Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The day I lifted 600 lbs.....

     It's a common story where a child is trapped under something heavy and a parent (usually the mother) finds the strength to lift a seemingly impossible weight to free the child.  That is not the story I'm about to relate, no children were involved, just a grown man who acts like one. 

     There's a lot of back story necessary for this blog, and you have the right to get the picture painted with the widest brush.  I'm choosing to keep the location anonymous for this blog and you'll see why as you read through it.  I'll preface the story to say that I had been working out for over a year straight before this happened.  My girlfriend had invited me to join her at the gym in the early mornings and I had accepted her offer.  Initially I used only the elliptical which was the equipment that I used most
while traveling, but over time I started incorporating the Nautilus weight machines into my workout too.  Over the course of that year, I gradually kept adding more weight to my workouts and as I did I discovered that my legs were far more fit than my arms were.  I could "lift" a lot more weight with my legs than my arms and it was true for every machine there.  Just prior to the events in this story. I had even maxed out one of the leg machines at this gym for the weights that it had on it, the leg curl machine.  It's pictured above to give you an idea.  That machine, like a lot of them at this gym, uses preloaded weights and you move a pin up and down to the desired level. The other type machines use free weights that you load yourself onto bars.  This gym has two of those types for leg
How I pictured the weights
presses, one that pushed the weight straight out and away from you and the other where you lie inclined with the press plate above you and the weight suspended above your body.

     I'd used both machines multiple times each week and I had kept on adding weights to them as I did so.  Mind you, the goal wasn't to set a weight record or anything, I just added weight as the previous weight got easier to do.  With the inclined press I soon was pushing more than 400 lbs up and pretty happy with that level.  On almost all the days that I went, as I approached the machine, I would have to add weights
What the inclined leg press looks like 
to it prior to starting my workout, which as a highly competitive person, told me that no one else at the gym was lifting more than me on that particular piece of equipment.  It was a good feeling to have considering I really had only been at it about a year.  So every day, as I did my workout, I'd get a little ego boost as I approached some of the machines and have to add weights manually or move the pins down a few places before I started, and for those of you that know me well, you know how important ego boosts are to me, which should now set you up well for the day that this story takes place.

     The morning of the "incident" started like any other, except for the fact that I awoke with virtually no pain, stiffness or swelling.  I have a mild form of arthritis that almost daily presents itself with one of these conditions and affects primarily my feet and hands.  I'm able to manage it with ibuprofen, so normally within an hour of rising, I can go about my day in a fairly normal fashion.  On this morning, however, no symptoms presented and I was feeling my oats like at no other time and it
My view from the bottom of the inclined press
was a workout day, bonus !  I went to the gym and started attacking the weights with vigor.  Soon the regular crowd came in and I was joined by my girlfriend, a neighbor, a local, and a couple of high school students getting an early workout in.  I moved from machine to machine adding more weights to each one than I had ever done and successfully pushed them up, thereby gradually increasing my confidence.  As I rotated on to the inclined press, I stopped and stared at the machine and the weight on it.  There were about 6 - 45 lb weights on each side of the machine, which put the added weight around 540 lbs plus the weight of the press plate.  This was a lot more weight than I had ever attempted but I was feeling really, really, good and I just couldn't bring myself to take any of the weights off.  I'd never had to before, I said to myself, so why couldn't I do this much?  The person before me presumably had done it, right? If you've ever doubted previously that I was good at sales, that morning I was the master of selling myself on the idea that I could actually lift that much weight. 

     As I inserted myself under the pile of weight, I called the neighbor over to spot me.  He asked me
What the pressure felt like on my legs
thrice if I was sure of my decision, which should have been enough of a red flag for me to not attempt it, but I tested the weight with my feet and was able to lift it up a few inches and set it back down with my legs fully extended so I assured him that I knew what I was doing.  I asked if he was ready and I threw back the safety catches that held the weight and then took the 600 lbs onto my feet.  I slowly started letting the weight come down and by my measure I had lowered it 5-6 inches successfully before my legs would not cooperate the the weight started falling faster than I intended and simultaneously I experienced a severe pain in my groin.  I called to my neighbor to assist me, and he wrapped his arms around the 
weight, but my legs weren't really working at all to hold the weight anymore, and he could only slow the descent of the weights.  The press came down and slowly squished my 5'6" body into a more compact position, and then the high school students came and helped lift the weight back off from my body.  As I lied there broken and contemplating the extent of my injuries, I looked over at my girlfriend and she was as white as white could be.  The other local walked by and I'm not sure what I expected him to say, but what he said was, "Good, you just stay there and think about what you just did"  Only then did the feeling of foolishness overwhelm me, and it lasted well after  I crawled out from under the machine and limped out to my car to head to the doctors. 

     The diagnosis, after the expected lecture, was a torn sartorius muscle and it would heal on it's own given enough time.  The ego would take longer.  I know how foolish it was to attempt.  I know I
The sartorius muscles in the thighs
shouldn't have even tried it, and that I put my friends through an awful thing, however, you've got to know my nature by now, I can't walk by that machine to this day without me thinking I should start to try to do it again.  Even the pain of having my groin split like a wishbone doesn't stop the thought from coming.  I even named this blog, "The day I lifted 600 lbs" not "the day I failed to lift 600 lbs".  Rest assured, to this day, I haven't even been able to get back under there at all, much less start to load the weight on.  The moral is, that if some morning you see me, headed to the gym, feeling my oats with a skip in my step, do us all a favor and pull a Tonya Harding move and whack me in my knee.  Trust me, it will hurt me less than the alternative. 


Anonymous said...

You paint the picture well but I hope you learned your lesson.

Judy Johnson said...

Oh, Bill.....only for the sake of comedy, I hope you never learn! (And I hope you are feeling better each day!)

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