50 in 5

Where the notion arose, I do not know. As with most thoughts, it came unbidden. Unlike most thoughts, it refused to be ignored. “C’mon” the thought whispered, “quit procrastinating, you know its going to happen.”

The idea was to complete 50 repetitions of a particular exercise within 5 minutes. The exercise in question was a hybrid calisthenic/powerlifting move that utilizes an EZ-curl bar loaded with 50lbs. The movement starts with a squat thrust (which drops the hands onto the EZ-curl bar), it then transitions into a push-up, and, immediately jumping into a crouched position, a “clean” is performed (quickly pulling the weight up to shoulder height and then dropping under it, absorbing the weight by squatting deeply with the legs). That’s ONE rep.

Having done single 10 rep sets of this exercise, I knew that I could average about 10 per minute if I was hustling. The idea of doing 50 in a row was daunting, but the though kept pecking at my brain. The stifling mid-day heat prompted me to bring the exercise indoors, which at least granted me a modicum of comfort. I set a 5 minute countdown timer on my stop-watch and went through some basic exercises to get ready mentally and physically.

Warm-up completed. Go time. Hit the start button on the timer and begin. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, “Really, only 5?” Breathing deeply now, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, “What the hell am I thinking, I’m sucking wind already.” Glance at timer, 4:10, “O.K. I’m on track.” 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, stop for a moment, breathe, continue. 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, stop again, halfway mark, feel like my heart is coming out of my chest. 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, look at timer again, still on track, keep moving, more than halfway now. 31, 32, 33, 34, pause, notice that I’m starting to cheat, have to maintain my form. 35, 36, 37, “Or is 37 next? Did I already do 37?” Do another anyway, 38, 39, 40, getting tight, got to relax into the suffering, it will be over soon. 41, 42, 43, 44, “How am I doing on time? 45 seconds before the bell, gotta burn through these last few reps.” 45, 46, stop, go, 47, 48, 49, 50, “YES!” Fall onto the floor, chest heaving, oxygen starved tissues screaming. The timer goes off, I did it, it sucked, but I did it and that feels amazing.

Lying on the ground, recovering my senses, my mind separates from my body. Visions of clients subjected to similar sorts of torment pass before my inner vision. Mind slams back into body, I’ve been lying on the floor for two maybe three minutes. It’s time to move-on. I still have 50 squat-to-shoulder presses, 50 bent-over rows, 50 sit-ups, 50 windshield-wipers, and 50 bridges to do before I’m done.

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About Tony Fed

Tony is the host of the Paleo Magazine Radio podcast, author of "Paleo Grilling: A Modern Caveman's Guide to Cooking with Fire", and Cofounder of Powerful PT, an innovative information resource for Fitness Professionals. He has appeared on numerous local and national television and radio broadcasts and regularly hosts healthy cooking workshops and informational lectures. He is also a full-time Personal Trainer and Wellness Consultant who lives in Jacksonville Florida with his wife Jamie.
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