6 Lessons From The Cage: How To Unleash Your Inner Animal

The Cage turns man into animal. This is what The Cage can teach you, straight from the beasts who have studied there.

Every year at the Arnold Fitness Expo, in the midst of free supplement samples and hordes of hungry fans, Animal rigs up The Cage. Twenty-feet wide by 80-feet long, The Cage is far more than a brand booth. It is a massive, chain-linked arena of iron inspiration. It's hallowed ground for pro bodybuilders and elite powerlifters. It's home to everyone who lives the Animal life.

The Cage is bigger than any single space or weekend, though. It's the embodiment of an idea. It's whatever place pushes you to become your biggest and best self. The Cage is your favorite squat rack. It's the empty gym at five a.m., beckoning you. It's a stack of cold 45s and the sweet sting of a barbell against your palm. It's wherever you transform from man to Animal.

The Cage can teach you. The athletes who have lifted, lived, and competed there have learned its lessons well. This is the story of The Cage told by the beasts who know it best. Get ready to stack some weights and rattle some plates. Get ready to break out of the box and into The Cage.

THE CAGE: Animal in Columbus, Ohio

Watch The Video - 30:03

Lesson 1 /// You Can Always Get Better

Richard "The Ant" Hawthorne, Powerlifter
"It was incredible to lift in such an electrifying oasis of a world that has otherwise been hidden from the public eye in The Cage. I'm proud to represent the world of powerlifting and what it actually stands for. No matter your size, age, gender, where you came from, or what you do, if you put in time in the gym, if you've busted your ass, then you can gain respect. Whether we lift in the gym, on the platform, or in The Cage, we are all on the same journey—the one where we envision the best version of ourselves."

Lesson 2 /// Let Your Competition Drive You

Grant "Higa Monster" Higa
"Lifting in The Cage is bigger than anything I have ever done in my entire life. When I get invited to lift in The Cage, I always feel the pressure. Will I be able to 'man up' and have people talk about what I did in The Cage, or be just another guy who happened to be there? I want to be the guy who makes a statement so that fans will remember my lifts for years to come."

Lesson 3 /// Use the Audience to Your Advantage

Garrett "Gunz" Griffin, Powerlifter
"For my event, I benched 550 pounds raw at 198 pounds. I honestly don't remember anything after my lift. I remember getting off the bench thinking, 'Did they touch the bar?' It came up so easy. People started congratulating me. I had done it. I was on cloud nine. This lift wasn't just for me. It was for all the Animal fans who came to watch me hit a personal best. They all believed in me. I just want to say thank you to Animal for making this lifter's dream a reality."

Ernie Lilliebridge Jr., Powerlifter
"The Cage has it all. It's big, but it's small, too. I could feel everyone's energy and hear everyone cheering me on. I started with the empty bar and did 45-pound plate flips up to 650 pounds. Then I jumped to 700. Before my last attempt, I was very anxious to go for my PR attempt of 750 pounds. I knew for sure I was going to make it. There was no way I could miss with all that energy and everyone cheering me on. I had all eyes on me and I wasn't going to disappoint."

Lesson 4 /// Push Past Sticking Points

Eric Lilliebridge, WR-holding Powerlifter
"The energy and motivation that I felt in The Cage was nothing I've ever experienced before. I have been competing in powerlifting for nine years now, and doing up to five meets each year. To this day, I haven't done a single competition that gave me the energy and focus that I got when lifting inside The Cage. It definitely brought out the best in me—in all of us. It showed through the numbers we put up. I hit a PR. This is what it's like lifting in The Cage."

Lesson 5 /// Never Give Up

Chase Browning, Animal Fan
"When I look back over the years, I often think about what has separated me from others who had the same goal as me. I'm not more talented. I'm not more gifted. I'm not special. When I run into people in the supermarket or at the movies, they will often say 'Hey man, I saw your video with the Animal guys,' or 'Dude, you've blown up.' These things are always followed by the exact same statement: 'I wish I would have stuck with it.' I never gave up."

Garrett "Gunz" Griffin, Powerlifter
"Never stop pushing and working your ass off. People told me I was a powerlifter and I would never get a sponsor, let alone a major one. Well I proved everyone wrong and I will continue to do that. The Cage felt like home. I just can't wait for 2014."

Lesson 6 /// Embrace Camaraderie

Frank McGrath, IFBB Pro; Flex and Animal Athlete
"The Cage makes Animal what it is. What other company can bring together so many people together to tear shit up? What other company lets fans meet and train with pros like we're all family? There's no jealousy, no ego, and no hate. You just have good people from all walks of life and at every level pushing and supporting one another. You really don't see this that much these days. Animal is the only company which makes this happen."

Chase Browning, Animal Fan
"Animal embodies camaraderie. That's something that's hard to come by in this sport. Animal has found a way to bring athletes and people from all walks of life together. We've formed a brotherhood bound in iron. We train together. We break bread together. We build each other up. We mentor one another. We lift one another in triumph. When defeated, we pick each other up. Bottom line: Animal is a family."