I have undertaken the horrendous thing: the Men’s Health New Year Reboot Challenge.

There, I have said it! You will laugh at me, as you would at a consumptive tramp swanning around on K. Street, affecting the airs of a Hemsworth brother. But know that I am utterly resolved to carry out the grim task of refreshing my body and soul after another year of loneliness and squalor. And if I happen to get cut in the process—would I, Raskolnikov, object?

For indeed, it is I, Raskolnikov, who signed up for this! I, Raskolnikov, whose arms look as if they would barely fill out the inside of my sweet new resistance tubes. I, Raskolnikov, who in desperation, dares for his six-pack to be revealed to the world like a dark and long-buried truth.

In my notebook, a handy gift from the MH crew, which I fear I could never repay in my lifetime, I have planned it all meticulously—every horrid, inevitable step on my path to bust through last year’s PRs, like a rat’s tooth through an unwatched sack of rye:

  • The warm-ups, which I will do to bring about all the conditions necessary for me to begin my exercises.
  • The little pants, which I have surreptitiously acquired at the market.
  • The evasive words, which I have composed to recite, in the inevitable circumstance when the trainer corners me to subscribe after my first free session.

Chapter 1

There! I am resolved. More resolved than I ever have been in my life. Soon I will be shredded beyond my wildest nightmares. All it will take now is for me to steal past General M. Square, so that dear Semyon Leonidovich, who runs the taco truck, cannot tempt me with his carbs; then to walk exactly two hundred and thirty-one paces down K. Street, blending in with the urchins and the fallen—and then to cross the final hundred and ten paces west, and enter the gymnasium. Not an insufficient amount of paces, says my Oura!

I am inside. Go now and leave me to my fate. Let new muscle engulf me until I choke from its embrace.

I willingly condemn my fat to the hellish flames of ramped metabolism.

Chapter 2

I am introduced to Dimitry Ivanovich, a fellow with a stare of terrifying blankness, plus guns to die for.

My nerves are on fire! Already my mind feels firmer, my muscles massier, my soul less deranged. Though I am fretful of how long I must remain in this contract, the benefits of the cardio have pumped life into my tortured being.

Enough reflection. The shriek of GymBoss hounds me to start round two.

Chapter 3

Squats. Lunges. Prone leg curls. What filthy things my hammies are capable of! Foul, loathsome, terrible things. How they sicken me.

The torment of this leg day is following me home, and does not mean to let go of me, even as I press and push my limbs against walls and foam rollers like an unloved cat in the agony of birth.

DOMS—am I right?

Chapter 4

I am penniless again! How has this happened?

“Free session with no strings attached,” I repeat to myself, turning away so that Dimitry Ivanovich will not see the wickedly bitter smile that has formed upon my lips.

Chapter 5

I awake with a scream in my head: “WHEY!”

Every fiber of my muscles hungers for aminos, as a fly yearns for escape when caught in the spider’s web. From the type IIBs responsible for my plyo power, to the type Is, which twitch so slowly, they creep along my sinews like dread itself, really helping me go the distance.

I will go and beg Vasily Denisovich the cheesemaker for the waste liquor from his barrels, degrading myself however much is necessary for those bonus shedloads of branched-chain aminos.

There, it is done.

All night I turn fitfully this way and that in my cot, in order to get 100 percent of the melatonin-fuelled benefits of a solid shut-eye sesh. (Try saying that fast, Raskolnikov—you worm!)

The sun’s rays begin to appear over the horizon, like the light of judgment itself.

With terrible anxiety, I await my mad gains.

Chapter 6

Killing the landlady was a cinch, as my core had been perfectly primed for the task. Thank you, medball slams! Money worries can be a real drain on the T-levels, so the cash should help.

But as I was taking a walk along the River S. to cool down… I crashed.

Physically and mentally, NGL.

I fear my conscience will never forgive me the memory of my walk back home, carrying my victim’s strongbox—and neither will my obliques.


My thoughts lie in a hideous tangle, and I am as sore in my soul as I am in my delts.

Days have passed since my last allotted rest day, and still I have failed to get under the squat rack. Demonic voices taunt me: “Raskolnikov, have you given up already? Will you never become built? Really built, like the damned pot-houses in town, of which there are far too many, spilling their drunks out onto the street like so much refuse?” I seem doomed to spend the rest of my life in a prison of skinny-fatness.

Overall though, a great experience!!

And I have discovered so much more about what I am truly capable of. Murder, yes, but that first five-minute plank? There really are no limits. And perhaps, by this time next year…

Well, it makes no difference now. My story is ended.

But hey, you try it.