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Recovery and Repair

Now there’s an obstinate pair. I will offer some of my disjointed logic to give air and space to the unapproachable couple in hopes to uncover a notion worthy of your time and focus. Ahem… here goes.

A lot of requests are coming over the ‘net asking me for an upbeat melody to accompany the muscle recovery blues. Guys and gals over 40 and 50 who are hitting the weights and seeking muscle growth for the first time since their school days notice the path is steeper and narrower than 25 years ago. What’s wrong? Is it the toxins in the air, the hole in the ozone layer, gravity rising with the cost of living, the stress of commuting under rifle fire… what? Is it maturity whose growing companions are the easy chair, appetite and stomach?

How about you? Are you getting older by the minute and deplore every second as they tick by like drops of water from melting ice? It’s okay. That doesn’t make you a festering crank who’s failing to age gracefully; a whimpering old sort unfairly burdened with another of life’s mean tricks or a resentful has-been recalling with exaggeration the days of glory gone by. You are at the crossroads, where life and its bittersweet struggles are either engaged or suffered. You face a fork in the road: confront or submit, resist or yield, tackle or be tackled. Choices. Choices are for the free, the liberated, the strong and courageous.

Leap with joy.

Clear the air as you take a deep breath. The majority of mature men and women neglect a physical exam by the family doctor until chest pain and shortness of breath gain their interest. Don’t wait.

You might want to visit a friendly endocrinologist for a blood test to determine the health of your metabolism and hormonal system. He or she may have legitimate suggestions for you to consider in upgrading lagging glandular functions… adrenal gland, thyroid, pancreas. This is very complicated stuff and is gaining headline attention over very recent years. Aging and longevity are fiercely competing with classical cancer, AIDS, dementia, heart ailments and diabetes for solutions and answers from the awesome scientific world. Extensive research is under way and already progress has been productive and practical.

According to your less dramatic but equally impressive body-revivalists, the best one can do naturally, as time moves on like a rhino with its tail ablaze, is to train hard, eat right and keep smiling. Sweet and simple. There’s something about simplicity that is a delight to the senses and music to the ears, an upbeat melody for singing them blues.

It’s not unlikely that some of those disappointed with their muscle recovery are not in sufficient condition to meet their expectations, demands and desires. If one has stayed in shape over the years, maintained a healthy bodyweight and has not labored their system with appalling food and drink, he or she will recover faster upon entering a muscle-building program. Slow recovery might be an indication of one’s lack of health and fitness. You’ve got to get in shape to get in better shape -- to build tougher muscle and might. Press on with youthful enthusiasm to gain superior fitness, which enables and assures maximum muscular development.

As you regain balance and vitality within -- chemistry, metabolism, nervous system, brain, emotions, intellect -- and as you become in tune and fire on all cylinders, the faster, harder and longer you can go with focus and desire.

Apply intensity where possible. Work around injuries; warm up, use appropriate wraps and an anti-inflammatory on occasion. Of course, don’t hurt yourself. You know I favor multi-approach volume training mixed with heavy load, low-rep days throughout the month. Attack from all angles and attitudes. My workouts are universal, I believe, and are all over the site, in the newsletters and throughout the books.

The best we can do as ironheads, I’m increasingly convinced, is push on fully but smartly. I, as you, want to endure in my muscle building and good health. And I want to proceed in a forward motion -- to aspire, to achieve, to confront, challenge and go on with vigor and might to win. Once past 40 and 50, these aggressive manners and goals take on a different appearance and different meaning. So far, so good. Day by day they are fulfilled if we don’t let go, don’t submit, yield or grow faint.

Care must be taken every day to accommodate our continuing demand on our decreasingly responsive system. This is not a grim report. It simply means it is to our best advantage to practice all the rules and regulations we’ve come to know that contribute to our development. This is not obsession; this is our worthy pursuit. There’s nothing new, just the margins are more defined -- more critical -- as time goes clicking by. I list these as “The Twelve Rules of Nutrition” on page 177 in Brother Iron, Sister Steel, should you wish a quick review… not a bad idea right about now.

To maintain continuity, here’s a brief summary: No junk foods; a lot less simple sugar; much more protein; smaller, more frequent, balanced meals starting with a nutritious breakfast; lots of fresh and colorful vegetables and ample vitamin- and mineral-packed fruit; avoid grease, fried food and excessive fat, while being sure to ingest sufficient essential fat (EFAs); much more water, and take a daily multiple vitamin and mineral.

Add to that vitamin/mineral a chondroitin, glucosamine and MSM formula for the joints and connective tissues that you’ll be leaning on, and another two grams of Vitamin C for cellular health and reconstruction. Extra antioxidants are increasingly important and will fit in there some place, somehow, if you use both paws.

[Click here for the supplements we sell... the same ones Dave takes.]

Did I mention no more alcohol, cigarettes or other drugs? Also, might I repeat: Steaks are King? They aggressively rule muscle and might.

Have a protein powder handy in the kitchen and at work to deliver protein where and when you need it. It’s often difficult or a nuisance to feed the hard-worked and recovering muscles when they cry out for nourishment.

We must maintain an anabolic environment to assure repair and growth. You might consider the weekend meal-loading system I practiced in the dungeon days, as described in Chapter 15 of Your Body Revival. Pack in the protein and carbs on the weekends and blast the weights intensely -- with the aid of the fuel and nutrition overload -- through the weekdays. The season ahead provides the perfect setting for this aggressive technique. Beware: This is not a loose bulk-gaining principle. You eat big and reasonably right on Saturday and Sunday and you train big and right and tight the remainder of the week. Ba-Boom.

Don’t lay off unless inspired by lightening and thunder. Back off the volume or intensity or load or pace, periodically, and train for the love and feel of it. Change workouts when needed, not when you get bored. You might not achieve the overload required for muscle growth if you don’t penetrate a plateau zone of a given exercise or group of exercises. Frequent skipping about in workout style and exercise choice is good for fun and maintenance, but not serious enough for serious growing. Sometimes you have to chew the iron before you spit it out. Sometimes you have to swallow it.

Throw in some slumpbusters periodically to accentuate your well-ordered training scheme. You’ll find these on page 139, in Chapter 14 of Brother Iron.

Your attitude is like your living, breathing automatic pilot. Keep the rascal full of hope, well supported and alert. This doesn’t happen by itself; it takes work, care and self-control. Establish your training scheme and trust it. If doubt slips in, unconsciously your workouts become less intense and less desirable because you are no longer sure of them. Focus your eagle eye on those realistic goals. Visualize them. Unless they are far-fetched and fanciful, you are likely to achieve them when you believe them. Be absolutely confident. Get tough.

Rest is one of the miracle workers in our muscle building and rebuilding project. Fatigue robs us of fire and drive in the gym, and lack of deep sleep deprives us of the premier hours of growth, when we are visited by the ever lovin’ GH (growth hormone). Shooting for eight hours of sleep a night is vital. A nap, when you have the luxury, is a wise and beneficial investment in cellular healing and energizing. Sweet dreams.

Stress is a bigger threat to our health than we fully realize. Diminish stress in your life and watch your muscles grow, the fat evaporate and bad habits disintegrate. People will smile and say, “Hi, give me five.”

Last word, bombers: Top your tanks, check your landing gear and be prepared for unpredictable weather this time of year.

Be vigilant. Watch your wings.


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