Sheppard Strength

Tuesday Ten: What I Wish My 12 Year Old Self Knew About Weightlifting

I started lifting when I was a twelve year old cheerleader. Pick your jaws up off the floor. Ya'll know I was a base (#BigMomma). Our school's strength coach encouraged me to try out for the powerlifting team and the rest is history (if you don't know the history then click here).

Working with two female youth weightlifters (aged 7 and 9) at Mississippi Barbell

Working with two female youth weightlifters (aged 7 and 9) at Mississippi Barbell

Since I work with a lot of youth weightlifters now I thought I'd share some of the same advice I wish I would have known when I was starting my journey. Even though my girls are starting at ages 6-12, the advice remains the same.

1. Don't Worry About Your Bodyweight

I won't say my eating disorder started as a direct result of participating in a sport with weight classes at a young age. I had a coach that was adamant we not worry about bodyweight or use unsafe methods to lose weight (diuretics, fasting).

But when you could only accept two girls from each weight class (at most), I became hyper-aware of my weight. Especially compared to all of the smaller girls. I didn't just want to be in my weight class. I wanted to be the smallest one in it. That logic is horrible by the way.

Fortunately my girls on Mississippi Barbell don't have to worry about that. It's never something we talk about or discuss. I'm not limited by how many Youth can compete. After all, as a kid, you just need to be focused on having fun and getting comfortable in your own skin.

2. No One Cares About Your Singlet

Young or old, this seems to be the thing that scares folks about from weightlifting. I spend the most time talking people off the ledge about it. I've even decided most of my local meets I host won't even require them just to get people to stop complaining and actually lift.

I never require my kids to wear a singlet. But I do encourage them to get one. The "big kids" wear them. In the gym the "big kids" are their heroes. They don't care about what their heroes look like in their singlets. And those little kids are our heroes. So we don't care either.

3. Go Easy On Yourself

I think girls are hardwired to be hard on themselves. I was...and still am. If a girl lifter is getting down on herself for a lift not being perfect, I have to step in and remind her we don't have to keep trying the lift over and over just because we perceived it wasn't perfect. It'll never be perfect. We can't be perfect. We just have to try and keep practicing. I like to think this will help bleed over into their "real lives".

4. Always Have An Opinion

We aren't allowed to say "I don't know" or "I don't care" with Coach Amber. My girls (all my kids) should always have an opinion. You do know--you probably know more than you think. And you do care.

Speak up. Be confident.

5. Don't Compare Yourself To Other Girls

You will never look like someone else because you aren't them. You're you.

You may never be as strong as someone else. Harsh reality? Maybe. But that doesn't mean you don't try to outwork them. It doesn't mean you are less of a person because of it. And it doesn't mean the other person is better than you.

The amount of medals, PRs, or attention someone else gets doesn't take away from your shine and uniqueness.

6. How Much You Lift Doesn't Define You

It's easy to get obsessed with kilos on the bar. But it doesn't define you. Lifting is just one part of your life. It's your hobby. An outlet. Something that makes you feel good.

Squatting 100 kilos or snatching 70 kilos isn't going to make people like or hate you. If you get injured people won't think less of you. If they do then you don't want them in your life anyway.

7. Don't Be Afraid To Ask Questions

You are just starting your weightlifting journey. Ask questions when you don't understand something. Ask questions about event rules. Ask questions about exercises. Speak up!

8. Find A Mentor

Having a role model helps. It doesn't even have to be a coach or a lifter. Just find someone you admire and trust. For me, I had a best friend's sister, my coach, and I looked up to an older lifter. Clearly I had no problem searching for inspiration.

9. You Can't PR Every Meet

When you start you feel like you PR at every meet. The longer you lift, you'll realize you can't hit PRs every time you walk on the platform. That's ok! Your weightlifting journey is a marathon, not a sprint. Always strive to get stronger and be better but don't obsess over your perceived failures or shortcomings.

10. Not Medaling Isn't The End Of The World

Everyone loves a shiny medal. Unfortunately not every one can get one. Does that mean you need to cry and stomp your feet? Absolutely not. Work hard and do your best. You won't always win. You won't always PR. But you will compete with dignity and integrity.


