Here at the Strength Agenda we work hard to provide you with information on nutrition, recovery, and training. We want this information to stretch across the various disciplines of strength athletes and give them tools to succeed at whatever they train for. Reading about top athletes and how they got there inspires me, and I wanted to do the same to you. Force Feeds is an interview series with the current greats in powerlifting, Highland Games, Strongman, olympic weightlifting, and many other sports. We have some big names lined up, so stay tuned the first Sunday of every month for a kick ass athlete.
This month we are starting off with a bang…Brandon Lilly. Brandon is an accomplished power lifter and all around strong guy. He trains out of Berea Barbell in Berea, Kentucky and was generous enough to sit down with us and answer some questions and we’d like to now share his thoughts with you. He is also the author of the Cube Method Training Manual which you can check out and purchase here. The purpose of these interviews is to not sway you one way or another but to show you there is more than one way to get things accomplished. Brandon is a great example of that.
1.Thanks for chatting with us. Can you tell me a little bit about your sport/background? What did you do first? How many sports did have you participated in? How did you get to where you are now?
I was like most kids I played basketball, soccer, baseball, and was on the swim team. As I got older I narrowed my gaze to basketball, and soccer as I was pretty good at both. As I got older I shifted to soccer only to pursue a college scholarship. Upon changing high schools I started weight lifting with a strength coach that showed me the very basics, and I was hooked. I started lifting every day and added a good amount of bodyweight rapidly. I started throwing the shot put, and hammer and this lead to me getting a scholarship to Berea College to be a thrower. Once there I had a lot of relative success, but I was hooked on powerlifting so by year two of college I was focusing just on the weights.
I began training at Total Fitness in Berea, KY, and it was a gym that was owned by Robby Burns, and it was a hardcore gym. This is when I began training the Westside Method, and shortly after we created Guerrilla Squad Barbell. I was doing local NASA meets and doing very well within my age bracket. I kept at it until I started using Multi-Ply gear, and in December 2009 I was invited to Westside by Louie Simmons after a 2325 total at the SPF Cell Block Classic. I took some time to gain some weight and grow, and in September 2010 I totaled 2430 lbs. and the following March I totaled 2500 lbs. I was on a roll, and then I hurt my hip. So I focused on my bench winning the SPF Sweatt Shop Bench Meet with an 810 lbs. bench.
Just after winning that meet, I found myself at Lexen training with Chuck Vogelpohl, and Chuck really helped me become a much tougher lifter mentally. He is so focused, and has been around so long just training with him taught me so much. This is also when I began training with Michael Cartinian of Big Iron. So in one training group you had Chuck, Cartinian, Mike Johnston (Pro Strongman), Myself, Jimmy Harris, and Mike Roush. So many different ideas, and so many strong guys helped me begin the wheels turning on the Cube Method.
By March of 2012 Jimmy Harris, Mike Roush, Ryan Messmer, and I had formed our own training group and started refining the layout of the Cube you see now. We were all improving, and training this way lead me to a 2530 lbs. geared total, then 2105 lbs., 2138 lbs., and 2204 lbs. all raw, and this leads me to where I am now, constantly trying to tweak the Cube, and help people. I train at Berea Barbell, and I have a lot of competition plans for 2013 so stay tuned!
2. How important do you believe food/nutrition is to being a better athlete? Any philosophies or trains of thought you follow?
Well, I made the mistake of answering these questions from bottom to top, rather than top to bottom, because I talk a little bit about this. I think for the most part people are misinformed. Here’s an example… Would you rather have lemonade made from extract, or fresh squeezed lemons? Would you rather have margarine, or real butter? Think about it… What is protein powder? A processed substitute for real food. Why would you ever think a powder is superior to a steak, chicken breast, or egg? People will spend $80 on jugs of shit that is 80% filler just because a lifter in a Bodybuilding magazine says he uses it. Take your $80 and spend it on meat, and vegetables, and THEN buy a jug of protein to use as last resort. Supplements have become the answer for people. Supplement does not translate to replacement, real food will always be king.
3. What recovery techniques do you use if any? What have you found works best and what have you found useless/less effective?
Stretching, and mobility work thanks to Corey Hayes. He is one of my training partners at Berea Barbell. I also love Epsom Salt baths, ice baths, contrast showers, and Icing. Lastly, something most every lifter I talk to needs to eat more. I would say eating is my most beneficial recovery tool. And I don’t mean supplements. Why people think that a $4 protein shake is better for them as a lifter than one pound of hamburger is beyond me. People train hard, use all kinds of supplements, and drugs but they don’t ever look at their fork as their best friend. Keep every other variable the same, and up your food intake by at least half and see if some real magic doesn’t start happening.
