Do you want to level up your training? On the show this week, I’m really excited to have Ben Eisenmenger, an incredibly well-rounded strength athlete, good friend, fellow coach, and on and off client of Rebel Performance. Ben is 230 pounds and just won Kentucky’s Strongest Man where he pulled a 700+ lb deadlift. Not to mention he’s pushing a sub-6-minute mile while maintaining those numbers.
I wanted to have him on the show to talk about some key strategies and tactics he uses in his training to help him become the well-rounded, robust athlete he is. Ben and I hit on a ton of actionable tips and takeaways you can implement in your own training: the role conditioning plays, utilizing kettlebells and medicine balls, and, of course ways to improve your deadlift so you can hit record numbers. We also unpack the importance of sticking to the basics and filling up your training buckets. Listen in to hear how you can level up your attribute bars across the board so you can become the total package athlete.
What You’ll Learn in This Episode:
- [04:35] Intro to Ben Eisenmenger
- [06:15] Strongman weight classes
- [07:50] Types of loads being moved at a bodyweight of 230 lbs
- [13:44] Benefits to building a slow aerobic base
- [14:40] The importance of implementing and prioritizing your conditioning
- [16:13] Contributions to Ben’s success as a strength athlete
- [18:02] Sticking to the basics
- [19:22] The brick-by-brick analogy
- [21:44] How to use kettlebells in your training
- [25:16] Kettlebell routine for off season work
- [26:34] Building a better squat pattern
- [29:17] Powerful contributors to building Ben’s deadlift
- [31:38] Utilizing the high trap bar
- [34:22] The importance of filling your training buckets
- [37:31] Where to find Ben Eisenmenger
James Cerbie: But let’s jump into the episode today with Ben Eisenmenger. But I just realized what I did. Just find out about this service. They added these media elements here. Hold on. Let me see if this will work. You hear that?
Ben Eisenmenger: Yes.
James Cerbie: Now I can give really proper guest intros and be like, all right with us on the show today and then have the whole crowd background noise. It’ll be great. But, Ben, thank you so much for coming on, brother. Really? And to talk training with you. We just got to hang out. What was that? Two weeks ago, three weekends ago out there in Kentucky. So I’ll let you give your own little intro here in a second. But I’m going to preface the episode quickly with the fact that you are a very impressive strength athlete in terms of the robustness and well roundedness of what you can do.
We always like to talk about those pillars of performance, and I think you’re a really good example of somebody who brings all of those things to the table. Strength, hypertrophy, power, and especially for your size and how good you are at those first three. Your endurance is pretty impressive as well. So I think it’s going to be fun just to unpack maybe your training journey, big lessons you’ve learned along the way, things that you’ve done and tried that you feel were really successful in helping you to continue to level up month over month, year over year.
But before we go there, let’s just pause and let you introduce yourself to everyone who’s listening and may not know who Ben Eisenmenger is.
Intro to Ben Eisenmenger
Ben Eisenmenger: Yeah. Awesome. Well, thanks again for having me on. I always love chatting with other people and continuing some of the stuff we talked about a couple of weekends ago. So Ben Eisenmenger. I’m a gym owner in Northern Kentucky. More specifically, Erlanger, this is where I kind of grew up, went to school around here, father of three, married. I like competing in all sorts of strength events like Kennedy competitions. Most recently, strongman competitions. I’ve done group events, and I’m also a full time coach. So I’ve been doing personal training since the day I turned 18, and that’s pretty much all I’ve ever done.
And here recently I just opened up a gym so I could consolidate all my efforts, do it out of one shop and try to build up a nice strength community in the area.
James Cerbie: Awesome man. And fresh off of winning Kentucky’s Strongest Man, by the way. So huge. Congratulations on that.
Ben Eisenmenger: Yeah. When my second Kentucky Strongest Man was a late entry. So I’m paying for the damage from that. I won it in 2018. I’ve also won West Virginia’s Strongest man in 2020, right before the world shutdown. And then this year, I also won the United States National Strongman Championship as a middleweight. So it’s been a successful few years, and I owe a good amount of that to rebel. And you help coach me and expose my weaknesses and help work on me in the offseason. It’s been quite the journey.
James Cerbie: Yeah, man, it’s been fun watching you just grow so much every single, every time I turn around every three to six months. Your rate of progress is so impressive. So let’s backtrack here for people, and maybe let’s start with you say, middle weight and strong man, let’s put some actual contact numbers for people who may not know what that is. What is your height and weight?
