I have seen two truly gigantic men in my life. Men that would be right at home in the pages of Muscle and Fitness. One was in the Denver airport, exiting the plane that we would board a few minutes later.
The other was in the library, about a year ago. Both airport-man and library-man wore MC Hammer pants and sleeveless shirts. Both were very tan. So tan that their eyes looked so bright in contrast that I noticed them in my peripheral vision.
On the surface, both men appeared to be more confident than anyone I had ever met. They made eye contact with everyone possible, making an effort to be noticed. It was impossible not to notice them, so their efforts were unnecessary. I wondered if other aspects of their lives would bare out that sense of confidence. Was I seeing those rarest of creatures: men without insecurities?
The muscle man in the airport was gone as quickly as he had appeared. I actually got to spend some time with the guy in the library.
Biceps. Serious biceps
He walked slowly through the building watching other people watch him. He was huge. His bicep muscles were about as big as my head, and my head is enormous.
His pants swished and whooshed in the quiet department. Finally me made his way over to my desk and looked up at me–I was taller than him sitting in my desk chair.
“Can I help you?” I asked.
“Where are the bodybuilding books?”
“Right this way,” I said, walking back to the stacks.
“I’m a bodybuilder,” he said when we got there.
“I thought you might be,” I said.
Increased muscle is a result of training, whether you chase it or not
I’ve been strength training consistently for a few years now. The methods have changed, but the reasons have stayed the same. It is a fact that if you do enough lifting, whatever tools you use or however you do it, you’re going to put on some muscle. You do a movement while loaded with weight and your body lays down tissue along the line of stress.
I won’t lie–I like to see my appearance improve. You’re never going to see me in a muscle building magazine, but it has been fun to see my shoulders broaden and my arms and legs get bigger. I used to leaf through the magazines and think I’d like to look like that. Maybe. I just never wanted to do what it would take.
Making peace with appearances
I’ve never been obsessed (for a grim potrayal of bodybuilding obsession, check out Chemical Pink) or particularly interested in my physical appearance. During a rebellious phase, I used to have long red dreadlocks, huge sideburns, and an eyebrow ring, which my parents hated. I was the opposite of a looker. I was insecure about all kinds of things, absolutely, but building muscle never seemed like the answer.
Whenever I wanted more muscles, it was because I wanted girls to pay attention to me. They paid attention to me because I was funny and had a band, both which came more naturally than lifting all day or taking steroids.
One of the greatest decisions I ever made was to make peace with my appearance. I have no problems with what anyone else does with or for their looks. As long as they’re not trying to murder me, I don’t question people’s morals and don’t want them to question mine. There’s no judgment here.
So a couple of questions for you, ladies and gentlemen, purely for conversation:
1. What is your opinion of bodybuilding? (The actual sport of bodybuilding, physique competition)
2. How much muscle is too much? Or is there no such thing?
3. If you have had some success building muscle, what works for you, just in case anyone here is interested?
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