Microloading Your Barbell With Washers – Permabulking Antics Or The Key To Strength

My rebellious left hip was starting to resent the mentally ill squat ambition in me. The pain and misery from last week forced me to make the day light – no heavy lifting, just a few sets of barbell overhead presses. Rumor has it a true permabulker cry himself to sleep when that happens.

Since all squat rituals were put on hold, I decided to leave my bag at home and went to the gym wearing only cowboy jeans and one of those gray T-shirts, which report perspiration right away. Permabulkers love those models because it’s easy for everybody in the facility to see how hard you are working. I loved that T-shirt and many personal records (PRs) were set in it.

I went straight to the power rack, the favorite place of dedicated permabulkers, and started loading the bar for my epic overhead press session. Around me were two individuals – a shadow pinner (a guy who is on low doses of synthetic testosterone but hides it even from his dying dog) and an overconfident carbon copy of Rambo wearing a blouse shirt with “wrestling team” written on the back.


After a few minutes I began hitting my late warm-up sets. Those were pretty tough but I was able to make the bar move up by bracing my core tightly while simultaneously flexing my glutes as fitness experts advise. They say this is the key to otherworldly strength and power. I also had a nice permagut underneath my lucky T-shirt, which was helping me remain stable and powerful.

For my overhead presses I was relying on a principle known as microloading, which consists in using weights less than 1,25 kg / 2,75 lbs for progressive overload each workout. Little by little, the weight adds up and you are able to break through plateaus because the body has more and more time to recover.

I had made my microweights by cutting the inner tube of a bicycle in half and filling it with sand. The only thing you have to buy is the tube, if you don’t have it. One tube is usually sufficient to make two microweights. As far as the sand goes, I got it for free. Here’s the full story:

I didn’t have sand at home so I had to visit the local playground. I jumped into the sandbox and started digging with a spoon.

“Why are you stealing the sand of the kids,” said somebody.

I looked up and saw an old woman with a wild red hair. I knew that woman – she was one of those people trying to earn their spot in heaven by feeding the pigeons and fighting for justice when it does not count. This was one of those times.

“I need the sand. I will take only one little bottle. It’s nothing.”

“Leave the sand for the kids to play. Are you hearing me? I will call the police.”

Oh, yeah. That’s my favorite. This wannabe witch was willing to call the police for something stupid, but I can tell you with certainty that if there was a drug boss living next door, she wouldn’t say a word to anybody. This is how people like that operate.

I didn’t say anything. The little bottle was 2/3 full anyway. My subconscious mind started to play that sticky song “Fuck the Police”.

“Are you listening? Your kid should be playing there! Instead you are stealing the sand,” continued the witch. Her bloody hair was killer and suiting her criminally brain function limited personality.

I called her the Red Fleece.

“What’s the problem?”

“People are paying taxes for this sand and your are stealing it. Thief! I will call the police.”

“Fine. Call them, but don’t forget to explain exactly why you are calling. Be as detailed as possible! When describing the object of attack, don’t forget to explain what street dogs are doing in it. Bye.”

I knew the Red Fleece didn’t have the capacity to understand what I was trying to say. She was too deep into her pigeon world. I went home and made 4 microweights weighing between 0,5 – 0,8 kg / 1-1,76 lbs each. Happy times.

A couple of days later that very same criminal sand was hanging off a barbell set for a PR. I was finally going to make my stalled overhead press move past 55 kg / 121 lbs thanks to those bad boys. Suddenly, the wrestling guy I told you about approached my sacred barbell and began staring at the microweights. His CPU started running hot. He entered a confused state.

“What the fuck is that,” he asked while putting his brain on second gear.

The shadow pinner doing a back workout in the background and a captain upper body with “dead knees from too much volleyball in high school” also decided to join the freak show. I guess the issue was serious and required the opinion of three separate muscle experts/doctors.

“Those are microweights. I cut an inner tube and loaded it with sand from a local playground. Cheap but deadly effective,” I said while trying to assume a pose hiding my permagut. I wanted to make myself look more muscular and thus credible in the eyes of the guests visiting my squat rack.

“The fuck you need those for?”

“The overhead press is a lift that uses small muscle groups and taking big jumps can stop progress faster. The bigger the jump, the higher the percentage you add to the bar. Sometimes even 1,25 kg plates are way too much,” I answered. This was a quote I had read on a forum, but I believed in it. Still do. You can’t expect to keep on adding at least 2,5 kg / 5,5 lbs plates to the bar for every exercise. The percentage has to be set appropriately.

At this moment the three guys looked at each other and shared a common thought: “Does he even lift and why is he putting dog shit covered in rubber on OUR bars?”

“I think you are tripping. Next time stick a chewing gum on the bar, but be careful! You may strain your back! Ha-ha-ha,” said the wrestling guy.

Then he took off his shirt and did a most muscular pose in front of the mirror behind the squat rack. He was big, but I also knew he wasn’t natty. The in-built gyno was strong. It’s like somebody had stuck extra large bolts in his nipples. The other two looked at his reflection with wet eyes. They were loving it and joined the fun. All I saw were three idiots looking at the mirror with their tongues sticking out.

After a while the guys went back to their respective lifting departments. It was official: I was the “do you even lift” psycho putting backyard junk on the bar. I got a PR that day anyway.

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