The Bodybuilding Days Part 2 – Big Legs

Continued from a previous blog. If you haven’t read it, do. It’s the beginning of this story: The Bodybuilding Days Part 1- The Quest for Huge

So I work out for a few weeks at the YMCA. I do not, as I’d hoped, get massively huge. I spend much of my time there fearing Sloth and waiting for the guy in loafers to free up the bench press. Eventually I decide that the time has come to swallow my pride and do what my friends did…join the World Gym.

NOTE: It is very difficult to use the phrase “swallow my pride” given that there is probably an adult film by the same name. I’m trying to express that I felt humility but all I can think of is girls with fake boobs swallo…never mind. Just threw up.

I drive all the way out to Wheaton, MD, trying not to get lost. I’m in my new Hyundai Excel but, as of yet, I do not have my “GETNBIG” license plates. Apparently, the Y wasn’t getting me big enough to warrant making myself look more stupid than I already was for buying a car with no air conditioner in a state that’s 95 degrees and humid 1/3 of the year. Anyway, I’ve got the worst sense of direction ever, so I get lost. I drive past the mall where the gym is located. Twice. Eventually I find my way to the mall parking lot and still can’t find the gym. I drive around and around and around the mall. No gym. After about 1/2 hour I stop and ask a security guard patrolling the parking lot. Turns out, the gym is in a stand-alone building back by the movie theaters. I have driven by it. Twice. The sign is huge. I am not huge. The sign is obvious. I am obviously an idiot. By this time I’m hungry, tired and irritable. My enthusiasm for joining this new gym has waned considerably. But fuck it. One day I’m gonna be massive and have license plates that say “GETNBIG”. I must follow my path to destiny. Gym located. I park, take a deep breath to calm my nerves, and head toward my future.

I enter the gym through the glass doors and walk to the front desk. I’m greeted by a really cute blonde girl named Lisa. She would later play into many a fantasy I had, particularly after seeing her in pig tails one day. But that’s for another story. She goes to retrieve the manager who’s going to sign me up. I glance to the right and see the two largest human beings that I have ever seen, one white, one black. I immediately think to myself, “I will be like those guys. Whoever they are, however they got that way, I will find out and I will be just like them. Huge.” Everyone has to have a goal, right?

The manager returns and signs me up. He locks me into a two year membership and takes my picture. Five minutes later he hands me my laminated ID card. It’s official. I’m on my way to Arnold status. I walk back into the gym and see the two monstrous guys doing lat pulldowns. They’re using the entire stack of weights and pulling the bar to their chests as if it were nothing. I’m in awe. I go to a nearby machine and pretend to work out. I’m fixated on these guys. Not in a gay way, but in a psycho obsessed freak way. I’m just trying to point out that I was not then, nor am I now, gay. And not because I have anything against gay people. If I were gay, I’d be writing some fine gay blogs about sucking cock and all sorts of man love. But I’m not, so let’s move on and stop focusing on my non-gayness. Fags.

Now these two guys looked like they were having the time of their lives. Basically they’d each do a set and then, while they rested, they’d laugh hysterically about shit. They seemed to know everyone at the gym and everyone seemed to know them. I was fully convinced that they were famous. I wanted these things, this laughter and notoriety. But mostly I wanted to be huge. I knew what I had to do. I had to become friends with these guys. I had to train like them, eat like them, act like them, and become just like them. My entire teenage life I had dreamed of being like these two good natured, seemingly famous behemoths. I would be massive. Everyone would love me. Insecure much? Thank God now all I need is a good hair day and I think I’m the hottest guy on the planet. And it took a mere 30 years. Anyway, I had to devise a plan. How would I befriend these superhumans? How would I get them to let me into their inner circle? How would I get them to teach me their secret ways? In the end, I would only need one thing.

Big legs.

