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Muscularity in 2,100 Words or Less
September 2, 2003

I’m thinkin’, I’m thinkin’. You should see me. My face is all blotchy and crumpled from the strain. I twitch periodically when a thought is close, otherwise my shoulders are drawn tight by my traps and I’m as rigid as a fire plug. Muscularity for bombers, be they ready or not, that is the subject.

Today’s muscle-building generality: Where you are going and how you get there depend upon who you are and where you are now.

• Where you are going is a place of desirable and attainable muscularity.

• Who you are is defined by your past, your genetics and your temperament.

• Where you are now is that place in your journey determined by your acquired lifestyle and habits.

• How you go from place to place is up to us, you and me, with the emphasis on you.

Let’s take a look at the most common scenario among you explosive disciples-of-the-skies, consider a course of action and see if we strike a chord or a nerve or my big swollen thumb.

May I impose upon you to use your imagination?

You’re a guy of 40-something, worked with weights on and off in a garage with your buddies during high school and got in pretty good shape. Job with the city (the firm, school, institute, restaurant, mortuary, maternity ward) and married with two kids had you looking over a gut, 30 extra pounds and diminishing strength and energy. You haven’t missed a workout since the grim revelation and joining IOL three years ago. You’ve lost 20 pounds of fat, gained muscle size, shape and density and you’re semi-intentionally holding 5 to 10 pounds of extra mass for strength, workout drive and good luck. It’s time to get trim, hard and see what’s there…lurking.

You are not alone; a boomer, a product of the golden years of bodybuilding, a Zane, Scott, Howorth, Draper and Arnold knockoff of sorts, having grown up watching us flex in the muscle magazines. You did it, you fell and you’re back; and once back, you’re back for good. YES, and high-fives all ‘round. Now to get ripped.

Be prepared for a few head adjustments. You are required to drop up to 10 pounds over the next months to achieve the desired leanness. This is fine on paper and in your imagination, but the actual loss of size in the shoulders and arms is devastating. I revolt; we all revolt. Furthermore, strength diminishes, muscle endurance is compromised and the pump of promise and hope takes a nosedive. Wait. There’s more. You get to eat less scrumptious food and there’s no cheating. Swell.

Bulking up is more fun. Can I go home now?

No, you can’t. Commitment rules. Reaching for hardess can only make you a better person, smarter by experience, tougher by restraint, harder by application and sharper by intensity.

You must keep your eye on the goal. Visualize strong, well-muscled hips and the thickness of the waist replaced by a trim taper, the large torso minus the layer of thick padding, clear separation of muscle groups and thin skin that reveals veins and the ripple of underlying muscle – the lean body, active and alive. This is the authentic stuff. Anyone can get big; getting muscular is the real deal. Chumps get fat; champs get muscular. Besides, you can gain your precious monster size practically overnight (eat) if you find yourself sweating, quivering and going through withdrawals. Your choice. Be strong.

If you hear cliché in my presentation, it’s in your ear and not in my voice. Listen to what’s said; add your heart and soul and desire. The truth shall set you free.

You’ll need four days in the gym; they will be direct, hard-hitting and concise, yet neither short nor rushed. Each muscle group needs to be hit twice a week, either directly or indirectly. Supersetting will be used generously because it is a most generous training method. It builds muscle strength, density, tenacity, shape, separation, endurance and energy; it stimulates training focus, involvement and excitement; it creates pace, rhythm and momentum. Supersetting contributes to muscularity like fire contributes to hot. Supersets work.

Yeah, so I heard.

The heavy weights will be replaced by moderate weights and each exercise executed with meticulous form and intensity. Set, rep and muscle concentration will be taken to new levels of demand and responsibility. With lighter, more controllable weight in your grasp, you will demand of the weight, rather than the weight, oversized and unwieldy, demand of you. A swifter training pace should be sought as accept your workout modifications and quickly condition yourself to the muscle defining regimen. I say “quickly” because a new intensity needs to be adopted if you are truly seeking rock-hard muscle and lower bodyfat. The goals before you come at the cost of enthusiastic and exhilarating blasting. Passionate blasting. Blasting and more blasting.

Do not fret. To satisfy your craving for the heavy weights, reserve two workouts a month for your low-rep power onslaught – great addition and complement to muscularity training. Be smart, be kind and be healthy.

You know my favorite muscle combinations and workout scheme: day 1, chest, back and shoulders; 2, biceps and triceps; 3, legs; 4, day off; 5, mix of push ‘n pull according to need and desire; 2 days off. Sometimes I flip-flop these around according to my overtraining barometer or injury scale. Flexible is good.

Short pause for contemplation: Don’t you find it interesting – or do you find it boring and dumb -- with all the information available and all the variety at hand, I choose the same old groupings and format. But, they say, change is important. I agree. But change can be subtle, according to “need and desire” and not according to rule, responding to instinct and feel and not because it’s the first of the month or the end of a six week cycle, says so in my training log. New and different doesn’t always mean progressive and growing edge. Just thought I’d mention it aloud should you feel the basics and the tried-and-true are stale or old-fashioned and you’re missing out on the latest whatever. The sharp edge is at your fingertips and in your mind.

