The last time rapper Action Bronson (Ariyan Arslani) met up with 2019 World’s Strongest Man (WSM) champion Martins Licis to train, Bronson had just dropped over 120 pounds. Under Licis’s tutelage, Bronson built up his grip strength and mobility via farmer’s walks, log lifts, and squats. This time around, Bronson made the trip to Licis’s Wreck-It Gym in El Segundo, CA, to perform some eccentric deadlifts, but they weren’t alone.
Powerlifter Jake Johns, also known as Big Boy, and undefeated mixed martial artist Orlando Sanchez strolled into the gym to join them. Check out the video below from Licis’s YouTube channel where they speed through agility ladders, perform farmer’s carries, and crush some deadlifts emphasizing the eccentric portion of the movement (controlling the barbell on the way down):
[Related: Watch Strongman Pavlo Nakonechnyy’s Silky Smooth 475-Kilogram Deadlift]
Johns strolled into the gym 35 pounds lighter than he was six weeks prior. He shifted his recent training to practice striking and Jiu-Jitsu with less of an emphasis on lifting. According to Open Powerlifting, his competition-best deadlift is 382.5 kilograms (843.2 pounds). His personal best raw deadlift is 409.6 pounds (903 pounds). Although he still weighed in at 300 pounds, he was uncertain how heavy his deadlifts would be.
Luckily, the goal of the day’s training session was less about hitting max weight and more about improving control while lowering the barbell and maximizing the explosiveness of the concentric movement. Johns and Bronson huddled up to mix up some pre-workout, and then the workout was on.
Bronson admits that training with Licis did wonders for his mobility. When they trained together last, with a focus on squats, Licis shared his tips on properly opening the hips and externally rotating the knees to get into proper position at the bottom of the squat. Toss in a proper warm-up progression and Bronson felt like a whole new man.
My squat game has changed. I got full range, full everything.
This time around, Bronson was training with “the two lords of the deadlift.” Johns and Licis walked Bronson through proper deadlift form, zoning in on the fluidity of the motion. All four men hit 174.6-kilogram (385-pound) triples, lowering the barbell slowly for five seconds before exploding up. Licis moved the weight up to 226.8 kilograms (500 pounds) and smashed what appeared to be a double. Bronson attempted that same weight, but it was too much for him. Johns stepped up and crushed a set of five.
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[Related: Strongman Brian Shaw Analyzes His 2021 World’s Strongest Man Performance]
Once the deadlifts session came to a close, Johns and Licis explained to Bronson that the external rotation he uses for the squat also applies to the deadlift. Additionally, during the concentric motion of the deadlift, the hips should not “rise quicker than the chest.” As Johns put it:
Your ass doesn’t have to be super sunk, but you have to find that sweet spot where it’s one motion.
They closed the workout with some pull-ups and single-arm dumbbell rows. More specifically, Licis and Johns did a 150-pound dumbbell challenge where they each attempted as many reps as possible with a 68-kilogram (150-pound) dumbbell. Licis lifted first:
150-Pound Dumbbell Challenge
- Jake Johns — 31 reps
- Martins Licis — 30 reps
Bronson and Licis already have a time locked in to train Atlas Stones together on Sunday, July 18, 2021. We’ll see what wisdom Licis will be able to impart onto Bronson about strongman’s most legendary event.
Feature image: @martinslicis on Instagram