I believe that as “athletes” we have bought into the idea that we have to peak for everything. I believe we all have a base I call “365 Strength”. This is a set of numbers that no matter what you could accomplish any day of the year, hungry, tired, overtrained, etc. These numbers are what I monitor. I believe that if I can constantly increase my “365” then I am a better lifter for it. I have a couple of moments, that if I am honest are sheer stupid pride, but at the same time that there is something to what I am saying. I have pulled 815 lbs to near lockout without any warm up (plates fell off before I could complete the lift), I deadlifted in the Animal Cage, and competed the next day with less than 24 hours rest. I benched 525 no warm up on a bet, and walked out, and squatted 610 lbs. in a pair of swimming trunks, a tank top, and flip flops because someone said I couldn’t do it. I focus on squat, bench, deadlift, overhead press, and pull ups. For me I believe any day of the week, on a moments notice I can be ready to perform at a high level. If I were honest I would say that I could work up to a 675 lbs raw no belt squat, 700 belt squat, and 765 squat with belt, and wraps. I can bench 500 lbs. at 308, and 525 at SHW, overhead 300 lbs, and Incline 120 lbs DB’s for 25 reps. I can pull 750 beltless or belted at any time. Those numbers mean a lot to me, and I have worked my ass off to be able to say that. I’m not bragging, I’m just stating what I have done and replicated. I have pulled 750, 760, and 777 lbs. in three straight days. I have also benched 500 lbs. in 6 consecutive days. The idea that you have to sacrifice strength is ludicrous. Do I believe you can have improvements through “peaking” of course, but why would ever concede that you can’t be strong all the time?
When I think of myself, and my identity in this sport, I classify myself as a powerlifter, but in reality I would rather be classified as an all-around strength athlete. We have gotten so separated in our little “titles” that we have lost sight of a lot of things, one of those being strong. “I’m a powerlifter, I’m a strongman, I’m a bodybuilder, I’m a weightlifter, I’m an arm wrestler…” Do we not all have a love for strength? Do we not all devote insane amounts of time to our efforts? We should spend more time in learning from one another, and less time bashing, I think we all might realize how much better we can be if we did so.
If I gave you a scenario, that took lifting out of the equation, that would show you how absolutely ridiculous we have become in our way of thinking, we have allowed “weakness” to creep in and take hold. So here goes; imagine that you are walking down an alley with a loved one, possibly a grandparent, parent, brother, sister, child, best friend, husband, wife, you get the point, now, imagine this person is attacked by someone in the alley.
A) Calmly explain to the attacker that you are currently a little rusty, need some time to go back to the gym, take some martial arts classes, and drop a few pounds?
B) Do you do your damnedest, and start giving the attacker every ounce of your worth, and defend your loved one?
For me the answer is simple. I’m gonna try my best to defend my loved one. I always want to be ready for the unexpected. I want to be a guy that is well rounded, I want to be ready for anything, any challenge, at any time. Does this mean I will always win? Most certainly not but if you follow a few steps you can shed yourself of previous “weakness”, and start progressing towards being a badass 365 days a year. Stop limiting your human potential, and short changing yourself of the gift of a life, and a body you were given, and learn to push yourself, challenge higher than you ever thought possible. For too long all I’ve heard in strength sports is “you can’t be good at more than one discipline”. “Hey Brandon, you know if you deadlift in the Animal Cage you won’t be able to lift the next day in the XPC!!” Who says? I can give you a list of names from powerlifting that say so, weightlifting that say so, bodybuilding that say so… Do you think Mikhail Koklyaev gives a shit what those people think? Do you think that at sub 10% bodyfat, with an IFBB Pro Card Stan Efferding ever believed that because he was a Pro Bodybuilder, he’d never set a powerlifting World Record? 2303 lbs. at 275 lbs. BWT, know many have done that? One. You think Bill Kazmaier was thinking as a powerlifter that he was jeopardizing his future as THE most famous American Strongman, and possibly the most famous strongman in the world? Shane Hammond, Matt Kroczaleski, Shawn Frankl, Chad Smith, and a host of others all decided to believe differently. They pushed the envelope in multiple disciplines, and have inspired me to be the best I can be.
So, how does one become “365” strong? In my journey these steps are what I have found to work best for me, and allowed me to be great at some things, good at others, and dominant in a few , but mostly to be well rounded. There have been a few times when I have focused too much on powerlifting, and I lost a lot of base strength, I think a lot of this was an over commitment to powerlifting gear, notice I said, and OVER COMMITMENT, I think you can achieve 365 strength in gear, you just have to be aware that sometimes the gear comes off. So here is my plan to be a big, strong, jacked, fast, and powerful badass on demand.
I hope that after reading this article you make some sense of it, and realize that if you limit yourself to one way of thinking, whether it is a specific discipline, training method, or idea you are limiting your ability to be the best. Always be willing to receive new ideas. Never stop believing in yourself, and always push to be better in some area, I credit Mark Bell for the line “Strength is never a weakness”, but to further that you need to admit where you are weak so you can ultimately become strong. Raise your game, dedicate to be being a badass 365 days a year.Brandon Lilly is very well traveled, Elite powerlifter. He has trained at Guerrilla Squad Barbell, Westside Barbell, Lexen Xtreme, and is now home at Berea Barbell. In his strength journey he has competed in bodybuilding, strongman, and powerlifting. Brandon is one of only 19 men to ever total over 2200 raw, having 2204 which ties him for 16th all time (826.5 squat, 573 bench, 804.5 Deadlift). He also amassed a 2612 total in Multi-Ply, and has best lifts of 1008 squat, 832 bench press, and 771 Deadlift. Brandon is the author of The Cube Method and is aiming to create a paradigm shift in the Powerlifting world.