I’ve always thought that if the measure of a man is how much weight he can lift, then you are probably using the wrong tool to measure him. Still, I think most guys would admit that at some point in their lives, they’ve looked at weightlifters and thought it would be pretty cool to move a bunch of weight. In my younger years, often times you were ranked against your friends by how much you could bench press. The old adage was that you should be able to bench your weight. When I was young and in better shape, 225 would have actually exceeded my weight by 10-20 pounds…depending on the month. Regardless, I could never reach that goal. Hell, I could barely get 200 pounds off my chest once, and that usually required the help of a spotter. So, as stupid as it sounds, I’ve always had the desire to prove to myself that I could bench 4 plates on the bar without any help.
To that end, I’ve been working pretty hard the last year to improve my bench. Not only have I been cognizant of the weight, but more importantly, I’ve spent time learning to bench press properly. Thank God for YouTube! In years past, you just learned from either a trainer at the gym, or more than likely, your buddies, and most of them didn’t know what they were doing any more than I. So I’ve watched some videos, I’ve practiced at the gym and I worked on my mental game. That last part is the toughest. I’ll be perfectly honest and say that I was scared to even try 225. In January of 2018, I was able to hit a 3 rep max of 205. So I was only 20 pounds away. But my fear of failure kept me from even trying. All I could picture was the bar coming off the rack, down to my chest and staying there, with me begging for help from a spotter to get it back up.
Fast forward to last night, we had a strength test at my gym. They asked us to pick 2 of 5 exercises and shoot for a 3 rep max. After warming up, I felt pretty good, so I decided to try for 215 on the bench. I did about 10 reps of 135, then 5 of 185 and I was getting ready to load up 215 when I thought to myself that it was time to go for it. I was convinced that even if I failed, I would at least know how much more I would have to work. So, I slapped a couple of 45 pound plates on each end, psyched myself up, said a little prayer and called over a spotter. I checked my position, lifted the bar off the rack, took a deep breath and lowered it to my chest. I exhaled, exploded against the bar and to my surprise, it popped right up. Holy Crap, I did it! But I wasn’t done. Two more reps to go. The second one went much like the first, and on the final rep, I got a little hung up about halfway, but nothing was going to stop me, so I think I let out a primeval grunt and willed that sucker back to the top. I racked the bar, high-fived a couple gym mates and smiled.
I’m not going to win any awards, grace the cover of any body building magazines, or impress anyone with that little feat. But I felt pretty damn good about myself and it’s nice to know that, even if you are knocking on 50’s door, you can still be a better version of yourself.
Oh, and no pictures or videos of this one. I wouldn’t be caught dead with a camera on me in the gym, so you’re just going to have to take my word for it.