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Where have all the faces gone and the bodies in need of attention? They came in the spring, floated in the open back door with a warm fresh breeze like airborne pollen, promising seeds of life. "It took us a long time to get here, but we’re here for good," said the electrical contractor, my age and looking at retirement. "Me and the wife want to get our health together and enjoy the years ahead." They came and went, came back again briefly and disappeared. That was in the middle of the summer. Gone. Where’d they go? And, if only they had stayed.

It’s simple. Exercise, eat right and be consistent. Health is wealth and time an abiding investment.

I think about the eager young stringbean whose thoughtful grandmother bought him a membership in May, a birthday present I think. He’s been in and like a bee buzzed the equipment long enough to know it was fruit full of sweet nectar on the inside, yet bitter as herbs on the outside. "Bitter? No thanks, I’d rather shave my head, get a tattoo and have my tongue pierced." If only he had stayed.

Think of all the cool benefits and rewards, dude. You’d be bigger, stronger, faster, healthier and more muscular day after day. And, oh boy, the girls.

You can see it in her eyes; you can see it in his. Attractive people, once head-turners and sexy, but today they’re uncertain, almost defensive. Too many lunches and too many cocktails. They slipped, let go, slowly and imperceptibly, ignoring the lost ground, convinced they could regain it at will. "This can’t be happening to me -- sluggish, flabby muscles, sagging skin and a pouch; this happens to losers." In June it became a bad dream, the treadmill and crash diets. Now November, it’s a nightmare; they’ve vanished. If only they had stayed.

Restore and extend your youthful years, fuel them with passion and spirit. Courage, discipline and the willingness to sacrifice are splendid possessions, everlasting and beautiful. Let them play like notes of a catchy tune as you exercise your muscle and might.

I watched her climb the stairs to the broad and open second floor where the bikes, treadmills and elliptical machines hummed. I rooted for her in my heart and mind, begged her to persist, considered her chances of persevering and noticed my shoulders sink at the prospect. Not very good. She was large, middle-aged and came with a lot of history and baggage. The climb about did her in and she paused to rest before mounting the bike with difficulty. I encouraged her, we spoke of commitment and her plan was clear. Dispose of the weight and restore the vigor, retire the oversize image and escape the dark clouds of neglect and guilt. Today is the day upon which tomorrow is built. Alas, it’s impossible for some to back their needs with the will and fortitude to accomplish them. She has left the building. Gone.

The uncomfortable burdens of life, physically and emotionally, are prevented or diminish proportionately with the time invested in one’s health and fitness. This awareness often comes late rather than early, and the difficult task, the deciding factor, is in making a sufficient initial investment. It can take from 10 minutes to 10 days to 10 weeks, depending on one’s character and circumstances. Count on hope, draw on trust, seek inspiration, welcome encouragement and depend on all the support you can get.

The consequences remain the same: stick with it and you surely grow rich; give up and poverty accompanies you wherever you go.

I know, I know, you get the picture, but there is a bunch of budding bombers browsing the website and I want to attract them and indoctrinate them before they mess with the keyboard (catch a cyber-wave) and find themselves seeking excuses from our infamous competitor, Gone, lost, astray, to be seen no more; floppy and flaccid forever, lives without backbone or biceps. I can’t bare it.

Let’s get to work on our second surefire Cannonball Routine for those uncertain days before us.

The Mean Metal Mover -- Deadlifts followed by Squats and Pullovers

Remember, the first five minutes are devoted to non-stop crunches and leg-raises, something like 25-30 crunches, followed by 10-15 leg raises, followed by 25-30 crunches, followed by 10-15 raises till your time is up. No lingering or loitering; you will be sorry.

The emphasis throughout the abbreviated winter Cannonball Routines is on form and pace and the use of moderate weight. The idea is to perform each repetition, and thereby the entire set, with total concentration on muscle engagement and perfect exercise execution. Be entirely present, from the loading of the plates and the chalk on the hands, to the approach of the bar and the feel of the muscles in action. The reps are to be studied, yet crisp and sure -- not mind-numbing, desperate and distracting. They are to be strong, lovable movements, not acts of ugly resistance.