Strongman Weight Classes
Ben Eisenmenger: So I’m six foot walking around about 230 pounds, which is a middleweight in strong men, most people in boxing, that’s a heavy weight. But in strong men, you’re looking at the light weight classes going up to about 185. The middle weight is a 200 class and also up to about 231 or 220. And then heavy weights go up to 300, and they’re super heavyweight. So I started the sport as a middleweight, and I’ve stayed in this weight class forever, which is a really big challenge for a lot of people, because as you get stronger, you consume more calories, mass moves, mass.
All these guys will grow out of the weight class. So it’s been a challenge for me to how do I continue to get stronger, faster, better while maintaining my size? And so that comes with a little bit of calorie manipulation and making sure you recover well. But it’s kept me from having to buy a whole bunch of new clothes. And it’s probably helped me win more because all these guys who outgrow the weight class, I’ve managed to stay here. So that’s a whole separate challenge. But this is a comfortable weight for me.
So I’ve just kind of maintained it really, since I was about 13, really twelve years old, been about this size. So I’ve just maintained it for 20 years.
James Cerbie: Let’s give you more context here. So you compete at 230. And we are talking a little bit about the most recent Kentucky strongest man. Just so people have an idea of a middle way, strongman athlete, and it’s just one domain of what you do, right? I think you mentioned it earlier. You’re also heavily involved in the kettlebell world, and like you’ve done some other things as well. But let’s just use this most recent strong man event as a frame of reference for people so they can understand the type of loads that are being lifted and moved at a body weight of 230 pounds. Yeah.
Types of Loads Being Moved at a Bodyweight of 230 Pounds
Ben Eisenmenger: So the event list for reference. The first event was a Max axle clean and press. I got fifth place with a 285 cleaning press, and that’s a two inch fat bar.
James Cerbie: Listen, don’t know, this is not a normal, casual barbell. This is a thick, thick barbell, like clean it most people can’t.
Ben Eisenmenger: Luckily, I got these big old mitts, but for the most part, you have to do the kind of funky Continental clean, and there’s a different set up. So it’s a lot harder than the Olympic lifting, cleaning jerk. And so the winning press was a. 325, which is very impressive for someone who’s only 230 pounds and isn’t an Olympic athlete. Then we went to Farmers Carry, which we’re looking at about 200. We were 285 per hand. So over 560 pound carry as fast as possible. That’s 60ft. And so I won that event.
That’s one of my better events. Luckily, because we do enough conditioning work and speed and agility work to not move like a broken refrigerator all the time. And I think that’s one of your turns. It’s one of my favorites. There’s a Max deadlift. So I won the Max deadlift with a. 710 deadlift, and which was tough. And there’s one other guy pulling 700. Most guys are in the 600. And then we had a yoke carry. That’s kind of like basically you’re carrying a power rack, bottom loaded.
And that was a 700 pound carry. So that’s nice to compress the spine and still try to move through the hips and the ankles. And then we did a keg over the bar. So lift a 300 pound keg over the bar as many times as you can, about a 52 inch bar. So I don’t know if you can see it all bruised up like crazy and somehow sprained the thumb. I don’t even know how that happened, but the next day, you kind of lick your wounds and take a week or so to recover, and then we’re crazy.
We’d look for the next one to do after that.
James Cerbie: And then as another frame of reference for people, because we have been chatting the last few months about really kind of building up more of this endurance component. And so what was the most recent? Because I’m trying to remember what screenshot you sent me because you sent me. Was it a two K row?
Ben Eisenmenger: Yeah. I just tested my 1 mile row. I was trying to see if I could hit a seven minute two K, so I was able to maintain that pace through 1600 meters. Seven minute two K rows. I think it’s doable for me. So that was what I was going for. And we were just kind of also trying to maybe attempt a six minute mile run, which I think I was just barely off on that. But I’m going to give it a good shot this spring.
James Cerbie: Yeah. So the only reason I’m really asking these questions, and I know for someone like you, it can sometimes be awkward to really talk about yourself. But the only reason I’m really asking these questions is because I want everybody listening to actually have a really solid frame of reference for how well rounded you actually are in terms of your performance. You’re not someone who walks in the gym with a 700 plus pound deadlift at 230, which is enormous, but then can’t really move or gets out of breath walking up a flight of stairs, or you do well across all these domains.
And if you’re sitting at 230, pulling 700 plus and even the threat of a six minute mile being there is incredibly impressive. And so I guess my first question is going to be, have you always enjoyed training in this particular fashion to really be so well rounded and robust? Or did you start off pigeonholing yourself and then expand from there?
