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Preparing for Winter Training

October, the Tinman


Shawn Perine, Bill Grant, Leroy Colbert, Dave Draper

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Were October a face and not the 10th month of the year, it would be thoughtful, reflective and unsmiling, not a grim mug displaying doubt and dissatisfaction, but a handsome countenance with bold lines and a knowing expression. The summer’s gone, the season of action, daring and expended energy, and the restless, uncertain end of the year remains.

Behind its steely gaze, October considers the span ahead, the distance from graying fall through bleakish winter. There’s something beautiful and alluring about the cold, long-shadowed seasons of fall and winter, of enduring and constraint. We reject the helpless, limited feelings imposed and seek internal freedom through an external expression, lest by frustration and submission we whither within. We accompany October, the Tinman, in pursuit of becoming the Ironman, and face the challenges both bitter and sweet.

We push the iron and lift the steel with courage, muscle and might.

Let’s take a look ahead with the advantage of looking behind -- where are we going, knowing where we have been. Some folks resist this exercise as it feels holistically introspective, psychologically overweight, painfully meditative, weighty and unmoving. Yup, you got that right. But it’s also invaluable in discerning the best path, the most joyful, productive and enlightening path to travel for the months directly before us. Thoughtful steps match the mood of the season and determine steady and confident progress.

The Traveling Wiseman’s law: Ya gotta know where ya goin’ and how to get there, lest you get lost and miserable goin’ where you do not know where. Huh? Wha?

10 Questions to ask yourself, brawny bombers:

~ How did I fare through the summer -- the broad overview?

~ Did I get out of shape or did I shape up?

~ Did I lay off, cut back, maintain, vacation, party or blast it?

~ Did I gain or lose weight, gain or lose muscle, gain or lose fat?

~ How about strength and power, up or down?

~ Was I lazy and waste time or was I wise in resting, relaxing and repairing?

~ How about nutrition, diet and me? Did we improve, maintain or falter terribly?

~ Did I learn, discover and grow or did I veg? Am I an achiever or a potato?

~ Did I create an insurmountable gap in my training or a minor breach inspiring repairs?

~ The summer in retrospect, would I do as I did it all again?

Whatever the outcome of your inquiry, whether you feel content, proud or dejected, it’s time to move on, aware, appraised, apprised and alert.

I know, I know. Too much thinking makes Johnny Muscles a dull man and Betty the Bod unexciting. But minor self-inspection can arrest flaws in the mechanics and mechanism, and a little thought goes a long way in stimulating season-worn motivation, reviving strong habits grown weary and recalling that old time feeling gone sour. Clarity and creativity arise from earnest assessment, comparing your self to yourself with the intention of modifying and adjusting, improving and developing. You’re not reading an instruction book following some mortal man’s harebrain schemes; you’re conferring with your soul and listening with your mind, discovering a method, inventing a technique and blazing a way.

Ha. You thought, as many think, you were following a leader, when, in fact, you are the leader. You thought you were imitating, when, in fact, you are an innovator. You’re a bomber; following and imitating went down the hatch with plastic-coated concrete weights and Crash Weight Formula # 7. You’re inventing, improvising, effecting, doing, bombing and blasting.

10 confrontations, mighty captains:

~ Knowing the naked truth, where do I go from here? What attitude adjustment, menu correction and training revision do I make?

~ Do I crank up the volume and superset, as I seek muscularity, or do I bring on the big guns -- squats, deads and heavy presses, as I seek power and mass?

~ Where does aerobic exercise fit in the plan -- the foreground, the background or the closet?

~ Is a crash diet in order for an effective period -- tuna and water for three days progressing to salads and protein -- or shall I volumize the bodybuilding food intake to maximize my system’s anabolic environment?

~ Considering the output of my summer workouts, is a break in weight training appropriate; give the joints a rest, allow the tissues to rebuild and let the training appetite grow hungry? Or do I crank it up to compensate for lost time?

