Arnold is Classic
February 19, 2003
live the King.
Arnold Classic and Expo is a week away and a migration of bodybuilders
is commencing around the world. They are the eager and curious assortment
of guys and gals who will be roaming the streets and hotels of Columbus
checking out the scene, an exhibition of its own. Chattering, posed,
flexed and gaping crowds pressed tightly together move as one, displaying
bare skin, short skirts, leather vests, tights and baggies, tattoos
and ring things and a swath of blue denim and Ts with logos that
say “I love my gym so much I could scream.”
Bogart said to Bacall in Posedown in Las Vegas, “If you’ve
seen one bodybuilding show, you’ve seen ‘em all.”
To me the main feature is the Expo, the largest and most awesome
extravaganza of its kind. Shawn Ray leans on a quivering tabletop
as he signs yet another autograph, a roar goes up somewhere in the
distance to exalt a 65-year-old master who just benched 605 pounds
and five aisles over (might as well be in Rhode Island) Arnold and
his entourage march across the minefields of the hall setting off
118,000 square foot exhibition arena presenting the stuff of the
muscle world is 10,000 performances at once and we’re part
of the act. I’ll be, like, exactly in the middle somewhere
with Torque; that is, Odis and his team of equipment-engineering
specialists, Torque Athletic. Amidst their featured gear you will
find me demonstrating the Top Squat within a prototype of the Draper
Dungeon, a heavy duty home training cage of many monstrous uses.
for me. I’ll be wearing a red beanie with a propeller on top,
THE BEST KEPT SECRETS ARE ON DISPLAY
see, what were we talking about last week? Had something to do with
the honors and privileges of growing older, whether you’re
a kid or an adult version of the same. I never met a bigger bunch
of kids than those who congregate at a nifty, swell gym, no matter
how old they are. It’s the company they keep, the gifts they
possess and the best-kept secrets they share: training, eating right
can we do as the years accumulate, forming a small mound of time
on our calendar, when the first chill of age sends a slight shiver
-- brrrr -- down our spine and we notice a fondness for the couch,
not so long ago an obstacle between us and the front door, which
led to the bike in the garage that took us downtown to THE GYM?
of all, don’t make a mountain out of a mound. Second, hold
off on getting another sweatshirt (and vow you will not buy a cardigan
sweater) and finally, consider the couch as a secret training apparatus
to be wisely utilized for muscle recuperation and power visualizing.
How we doin’ so far?
bent-over barbell row, as you recall, has been by insistence and
friendly persuasion successfully reintroduced to my training regimen.
I am most pleased. I accomplished the same patient reincorporation
with the bench press, that beastly exercise that is to man like
a woman, you can’t live with them and you can’t live
without them. Ha. Joke, girls. Thought it appropriate to steal a
line from Arnold in Total Recall. Funny me.
bench press is notorious for presenting stumbling blocks to the
muscle-builder because of his inherent need to set ego-driven personal
power records, which slows down his training, leads to shoulder
injury, falsely promises balanced muscle growth and accounts for
endless plateaus and disappointment and despair. Yes, it is a cool
movement and we love it and occasionally thrill to the one-rep maximum
we achieve on those hallmark days, but too often it leads to our
put the bench press aside many years ago -- 10-plus -- ‘cuz
it wasn’t treating me right, all of the above negatives having
settled on my wilting shoulders. Now, today, having gleaned through
the benefits and consequences of the bench, I longed for its original
rewards, clean and unencumbered. You place your favorite bar on
your favorite bench, load it with heavy, noisy and cold iron, chalk
up (careful not to make a mess) and take your position. When the
moment is right, you’re down and settling yourself under the
bar, grasping and tugging till all parts fit and you’re ready;
up it goes and from the hoist off the rack to the overhead position
you know if it’s gonna be a good day. What you do from there,
where you go and what you accomplish is up in the air -- or, is
that down on the chest? Here’s where we get into trouble.
all-consuming goal becomes moving the weight from the top to the
bottom and to the top again. Whether its power or technique or muscle
activity, good form or bad; abusive, painful, bone-crunching or
ligament tearing, it doesn’t matter. Point A to point B matters,
the primitive sport of squash.
dark aspects of the nostalgic and fundamental exercise I withdrew.
