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Training Motivation

Intensity Defines One’s Achievements

David the Gladiator

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Each week, as I sit with my head pressed against the blank computer screen while gripping the keyboard till my knuckles are white, those days when trying to formulate the substance of yet another stirring newsletter with the aid of meditation practiced while hanging by my thumbs from a chinning bar under the house, and, yes, during the lonely midnight hours paging through old muscle magazines in search of inspiration and originality, I wonder to whom am I writing, who is it I’m trying to reach and who reads these desperate words squeezed from my parched brain.

Is it you? Then I’m encouraged and I’ll write again; I’ll write till I’m pale and bent. Worthy words I will send you though they be reworked like clay in the potter’s hand, the same true mud in another shape, another form, sometimes a cup, sometimes a bowl or serving dish, other times a pitcher or a decorative wall hanging or an imaginative abstract design.

In my curiosity I assembled a list of IronOnline reader types and I present the results to you. Please stand up when you recognize the type that most accurately describes you.... at least raise your hand and say “here.” Alright, just raise your hand. Okay, then, just sit there like a lump of meaningless clay. See if I care.

  • Unassuming youngster who simply wants muscles and doesn’t need psychoanalysis
  • Totally new, never-touched-a-weight trainee and no longer a kid, needs a clue
  • Returning trainee, lifted in high school more or less and recognizes the real need for fitness
  • Overweight and needing weight loss and general conditioning
  • Frivolous person looking for fun, friends and a date; muscle, might and health be darned
  • Underweight and seeking muscle, mass and strength
  • Athlete pursuing peak performance -- strength, energy, endurance, speed
  • Fit guy or gal -- no longer a kid, yet a kid at heart -- who trains regularly, has been bitten by the bug and wants to get into well-muscled shape: veins, abs and striations
  • The hardcore lifter, been around and knows black from white, and wants what he or she can get -- honorably
  • The kid or no-longer-a-kid musclebuilder who wants it all now, as convincingly promised by the fakes, frauds and liars (that would be, merchants), knows all the goofy ingredients and all the “razor-ripping, cutting-edge” techniques by name, thinks they’re real and wants a final opinion as to which is best (that would be fast, painless and cheap)
  • The slick-dude type who’s got a membership at Gold’s and 24-Hour, one personal trainer (who sez he’s a former Mr. America from Brazil), two online training certificates -- HPTA and RPTA, Huge Personal Trainer Association and Ripped Personal Trainer Association -- and met Arnold at the 2002 Classic. Considers Frank Zane old-fashioned and the Bomber out of touch and can’t help setting us straight.

I think that covers it. You can sit down now, lower your hand... good... Thank you.

Whoever you are, whatever your specific needs might be, the basic requirements are the same. You must weight train hard, attentively, consistently and confidently. No matter what level you have achieved and what boundaries confront you, tough input is fundamental, absolutely imperative. It’s the musclebuilding fact of life. The same is expected of your eating habits. They must be simply and wisely defined and toughly applied. Be tough.

Tough; anything that’s tough sounds rough and agonizing, difficult and unappealing: tough neighborhood, tough exam, tough journey. They are not friendly; they do not suggest joy; they are in fact undesirable. This is not so in the application of “tough” to a workout or to the performer of such a workout. Tough is not grim. Tough is very good, very cool, the embodiment of all that is strong and gutsy and exceptional. Tough is enviable and is to be embraced. A tough lifter faces a tough workout with a welcome chill, his head up and an unconscious correction of posture -- it just happens. Tough is tough, a badge of honor. Anyone who grumbles about tough, is not. Remember that, Bombers. Tough is reserved for the silent fighter.

Tough, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. What one perceives as tough is not tough to another. Beware of the jagged edges protruding from its nasty step-cousins. Be as tough as you like, tough in workout quality, volume performance and personal expectation, but not damaging, bitter, harsh or mean. Don’t be cruel, don’t be merciless. Be tough and merciful and take the time to understand the difference.

I’m cool. You cool? We’re cool, we’re tough.

