T Nation

Humiliation!

Settle in for a long story. One which unmasks me. Not as the walking breathing personification of superman
that I was alleged to be. But, as a mere mortal. One with far less powers than first imagined.

The plan was simple, seven of us from work were going to meet at my fathers house to cut up two huge trees that fell onto his property during the last big wind storm.

I am the strongest guy in the group, even though I am not the biggest, at 5’ 10" and 190lbs. Everything was going great I was hefting logs and shouldering them, in general doing all that I could do to make the job move along, and of course to display my superior strength. After all, that’s what we T-Men do! It’s a right of passage, as they say. When there is an opportunity to display something that you have been working on religiously for so many years, you do it. Right?

Then it happend! We had but one very large log left to move. We were all gathered around it, like a sherrifs posse waiting to jump on the bad guy. We could have cut the log up, but instead decided to take it on as is. Grabbing it all together would be no challenge. we decided that being the macho men we were we would all take a crack at shouldering it. “The beast”, as we dubbed it, was just about six feet long, and if I had to venture a guess, between 315lbs and 330lbs.

All the guys took a crack at it. Even little Jim, who stands 5’ 5" and weighs no more than 140lbs. All of them failed. From the biggest guy who weighs about 240lbs. right down to little Jim. Then it was my turn.

I strode up the log as if I had it in the bag. “Go get em Zeb” one of the guys shouted, as if it was a certainty that I was going to shoulder the beast. I grabbed it from the ground from one end, and walked it right up like nobodys business! Full of confidence and keeping the momentum going I dug my shoulder into what I thought was just below the middle. I then attempted to lean it back on my shoulder. Then I realized nothing was happening. It did not budge! “How could this be” I thought to myself.

The guys were silent. I was supposed to be the strongest in the group and I could not get that thing to my shoulder. After tugging and twisting, and lots of grunting. I dropped it to the ground and just shook my head.

I turned around and I saw little Jim walk up to it for another try. He too walked it up on one end with little trouble. He then bear hugged it squatted down real low, lifted it just off the ground enough to lay it across his shoulder. Then he stood up. He had done it!

I stood there speechless, as the other guys started applauding and jumping around. You would have thought that he just wrestled a Lion and won. I just stood there dumbfounded.

I could not believe my eyes. Little Jim just shouldered this unwieldly log! Okay, he was a very strong guy for his size. He was a hard worker who tackled all sorts of things at work. However, he never once picked up a barbell in his life! Besides, I thought, I am strong for my size and I am fifty pounds heavier than him! This would never do I thought as I moved toward the log for another attempt.

This time I was determined. I walked it up on its end like it was a childs toy. I got down as low as possible without losing balance or strength. This is where the low squats will pay off I reasoned. I then lifted it off the ground and tried to lean it back on my shoulder but something was wrong, it just would not go in that direction. It fell to the ground once again.

Third attempt same thing. Fourth attempt failure. Fifth attmept failure. I started to see a few smirks from the guys. Oh no, I thought, this is moving in the wrong direction. I then surmised that little Jim lifted it not because he was stronger than me, but because he was shorter than me. At 5’ 5" he was a full five inches shorter than me, which means that it was easier for him to go lower. This was the key to getting the beast onto your shoulder. It was not as much a matter of lifting as it was a matter of leverage, I figured.

With my new found knowledge I kicked my shoes off and rolled the log over to the edge of the grass and stood on the drive way. With these two minor adjustments I lost about two inches in height. Just enough to make a difference I assumed.

By now some of the guys were rolling their eyes. “Give it up Zeb you don’t have what it takes”. One guy yelled. “You need to start lifting with little Jim” another one hollered. That one really hurt.

I flipped it up on end which was not quite as easy as it was to do during the first few attempts. I then got low once again, bear hugged the beast and with all my strength broke it from the ground and started to lean back in order to balance it on my right shoulder. I cleared the pectoral muscle and was heading for the front deltoid. It hit the front deltoid and stopped. No matter what I did for the next few seconds, which seemed like minutes, I could not get the beast beyond my front deltoid.

I tried this technique three more times with everyone of them resluting in failure. I never got it closer than my front deltoid and that was that!

By then the guys were getting in there cars shaking their heads. “Leverage” I was saying. “It’s all about leverage”. They just shook their heads and looked away. “Well I didn’t see any of you guys hoisting it on your shoulder” I stated bitterly.

With my mouth full of sour grapes I sat there on a stump alone, shocked and depressed. A 5’ 5" 140lb man beat me today at what is supposed to be my own game. Leverage or not, I could not shoulder the beast and little Jim did.

