Thursday, 08 May 2014 08:43

The crazy "gui lao"

Was completing my workout today in the local park when a couple that I've seen often came along.

I was working out in the afternoon today, and this particular, probably in their mid 20's or so usually chooses this time of the day for their jaunt.

And as I went through the last few repetitions of an extremely tough exercise I've been working HARD to master, I saw "the look" on the woman's face.

And from the title, you've probably already guessed what type of a look it was - - and you're right.

And what's funny, at least to me, is that this look repeats itself every time they see me exercising - - oddly enough, they seem to show up just at "that" particular time in my workout. One of those things as it were.

The guy usually looks at me with a resigned, sort of "benevolently friendly" (if that term makes any sense), says something to the gal, and walks on.

The gal walks on too, saying something to the guy, but she's got the first stage of the "the look" printed ALL over her face.

As in, what's that crazy "gui lao" doing? (Gui Lao literally meaning foreign devil, a not so polite but commonly used term on mainland China, at least in the Southern provinces)

She pauses, stares at me, and I stare at her after I complete my rep, and then go on about my business.

Finish that rep, and I find her staring at me again with a look of "why would someone do that", as her partner nudges her, edging her on her way, down past me.

And come the third rep, I see both of them sneaking surreptitious glances at me, but being they're too far away at this point for it to really register in my mind, I just act as if they're not there and continue.

This particular scenario repeats itself every time they see me, so you might ask, hey, what exercise is it that causes the Chinese to give me the "crazy gui lao" stare?

Well, as mentioned before, it's an exercise that is extremely tough to master, and certainly not for the "pumpers" at the local gym/'roid house.

It requires patience to master, so that makes it a no-no for most people.

It makes you grip as if your life depended upon it, and it makes ugly callouses sprout all over your hands. Strike three for most folks right there.

But it also develops a vice like grip, super strength (and endurance of sorts) in the entire arm, especially the fingers and forearms.

And that exercise is - without further ado - a FLEXED hang - but from one hand.

Simply put, that means yours truly is hanging in the bottom position of a pull up (arms fully outstretched) with one hand - for time. And to make it even more fun, I use a thick bar to do this exercise.

I've been at it for a couple of weeks, and it was surprisingly hard to begin with, even for someone like me whose used to doing various sorts of pull-ups.

No swinging around crazily, no showing off, just a flexed, still, controlled HANG.

And while the exercise might cause the average person to gawk and gape, be informed that if you want to build a bone crushing grip, this particular exercise will do it for me - in less than a minute, or minute max per set.

I mean, find someone, at whatever body weight, that can hang on with one arm in good form - on a THICK bar - for one minute or more, and you've got someone with a seriously, seriously strong grip.

And I don't know about you - but I'm more than willing to brave callouses and the "crazy" look (and the pain) to achieve the results I'm referring to!

Now, I realize there are a lot of people might agree with me here, and rock on down to the local playground for some timed holds, but before you do so, a word of caution: -

- Make sure your able to do timed holds with TWO hands in PROPER form for AT LEAST a minute before even attempting this. And yes, there is a reason the four words are capitalized. . .extra attention, folks!

- Make sure you can do at least 5 pull-ups per set in good form without undue fatigue.

- And last, but not least, make sure you keep your weight at reasonable levels. This usually goes hand in hand with the first two, unless your freakishly strong, of course, but I've hardly ever seen overweight folks manage one pull-up in good form, let alone five.

And that, my friend, is the story for the day. Try this simple little exercise out if you so desire, and let me know how it went!

Best Regards,


P.S: - Can't even do a flexed hang with TWO hands for any  length of time, let alone what I mention? Well, no problem, amigo - your NOT alone, and there IS a solution. Pull on over to and you'll soon be pumping those reps out as if they were second nature - NO questions asked!