html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: Pressure's on.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Pressure's on.

Did I tell you guys that I went to a weightlifting competition? I went to cheer for my trainer and to check it out because the people at the gym keep telling me I should compete. I went, and it was just like always. Oh friends. I hate competitions.

Walking into the weightlifting competition felt exactly the same as ever. Whatever that mixture is, sweat, testosterone, fear and excitement, it smells the same at every competition I’ve ever been to. The vibe was exactly the same. People milling around, nervously glancing at the competition; the long-timers joking with each other, the very slightest bit self-satisfied with their insider status. Officious bustling for some and long monotonous waits for the competitors. Being at a competition means daylong stretches of nervous boredom, usually in an ugly gym. Walking in there brought it all back.

Even so, there were things I loved. New arcane rules to figure out! It is the side judge’s responsibility to make sure the bar is loaded right. Only thing the lifter has to do is lift. People with different techniques to compare! New cheers! I especially loved ‘battle that bar!’, which I will now say to anyone I ever see picking anything up. New clichéd explanations! I hope I never explode too fast at the beginning of the lift. That would be bad. There were goofy people in shirts so tight they couldn’t bend or lower their arms. That was silly. There’s something else I love. I’ve seen it lots, and it moves me every time. I love watching coaches and judges and crowds take beginner or not-talented athletes seriously. Seeing three giant dudes giving all their concentration to spotting a tiny woman benchpressing a bar they could twirl like a baton, all of them cheering her on, gives me tear prickles. It is plain decency, but it is lovely to see.

The important part of all this is that it is your responsibility to keep me from competing again. I will not enjoy it, and I will be pissed I squandered a whole day. I will feel yucky, sitting there waiting for my event to be called. I do not care if I win, and I do not care if I lose, and I do not care if anyone else knows the full extent of my extraordinary natural strength, and I do not like the company of competitive athletes during competition, so there is no point to it. But. There is that narrow slice of stuff I really love, including training and rules and technique, and that opens a wedge. If the cool kids admire my biceps and tell me that it won’t hurt the first time, I might fall for it. If I come back here and mention that just maybe I might enter this one event, you need to tell me that I will hate it. And invite me to something funner, like, say, anything else in the world. And do an intervention, all discreet and friendly-like. That is your role in all this.

14 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

be sure to mention the dates of the possible events, so we can look up other fun things to do in your area that day. things that will involve less sweat and testosterone, and more sunshine and happiness.

12:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

also, this post makes it a good time or a bad time to change your website line.

you're already telling us how extraordinarily strong you are, so you know that and we know that. who else are you gonna prove it to? Or, you're strong mentally. Strong enough to resist the temptation to compete. And let it be a reminder.

12:18 PM  
Blogger Noel said...

Oh Megan: O-lifting.

We'll never let you go to a power-lifting meet.

12:29 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Noel,

We've been working on the Olympic lifts. They're hard! Jumping into a squat under the bar. Fun!

12:59 PM  
Anonymous YK said...

Maybe you should just watch the competition. You could still see the parts of it that you like, without putting yourself into the middle of it. Or would that be too much of a temptation?

2:43 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Unless I'm cheering for a friend, just watching is the worst of all worlds. Yucky competition atmosphere AND nothing to train for.

I really just need the willpower to resist peer pressure. Or countervailing peer pressure from you guys.

2:47 PM  
Anonymous HC said...

What about... pie competitions? Do we need to protect you from those, too? Or would throwing ourselves on the uneaten pies be security enough?

3:49 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Nope. During Pie Contest, I'm bustling and officious, smug in my insider status.

4:03 PM  
Anonymous margie said...

I love your officiousness and smugness at pie contest. That's half the fun for me!

4:15 PM  
Anonymous Peter said...

Bench shirts may be ridiculously tight but they do add to lot to one's bench press. This is especially true at the very top levels - the bench press record with a bench shirt is 1,005 pounds compared to ~750 pounds for a "raw" bench - but even a strictly recreational lifter can count on at least a 10% to 15% boost.

Many powerlifting tournaments have restrictions on what sort of bench shirts can be used and some are raw-only.

--

There’s something else I love. I’ve seen it lots, and it moves me every time. I love watching coaches and judges and crowds take beginner or not-talented athletes seriously.

That's what's cool about powerlifting competitions. The different weight and age and gender classes means that anyone can compete on a (mixed) metaphorical level playing field. You can't say the same about most other sports.

--

The important part of all this is that it is your responsibility to keep me from competing again.

Well I am going to shirk my responsibility, and urge you to compete again!

7:57 PM  
Blogger Philip said...

I've no inside understanding of the sport, but seems to me there are a few drawbacks to getting into it too heartily: 1) easy to hurt yourself in a way that makes continuing the sport (as well as many other activities) impossible, yet pain and disability lasts the rest of your life; 2) all that buffness turns into something halfway between turkey wattles and beef jerkey about the time your hormones start to misbehave; 3) the whole thing's a little too self-worshiping for me.

But then, you asked.

8:58 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Philip, what sport do you think I mean? So far I've listed the vague weightlifting; Peter has told me to do power lifting, and Noel informs me that the gentry do Olympic lifting. I haven't even picked one yet, 'cause I'm only two months in. Of course, I love telling people that I've started bodybuilding.

10:03 PM  
Anonymous Thelonious_Nick said...

"This is especially true at the very top levels - the bench press record with a bench shirt is 1,005 pounds compared to ~750 pounds for a "raw" bench - but even a strictly recreational lifter can count on at least a 10% to 15% boost."

Please explain further. A tight shirt makes you lift more? And what is a "raw" bench--lifting with your shirt off?

When I work out I have two or three T-shirts that I prefer and can lift more in. I have always thought that is because they are my lucky work out shirts. But they are kind of tight on me. Could they be like these bench shirts? Should I start working out with my shirt off? If I do, how much should I charge for admission to the ladies in the neighborhood to watch me?

6:29 AM  
Anonymous Peter said...

So far I've listed the vague weightlifting; Peter has told me to do power lifting, and Noel informs me that the gentry do Olympic lifting.

Think of Olympic lifting as the elite upscale sport, while powerlifting's more a blue-collar thing. You can powerlift in just about any gym - except for a few douche-baggy ones that frown on deadlifting - while not many places have the special platforms and plates which Olympic lifting requires. Also, the Olympic lifts are quite complicated, and it's recommended that you have a coach helping you with your form when you're starting out.

--

Please explain further. A tight shirt makes you lift more? And what is a "raw" bench--lifting with your shirt off?

Bench shirts aren't just tight shirts, they are ultra-tight elasticized compression shirts. Just putting one on can take several minutes and requires another person's help. Basically, they work by providing a bounce-back on the bottom of the rep, helping the lifter to push the bar off his or her chest.

Please explain further. A tight shirt makes you lift more? And what is a "raw" bench--lifting with your shirt off?

A raw bench press is one done without a specialized bench shirt, for example when wearing an ordinary T-shirt.

--

When I work out I have two or three T-shirts that I prefer and can lift more in. I have always thought that is because they are my lucky work out shirts. But they are kind of tight on me. Could they be like these bench shirts?

An ordinary T-shirt, no matter how tight, isn't going to be anything like a bench shirt.

--

Should I start working out with my shirt off? If I do, how much should I charge for admission to the ladies in the neighborhood to watch me?

Sorry, you're on your own with these particular questions ...

8:34 AM  

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