Monday, June 10, 2013

Juggernaut Seminar Recap from the LRB view

This past weekend I was privileged to be part of a seminar at Chicago Crossfit with the Juggernaut crew, headed up by Juggernaut president, Chad Wesley Kazmaier.....errrr, Smith.  Along with Chad I would be joining the Lilliebridge family (Ernie Sr., Eric, and Ernie Jr.), Brandon Lilly, Pete Rubish, Caitlyn Trout, and some guy named Ed Coan.

Separated at birth?
We started things off Friday night, where Chad asked Brandon and I do to a video interview.  It took Brandon and I about 5 minutes to actually get our "game faces on" to even start this thing because we tend to joke a lot or talk about things neither of us would prefer be caught on audio or video talking about for fear needing to retreat to a country with no extradition laws.

We didn't have a format for what we were going to discuss, so Brandon just shot from the hip and we rolled with it.  Brandon and myself both have the gift of gab, and if left just to shoot the shit we'll go on for hours and hours.  This is what we did in Chicago a month ago at the nationals, and Chad wanted us to get that on video.  So we ended up rolling with it back at the hotel room.

I realize that last sentence can be misconstrued in many, many ways.  Especially since there was a video camera involved, however I assure you that Brandon's ultimate bear masculinity is not appealing to me.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Chad said he wanted us to talk about sub-max training and how we have both sort of evolved our training methodologies to revolve around that kind of thing, and I figured we'd sort of go over that, and call it a night.  However as noted, Brandon and myself both talk a lot and B just kept transitioning into other topics.  Almost two hours later we had not only covered the sub-max training concepts, but a lot of stuff on nutrition, life, things we would tell to our younger selves, and a whole host of other topics.  Chad seemed to be pretty pleased with the outcome and said he will cut it up in chunks for the Juggernaut website.

The interesting part about this interview, was that Chad posted on the Juggernaut facebook page that it was going on, and wanted to know if anyone had anything they wanted to ask us.  Literally, Brandon and I went over everything everyone wanted to know about without knowing that was being asked.  It was quite uncanny.  I will credit Brandon for picking such good topics because he did fantastic job there.

Saturday morning Brandon and Chad did lecture, and that afternoon we broke everyone up into groups to go over squat, bench, and dead.  Eric, Brandon, and myself were assigned to coach bench.

I wanted to mainly go over getting set up properly on the bench, because I feel that just learning how to get setup properly on a solid base is something a lot of people don't know how to do, don't know TO DO, or don't do very consistently.  So we went over that with each group, trying to teach them on how to get tight on the bench, get more stress onto the upperback, and how to create leg drive.

After many hours of coaching the team left to train at legendary Quads Gym.  The gym that Coan has been at for his training life and where he trained out of for all of those championships and world records.

Quads is a very old school gym, and as soon as you pull into the parking lot you know this isn't going to be a Balley's or Planet Fitness.  There's a banner that's hanging on the outside of the gym that tells you that it was voted as one of top the 10 gyms in America by Muscle and Fitness and Muscular development.  And it lives up to that billing.

There's old, old nautilus equipment (that is still in great shape mind you), old school seated press benches (where the racks are too damn close to load one plate without the bar flipping over), a monolift, a squat rack, a deadlift area, and honestly too many pieces of equipment to name.  It was packed wall to wall with everything from Hammer Strength pullovers to a cable crossover machine that Jesus may or may not have used.  It was that old.  

Pete and I were going to do some bodybuilding work together because it was his deload week (I'm training him for his upcoming meet) so we decided to do some shoulder work to start.  I asked him if he was ok with press behind the neck and Pete was down.

The Rube and I

Neither of us had eaten very much all day and Pete was even more depleted than I was.  I told him to at least go slam a Gatorade before we got started so he would have some carbs in him.

We hammered off quite a few sets of seated presses with Pete working up to a solid 225 and I hit 315.  Afterwards Pete did 135 for 20 and then we went over to finish watching Eric pull.  Eric is in the starting week of his meet prep, and he worked up to 755x3 for deadlifts.

I could tell Pete was itching to pull, so I offered a compromise since I called the first exercise.

"You want to pull?"

"Yeah." Pete said with a smile.

"Ok, how about some deficits then?" I said.

Pete nodded.

We did some tricep work as Eric still had his bar loaded up, so we did about 150 total reps of tricep work while they tore down Eric's pull.

After that I grabbed a 4" block and put it down in the deadlift area.

We pulled 225 for a triple.  Then 315 for a double (I did this twice).  Then 405 for a single.  500 for a single, 585 for a single, the 635 for a single.  On the 635, in honor of Pete, I yelled "EASY!!!!!!!!!"

I felt pretty good about my speed as I seemed to be matching Pete's bar speed pretty well.  Pete asked me what my best pull was and I told him it was still the 655 I pulled a month earlier with the groin tear.

"Well you just killed 635 just pull 660 to get a PR.  And it will even be on a deficit."

The 635 was a pretty fast pull.  Not a "speed" pull but it was certainly easy.

Pete gathered himself to pull the 660, and right before he started Coan yelled out to him "Come on, you bitch."

This seemed to get Pete quite fired up as he pulled the 660, but it was pretty hard.  Then he pulled it again for a really gritty double.  It was a great effort on Pete's part as we were all tired and hungry as shit.

I set up to pull the 660, pulled the slack out of the bar, dropped my hips and the bar popped off the floor fast, then right at the knee it just died on me.  Brandon told me the bar was just slightly in front of me, but Ernie said he felt I was still behind the bar.  However it was Ed that really had it right, when I told him how upset I was at that miss.

