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Summertime and the Livin' is Easy
Weight Training for Summer

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There was a nip in the air this week reminiscent of fall weather. Ugh. Unpleasant deja vu rippled through my system as I imagined it was September and we faced six full months of descending climatic patterns. A spasm of chemical changes erupted and I lost my drive, enthusiasm, sense of humor and pump. My shoulders slumped and my jaw went slack; I broke out in a cold sweat and I ached all over. “But I don’t want to bulk up and wear a hooded sweatshirt.” This adrenaline-charged distress consumed me for exactly one point five seconds.

Marvelously, the opposite is true; the most hopeful and desirable days of the year are ahead of us. I recovered fully within the time it took to stagger, wipe my perspiring brow with the back of my hand and say, “Only 45 shopping days left till Christmas.” I lose control when faced with disaster.

The fright -- more accurately, the terror -- caused some hard thinking. Time is precious, bombers, don’t waste it. Grab it, plan it and use it. Now. Don’t let this spring and summer pass by without exploiting the unique properties and exciting advantages they present; warm weather, extended daylight, a fundamental sense of enthusiasm and joy of living, the natural cycle of birth, rebirth and growth and the matching attitude of being alive and free, creative and expressive. What a bounty of magnificent resources to draw upon!

A popular avenue of fair-weather travel is the downhill slide, which includes celebrations and parties and spectator sports: frolicking, eating, drinking and sleeping, or not sleeping. The beach, bar, boat, ballgames and backyard barbecues are regularly enjoyed. Fun is a blur. Seasons go by fast and furious. It’s over, they're toasted, you’re roasted. No plan, Dan.

I don’t know of any sky-riders who slide, do you? An occasional swoop, naturally, but feet-on-the-ground, downhill sloppy-sloping, slipping and sliding? No way. Still, sufficient attention to prudence and planning is highly recommended. You can soar, cruise, glide or nosedive, your choice, but don’t slide, Clyde.

Look, it’s spring and I’m easy, ladies and gentlemen. The plan does not have to be rigid. In fact, flexible is a swell word to describe the training scheme I’m talking about. The important thing is to stop and think:

~ Where are you today?

~ In what direction are you going?

~ Where do you want to go?

~ What is your level of interest?

~ What obstacles are on your calendar?

~ Based on your answers, what’s your simple, supple plan?

Your routine is wisely based on a short self-evaluation, a brief introspection, and an honest conversation with yourself. This time alone is sometimes enough to remind yourself you care, stimulate your training instincts and affections, heighten your innate physical senses and arouse your musclehead logic to performance. Concisely, inspire action.

Hello, wake up, I love you, it’s time to get your butt moving.

Let me tell you what my brief encounter with a summer lost did for me. I applied and completed the 30-minute evaluation (in about 30 seconds) and surmised I survived the cold, wet and short days of winter and don’t exactly look like Doughboy Goes to Hawaii. My diet and training run parallel tracks in a straight, swift and unwavering line... I travel express. How they maintain continuity and consistency while I’m personally a wild and crazy guy is something my veterinarian will never understand. I didn’t get sick or suffer any unusual injury these months and my periods away from the gym served as vacations during which I repaired and revitalized. This perplexes my private bodyguard.

I’m too cheap to revel and make merry. It costs too much to get in shape: time in the gym, pain to gain, sacrifice and compromise here, there and everywhere, straining under loaded bars and striving on the spin bikes, steaks and eggs, fruit and vegetables, tuna and water, Super Spectrim and Bomber Blend, training and eating days on top of days till you gain a paltry pound on the bench in a month, half a pound of muscle mass in two months and an inch off the ole’ hips on occasion. I’m greedy, Petey. You can party, Marty. Take a hike, Mike. I’m cool, Raul.

Call it greedy, cheap, obsessed, stiff, boring, crazy, weird or get-a-life; I call it safe and sound. A generous bystander might call it wise, responsible, disciplined, dutiful and robotic. Whatever, it works.

Spring and summer are loose and I refuse to wrap myself tight with a consuming exercise program, and, as noted, it doesn’t appear I need major restoration. After 45 years of training, it’s a brain transplant that I need. Instead, I’ll get some color and vitamin D, increase my daily activity as one does in long days of fair weather, respond to the lively and lovely qualities of the breezy months ahead and fly. I’ll release myself of any overbearing training demands -- no bully for a silent training partner, no 1-RMs unless it’s my heart’s desire, no forced reps unless they sound like music, no two-hour workout minimum -- but I shall in no way flounder.

