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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Muscle Men

Yesterday while I was at the gym, running my little heart out on the squeekiest treadmill ever, I was watching a Strongest Man competition on ESPN. It was between that and Dr. Phil (who I kinda suspect is not an underling of Oprah, but perhaps the devil himself), so I focused my attention on the gorilla men. Granted, I always listen to my MP3 player while running at the gym, and there's no sound emanating from the TV anyway, but I could still grasp the context of the show (my IQ tests show above-average scores).

The contest appeared to have come down to six men, which seemed logical that there be only six men in the world who could compete for the Strongest Man award; anymore than that and I would have to second guess the judges' selection method. The contest took the shape of three parts: Lifting a log over their head, lifting five boulders onto platforms, and pushing down a telephone pole. All three events felt like sizable feats of strength. I thought the telephone business would be the easiet and it proves I was right: Most of those guys toppled the poles quite quickly (and this was really the only event where I thought balance, not strength, was the key feature). The log lifting was impressive -- like incline presses, just bigger. But the coup d'etat was the boulder heaving.

Each guy had five boulders (seriously boulders -- each had to be the size of a stove) that he had to lift onto five platforms that were about shoulder height. Each one was pretty fast with the first three (the boulders had to be lifted one right after the other), but each guy struggled with the final two, especially the last one, and only three actually finished lifting and placing the fifth boulder. I actually feared for a moment that the Canadian was going to be crushed by his fifth boulder.

I was cheering for the American. Partly to be patriotic, and partly because he wasn't wearing a shirt (thank you, ESPN). But in the end, it was a Polish guy with a chest like a keg and arms like an elephant's legs who won. And you know, for a Strongest Man contest, his trophy wasn't all that big. Ironic.

I've been doing my bicep curls and chest presses, but I think I'm still a long way from pressing a tree. Maybe I could outrun them though -- they didn't look too fast.

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