Imagine fear. Not physical fear. That's not the worst kind. Imagine mental fear. Imagine fearing going to school everyday. Not fear of being beat up, or not doing well, but fear of being the butt of every joke, fear of not being accepted by anyone, fear of being beaten down. Throughout all my elementary school and middle school years I had been severely rejected by my peers. I was different. I wore glasses, I was hyperactive (diagnosed with ADHD at age 7), but I was a good kid, a caring kid, a nice kid. I had a loving family but I was missing one crucial aspect of my life. I had no friends. Most people flat out rejected me, and those that didn't weren't friends with me because they feared they would be made fun of for being friends with me.
Eventually the fear turned to pain. By age 11 I had to visit a shrink every week! I felt I had no one to talk to and no friends. Things did not change they just became worse. By the end of my middle school years the goal of some of the kids was to see who could get me to cry first. But I saw a light at the end of the tunnel. High school would be different I told myself. New school new people. I can make it, I will be accepted. Things got off to a rough start again. I became the butt of every joke again. That spring I made the baseball team and even started on the freshman team although no one expected me too. I thought that playing baseball might help...NO! Still the taunting. And even by then I had built a small group of friends who, of which most didn't give a damn about me anyway. Deep down I knew this and it hurt me more.
That spring I took a weightlifting course at my high school. It involved lifting 3 days per week. I still remember the first day I touched a barbell. I bench pressed 85 pounds 5 times. I felt like superman! I enjoyed weightlifting and became somewhat good at it for my size. I started the semester at 130 and ended at 145 with a bench press of 155lbs and a squat of 225lbs. And a funny thing happened. People noticed me. Not very much but they did notice. I saw my opportunity to help myself. The first week of that summer I borrowed every weightlifting book I could from the library and read everything I could about it.
I started on a basic program. All I had was 70lbs of sand weights to work with, but work with them I did. I did my workouts religiously. That summer I realized something about myself. I had turned my pain into motivation. I was a man on a mission. I entered the next school year at 155 lbs. I took the weightlifting course again the fall semester and people once again noticed. I got comments like "you look good Layne" and "have you been working out." These were the first nice things my peers had ever said to me...I loved it. I started lifting even harder. By the next summer my weight was 165 lbs and my bench press was 205lbs and I was finally getting noticed.
Then disaster struck...In the form of my first girlfriend. I spent all my time with her. I had never gotten attention from girls before so when she gave it too me I snatched it up. It was a bad relationship and emotionally straining for me. I stopped working out and when we broke up I become SEVERELY depressed. This depression lasted for six months and what made it hurt worse was that she started dating some of my so called "friends." I lost 15 lbs and I felt like the world was closing in on me.
People were starting to mess with me all the time, and I was still very torn up over Melissa. Then one day I snapped. I made a decision that I would make everyone who ever made fun of me sorry and I would show everyone never to doubt me. I started lifting with a ferocity I never had before. The pain turned to rage. Every workout was a battle. I was battling my demons and all the people that never accepted me and never believed in me. Every rep of every set I pushed myself to the max. By the end of my junior year my weight had jumped from 152 (down from 165) to 170 lbs. I continued working out with unmatched intensity over the summer. Unfortunately I only worked upper body because at the time that's all I cared about. By the beginning of my senior year I was 175 lbs and my bench press was 250 lbs! When I came back to school no one could believe it was me. Then my senior year I changed something. I started watching my nutrition. I started eating more protein and reading muscle magazines. Mid-way through the first semester the weightlifting coach approached me. He said "Layne I've been watching you and you have a very strong bench press, if you can increase your squat I would like to enter you in the Southern Indiana Bench Press and Squat Championships." I couldn't believe it. Me, in a competition. I immediately started to work on my squat more and more.
By competition time in February my weight was 177lbs. and my bench press was 300lbs and my squat was 300lbs. However during the competition I only scored a 275 lb lift on bench press. I tried 305 and failed and in a bench press and squat competition once you select a lift you cannot go below that weight. However I was pleased with my squat which was 325lbs. I ended up taking 5th in my class and I was ecstatic! The tables were starting to turn for me. That's when I started thinking about bodybuilding...
I liked weightlifting but I wanted to look good, real good. I wanted to be bigger and be shredded. I picked up my first FLEX magazine and started to look through it. I read every magazine I could get my hands on and I learned a lot about protein intake, post workout nutrition, the importance of eating every three hours etc. But there was one thing that stuck with me when I read these magazines, the articles on competition. I loved the idea of competition and being onstage and showing the world what I had.
That's when it hit me, I didn't just want to be big, I wanted to be as big as I possibly could naturally. I wanted to compete, I wanted to win. I thought to myself, "if I could win a bodybuilding contest it would be vindication, I could show all those people that doubted me and made fun of me all my life that I am no joke, that I am for real." I made a lot of gains in muscle between February of my Senior year and graduation (May). I believe this was largely due to the fact I was starting to follow a bodybuilding split and I was recovering better since I was working out each body part only once per week instead of 2 or 3 time per week. By this time I was about to graduate and I was about 185 pounds, I had already made drastic improvements but I wanted more. I trained very hard over the summer and increased my weight to 190 lbs and my bench press to 315 lbs on a one rep max. Now it was time to go to college, and that's when it all changed...
My next article will be on what happened that first 6 months in college that revolutionized my body and the way I lifted.