I Can Bench Press Your Mama

Okay, so I can’t bench press your Mama, unless she’s a petite woman who weighs 110 pounds or less, in which case, yes. Yes, I can, in fact, bench press your Mama.

Yup. My new one-rep max on the bench press is 50kg, or 110 pounds. (See video below. And no, it’s not assisted. He just keeps his hands close to the bar to ensure I don’t drop or hurt myself.)


Now that I’ve reached the goal I told you about back in January in my weird post about S&M Gyms) it’s time to set a new one.

My new bench press goal is 150 pounds (around 68kg). I won’t ever do steroids, so my goals are dependent on how far my muscles can build naturally. A guy in the gym today watched me doing dead lifts and came over to tell me I was making him look bad. He said it in such a friendly and complimentary way though, and it felt really great. That was a new first for me here in the RZA, where mostly the guys either look at me strangely or avoid me when I’m lifting.

Maybe they can tell that I get a little over-excited about how much I can lift. At a recent party attended by several of Kurt’s coworkers, I got a little mouthy with one of them, and in mock-toughness, told the guy not to mess with me, because I could bench press his Mama.

I think it came across funny, as intended, but not all the guys here find my lack of demure femininity so charming. I argue that I am feminine. I’m just a different standard of what it means to be female. Another of his co-workers told him, “Your wife is quite a handful, isn’t she?” Yes. Yes, she is. Thankfully, that’s part of what Kurt loves about me.

bodybuilding strength training women in the gym
100kg (225lb) dead lift. Willem says I should be able to do more than this with as strong as I am. But I’m actually pretty intimidated by dead lifts. They make me nervous so I think I psych myself out before I ever begin the lift. Almost there…

Before the latest get-together, Kurt and I had been discussing my new max weights at the gym, and I was excited to report that I had lifted 25kg barbell bicep curls for 10 reps, and shoulder press 30kg for 5 reps, 3 sets. He said that’s more than he can currently do (Kurt’s naturally quite strong but doesn’t lift weights much). I was excitedly talking about how much stronger I’ve become since I really work at it and get my protein in, and wondering just how far my muscles can go naturally. In my excitement, I joked about arm wrestling some of his coworkers at that evening’s party.

“Please. Don’t.” I could see that Kurt was genuinely worried I might outgun and perhaps embarrass his co-workers. Even by American standards (even by Kurt standards, which I think if you’ve been reading the blog, and posts like “Frontier Wife,” you know is the true benchmark of a man who is proud of having a strong wife) it’s not exactly a party pleaser if your wife is bench-pressing your boss. (For the record, I don’t think I could bench press his boss.)

female bodybuilding strength training women in the gym
I’m not sure if these dudes are arm wrestling or doing a pre-dance curtsy. Seriously, who draws these stock jpgs?

“Arm wrestle me.” Kurt challenged. “If you can beat me at arm wrestling, you can arm wrestle at the party tonight.” My eyes lit up. After learning I can out-bicep curl him, I was excited to finally beat someone at arm wrestling. “But,” Kurt challenged, as he squared off against me at the table, “if you lose, you can’t curse the entire night.”

“What the f*ck? Seriously!?” My mouth, famous for making sailors blush, was my trademark, my calling card, especially when drinking. But I was pretty certain I could now beat him at arm wrestling, since I had just passed his weight-training marks, so I agreed.

My resistance was pathetic. He even offered a do-over so I could reset my position, and still I couldn’t hold out long before he toppled my arm. Whatever the magic is that occurs in arm wrestling, sheer bicep and shoulder barbell presses do not account for it.

weight training barbells free weights gym
New one rep max on dead lift = 100kg (225 pounds!)

I spent the evening not drinking, since it was the only way I could be sure to keep my mouth in check. I did manage one or two gestures, since technically those didn’t count, but except for one accidental slip toward the end of the evening, I managed quite well using alternatives, like “sugar,” “fluff” and “some of a machinery, mudder fluffing, corn shucking, piece of cheese and rice smashing, cuisinarted fluffity fluff fluff fluffer.” (Say that three times fast.)

I actually kind of liked trying to come up with more creative ways not to use any of the censored words.

Maybe I’ll think twice before making an arm-wrestle bet with Kurt.

Probably not. Who would I be if I weren’t a little bit of crazy and a lot of bravado?

Special thanks in today’s post to my current trainer in South Africa, Willem. I only have him through the end of this week when his regular 7am client returns. (I couldn’t convince him that dumping a regular for a pseudo-infamous, potty-mouthed writer is good for his career.) Next week I’ll be training on my own again, so this week Willem is helping me determine my new one-rep max’s.

Until then, maybe I’ll try a little more sugar, a little less spice with this mouth of mine.


Love, Always, Marla

14 thoughts on “I Can Bench Press Your Mama

  1. Wonderful goals and achievements. My trainer, who works mostly with people like me who have long term injuries / disabilities, uses the bench press as a way to determine if a man is ‘worthy’. She is currently doing the internet dating thing and so many people lie, so she asks a simple question, “how much can you bench press?” If they can’t out press her, she eliminates them. If after she meets them, she can tell they lied, she eliminates them.

    1. 🙂 Thanks! I love her guideline! I know I’ll never have the muscles that my husband has, because I just don’t biologically have the same capacity, but it’s so much fun challenging him. I love feeling strong again and hope more women will get into the weight room.
      I was just reading your “Crowbar of Love” post. It’s beautiful! (For any of my readers who don’t know Valentine, click her name to go look at her site. Some really insightful posts there!)
      Thanks for stopping and commenting, Valentine!

      1. I have been reading you for some time now and enjoying you! This one though, it just made me laugh and I had to tell you about my wonderful trainer. I had actually written about her some time ago.

  2. OOOhhhhh…. this is brilliant…just brilliant… I love this post… I am proud of myself, that I just know you…!!!! incredible… 🙂 🙂

  3. Seriously…..I love you! (In a totally non-threatening way!) Every single time I read your ”stuff” I smile, laugh, tear up & totally relate. Bravo & all that fluff. You show them how it is to BE a female!

    1. Hahaha. Aww, thanks, Mishelle. And you can try all you want to be non-threatening, but I’m just crazy envious of how cool you are. Come visit and we’ll be weird and cool together.

  4. Talk to your trainer or whoever at the gym…there are “very specific” exercises you can do for building the muscle groups for arm wrestling (I sorta think they need conditioned in unison for the specific task) but the way you’re going, I’ll bet you can whoop Kurt in no time flat! Hahaha, love u sis

    1. I’m pretty sure there was actually a look of worry in his eyes before we arm wrestled. And I have a feeling he’s going to start lifting pretty soon, because he doesn’t want me to outlift him.

  5. Probably not surprising to you, this is my favorite post ever by you. 🙂 Awesome work!

    P.S. – Challenge Kurt to lifting next time. Arm wrestling is all about form and leverage, not all that much about pure strength.

    1. Awwwwwwwwww, yay! Thanks, Colin. That really does mean a lot. That’s good to know about the form and leverage. I was feeling really deflated. 🙂

    1. Do it, Steph! I miss you! Wish we could have gotten to work out together while I was there. But keep it going and when I come back we’ll have to go train together! 😀

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