As an up and coming athlete having someone train with you that is the pinnacle of your sport is a dream right? Well this has happened to me over the past month and I thought I would share my experience as a competitive Powerlifter training with one of the best.
Just before I go on, in the past month with Eric here are my numbers leading up to my next competition in 7.5 weeks:
- Squat: 302.5kg (PB)
- Bench Press: 182.5kg (training PB)
- Deadlift: 301kg x 2 (PB)
This is the sort of effect these people will have on you. Not to mention my other training partner Jeremy who is fucking strong as well.
'If you are the strongest person in your gym, you need another gym'
1 Month Training With The Big E
Eric is a very genuine and humble guy, which led to Jeremy, Eric, Matt (on bench days) and Myself forming an awesome little training group for when Eric is in Canberra with his partner Perri. If I am honest I catch myself talking to him just like a good mate and completely forgetting that he owns a few All Time World Records in Powerlifting. As an up and coming Powerlifter you could imagine how weird it feels for me to have a Powerlfting idol just training with Jez and I, chatting away and talking shit... It is FREAKING AWESOME haha.
Something also pretty awesome happened yesterday. UltraFS Gym had its first noise complaint in 18 months! We had a huge deadlift session, Jez worked up to 286kg, myself 301kg x2 and Eric a whopping 386kg x 2 for a PB! You could imagine how damn loud this would of been for the neighbours. I even went around and warned all of them it was going to be loud, the only neighbour I didn't warn showed up on Ultra's door step, Doh! He was like "What the hell is going on in here!?" I just pointed at Eric who was in his soft suit looking gigantic... Sorry Eric HAHA! You are leaving Australia in a few days so you can take the blame! :P
One thing very cool about Eric is how professional his approach to lifting is. He is very clinical and things have to be a very precise and certain way. The biggest take home message of this blog post came from a squat session we had a bit over a week ago. He had an absolute shocker with his balance and missed a few of his warm ups so he called the session there and left it. I asked him how he felt after he called it and he said "I am fine, just a little off balance today," the remarkable thing is he said it without much emotion, X + Y + Z. He knows that it isn't a representation of his true potential, he knows when he is fresh he is good for a 450kg+. Eric also told me he had been very busy all weekend which had put him off, end of story, no need to think about it further it was time to move on. Where as from experience a lot of people (including me from 2 years ago) get pretty fired up and upset by having a bad session, even if they know the reasons why they will still cry about it which doesn't do anyone good.
Even more remarkable, in the same squat session I asked Eric how he felt after bombing out of 'Big Dogs' Competition last year (one of the biggest competitions on the planet at the time). For those of you that don't know what bombing out is, he missed all 3 squat attempts so he couldn't get a total to keep him in the competition. I approached Eric and asked "How did you feel after 'Big Dogs?' you must of been pretty bummed huh?" and he replied in the same fashion as the session he had just done and said "not really, I hadn't trained with a bar that thick so it kept rolling down my back throwing me off balance. I just needed to go away and learn from it." Again, X + Y = Z, he took emotion out of it and worked out what the issue was and now he is 12 weeks out from the same competition this year and has been training with the EXACT same bar and mono-lift that will be used on comp day... There is his solution, train the way you play!
Eric bombs out of one of the biggest Powerlifting competitions in the world and isn't very phased by it, whereas it isn't uncommon for most people to have a bad training session and cry about it for a week. Very professional, he limits the amount of emotion involved and comes up with a solution. Hats off to you sir.
There Is No Special Sauce
Over the past few years I have managed to get around and chat with some Word Class Powerlifters including the likes of Matt Fryfogal, Shaun Doyle, Eric Lilliebridge, Chad Wesley Smith, Ed Coan and more. Listening to their approach to life is fascinating. The thing that I have found most common with these big lifters is there is no special sauce, there is no special training program, food or device that produces this magic outcome, it is mostly very simple shit that they seem to be doing. From experience and observation, most of them seem to have a more simple approach than 90% of Novice lifters out there.
This may sound very cliche but the reason these lifters seem to be some of the best in the world is they have showed up consistently longer than anyone else limiting the amount of injuries they have had. They also eat to recover, most of their nutrition intake isn't anal about calories, in fact they eat a lot of crap to hold their weight!
All of what I have just said is the same for Eric, as I am not sure how much info he would like me giving out about him ill keep it simple. He has trained the exact same program for over 10 years with slight variations to work on his weaknesses. None of this swapping a program every 12 weeks trying to find some secret that no one knows about. He got to work longer than every one else. Eric also trains only 3 times a week, he told me the other day that not many people believe him when he tells them that.
'Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out'
It seems to be a matter of finding a training style that works for you and sticking with it... for a long time! Strength takes time.. Eric has been training for around 16 years! The reason I have responded so well to Eric's training style is that I ENJOY it. I am not a huge fan of mind numbing high volume sessions, I am a very simple and intuitive with my approach to training. Some people love to plan out the whole 12 week cycle with exact percentages, RPE, sets and reps, where as I like to gauge the session I am doing now off how I feel from previous sessions and what I have to do over the next week. Ironically, this is how most of the big lifters I have met think and I totally agree with them, we are human and life gets in the way, we can't just predict the future and plan out an exact 12 week training cycle!
Eric has training template he follows with very basic periodization and lots of heavy lifting involved. Each week you will be doing some sort of heavy triple, double or single depending on how close you are to competition. If you love lifting heavy, I highly suggest you contact him asap and talk to him about Online Coaching at http://ericlilliebridge.com/.
To avoid dragging on to much I will conclude this blog here. I really hope you have taken away something from this blog for your own training. In my opinion it comes down to the old saying 'Keep it simple stupid,' find a training style that you love and do it for a long time, stop looking for short cuts and get to work, the numbers will come! To Eric who leaves in a few days to head back home to America, good luck with your prep and I look forward to seeing you bigger, better and badder than ever when you are back in Australia to compete!!
Thank you for reading! :)
- Jake Fisher