“Whatever happened to muscle building, health and long life?”
I asked myself. I removed the claws and incisors from the beast
and made him my friend.
my bag of tricks I issued a hollow thick bar, the Apollon Axle from
Ironmind.com; its diameter two inches (inside diameter of standard
Olympic plate), length 84 inches, weight 33 pounds. The easy roundness
of the bar fits the hand agreeably after a few diligent workouts
and provides comfort for many whose hands are battered after serious
years of hanging in there. Due to the physics of the wideness of
the grip, the bar’s center of gravity and its tendency to
rotate, an adjustment is required in the groove as the bar descends
and ascends. This is part of the beauty of the Axle. Less control
is experienced and more attention is demanded. The matter of moving
from A to B is now accomplished by muscle and good form, focus and
movement appreciation. Tonnage that once chewed up and devoured
my shoulder is eliminated. A kinder and more intelligent bench press,
a work-horse that builds rather than destroys, replaces the dinosaur.
building and that good old loving feeling come home at last.
benching again with renewed spirit and capability. It feels powerful
and is the perfect exercise to complement my rediscovered bent-over
barbell row. Once a week the two brutes are matched in superset
harmony. My favorite workout is showing promise. (5-6 sets x 12,
10, 8, 6, 4, 2) This is followed by 20-degree incline flies supersetted
with close-grip pulldowns and rear-delt lateral raises. (4-5 sets
x 10 plus or minus). I throw in four sets of cable crossovers (x
10) and finish off with five sets of Farmer’s Walks. Feed
the above workout I’ve included Farmer’s Walks, a new
one on me, and low incline flies, and old one I have never practiced
dumbbell flies I ignored in the early years of my training, asking
myself why bother with the puny exercise when heavy pressing was
so much fun. Now they come in handy because heavy pressing went
out with bellbottoms and my long hair. What once seemed dumb is
now fun, one of the few exercises not yet compromised by wear, tear
and time, another pocket of oxygen, life extension.
milk crate goes under the end of a flat bench to create an incline.
The dumbbells go overhead and my feet are placed on the bench’s
end. I slowly extend the DBs outwardly and away from the body with
the arms in an almost straight-arm position. At the end of the extension
with the arms parallel to the ground I hold tight for a count of
three and return to the starting place. 10 to 12 reps seem to be
most effective to gain a maximum of overload from an exercise with
these light weight and reaching mechanics. Focus the effort on the
pecs to reduce the recruitment of the biceps. Superset with a contrasting
pulling movement for fun and games and growth.
Farmer’s Walk is a brutish exercise I include at the conclusion
of my workout. I’m basically done yet chose to add one final
slap on the back to the staggering victor. Job well done, warrior,
yet, lest you fall victim to pride, you must walk the iron till
you drop. Four to five sets of 100 feet with dumbbells of such weight
that allow you no more, that is the requirement.
stuff is downright heavyweight fun and adds practical strength to
the body from head to toe. The might of the grip is the first to
be tried. Your shoulders and upper back squeal with the final 20
feet and the hips and thighs submit eventually, causing you to take
stumbling little steps as you reach the finish line. That night,
while others watch sitcoms and eat potato chips, you contemplate
the superior pain of growth and goodness in the glutes and lower
back. Life is dreamy.
short, wrist curls with a thick bar are delightful, like working
a sledge hammer to a pile of rocks. Ladies, I’m sure you can
relate to that.
so we come to the end of another meeting of minds and joining of
forces. Beware of the enemy and rejoice in your friends. We’ve
got our good work cut out for us. Muscles, health and long life,
like peace, aren’t free.
it hard, take it up, God’s speed...
here to order your personalized, autographed copy of Dave's new
book, Your Body Revival, $18.95
here to see the previous week's column
New | Online
Store | Weekly Columns | Photo
Archive | Weight Training
| General Nutrition | Draper
History | Discussion Group
| Mag Cover Shots | Magazine
Articles | Bodybuilding
Q&A | Bomber Talk | Workout
FAQs | World Gym Listing | Santa
Cruz Local | Muscle Links | Need
More Help? |Site Map | Contact
All IronOnline pages copyright© 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004
All rights reserved.