What advice would you give your 12 year old self about weightlifting or powerlifting? Did anything I say sound wrong? Let me know in the comments!

Share online if you feel like other coaches or parents would benefit from hearing this.

Music Monday: Face On Mars Mash Up

Switching gears from last week's Pantera pick, this week's Music Monday is local Mississippi band Face on Mars. They describe themselves as "a cataclysmic combination of heavy blues rock and loud fuzz with elements of psychedelic rock, doom metal, and southern sludge."

What does that mean? I don't know but I absolutely listen to this entire album training...and driving. A lot.


I couldn't pick just one song so you get four:

  • "Beat Em Dead"
  • "Jump the Gun", "Source of Ignition", and "Psychedelic Jesus" in the video compilation of the first Olympic weightlifting meet in Mississippi history (hello shameless Mississippi Barbell plug).

Buy their album here. If you support local weightlifters and local business, then support this local band!




How'd you like the songs? Would you have picked something else? Sound off in the comments below!

Tuesday Ten: Stupid Questions You Shouldn't Ask Your Coach

Your elementary school teacher used to say, "There are no stupid questions." Well, she was wrong. There are stupid questions and if you ask your coach one of these ten questions, you're likely to get punched in the face (results may vary).


1. It says Snatch. Does that mean full snatch or power snatch?

It means I hate you.

2. What am I doing today?

Learning how to read your program apparently.

3. Did you see (Instagram Loser Name Here)'s video? He/she posted it at 11:43 am.

No I was working. Also, I don't care.

4. Should I compete at the event we are hosting?

If you want to remain on this team you will.

5. If my back hurts on squats then I should just keep squatting, right?

You should keep on walking right out the door and into a chiropractor's office.

6. Can I max out today? Everything feels so easy! I mean I know I'm competing in a few days but I want to.

Sure. But I'm not coaching you at your meet coming up BECAUSE YOU JUST RUINED MY LIFE.

7. Is it cool if I don't pay you this month?

Only if you don't want a program this month. I know your 18,000th pair of shoes and 6,000th shot of Patron this month was worth it.

8. Why does my form suck? I only missed two months of practice.

Go directly to jail. Do not collect $200.

9. Do I have to stretch?

Nah. Just injure yourself and complain about it for 3 months.

10. Why aren't you coming to my meet?

Because you signed up without telling me, told me three days before, and it's 12 hours away.


Have you said any of these things?  Heard any better "stupid questions"? Let me know what they are in the comments!

Purchase programming and training packages in our new online Sheppard Strength store.

As always you can comb through the Archives to see some past Tuesday Ten gems, read some of my national publications, or check out some before and afters of Sheppard Strength clients.

Music Monday: Pantera, "Drag The Waters"

This week's Music Monday pick isn't as polarizing as last week's tune but it'll still fire you up to lift, compete, or negotiate like a boss. Listen to the lyrics closely and you'll be uncomfortable but that's what happens when society is cray.

Drag the waters means uncover the Truth. See? Metal can be deep too, haters.


Drag the waters some more
Like never before
— Drag The Waters

Sound off on what you thought about this week's song below in the comments or on facebook.

Would you have picked a different Pantera song? Let us know!

Music Monday: Slayer, "Hate Worldwide"

Hide your wife. Hide your kids. Slayer's making errybody's ear drums bleed. This pick is a stark contrast to the melodic 80s song of yesteryear from last week but it's my jam.

Is it the most well known Slayer (or SLAYERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR) song? No. Do I like other Slayer songs better? Yep. Should you listen to this at work or around children? NOT AT ALL.

But it's my go-to song lately. I use it pump myself up before the gym, getting ready in the morning for court, or when I have crippling social anxiety and need a little boost.

Before you listen to the lyrics and start stoning me....it's just a song. I don't sacrifice lambs and I'm a good human being.

My scars insane, my life profane
I deny, defy, and spread a little hate, worldwide!
— Slayer

I know y'all have some opinion so sound off in the comments below, on facebook, or shoot me a message.

