So much can be said about The Cage that is held every year. Many make the journey to Columbus, Ohio just to witness the incredible exhibition of strength and raw power in what is considered the Super Bowl of powerlifting. Elite lifters gather here to showcase their craft. While I have been to many different meets—and they are all intense—there is a different type of exhilaration being inside The Cage.
Year after year, new and veteran lifters put on a show for three days in front of thousands of people. I watched the event for years before I got a chance to step foot on that sacred ground. I remember training, before powerlifting was even on my radar, and thinking how awesome it would be to go in there and throw around some heavy weight. I didn’t know how I would get there, but I was determined to somehow live out that dream.
I’ve been a big fan of Higa ever since I saw one of his events, “Higa Monster vs. P Diesel 500lb for Reps,” in 2012. His attitude, intensity, and drive are unmatched. I told myself that that’s what I want to do; I want to have that kind of energy and strength. He embodies so much of what Animal is and what I continue to strive to be.
Although there have been a ton of match ups and incredible feats of strength, “Pro’s vs Bro’s” is another event that resonated with me back then. The up-and-comers who competed against Animal athletes were able to experience what it was like being under the bright lights. Animal embodies the brotherhood experience. I also remember seeing guys like Richard Hawthorne come out and demolish deadlifts three to four times his body weight without breaking a sweat; Andrey Malanichev, the greatest of all time, hitting his stride as the strongest man in powerlifting; and Pete Rubish tugging at 855lb. Being within an inch of Dan Green, an OG and one of the most influential Animal athletes this past decade, is an adrenaline grab of its own.
Before I got an invite to The Cage, I ran into Texas native B.J. Whitehead who was one of my favorite Animal athletes. B.J.’s character exuded what Animal represented in and out of The Cage. He got me more invested and passionate about being able to represent Animal and exhibiting my craft in The Cage. I didn’t know anyone personally before I went to Columbus in 2016. B.J. settled me down and welcomed me with opened arms.
Stepping inside that arena itself is electrifying, but The Cage feels like a battleground. You can feel the past achievements of lifters who have graced the grounds. The following year, in 2017, I was a part of the team and everything intensified. I don’t think I disappointed when I performed a 2,005lb total in 33 seconds. It was exhilarating. The Cage is the one place where I can showcase something different, something that I feel makes me whole. I get to harness my passion, strength, and determination to one day be the best in the world. Every year I get to prove that the best is yet to come.
Powerlifting, and sports in general, are long journeys where growth is inevitable. We're not talking physical growth, but rather mental and spiritual growth that occurs as an athlete discovers wisdom through experience. You will do foolish things out of ignorance. It's part of the process. But learning and adjusting your approach is what makes a lifter go from good to great. In his latest article, Rob Hall reflects on his years of powerlifting and shares some words of wisdom to his past self. Check it out.
Plateaus happen to everyone in the lifting game. Can't avoid them. This is particularly true in powerlifting when you feel like you hit a wall with your squat, bench, or deadlift. How do you get past it? Rob Hall tells you how to break through.