Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Great Lifetime Addendum

As you may recall from my previous blog post, one of the most annoying groups of people at the gym consists of the guys who half-rep their way into an inflated and downright fictional sense of strength.  "The Cheaters" came in at #2 on my list of top ten (well, technically top eleven) weird and annoying groups of people at the gym.  Consider today's blog post an addendum, a footnote, an example, an attachment, supporting evidence, a it whatever you want, but what follows are three videos illustrating my definition--and truly, my inspiration--for calling out The Cheaters in my previous post.

I'm not sure why I find this group so simultaneously annoying and hilarious.  Maybe it's the fact that these guys must know, deep down, that they are far weaker than they think they are.  But do they really think they're fooling everyone else in the gym?  When they warm up with lighter weights, the barbell or the dumbbells come magically close to their chests; the weight moves all the way up and all the way back down.  Not only that--their arms seem fully functional at the elbow joint!  Then, as they work their way up the dumbbell rack, there's a highly noticeable, mysterious inverse relationship between the weight and the range of motion with which they lift...

I don't consider it my job to give anyone else tips on lifting technique, and I'm probably one of the last people that gym members would turn to for advice.  But there are plenty of others at Lifetime who don't share my hesitation in this department and freely hand out workout tips.  On multiple occasions, I've seen people pass by these guys and offer up questions or comments such as, "Why aren't you going down all the way?" and "You should let the bar go down to your chest!"  But even when directly called out like this, The Cheaters still cheat.

I may be weak, but I hold firm in my commitment to a full range of motion.  If he's bringing the bar down all the way, I have much more respect for the scrawny high school kid who just buried himself under a barbell with five-pound plates on each side than I do for The Cheaters, who are often half-pressing two hundred fifty or more pounds.  I have a secret hope that these guys will someday have themselves so thoroughly convinced of their strength that they enter a power-lifting competition, where they will undoubtedly get laughed off the stage and/or buried when they try to follow the referee's orders to bring the bar down another sixteen inches if they want the rep to count.

So, without further wait, here are the clips.  These are three different guys--they're all friends; perhaps they learned their technique from one another--doing three different bench press lifts, with different types of weight (some barbell, some dumbbell).  The only constant is the fine spotting effort of Brandon.  He and I have worked out a scheme where he volunteers to spot and offer encouragement while I stand nearby, pretending to play with my phone while capturing it all on video.

We make quite a team in this effort, and he even requested that I write this blog post.  So Brandon, enjoy--just promise that with all this spotting, you'll never forget how to bend your arms all the way when you lift.  If the cheating is contagious, it could mark a sad and embarrassing end to your promising bodybuilding career.

First up, we have the flat bench half-press with 105lb dumbbells.  Something closer to 85-90lbs is probably right for this guy, but he throws caution--and range of motion--to the wind and goes big:

Next up is the equally impressive barbell incline half-press at 225lbs.  Different guy, different lift, exact same issue.  One-seventy-five would be about right, but it's just too hard to impress people with that kind of weight...

And finally, one of my personal favorites: The Cheaters' decline dumbbell half-press.  Prior to the shooting of this clip, this Cheater pulled off a mediocre set with 120lb dumbbells.  Spotters helped him pound out his half-reps, and when the set was over, I fought back laughter as I heard him tell people that he'd gotten ten reps!  I didn't bother asking if he remembered to discount that number 50% for the spotters and the remaining 50% for the range of motion.  But he was pretty happy with himself and didn't pause for a second before heading over to the 130s:

And here, Brandon and another spotter help the guy complete half of the down-half of two reps.  But when it was over, the guy's smile clearly shows that he was pleased with his stunning accomplishment.  If only Lifetime had dumbbells heavier than 130lbs, we could see just how strong this guy really is...

And there you have it--three clips that remind you that it's not the quality of the workout, your physical appearance, or your level of physical fitness level that truly matter--it's about thoroughly fooling yourself and those around you into thinking you're incredibly strong.  A select few might be impressed, some might criticize or question your technique, and most will laugh behind your back, but if you're one of The Cheaters, you're sure to get noticed.

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