Brandon Lilly: The Cube Method
Brandon is a top ranked powerlifter, author of "The Cube Method", and "365STRONG", as well as a respected strength coach.
Brandon is ranked as one of the strongest powerlifters of All-Time, having world class totals in multiple weight class, raw, and equipped — *2,110 lbs Raw Belt Only, *2,237 lbs Raw with Knee Wraps and *2,612 lbs Multiply Equipped.
His efforts as a lifter, and a coach have helped cause a paradigm shift in the sport of powerlifting. His Cube Method has helped over a dozen men total 2,000 lbs or more in raw divisions, and over twenty women total over 1,000 lbs or more.
He has worked, and consulted with athletes from:
-Seal Teams 2 & 4
-University of Kentucky Football
-Juggernaut Training Systems
-Numerous Crossfits Worldwide
What is the cube method?
For those of you that don’t know how I model my training, it is a rotation of training intensities to maximize maximum results, and strength.
My waves are 3 weeks each, for squat, bench, and deadlift, and they are modeled like this:
WEEK 1 – HEAVY WORK
WEEK 2 – EXPLOSIVE WORK
WEEK 3 – REPETITION WORK
I call it “Cube Training” as when its mapped out it looks like a Cube. I never lift for maximum intensity, or heavy on two lifts in a week. If I deadlift heavy (85%+ of my Training Max), my bench is explosive (60-70% of Training Max, focusing on moving the weight as powerfully, and explosively as possible), and my squat is for repetitions (70-85% of my Training Max for repeated effort), and as the weeks rotate the effort is rotated also. In the form of a Cube.
Here’s the setup:
WEEK 1 - 2 - 3
DEADLIFT 1 - 2 - 3
BENCH PRESS 2 - 3 - 1
SQUATS 3 - 1 - 2
1=HEAVY WORK 2=EXPLOSIVE WORK 3=REPETITION WORK
Sundays are always what I call a “bodybuilding day”. This is because we are focusing on areas that are “weak” and need focus, and hypertrophy type training. I always include Military Presses, and leg presses as I like keeping my quads, and shoulders strong. This method has worked extremely well for me, in preventing burnout, and building excitement for my heavy days. Any muscular deficiencies are addressed on Sunday. I keep the weights moderate, and shoot for 5 to 6 total exercises (1-2 per body part), and do 4-5 sets of 8-12 reps per exercise. This is a very intense, but brief workout, most of mine last 30-45 minutes on this day.
Training has given me the best competition totals of my life: 2612 lbs. Multi-Ply; 2237 lbs. Raw w/Knee Wraps; and 2110 lbs. Raw Belt Only. The reason I believe that I have been so successful is that the rotation of intensities, and the model of the 10 week rotation maximizes recovery, and focus. But it also allows the body to prepare optimally for the competition at hand.
The reason I changed my training was because I felt strong in mind and body but in reality I would go to the gym and it became more and more difficult to achieve my goals for the day. It wasn’t the weights in 70-80 or even 90% range that bothered me, it was the lifts at near or above 100% that were problematic.
Couple the issues I was having along with lack of enjoyment for what I was doing in the gym and you have a guy that is miserable not only in the gym but in all parts of my life. Let’s be honest most of us let the gym creep into all aspects of our life. So what was my answer? I decided to take a week off and reevaluate my situation.
My first day back was a deadlift day, and I thought I’ll just do what I can and go home. At this time I was fresh off a week off, and I hadn’t pulled heavy the week before, so by this time I wanted something heavy in my hands. So I worked up and I worked up and I hit a 25 lbs PR!! Easy! Then next workout I did my speed bench (the way I do it isn’t like a lot of methods choose to) and had a great day, then onto squats and I was still sore from deads so I decided to do some reps. Something I had not done in years as a power lifter. And you know what? It felt amazing.
That week was the cornerstone for my idea that once you build a true base of strength, constantly pushing the envelope at 100% will not only be difficult to maintain, but it removes the enjoyment from lifting because everything becomes based on the “PR”. With this method you not only train your technique and leverages, how else do you think guys add 50 lbs. to a lift in one workout? It’s not muscle, its leverage or form changed, but we attack the muscle groups so the muscles also get stronger as well.
As I have explained before, each of the three lifts are performed each week, one being done for max effort work, the next for speed and technique, and lastly the third movement for repetitions. After the main movement I pick four exercises for 3-4 sets and I perform them like a bodybuilder. On leg day I do regular squats, then Oly squats, leg extensions, leg curls, lunges, stiff legs, leg press, calf raises, whatever I feel I need, just choose exercises that will stimulate maximum muscle growth and try to handle as much weight as you can for your sets.
Its ok to look strong AND be strong, I promise. Couple that style of training, with the “bodybuilding” day and what you get is not only a physique that you can be proud of, but a physique that can lift weights you’ve never lifted before!! It’s not by any imagination that hard work does in fact pay off!
By combining the rotation of the lifts and the accessory day you will start to notice how much more aggressive your heavy day becomes, because you have essentially dedicated two weeks to building it up so you can do your best. It also helps the body recover better knowing you are not beating yourself into submission every time you hit the gym.
Hopefully this clarifies some things for you all, so as we move forward you will begin to see the rotation at work. I will detail the program I followed going into my geared and raw meets only one month apart. So yes!!!! By all means this method can be used by raw, geared, or crossover lifters like myself! This method will simply make you better.