First Things First

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Where Do Little Girls Come From?


Mad Magazine, 1970

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I received an email from a new reader who noticed Laree’s name somewhere on the website and wondered who she is and what she does, and is it working out. Is she a temp, a relative giving me a helping hand, an old friend with spare time -- that sort of thing -- and does she exercise?
 
I responded, confessing Laree and I will be married 18 years any day now, and continued with the following critique:

Our system works. We share the load, our strengths and weaknesses complement each other, and we don’t allow pettiness or bickering to undermine our foundations. Laree pays the bills -- mortgage, insurances, credit cards, loan-sharks, business fees, postage and such, does the banking, manages the computer-related tasks and web business, writes, moderates the forum, edits, handles shipping and receiving, and ordering and stocking. She shops for food. I, bearing the heavier load as men do, work out, attend our weekly Netflix transaction, take out the garbage, feed Mugsy and write the newsletter. I don’t complain, one of my strengths.

At the end of the week I’m an overworked mess, yet I maintain my nobility and selfless attitude. Laree, poor girl, needs my unshaken support. Though young, she’s an emotionally fragile creature with considerable room for growth. I lovingly call her my sweetheart, my pet project. Insecurity is truly a monster.

Oddly, Laree’s a take-charge kinda gal (she lifts kettlebells). I, thus, allow her to do our annual income taxes and resolve problems when business is slow, and answer the phone and talk to creditors and lawyers and the cops. She appreciates the wide range of responsibilities I permit her to engage in. She aspires under the pressure I obligingly funnel her direction, and is undyingly grateful, that is certain.

Her gorgeous smile, sometimes mistaken for a sneer or smirk if viewed from the wrong angle, is ready and full of expression. My bountiful grin in return from across folded arms is comforting and approving. It says, “Job well done, good and faithful servant.” Together we conquer mountains.

I agree with those who say of their beloved partner, “They are the wind beneath my wings.” Being a poet, a child of creativity and compelled to be original, I say, “Laree is full of wind.” Better yet, a light breeze on a warm summer day.
  
That’s about all I wrote to satisfy the reader’s curiosity about Laree, the Darling of the Airstrip. I went on to say that Bomber Blend builds strong bodies 99 ways, listing them in alphabetical order, and suggested he invest in Brother Iron Sister Steel, touted The Best Bodybuilding Book Ever by Muscle and Fitness magazine.

Later, after launching the response -- without her editing, of course -- I thought about her recent passion for kettlebells and wondered where I went wrong in grounding her in the purity of true weight training. Kettlebells don’t speak, they emit screeches and howls. Barbells and dumbbells whistle and sing and tell us truths long hidden; they growl and snarl and never whimper.

Did you know -- get this -- a surge of kettlebell enthusiasts are on the horizons and settling in the planes. Yeah, yeah, I know; the kb was around years ago. So was the Model-T.

Perhaps I’m a little harsh on kettlebell exercise as I have been unable to get even the lightest bomb-like thingy over my head without taking out a wall, a lamp or a pedestrian. They’re wrecking balls in my wayward mitts. I’d practice if I had the nerve... more space... a building to demolish... better liability insurance.
 
So, when asked to prescribe a routine for a young girl at the gym recently, the frightening round, black mechanisms concentrated with gravity were not mentioned. I went with bittersweet barbells, dumbbells and resistance machines, and free body movements. At 20, cute as a button, no body fat and slightly bored, I narrowed the lassie’s training challenge to five functional and complimentary exercises.

Actually, I wasn’t asked to prescribe anything. There I was with one more set of triceps before wrapping up my workout and I observed the red-haired beauty executing a set of seated lat pulls. I thought, within the brief moment I allow for extraneous thinking while engaged in serious weight training, how lucky the gal was. She’s about perfect, as many young girls are, and all she needs to do is regularly and cheerfully nurture her mind, body and soul with a modest amount of challenging exercise, and eat sensibly.