Well, that’s my story. I was hoping that just the telling of it would begin to make me feel better. Nope, no help.
What I need is a new program. I have always been a higher rep guy. mostly worked in the six to twelve rep range. Only occasionally dipping below these ranges in many years of training. It has always worked for me before.

At company picnics I was always the guy who could do the most push-ups or chin-ups. And yes, even the guy who could lift the most weight for a couple of reps, when it had to be done.

I know in the great scheme of things, relative to importance, it falls somewhere between how many flys you killed last summer and whether Ben Asspick will marry Jennifer Lopez. But, doggone it, it should not have happened!

I am now open for suggestions on what to do training wise to remedy the situation. “The beast” is sitting in my backyard as I type this. A gift from my father, who at last report, was still laughing at the bazaar happenings in his yard. On the day that will go down in history as the day that I came to appreciate my own limitations!

I’m not on the up and up of it, but it sounds like you could go for some strongman training! It’s fun, and a good break from the normal gym stuff.

Cut the tree in half

Suggestion - work out with Little Jim.

Sorry, I couldn’t resist. The fact of the matter is that if you were doing a lot of heavy work all day, you were probably pretty drained. Being strong and being strong under all conditions are two different things. While I have never trained for strongman events, I would think that this sort of training would have helped in this type of situation.

Besides the great suggestion of strongman training, maybe it’s time for some pure strength work. Try some work in the 3-5 rep range. You’ll love it. I promise.

Dan “3-5 sets of 3-5 reps” McVicker

Zeb,

While I realize that this isn’t the type of advice you were looking for, I think you should just put this incident behind you. I know it is probably easier said than done but you mention that your training has always worked for you, so it sounds like your training is serving you well in reaching your goals and you’ve obviously discovered what works for you so why let this upset you? I wouldn’t let it change your training, let your goals and progress shape your training. Of course, if you do decide you absolutely HAVE TO lift that mo-fo, I suggest lift-specific training (i.e. lift big heavy logs). Of course you’ll have to practice on lighter logs until you can handle the big one. If you do decide to take on this challenge, good luck. I’m sure you’ll be able to lift it for reps in no time.

Well written Zeb.

*Golf clap from 'Cake…

“Weakness of character is the only defect which cannot be amended”

~ Francois de La Rochefoucauld

While the above story was fun to write, and completly true. I really am looking for a good routine that will address the major muscles of the body in a new way!

Thanks to all who have responded!

I thought I read something about trained guys being able to recruit more muscle fibres than untrained guys. So you had been using more of your muscle all day than little Jim. He still had some in reserve when you were spent.

Any way, Don’t sweat it. There’s a tiny little guy I know that always beats me arm wrestling, even though I could clean and press him. Go figure.

Billy

Perhaps the book, “Dinosaur Traininer” may help here.

Also, I wouldn’t call a “right of passage” doin’ something that could possibly injure yourself and temporarily end any training. “Display superior strength”, indeed.

Dinosaur TrainING is what I wanted to “say”. Damn typing with lack of food. Damn.

Zeb,

Odd object lifting is a whole 'nother story. Your post has inspired me to go back and play with my sandbag. It weighs a mere 150 lbs. but it puts the “dead” in deadlift.

But all is not lost - you received a compliment on your writing from our resident man of letters, Cupcake.

Mike “Does anyone else think Dan McVicker is getting annoying?” theBear.

Sorry Dan - I’ve been waiting to tease you about this.

Patricia,

I want you to know that there is no offense intended with what I am about to state. From what I have read you put up some good numbers and you should be proud of that. However, you are not a guy (I am sure you are happy about this). And when guys get together there is a bit of a pack mentality. One upsmanship if you will.

My comment: “It’s a right of passage” was speaking to the fact that when guys get together we tend to take it to the limit (one more time-loved that Eagles song).

As the strongest guy in the pack,(the alpha male) it was incumbent upon me to show this strength, and I did so up to the point where I met “the beast”. which was the point of the story.

When guys are in that mode we are not thinking about injuries. You sounded just a bit like my wife with that comment. Nothing wrong with that.

I suppose I could just state, “it’s a guy thing”. But, I felt you desrved more of an answer than that.

Anyway, thanks for reading my post, I do appreciate it.

Zeb

Mike,

That is good to hear. You are not the only one who will be doing odd object lifting over the next four weeks.

I just made a bet with the “boys” that I would shoulder “the beast” one month from today. And do so with an additional twenty pounds secured at the top!

Actually, I think the extra weight at the top will make it easier as it will tilt back to my shoulder better. Who knows?