Check out older Blogs, read some of my national publications, and see what fancy services we have to offer these days!

Pro Tip Thursday: 12.15.16

I know this is the only reason you guys follow me. This week's Team Infirmary compilation is live on the YouTube channel and below for your viewing pleasure. If you're at work keep the snorting to a minimum.

Every day I post a new "tip" on my Instagram story which usually isn't a tip at all, references feeling dead inside, or features my catdog being weird.

Each Thursday I compile the previous week's Tips and will be posting them here (and on my YouTube channel).


What did you think of the tips? Were any helpful? Did some jokes fall flat? Comment here, on facebook, or on the YouTube video and let us know.

Join in on the fun and make your own Pro Tip videos! Tag us @sheppardstrength and #TeamInfirmary so we can see them on Instagram. Friend us on facebook and tag us there too so we can make sure we see them.

Maybe we'll repost some of them in a compilation video next week.

Have any questions? You can always message us. If you watched the video you can see we clearly have no life.

Music Monday: Soft Cell or Marilyn Manson, "Tainted Love"

Say what you want about this 80s classic but it has stood the test of time. The Manson version is what I work out to but the Soft Cell version is still amazing. "Tainted Love", let me count all the ways you are awesome.

Amanda Smithers, eat your heart out.


First of all, look at that album cover.

Secondly, this song is two songs in one and merges seamlesly into "Where Did Our Love Go".

Third, just admire this lyric. ADMIRE IT GUYS.

And you think love is to pray
But I’m sorry I don’t pray that way
— Soft Cell, "Tainted Love"

The Manson version proves the original's lyrics are still as amazing as ever.

This video proves what a hot mess the early 2000's, Manson, and Not Another Teen Movie was. The movie is streaming on HBO right now (as of 12/11/2016).


What do you think of the Sheppard Strength Music Monday Pick Of The Week? Is Tainted Love not your cup of tea? Do you jam it weekly? What would you have picked instead? Sound off in the comments!

Want to see more Music Monday picks? Follow the Music Monday tag below!

Check out older Blog pieces in the Archives and read some of Coach Amber's national publications here.

Pro Tip Thursday: 12.08.16

I've been injured for a few months so I decided to poke fun of myself and internet "fitness gurus". I created "Team Infirmary" as a joke--it doesn't actually exist in real life....just in injured folks' hearts.

Member Of Team Infirmary Since 2008 When A Van Ran Me Over And I Had An Eating Disorder

Member Of Team Infirmary Since 2008 When A Van Ran Me Over And I Had An Eating Disorder

Every day I post a new "tip" on my Instagram story which usually isn't a tip at all, references feeling dead inside, or features my catdog being weird.

Each Thursday I compile the previous week's Tips and will be posting them here (and on my YouTube channel).

Enjoy!



What did you think of the tips? Were any helpful? Did some jokes fall flat? Comment here, on facebook, or on the YouTube video and let us know.

Join in on the fun and make your own Pro Tip videos! Tag us @sheppardstrength and #TeamInfirmary so we can see them on Instagram. Friend us on facebook and tag us there too so we can make sure we see them.

Maybe we'll repost some of them in a compilation video next week.

Have any questions? You can always message us. If you watched the video you can see we clearly have no life.

Wordless Wednesday: Simpsons Edition

We've had Music Monday, Tuesday Ten, and now Wordless Wednesday is upon us. What does that mean? It means I shut my trap each Wednesday and just post a picture. That's it. Tune in tomorrow for Pro Tip Thursday (Team Infirmary Style)!


Credit: The Simpsons

Credit: The Simpsons


What do you think of the photo? Does it speak to you on a molecular level? Make you grimace, smile, or run for the door? Tell me in the comments!

Want to read words? Go back in the Blog and check out older pieces. You can always mosey on over to the Archives to read my nationally published articles too.

Follow me on Instagram @sheppardstrength to see more comedic gems and the occasional training video.

Tuesday Ten: Meet Essentials

Every Tuesday I'll be channeling my inner David Letterman with a Top 10 List for the "Tuesday Ten" blog post. Will it be exercises, recipes, lifters? Maybe my favorite memes? Only time will tell.

