Shrugged Collective

Jacked and Tan: Powerlifting training tips and tricks

Intro from the Editor:

I have a lot of respect for Jesse Burdick.

First and foremost, he’s a great powerlifter and a razor-sharp teacher. I’ve never seen him perform a shitty repetition, and I agree with just about everything he has to say about training.

I hope to have him dropping knowledge bombs left and right on the Daily for a long-time.

Jesse stands apart from most lifters for one other very clear reason – He’s still around, still improving across the board. He changes as he needs to change to stay healthy and under heavy barbells.

What happens when things don’t go you way in a workout? This is something that just happens. But keep your head and make sure you accomplished as much as you could and then get back to work with your assistance stuff. I wanted a triple here but only hit one. I still strained hard, hit a heavy weight and got as close as I could to the intent of the day. This was just an indicator for me that I needed more work. So I took weight off the bar and did 3 sets of as many reps as possible. Then I hit my extra work later on. Sometimes you just don’t have it. It could be the heat, lack of sleep, not enough food, or any thing else. It doesn’t give excuses to NOT try, get into the gym and give it all you have. If 80% is all you can give…well that’s all you can ask. Get back to work. #powerwod #discoveryourpower @reebok @reebokone @csagym @marksmellybell @lockoutstrength @bsneric @bsnsupplements @kineticchainsportllc @killcliff

A video posted by Jesse Burdick (@jesseburdick) on


We were both fat and strong young powerlifters back in the early to mid 2000’s. Our path crossed once at Westside Barbell. It was an evening squat session during the Arnold Classic time, a great time to be around the gym. Great lifters from all over were in town for the meet, and they came to Louie to train and learn. Jesse and a few other lifters from his old Diablo Barbell crew were working up on the safety bar box squat, so I jumped in. I felt good.

We worked up rapidly to 400, 500, then 550 pounds, which is a lot of weight with that barbell. I folded forward off the box, once again allowing a misaligned thoracic spine to undue a squat that my hips and lower back could have easily manhandled. It was one of many little lessons.

Gritter, a rough junk yard dog-type character and a friend of Louie’s, he did a lot of barking afterwards. “Hey, Big Boy…Why did you miss that lift, hugh? You should have made it!” I could only smile. “Well, it was pretty heavy.” He shot back an EAT SHIT look that wiped away all that emotion. He was right, of course. I could have made that weight, but I didn’t because I fucked up. That’s all it was.

Jesse looked as smooth as he ever looked. He crushed the weight, and still looks great on the platform over a decade later. There’s a reason for that – He doesn’t force bad repetitions for the sake of ego. He’s also leaner now than he’s ever been before, which is a real challenge when maximum force is the training goal. I hope you dig Jesse’s tips. This is only the start. 

There are many secrets to the Jacked and Tan lifestyle. We intend on sharing as many as we can.  


Notes from Uncle Jesse (WARNING: These tips are for extreme winners only! Complainers and skim milk drinkers, get lost)

1. Always be prepared.

I always remembered this from my Cub Scout days, and for good reason. It applies across the board when thinking about performance in and out of the gym.

Think long-term and acute. You should always have a plan when walking into the gym. Long-term programming and lifting goals are critical, but do you have a battle plan for today?

You need a clear plan in place every time you walk into the gym, a battle plan. Warm-up and mobilize with intention. Know your target training weights and the assistance moves that will address your shifting weaknesses.

Be just as prepared outside of the gym. Never get caught in a situation where good quality food isn’t available, and always be ready to rest and recover when the opportunity arises.

Everything you do is an opportunity to get stronger and recover better.

2. Never lift or tan on an empty stomach.

I’m a big baby. I can only eat an hour or so before a big lift. If I force it, I’ll just end up vomiting everywhere and relying on liquid nourishment.

Don’t make the mistake of letting a workout get away from you. Always have gas in the tank. Eat a real meal before you train. The exact timing of that is an individual thing, but an hour should give you plenty of time to digest.

