First Things First

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The Musclebuilder
Has His Hands Full


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We’ve got barbells and dumbbells and cables and squat racks, Cybex, Hammer and more. There are aches and pains, belts and wraps, chalk, the pump and burn. Who can forget the tuna in cans and bottles of water, protein smoothies and supplements by the fist full? How about the lady on the leg extension reading her horoscope or the guy on the next bench chatting loudly on his cell as you attempt your one-rep max, or the stoked high school football team using your favorite squat rack, roars and high-fives between sets... all afternoon?

That’s just the beginning, bombers. We have bucketsful of abstracts to hoist demanding greater strength and energy than old-fashioned farmer walks. They include intangibles like endurance, boredom, triumph and pride, which tug like puppet strings on the mind and soul.

I suggest we take one at a time to prepare, warm up and practice our form.

ENDURANCE

Endurance is just another word for perseverance, but I suspect you’ve had enough of the P word and it’s lost its impact. Thus, bombers, I will go with endurance, stick-to-itiveness, resolve and other less-frequently used versions of the word. It is an essential, hard-earned attribute and without it champions would not exist, nor would suns and stars, tycoons, marriages, friendships, blue-chip enterprises, farmers, rocket scientists, nations and species.

There’s endurance in a workout and endurance in working out. The former is a tough 90 minutes. The latter is tough and everlasting. Without either we go nowhere. With both we go where we can go. And both are exhilarating.

You ever watch a kid playing in a park? Better yet, do you remember when you were a kid playing in a park? A park is any setting where kids run and play and have fun among themselves. Funny... I just had a sad feeling. I think less of that sort of thing -- running and playing -- is going on in the world today. Am I being old-fashioned, cynical, short-sighted, nostalgic? Nevermind, the sadness will pass.

Kids hop, skip and jump and develop their own styles and skills according to their ability and personality and endurance. The longer they practice a thing, the more individual and better they become. A youngster with real stick-to-itiveness is noticed by those around him -- he’s vital, he excels, and he regularly improves where he directs his attention. With guidance, encouragement and his own inner compass, he emerges an adult, strong, capable and complete.

Hopeful musclebuilders, like kids at play, develop insignificant muscle without significant endurance, persistence. Muscle and might are not built by the trendy whirlwind training principles practiced by the heavily marketed, highly indoctrinated and exceedingly impatient rascals of today. Generally, rascals are good; rascals with fortitude are better and become the best. Impatient rascals burn out before the fire starts.
 
Endurance -- long-lasting drive, staying power -- does not come from wishful thinking, high hopes and slick recommendations. It comes from will and courage and practice. Sustained performance, the highway to excellence, depends on a clear goal and a commitment to it, confidence and the certainty of reward. And reward can be manifest in dollars in the pocket, a warm smile within, a nod of recognition from one’s peers or high marks from a panel of judges. 

You’ll recognize endurance -- perseverance -- by the strain it periodically produces on the overload meter located between the heart and brain. Upon approaching the red zone, world-weariness and personal fatigue mount like excess cargo on the back; your appetite for sets, reps and hang cleans evaporates into the gym’s pungent air; your muscles grow limp, you stoop and your head droops forward as you stare at the walls and drool.

Sometimes you need to rest, brother iron, sister steel. Don’t wait for me; I’ll just stare at the walls a little bit longer. 

BOREDOM

Bored? Who’s bored? Not me. I love this stuff. I dwell in rapt enchantment between the irresistible desire to lift heavy weights intensely during all my spare time, my untiring devotion to strict dieting and my almost religious worship of muscles and might. It doesn’t bother me that, though I practice these delightful disciplines enthusiastically, I look in the mirror and see no appreciable development. Disappointment is not a state of mind I endure. You see, winged warriors, it’s not the destination; it’s the journey along the way.