~ How do I affect my exercise performance to emphasize new growth and inspiration? What tricks (new or old), what changes (subtle or radical), what methodology (improvised or traditional), might I engage with attention, purpose and hope?

~ Obstacles are both hidden and obvious; they are costly and they need to be circumvented, overcome or endured. I foresee holiday gaps, I suspect injury and illness and I’ve known discouragement coming down like rain from stormy skies overhead. "Be prepared and don’t submit," is the mantra of the past, present and, no doubt, the future. "Build muscle, fight fat, train hard and be strong." We dare not get fat and outta shape, brothers and sisters! Tis the kiss of death. What preparations, what promises, what vows should I make now for the detours, barriers and bad roads ahead?

~ It’s easy to get lost in the gathering weeks and months when short days and long nights surround us, as do the warm, bulky and concealing coverings on our chilled and weary backs. I must not lose control of consistent training and right eating, and reinforcing that attitude and discipline and commitment is a fulltime job. Mastery must be absolute. How is it achieved and maintained and furthered… without becoming a droop, a prude and a bore? Or a burnout?

~ No man is an island. There are lives I care about to the left and the right, before and behind me. How might I encourage them to join the good fight, the right cause, the dutiful battle, the major case and the sure way to health, long life, freedom and peace of mind? I notice the more I encourage others, the more encouragement I receive, and I need all the encouragement I can get. Winters can be cold and dreary… and lonely.

~ Life is more than muscles and might, barbells and protein, discipline and commitment, exercise and right eating. There’s… um... the family, the career, school and study, sports, entertainment, community responsibility, the dog, the cat and the goldfish. But wait! Upon practical consideration these, our foremost preoccupations, all benefit directly or indirectly from us when we’re fit, training regularly, well-fed, physically productive, inspired, motivated, energized, healthy, alert and stress-free, all of which are a direct result of exercise and right eating.

There’s more to life, yes, but when complemented with hard training and sound nutrition, that which comprises "more to life" becomes the "most of life." Another crystal clear thought by the Bomber surfaces the swampy waters of the Jersey Meadowlands. Weight training and solid nutrition rule.

Enough reflecting, considering, assessing, guessing and determining for one day. I’m exhausted! Allowing accumulated thoughts to simmer overnight like the meat and vegetables of a hearty stew brings out the flavor, accents the taste and improves the assimilation of the nutrients. Today’s exercise has been to stir up the juice and thicken the broth and prepare the meal for serving.

I’m convinced we, as dedicated trainers, need to pause at appropriate intervals to observe ourselves and review our motives and methods and morale. This conscientious interlude need not be laborious or critical, but a graceful pondering -- a wondering, a musing -- the motives of which are to recapture and embrace our workouts and smart lifestyle and recollect the vital importance of our training.

We, you and I, gather once a week to go over the things of exercise and nutrition, training and right eating. We want to set these rich practices firmly in place, enjoy them and their service and go about living healthfully and contentedly, sometimes blithely. They are not obsessions, these bright and shinning stars, and must never interfere with our lives. My fear is that they become underestimated, misplaced, replaced, disregarded and otherwise lost in the heaps of garbage, distress, distractions, entertainments and insidious devices surrounding us. Take time out and let not this destruction occur. Treasure your precious gifts, protect them and retain them.

The anti-health-muscle-and-might demon is a sneaky, dirty rat and it’s truly a pleasure to squash the nasty thing beneath well-planted training boots accustomed to heavy squatting and deadly deadlifting. Try it; it feels good. You’ll see.

Train hard, fly high and use the best fuel money can buy.*

Go with God’s wisdom and power... The Bomber

* Bomber Blend. It works.

I was squatting the other day with the Top Squat, getting one incredible rep after another, when all of a sudden it seemed as if I was soaring above the earth’s surface among billowy white clouds with gold n’ silver linings. It was an out-of-body experience I highly recommend to every winged warrior aloft. The pump and exhilaration never ends. Top Squat Euphoria, TSE, is becoming widespread.

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