By Richard Jasper

“Look at him go!”

The two personal trainers, both highly-ranked amateur bodybuilders, watched Roger Fentress attack the lat pull-down machine. Rep after rep, set after set, the sweat pouring from his pale but rock-solid body, Roger worked like a man possessed. Low reps, heavy weights, perfect form.

“He’s unstoppable,” said Roger’s trainer, Randy Washington. At 5'8” tall and 245 lbs., Washington had been lifting since he was 14. The twenty years of dedication and training were evident in his huge mass, carved into the deep separations of his highly conditioned body.

“What have you got him on?” Carlos Trujillo was five years younger than Washington but the darkly tanned Latino bodybuilder was no less impressive. At 5’9” tall and 240 lbs. he continually wowed judges and audiences with his flawless physique, including a minuscule 28 inch waist and imposing 29 inch quads.

“That’s the thing,” Washington said. “I don’t have him on anything, not even protein powder. It’s scary.”

+ + +

Roger had showed up at Body Zone four months earlier. At 38 years old, he was a handsome guy, the all American guy next door with light brown hair, blue eyes, and a dusting of fur in the right places. He had never been much of a jock, except for a regular but not very impressive tennis game, and his physique was nondescript at best. At 5’11” tall he only weighed 160 lbs. but it was soft, not hard. He was naturally well-proportioned, with wide shoulders and narrow hips, but he’d recently moved up to size 34 pants and his most notable feature was the lack of anything notable!

“What are your goals? Lose, gain, tone up?” Randy asked when they met that day. Roger was his luck of the draw and Randy was working hard to have anything more than a ho hum attitude.

“Harder, for sure, but also bigger and stronger. I’m tired of putting ‘average’ in my online profile, ya know? I want something more. I don’t know how far I can go but I want to go there, even so,” Roger said, adding “And I’m certainly willing to pay for your assistance. You’d be amazed at how much money you can save when you don’t have someone to share your life with.”

“Oh ho!” Randy thought. “Now he’s got my attention!”

“Good attitude, man,” Randy said aloud. You can go just about anywhere, provided you’re consistent about it…”

“Even as big as you?” Roger asked with a wry chuckle.

Randy gave him a look.

“Even as big as me – but keep in mind it took me 20 years of busting my ass to get here, ya know?”

“What else do I have to look forward to?” Roger replied.

+ + +

Randy had been amazed at the ease with which Roger took to the training program. He only had to show Roger how to do any exercise once and Roger got it immediately. Most of Randy’s clients had problems with form, or problems with breathing, or problems with concentration. Not Roger! He nailed each rep and each set of each exercise on the first try.

“Are you sure you haven’t done this before?” Randy asked.

Roger looked askance at him.

“What do you mean? It’s like I said, I’ve never done weights. It’s always been tennis or swimming or something like that. I never even did this in high school gym class. I had mono the one time we had a weights class and I never touched them until now.”

Randy shook his head.

“Cool beans, dude. I guess you’re just naturally talented!”

It wasn’t long before his sessions with Roger were the highlight of Randy’s day. The man was always on time, always focused, always hard working. And he didn’t flinch at Randy’s rates, either, $400 per week for six one-hour sessions (slightly discounted from Randy’s usual rate of $75 per hour.)

+ + +

Roger’s progress in the first four months was remarkable:

At his very first workout with Randy, Roger could barely bench 80 lbs., just half his bodyweight. Looking around the room, Roger saw any number of skinny teenagers and early 20 guys doing half again that much or more.

“Don’t get discouraged,” Randy said. “You’ve never touched a weight before, right? You just have to get the feel of it.”

“How much can YOU bench, Randy?” Roger asked.

“Well, uh…”

Just then, Carlos Trujillo, the gym’s other star trainer / bodybuilder, piped up.

“He didn’t tell you, man? Ran here isn’t just the best built guy in the gym, he’s also the strongest: his single rep max is 505 lbs., right?”

Roger’s eyes bugged out.

