Heid Atkins with permission for Varsity/ Neil Williamson and Sterling College via Flickr


6:00am. I lock eyes with my screaming Yoda alarm clock: “Alpha, you are,” he tells me. Fueled by this intergalactic affirmation, I roll out of bed, assemble the closest thing to sportswear my wardrobe can muster (inches-too-short joggers and a Chelsea football shirt), and stumble onto the pitch-black streets of Cambridge. With the help of my Spotify-curated running playlist (I wonder if Andrew Tate likes Self Esteem and Fontaines DC?), I manage a respectable stretch of running before stopping to retch outside of a shuttered Greene King. By 6:50 I’m back from a run just long enough not to be embarrassing, and catch a glimpse of the real alphas as I slope past my college gym. Following a cold shower that didn’t bring me as close to cardiac arrest as I’d expected, I change into an outfit that will later be mocked by all of my friends who know of my alpha ambitions: baggy jeans, ambiguously seasonal knit, and guinea pig socks (some of them are wearing bowties, some tophats). Next, I plug in my laptop and brainwash myself with alpha energy. The first ten-minute alpha affirmation video to pop up on YouTube gives me a wild ride, with a smooth American tone set over Minecraft-style ambient music hypnotising me with some common-sense mantras (“I express how I feel in every situation”), and others which are actively concerning given the video’s 600,000 views: “being with me is the best possible choice any woman could make” or “having what I want is my undeniable birth-right”. After a quick check of the stock markets, I realise the single healthy item I have in my food cupboard is a bag of Tesco easy peelers, so I take in a filling fry-up at the buttery (a breakfast endorsed by Eddie Hall) and begin my Monday hustle.


"I spend this time visualising myself driving through the streets of LA in a Mercedes G-Wagon"

Having woken up before my alarms, I stay in bed until 6:20 am. But I spend this time visualising myself driving through the streets of LA in a Mercedes G-Wagon. Important work was being done. With registration to my college gym still pending, I hop back into my running trainers (read: suede sneakers) and brave the negative temperature. Looking for inspiration, I search ‘Alpha male playlist’ on Spotify and am greeted by a photo of Taylor Swift clutching a bag of weed, accompanied by a mixtape full of Bjork, Fiona Apple, and Phoebe Bridgers. Alphas run in silence, anyway. I make it to the Greene King without retching, brave another cold shower, and by 7:20am I’m sat at my desk, yearning for some affirmations. Having only made it to 9am yesterday before taking a beta nap, I decide to up the ante this time: a meditation video titled ‘How to become your own James Bond’ seems to be just the ticket. After eight sleep-inducing minutes, during which the phrase “I know how to handle my weapon” was said far too many times, I decide to journal instead to create my own affirmations. With a diss deadline impending, I complete a pageful of scrawlings reminiscent of Jack Nicholson in The Shining. Having forgotten to do an alpha grocery shop yesterday, I opt for one – fuck it, two – easy peelers, and start the grind. 


" I spot one too many alphas inside, and I become seized by a beta fear which drives me out of the college gates and back on another painful run"

I wake up at 7:00am. This is bad: every single alpha male has been hustling for a whole hour before me. Having been told by my friends that the excruciating pain in my shins is in fact not normal, being caused by the “clown” shoes I’d been running in, I hastily prepare for an alpha male gym session. As I approach the  college gym, however, I spot one too many alphas inside, and I become seized by a beta fear which drives me out of the college gates and back on another painful run. Finding myself without yesterday’s concealing 6am darkness, I duck down residential streets and alleys to avoid my Bambi-like sprint being mocked by early-rising school children. Back at college, cold-showered, I try to whip myself into shape with some more masculine affirmations, and stumble across a video titled 'How not to give a f*ck affirmations'. Thinking this will give my waning alpha energy a well needed boost, the still image of Sauvage era Johnny Depp the video faces me with, alongside the greeting “Morning, these affirmations are for grown-ups who are sick of other people’s garbage,” makes me run a mile. My kitchen isn’t a mile away, but I end up there, attempting to make up for my poor alpha breakfasts so far with a vegan take on bacon and eggs. 


" I’m Paul Mescal in that video of him preparing for Gladiator 2"

I spring out of bed at 6:00am – back on track for a superior mindset, huge muscles, and stock market success. Listening to the pained screams of my hamstrings, I decide to hit the gym and, luckily for me, my early start means that none of the bigger boys have arrived by the time I get there. Bewildered by the big machines and my reflection in the mirror, I do some pushing and some pulling and imagine I’m Paul Mescal in that video of him preparing for Gladiator 2. I listen to my usual playlist as consolation amid my severe discomfort, introducing Big Thief to an alpha workout for perhaps the first time. I’m beginning to look forward to my freezing showers, the threat of hyperventilation having mostly subsided. I watch another alpha manifestation video, but they’re getting rather samey. So, I have a look at the stock market and read some Bloomberg for a thrill. I reheat my leftover scrambled tofu from yesterday (you can’t do that with scrambled eggs: meal-prepping is super alpha) before cycling to the Varsity office for a long day of convincing my incredulous co-editors that I am actually committing to my alpha routine. 


Mountain View

How to have the best flippin’ pancake day ever


6am passes and I’m asleep. 7am too. Then 8, then 9, then 10. I finally come to and realise my failure. The fifth and final day of my alpha routine has been let down by me being a flimsy beta. I blame this publication entirely, as well as the pub social that led me to Taco Bell at 2am swearing on Dan Bilzerian’s life that I would be wide awake in four hours. The day’s routine is too far gone to salvage, but I might as well indulge in some alpha male mindfulness and reflect on my transformation (or lack thereof). As a notorious late sleeper, the early mornings did very little for me: I would often nap in the late mornings rather than using my extra hours awake for any productive use. I do understand the exceptionalism the early rises offer, though: the feeling of being awake far before anyone else is a good one, but it all feels too self-flagellating for me. The alpha coaches with American accents and smooth tones insist that the alpha male is guaranteed everything he wants in life; yet, he must torture himself to attain them – with sleep deprivation, freezing showers, and sweat. By no means am I attempting to sympathise with the poor alpha, but the whole mindset behind the regime feels needlessly punishing and a tad exploitative. Of course waking up early, going for a run, and doing mindfulness exercises could well help someone looking for motivation or a clearer mind, but must it be doused in competition, vitriol, and gender hatred? These are by no means new revelations, and likely an excuse to keep my lie-ins and morning Instagram scrolls. But, to me, the benign components of the alpha lifestyle seem far better left alone and un-weaponised.