Sitting on a bench between sets and staring out the window as I long for my next fierce round with the immoveable cold steel is a joy I guard jealously. These are my sets and my reps, and my swollen, throbbing joints. I beseech thee to honor my pain, my pump and burn, as I do yours. Let us share intimately, men and women dedicated to the same matchless cause, and recognize and respect our cold-steel destiny. Fixed dumbbells, deeply knurled Olympic bars, unswaying squat racks and well-oiled cable systems rock, roll and rule. Boredom will find no foothold in our dedicated presence.

Yet, there was that day when boredom dared show its ugly head. As it slithered from a dark corner and across the gym floor to my bench, I caught its image in my peripheral vision. I was at first astonished it would approach me, a staunch lifter of impervious character, but quickly realized it preyed on the vulnerable and distracted, anytime, every time. I had let my guard down. I was daydreaming and my mind was permeable, perfect conditions for boredom’s work. Instantly, I recalled my goal, my vision, my purpose for standing amid the fields of iron -- massive and striated deltoids. I squashed the leech with my big toe and watched it squirm and ooze. Press-behind-necks supersetted with bent-over lateral raises allow no time for boredom... laziness, a weak spirit or slimy things that crawl.

Boredom is a product of a lapse in thinking. You forgot. You forgot the reason you enter the healing halls of the gym and the purpose of grasping and wielding the iron that excites you. The glide of the first reps and the power of the last have grown momentarily faint. These are no incidental minutes wasted in a futile clash with mounds of witless pig iron. These are cascading moments of a lifetime.

Boredom makes difficult the first rep, neutralizes the ensuing reps and prevents the last rep. Boredom short-circuits a stout pump, prevents a heated burn and reduces an hour of joy to an extended length of misery. If you let it, boredom follows you everywhere you go, and not like a puppy, but like Satan’s tail, a stalker, a lost workout, a skunk.

Boredom stinks.

PRIDE

I know little about the matter of pride except that which I’ve read or observed in others. Yes, I enjoy the gratifying sensation I experience from personal achievement, a joy and appreciation some call pride. That’s fair. And, as I respect the work I do and the projects I undertake, you might say I take pride in my work. That, too, is agreeable. But I know nothing about arrogance and self adoration, those insufferable forms of pride threatening the stability of mankind. I loathe men and women pretentiously strutting about their beauty, wealth, power and position, as if they were rubies and gold. Have they no depth, substance or soul?

I’m free of the millstone of pride; the monkey of conceit finds no place on my back and vanity dares not enter my humble presence. You want me to flex my biceps? I can make my pecs bounce.
 
Pride can reduce the coolest person to a lukewarm loser. You see someone you admire and he opens his mouth and proceeds to talk -- about himself. Oh, boy, see ya later. Everything he says to enlarge his stature and worth contributes to his decrease. He slowly topples from foundations of clay amid pride, conceit and self-importance. What a mess.
 
About pride: We must be careful not to think of ourselves too highly or too often. This can be accomplished by thinking of others before ourselves, and respecting the qualities and understanding the shortcomings of those in our view. Where admiration is worthy, admire, and refrain from envy. Envy is pride in one of its ugly disguises. We are wise not compare ourselves to others, but to compare ourselves to ourselves. See the truth, accept and appreciate it. Truth deserves nothing less.

How quick we are to notice the weak in their weaknesses. If a mirror is not available, put a finger to your heart. Here’s where the weakness begins. If you can’t sincerely and selflessly amend a wrong in another with encouragement, smile and move on (unless the person is dropping dumbbells, cursing your friends, monopolizing the equipment, spitting and smearing the mirrors with his dirty paws... then ya gotta take action).

