About thirty people, maybe a little more, showed up in a torrential downpour on a Sunday morning to meet Powerlifter and Cube Method innovator Brandon Lilly at Savage City Strength in Hillsborough, NJ. All I can say was it was absolutely worth it. He covered a lot of ground, from lifting technique, to his updated views on particular Cube Method philosophies, the importance of training diversity, and even offered a book recommendation or two. But the single most important notion than Brandon stressed throughout the seminar, was that no matter what anyone tells you, it’s important to live a life outside of the gym. It’s something that was stressed by Brawn author Stuart McRobert more than twenty-five years ago. It’s ok to love something, but every one in a while you’re going to want to take some time to look at the world around you, especially if you have a family.
A Thoughtful Approach To Powerlifting
The title of this segment was actually his name for this seminar. As I said before, he covered a lot of ground and answered a lot of questions. I made three videos that are on my YouTube page now and here’s the link to that particular playlist:
As far as his words of wisdom are concerned, here are a few highlights from this seminar:
- Don’t allow yourself to become specialized or obsolete
- Don’t dismiss things that’ll make you better
- Hydration is key, as is breathing
- Cold therapy is beneficial for mental capacity
- According to a recent Swedish study, a 2% drop in hydration can cause a 5 – 10% decrease in endurance as seen in runners
- Sodium is key to optimal muscle contractions – this is based on a Stan Efferding video everyone and their mother has to have seen by now. Here’s the video if you haven’t:
- Sleep is important for recovery
- Dedication is everything – how you perform will determine how successful you are.
- 10 week mock meet cycles are recommended for novice lifters; they also should compete twice a year.
- Constant use of one training method can lead to a decrease in results – this is actually quite true. There’s nothing wrong with training a specific program for a while, as it’s more effective than changing things up constantly to “confuse the muscles” into growing. But if you’re body’s tooo used to a particular protocol you will stagnate. I’m actually contemplating change my routine around as I’m writing this and for the same reasons.
- Tribe by Sebastian Junger is an excellent book depicting the difference between the “look after number one” philosophy of most Americans and the community environment of other countries, using soldiers returning from war and struggling with multiple sources a stress as the book’s backdrop.
After a ten minute break he began observing our form on the three main lifts. My request for Brandon was to help me with my Bench Press arch, as I noticed that my ride side will stay nice and tight, while my left side loosens up. “Let me ask you this: how much rear delt work are you doing?”, he asked me without skipping a beat. Unfortunately the answer was nothing in over a year. Much like Jim Wendler, Brandon is a major advocate of training your rear delts and your lats not just during your workouts, but even during your warmups, as they decrease the chances of muscle imbalances and even increase performance in the big lifts.
For example: Gregg Valentino mentioned in a video years ago that he always starts his shoulder workouts with training rear delts, because not warming them up can greatly increase the chances of tearing a rotator cuff during pressing movements. Even Brandon told a story before looking at my form about the time he trained shoulders with bodybuilder Antoine Vaillant. They began the workout with Rear Delt Flyes, with Brandon only being able to keep up with Antoine up until he hit the 90lb point on the weight stack. Before moving on, Antoine told Brandon that it was how he started every workout.
Unfortunately I experienced another problem. While arched and waiting for Brandon to give me the cue to begin, both my forearms began to numb up. Once I began he noticed that, while my arch was fine, my left arm wasn’t as stable as my right, yet everything was fine when I benched with a flat back. He then recommend that, aside from working on my rear delts, I should stay away from a barbell for ten weeks. That might be hard! After the seminar ended, I spoke to Brandon, letting him know about the numbness in my arms and his suggestion was that it might be a pinched nerve. I actually think he’s right, as I’ve noticed my left arm going numb every night in my sleep.
This was the first of what I hope will be many more seminars to come. I love the sense of community that I felt during this. It was incredible, we were all there together, with one cause. That is what it’s like to be United In Strength!
Thanks for reading and please make to look out for more articles soon!