Ben Eisenmenger: Yeah, it’s interesting. I kind of had a weird way around this as being even a big kid. I didn’t play football growing up. I ran cross country, believe it or not really.
James Cerbie: Because wrestling was so small.
Ben Eisenmenger: Yeah, we didn’t have a football team or wrestling or anything that invoked testosterone at all. So all my friends started running cross country, and I was like, you know what? I just want to be a part of the team and do something. And so I ran cross country. But I was mostly interested in bodybuilding type training.
James Cerbie: So you were like, you’re this hybrid type individual from the get go almost. Yeah.
Ben Eisenmenger: was just not the best training idea. So I started off more prioritizing strength. I was a shot put thrower as well. And was that total guy, like, out of breath walking up steps couldn’t really do anything athletic at all without getting worn out. So I biased strength early on. I think this built a big base for me and built a lot of my hypertrophy allowed me to just stay thick all the time. And really what kind of changed me was when Ryan Patrick, one of you guys coaches, has the second best gym in Erlanger.
He ran the Silverback program, and I remember just, you guys are just like animals. The program, I guess people don’t know, is kind of an initial test of challenging the strength conditioning hypertrophy and just to see the way that he has pushed himself with the other guys in the group. All of them are pretty muscular and strong, and I just realized that I wouldn’t be able to hang at all. I could have done the strength work, but as soon as the reps climbed up, I really had to evaluate if I was really as fit as I thought I was.
And so that’s when I started to incorporate a lot more rotor training and started to dive more down the Joel Jamieson’s conditioning methods and really learning more about growing. Luckily, I have a couple of clients that are former College growers. So it triggered my interest in conditioning and all these other ways to train. And I noticed from watching the guys like, nobody got weaker training these things. In fact, it looked like everyone was just training harder. And so I was like, if I had a deadlift session, I couldn’t deadlift again for ten days, it would just wreck me.
Benefits to Building a Slow Aerobic Base
And the same thing squats would wreck me for a week. And as I got worn and conditioning, I had to learn to not just crush myself every session, but to build that slow aerobic base. I started to recover quicker and I was sleeping better and my mobility got better. That was an interesting one. As my resting heart rate dropped, my mobility got better, even though I wasn’t doing any mobility work. So I think the silverback program was the one that shine the light on my weakness. And I’ve used the last few years to really build that up.
And Lo and behold, I’ve only gotten stronger and performed better. And it really was about the time that I started winning a lot more.
James Cerbie: Yes, that’s such an interesting one, because in that strength world in particular, I think you still have a lot of people that carry around that misnomer of, oh, well, if I do my conditioning, I’m just going to melt away and lose all of my gains, because if I go for a light tempo run or if I jump on this assault bike, obviously, what’s going to happen because science is all of my muscles are just going to melt off my body, and I’m no longer going to be strong.
But at this point in time, we know that’s just blatantly not true. It’s only true. If you organize the training in a really dumb way. We have enough evidence from all the athletes and people we’ve coached to say the same things you’re saying. Oh, when I started to really implement and prioritize my conditioning, everything else started to get better with it.
The Importance of Implementing and Prioritizing Your Conditioning
Ben Eisenmenger: Yeah, really. Just like a calorie balance. Everyone says, oh, you’re going to wither away and they talk about, like, marathon runners. It’s like I’m only doing, like, 30 minutes conditioning. It’s not really burning that many calories. And if weight is really the issue, then you can just add an intra-workout car. And then it was like the idea of not using cardio as a way to burn or lose, but as a way to develop other pathways. Am I developing my cardiac output? Am I expanding capillary density?
Once I got away from the idea like, this is for weight loss and burning. And more of this is a development process. Then it just enhances everything. And really it goes through like, you can’t just cardio off all your body fat because otherwise, right now, I’d have actually lost some weight when I wanted to. But yeah, you’re right. That’s such a misnomer. I try to really correct a lot of people in the strength world to do your conditioning work. It’s just lazy to miss it. And you’re really just asking yourself for trouble later on.
James Cerbie: So we have cardio here, I think, is one big contributor. Can you think of other examples of big rocks that over time for you, you feel have really contributed to your success as a strength athlete. If there’s anything that really jumps off the page at you in terms of strategies, tactics, training methodologies, implements, tools.
