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|Just as Jonathan had said, we were really sore the next day as we entered the gym. Every movement seemed to cause a twinge of pain somewhere; just poking my chest with my finger hurt. Stan was there, practicing poses in the mirror. He turned around when he saw us come in and called into the house, "MuscleMike and Barry are here!" The musclekid looked at us and grinned. "Bet you guys are really feeling the burn today!"
We both nodded. "Is it going to hurt like this every time we work out?" Barry asked.
"Well..." Stan said slowly, "maybe not *that* sore..." He looked at us and posed in that crablike movement that I found out later is called a 'most muscular' pose. "But it's worth it, isn't it?"
We nodded in agreement. I sat down to hide my growing hard-on. Stan seemed to have that effect on me. Jonathan came in from the house with a couple of purple mimeographed sheets in his hand. He was dressed in loose and concealing clothes again, for which I was grateful -- Stan was distracting enough without adding Jonathan's Herculean physique into the mix.
"This is a list of the kinds of foods I want you eating, and another list of stuff to avoid. When you're at home, I guess you'll take the meals you're given, but you should try to eat as much good food as possible. If your moms are serving meats or fish or chicken, take a second helping, that kind of thing. Try to avoid the fatty or sugary stuff. It'll keep your skin clearer too, though you guys don't seem to have much skin problems.
"OK, change into your gym clothes, you're going to do another light workout today, along with Stan."
We changed as quickly as our sore muscles would let us, and Jonathan got out our cards and we went to work. I noticed that he had us using more weight today. "We'll be increasing your weight quickly as your muscles and nerves learn the movements. Also, your strength should increase very quickly the first few weeks."
As we started to exercise, the pain subsided a bit. We benched 75 pounds this time, and the movement felt a lot more natural. Still, it was both embarrassing and exciting to watch Stan add another 40 pounds to the bar and pump 115 pounds nine or ten times. "Almost got it ten times on the last set," he said. "Bet I'll be adding another five pounds next week."
A little over an hour later, we were finished. Jonathan gave us something he called a protein drink (it tasted more like an Orange Julius but thicker) and told us how pleased he was of the intensity we were putting into our training. Stan added, "If I'm not careful, these guys are going to get stronger than me!"
"Stronger than Stan the Muscle Man? I didn't think there *were* guys like that!" I said, grinning at Stan. This time, my joke got a laugh from all the Muscleteers.
The semester passed into history as the week finished. I got all 'A's, except for Phys. Ed's usual 'courtesy C' and a 'B' in Art. Barry got mostly 'C's except for a 'B' in Algebra. Neither of us took much notice; with school over, our lives were centered around Jonathan and the Muscle Club.
June became July, and at the end of our third full week of weight lifting, Jonathan once again brought out his tape measure and once again 'measured and expressed in numbers' our muscle progress. During those three weeks, we had trained intensely, five days a week, eaten lots of food (my father wondered aloud if I'd picked up a tapeworm while my mother said something about 'hollow legs'), and gotten plenty of rest. Jonathan once said, "In a way, I was lying when I said it wouldn't happen overnight. The time you spend sleeping is the time your body is recovering from your workouts and adapting by building muscle."
Some afternoons after training, we all lay out on Jonathan's patio getting a tan. At least twice a week, we practiced posing, with and without the mirror. I still felt a bit uneasy with this at first, but as time went on, and I became a bit more coördinated, I started to enjoy it almost as much as the other guys. Jonathan's physique was just amazing to watch as he practiced the poses with us. He wasn't really as huge as I originally thought -- at six feet even, he weighed a little over 200 pounds -- but his muscles were clearly defined and seemed to jump through his skin when he flexed. In spite of myself, I got a hard-on every time he did this, but of course nobody was watching me, so it didn't really matter.
Our exercise strength increased rapidly. Whenever someone could do sets of ten on an exercise, the weight was increased. This happened twice a week on almost every exercise for Barry and me, and Stan, who was obviously full into an adolescent growth spurt, was getting stronger just about as fast.