Nutrition, the foods you eat, the proteins, fats and carbohydrates, the supplements and the extras: Now I get out the yard stick, and not to measure the ingredients, but to bap the butt of the irreverent over-eater and ill-fated consumer of junk. Stand up, step forward and bend over. Smack. How did that feel? Yeah! Not so good, huh? You may return to your seat and sit, gently. I’ll probably hear from some internet activist committee about abuse or politically-correct exercise management group policing the web pages. I’ll be grounded. No more blitzing on weekends and blasting confined to aerobic classes only. Require the wicked Captain to eat junk food for 30 days. No Bomber Blend.

Here’s the general layout. You’ve heard it before and why should it change? Eat more protein, less carbohydrate, ample essential fats and lower overall consumption; that is, fewer calories here and there in the six meals you’ll be consuming throughout the day. You’re a bomber, we’re all bombers and there’ll be no hand holding, counting your calories or balancing your food groups with a calculator. Wing it.

What a dandy group, I might note. Pull up a bench for a sec. We are reasonably seasoned muscle builders and things of the mind need not concern us. We are not bubbleheads. Disciplines have been established, perseverance exhibited, commitment expressed and evaluations considered. The requirements for each of us seeking rock hard sinew will be basically the same. All that is necessary are fingers on the dial, hands on the eating, arms around the training and full-body submission to time; finesse, hard work, compromise and patience. It’s all under control.

From breakfast to bedtime you’ll be eating to serve the body, not your sensory persuasions. There’s plenty of delight in the menu of the hard-working weight-trainer seeking tight muscles. The food groups are broad, the vital needs are sizeable and we have choices. So ice cream and donuts are not on the list. Smile, there is tuna and water.

Allow me to ramble: Eat less fat than Atkins suggests. Egg white breakfasts if you fear the yolk (too bad, it’s a good fat), but trimming the excess fat from meats is not a bad idea. No fried foods or chicken skin and I cringe when I witness lightly cooked bacon entering the human construction zone. Go easy on the carbohydrates (less than the zone, more than Atkins) and no carbs from dead foods like pasta and potatoes or sugar on the rocks (candy and cakes and booze); limited whole grains like a hardy wheat bread, light on the legumes and beans for now, and a few nuts in the palm of your hand is okay. Cut the low-fat milk products (cottage cheese, milk, cheese, yogurt) in half and in half again over time, as it is not uncommon to hear a bodybuilder preparing for a contest say they account for baby fat and thick skin.

Protein builds muscle and supplies energy when in excess. Unless you have a sick liver or kidneys, a large consumption of protein and the variety of amino acids only benefit the body. Think one gram per pound as a minimum and one and a half to two grams per pound as good and greedy. Red meat builds best, fish and poultry trim best and eggs and dairy are like busy workers scurrying around the construction site picking up stuff, moving and carrying things and keeping order. Now you know my limited vision of nutrition; aminos with hard hats, hormones in boots operating bulldozers, enzymes with their sleeves rolled up reading blueprints spread on the hood of a muddy Dodge Ram.

I repeat. If you are a calorie counter and carefully balance percentages of this and that to achieve physical improvement, stop it, for gosh sakes. Details are good for detectives and researchers and professors, but they distract from the instinctive trusts with which the dynamic musclebuilder forms the mold, or is it, molds the form. See? That’s what calorie counting and other such intellectual preoccupations do. They engross, they mislead, they confuse in the act of perfecting and accurately achieving. They’re tiresome and muddle the mind of the aspiring athlete. They bind and they dilute. Now, as I was saying… er… what was I saying? Who are you?

Living foods are a great source of cellular health and vitality. Eat them regularly; fruits sparingly (high sugar content) and at logical times of the day to serve energy needs and provide ever-loving vitamins, minerals, enzymes and phytonutrients. Yum, taste good too. The body smiles at their ingestion (more Draper depth). Fresh vegetables lightly cooked and in salads should be eaten in abundance for their carbohydrate, roughage and nutrient value.

We all are different with our own chemistry, hormones, enzymes, muscle mass, bodyfat and metabolism in tow. I leave it to you to kick around the yams and other carb sources, if you think you need them, and to alter your overall and time specific “quantity” intake, as you steer your way through the learning and leaning curve. For example, I require less food intake on off-training days, though eating the same amount provides a mini-growth spurt. I eat protein and additional carbs prior to a workout to assure plentiful fuel and nutrient resources. I always feed the beast some carbs and additional protein immediately after the beating is thoughtfully applied; time to replenish, repair and reward the bruised and starving mess. I always eat breakfast, never eat too much at any one serving and each meal is an appropriate combination protein, fat and carbohydrate. When defining I forego the late-night meal and consume a tablespoon of free-form amino acids to satisfy the pre-bedtime protein hit.

A good protein powder and free-form amino acids play an important role in building hard muscle. You knew that, but you wanted to hear me say it again. Backing off the food-intake requires fortification at the proper times, conveniently and in concentration. I don’t disapprove of running the body on low food volume (occasional mini-fast) for cleansing and purging and system relief periodically, especially when leaning down, providing the limited ingested resources are power-packed. Keep those supplementary vitamins and minerals and antioxidants coming, roughage from Metamucil and lots of water for smooth flying.

This is turning into a book. I must stop now or The Web Master, The IOL Moderator and The Editor-in-Chief will take my mouse away.

God’s speed, Bombers. And remember, no flying under bridges, no stalling over the White House, stay out of tunnels and no landing on football fields, golf courses, beaches or interstates. You’re giving Laree ulcers.


P.S. Nobody takes the Bomber’s mouse away!

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