Harry TheBicepsFlexKilla entered the zone of complete concentration. During that very moment there was nothing but him and a rusty heavy barbell above his chest. He was no longer hearing the rhythmic sounds of the cardio machines tortured by permacutting bunnies in black legging pants. The infantile screams of the polished gym brahs wearing oversized tank tops were muted too. The worries about his future had already disappeared as well.
“When will I get married?”, “What about my promotion?”, “What’s the point of life?” were long forgotten questions that no longer needed an answer. He was in a vacuum – alone with the iron.
Harry had began his second bench press repetition, when the game started getting painful and dangerous. The barbell felt heavy, cold and mean. His left wrist buckled a little under the pressure and cracked. Harry knew right away that he was going to need a serious strength transfusion from his lower body in order to complete the other 3 reps part of the original plan.
His heart was beating incredibly fast, and he was strongly convinced that the display of his cheap heart rate monitor was going to shatter in pieces flying straight into his eyes. Similar thoughts together with the struggle not get squeezed by a heavy weight, pushed Harry’s adrenaline production to the absolute limit. The fact that Harry did not have any spotters was the finishing touch of his epic battle against death.
Before the 4th repetition Harry remembered a wise thought he had read in a weightlifting book. He planted his feet firmly into the ground and squeezed the floor with his toes. He also squeezed the bar so hard that the damn thing nearly started producing tears like substance. Then Harry took a deep breath and let the bar descend under control. As soon as the bar touched his chest, he pushed the barbell as hard as he could. His whole face turned red and the skin on his forehead wrinkled so hard that he aged 6 months in 1 second. It took him so long to complete the repetition that in the meantime a dog would have been able to write a comprehensible e-mail using a mobile phone.
Harry’s program was calling for one more repetition, but he knew it was pure gambling. He was beginning to doubt himself already. However, he decided to continue and play the popular gym game known as “let the bar go down and pray”. After a few more seconds he attempted one more repetition.
On the way up he inserted five extra large trucks of effort but about midway the bar hit a dead end, just like his salary after the first three months of work. Harry kept on pushing, but there was no upward movement. After 3 more seconds the bar started going down and eventually it sank into Harry’s chest. The seconds turned into hours, and Harry started panicking. He wanted to get out of the barbell’s claw as fast as possible. Ironically, the other brahs in the gym had moved to the leg section of the gym. He was left alone – crushed on the bench like a cockroach.
Finally, Harry recalled that there were no clamps on the bar, which are usually there to stop the barbell plates from coming out. He had read online that in similar situations you can just lift one end higher than the other and let the plates slide.
He used some of his extra pre-death strength to tilt the bar so that the weights on the right can slide. He didn’t have many plates on the barbell, which was a massive plus in this case, and the iron circles fell off fast. Thereupon the heavier part with plates on it hit the ground and Harry was finally free. He found himself on the floor in a squat position and immediately began damage evaluation. No holes were found.
“I almost died,” was thinking Harry while removing the rest of the plates from the barbell.
“Hahaha. That was close,” said somebody with a ghost like voice.
Harry turned around, already feeling ashamed of what had happened, and a saw a weird guy in corner sitting under the shadow of the lat pulldown machine. The man was ancient and had tough life written on his face. He was also getting fashion advice from his fellow garbage men because instead of a belt he had a dirty torn shoelace with many knots on it around the waist. His shoes were antiques too, but surprisingly he was wearing top of the line jeans and a new T-shirt with “Careful: Backfires!” written on it.
“So, the janitor lifts,” thought Harry, but said: “Who are you?” instead.
“The guy who saw you get crushed by 135 lbs / 62 kg on the bar,” replied the alleged janitor.
“150 lbs! You should learn to count,” said Harry.
“Why didn’t you help me?”
“Do I look like the bench press ambulance to you?”
“Not really. You look like somebody who spends most of his time in the garbage can by choice.”
“Nice one. But you know what? The year I touched tits for the first time I was already benching 150 lbs for reps. I remember the day like it was yesterday, even though I was five,” said the mysterious man and smiled because he knew this was a nice recovery.
“You know what? Touching the tits of your mom or a doll does not count,” said Harry back.
“Look kid, you are just a girly man and your bench press proves it.”
Out of all the insults this one hurt Harry the most, because after spending a good amount of time on the Internet, he was lured into believing that by increasing your bench press you can boost your manhood too. “Is this motherfucker, right,” thought Harry.
