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

| by Truth Seeker |

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 that a true permabulker cries himself to sleep when that happens.

Since all squat rituals were put on hold, I decided to leave my gym bag at home and went to the gym wearing 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 set many personal records 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. I was surrounded by 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 shirt with “wrestling” written on the back.

A few minutes later I began hitting my late warm-up sets. They were pretty tough, but I made it happen by bracing my core tightly while simultaneously flexing my glutes as fitness experts advise. They say that this is the key to otherworldly strength and power. I also had a nice permagut underneath my lucky T-shirt. The former was helping me remain stable and powerful.

For my overhead presses I relied on a principle known as microloading (using weights lighter than 1.25 kg/2.75lbs). The purpose of this technique is to avoid plateaus when the exercise depends on small muscle groups.

I had made my micro weights 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. One tube is usually sufficient to make two micro weights. 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 kids’ sand,” said somebody.

I looked up and saw an old woman with wild red hair. I knew that woman – she was one of those people trying to earn their spot in heaven by feeding 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 to the kids. 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. This is how people operate.

I didn’t respond. The bottle was 2/3 full anyway. My subconscious mind started to play that sticky “Fuck the Police” song in my head.

“Are you listening? Your kid should be playing there! Instead, you are stealing the sand,” continued the witch. Her bloody hair was a killer. It suited her criminally limited brain. I called her the Red Fleece.

“What’s the problem?”

“People are paying taxes for this sand, and you 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 that 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 micro weights weighing 0.5–0.8 kg/1-1.76lbs each. Happy times.

A few 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 55kg/121lbs thanks to those bad boys. Suddenly, the wrestling guy I told you about approached my sacred barbell and began staring at the micro weights. 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” decided to join the freak show too. I guess the issue was serious and required the opinion of three separate muscle experts/doctors.

“Those are micro weights. 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 depending on small muscle groups. Taking big jumps can quickly halt progress. The bigger the jump, the higher the percentage you add to the bar. Sometimes even 1.25kg plates are way too much,” I answered.

This was a quote I’d read on a forum, but I believed in it. Still, do. You can’t expect to keep on adding 2.5 kg/5lbs plates to the bar forever. The percentage has to be set appropriately.

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 wrestler.

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 knew he wasn’t natty. The gyno was strong. It looked as if somebody had put extra large bolts in his nipples. His buddies joined the fun. All I saw were three idiots looking in 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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  1. Glen Martin

    That was an awesome story and very well written.

  2. Jeff

    Thank you for writing this. Good info, and I laughed out loud multiple times.

    Maybe when I go to the sandbox to copy your idea I’ll do it in the wee hours. 😉

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