Muscling Our Way Through the Holiday

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December is a month of planned, meaningful disorder. It’s the last month of a tough year, the month before another tough year, and we’re noticeably up to our ears in "tough." Though we want and need order, we crave disorder, if only temporarily. And disorder we get, in disorderly stacks and poorly arranged piles: daring late-night shopping at the mall during the week, shopping at the other mall on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, casual credit card abuse, questionable after-hours office parties in celebration of Christmas -- ho ho, bring a funny gift, happy holiday drinks and curious finger food with old friends, new friends, people you don’t like and a few bums, untimely headaches, hangovers and horrors of the bowels, smiley gatherings at the in-laws after Friday night choir practice and the obligatory dinner at your place -- bring the kids and sleeping bags.

On top of that, there’s Christmas and then there’s New Year’s.

I have a friend who was born on Christmas Day, was married 22 years later on Christmas Day (cute idea at the time), had a son the following year on Christmas Eve (surprise!) and today looks like one of those Christmas trees you see lying on the roadside in the middle of March after the first real thaw -- dried prickly needles, a couple of broken balls and a few strands of tinsel.

I’m beginning to sound a lot like Scrooge as I portray the holiday season. It’s truly a jolly and festive time of year, but for a handful of obstacles and detours tossed in to add interest and challenge. And, the interesting challenges keep us alert and make us sure-footed and durable and offer enormous relief when they expire the day after the new year begins.

Actually, the challenges don’t exactly expire when the new year begins. That’s a false hope we all share.

The first week of January, recently designated as Fun Week by the Global Counsel of Mandatory Recreation, is when the entertaining period of reconstruction begins.

There’s the physical stuff: getting back to normal, paying the bills, cleaning the house of colossal heaps of debris -- the ugly dead tree, the stupid plastic Santa that repeatedly blinks and stutters ho ho ho, mounds of boxes, wrapping paper and ribbon, the well-used and abandoned cat box near the water heater, strange leftovers from Thanksgiving, soiled clothing no one can identify, gifts not worth saving, returning, eating or wearing.

And there’s the personal stuff: going on a diet, getting back in shape, reestablishing bruised friendships, secretly returning useless gifts at the mall, catching up on neglected duties, chores and deeds, and facing the sour pusses at work who are shoveling the same... um... tedious details.

Oddly and unfailingly, there’s that moment in the middle of Fun Week when we realize there’s only 350 more shopping days till we once again, with joy and good will, wish our neighbors a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Eyes tear up and our raw emotions are exposed. Merry, joyous and happy are words one dares not utter for the next 11 months if one values one's life.

Look at me, bomber, hear what I have to say. Alright, then, read my words of compassion. I’m here to bring you cheer, encouragement and first aid. We all need to cut loose, occasionally. Let go, partake of the season’s merriment and respond to the frivolous obligations that surround us. It’s our duty, it’s healthy and it’s a blast (yeah, so is a pipe bomb). And somewhere in the midst of the confusion, there are for some of us enormous spiritual rewards and reverent observances.

Thank God for the day and the year. The King lives forever and ever.

December 1st is here and the excitement is mounting. Grasp the month and its days with your powerful hands, throw them over your strong back like a sack bulging with riches and distribute them gladly among your friends, neighbors and loved ones. Declare with good tidings, "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all." Swell. Now, with all your might, enjoy the month of wondrous chaos. Your survival is at risk.

Bombers are not easily defined, but we are not stiff and humorless brutes unable or unwilling to bend a taut rule or finesse a finicky discipline. What we do that appears to be wrong or mistaken, like broadening our holiday menu to include extra calories and an increase in carbs, or rearranging our exercise routine to suit the holiday calendar, is an intentional stray from the norm to accomplish a greater good. These flagrant breeches of the Bomber Code are not breeches at all, but effective modifications to accommodate highly irregular, extreme conditions (XXX-xmas) and realize future muscular goals.

