+0
Rex Jameson bikes and swims regularly, and plays tennis and skis when time allows.

startclickprintexclude>
But the 5-foot-11, 180-pound software engineer is lucky if he presses 200 pounds -- that is, until he steps into an "exoskeleton" of aluminum and electronics that multiplies his strength and endurance as many as 20 times.

1 Does the sentence mean the guy rarely lifts 200 pounds of weight in the gym or never?

2 Also, why is the word 'press' commonly used in the context of gym? Is it associated with a certain type of workout machine?

Thanks!
Comments  
1 Does the sentence mean the guy rarely lifts 200 pounds of weight in the gym or never? - it means that the guy has (a lot of) difficulty in pressing 200 pounds
2 Also, why is the word 'press' commonly used in the context of gym? Is it associated with a certain type of workout machine? - I believe 'press' is used about weight machines found in a gym. I think because on most weight machines you pull/press down in order to lift the weights up.
There is also the term Bench press
New2grammar 1 Does the sentence mean the guy rarely lifts 200 pounds of weight in the gym or never?
Hi, I think you're talking about three different things:

1. using exercise machines

2. lifting a bar bell - standing with your feet on the floor and bending over to lift a bar bell which is on the floor

3. pressing a bar bell - lying on your back on a bench, with the bar bell suspended on a rack above your chest. You then clear the bar bell from the rack and push it straight up until your arms are fully extended above you

That's all I know, which ain't much. I've never done any of this.

Optilang is correct about "he's lucky if he", and as you say, "rarely", and as he says "with great difficulty." Both apply. The expression has general application to all sorts of endeavors. "He's lucky if he clears $100 a week with his hotdog stand."

- A.

Edit. It may be that my #2 is called "pressing" if you're able to lift it above your head, arms fully extended. I really don't know.
Teachers: We supply a list of EFL job vacancies
New2grammaris lucky if he presses 200 pounds
would consider himself quite a success if he actually lifted 200 pounds above his chest while lying on his back on an exercise bench (because he so rarely manages to do it, if ever)

would consider himself to be having a good (lucky) day if he bench pressed 200 pounds (as described above)
The idiom be lucky if expresses having to be satisfied with a lesser amount of success when a greater amount is desired. Roughly "should consider oneself successful if only" / "it would be well worth noting if something so extraordinary took place"

Note:
-- I think I'll ask her for her phone number. -- Ha! You'll be lucky if she doesn't slap your face.
-- Someday I'm going to be the president of this company. -- Ha! You'll be lucky if they let you sweep the floors.
-- Can you press 250 pounds? -- Not yet! At this point I'm lucky if I press 180!
-- Henry says he going to try to climb Mt. Everest. -- Henry??? He's lucky if he climbs two flights of stairs without passing out!
-- Tess is confident she'll win the singing contest. -- Tess??? She's lucky if she gets through "Mary Had a Little Lamb" without messing up.
CJ
Thanks Opti, Avangi and CJ. I like this idiom a lot.
Hi,

A gym certainly has machines and benches that are said to be used for 'presses'.

However, in weightlifting competitions like the Olympics, to press a weight on a barbell means to lift it first to shoulder level, and then to push (press) it up above your head to arms' length.

Best wishes, Clive
Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
Thanks Clive for the additional insight. I'm going to borrow your sentence for my next post Emotion: smile