Guys, of course, must push the iron and lift the steel till it clatters, thuds, crashes and rusts. They must never miss a workout, and each session must surpass the former in power and yield.  Or else! They must eat protein frequently, and watch their carbs and fats closely. They must build muscle strength, shape, size, density and hardness as they lose fat and get ripped. They must fight the dead-end temptation to use weird, felonious chemicals and every awful ingredient on the market that “assures” “lightning fast gains” “as you sleep.” Big bucks for nothing, man.

At the end of the day, Red looks great and Spike looks desperate.

Okay, okay. So what’s the routine I devised for my new friend of the female type and persuasion? After she completed her set of seated low lat rows -- with ennui, I might add -- on the BodyMaster cable machine, our meeting and conversation went something like this:

She was now reclining on the bench like it was a cushy lounge, twirling her water bottle and staring at the ceiling. I asked her if she liked the gym and training and lifting weights. Her eyes lit up... girls are so cute. She said she loved it, it was relaxing and she once had a personal trainer. I asked if she had a routine she followed and she admitted she needed one, but was just doing what she pleased these days. I then commented on the lat row, saying it was one of the best exercises for a gal because it worked many muscles from head to toe and contributed to whole body strength, function and shape.

I was now entering murky waters. Could she take exercise advice from a Neanderthal? I continued to explore the possibilities by applauding her desire to train, her good fortune to have the world before her and her great combination of trim muscle and lack of bodyfat. “So many young gals have imponderable obstacles to overcome before they can begin to look like you, and here you are. Can I make some suggestions on the performance of this exercise so you can gain all that it has to offer? There’s nothing more attractive and impressive than a young gal who performs weighted exercise with knowing and meticulous form.”

I knew she’d say yes. I evoke pity when I’m on my knees with clasped hands exhorting, “You need to know the truth, child.”

I told her about the importance of a full-forward action to engage the lower back (structural strength and health), the thoughtful pull as the entire length of the lats (very appealing) is brought into play, along with the forearm and biceps muscles (useful and adorable), and, at the peak of the movement, the chest out and the back arched in upper-back contraction (develops dynamic posture and darling musculature) and a most sensational feeling. The return action, smooth and focused, is an integral part of the movement. Three sets of 10 reps with 80-percent exertion and virtuous form are just right. She agreed.

Her boyfriend cruised into the picture, a 25-year-old, 200-pound six-footer who can lift a house, small garage and the surrounding trees. “She has 11-percent bodyfat,” he declared. No doubt. We exchanged remarks of envy and the unfairness of life, quickly pointing out she probably couldn’t rebuild an engine from the block up.

“The really neat thing is you only need five exercises plus some aerobics to achieve the sun, moon and stars,” I said, “whereas, Mountain Man here and I need that many for each bodypart.” She laughed while Mountain and me just stared, looking glum. Reality sucks.

“Would you like to know what I would do, if I were you?” I was bound to tell her and gave no pause for her to reply. She could have left the building and I would have told the wall. “Five exercises, 3 sets of each for 10 reps with moderate to daring exertion, of the following exercises in the following order after warming up HIIT style on the bike: The bike will serve as your leg conditioning for the first month, and then we’ll add squats. They’re a riot.”

1) 30-decree incline dumbbell press
       Works upper chest, front delt and tris

2) Stiff arm dumbbell pullover
      Works lats, minor pec, some bis, tris and abs

3) Seated lat row
      Works lower and upper back, lat line, forearm, grip and bis, and core muscle

4) Machine dips -- leaning forward
       Works shoulders, upper back, chest and tris

5) Standing barbell curl -- with a touch of thrust
       Works biceps, grip, and those plentiful whole-body supportive muscles engage when a thoughtful thrust is added, a pinch of salt to the stew.

I’ll spare you the details, but I gave her the original Bomber spiel about discipline, patience, perseverance, resolve and motivation, till she packed her gear and headed for the door. I yelped, “But wait, there’s more,” as she hurried across the parking lot. “Protein, lotsa protein...” Her car screeched around the corner, down the block and out of sight. “See ya... Red... ”

I didn’t say a word about airplanes, the sky and flying high. Next time.

God’s strength, speedsters... DD

…..

 

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