Wednesday, December 09, 2015


Yesterday in Matt's tiny garage gym, he set up his sliding bench on an incline, then added enough weight to a bar to make a 30-pound barbell. Then he looked at me and said, "This workout should leave you curled up on the floor. If it doesn't, you're not doing it right."

I love it when he talks like that.

"The first time I did this exact same workout, I ended up curled in a ball on the floor. Then I threw up."

Well, bring it on, hon. Let's do this.*

*Not that I am keen to throw up--I am not. I hate vomiting and would be really embarrassed to leave that kind of mess for Matt to clean up. I just like a challenge.

On the surface, it sounds simple:

  • 21 pull-ups
  • 21 thrusters (slight squat with the 30-pound barbell in rack position, then an overhead thrust)
  • 15 pull-ups
  • 15 thrusters 
  • 9 pull-ups
  • 9 thrusters
There's no "rest period," except what I choose to take, and I am timed.

Matt said it would be difficult, and I believed him, but boy howdy...I had no idea. 

For starters, even though my pull-ups were assisted (sliding incline bench), I still have far less upper body strength than I do lower body, and by the tenth rep in that set of twenty-one, my arms and shoulders were starting to burn. I soldiered through the set, then got up and stepped over to the barbell, wondering warily how I'd get it over my head with my arms screaming at me. Twenty-one times, no less.

But I managed. I was grunting and half-yelling through each exercise, and in the few seconds between sets, as I moved from one to the other, I'd respond to Matt's ever-cheerful encouragements in a whisper. I simply couldn't find enough energy to actually speak. 

I whispered to myself in the second set of pull-ups. "One. Two. Three. Four. Five. That's one-third." 

"Yes it is!" said Matt from next to me.

"Six. Seven. Eight."

"Over half now!"

More grunting. 

In my second set of thrusters, the yelling instensified--it wasn't actual words, just unintelligible sounds like "HNN!" and "UHN!!" My arms were burning by this point, and sweat was flowing freely. My breath was labored, and my whole body wanted nothing but to stop.

I didn't stop. 

At one point, I even whispered, "I. Don't. Quit." to myself. 

By the time I reached my sets of nine, my brain was telling me, "Come on, nine. Nine is easy." My muscles were singing a different tune. Still, it's a lot easier to power through a smaller set, and I tried not to pause too much.

When at last I had completed my last thruster, and had dropped the barbell wearily to the ground, I looked up to see Matt grinning at me, and stepping forward with his hand in high-five position. I weakly raised my right hand. Wimpiest high-five ever. Still, I could see that he was proud of me. It seems the more challenges Matt throws my way (or that I do, for that matter--hello, running half marathons), the more I just rise to it. 

I grabbed my water bottle while Matt removed the barbell from the floor where I'd dropped it. "Lie down," he said, just grinning at me. Turns out my time--eight minutes, twenty seconds--was better than the time he achieved the first time he did this workout. He did it in twelve minutes.

"Seriously?!" This was gasped from a prone position on his rubber gym flooring. My breath was returning.


"I'm a badass!!"

"Yeah, you're a badass!"


Later in the hour, after some much easier exercises, we did our usual post-workout stretching routine, where Matt helps me manipulate my legs and get some good, deep stretches. As he grasped one ankle and pushed my leg back, I gazed at my Peanuts leggings and said, "Today, I credit my Snoopy leggings for my badass workout." 

"No, it's not the leggings. It's you. You are a badass." 

I just grinned up at him. "Tell me again how I beat the time you got your first time doing it."

This earned me a big grin. "You totally did!"

And that, my friends, is how you badass. 

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