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!