Then there’s intensity -- intensity in physical exertion, in attitude and pursuit. The intensity factor rules, not things of learning so much as things of the heart and instincts, passions and mettle. Commit intensely. Desire intensely. Hope intensely. Focus intensely. Persist, push and pull hard, of course, but intensely pursue exercise understanding. The routines, the exercises, sets and reps are stacked up in a neat pile according to the needs of the athlete. Any bodybuilding primer for dummies will provide the necessary formulas to accomplish most degrees of development. They are not profound, complicated or exotic, nor need they be. They are embarrassingly simple and ordinary, original and essential. The stack is large for large advances and small for small advances. Commonsense plus logic equals results. Master commonsense, apply it intensely and you will master musclebuilding, good health and long life -- and, I dare say, that list goes on and on.

I have observed on various gym floors various degrees of intensity in various weight trainers. Excluding the remarkably muscular men and women who have it by nature, the harder one exercises the more one achieves. And the more one achieves, the more encouraged, inspired, fulfilled and happy one becomes. Training with intensity thus becomes a joy. I have also observed, apart from the champions, few train with the forced intensity or joyful intensity one must apply to progress. Their achievements thus are slow in coming, their joy and fulfillment is delayed. The delay of attainment and gratification is costly should they wander off before the magnificent experience of muscle and might graces them.

What exercises champions of today perform for building big arms, what regimens I apply to lose weight and get in shape or how Haney gained muscle mass and power in the chest and shoulders are interesting discussions and help us in moving forward. Yet, we will find no new thing; the methods put forth don’t require the application of complex formulas nor are they brilliant techniques unfolding as we speak. What we learn are things as familiar as one-syllable words, one plus one equals two and see Jane jump. The burly fellow in the shredded tank top scratching his bottom by the water fountain, he’s got it. It’s easy.

Intensity defines one’s achievement.

Intensity is a state of training performance. Seek it, locate and define it; research and study it as you apply it, determine the measure that is personally agreeable, desirable and lock on. This is your target-intensity as you focus on your workouts, your level of exercise output based on pressure and pain and your willingness to endure it. Embrace it and know it, understand it. It has the personality of a dear and dependable friend.

I suspect you’ll want to regularly increase intensity’s valuable effect. That is, you’ll want to blast your workouts more and more for the fun and achievement of it.

Some folks take intensity to hideous levels. They vomit (yuk); they stagger and drop, they use smelling salts and rude outbursts to accompany their lifting madness. Their training becomes fodder for war stories to be bragged about and circulated among the troops. They mount the injuries high, lower the quality of exercise performance and shorten their careers as lifters. They fall out of love and lose affection for the wholesome activity; fear, dread and hate are the replacements for the higher emotions.

Others are frightened by intensity as if their muscles will certainly fall off their bodies and onto the gym floor should they apply the alien force. Oh, my. What are we to do now, Cynthia? Pain is as close to them as Jupiter and as desirable as hemorrhoids. They flutter and flit about, the total iron on the machine’s weight stack barely a counterbalance to the handle swinging from the cable’s end. They do seriously high reps with three-pound dumbbells on the incline bench and you find yourself nodding off to the hypnotic rhythm unconsciously registering in your peripheral vision. Inspiration and aspiration are not among the motivators of this particular species of gym rat. Typically they carry on 20 minutes, as long as it takes to reach exhaustion or boredom, which ever comes first.

Intensity comes in different shapes and sizes. Have you seen the guy whose intensity is so great his eyes are like saucers upon entering the gym? He’s red-faced and deep breathing with both arms clutching a bundle of raggedy gear, the sneakers dangling by knotted laces. His membership card’s gripped in his bared teeth and to the person behind the counter he offers the moist plastic with a nudging action of his chin. Once on the gym floor the intensity drains from his faint body and he practically falls asleep stretching, earphones in place. If anybody needs to apply training intensity it’s this guy, a walking freaked-out danger zone.

Intensity often takes on the appearance of unfriendliness, sternness, anger or distress. This I know. It’s not uncommon that the high-intensity trainer is a perfectionist, self-demanding, and loathes distraction. He’s bad, which is good.

Intensify! I don’t see any other way to get where you’re going if you plan to get there. Review the possibilities, make your choice and suit yourself.

Thank heaven (or your lucky stars) we are bombers, tough, intense and on target. There’s a time to glide and let the currents carry you along, and there’s a time create some wind of your own, a storm if you must.

Cut loose and ride the horizons.

As always, but not to be taken for granted, God’s speed... Dave Draper

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