Barry became known as The Squat Machine. By the end of the second week, he was squatting 135 pounds for sets, stronger than either Stan or me. I was stronger than Barry on the bench, though, and was, after three weeks, only about five pounds behind Stan's workout even though I could only bench sets of ten at 95 pounds the first week. But I was making my best progress in my back. Even Jonathan said that he was surprised at how much weight I could row, and said that my wide shoulders may have improved my leverage somehow. I had become accustomed to the name of MuscleMike by now, and thought of it as my name whenever I was with the others.
Jonathan took Stan's stats first. "123 pounds...12 5/8-inch biceps...you just keep growing, Stan-the-MuscleMan! OK, MuscleMike, let's see what's happening with you. He wrote down some figures, then he re-measured my chest. Finally, I stepped on the scale. "146 pounds. Nine pounds in three weeks. Your waist is still 31 inches, so that's all muscle! Your arms are up to 12 1/4 inches, your thighs are up to 19 1/2. But your chest is 37 and a quarter inches. MuscleMike, you've added over an inch to your chest measurement! That's fantastic!" I did a 'most muscular' pose and growled at him, then snickered. "Incipiently copious pecs, as my English teacher would put it?"
"Incipient! Good word! But I think the size gain is in your back more than your chest. Show me a lat spread." I put my hands on my hips and pushed out on my latissimus dorsi muscles as Jonathan had demonstrated for us a couple of weeks ago in a particularly exciting posing lesson. I heard Stan take a breath, and even Barry said, "Jeez, Mi-- MuscleMike, that's really good!"
Stan came over and ran his hand along the outside of my still-flexing back. "Well, guess we know who gets the Best Back trophy!" His touch reawakened my boner, but I tried not to pay attention. During these three weeks of training, Stan had apparently taken a liking to me -- he seemed to make it a point to spot for me when I was bench-pressing, encouraging the last tough reps from me and complimenting me after the set.
"OK, Squat Machine, your turn!" Jonathan turned to Barry. Barry's arms were just a fraction bigger than mine, and his chest had increased by 3/4 of an inch. Barry had gained only five pounds, but had lost a half inch from his waist. He was quite visibly leaner than before. Barry's mother was divorced and worked during the day, so Barry had a lot more control than I had over his meals.
But it was Barry's thighs that were progressing the fastest. From an initial size of 19 1/2 inches, he was now at 20 5/8 inches, and a visible 'sweep' in his outer thigh was becoming visible. Jonathan asked Barry to pose his abs and thighs with his hands behind his head, and we all spontaneously applauded at the now-visible abdominal muscles and legs that were showing some real power. I thought it was a pity that guys couldn't feel other guys' thigh muscles flexing as you could with biceps -- but then shut off that inner voice with a feeling of annoyance. Barry bowed, grinning ear to ear.
I was certainly getting more muscular, but it wasn't making my fascination with the other guys' physiques any less. Watching Jonathan curling 50-pound dumbbells, his massive arms bulging with the strain, was a sure fire way to stretch my jockstrap inside my shorts. Even watching Barry, with his strong thighs and arms that were rapidly catching up with Stan's 'cannonball' biceps got me aroused. But I decided that this should just make me focus harder on my own lifting and redouble my own effort. Our hygiene teacher had called this 'sublimation' and indicated that it was a Good Thing.
"What about you, Jonathan," Stan asked. "I'll take your stats." I wrote the numbers on Jonathan's own card as Stan read them from the tape. "Chest 47, arms both 18, waist 31, thighs 26 1/4, calves 17 1/2. And you're weighing...just a sec...203 pounds." Stan looked over at the card as I finished filling in the last number. "You're losing weight, Jonathan -- and the only measurement that changed is that your waist got thinner. How come?"
"Well, I'm trying to really bring out my definition, what they call 'cutting up', this summer." Jonathan said, with an unreadable expression on his face.
Stan squinted one eye up at Jonathan. "How come? What gives?"
Jonathan's face betrayed nothing. "Well, let's just say that you guys might want to make sure you're free on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend."
The three of us looked at each other. Stan looked like he had an idea of what Jonathan was talking about, but didn't say anything. Barry and I just looked blank.
"OK, guys, enough of this bullshit. Put away the cards, and let's get started with the weights. Those muscles aren't growing from listening to conversation!" Stan and I headed over to the squat rack, and Barry and Jonathan began on their bench-presses. Barry and I were off to a great start, and I was really starting to feel like the muscular man that Jonathan saw in me was coming out.
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