Powerlifting

Fight Club


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One of my favorite books of all-time (yes it was a book before a movie), and also favorite movies is “Fight Club”. Chuck Palahniuk is the author and has been described as follows “some men write with a pen, others a typewriter, Palahniuk writes with a sledgehammer.” It’s true, there is so much mind shattering truth in what he says, it strips away all the pretty, fun, and spare your feelings bullshit that has turned this world into a bunch of pussies. Oh, I know what you’re thinking, “so and so says I’m not a pussy, that it’s ok to be soft.” Well keep reading their shit, and stop reading mine. I have feelings, I show emotion… That is real. Feelings are real, not the kind of softness we see today in our society. So, what’s about to come is 10 very powerful quotes from the movie “Fight Club” and how they can pertain to making you a better lifter.

1.     “It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.”

Holy shit. I remember going up the ranks, and finally on December 9th, 2009 I was given the invite to Westside Barbell by Louie Simmons. In that moment I was at the highest point possible I believed. I was searching for success, and I believed I had found it. Well, a year of ups, and downs, some good times, and more hard times I was no longer at Westside. For a long time I was angry, I lifted every rep pissed off after I was no longer at the gym I had worked so hard to be in. But that wasn’t bottom. Not yet. That came in March of 2012 when I bombed out of the XPC. I had so many hopes, and I had people there to watch me lift. This was my moment, my chance at redemption, and I failed. I honest to God almost walked away from powerlifting. I asked myself 1000 times if I was meant to be a lifter at all. But through all this, I found myself lifting, and competing raw. I began networking and writing articles. I found success on the platform, and off the platform. I found myself. No matter where you are right now, whether it’s a high, or low, you have the power, you are in control, you just need to realize that.

2.     “You are not special. You’re not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else. We’re all part of the same compost heap. We’re all singing, all dancing crap of the world.”

This is something a lot of guys need to hear. We are all human, all connected, and all the same. Really. I see guys build up these massive egos, and for what? Because they can lift more weight? The greatest lifters I have met pay it all forward. They dedicate themselves to not only improving themselves, but others. I get sick and tired of seeing guys snub “newbies” because they are new. Asshole, remember you weren’t always so great. This sport has a way of giving what you give, so take the time to dedicate to younger lifters, whether it’s online, in the gym, or in your own training group.

3.     “Warning: If you are reading this then this warning is for you. Every word you read of this useless fine print is another second off your life. Don’t you have other things to do? Is your life so empty that you honestly can’t think of a better way to spend these moments? Or are you so impressed with authority that you give respect and credence to all that claim it? Do you read everything you’re supposed to read? Do you think every thing you’re supposed to think? Buy what you’re told to want? Get out of your apartment. Meet a member of the opposite sex. Stop the excessive shopping and masturbation. Quit your job. Start a fight. Prove you’re alive. If you don’t claim your humanity you will become a statistic. You have been warned.”

This one has two parts. One, I see the guys online that pick up a method to try, and they absolutely scrutinize the shit out of it, looking for that one little miracle detail that will suddenly make everything come together for them. Listen, nothing comes without work, and in powerlifting nothing will trump time under the bar. There are just things you will not, cannot, should not know until you experience them for yourself. “It says 70% for 8 sets of 3, can I do more?” I don’t know can you, should you? The only way YOU can answer that question is to do it. You want to be a great lifter right? Then start shoveling iron.

Part two, “Get out of your apartment. Meet a member of the opposite sex.” That part, well… Realize powerlifting needs to be a small portion of your life. I have made it almost the entire “pie” at times, and I can promise you that is a miserable existence. Sure you will have to sacrifice to be the best, but training early one day to take your significant other out on a date, or curbing back the accessories for one day so you make it to your kids game. Those are the things you will miss when you are old and grey. The weights are fun, but find balance, and I guarantee you will find more happiness in the gym.

4.     “If you don’t know what you want,” the doorman said, “you end up with a lot you don’t.”