Contributor’s to Ben’s Success as a Strength Athlete
Ben Eisenmenger: Yeah. I think my big two that I prefer the most is the assault bike because it’s just pure work. There’s no downtime. There’s no thought process. There’s no pounding on the joints. I can genuinely put a lot of effort into it, and it’s not technique driven. I like the rower, but there’s still a slide you get to slide back in and it’s still pounding away at the same muscles that we might be using, even running like, I love running, but it kind of beats up on the joints.
So the bike has just been an awesome tool to work some of these anaerobic methods and even the high duration aerobic methods. The bike is awesome. And then I really enjoy med ball work. I feel like the Med ball. It can be used aerobically. It still keeps everything athletic. We really can’t get into these transverse movements in the weight room very well. I think that’s reserved for sports and athletics and throwing, and then you get that nice, increased velocity. People talk about speed work all the time, but with the barbell, you can only get so fast, you gotta keep it in your hands.
So it’s like a Bell curve, like it’s going to slow down, whereas the medball. I feel like it just teaches this release and teaches this power. So if you have a gun to me and I only pick two, I’d probably pick a salt bike and a Medal. And whatever the various methods I think are so versatile between the two of them for your conditioning work.
James Cerbie: And then how about others? I think the best way to phrase this is here. So I think we have a salt bike in the Med ball. Routines fall under this conditioning umbrella. Have there been other influences? If you think more in this strength, I purchased the power realm. Have there been other really significant influences that you look back on and you’re like, Man, this really helped me in a major way. It may be transitioning how you organize your training, or it could be using a different implement over another implement or a particular program or way of setting up sets and reps and things like that?
Or do you feel like you’ve done a really good job sticking to the basics and just being very consistent and that consistency over time has just continued to expand upon itself.
Sticking to the Basics
Ben Eisenmenger: I think the latter. My programming is pretty vanilla. I don’t use a lot as far as strength training goes, I don’t use crazy methods. I don’t do bands and chains or specialty barbells. I like straight bars. We’ll use the specific influence for strongman but pretty traditional linear training has worked well for me. I like the modern periodic style. So having accumulation blocks, working in a more intensification and then having your set peaking and then just kind of repeating that process and adding little bits over time.
I’ve done a good job in my strength career, not trying to see humongous gains within a year, but just kind of taking that brick by brick. I’ll take my 10% better every year. And now eight years in the sport, I’m starting to win competition without any major injuries. And then without constantly changing the program and constantly changing the movements, the technique is so automatic. Instead of worrying about learning this new bar, learning this new method, I know exactly what I’m doing. I can just focus on performance.
So keeping it really simple and using these traditional methods and just constantly refining it over time has really worked well for me. And really all the athletes I coach the same way.
The Brick-by-Brick Analogy
James Cerbie: I think that the two big ones that jump out at me. I love the brick by brick analogy because I think that there are a lot of people out there who just want to go brick by brick. They want to go here’s a foundation. I was going to drop a whole house on it. Then the other bit, there is just a consistency factor of being willing to play that long game. And it goes with the brick by brick analogy. And I think where so many people get themselves in trouble, they’re not willing to play that game. It’s pretty much well, if I can’t build a house in three months, then I’m not going to want to touch it.
And so they get impatient and they start changing things every six weeks. And I go to this program and I’m going to this program. I’m going to go to this program. And next thing you know, six months have gone by and you’ve done a lot of work. But you actually look at your progress and it’s minimal to nothing, right? Because it just can’t work that way. Do you find that you see that relatively frequently? We see it all the time.
Ben Eisenmenger: Yeah, I got friends that will tell me about their day trading all day long. And I’m like, I got a pretty killer retirement. I just save every month. And it’s kind of like the same thing with training. It’s like you can see all these flashy methods jump around. It’s like, how much are you really building Wealthwise training, like how much quality muscle. And so I’m more of the repeated over time and take the process. How do you know you’re even getting better if you just constantly switch things up?
Which is why I like more the linear periodization and not constantly switching implements. Like, I don’t need to PR my box squat to 14 inches versus reverse mini bands on this specialty barbell. Like, if you keep moving the goalposts, you can keep saying that you’re hitting your target but if you stick to the basics, you’re kind of forced to it. The barbell doesn’t lie. If it’s not getting better on the same lifts, then you have to sit back and re-evaluate what you’re doing. If you’re actually putting in the work intelligently.
