We had Jason Gusic of Conjugate Tactical come to our strength training facility and get a work out on our Westside Barbell equipment. These guys are strong as hell and got in a great workout!
Jason Gusic: My name is Jason Gusic. I’ve been part of Westside Barbell since 2013, officially. My background being former military, former law enforcement, it’s come to be where I worked with a lot of our first responders and military work. And then that’s grown into what we do now with Conjugate Tactical.
We’ve been out here, up at Camp Pendleton, doing some work for the week. And we’ve been able to come down to The Arena. Today, we’ve linked up with some of the guys from the area here, we’re going to put in a dynamic upper, put in a high volume bench day, and see what we can make use of the equipment here.
When you combine world class coaching with a world class facility you get world class athletes. Here we have 4 time Olympic Boxing Coach Basheer Abdullah discussing his boxing teams strength and conditioning program in our 10,000 square foot dedicated strength building.
Coach Basheer Abdullah: Our strength condition program is one of the six layers we use in preparation. It consists of Olympic lifts and plyometric exercises. We conduct strength conditioning twice a week, every Tuesday and Thursday at 6:00 AM. They don’t like to get up for that, but I’m glad to see the discipline and they put themselves in here and get it done. Again, the strength conditioning is one of six layers, which consist of tactical training, technical training, physical training, mental training, nutrition, and also recovery. It’s a very important part of our training, and we can see good results from it when we use it. We’re usually the most conditioned or the stronger athlete in a ring thus far in our careers.
Deadlift is one of the most important lifts for developing strength for all different types of sports and general athletic performance. As with everything else, our coaching staff is focused on technique for optimal performance and safety. Coach Jason will teach you the right way as get you to push your limits.
Coach Jason Salazar: All right. Before your next lift, just tighten up those feet. Get them more narrow, a little more narrow than that. Good. Point those toes back out. There we go. Push those knees out into those arms. Good. Now let’s sit those hips down just a little bit more. Right there, looks better. Let’s go ahead and lift. Not too bad. Go down again. Make sure to reset everything. Hips just a tiny bit higher for me. Right there. Let’s go again. Good. Be careful how fast we shoot those hips out. Remember, shoulders and hips have to rise at the same time. That was better. Good. Let’s stand tall on this last one. Big chest. Even better, good. Drop it. Not bad. So we just have to make the minor adjustments. No wide feet. Once again, the knees will go in on you.
We want to get them nice and narrow so we can keep those knees out. Just like the squat, we’re going to be way stronger right here.
Just be careful. The hips might be a little bit too high. We don’t want to also sit way too low. Find a nice medium space right in the middle. Okay, let’s try three more. Remember everything we just did. Good. That looks good right there. Let’s lift. Nice. Watch the hips in this last one. Get them a little bit higher for me. Good. Good. Did that feel better than the first one?
Crosby: Yeah, definitely.
Coach Jason Salazar: Good. All right, it looked a lot better.
Crosby: Feeling my hamstrings a lot more.
Coach Jason Salazar: Yeah, that’s what we want to use.
Just like all of our classes, our strength class focuses on proper technique, body mechanics and progressive improvements. Here Coach Jason provides a student with some info on bench press technique. Come in and try out a class and see the difference!
Coach Jason Salazar: All right. Next one, make sure we hit our target. Let’s try to hit that sternum. That’s a little better. Relax those elbows. Let them follow the bar as it goes in. That’s better. Good.
Remember, we can exhale as we’re pressing. Just like the squat: Control on the way down; fire on the back way up. Good. One more. Good. Bring it in. That was a little bit better.
We want to make sure we hit that target. We don’t want our shoulders to internally rotate. That’s going to cause shoulder impingement. That’s when we get hurt. We always want to keep them externally rotated, so hitting that target and bringing those elbows in keeps your shoulders out.
One last thing we’re going to add in this next one is we’re going to arch our back a little bit. This is not to cheat. This is to help our shoulders stay out. Arch the back. Draw the shoulder blades together and keep it locked. Let’s try it again. Let’s do five. Just remember: control and fire.
Get that arch in your back. Good. It’s looking better. Good, you get the target every time. Nice. Rack it up. That’s the one thing we have to remember about a bench press, is protecting our shoulders. Hit it in the right spot and you won’t have to worry about it. Just make sure the elbows never flare out. Even with pushups, we can hurt ourself by doing pushups like this. Everything’s got to be in. Okay?