Often we push heavy weights with good form and accomplish the set; we’re there and we get it over n' done with by applying might and will. This is intense and bullish and we blast our way through barriers. I love it: aggressive, bold, impatient and careless.

The method underlined today, equally intense and muscle-loading, is steady, thoughtful and unyielding in nature, one rep at a time for the sake of the rep itself. One-rep power is diverted to multi-rep control and concentration. You can feel the muscles struggle, shape and grow. I love it -- extremely demanding, seldom applied and requires patience, understanding and stamina.

Start with the Deadlift. The Deadlift as an exercise is extraordinarily beneficial. I capitalize the word because it deserves capitalization, as your mother’s name or America or Michelangelo. From the bottom of your feet to the top of your head, everything works en total to pull the bar off the gym floor -- the big and bulging muscles to the tiny insertions hiding within the flesh and bone structure; the hormones and enzymes to the neuro-transmitters, and the heart and capillaries to the twin lungs. They systemically and comprehensively work together for the all-consuming cause, the execution of your command: Lift.

Everything works, everything progresses.

As an exercise we are specifically working the lower back, quads, hamstrings and grip. You might also want to prepare yourself for heavy low-rep and one-rep-maximum Deadlifts in the future. With this in mind, I place a two-inch platform beneath my feet and pull the bar from the floor for focused repetitions. The added two inches of depth increases the range of motion and the critical demand on the insertions and muscles, resulting in greater muscle development and pulling power. The advantage to singles and doubles is marked when the bar and the feet are again on the same level: assurance, off-the-floor power, comfort in position, and assistance in breaking sticking points are amplified.

1 warm-up set, comfortable weight
4-5 x 8-10 reps, moderate weight you can observe and enjoy
Between sets, sit, hydrate and focus on breathing and recuperation -- preparation for the subsequent set... go.

Squats supersetted with stiff-arm pullovers.

As the Deadlift gets a big "D," so the Squat gets a big "S." I employ the Top Squat and, thus, the exercise is a grand experience. As in the Deadlift, we are seeking pace, focus and performance. Allow me to introduce you to your back and thigh muscles; they are wonderful and worthy facilitators to be valued the rest of your life. Few people notice until they can no longer stand or bend without pain, limitation or humiliation.

The heavy weights will come in those tough workouts ahead when we have the urge, the time and the purpose. Today, mean metal movement will be achieved with moderate weight and close attention to muscle engagement. It’s not bar on back, up and down, up and down and rack it, and not every rep demands six to eight seconds to perform, like it was a solo. Simply pause and think and be there, body, mind and soul. You are to pump and burn and scrutinize. Gorge the tissues with oxygen and nutrient-laden blood, contract the muscles precisely and extend them exactly, shorten with delight, lengthen with pleasure and know you are in control.

1 warm-up set, comfortable weight
4-5 sets x 10-12 reps, a happy weight for a mission worthy of a broad smile

Superset with stiff-arm pullovers, a favorite movement for restoring oxygen and righting the ribcage and reminding you the shoulders should be back, not rounded, and the spine erect, not slouched, and there are muscles and power in the torso to be developed and utilized and displayed. There they are; the serratus and abs, bis and tris, minor pectorals and lats.

1 warm-up set, comfortable weight
4-5 sets x 10 reps, moderate weight, a friend for life

Back and forth you go, squats and pullovers, with rhythm and harmony, lightning and thunder. The whole body comes alive and there’s no record to set or deadline to meet and a smile forms on your face that only you can see and appreciate. It’s fulfillment and intelligence and a head start becoming more, never less and it’s having time on your side, which enables you to notice others and care and be thankful you do. It’s being in shape, getting in shape or knowing you need to and will, in time, today and tomorrow and the next day and the day after that.

I think that’s it, champions of the skies. I’m trying to impress you with the joy, freedom and fluidity of exercise while retaining intensity when lighter weights are used. We rarely are where we are at the time we are there. The lighter weights and resulting focus effectively assure our total presence.

Let’s hit it, Bombers, with God’s strength...

D. Draper

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