James Cerbie: And then one place where you have way more experience than I do is with the kettlebell. And so how do you like to utilize the kettlebell within your own training? Because that’s one thing I actually am really intrigued to hear, because when we use the kettlebell, we’re using it. A lot of times we’re trying to create movement change. Or I think if you take say, like a one arm kettlebell snatch, I think we can actually get power improvements out of that. But when I think about just a kettlebell swing or other variations for me, I have a hard time figuring out what bucket do I place this in and where do I actually bring this into a program for somebody?
So I’d love to hear how you like to use the kettlebell in your own training.
How to Use Kettlebells in Your Training
Ben Eisenmenger: Yeah, I love kettlebells. I immediately got into them because they were obscure, so it made me look cooler, quicker. But then what really is washed away is performance. You can’t go to a meet and just your performance doesn’t lie. So it caused me to put the kettlebell in more of a place that is reasonable and actually fits my training because I didn’t want to lose it. So it’s kind of like strength practice a lot of times. Like you said, it’s a great way to teach a movement before moving on to the big stuff.
But for me, it’s almost like off season work. It’s good for a baseball player to then go, maybe play flag football, so they’re still throwing, but it’s not the same intensity. So the kettlebell kind of does that for strong men. In this aspect, it’s a lot of hip dominant movements. It’s uncomfortable. So when you’re doing two kettlebell squats, press it’s sitting on your chest. I’ve kind of learned now that it really helps me encourage people to breathe through their upper back and posterior. The leverage is a little weird.
So for some people, it’s preferred that they like it better than a dumbbell. But it’s not as hard on my joints. A strong man, but I still get to practice a lot of strong men type movements. And like you said, some of the conditioning methods. If I’m not able to go run or have a rower at the house, a 60 pound kettlebell is much cheaper than that, too. So it’s really cost efficient. I still have a few kettlebells at the house, but I really like using the movements as practice and de Loading off the major implements.
And the other method is catapults. I don’t think they build a lot of mass. It’s independent. It’s low leverage. So for somebody whose goal is hypertrophy, I don’t think it’s the best tool for me on the other end, like I mentioned earlier, I’ve seen the same weight class. I don’t want to get much bigger at this point. I just want to get stronger and more efficient at my body weight. So I think it’s where ketabille fits perfectly. If somebody was looking to add legitimate muscle mass, then I’m going to push them to the barbell or even some plate loaded machines and even make it less leveraged than the kettlebell.
So I think some people try to paint the kettlebell as like, oh, you can still get big with them. I’m like, but why not just use a better tool for it? So I use it as a strength tool without building mass and a D load under similar movement patterns for Strongman.
James Cerbie: Yes. And I think when you start thinking about the sport of strong man, that offseason kettlebell work is going to do a lot in terms of just your general overall work capacity. Right.
Kettlebell Routine for Off Season
Ben Eisenmenger: Do you have some killer grips if you haven’t ever done kettlebell complexes or kettlebellsnatch, especially time snatches, like the Detectable String Challenge or some of these snatch challenges through hard style training, it is killer on the grip. It really works the forms unlike other things like I’ll do heavy farmers carry. But there’s nothing like a snatch test. So for strong men, that’s an amazing tool to have a really strong grip. So that’s just another kind of secret benefit of them that I don’t think you get with dumbbells and barbells because you’re constantly setting them down for a kettlebell, you’re swinging and switching hands.
So it just adds a little more grip training to it.
James Cerbie: Do you have a generic kettlebell routine that you like for this off season work capacity type modality or type of work? Because I’ve played around stuff like that before in a warm up where if I’m going to hit a phase of training that’s maybe more metabolic stress oriented, I’ll front load the workout with a kennibal Bedley of some kind, like single arm swing, single arm clean, single arm snatch, and kind of just give myself a short rest period, really, more than anything, just trying to essentially up regulate metabolic pathways that I know are going to be a role once I get to my main work.
I didn’t know if you have anything in that realm that you tend to like for yourself or for your clients. You’re like, hey, we’re just going to get through this. I want to start building some work capacity.
Ben Eisenmenger: There’s a couple of complexes that we use, but I kind of individualized as a person, I like doing cardiac output. Some of my main ones. I like cardiac output sets. I’ll do, like, 30 minutes on the clock. You get ups, Galva, squats, kettlebell swings, so. It’s like you kind of have a red light, yellow light, green light for your heart rate. So the get up is like you bring your heart rate down, swings, jacket, back up, Goblet squats, kind of maintain it. So I’ll run through those three for 30 minutes straight as a nice full body work for cardiac output.