Even with that meal you will likely gas out during heavy training, unless you eat something. Sip a shake in between tough sets, or, just down it during your cool down. A scoop of protein (20-30 grams) mixed with about double the carbs is a fine starting point.

Fatboys of the world be careful with those carbs! You are no Klokov!

3. The world is your tanning oyster.

I have three very important words for you – FREE OUTDOOR TANNING. I first found out about this phenomena with Mark Bell, from Super Training Gym.

Mark, at great expense, had an outdoor tanning salon installed at his gym. The shirts came off, team morale was high. It’s a little disturbing to see bare, hairy powerlifters prancing around a parking lot, but it’s beautiful in its own way.

If you see a chance to tan take it. Everyone will know what you are doing, and they will appreciate it. If they are smart they will follow your lead.

Will you be the next leader of the Tan-volution? No really. Stop taking yourself so seriously, and really, I mean it, when you get an opportunity to lounge around and sun yourself, DO IT!

Just tell friends and colleagues that you’re not lazy, you’re just  maximizing recovery because you’re such a savage in the gym (it might work).

Every once in a blue moon when one of the girls has my phone they take a usable pic. Usually it’s all blur and darkness. This one was great. Caught me in a moment of great self argument. I love the feeling of getting hard work done and the accomplishment it leads to. But just like everyone else I have negative lazy self doubtful thoughts. Right now, in this picture, the voices in my head are auguring over finishing the work we committed to or quitting call it good enough and going to get Ice cream. Lucky for me the music was loud enough and the leftover work wasn’t over overwhelming that the good hardworking voices won. It’s a fight somedays. That’s why coaches, lifting partners and gyms are so important to personal progress. Take a look around and make sure you have the right voices around you to overcome and win those mental battles. If you don’t find them or create a space and attract them. #discoveryourpower #sufferforsuccess #powerwod @reebok @reebokone @marksmellybell @killcliff @csagym @lockoutstrength @bsnsupplements @bsneric #teambsn #bsnarmy

A photo posted by Jesse Burdick (@jesseburdick) on


4. Find a wolfpack.

It takes a very special and psychotic person to be an effective and high level lone-wolf lifter. Get have to get around people who are like-minded and have similar goals.

You want to be challenged. You need to challenge other people and dare to expect the impossible. If you can’t find anyone to lift with, don’t worry, just start building training spot of your own.

If you build it the other hungry wolves will come, even one or two would be enough. You can all be “the three best friends that anyone could have,” which is all you need to get strong.

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5. Work hard, recover harder.

I know, you just put your shirt back on. But we’re not done talking recovery and relaxation.

It’s super easy to go on the interwebs or the YouTube’s and find about 300 awesome work hard inspirational videos with music and eagles flying around and daggers and all sorts of cool stuff that makes you go nuts. But finding a video that fires you up about recovery work is pretty impossible.

That’s very unfortunate, because recovery is about 90% of the barbell game (that other 10% are mental toughness and plain old hard work. I’m sure talent is important enough, but most people use it as an excuse). If you are after gains, make it a point to always get better outside of the gym too.

You need to give proper message, active release therapy, Graston technique, acupuncture, Chinese cupping, yoga, meditation, foam rolling, mobility work, sauna, steam, contrast showers, cryo-therapy, hot and cold laser, chiropractic, compression, electric muscle stimulation, ice, that’s just to name a few of your options.

Experiment as much as you can. Find out what works best for you and keep at it. It’s the best investment you can make in your body. And yes, it’s worth every single penny.

Yours in jacked and tanness,



For more

  • You can learn more from Jesse at his site, PowerWOD. Also, make sure to keep up with his training over at Instagram. He keeps up a great feed.
  • Don’t miss your chance to register for the Muscle Gain Challenge. This is your change to pack on muscle and strength.

Mike Bledsoe

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