Goals - we all have goals. Some people's goals are pretty lofty - make a million this year, or ten, or climb the Everest - and sometimes they even achieve them. Others have more modest ones. Mine was to bench press 100 kg (220 lb), and I achieved it today. Here's the blow-by-blow.
First off, in case you're not familiar with weight lifting - what is the bench press? Well, it's this exercise:
You start at the highest point, lower the bar until it touches your chest, then bring it back up until your arms are straight. That's one "rep" (one repetition). Then you do it again, if you can.
Starting point: 181 cm (6'0") height, 62 kg (136 lb) weight
There's no particular moment when the changes began to occur, but I was definitely in my 30s. If I have to name a year, I would say 2002, but the very beginning is quite unclear.
Sportbikes: I'm not sure what racing at 130 km/h (80 mph) while hanging off the bike in a turn is supposed to do to your mind, but it definitely changed mine. I looked fear in the face, and for some reason it didn't seem that terrible anymore.
Weight lifting: And at the same time I started to lift weights. I did it wrong at first, of course, but slowly and steadily learned the basic principles, and applied them. My body weight probably started to increase slowly, as did my strength, but the initial progress was very slow.
Previous max: Mid-2007 I was weighing 84 kg (185 lb). Not that much fat, perhaps 14% or so. I don't know exactly how much I was able to lift back then (see below).
Good times, bad times: I'm pretty sure mid-2007 I was about as strong as I am right now (2009), I'm almost certain I could have bench pressed the same weight back then, but I did not keep a tally. Also, at that time pretty much my entire life went to hell. I had crashed the bike the year before, and then in 2007 I injured my back pretty badly. I was supposed to do surgery to fix it, but then a host of other issues prevented it - immigration problems, work-related issues, the whole nine yards. Amidst the increasing universal shittiness, I quit exercising for about 2 years.
This time around
This year in July I did a trip overseas. I returned mid-July and started lifting again immediately. It took 3 months to achieve my goal - the 100 kg (220 lb) bench press. It's mid-October now.
Starting point in July: I was weighing 78 kg (172 lb), and still pretty low body fat percentage, around 12% I guess. I was weak like a kitten, could barely bench press 54 kg (120 lb). Had to take long breaks between sets, and could not do long sets either.
Diet: 3000 calories / day at first, 3200 after a while. Caloric breakdown: 33% protein, 33% carbs, 33% fat. I did this for the most part of this period.
Current stats in October: I weigh 86 kg (190 lb), still at 13 ... 14% body fat. My thighs are rubbing together when I walk, which is a pretty new experience to me. :-) My jeans feel tight too, around the legs and butt - but not the belly, which is good. The progress was very rapid, probably due to the fact I was near the same level in 2007 and the muscle memory helped a lot.
I'm not sure. I did the 100 kg (220 lb) bench press today just once. I'm pretty sure I could have done more than that, probably at least 3 or 4 sets of 3 reps each, maybe up to 6 sets.
I would surely like to be able to bench press 105 kg (230 lb) for 3 sets of 8 reps each. That means 2 big plates on each side of the barbell, for 8 reps. In that case, my max should be around 118 ... 122 kg (260 ... 270 lb). At my current rate of progress (2.5 kg, or 5 lb, per week) I should meet that goal before Christmas. Realistically, allowing for regressions, sickness, injuries, emergencies or anything else that may interfere with my training, it's early January 2010.
I would like to develop the arms a little bit more. These were always my weak point, in every sense. I guess I just have to keep beating the crap out of them.
In any case, I'm glad I'm not the skinny 62 kg (136 lb) guy anymore. It sucked to be him. Now I just need to come up with a new goal.