On June 29, 2023, Martins Licis returned to his YouTube channel for the second episode of his “Strength Unknown” series. The opening of the episode comprised a dramatic narration from the 2019 World’s Strongest Man (WSM) champion as drone footage captured the overhead shots of stadiums, strength centers, and parks, wherein elders tossed around heavy cinderblocks like jugglers in a circus.
Licis’ first stop was at the Siac Motor Pudong Arena for a lesson with Olympic-level table tennis players. The second was to Tianjin, China, where he met with three-time Olympic gold medalist in weightlifting Lu Xiaojun. Check it out below:
Before stepping into the gym with the three-peat Olympic gold medalist in the 77- and 81-kilogram categories, Licis heard insight into Xiaojun’s recovery preferences over tea. During the prime Xiaojun’s lifting career, he found the deep tissue massage was not sufficient to help him recover from the high-volume training that shifted from focusing on snatches and clean & jerks to squats and accessory training.
What did work for Xiaojun’s recovery was acupuncture. While more research is needed, “needling can likely improve muscular strength and power, including increasing jump height, and it also can increase flexibility,” according to Current Sports Medicine Reports. (1)
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The cue that resonated the most was to approach the leg drive as if performing a broad jump.
Xiaojun relayed helpful warm-ups, including a unique variation on a lat stretch that utilizes a reverse grip with a barbell behind the head. This position allows for a deeper loaded stretch in the lats to help improve mobility during presses to get the elbows higher and, therefore, a more stable position.
Licis has not mentioned at the time of this article’s publication when he will return to the competitive strongman stage. When he does, we’ll see if he incorporates the tricks learned from Xiaojun to better his form.
Tang, C. T., & Song, B. (2022). Acupuncture and Dry Needling for Sports Performance and Recovery. Current sports medicine reports, 21(6), 213–218.
Featured image: @martinslicis on Instagram