As A Remote Client by: Earl Kunkel – Garage Strength

As A Remote Client by: Earl Kunkel

As a remote client

I’ve been training remotely with Dane and the Garage Strength crew for two years and a cycle now. Prior to receiving programming from Dane, I did Crossfit for a year before deciding I needed to get stronger to even be decent at fitness as a sport. This is when I found Lehigh Valley Barbell. I did their general weightlifting program for a little over a year. I had a great experience during my time doing the general programming there--little disclosure, I currently train at LVBB since I live in Bethlehem, PA, and continue to have great relationships with the members, owners, and coaches. We joke that at LVBB that I am the prodigal son. An old prodigal son. I’m a masters athlete.

I live in Bethlehem and Garage Strength operates out of Fleetwood, PA, around Reading. It’s about a fifty-minute commute from my home to the gym. I found out about Garage Strength through Doc John--Garage Strength’s mobility dad and owner of LVBB. It also just so happened, that during my brother’s wedding I had an influential conversation.

My brother’s fiance, Sarah, had Lauren Davidson in her wedding party. Lauren is a beast lifter. She just so happened to train at Garage Strength. During the wedding party shenanigans of pictures, bus rides, and socializing, Lauren and I began talking about weightlifting. Lauren convinced me to go to Dane.

With my wife’s support, I bought programming from Dane.

Unequivocally, Dane is the best technical weightlifting coach in the country. I haven’t worked with many, or am even familiar with those nationally who might have similar skills, but I really don’t care. He’s the best. And here is why I believe this about Dane and the Garage Strength “system” of technical proficiency if you will.

Over my first eight cycles of working with Dane, my absolute numbers decreased. Internally, I’m asking myself, why are my numbers going down? I was trying to figure out how the hell he gets all these young kids to crush such massive weights? And why do I suck? I work a full-time job, have three kids, an awesome wife, two dogs, and all the bills that come with being an adult--all the potential excuses in the book--why the fuck am I even doing this? Let alone pursuing it in a manner to be “good”?

I pushed through the doldrums.

Sometime in May, around my 9th cycle with Dane, I had my first “breakthrough”. I PR’d my snatch by 1 kilo. The weight wasn’t anything spectacular, but I was happy. I gave a Ric Flair, “Woooh!!!” Just so happened I had traveled down to Garage Strength to train that day. But that isn’t even the good part.

What happened that day is I started to solidify the confidence of, “I can do this shit.” And not only that, the programming started to change. No longer was I getting all these wacky technical variations from the ground. Block work started circulating into my programming, along with powers. Around autumn of that same year, my snatch PR had increased by 5 kilos. My jerk by 8 kilos. My clean was staying stagnant--I’ll get to that.

In February, nine months after that 1-kilo snatch PR, I put 7 kilos on my snatch in one cycle. I was fucking pumped. And then I did the Crossfit open, did shitty, and said fuck this, deciding to commit myself solely to weightlifting.

Now we can talk about that clean.

It could be whatever, but my legs just didn’t have the juice because of all the “extra” work I was putting in on top of my lifting program for Crossfit. I wasn’t getting “stronger” because I was doing dumb things to counteract my potential gains. Dane and the LVBB coaches constantly gave me shit for it. And they should have. Actually, Dane still gives me shit for it. And looking back on it, he should shame me all the time for this ill decision of mine.

I stopped Crossfitting in April. Who’d of thunk it, but all of a sudden my clean starts going up--within four cycles I put 10 kilos on my clean, 14 kilos on my front squat, and a measly 3 kilos on my one rep back squat--disclaimer, I can five rep about 95% of my one rep (thank you Crossfit).

And here is why I know Dane and the Garage Strength “system” of weightlifting is the best technical model in the USA. I’m not strong. I have an awful squat but am able to snatch and clean and jerk ridiculously high numbers relative to my absolute strength. The reason why, and I’m not even a good example (you should watch one of Dane’s technical analysis of my lifts, or better yet, watch a video of one of his world-class lifters, on the Weightlifting University IG to see how critical he can be), is because of the technical proficiency he developed in me as a lifter.

Those first eight cycles he was setting the course for an old man to learn how to lift right. To this day, he is still giving me technical variations that make me scratch my head. But at this point, I don’t even question the zaniness. I say, “Okay,” get to work, do the programming, and then ask him sometime down the line about the variations I had to do and how he felt/knew/conceived they would pay off technically in the lifts.

The best thing? As an athlete roughly having as many years in the sport of weightlifting as I have had almost in decades on earth, I’m glad that with Dane’s help I keep finding a way to get stronger, lift heavier weights over my head, and feel awfully fucking good about myself in the process.


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