That’s right. The way to the inner circle of bodybuilding coolness is having giant quads, hamstrings, and calves. Lucky me. Not that I had large wheels already, but I certainly had potential to get them. First and foremost, I’m vertically challenged (a midget). As you might realize, the smaller your body frame, the less muscle you have to add to it in order to make it appear bigger. Think about it in chick terms—if a girl that’s 5’10” puts on five pounds, you probably wouldn’t even notice. But if a chick that’s 5’1″ puts on five pounds, you wonder if someone didn’t give her a shit ton of McDonald’s gift certificates in her Christmas stocking (great stocking stuffers, by the way). So, for a basketball player to add a few pounds of muscle, it wouldn’t register on the visual scale. However, if I add a few pounds of muscle I look considerably different. Secondly, I was genetically predisposed to having muscular quads, for which I should thank my parents. Neither of them have particularly large legs, but then again neither of them workout. My mom is probably sporting the proper DNA to build giant stalks of destruction, from the ankle to the hip, were she inclined to exercise. The world will never know. She can, however, down an entire box of wine in one sitting. Everybody has their specialty. The third, and final, component of my destiny to have massive man-gams, was my naiveté. I had no idea how difficult it was for most people to achieve the level of physical development that these guys had achieved, so I just assumed that I could do it. All I had to do was find out how they did it, and follow in their footsteps.

A few days later I entered the gym and saw those same two guys squatting. I was already familiar with that exercise from high school gym class. Only a few people at my school did that particular movement, and most claimed to hate it. Personally, I enjoyed it. My body was built perfectly for it. For those of you who are unaware, squatting consists of taking a barbell and placing it on a rack at around shoulder level, then loading it with the appropriate amount of weight, bearing it on your shoulders, then squatting down til your thighs are parallel with the floor, and back up. For the average, semi-fit guy, this tends to start around the 135 pound range (the 45 pound bar with two 45 pound plates, one on each side). These are what they call Olympic weights, and the bar size is standard. The weight plates themselves typically come in 2 ½, 5, 10, 25, and 45 pound increments. There are other, odd sizes available, but those listed are the standards. For whatever reason, the bar and two 45 pounders are a typical starting point for many exercises. My theory is that it’s because those plates are bigger, thus looking more impressive. Once you achieve a certain level in the weightlifting realm, you often just refer to 45’s as “plates”, as in, “hand me another plate”. Basically what you’re saying is that you’re so fucking massively strong, that you don’t need to specify the numerical weight of what you’re asking for because of course you’re asking for the biggest one. What kind of pussy little mealy punk bitch asks for a 25 pound plate, particularly when you’re squatting. I mean seriously, going up in increments of less than the sum total of 90 pounds is for girls, right? That was my way of thinking. Because, as I watched these guys squat, they started off with 135 pounds, and did about 15 reps (repetitions retard, repetitions). After they each completed a set, they simply added another 45 pounder to each side (another plate loser, geez). This brought the total weight to 225 pounds. They each completed another set, then added another plate.

315 pounds.

405 pounds.

495 pounds.

Holy Christ, these are like the strongest dudes on earth. I turn to Matt, one of the guys who worked the front desk at World’s, and asked him how much they were squatting. He said, “I think they’re just going to five plates today.” Five plates? Five 45 pound plates? On each side. That’s basically 500 pounds and these guys were dropping down and back up with it six or eight times as if it were nothing.

I turned to Matt and asked, “How much do those guys weigh?” He replied, “They’re probably both around 220.” Whoa. Two hundred and twenty pounds. And they weren’t much taller than me, maybe an inch, two at the most. That meant I had to hit at least 200 to be in the same size range. Sixty five pounds of solid muscle. Five hundred pound squats. Massive gigantic monster of hugeness.

No problem.