Cupcake,

Thanks for the compliment. That was very nice of you!

Zeb

Trish…

No worries, when a “Trish Typo” is spotted, we just chalk it up to beer and forget about it.

Smart.

Pretty.

Strong.

Regardless of the odd time your sausage-like fingers molest the keyboard in Fitone-like fashion.

“You’re going out on a dangerous limb, making healthy sausages”

~ Stanley Hunt

Geez, ZEB, ya big wussy! Have you had your T-levels checked lately?

I’m just teasing you!

Seriously, I’ve been a high rep guy forever and just finally began to explore routines with (gasp) lower rep range exercises. It’s a blast, it’s invigorating, and I think I’m going to see my strength levels really increase.

You need to check out Chad’s stuff in this weeks’s T-Mag and follow it. It works! Try the ABBHP to begin with and I promise you’ll be hooked.

And as far as that damn tree trunk, I think it’s gotta be about leverage. To make yourself feel better, though, you need to take ole little Jim out back and beat the shit out of him, just to know you can.

And be sure to tell all your buddies.

:slight_smile:

MikeMann,

I could tell Little Jim that there is a log lifting contest behind my house. When he arrives I could throw a blanket over his head and give him what for!

Seriously, Jim is a great guy and was walking on cloud nine because he lifted the beast. And to be honest I am happy for him. In fact, I was so happy for him I celebrated last night by ice picking the tires on his truck! Kidding again.

All kidding aside, I am actually going to search out a good low rep routine as you suggest. This is something that I have not done, as the 6 to 12 rep range has usually been kind to me.

Since the world is in love with Westside maybe I will give this a go. Mix that with odd object lifting once per week and I may lift the beast in a few short weeks.

Thanks for reading my post.

Great story man, funny stuff. A T-man would have realized that it was all leverage and consoled your beaten, weathered soul. BTW, you are an excellent writer. I felt as if I was reading a novel or something. Ah, yes, people that know how to use grammar, the joy it brings me.

Zeb,
I thought I’d share my first strength routine. It is quite straight forward, nothing fancy but effective. It has more direct arm work than most people around here seem to like and it doesn’t include any dynamic exercises but if you’re looking for ideas for something new here goes:

Monday

Squat
5 sets, 3 to 5 reps, 180 to 270 sec rest btwn sets (more rest the more you do).

A1 Flat BB bench press
5 sets, 3 to 5 reps, 60-90 sec before doing A2

A2 Chest-supported T-bar row
5 sets, 3 to 5 reps, 60-90 sec before doing A1

Calves
4 to 6 sets, 6 to 8 reps, 90 sec btwn sets

Wednesday

A1 Close-grip neutral-grip pull-up
5 sets, 3 to 5 reps, 60-90 sec before doing A2

A2 Close-grip bench press
5 sets, 3 to 5 reps, 60-90 sec before doing A1

B1 BB curl
5 sets, 3 to 5 reps, 60-90 sec before doing B2

B2 Dip
5 sets, 3 to 5 reps, 60-90 sec before doing B1

Abs
4 to 6 sets, 6 to 8 reps, 90 sec btwn sets

Friday

Dead-lift
5 sets, 3 to 5 reps, 180 to 270 sec rest btwn sets

A1 Incline BB press
5 sets, 3 to 5 reps, 60-90 sec before doing A1

A2 Wide-grip pull-up
5 sets, 3 to 5 reps, 60-90 sec before doing A1

Calves
4 to 6 sets, 6 to 8 reps, 90 sec btwn sets

After warming-up on a particular exercise, select a working weight that will allow you to get 5 sets of 3 reps (better to be conservative at first to make sure you get all five sets of 3 reps. The following week attempt to do one extra rep per set. When you are able to do 5 sets of 5 reps increase the weight so that you drop back to 5 sets of 3.

Another alternative to adding reps at each workout is doing partial reps with very heavy weights and increasing the range of motion (ROM) each week until you are performing full-range reps. This works well for dead-lifts, squats, and pressing exercises. Do these in a cage and lower the pins by one notch each week. I find doing slightly higher reps at first and decreasing reps as you increase the ROM works well.

Other exercise combinations are also possible, for example:

A1 Flat DB bench press
A2 Bent 2-arm DB row

A1 Incline DB curl
A2 Seated overhead DB extension

I wouldn’t mess with squats and deads though.

Feel free to adapt as you see fit, nothing set in stone. Let me know if you give it a go and how it works out for you.

As always, comments from all are welcome.

Mike,

shrug

Dan “Everyone’s got to have a trademark” McVicker