How about this for an essay? Feel free to use it. It’s not written formally, but who cares? It’s long, but believe me, it’s well worth it, especially if you don’t take yourself or your lifting TOO seriously.
“(O.J.) has an uncanny instinct for sensing when to make the move, when to make the cut. He can kill you with a headfake, he can kill you with his legs and the ability to be in a direction in any single second. He also kills you with his variation of speed…” -Howard Cosell, on some of the ways O.J. can kill
The Greeks firmly believed that a sound body led to a sound mind. This is an important thing to remember when obsessively lifting weights. I have been putting this theory to test, and the results of my workout routine run contradictory to what the Greeks believed.
My good friend Virgilio and I embarked on a weight-lifting journey back in November. We have a squat rack, an Olympic bar, a curl bar, and a ton of weights, so we went at it full bore. Anything worth doing is worth doing right. It seemed innocent at first, but things soon took on an ugly nature. As our bodies became more fit, our minds rapidly devolved into what can only be described as dangerously unhealthy behavior.
Our goal was multi-layered; not only did we want to gain as much maximal strength as we could, we wanted to gain explosive and functional, applicable strength as well. We lifted weights close to our one-rep max for various explosive, athletic movements (power cleans, deadlifts, squats, bench press and standing overhead presses) for 1-3 reps over 7-9 sets in order to target our fast-twitch muscle fibers and increase our explosive, ballistic capabilities. We quickly became obsessed with developing these fast twitch muscles to the point where we randomly flexed as intensely and quickly as we could and then relaxed and flexed again in a rapid-fire outburst of contortions and gesticulations. It sounds harmless, but the lightning-quick contractions caused our faces to contort in and out of a wide range of disturbing expressions until we were grunting like fornicating pumas. It wasn't long before our roommates shrank in fear and hid in the bomb shelter during this display. Our fast twitch "exercises" inevitably escalated until we were screaming, raising our arms skyward, turning toward our stupefied roommates while still feverishly twitching, pointing at them, making a motion like snapping a twig, wiping the froth from our mouths and laughing maniacally, all while perched on top of our refrigerator completely naked.
When Virgilio and I began, we charted our progress. Unfortunately, what started out as a way to monitor our strength gains soon turned into a crippling obsession with improving upon the previous week's results. On the days that I showed quantifiable improvement I floated around the house in a euphoric state, baring my chest and shrieking with joy. But on the days that I failed to show improvement I became confused, angry, embarrassed, filled with self-doubt and fear and I would run up the stairs and into my room where I sulked and cried and questioned my worth as a human being before shamefully crawling back downstairs in tears several hours later to consult with Virgilio about what could have possibly gone wrong.
Because of this obsession with making strength gains, Virgilio and I turned to some exotic motivational techniques. In the gym it is common to see a couple of guys working out together offering words of encouragement and helping each other pull through a particularly tough set. Some friendly competition can even arise from this. But mundane tactics like this don't work for us. We resorted to more creative methods, such as screaming vicious insults at each other, spitting in each other's faces, holding knives to each other's throats mid-set, whipping each other with chains and bamboo or pointing a loaded .44 Magnum at each other.
Virgilio and I also used some avant-garde performance-enhancing techniques. In order to gain massive strength, massive weights need to be lifted. A great way to prime your body for a huge one-rep lift is to increase your heartrate right before the lift is executed. A favorite technique of ours was to yank a potent smelling salt or three up our noses. The powerful rush of ammonia carbonate through the nasal passage causes a short but highly intense spike in heartrate and jacked us up enough to get that extra bit of power into a given lift. Smelling salts are hard to find these days, so sometimes we put big icepacks over our hearts that illicited a panic reaction in the aorta (like tricking your body into thinking it's dying, thus an added rush of fear-driven adrenaline). Another method was to think of something that angered us beyond recognition, although the last time I did this I drove myself to the verge of hyperventilation before a big deadlift. I completed the lift, but when I dropped the weight back down I passed out, fell over, hit my head on a bench and slipped into a mild seizure. But there was a silver lining to that cloud; the spastic reactions in my muscles as I grand malled away was a great, albeit short, fast twitch muscle workout.
The gains made have been substantial. Aside from the weights, we also run short sprints while chained to barnyard animals, split entire cords of wood with our bare hands, leap up whole flights of stairs in a single bound and are able to recover from this exertion instantaneously. But this physical fitness has come at a heavy price.
We have no outlet for our newfound physical abilities and we NEED one. I frequently reel around town with my fists clenched tight, hoping, praying that someone, anyone so much as glances at me in a weird way so I can satisfy my insatiable need to plunge my fist through their sternum, hurl them to the ground, jump onto their face and smash their brains out their neurocranium. I am plagued by an uncontrollable desire to run amok through downtown at night and headspear the biggest people I can find. In my darker moments I am convinced that my chest muscles have become dense enough to stop low-caliber bullets. Yesterday I attacked a rabid Rottweiler, ripped out its jugular with my teeth, then broke down in tears while I waited for a satisfaction with my actions that never came. This is not healthy. Nor is it healthy when Virgilio and I discuss what we'd do to some of our degenerate neighbors. Things go overboard when we mimic eating their faces, pituitary glands, gall bladders, whatever. I also own nunchucks now, and the sight of them lying on my counter, unused, leaves me feeling lonely, vacant and insignificant.
It wasn't always this way. We started out as normal people interested in becoming physically fit. But the ugly turn our psyches have taken has been horrific. Our neighbors give us a wide berth when they see us, our roommates fear us and I openly welcome the apocalypse out of a morbid need to see how I'd fare. If you see someone in the gym drooling, mumbling to himself with a crazed look in his eyes, taking long pulls off of smelling salts and breaking into fits of hysteria, steer clear. This person is clearly not right. A sound mind indeed......