I’d never been good at any sports as a kid. I was small, slow, and asthmatic. The only thing I’d even been decent at was baseball and that ended during practice the day the coach hit me straight in my mouth with the ball. An instant headache, giant fat lip, and mouth full of blood, cured me of my big league aspirations real quick. But the first time I picked up a weight, everything changed. Being short is one thing, but being short and small, that’s an entirely different level of insecurity. Plus I grew up raised by just my mom, not exactly a recipe for toughness. (can you say ‘crybaby mama’s boy?) When you put on some muscle though, you start to feel a little better about yourself, a little less “small”, and a little less scared. When you see guys who are built like comic book superheroes, you have an epiphany. Not only can I be like those guys, but once I am I will be indestructible. Girls will love me and men will fear me. So with that first bench press, that first set of curls, that first pump, I saw my future, and I never looked back.

My life became solely dedicated to the pursuit of lean body mass. My body dysmorphia rivaled that of Nicole Ritchie, the Olsen twins, and that girl from Growing Pains. Anorexics have it easy. Half the time I don’t feel like eating at all. Yet, to become a juggernaut made of twenty inch biceps, able to bench press a small vehicle, you have to eat like one. Try eating 5,000 to 7,000 calories every day of healthy, low-fat food. You know how much fucking food that is? A lot. A lot of fucking food. I took in enough every day to feed an entire African village for a week. For the first year I actually woke up at 5am every day just to squeeze in additional calories. My day revolved around eating, lifting, sleeping, eating, sleeping, eating, sleeping, eating—repeat. People think that bodybuilders spend all of their time in the gym, but that’s bullshit. It’s more like two hours a day. The rest of the time is spent eating and napping in between meals. I committed myself to this lifestyle.

I grew.

My body virtually exploded. Outward. I certainly didn’t get any taller. I was gaining weight faster than Oprah and Rosie O’Donnell at a hot dog eating contest. Plus, at that young age, almost all of it was muscle. I was so obsessed with my weight that I checked it almost every time I ate. Often, if I’d set a poundage goal for myself that I hadn’t achieved, I’d guzzle water til the scale reflected it. My arms expanded, my chest puffed out, the muscles in my back became thick and wide, but it was my legs that transformed beyond belief. In a matter of months, my legs to what seemed like twice their original size. My calves swelled to the point where people started to joke that I had gotten implants. My quads and hamstrings got so big that they started to rub together and, when I walked, it looked a bit like a waddle. Then, one day, it happened. One of the original monsters I’d seen at the gym, the black one, walked up to me and said, “Damn shorty, your legs got big as shit,” and my entire reason for being was validated. I’d just met Big Kev. Two weeks later, working out with Kev, I squatted 500 pounds for the very first time. Nine months later, I won the Teenage Mr. Maryland.

I’d never even seen a bodybuilding contest before.

From this picture, taken moments after my win, it’s clear that I’d also never seen a good haircut, a colorist, or a decent Mystic tanning bed. But my nipples are taut and my package looks nice, so there’s that.

Bad Ass Dad bodybuilder

Under the tutelage of Big Kev and many of the other gym members, I went on to achieve success in both bodybuilding and competetive powerlifting. Far surpassing my lofty goal of squatting 500 pounds, I eventually topped out at a whopping 675 pounds for three, spine-crushing reps. I loaded that massive poundage on my shoulders, took a step away from the rack, and dropped to the floor, all without blowing my entire ass and everything connected to it out of my spandex lifting shorts. At that point I could almost walk around the room with a piddly 500 pounds on my back. I had achieved monster status and my pride knew no boundaries.

Today, as a result of that epic achievment, which led me to neither fame nor fortune, you can hear what sounds like popcorn popping every time I stand up. And, if you’re lucky enough to be present, you can on occasion watch me wince in pain and possibley even crumble to the floor with a pinched nerve in my lower back. My shoulders, elbows, and ankles all ache on a daily basis as well. But I wouldn’t give up any of the pain if I had to give up the way I felt the moment they took that picture of me standing next to the first trophy I’d ever won in my life.

No matter how gay I looked.

If you enjoyed this post then check out The Bodybuilding Days Part 3 – The Pictures!