Written by Pete Rubish
You walk into the gym and feel a calming rush transcend upon you. This is your home. This is where you belong. This is the place where all the bullshit from your life can be forgotten for those few hours you spend putting in work. Work, school, stress, and shady women mean nothing to you now. They are mere distractions from the task at hand. The barbell and you, that’s all that matters and that’s all you can think about. You’re now in a state of extreme focus and the mental preparation starts to take over on your warmup sets.
The methodical buildup to the chorus for Eminem’s famous song “Lose Yourself” is playing in your headphones. 225, 315, 405, 495, you just keep stacking on more 45s on your mission to destroy today’s goal. Your goal is to squat 500 pounds for as many reps as possible. While 405 for reps was tough, 500 is a real man’s challenge. All you have to do is squat down and stand back up fifteen times with 500 pounds positioned on your traps. Sounds simple enough, but more than a physical challenge, this is where you’ll find what you’re made of deep down inside your soul.
You pace the room unable to stop moving for even one second. The prospect of what you’re about to do is getting more real with every passing minute. Your mind is in a blank state of focus and you find yourself constantly staring at the ground. The only time you look up is so you can survey the loaded barbell on the squat rack in front of you. Final preparations are done as you stand directly in front of the rack shifting the weight of your body from one leg to the other. This goes on for two minutes as you bob your head to the music. “He’s nervous, but on the surface he looks calm and ready to drop bombs.”
It’s time to roll. You step under the bar. All eyes are you. It’s time to put on a show. The first ten reps are easy enough, but breathing is starting to become tough and your legs are burning out. You know you can’t stop. Your personal best is twelve reps. You came for at least fifteen and anything less would be unacceptable. You bang out two more reps. You’re now at twelve. You want to rack it, but you can’t. Your vision is starting to go. Everything looks like its set in a haze. The critics and all the things they said about you fuel your rage at this point. The last three reps are grinders. Slow and with form breaking down, yet you finish them out and throw the bar back into the rack. The next 20 minutes will be spent lying on the ground trying not to puke and trying to catch your breath. You’ve just pushed your body to the limit. You’ve spent time in a place few men would ever be willing to go. This is what it’s all about. Pushing your body to a point where life lessons are learned on the daily. Where men are made…