Pipe Dream

The last time I could bench press 315 pounds was in college. Most onlookers were surprised at my strength given my lean stature. I wasn’t a big guy by any means, but my body was capable of making continuous incremental performance gains unaided by dietary supplements. My pipe dream was to play professional football. Make it to the NFL. It may sound delusional at first, but one of my good friends in middle school went pro. He wasn’t a superstar, but he had a good football career and you can still see him on TV these days. Also, I use to play pickup basketball with other NFL players on occasion. Although I didn’t score much, my defense was always on point in the full court, 5 on 5 games. I was quick, and strong enough to hold my ground. Maybe that dream was actually closer than I had thought. Nah.

The first time I lifted weights was at 16. My parents had sent me to live with my Uncle and Aunt out west for the summer, and my Aunt got me a membership at their local gym. Since I was young, she had also made sure that a trainer could show me the ropes. It was part of the gym’s attempts to sell training services because at the end of the third, one-hour session, the trainer, Brian, tried to persuade me to buy sessions. That would have been a waste of money, but I found some satisfaction after learning my cardiovascular shape was superior to the average gym-goer and body fat composition was 7% according to his measurement during the second session. Over the next two or three months, my Aunt took me to the gym three to four times each week. She exercised as well, and sometimes my Uncle would join us. I never found the courage to use the free weight bench press, but I frequented the chest press machine – not the type where you sit up and press forward, rather lay flat and press up. There was nothing masculine about it, in hindsight.

Yet again, I bench pressed 275 pounds this week. After many long breaks from lifting because of either work, injury or lack of motivation, I’ve been able to reach this level about a dozen or more times before something had derailed further progress. Most recently, gym closures resulting from the COVID-19 lockdown. Since I haven’t been able to surpass 275 pounds, it’s hit my confidence to the point where I worry about not being able to finish the last rep. I don’t think about it much when I’m at the gym, but it crosses my mind at home enough to be a nuisance. Only when I’m capable of doing five sets of 275 pounds for at least five reps on the first and second sets and then three reps thereafter will I consider increasing the resistance. I’ve only been able to do five reps one time in the last three sessions.

I’m too old to pursue that pipe dream. Neither do I have the talent, nor can my body recover from the physical beating anymore. My motivation is to bench press 315 pounds and run 400 meters in 60 seconds, proving that I can be stronger than before and fast for my age. Out of reach, a sound bet.

For those who have read this entry and find criticism, I understand that my life must be well since this is what I worry about. But, let’s not forget this website is mine.


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