This may be my favorite line from the whole movie. This is EXACTLY true in powerlifting. I hear guys comment all the time “I just squatted 700 lbs. now I want to hit 800 lbs. my next meet.” First of all this has been allowed to come into peoples train of thought because of gear, but even still 705 lbs. is still progress. In bypassing all those little checkpoints along the way you lose sight of what you should be doing, and instead do all the wrong things to achieve an unrealistic goal. If you don’t even understand how you squatted 700 lbs., really understand “WHY”, then how the hell do you hope to hit 800? Become obsessed with planning, and analyzing your workouts. When I do this exercise, I see it affects this exercise positively. Again, these are things no book, or coach, or program will tell you. It’s on you to make it.

5.     “I let go. Lost in oblivion. Dark and silent and complete. I found freedom. Losing all hope was freedom.”

I know there are some of you reading this right now that have no fucking clue what the hell you are doing in the gym. “Should I do the Cube, or 531, or Westside, or XYZ?” My advice to you, if your head is so clouded with all of this you are full of doubt. No matter what program you choose you will never believe in yourself enough to make it successful, because the first sign of failure and you’ll quit it. Forget a program. Take some time, just go to the gym and train. Lose the fear of not knowing what you need to do next may be. I know it sounds ironic after I just said you need a plan, well some people need baptism by fire. Walk in, and let all the bullshit go. Train for yourself, and ultimately you will find yourself.

6.     “If I could wake up in a different place, at a different time, could I wake up as a different person?”

I hear guys say shit all the time, “If I trained here, or if I had this…” You know what? You are a pussy. You want to sit around and think up reasons why you fail. You could never look in the mirror and say “I’ve been the one who is wrong, I don’t have what it takes.” I see it constantly. A gym is four walls. If you want to train at Westside Barbell then have a sign made and slap it on the door of your gym. Westside is four walls, and a coach in Louie Simmons, you would have great training partners, but if you aren’t ready to bring it, or you don’t have what it takes you won’t make it there. I didn’t thrive there. I had so many distractions in my life at the time I was nut job. Now I train in a one car garage with literally a barbell, some dumbbells, and a few odds and ends and I am getting stronger. Stop looking for reasons to make being less than you want ok. If you suck, admit that you suck. Don’t blame anyone else, take ownership of it, then see how much you can improve.

7.     “The girl is infectious human waste, and she’s confused and afraid to commit to the wrong thing and so she won’t commit to anything.”

I see this scenario as well. The “half-inners”. These are the people that wanna look the part, train here and there, show up at all the meets and talk about what might have been, blah blah blah. Either you want this or you don’t. Powerlifting is not a sport like others. You can kill yourself for hours upon hours and get no better. You need to commit to the sport (if that’s what you really want) and do what it takes. It’s gonna be expensive, food, time, equipment, gym fees, supplements, etc. Commit or quit, and if you quit get the fuck outta the way.

8.     “Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes. working jobs we hate, so we can buy shit we dont need.”

I’m gonna keep this simple. There are magazines, and websites that will pump shit down your throat about this piece of equipment, or that specialty supplement… You have to use product “x” or you won’t be the best. Fuck all that noise. Those things can help, but all you need to get strong?

Barbell, food, rest. Everything else is just bullshit. You don’t need gear to be strong (you can graduate to that later if that is your choice), you don’t need any machines (they can make muscle specification recruitment easier at times), and you need good rest, and a balanced diet, use supplements if money allows. It’s simple. Start there.

9.     “For years now, I’ve wanted to fall asleep. The sort of slipping off, the giving up, the falling part of sleep. Now sleeping is the last thing I want to do.”

This is kind of where I am now. I loved the sport of powerlifting since day one, but I hated many aspects of it. Now that I have opened my eyes to all the bullshit that occurs I can help myself to steer clear. Lots of negativity in the sport it seems, so I try to stay positive, and my lifts show for it. When you enjoy the gym you will see it on the platform.

10.  “One minute was enough, Tyler said, “A person had to work hard for it, but a minute of perfection was worth the effort. A moment was the most you could ever expect from perfection.”

The final quote I chose pertains to a lot of lifters, but I am gonna tell you to try to change that. I have experienced many times where I pull my final deadlift for a new PR total, throw my hands in the air in celebration, and five minutes later I’m analyzing where I could have had five more pounds. What we need to realize is that no matter what the outcome, we competed. We put our best on the line that day, on that platform, with those judges. That moment is finite. Learn to enjoy it, at least for a little while because there will always be another training cycle, another meet, and always, always another 5 lbs.

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.
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