by: Josh Bryant
Success leaves clues! This past weekend in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, was the greatest raw bench press meet in the history of powerlifting. The lineup included Robert Wilkerson, Jeremy Hoornstra, James Strickland and Julius Maddox. Highlights included James Strickland hitting a 661-pound bench press–a 60-pound PR in the 275-pound weight class and a gallant attempt at a 677-pound all-time world record. Jeremy broke his own all-time world twice and finished with 672.4-pound bench at a 237 bodyweight. Julius violated 661 pounds like a parking meter and will crack 700 in 2017. As the coach to these athletes, I am going to share four behaviors these four shared and how they can apply to your pursuit of strength.
Attempts and some warm-ups (leave volume on for voice over)
Warming-up A pump can help win some hardware at the bodybuilding show and rake in the dead presidents at the local male revue. In powerlifting the objective is to warm your muscles up and prime your central nervous system for three maximal single-repetition attempts. As Kaz says, “Your arms are hydraulic spring loaded machines.” A proper warm up gives the machines a few extra springs. In warm-ups, once these bench press behemoths surpassed 315, it was single reps and a few doubles. Remember, it’s a warm-up not a pre-exhaust.
Application Point Science says warm-up! The exact way you do it is an art and as you advance you will develop your own specific nuances. Check out this video for a good starting point
Focus Robert Wilkerson, Julius Maddox, James Strickland and Jeremy Hoornstra are nice people but when its game time they become completely immersed in the present moment. In some Zen schools the masters will walk around with a stick and whack people out of nowhere and if you get whacked you could get expelled! Why? Because a lack of mindfulness, if you were being present you would not have been whacked. Focus starts in training by intentionally doing the right thing over and over. Everything you do becomes embedded in your subconscious mind. Your subconscious is always at work and will work for you or against you, you program it so it’s either treasure in treasure out or garbage in garbage out. Every day is an opportunity to ignite this servo mechanism!
Application Point Kill the monkey mind and all the clutter that is holding you back. Social media updates can wait, start focusing on building the right habits now and when meet day arrives the magic will happen.
Explosive Power There was enigmatic music in the background by a band that couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket and sounded like a cross between Freddy Fender and an inebriated Don Ho. In the midst of this pleasant, but bizarre, experience, I asked my mentor, Dr. Fred Hatfield, what characteristic differentiates individuals with world-class strength from those with run-of-the-mill strength. He said, “What do you think, Josh?” I said training in a compensatory acceleration style. He looked at me and said, “Bingo.” In the video, watch these guys warm-up as the weights head north of 405, the pig iron is flying faster than a Chicano U-turn. This primes the central nervous system for the big day and this ain’t just a game-day tactic, these guys train in this style. Think about how much adaptive overload you get when all work sets are performed this way. Now think about how many gains are pissed away when you train with the speed of grandma Moses.
Application Point Of all Fred Hatfield’s brilliant teachings, Compensatory Acceleration Training is the most important. Force is Mass X Acceleration! Work sets need to be done with maximum force and as leverage improves, compensate by accelerating the bar faster. Even if the weight is moving slow the intention is to move that son of a buck from point A to point B as explosively as possible. This intentionality will help build limit and explosive strength and is the difference between alpha and beta male or between getting splinters in your ass from riding the pine and stardom.
Self-Talk If most people talked to their friends the way they talked to themselves soon they’d be friendless! Stop and listen to how you talk to yourself. So many speak to themselves in absolutes when it comes to negatives claiming they are “unlucky” or “have a bad temper”. What this does is provide them ownership to these traits, and guess what, as a man speaketh so he becomes! You become what you focus on and since you have given yourself permission to own problems the flood gates have been opened to create a negative destiny. The good news is if you speak about yourself in absolute positive terms “I am a game-day performer”, “I have self control” you can create a positive destiny. So, start speaking about your positive traits in absolutes and your negative ones as situational, you are not “always late” you were “late today but will be on time from now on”, you are not sick, you don’t feel well today. All of these guys were acting “as if” ahead of time and this was expressed with very positive self-talk. David didn’t tell himself he was fighting the undefeated champion Goliath; paraphrasing, he said he was going to open a can of whoop ass on that filthy Philistine.
Application Point Mindset is everything and it starts with self-talk. Start talking to yourself like you would a good friend and don’t claim ownership over a temporary problem.
Pick up Jailhouse Strong: The Successful Mindset
Final Thoughts Often, when I write about the success of clients, I share training tips. However, since so much of these guys’ training is featured on the Jailhouse Strong YouTube channel, I thought it would serve you better to look at some of the characteristics of these great champions. Thanks for setting the example, gentlemen!