International Walk-in-front-of-my-squat-rack Day

There’s this little guy at the gym who I kind of hate.  He’s like 5’4 and 130? 140?  I hate guys that are shorter than me (admittedly not as much as guys who are taller than me, though special loathing is reserved for those who are exactly my height of 5’5 3/4″)

I don’t hate him solely because of his height, I also dislike him because he’s one of those guys with a 40 minute warmup.  Foam rolling, band pulling, lunges, getting on one knee and putting that ankle in the TRX.  He then deadlifts like 300×5.  Then he does cable rows, and dumbbell presses, sled drags etc.  In the grand scheme of things, he’s not as bad as the Enemy (who deadlifts 200×5) or this one albino-looking kid who does not actually work out, only warms up and then cools down.  Really, it doesn’t matter; why do I care what other people do

As my time at this gym grows short, I’ve become increasingly fed up with people who insist on using the tricep pushdown right in front of the squat rack, when there are six others open.  I’ve also become increasingly bold in my passive-aggressive maneuvering to prevent this from happening: When I first start working out, if no-one’s using it, I take the rope/v-handle/h-handle/dildo off the tricep pushdown and put it somewhere else.  I set my gym bag at the base of the machine.  I drag the garbage can with my tupperware of chalk on top over to further restrict access.  I make the path even more difficult to traverse by strewing crap like my water bottle, bands, and pen and paper on the floor. Take a look at this diagram.  Not to scale, but close enough:

squat rack

For the most part my strategy has worked.  I’m not preventing people from using that machine.  I’m just making it inconvenient.  So far, only two guys have attempted to use it; and I’ve graciously allowed it: I figure that if that particular tricep machine is that important to them, they must be even more mentally disturbed than me.  One was this big Mexican-American truck driver who has been using that tricep pushdown for the past 15 years.  He came over and gave it a longing look, and I moved my shit out of his way.  The other guy was this middle-aged guy who likes to do lying cable curls.  He set up at a bizarre, uncomfortable angle, with the top of his head against the emergency exit door.  I just felt bad for him and, again, moved my shit.

Anyway, today I set up the trash can, gym bag, and debris in a particularly fiendish configuration.  No one tried to use the triceps pushdown, but the little guy wanted two deadlift mats, and he walked right in front of me while I was in the middle of a set with like 375.  I do a set of squats like every six minutes.  Just, during those twenty seconds, can you not walk in the nine square foot area right in front of me?  Can it wait?  I mean I never do more than 3 reps.  I won’t be long.  Is there any other sporting event or quasi-sporting event where it’s cool to get right in front of someone’s face when they’re trying to concentrate and not get paralyzed?

Me: Do you need any more floor mats?

Him: No.

Me: Can you do me a favor and not walk in front of me when I’m in the middle of a set of squats?

Him: Yes.  Sorry.  

I was mad, but tried to keep it reasonable.  To paraphrase Mark Twain, never attribute to malice what can be attributed to ignorance.  This quote has probably kept me out of jail hundreds of times.  It’s fine.  The little guy just didn’t know that that wasn’t cool, and that I have a bad temper.  He wanted the floor mats, and there’s no other way to get at them.  As a side note, even tattoo-face and his boys did not walk in front of me while I was squatting Saturday.

Then, about ten minutes later, some other doofus, for no apparent reason, felt the need to wiggle his way around the lat pulldown, dodge the garbage can, pick his way around my gym bag and the other shit on the floor – then pause to glance over at me, from like six feet away – while I was between reps with 385.

Me [in loud semi-crazed tone]: Hey buddy!  What’s up?  How ya doing?  Can I help you?

His eyes got wide, and he picked up his pace as he scurried across the gym.  Three minutes later he left; not sure if there was a connection or if he was done anyway.

Emilio saw/heard what happened and thought it was funny.  I was glad he approved, as he is a sensible, 44 yr old international businessman, and his definition of humorous/appropriate often differs widely from mine.

Emilio: What’s going on in this place today?  Is there something in the water?  He stopped right in front of you to look at you.  Why would he do that?

Me: Let’s go to the tennis courts and run in front of people right as they’re about to serve.


weight: 174.4

Squat: …335,355,365,370,375,380,385,390×2, 395×1

Bench: …255×3, 275,285×2, 295×2,3, 300×2,3, 305×2

Sumo+strong band: 5 sets, all PRs, up to 215 off 3″ deficit

time: 2:10

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20 thoughts on “International Walk-in-front-of-my-squat-rack Day

    • thanks. i should have put arrows for the 2 interlopers but I am supposed to be packing to move not playing with paint.
      my workout decision tree would be like a stick in the ground. there might be a few loop backs like this: Are all the squat racks taken? -> Yes -> Sit near racks and glare. then an arrow back to the question.

  1. You don’t run, so the tennis court thing is an empty threat.

    I know it’s a little late now, but have you considered just putting one of the mats against the mirror and squatting facing it?

    • it was a joke. though I once overheard my wife, (i know this is a questionable source, but you have to understand that she compliments me slightly less than dirty dave) telling some of her friends that “he doesn’t look like it at all, but he can run suprisingly quickly” she then compared me to an ape.

      anyway these mats are like 2.5 feet square rubber puzzle piece flooring, not tumbling mats.

      and it also doesn’t take a psychiatrist to tell that even though i profess to want to be left alone, I thrive on conflict and aggression. I’m not as bad as Ox because my testosterone is within normal human bounds, but take a look at my bench volume today. the triples I got with 295 and 300 were right after those confrontations.

  2. I didn’t realize this until now… but the problem is in the squat rack. It’s turned away from the wall instead of toward it, like it should be.

    I feel like Sherlock Holmes.

    • I know you’re joking but for clarification purposes, in this rack you can squat facing either way. As opposed to the half-rack or platform where you must face the mirror (although I’ve seen some nerds try to face outwards on those.)

        • okay for all you mirror-facers – i squat less facing a mirror.

          i think it is the fact that seeing my face bulge like that makes me more cautious, i.e. “425 is a fine daily max” other candidates may be that i’ve heard it makes you lean forward, and I pause in the hole.

          also in meets, there is no mirror, except for one really bad meet i was in.

          usually I warmup with the bar facing the mirror, and then 135+ facing out. sometimes i do more warmup sets facing the mirror particularly if I’m trying different alterations to my squat technique

          though for some reason I like sumo deadlifting facing the mirror. my quads look really jacked, also i have a tendency to lean to one side, especially if i’m pulling over-under

  3. Strong diagram. Are those ninja stars on the floor? Because if they were, I bet people wouldn’t walk there. Or at least only walk there once.

  4. Pingback: w1d2 – fortfarande rotation och squat, nu med nemesis | lyfta på jobbet

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