Not a lot of stress, but like I said, more of just an output method. I really like terrible snatching, as I mentioned earlier. So there’s some snatch protocols that will go to some on the minute work is pretty good for me to condition the back, the hamstrings and the grip. So kind of setting up these intervals, it’s a little complicated to explain quickly, but essentially having a heavy, medium and light day where you’re hitting different volume progressions with the kettlebells. But as far as complexes, I think I’m not very dogmatic with it.
So I just kind of switch it up based on my interest. And I get a lot out of two kettle squatting. Somebody who doesn’t do very well with squatting, especially back loaded squats. Two kettlebell squats have always been really comfortable for me, especially with a little bit of heel lift. You get a ton of abs. And so I’d probably go back to kettlebell squatting more than any other movements because it’s just my most comfortable squat.
Building a Better Squat Pattern
James Cerbie: I do think that the two kettlebell front squat is the best squat pattern builder around if the outcome is trying to improve the squat pattern itself, so more of a movement outcome change, I still haven’t found anything that I think builds that squat pattern better than a two kettlebell front squat. Yeah, it’s almost impossible to mess up because if you try to hinge it or you get really wonky, you’re just going to dump forward, like, literally, you have to do it. Sitting down and up, it becomes a very vertical movement of the pelvis, which is what we’re after.
Ben Eisenmenger: Yes, I totally agree. I just worked it into our strong range program now. And a lot of those guys try to get you heavy, like, so they dump it and teach them like, let your knees come forward, sit straight down. And yeah, the two kettlebell squats are money for teaching the squat pattern. It’s a killer AB exercise, so you can’t really hold those and stand upright without your ABS kicking in. So I’ll probably keep those around forever.
James Cerbie: Yeah, 100% if people listening have not done a proper two catabolic front squat, go out of your way to do it. And it is Abcity as long as you’re not the person that does. This guy here where we just hold the bells and just lean back to basically dump ourselves into our lower back. As long as you actually keep your asshole underneath your ears, you’re going to feel ABS. It’s almost impossible for you to not feel abs when you get it. I’ve used that for squats. I’ve used it in a warm up and have people do marching a more kind of dynamic way of bringing it together.
But I think that two cattle front rack position is a really nice tool that people don’t utilize probably as much as they should be.
Ben Eisenmenger: So my favorite thing is you see a lot of people, they drive their elbows way forward and you want to keep the elbows kind of connected to the body, like you’re blocking the body shot. And then you want to prevent that leaning back and tell people like, make a shadow over your feet with the kettlebells so that forces them to stay upright and instantly that kicks ABS on. And then I usually move through the knees with your squat, like, bend through your knees. If they can’t do that, then that’s where the heel lift comes in and you get to check the ego.
Nobody’s hitting their total with a kettlebell squad, so we can just 100% focus on the movement with them. And usually those few cues work well for me, and you can see instantly. Oh, crap. My hair is kicked in, and once that’s in and the kettlebells are on your chest, there’s only one place to put air and at the back of you, which a lot of big, strong men really struggle with. So it’s a great compliment to any strength athlete, especially a good strong man.
James Cerbie: Absolutely. In agreement. So let’s transition and talk about deadlifts, something that is near and dear to both of our hearts. What have been some really big, powerful contributors to building your deadlift over time? Outside of the consistency factor, which we already mentioned. Is there anything else that you feel has really contributed to help build that lift over time?
Powerful Contributors to Building Ben’s Deadlift
Ben Eisenmenger: Yeah, it’s tough to comment on this because it’s been such a cumulative effect. I think it’s such a technical lift. So the biggest thing for me is more technique work. I feel like doing squats and bench pressing. I can just volume them away and build a lot of muscle. Deadlift has been something for me. I had to pull back on the high volume and work more of what my setup looked like. What muscles do I feel like? What’s my bracing? What’s the tempo here? So using a lot of the methods of, like, pause at the mid Shin has been really good to teach me to keep my hips low using snatch grip.
Deadlift has been a great way to just try to keep my erectors strong, even Romanian deadlift to use hamstrings. So using the deadlift variations along with technique work, that’s where I saw numbers jump up when I was trying to beat it up with volume. It was a slower climb. And then once you kind of slowed it down, I was like, look more at the physics of it rather than developing what muscles I thought were working like this bar over my midfoot and moving directly vertical the entire time?