“Hey, how much do you bench press,” asked Harry.
“4 plates,” replied the man.
“You want me to show you? You want me to show you, girly man?”
“Fine. Show me and then take the trash and get out,” replied Harry.
The man transformed into a bull. In a few seconds there was a barbell loaded with 4 plates on each side waiting to be pressed. The guy made a fist with both hands and began rotating his wrists, which were cracking intensely. He sat on the bench, looked at the ceiling and then stared for 10 more seconds at a poster of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Thereupon he cracked his neck and took a dirty little box of mint candies out of his pocket. In the box was a small piece of weightlifting chalk. After covering his whole palms and fingers in chalk to increase friction against the metal bar, he got on his back, pushed his chest out as much as possible and took a pretty wide grip on the bar. He unracked the barbell and did 5 reps with the weight like it was nothing.
After the lift the man got up, pulled his sagging pants upwards and said: “Do you have something to say to the king of the bench press? Talk to me? Lost for words?”
Harry was impressed. The guy didn’t fully extend his elbows at the top, but his form was pretty good otherwise. “He didn’t even warm-up,” thought Harry and felt like a little bitch. His ego was completely crushed. “Garbage men lift more than me,” was thinking Harry.
“Ok. I admit that you are super strong. Can you teach me,” asked Harry.
“Hmmm…teach you? You have some paper on you?”
“20 bucks to show you my program and 50 bucks per training session.”
Harry paid for the program, but had no intentions to train under the wing of this psycho.
“Come to my car outside and I will give you my secret routine,” said the bench press king.
5 minutes later Harry was standing in front of a large white van.
“This is my place,” said the bench press hero and opened the back door. The imagery in front of Harry’s eyes reminded him of a swamp, in a car. There was a dirty bed with sheets covered in all kinds of organic pigmentation, parts of eggshells on the floor, hundreds of bodybuilding magazines and many posters of bodybuilders proudly wearing their thongs, I mean, posing trunks. Apparently, Harry’s new bench press hero was living in a van right next to the gym.
“Are you living here,” asked Harry.
“Yes. It’s great. I have everything I need and I am really close to the gym. I want to keep the dream alive, you know.”
“To become a champ.”
“Champ of what?”
“Bodybuilding champ, of course.”
“But why do you have to live in a van. Show me a ‘champ’ who lives in a car.”
“You don’t understand boy. I sold everything I had and will now move with this car to Venice, California and train in Gold’s Gym. I will outbench, outdeadlift and outsquat everybody there and earn my place as a champ,” explained the guy.
This is when Harry learned that he was dealing with a mental case suffering from severe delusion, but decided to keep quiet in order to get the workout.
There are many people like that by the way. They all think that some arbitrary bench press number will make them the next Arnold. That can never happen because each individual has a different destiny, and your bench press numbers are not exactly the key to happiness.
The weirdo went to a small homemade wooden drawer and began going through it slowly. He was looking for this mystic bench press program that supposedly got him a 4 plate bench. “It has to be somewhere around here,” said the 4 plate bencher and began whistling. The pitch was very annoying as one could expect from similar individual.
After a while he finally found it. It was an old issue of a popular muscle magazine known as “Power and Muscle”. Harry had heard about it a few times but seeing it in person was new to him. On the cover was a muscular guy with a strong mustache. Right next to his left arm was a catchy title saying: “Get a World Record Bench Press Fast”.
“There you go,” said Mr. Bench and handed the magazine to Harry who put it in his backpack right away. He was planning on reading his new bench press manuscript on the bus.
“Thank you for the program. Bye,” said Harry.
“Be careful, kiddo! It’s not for the girly man,” replied Mr. Bench and closed his van.
Half an hour later, Harry was already on the bus. He was able to find a nice seat next to a window. On his left side was sitting an old man sleeping with his mouth open. “Disgusting,” thought Harry. He opened his backpack and pulled out his new purchase. He immediately began searching for page 64 where was written the bench press training program that was going to make him a supreme bencher. Problem was, he couldn’t find page 64. There was page 63 and page 65 but no 64. “Where is it,” asked Harry. There were no indications that the page had been cut. “Weird,” though Harry. After a few more minutes he found the culprit. Page 63 and 65 were glued together and there was no way of separating them without causing unrecoverable damage.
“’Real men bench press heavy.’ Yeah, right! More like people who live for their bench press are psychos,” thought Harry and left the magazine under the bus seat.