Weightlifting is great. It keeps you healthy, gives you muscles, and allows you to move things more easily. So why is it that I cop out every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning? I think I have psychologized myself, and I think I have found five deep-rooted issues that prevent me from reaching my body’s full physical potential.
Years ago, I diagnosed myself with ADHD. I suspected this was true because my friend was diagnosed with it, and he told me all about his meeting with the doctor. The doctor asked him how many boners he got during the day and how often he picked his nose. I destroyed him in both of those categories, and on top of that, I picked my toenails religiously. Come to think of it now, I don’t believe I’ve ever used a clipper to trim my toenails. For 27 years, picking seems to have kept them in check quite well. But back to business, here; it seems I have some attention issues, and it seems this is affecting my workout.
Concentration is key when lifting heavy weights. If you find yourself mid-rep trying to remember why you’re actually doing this, weightlifting is probably not for you. Also, I just don’t have the attention span to spend an entire workout focused specifically on my shoulders or biceps or chest, etc. Instead, I end up just doing push-ups and pull-ups, killing a bunch of different birds with one stone. I have analyzed this to mean that I am efficient.
Probably closely connected to my attention span issues is that I am a noncommittal person. I guess I just think it’s silly to say “Yes!” to something when something better could be right around the corner. I analyze this to mean I am an optimist and a perfectionist. I can live with that, but it does get in the way of my workout because sometimes lifting weights is all or nothing. Sometimes, you’ve got to be able to say to yourself, “Ok, I’m going to do this. Let’s max out.” One weightlifting episode in Australia seems to have scarred me from ever being able to do that again.
I was 21 years old and in the best shape of my life. Usually, something happens where I’ll miss a workout or two a week, so I always feel like I’m playing catch up. But on this particular day, I was feeling great and decided to max out my bench press. I switched my iPod to The Offspring, my go-to pump-up music, and racked the bar with 185 lbs. I lay down on the bench and took a few deep breaths, sucking that insane music into my veins. Then I grunted, lifted the bar off of the lip, and almost immediately began to cry for help. The bar was crushing my chest and it hurt really badly and I couldn’t breathe. It seems I miscalculated in converting the kilograms to pounds. I had attempted to bench press over 220 pounds, and I had failed miserably. With pull-ups, I only have to commit to lifting my skinny ass legs. And I’m not just saying that for laughs; my legs are abnormally skinny. Even the homeless person that sleeps on my block makes fun of me. She calls me Mr. Mushroom. At first, I just thought she was crazy. Then I realized she was actually pretty witty.
I’m a superstitious person. I don’t want to be; I know it’s silly, but I can’t help it. When I was in sixth grade, I was really into heavy metal and my friends and I held a séance to bring Randy Rhodes back from the dead. Whether it worked or not, I’m still not sure. You see, we were at the climax of our ritual – all of us holding hands, in the dark, a few Yankee Doodle scented candles setting the mood – when the lights started going on and off. It was crazy. We were all so spooked, we ran upstairs and into the safety of the kitchen. Our friend’s older brother was there, laughing his ass off. It seems he was the one to flick the lights. At first I thought, “What bullshit! Séances suck!” But then I got to thinking, what if it actually did work, and what if Randy Rhodes simply made him do that? I was never able to convince myself either way, and I ended up resigning to the adoption that I better not fuck with that crazy shit. And so, although I’m 27 years old, I am still hoping that I could be some freak example of a person having a late, second growth spurt. I’ve heard that you shouldn’t weightlift before you’re fully grown, and I guess I’m still holding out for a couple more inches.
I am a creative person. So when the directions tell me to repeat one simple motion over and over again, I tend to get a little bored. Pull-ups allow me a bit more freedom to make a workout uniquely mine. I have invented all sorts of them. Like one I call The Spidey-Up. For this, when hanging in the start position, you need to pull your feet up just outside of your arms and put your soles on the bar. Now, you’re kind of hanging upside down with both of your hands and feet on the bar. Then, just pull yourself up into an upside down crouch position. If you’re doing it correctly, you should look and feel like Spider-Man. Sometimes I’ll perform the down and up motions, but most of the time I just see how long I can hang there. From the looks I get, I don’t think people see this all too often, and it seems to be a good workout because I’m always sore after I do it.
The last time I was lifting weights some disgustingly muscular guy came over and embarrassed me by announcing to the entire gym that I was doing my exercise incorrectly and that I was going to hurt myself. I instantly psychologized him and found that he wasn’t saying it out of the kindness of his heart, but instead was trying to trick me into buying a package of personal training sessions from him. I learned long ago that when dealing with sleazy salesman, it’s best to inform them early on of your superior intelligence. If they know they can’t fool you, they’ll tend to leave you alone. And so we had a short conversation:
Me: “Oh, no, don’t worry about it. I have a Ph.D. from Columbia University in Exercise Physiology. I’m just running a few experiments.”
Stupid, gross guy: “That’s cool. What sort of experiments?”
Me, frustrated to talk to someone that wouldn’t understand: “I mean, it’s complicated stuff. Glucons and neutrino systems …”
Stupid, gross guy: “Wow, that does sound complicated. Well, here’s my card. I’m a personal trainer. If you’d like to get setup on a schedule, I could bulk you right up. I’ve seen you around, and I think we could get you covered on the basics in just a few weeks.”
… Perhaps the best part about pull-ups is that they can be confidently done from the comfort of your own home.