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Weight Training - Bodybuilding - Nutrition - Motivation

Sunny Storms Ahead
December 20, 2002

I just came in from the windy outdoors to secure a tarpaulin that protects a pile of dry firewood. The rain is starting once again after a suspicious two-day pause and the brooding, swift-moving skies indicate another mean storm is about to unleash. Our central coast neighborhoods have been for days on end without power, or more precisely, without lights, refrigeration, heat, microwave oven, George Foreman Grill, washer-dryer, telephone, television and computer. Sit, shiver and stare silently, sullenly. I hear it’s bad further up north.

The most popular cliché of the week, “Things could be worse.”

We go to the gym and open the doors; the lights flicker, the electricity falters and the aerobic machines do what they do best, stop. Angry mobs of one or more show their true disposition by moaning and kicking the inanimate object as if it -- the treadmill -- did it on purpose to spite them. I have the hyperventilating athlete lie down in the stretch area and apply cool compresses to his or her forehead while telling them inspiring stories about Joe DiMaggio, Jim Thorpe and Jackie Joyner.

No computer means no newsletter or internet access, which means I’d better jot down a few words post-haste and send them off to you as a sort of lifeline before there is another interruption in communication. Don’t want you to think we deserted or fell out of the sky… we don’t want you to forget us. Now if I only had something to say.

Yesterday at noon I walked in the front door of the iron refuge that is World Gym and there stacked shoulder deep was the great book on feeding the athlete, Stella’s Kitchen. I remember when it was a single recipe of Shiskabob-a-la-Stella written in pencil on a yellow-lined pad; it multiplied like super-setting muscle cells on Bomber Blend, hypertrophying food menus piled high. Can you use an attractive and streamlined book detailing what to feed your championship body? Get one while they last, awesome, scintillating and hot off the press. We only have three gillion left.


Most people, the masses across the lands in their movement to get into shape think of two things: fat and the heart. This translates to diet and aerobic exercise, or more exactly, starvation and aerobic exercise suffocation. Muscles are summarily ignored. Muscles are jock stuff; guy stuff, dumb stuff, big stuff.

Of course, there’s the infomercially-informed who believe in the Bow Flex or the arrow-maker or muscles in an electric-impulse-minute. At least they believe in muscles and that’s hopeful.

Finally, or more appropriately, foremost, there’s us swell folk, educated and all, who know just about everything, like, “to get in shape feed the body, build the muscle and lose the fat along the way; throw in some aerobics, throw away the sugar and blast the weights.” Look in the mirror with just the right amount of light or no light at all and say, “It works. It’s working. We are doing this now and forever.”

Most people, the same masses, think the get-in-shape movement is a temporary thing. The car gets dirty, you wash it. Your hair grows long, you cut it. The body gets chunky, you exercise and diet. Life’s simple, easy. Before long, simple becomes complicated and easy becomes problematic. The car sparkles and the hair looks perfect, any color you want; but the chunky body won’t budge.

The “21 pounds in 21 days” diet lasts a long desperate week. Spouse moves to the den, kids stay with friends and the dog sleeps in the garage with the cat. The first two weeks at the gym were novel, the third week a challenge and the fourth week was the same week the NFL started and who can go to the gym that week? Seriously.

Did anyone set a goal? How deep was the commitment? Was visualizing practiced in those susceptible quiet moments? The plan, the outline; was it thorough, clear and achievable? Where is the will power? Where is the spirit? Where is the courage?

Ring-a-ling … Hi Jane. It’s Shirley. How are you and the family? … Yeah, us too. Have a nice holiday? … Yeah, us too. Went to Buffalo to see the in-laws. Ate like a pig. Must have gained another 10 pounds. … You too, huh? Happens every year. Bobby -- he’s such a kidder – says I look like a barge. Guess I’ll be going to the gym again for a while. You wanna go, we can visit on the treadmill and catch some low-fat lunch afterwards at the mall? Exercise and diet is sooo booorrring. … Remember how we lost 30 pounds last June by walking all day and eating soy-puffs for a month? Let’s do that again. … See ya at the 24-7 Nebulous in the AM, Ms. J. Be there or be a pear. Say hi to Joey.

Ring … Hey, Joey, it’s Bobby. The girls are going to the gym tomorrow, you wanna come over the house and do benches in the basement? … Right on. I got the gearski, you bring the beerski. Get pumped up on the carbs. … Right on. Get huge, bro. There’s protein in good dark brew, you know. See ya at eight, don’t be late. You say no, you won’t grow. … Later.

See what I mean? Hear what I’m saying? Get my drift? Drives me crazy. Something’s missing. They’re going on a bombing mission with kites and water balloons. They’ll crash and drown.

Here’s an alternative plan, Plan B:

Bob and Joe meet as planned after a pre workout Bomber Bend. Beerskis, it is agreed, will never be mentioned again… well, almost never. They set up the equipment for bench presses and wide grip bent over rows to be performed in comfortable supersets after properly warming up. 4 sets x 12,10, 8,6.

Yes! PUSH. You got it… you got it. Great. The bodies are confused, caught between getting ripped and getting huge at the same precise moment. Keep it curious. Body power, big back, some bis, some tris, pecs, front shoulder, grip and that thick distribution of torso muscles only a physiologist can describe. More water.

The next combo is the Guys Giant Gatling Guns, standing barbell curls followed by dips anywhere you can in a basement. This is more fun than being a cop, a carpenter, a doctor or a lawyer. Bam, bam, back and forth, like passing and receiving, pitching and homeruns, aiming and firing. Sweat pours; men are men, high-fives, more water.

Good for one day. “Let’s keep it up till spring,” they say, as they pierce their thumbs and press them together, a pact sealed in blood. Tomorrow we’ll run the hilly trails behind the old foundry outside of town. Toughen the legs and build wild endurance.

Plan B, a la femme:

Jane and Shirley meet at the town square and walk n’ run a mile along the riverfront to the Eastside Gym. They had their Bomber Blend at home with the kids before school; they’re warmed up and ready to push some iron. Several sets of leg extensions and standing calf raise combinations followed by leg curl and seated calf combos set their focus and spirit. They step into the athlete roll they love; that restores, revitalizes. 3 or 4 sets of high-rep leg presses (20) with some decent and agreeable intensity are supersetted with stiff leg deadlifts for ample stimulation of the heart, ham strings and lower back. Is this a blast or what?

Three sets of dumbbell inclines supersetted with DB pullovers and followed by seated lat rows, all sets of 10 big-bad-girl reps feels perfect for today. They look into each others eyes, nod and say, “by the summer you and I are gonna kick, girl. Lets do some rope tucks, leg-raises and stretch. The tuna and water waits at my place.”

There are Bombers and there are bummers. The distinction is clear. Let’s take it up and touch the sky. DD

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