 "You should be.  Because of how you missed it.  You missed it because of your approach was all wrong.  It had nothing to do with strength.  You missed it because you approached it like it was heavy.  So it was." he said, shrugging.  "The other ones, you just walked up to and ripped them off the floor.  That's all you had to do."

Pretty much nailed it.  I spent too much time preparing myself for that single, and mentally approached it like a "PR" rather than just like all the rest of the pulls.  Lifting is a technical and muscular game yes, but it's so so mental at times as well.  It reminded me of a moment a few months ago with my training partner during a deadlift workout.

She went to pull 175, and it was stapled to the floor.  I mean, wouldn't budge.  Not an inch.  This is a light weight for her.  I lit into her about it, and she then got focused and ripped it off the floor like it was nothing.

Rather than tap into that "rage" for the 660, all I really needed to do was walk up, and pull it.  I was really disappointed that I missed a weight I should have pulled rather easily, but there are good days and bad ones.  There are times to tap deep into yourself for what you need, and times when you need to just approach the bar in a workman like manner, and do your shit.

This was one of those times.

This was a great learning experience, and I will remember to keep it in pocket for the next time.  I will also not be so hard on myself for a miss that came after a very long day, on very little food.  That probably didn't help a whole lot.

I also wanted to say congrats to Brandon for hitting a 545 bench, which was a PR for his current bodyweight, of "300" which no one believes, and one of which he tried to prove by using a faulty scale.  

I also caught him in this position a lot at the seminar.....

Sunday morning we all gathered at 9 a.m. for the Q&A segment of the seminar.  I think Brandon and I ended up talking more than anyone else on the panel (surprise), but everyone had so many gems and so much knowledge to offer that I felt like I was a member of the audience learning along with everyone else.  I also won't lie in that it felt surreal to be sitting next to Ed Coan fielding questions along with him.  I imagine I wasn't alone in this feeling.  Even Ernie Sr. posted up pics of the book Ed's autographed for him.  Everyone is still in awe of Ed and what he has accomplished, but more than that, it's Ed's humility that will astonish you.  There are so many egos and big shots in all sports, and of course even powerlifting.  With some of them you'd think that THEY had done what Ed had accomplished, yet Ed is very unassuming, and unbelievably kind and considerate.  

After the session I told Ed it was an honor for me to sit next to him and his response to that was, "no no, you know as much as anyone sitting up there."  And that's Ed.  He told me how shitty my miss was, and then paid me a compliment on my knowledge.  I will say this about Ed as I've gotten to know him, he's VERY straight when he speaks to you.  Low key, but you always get that he's not going to bullshit you about anything.  So don't ask him a question unless you REALLY want the answer.

I also got an eye roll out of Ed when I said during the Q&A, that Kirk was the best squatter of all time, which everyone thought was quite funny.

After the lunch break we had one more group to go through, and this time Brandon, Eric, and myself taught more as a team to finish up on bench.  I wanted to combine the things B had been going over with his bench group from the previous day, with what I had been going over because I felt it would be a good combination of techniques.

I met a lot of people that told me they follow my blog and read my stuff, and though I'm still learning to deal with people telling me this, I am beyond words at how appreciative I am of when I hear it.  I just don't always know how to handle it other than to say "thank you", and honesty be honored that someone would take the time out to read my work.  Especially enough to come tell me they read it on a regular basis, and how much they have learned from all the writing I've done.  I really, really appreciate that.  More than I could ever express in words.

In closing I want to say that it was one of the most memorable weekends of my life in so many ways.  I learned so much myself, and got to live and be part of an experience I never thought possible just a few years ago.  I do not feel as though I am some "big shot" or take myself seriously because of it.  More than anything, I am humbled that I've been able to do something well enough that someone would ask me to be part of such an event.

I do not feel "proud"....I feel honored.

I feel honored that Chad would ask me to participate.  Thank you for extending yourself to me so that I could be a part of this thing.

I feel honored to have sat next to the Michael Jordan of powerlifting for a morning, answering questions with him.

I feel honored to have been part of a group that all was there, and gave their time to help and educate people that love and live our little sub culture of strength sports.  There was a camaraderie among this group that I felt enveloped the whole event more like family.  That's one of the things that I do love about powerlifting and strength sports.  There are a lot of genuine people involved in it that give their time, effort, money, and knowledge so that others may get better from it.  Yes, there are detractors, backstabbers, and the such that exist as well, however none of those people were present at Crossfit Chicago on this day.

On this day, we were all just lifters, trying to help each other out.  Now if we could only get life to echo that sentiment as often as we would like.  What a "seminar" that would be.

Also, Eric HATES that my calves are bigger than his......


  1. Brandon has clearly taken the old saying "Don't stand if you can sit, don't sit if you can lie down" to heart.

  2. Paul,

    That was an awesome write-up! Seriously, man. Write-ups like these make me wish I was there attending. But what a great recap of the weekend. Just judging frm the pics alone---you'd know it was a good time. A bunch of big-ass dudes sharing dropping knowledge bombs, lifting together, pushing each other to be Better---almost reminds me of the Golden Era---of Powerlifters that is. Freakin' awesome, man.

  3. I wish I could have gone to that event, but I didn't know about it until it was too late to set aside money and request time off. Just being able to train with some really strong people would be awesome.

    It does make me want to know the best approach for finding a good PL coach in my area. Internet coaching is all well and good, but you do loose a lot over the wire.

  4. Sounds like a great event.

  5. Awesome write up Paul I enjoyed reading this! Thank you for adding me in the write up :) I had a great time lifting with you and Pete!

    1. Ern you are the man. I'm so glad we finally got to meet and hang out. And your lifting is phenomenal!

  6. Too bad those 100 rep curls arent working, you coulda shown off the guns at the seminar.