You see yourself as quite something some days. You caught a smile from the opposite sex (you think), received a compliment from a peer (sounded like a compliment), your pants and shirt fit just right (you’re pumped), and you notice a confident swagger in your walk (you’re bad, you’re cool). You hop in your vehicle and floor it (zoom, zoom), aggressively maneuver through bothersome traffic and arrive at the gym in a screech (Slick is here). You enter the gym grinning like you own the joint or know something nobody else knows. Each step is deliberate and solid 'cuz, after all, you are a big fella. And then around the corner he comes, the behemoth from another planet. This guy is tall and huge and ripped and young and handsome and modest. Suddenly you feel short, fat, skinny, small, dopey and nauseous. You try to recover... gulp... but you have been utterly devastated by... well... pride, the crappy little monster killer. It gets worse. You notice how quickly you search for weaknesses in the overgrown bum -- a disability, degenerative disease, a terminal illness, illiteracy, poverty, leg irons, a despicable criminal record or a screechy voice that sounds like a baboon with its tail caught in a plate stack. Ain’t reality cruel?  Go home.

We’re done with pride.

TRIUMPH

Where and when does triumph exist? Is it an explosive thing experienced on great occasions only, or might it be a lesser thing experienced moment by moment? I’m as impatient and in need of constant and immediate reward as the next person. Thus, I want all the wins I can get now. And, of course, I’m greedy and want the big victory that comes at the end of long sacrifice and much devotion. Give me, give me, give me more. I’m pathetic.

A better question: What is triumph? Triumph is personal. It is sometimes indefinable. And triumph is not always about winning or conquering. Triumph is the achievement of a worthy thing not always planned for, the successful completion of something along the way or a win that comes when loss is the final reward.  

He’s not only pathetic, he’s also a whacky. Stand this side of the guard rails, please. Don’t feed him.

Triumph is not always accompanied by fanfare and excited recognition. Relief can be triumphant; the merest respect, a hint of appreciation, the slightest acknowledgement, honest laughter, a smile... these are triumphs in triumph’s greatest moments.

Get the net, men, prepare the cage. He’s losing it.

What did you expect, bombers, a sappy 400-word dissertation on winning and losing and long suffering, one of those tearful and inspiring speeches (ugh!) about never giving up, never surrendering, never submitting no matter what the price, payment or cost? Get outta here.

You enter the gym’s hallowed doors; that’s a triumph. You stand before the weights in your favorite shabby gear -- no easy accomplishment. I call it triumph. Your system is readied with several high protein meals, including tuna. Triumph comes in poptop cans. You grab the dumbbells, sit on the bench, roll back and launch the pair of iron missiles over your head. That, Bomber, is a triumph over risk, mind and matter. Press on! We count the first reps worthy, but those last two or three are triumphs in doubles and triples. Sweat’s pouring, pump’s growing and the burn is hissing.  Now put the rascals back in the rack without the assistance of a crane. That’s a conquest, a major win, an engineering feat, or as we pitiful muscleheads say, a triumph!

You are triumphant, brothers and sisters, triumphant. The enemy was not tread beneath your feet, you didn’t cross the finish line by three lengths nor were you crowned king before his subjects. You simply and undeniably triumphed... and you’ve just begun. Triumph is continuing.

When I’m out of fuel but the urge to fly is great, I push my winged vehicle to the airfield’s outer limits where there is a sheer cliff. I give my powerless heap one last shove, hop in and over we go. Almost always I pick up strong currents of wind and glide to my heart’s content. Sometimes I crash and start all over again.

Push that iron, brothers and sisters... God’s speed... DD

BELIEVE IT OR NOT

Ever since the Pearl-Draper seminar dvd hit the market, stocks have gone up considerably around the world. Gym memberships have grown, and those with existing memberships have crowded the doors. Health food businesses are flourishing and people across the nations are eating more conscientiously. Obesity and associated diseases are on the decline. Families are participating in energetic sports and recreational activities, drug use among teens has diminished and crime is down.

Join the feel-good phenomenon; support the remarkable upsurge in global spirits and wellbeing. Send for your P/D DVD today, along with your order of Bomber Blend and Super Spectrim vitamins, and keep the material in which they are wrapped free of charge.

The  DVD includes a one-hour-and-fifteen-minute tape of the July seminar, two muscular slide shows, plus a 32-page booklet outlining the subsequent interview between the mighty one, Bill Pearl, and me in which we discuss some favorite subjects untouched by the seminar.

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