Superman (1978)

Why feeling like you are being crushed while trapped in a car during an Earthquake triggered by a super criminal can be a good thing.

Since “training to success” sounds a little like a marketing cliché, the alternative term of “Lois Lane” was invented. Furthermore, to “Lois Lane” also implies that you have faced a challenge and come though it more kick ass.


Healthy Geek.


There are two scenes from the original Christopher Reeve Superman movies that completely freaked me out as a kid – the first was Vera getting turned into a robot. The second was Lois Lane’s death by dirt in an Earthquake – though it spark an interest in earthquakes… but that’s another story.

In the first Superman (1978) movie, Lex Luthor hatches a plan to make a fortune on real estate by shooting a nuclear missile into the San Andreas Fault, thereby sinking all of western California – no one ever said Lex wasn’t creative.

Unfortunately for Lois Lane, she happens to be driving along a desert road at the time of the earthquake, whereby a crevice rather inconveniently swallows up her car and traps her inside. The car then fills with suffocating dirt with a bit of a squish on the side.

Since Superman is too busy saving a few million other people across California at the time, he is unable to save Lois in time and she dies. Not surprisingly, Superman gets a little upset about it. His solution is to fly around the Earth really fast till it spins backwards, somehow turning back time briefly enough to allow him to save Lois and everyone else.

To be “Lois Laned” is to be the exercise equivalent of being Lois Lane in her earthquake-squished car, though without the suffocating dirt. Or the death part. The end result is still Superman however – or at least more Superman-like muscles.

In order to get stronger, fitter, or faster than a speeding bullet, you need mix things up constantly and “overload” your body with more exercise than it is normally accustomed to. Your body then adapts to this newer, higher level of exercise, at which point you have to mix things up again and push it to another new level. This is known as “training to overload”. If you don’t push your body to overload every now and then and just continue to do the same old routine lifting the same old weights or running for the same old distance, your body won’t be overloaded and you will maintain the same old level of fitness you already have.

In the case of Lois Lane, she was just driving down the road as per normal till an earthquake comes along, opens up a crevice around her car and swallows it up – which is a pretty big overload of stimulus to what she’d normally be used to when driving along desert roads. To “Lois Lane” while exercising is to push your previous lifting weight higher than what you are normally used to, thereby overloading your muscles.

It’s particularly applicable in the bench press or the leg press since these exercises also include the feeling of the weights pressing down on you like Lois Lane in her car. Ideally, you want to max out right on the last rep – you feel like you have completely given it your all and there is nothing left over – you’ve finished your set but Lois Lane is dead.

The next time you have a weight session however is the equivalent of Superman flying around the Earth to turn back time – you are about to try the same routine that Lois died on last time, only this time it’s going to be a little different. Because you overloaded your muscles, they are adapting to the new weight and getting better at lifting the heavier weight so it’s a little bit easier than it was last time. Eventually your muscles have completely adapted to lifting the new weight and you have now “saved” Lois from death by earthquake squishy. When saving Lois becomes to easy, you have to mix up your routine and start the cycle all over again.


Techniques such as Training to Overload or to Lois Lane on an exercise should always be done under supervision – particularly with heavier weights. Since there is also a risk of over-training and injuring yourself if you get too ambitious too quickly, you should really do this in conjunction with a Personal Trainer as part of the exercise plan they set for you.


Although the leg press and bench press are the traditional equipment to use the term, it is possible to Lois Lane at any moment where you are training and just run out of umph. It can also be used to describe any moment where you are just short of successfully completing a task, but collapse over the finish line because you’ve given it everything you’ve got.

“I Lois Laned on that last rep”

“I’m going to be Lois Laning in the leg press this set”

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