Of course you know that I didn’t review my training past without my eyes wide opened and focused on you. Recorded above in limited detail is my self-assessment, conclusions and general plan. Your findings might be the same. More than survived, you strived during the less inspiring months earlier this year and you’re not carrying unwanted pounds in hard-to-conceal places. Tuned in and in-tune, you’re a one-man band; crank up the volume and create the lyrics as you go. Have fun, practice and perform on your own private stage. You’re a star.

I don’t suggest any of you got soft, deconditioned or overweight in the recent past, but there are always the off-season bulkers. It’s not uncommon that months of hard winter training produce strong, large figures accustomed to eating lotsa food and lifting lotsa weights and wearing lotsa clothes. It’s phase one of a favorite plan -- get huge and powerful -- and it was terrific in January. Today, under the midday sun, there you are in all your grandeur. The friendly yet critical fair-weather exposes the truth and it is not too slick. Phase two is called into immediate action... somewhat reluctantly. Shape the ape.

You’re in there somewhere, rock-hard and shapely, under a layer of efficient self-imposed mass. Now, the process of cleaving the extra pounds to reveal the creation of your high hopes and hard work is upon you. Sometimes ‘tis better to dream than to bare the naked truth. Alas, thou must.

Depending on mass and madness, phase two of the cold-weather plan, the warm-weather plan, includes three or four, 12-to-15 minute sessions weekly of HIIT aerobic on the formidable spin bike.

60 to 90 minutes of weight training four or five days a week to include four midsection workouts at the outset of the workout (of course, 15-minute combinations of any of the following: 15-degree incline crunches and leg raises, rope tucks, hand-hanging leg raises, hyperextensions).

Select your favorite arrangement of muscle groups in a creative format assuring each muscle group is served directly or indirectly twice a week. Squat once a week, practice deadlifts once a week and seek heavy-weight workouts when you get the urge or when prompted by need. Remember, supersetting is like dynamite when it comes to blasting away fat and making room for muscle.

Be loose as a goose and twice as mean.

Okay, Bubba, about eating. What’s the damage? Ten pounds... twenty pounds, more? Same rules apply to all of us, always: high protein, low carbs and medium fat. You can count them if you want to, need to or have to, but it drives me nuts -- always has. Learn to guess, use your judgment and don’t fret over a gram of protein or a calorie of fat. Life’s too short and you have work to do.

Think of high protein, low carb (no sugar) and medium good fat in your dietary balance. Get back to eating those more frequent yet smaller meals throughout the day, starting with a balanced breakfast. Supplement your diet simply with a quality vitamin and mineral, EFAs and a protein powder where need and convenience shout. Think twice about beers and booze, desserts and extra helpings. Water is worth more than gold.

This is a sufficient plan. In fact, it’s a wonderful plan. It’s a plan to save the world from self-annihilation.

Stop and think, my friends. If our brothers and sister around our neighborhood -- that is to say, the world -- followed this incredibly simple plan it would be a better place to live; obesity would shrink, heart ailments, diabetes and countless other diseases would relatively disappear, good energy would abound and enthusiasm and clear thinking would soar. Problems of the mind and emotions -- insecurities, low self-esteem, anger and envy -- would begin to evaporate. Self-imposed physical limitations would practically be eliminated and unfulfilled lives would be transformed into vigorous, productive and happy lives. Hospitals beds and emergency rooms would no longer overflow with deteriorating victims of irresponsibility and thoughtlessness, over-eating and wrong-eating. Healthy pride would replace an existing widespread world-weariness, low-level personal disappointment and guilt. We’d probably care for each other more.

I know. Sounds like ideal thinking, impossible to indoctrinate. Yet this manner of living matches our basic nature, selfish and self-centered. “Do this and be great -- rich, strong and free.” And we have immediate personal control of this self-enriching practice -- feeding our body; it’s legal, it’s cool and we fail miserably. The consequences are dramatic. Yet we turn our attention to wars and terrorism and TV commercials and other silly forms of distraction. Hello. Get a clue.

Besides, this kind of activity gives us bombers a bad name. The best we do is keep the skies around us clear and present our exotic flying skills to those who might see. Fly right, always.

And God bless you... Dave Draper

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