Is it sitting behind the shoulder joint? So I think just being more of a movement technician for the deadlift has made the most benefit and then the one area I think that people get surprised on is I saw a huge benefit using high rep trap bar deadlifts is the trap bar, you can really bastardize it easily and make it a squat. But if you stick to the hinge and just focus on pushing through the feet and build up a lot of volume there, I really felt like that helped my leg drive off the floor.
Like, I really trained the Glutes and the quads, and I think I had my best improvement on deadlift. I went from 650 to 700, and I was working on a high rep trap bar deadlift program, and I was just working on one by 20. So I think it might have been you or somebody else. We were talking about one by 20. So it was like every Saturday, I just put it on there and try to hit for 20. And I took that from about 385 to, like, 520 throughout so many months, went into a deadlift program and just ended up hitting 700 within the training cycle.
It wasn’t even a Max effort day. So I was really surprised that the high rep work on that transferred so much Max strength, and it kind of taught me that maybe it wasn’t as advanced as a lifter as I thought. It was like that novice intermediate lifter still sees a lot of improvements with hypertrophy work, and that included myself. So that was a surprising one that I wasn’t really expecting.
James Cerbie: Interesting. Yeah, I really like that that high rep trap bar is such a good way to build volume because you’re just not going to get so beat up, and we’re still going to get hypertrophy in a lot of similar places, still going to get hamstrings, still going to get glutes, still going to probably get lapse. We’re still going to get back. And I think pairing that with those more technical adjustments that you mentioned is a really nice way to run a training cycle. I’m going to use more pause deadlifts, RDL variations, snatch grip variations to really dial in the technique on a straight bar.
And then I can just hammer this trap bar to really build this volume and hypertrophy. And then when you cycle that in, do more of an actual deadlift program, you’re like, okay, rocket ship time. Here we go. Everything is just so more dialed in.
Ben Eisenmenger: The Steve Trip had me doing a lot of that monster. We would do just two or three sets of the main deadlift. But then we’d hit like five pauses, four sets of snatch grip, four sets of audio. It’s just beating everything. But most of my work that day was on accessory work. And then I have a separate day of, like, either lighter trap bar for reps or lighter axle. And I just ended up going to Nationals and crushing it. And I wasn’t beating myself up with the heavy deadlifts.
And it was like I said, the accessory work and the folks from being powerful off the floor did the trick. So I know you can hear in the background. I thought I would be slow here. I got somebody deadlifting at the gym.
James Cerbie: Speaking of sitting and you can hear the clicks.
Ben Eisenmenger: It’s a high rep day.
James Cerbie: So pray for that guy. It wouldn’t be a podcast. We can’t hear some weight in the background. I love it. Yes, Steve is very he’s another one of those guys. That is outrageously impressive in multiple ways. I remember when we had him on the podcast over a year ago. Now I was like, Dude, I don’t know how you do it, but the amount of volume that you handle in your training is outrageously impressive. He was like, oh, thank you.
Ben Eisenmenger: He’s just an animal. I think his construction background is the same approach I had, like, my grandpa was a laborer, and he didn’t call him to work because his legs were sore. He went to work every day. He had to install an elevator shaft regardless. So Steve and I think we share that like, this is my job. I’m going to go and show up and put in the work, even if nobody was watching where I’m sore or whatever, just show up and do it and don’t complain about it.
It becomes less burdensome when it’s just something that I feel like has to be done and that there are people out there laboring every day just to make a living, not complaining about it, so I can stop complaining and suck it up a little bit.
James Cerbie: Exactly. I love that, man. That’s probably a good way to start wrapping this sucker up. So last question I’m going to ask you here and we had so many big rocks for someone that’s going to listen to this episode. If they’re going to walk away with one thing, what is the one thing that you want them to walk away with?
The Importance of Filling Your Training Buckets
Ben Eisenmenger: I think the filling the buckets is probably the biggest changer for me that I totally stole from you and use all the time is the idea of being an apex athlete that ties going to rise all the ships in your training if you can just get better at one of your weak areas, whether you’re Max strength, fee conditioning, hybrid of all of them. Power Movement IQ is identifying where your weaknesses are and addressing it and bringing it up. And it’s not like you’re taking chips from one bucket to another.
You’re literally adding new material. You’re adding new things, and it’s just going to make the whole package better. So if you’re a strength athlete, obviously commit to your sport while you’re in it 100%, be specific. And then as soon as it’s over, actually commit to filling up your other buckets. Don’t just keep dabbling in what you’re doing, like, commit to a new thing, build your endurance. Maybe it’s your heart rate recovery, or maybe it’s your movement ability sucks or your ability to tie them together, commit to that and then come back to your program and you’ll notice it just keeps layering over and over and over and that mindset.