4. Walk us through a day in your life: what do you eat? When and how long do you train?
My days are a blur, without getting too philosophical I can remember a time when I dreamed, or wished my days away, but now I can’t find enough hours in the day to do all I want to. I love reading, writing, sharing, meeting new people, and growing as a man. Once I expanded my scope to outside the “box” I was living in, I began to see what I wanted become, and through that I began taking steps to do so. But more along the lines of what you are looking for lol:
- Wake up around 8-9 a.m. begin checking e-mails, texts, Inbox messages from clients and so on.
- Breakfast is always 6-8 eggs, 3 packets of Strawberries and Cream Oatmeal, I take a Multi-Vitamin, Vitamin D, Pro-Biotic, and Liver and Kidney support Supplements. I try to drink 20 oz. of water first thing, then I enjoy two cups of black coffee with breakfast.
- After breakfast I usually begin interacting with clients, or general people with questions about the Cube Method via Facebook, Twitter, E-Mail. I am madly devoted to answering as many questions and messages as I can. I know some get lost in the shuffle, but I feel like if someone took the time to send me a message they thought it was important, and I should extend them the same respect.
- Lunch varies for me, 90% of the time I eat a 10 oz. steak, baked potato, and rice, with a salad. If I don’t have this it’s because I’m on the road and usually have some sort of fast food. Even when I do eat on the go I try to make smart choices about my food. I almost never get fries, I usually stick to real beef burgers, and will just eat several burgers rather the fries and so on.
- Pre Workout I take in 40 grams of Protein, and 40 carbs… I hate not getting nutrients from food, but this is quick and effective.
- During my workout I like Snickers Bars, and Coke. Not some magic secret, I just know that when I don’t have them I wish I did. I work out for 1 hour to 1.5 hours. I understand when using gear it can be a little longer but I like to get in and get out.
- After my workout I always have steak, 2-3 potatoes, and green vegetables. This is in my opinion the most important meal of the day, as your body is desperate for nutrients, so why in the hell would you use a powdered protein? Feed it real, dense food. Just my opinion, if you want science on this I’m not your guy, I just do things that work for me.
- I have another Post Workout Meal about an hour later. I like this meal to be all protein. So maybe just a couple chicken breasts, or if I have no other option I will use protein.
- I try to have 6 eggs every night before bed. So as you can see I don’t have many carbs at night. I front load them for now, and if I have a craving I eat it. I don’t count anything but this: 350 protein, 600 carbs, 100 fat, that is about 4700 calories per day. People might think that is a small amount, try getting them on clean whole food, it’s a good amount of food, and I grow just fine.
- As far as pastimes go I don’t watch a lot of TV. I think a lot of stuff on there is just controlled marketing anyway. I do watch a lot of Documentaries on Netflix, as well as watching old movies. Even when I’m working I have a documentary on just to listen, and draw inspiration. There have been so many amazing people in our world, most of them amazing within normal standards.
5. What’s the best piece of advice someone has ever given you in regards to training and getting stronger? Anything you would like pass on to someone trying to get where you are?
A majority of the advice that helped me along came from Dave Hoff. These three things helped me the most:
- Train smarter than you train hard. You can train your ass off, but without knowing why, or what you are doing you will spin your wheels. Have a purpose, and never miss weights in training.
- Even when you compete leave a little bit in the tank. So many guys train 100% every day,
- Train in such a way that you leave knowing you had a little more, and that will carry over into your training cycle, whereas if you hit a huge lift, but it’s ugly or extremely difficult it’s difficult to build a cycle around that number. Too many guys think they have to do something great “today”. Legends aren’t built in one meet.
- Never give a shit about what anyone says about you. If you are doing things the right way, and succeeding, then haters come with the territory. If you don’t have haters you need to get better. Lol
I have to give credit to Danny Dague, Louie Simmons, and Chuck Vogelpohl because they all had big impacts on me as a lifter. Some of it came from advice they gave, some came trying to earn their respect, but I tried to surround myself with the best people possible and learn as much as I could. I feel very, very lucky to have trained at such great gyms, and with so many great lifters.
6. What is the most impressive feat of strength you have accomplished to date?
I hate to sound so arrogant that I classify any of my lifts as “impressive”, but the feat of strength that gave me the confidence to know I am on the right track was my 2,204 lbs. total in California at Mark Bell’s meet. I had a lot to prove to myself in going out there, I was going to be competing against some of the very best raw lifters in the world, definitely in America, and I wanted to hold my own. I feel like I did that. I competed hard, and competed smart and had a day to remember.