Muscle Sport Magazine

“I Used To Bench Press 500 Pounds”

By Darren Mnahan, Old Skool Iron – Being involved in powerlifting, or just lifting in general, we have all heard it before from guys you run into: “I use to be a powerlifter”, “I use to bench 500lbs”, or “my uncle use to squat 700lbs” yada yada yada. Then comes the next subject, all the excuses… “but I injured my shoulder,” “my knee started to hurt” or, my personal favorite, “well once you reach 40yrs old it’s not healthy to lift heavy so I had to lighten the weight.” Really?!?!


This really hit me hard the other day when I realized most of the people who talk like this are the “never was.” I came out of my local Starbucks, (yes I know, that’s iffy in itself) and ran into a couple guys I knew from the gym where I trained 15 years ago. The first thing they do is ask how the gym is going. After we get through that subject, they asked if I was still lifting heavy and competing. I explained to them that yes I was, and I never really stopped. (Heavy is relative, I am not a huge number lifter, but the shit is still heavy.)




It continues, both guys, one in his 50’s the other in his late 40’s, on two separate days, tried to explain to me how they used to train real heavy but was told by their doctor to stop or they were going to get injured. One guy said “well you know I use to bench 315lbs for reps.” (Apparently he forgot I use to train at the same time he did and only remember him trying to hit 315lbs for one rep and he never got it.) “Once my shoulder popped that was it for me I couldn’t go heavy anymore”. As I was sitting there listening to them they started getting me depressed and bumming me out until I realized, hey these guys are just your average 95% of the population with excuses and they are what I call a “never was”. They were always little bitches in the gym, they never pushed themselves and they will live the rest of their lives telling little white lie stories about how they used to be instead of living and doing what they can now.


Now I am 50yrs old, I have hurt my shoulder, torn my pec, my knees still hurt, my back hurts, but I keep on pushing. When someone asks me what one of my lifts are I never say “well I use to….” I tell them what my current lifts are. Now if they ask what my max used to be, I will then tell them what it was. That’s different than being a used to be, because you were asked.


The point is; this is not about what you used to be or what you used to do. It’s about what you can do now!!! Now if you are limited to an injury, well sorry, but it’s still about what you can do now. If that injury stops you from going heavier, well it is what it is and that’s all you can do.


Now this whole subject doesn’t even pertain to the record breaking lifters whom have since retired. Why? Because everyone knows they were at the top and have actual records on the books. Plus most of them still lift and still push big numbers in the gym.


Next time someone comes up to you and says “I used to be a powerlifter,” ask them what their total was. 9 times out of 10, they will look at you confused and start making excuses of why they never competed. If you’re retired, I think that’s great and if the iron bug is still in your system and you’re still hitting the iron as hard as you can, that’s even better. All the other “used to be’s” need to shut up and lift or go home and whine to someone else. Stop bumming me out.


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