It just made me feel like a legitimate athlete. And then when you approach it like a professional, you start to train and perform like a professional. So if I could share with anybody and that’s one of the first things I tell people when they walk in the door is how do we assess all your buckets and actually commit to filling them up?
James Cerbie: Yeah, I love that. Absolutely, man. I think the fill your buckets is a very powerful theme that we have and carry here at Rebel. And then for me, I think the one take away I want for people is the brick by brick consistency. I think at the end of the day that’s what most people need more than anything. It’s just showing up, being consistent, treating it like a professional like you just mentioned, if you can take that impatience that we have as humans and check your ego and be willing to show up every single day and do the work and lay the brick, lay the brick.
Lay the brick. You will be astounded with where you can be in six to twelve months. So that’s mine 100%.
Ben Eisenmenger: Yeah, it’s amazing the difference over time and saying, I’m just going to build this brick instead of, like you said, dumping the whole house on it. If you just take that a little bit better all the time, it might take a little bit longer than others. But if you get injured, that’s three to six months off that you just got worse. And so if you can just get a little bit better and never get injured and work on these weaknesses, then you develop a package that’s unstoppable versus trying to make up for lost time and injure yourself or go down the wrong pathway. Wrong programming?
Taking that brick by brick approach has helped me out, and it may have kept me from achieving some stuff at some point in my career, but I’m still going no surgeries, no issues, still competing at a high level and doing multiple things. So I’ll take that trade off all day. What if I could have done more versus the fact that I’m healthy and still ready to keep going now fit, especially owning a business and being a family man, you can’t afford to take all this time off being hurt and other people develop respect for it.
As a coach, the clients see it and they don’t want to get injured either. They don’t want to do all this crazy stuff. They appreciate the consistency to it, for sure.
James Cerbie: Absolutely, man. Love that. So let’s do this. Where can people go to find you if you would like to be found?
Where to Find Ben Eisenmenger
Ben Eisenmenger: Yes, I’m still available. I have Instagram where I do spend most of my public time. My name is @bestrongky. The website is bstrongky.com. We’re a gym in Erlanger, Elsmere, Northern Kentucky. So if you’re in the Cincinnati area, I have an actual gym. You can come to 24/7, but through my social media has got links to my website. I sell programs online. We got a kettlebell program at Rebel Performance shop. That’s pretty cool. So trying to be more active online and put products out there.
James Cerbie: Awesome. All right, everybody, be sure to go check out @bestrongky on Instagram. The website will link to all that in the show notes as well.So that you will have it.
It’s funny, actually, I wore your shirt to the gym the other day, and somebody was like, Dude, I love that because on the back, it just says, what is it? Is it lift, repeat until strong. Yeah. Repeat until strong. I love it. That’s so good.
Ben Eisenmenger: Yes. That’s my favorite. My clients, whenever they hear that from me, they’re never doing something right. Like if I don’t have any queue to give or doing something right, I love it.
James Cerbie: All right, everybody. Thank you so much for tuning in today. Ben, my man. Thank you so much for taking time out of your day. This is fantastic. Have an amazing week, everybody. And we will be back next Monday. All right, chat soon.
- Explore our free training samples here: https://www.rebel-performance.com/training-templates/
- Follow James Cerbie on IG here: https://www.instagram.com/jamescerbie/
- Follow Ben Eisenmenger on IG here: https://www.instagram.com/bestrongky/
- Follow Be Strong KY on IG here: https://www.instagram.com/bestrongky_gym/
- Check out Be Strong KY here: https://www.bestrongky.com/
- Want to learn more about the Rebel Performance Training Team? Click here to chat with our team: http://m.me/rebelperf
PLUS: Whenever you’re ready… here are 3 ways we can help you unlock total package strength, physique, and athleticism (without being in pain or getting beaten down by injuries).
1. Listen to the podcast.
We release a new episode every Sunday evening where we break down what to do in and outside the gym to help you become the total package (and perform pain-free) – Click here to listen.
2. Buy a pre-made program.
Looking for an expertly crafted training program minus the coaching and camaraderie? Then go here.
3. Claim your 90-day risk-free trial.
Want to work directly with me and my team to find your peak performance, train pain-free, and become a total package athlete in 90 days? Then reply “trial” to this email and I’ll send you all the details. Oh, and here’s a bunch of reviews if you want to know what real humans think of working with us.