Top 10 Meet Essentials

"Gee, Amber. You really broke the mold on this one. What a cliche topic to write about..."

Look here, Sassy Pants. Those other lists didn't have the self deprecating, comedy gems Amber's list is about to throw at you.

So sit back, relax, and eye roll so hard you strain your retinas.

1. Waffle House Grilled Chicken and a Waffle

Why? There's a Waffle House (or it's step-brother equivalent Huddle House) almost everywhere so no matter where your meet is, you'll always be able to find one for your post weigh-in meal. What's even better is the waiter/waitress will think you're insane for ordering the chicken. But trust me, it's a life changer. #BlessedBeThyChicken

2. Reese's Fastbreak

No. Not a Reese's Cup. That's too much work to peel off the paper. Save your digits for that PR you're about to hit. Get the giant Fastbreak and thank me later.

3. Your Obnoxious Singlet

I have a Space Galaxy Dance Biketard. Don't snicker at me, that's what unitards with legs on them are called. $30 from dance stores. Suck it Adidas (just kidding!)

Fun fact: I actually bring an extra singlet with me to every meet just in case something happens. I actually even bring one when I'm coaching just in case my athlete forgets theirs after 7,890 reminders from me. I've let folks borrow a singlet at a meet I've been at before too.

4. Your Team Shirt

If you belong to a team, then bring your Team shirt for Introductions and lifting. If you're lucky enough to medal wear it on the podium.

If you belong to a Team and wear another company or gym's shirt then you just slapped your team, coaches, and team mates in the face. UNLESS you are under sponsorship obligations.

5. Your ID

You aren't famous. No one knows, or cares, who you are. Especially the weigh in official. Bring your ID with you. And don't get uppity if someone asks you for it; you aren't a special snowflake. Rules are rules.

6. Extra Set Of Clothes

If you're at a meet, then chances are you're going to sweat. If you don't we need to talk and you may need to a trained doctor to see what is going on with your body. But you'll sweat. Bring clothes (including your unmentionables) to change into you if you aren't going home after the event so your significant other doesn't disown you.

7. Headphones

No one wants to hear your music. It probably sucks. Bring headphones. The bigger the better. It tells the other lifters you hate yourself.

8. A Good Attitude

Have fun. Make lifts. Some folks take their meets so seriously. Don't get me wrong: be focused. But on meet day don't be a d**k to everyone. Don't yell at the officials or volunteers. Smile and be merry.

9. Your Attempt Selections

Have your openers ready to go at weigh ins (in pounds or kilos dependent on the federation). Have your warm ups and 2nd/3rd attempt plan written down ahead of time.

10. Your Dog

Check with the gym and event director on this before you do it. There's nothing magical about this but if I happen to be at your event, then I would want to pet it. Bring me all the puppies and I'm sure you will PR.


Did you agree with this list? Disagree? Comment below and let me have it either way. Want to hear about a certain topic next week? Let me know here or send me an email!

Stay tuned for tomorrow's Wordless Wednesday... or go back in the Blog and check out older pieces. You can always mosey on over to the Archives to read my nationally published articles too.

Follow me on Instagram @sheppardstrength to see more comedic gems and the occasional training video.

Music Monday: Mastodon, "Naked Burn"

There's more to life than lifting weights...like finding music to lift to. Every Monday I'm going to post a different song that I use while I train, program, or prepare for events.

This week's Music Monday pick is my current obsession (next to gumbo but that's a topic for another day): Mastodon's "Naked Burn".

Don't be scared by the title. It's appropriate for work and a child's ears. If the child likes metal, concept albums about Moby Dick, and being confused.


Save yourself
Don’t wait on me

What is your current jam? Post it in the comments or send me a message to let me know. I'm always looking for new music.

Until next Music Monday....

Stay tuned for tomorrow's Tuesday Ten... or go back in the Blog and check out older pieces. You can always mosey on over to the Archives to read my nationally published articles too. #ShamelessSelfPromotion