in both lifts would be required. 

Wes kitts and wes barnett

Our goal for the Pan Am Championships is to be in shape to total 391kg. That performance is significant as it should be sufficient for gold, it would nearly double Wes's current USAW stipend and it represents a total that is 1kg over Wes Barnett's American Record Total. Conditioning the body and the mind to make these attempts back to back in one training session is difficult. Add to that the pressure of knowing you are attacking one of the most impressive records in American Weightlifting and nerves can easily become rattled.

Last Friday marked the end of the 1st Mesocycle of our Realization Phase. Wes put away his straps two weeks prior and had been struggling to feel the bar in the Snatch. Nevertheless in a performance that validated many of our efforts this year, he Snatched 175kg (1kg over his current American Record) and Clean & Jerked 216kg (1kg over his current lifetime PR) to total 391kg (1kg over Wes Barnett's American Record Total).

No matter what your opinion may be of me or the Cal Strength Team, I can tell you with certainty, that Wes is destined for greatness. I encourage you to sit back and enjoy watching him through the remainder of this Quad. I, on the other hand will be in the trenches trying to do my best to guide this incredible young man in realizing his full potential. The stress and pressure are both very real but there isn't a day that goes by that I don't feel blessed to be on this journey with him.

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