For you who are so disposed, you may enter into a thoughtful augmentation of your food intake to provide your body with an aggressive anabolic environment. Grow time, sinew seekers! For the next weeks eat more of the good foods that excite you, providing you maintain appropriate scrutiny to prevent the accidental acquisition of the frightening and damaging condition, Majoris Excessis. A little size, some agreeable mass and a bit of bulk provide power and energy to build on. Fat in its various blubbery forms weighs us down. Additionally, your training must meet the BMDR -- Bomber’s Minimum Daily Requirement. See outline below.

This fine-line authorization to eat beyond your ideal bounds offers much-needed relief, and, thus, freedom from stress-induced catabolism. It eliminates anxiety, guilt, constipation and the degrading image of gluttony, which leads to bad manners and the ensuing stains on t-shirts, reaching across the table for seconds, thirds and any remaining scraps, burping, salivating and snorting. Do not snort in public, crew. Snort not! Minimize the grunting.

Training should be no less than three days a week and may be of the simple and stimulating variety, which assures sanity of mind, maintains muscle density and tone and allows joint restoration and deep tissue repair. Freedom rules. The gym offers a refuge from the chaos of the day and the weights become the recipient of the stress of the day. Bombing and blasting recommended.

The last things you want are blank pages in your December training log. Blank pages are like lost opportunities, wasted time, memories uncreated or holes in your cranium or lesions on your back -- worse, they remind me of throbbing, festering unattended sores that cause gangrenous... we won’t go there. Let’s just say blank pages and lost workouts are bad, very bad -- they’re no-nos.

Do you have any questions, eagles?

Yes, young lady in the night vision goggles and combat boots?

Good thinking! Allow me to elaborate on your inquiry. This is what I would do if I were you when the Christmas tree and Auld Lang Syne come tumbling down around you like tall tales and make believe:

Preface -- what you are about to view are ordinary exercises to the ordinary eye, but to the creative and visionary bomber they are splendid opportunities to express oneself freely and passionately. A curl is not just a curl, and any press is not merely another press; a movement is defined by the hand that performs it.

These are not designer routines to be executed with assembly-line precision or clinical correctness. They are outlines in black and white to be colored with the finesse and imagination that erupts from deep inside the performer, the player, the seeker, the ship’s captain.

Reserve no less than 30 minutes for dedicated training; pray for an uninterrupted 60 to 75.

Warm your body, clear your head and set your heart in motion with a sufficient engagement of midsection exercise.

Choose the weight you can control, focus intently on the multiplicity of training purposes filling your mind -- exercise performance, muscle engagement, effective range of motion, body positioning for maximum muscular affect, pump and burn, intensity and safety, inspiring goal visualization and the unsurpassable rewards, benefits and fulfillment of another great workout -- then proceed to apply yourself fully to the deed, the rhythmic, multileveled, multipurposed and wonderfully hard work of building your body and mind, character and soul.

This is an expression, Bomber. Express yourself... fully.

Day 1)

Either or both supersets:

Standing barbell curl (4-5 sets x 8-10 reps) -- supersetted with:

Freehand or machine dip (4-5 x 12-15 reps)

Seated alternate dumbbell curl (4-5 sets x 8-10 reps) -- supersetted with:

Close-grip bench press (4-5 x 8-12 reps)

Day 2)
Rope tucks

Either superset:

Leg extension (4-5 sets x 10-15 reps) -- tri-setted with:

Leg curl (4-5 x 8-12 reps)

Calf raise (5 x 15-20 reps)

Squat (4-5 sets x 10 reps) -- supersetted with:

Stiff-arm dumbbell pullover (4-5 x 8-10 reps)

Day 3)
Hanging leg raise

Either or both supersets:

Steep dumbbell inclines (4-5 sets x 6-10 reps) -- supersetted with:

Seated lat row (4-5 x 8-12 reps)

Press behind neck or front press with bar or Smith Machine -- supersetted with:

Wide-grip pulldown (4-5 x 10-12 reps)

December, all month long. Ya gotta love it.

What does December look like from 10,000 feet? One way to find out, bombers... see you there.

God’s speed... Dave Draper

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