“Randy, that means you’re more than six times stronger than I am!”

Randy shook his head.

“Like I said, dude…”

Roger’s next set was more intense than his first one.

+ + +

A month later Roger had put on 10 lbs. of solid muscle and was benching his bodyweight, 170 lbs.

“What did I tell you?” Randy asked. “Beginners always make great gains!”

“Yeah, right,” Roger said. “Now you’re only three times stronger than I am!”

Randy threw up his hands in a “what am I gonna do with this guy?” expression.

“Just don’t get discouraged if you slow down, OK?”

+ + +

But Roger didn’t slow down.

A month later, Roger had gained another 10 lbs. At 5’11 and 180 lbs., his waist was down 3 inches, his chest was up 4.5 inches, and biceps were up 2 inches. His last session that month, Roger benched 240 lbs. – and all his other lifts were up accordingly.

“You noticed anything?” Randy asked.

“Noticed what?”

“You noticed who else is benching 240?”

“Plenty of people,” Roger said. “See: Joe and Frank and Kevin and…”

“How many of ‘em are smaller than you are?”

Roger looked around again.

“Well, that’s hard to say. Kevin, for sure, but he’s amazing and…”

Randy interrupted.

“You’re right in there with guys who’ve been lifting for years, Rog. Keep it up, OK?”

Roger laughed.

“Don’t worry about me, Randy. I’m unstoppable!”

+ + +

A month later, Randy was beginning to think Roger was onto something. With 10 lbs. more muscle, Roger was 190 lbs. – and beginning to turn heads. He’d added another inch to his arms, another 2 inches to his chest, and taken another inch off his waist.

“Yer looking big, man,” Randy told him. Roger turned bright red.

“Oh, c’mon, Randy, look who’s talking.”

“Hey, dude, I don’t know too many people who would be complaining about a 46 inch chest, 30 inch waist, and 17 inch arms. That’s not shabby!”

Roger lay back on the bench. 295 lbs. was on the bar, 5 lbs. more than he’d done the week before.

“Closing in there, big man,” Randy said.

Roger sat up and grabbed a couple of 10-lb. weights to add to the bar. Then he looked around and spied a couple of tiny 2 ˝ lb. weights.

“For good measure,” he said, slapping them on the bar.

“Are you sure about this man?” Randy asked.

“I’m unstoppable, right?”

That day Roger benched 320 lbs. – four times the amount he’d benched three months earlier.

“Yep,” Randy said, re-racking the weight. “Unstoppable.”

+ + +

Roger stretched out on the bench.

Just as pale as he had been the day he walked into Body Zone for the first time, Roger now carried 200 lbs. of solid, sculpted muscle on his 5-11 frame, an increase of 40 lbs. in four months. In the past month his waist hadn’t gotten any smaller but his arms, chest, and legs had all increased in size, a little bit faster, in fact, than they’d done in previous months. With a 48-inch chest, 30-inch waist, 26-inch quads, and 18.5 inch biceps, Roger was no longer average.

“And strong as an ox,” Randy told Carlos later that evening.

Not that Carlos needed any telling. As they’d watched Roger attack the lat pull-down machine, the cable holding the entire weight stack – about 300 lbs. – snapped as Roger was completing his 15th rep, sending the bar crashing down on Roger’s broad, muscular back. It had taken Randy and Carlos a good 10 minutes to quiet down Lou Mategna, Body Zone’s grizzled, sixty-something owner and manager, who was ready to throw Roger out for abusing the equipment.

“How strong we talking?” Carlos asked, taking a swig from his long-necked Dos Equis.

“He benched 400 lbs. yesterday, twice his bodyweight,” Randy replied.

Carlos choked on his beer.

“400 lbs.?! Fuck man, yer shittin’ me, right? That’s nearly as much as I can do!”

Randy shook his head.

“No lie, son. Perfect form, no assist on the lift off. At the rate he’s going…”

“We got us a monster on our hands, bro?”

Randy clinked his bottle against Carlos’.

“Unstoppable.” •

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