As with all our programs the technical instruction is what sets apart our classes. Our Fight Built classes are designed to increase your strength and athletic performance. Coach Jason Salazar runs our 10,000 square foot strength and conditioning facility and provides in depth instruction to improve your body mechanics and prevent injury. Come in and train!
Coach Jason Salazar: All right. The next one really push those knees down over those toes. It’s going to help us to get down a little bit deeper and keep that chest up. Good. Let’s make sure we really use those hips to drive straight up off the ground. Ah, that was better. Again, just like that. Good. Good. Go ahead and rack it up.
Make sure every time when we’re going down those knees, we don’t want to let them cave in on us, so we start to fall forward. Also, it’s a lot of force on the knees. Weak.
Coach Jason Salazar: As we push them out, as we’re going down they’re strong this way, it also lets us keep a nice, rigid back as we’re getting all the way down and push those hips up as we’re coming back up.
Crosby: Got it. I can definitely feel when you told me to press from the hips.
Coach Jason Salazar: Good. Let’s try it again. Just give me three.
Coach Jason Salazar: Oh, that’s good. A little slow on the way down, little more control. Slow on the way down, explode on the way up. Good. Good. Way better on that one. Feel the difference when you control on the way down versus going, shooting down?
Coach Jason Salazar: We get a little off balance. Nice and controlled, doesn’t have to be slow mo, but then fire on the way back up.
Crosby: Yeah. You definitely feel the explosion on the way up.
We are often referred to as a “fighters gym” but thats only a very small percentage of how our members benefit, and what they can achieve. Here you see an ongoing success story of two gym members, Joe and Justin, not only getting in better shape but living an overall better life based off their experiences at The Arena. Yes we build fighters but ultimately we are building healthier and happier all around people.
Joe O’Connell: So I started coming here about four and a half years ago. I started off with boxing, but the last three, four years, I really got into Jiu Jitsu and primarily did that until I got hurt in October. And then kind of went back to the fitness aspect of this, and boxing.
I’m a personal trainer. I’ve been doing it for 10 years. I got into it because I was 308 pounds after I stopped playing football. Weight loss has always been an up and down thing for me. I’ve got all the way down to about 225 and I’ve been sitting there for a long time. So in February, I decided to take things up to the next level and propose with my buddy, Justin, to see if we can get down to 185.
Justin Wilson: Joe and I were making fun of each other for being fat. And he was like, “Step on the scale, where are you at right now?” And I stepped on and I was like 232. Then we’re like, “All right, well, what’s a good obtainable, but would challenge us?” And we decided on 185. So from 232 down to 195 right now, is where I’m at. We got 10 pounds left to go.
At first, he was seeing it as a challenge. Dude was wearing sweatsuits, running extra miles, everything. And I’m like, “Bro, we’re in it for the longevity and the health of it.”, because I’m 40 years old and I don’t want to cut weight. I want to lose weight and keep it off and to maintain a good, healthy lifestyle.
Joe O’Connell: I first decided to do this because I wanted to beat him. I wanted to challenge to beat Justin to 185. But now it’s turned into, we’re supporting each other in this journey. We keep each other in line and keep each other accountable for our goals. Definitely a beneficial thing. So I’ve been working out with the strength and conditioning coach, Jason, four days a week doing his workouts. And then, I do boxing with Joe Vargas from 10 to 11.
Justin Wilson: What I’ve been doing, personally, is, cut out alcohol and I train back-to-back classes. So I’ll do Jiu Jitsu and then I’ll do the No Gi class. The more you train, the more you really become aware of how you feel and what you put in your body. And so just naturally, I’ve really cut out junk food, fast food, stuff like that. It wasn’t because I was like, “Oh, I’m on a diet. I have to do this.” It was because, I felt bad. I would eat it and I wouldn’t feel good.
Joe O’Connell: I got a meal prep company and I do two meals with them, and not snacking outside those two meals, and making a healthy dinner. I stopped drinking. It’s making these lifestyle changes, these small changes, that make a big difference, I’m learning.
Justin Wilson: Being a veteran, your tribe is a big deal. When you leave the service, I didn’t find my tribe or my group of people until I started training Jiu Jitsu. It’s improved my life in every facet.
Joe O’Connell: Having Justin with me is excellent because we keep each other accountable. I’m down 30 pounds, I got 10 more to go, and I just got to keep working hard. It’s challenging, but I like the challenge and I like working hard and The Arena helped me do this. It’s been fantastic.
About The Arena
The Arena is the largest gym in North America for Combat Sports and Martial Arts instruction.