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Training: Love it or Hate it

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Where do we go from here? We've taken a bite out of May and the taste is good. There's time to think and act before we devour the spring and reach for the summer. I don't want to stuff my face with the best time of the year and not savor the moments, anticipate them, welcome them, delight in them, make the best of them and I dare not waste them.

You can tell when someone is over 40, 50 or 60 years old; he or she occasionally ponders time's passing, wanting to slow it down, re-do it or go back from whence he or she came... one's youth, 20s, 30s, anything but old. Me? I just want to store time in a jar and release it as I cruise along.

Let the good times roll. Train hard, eat right, be strong.

Here are a few related questions, the answers of which I need not know -- they are directed to those who exercise regularly.

Do you dread your training?

I remember when I passed the point of no return. The small heap of weights in the yard, at the end of the bed or in the basement gained my attention and followed me around, a warm fuzzy pup I couldn't ignore. We played, he grew and so did I. One day, as I sought competition, I noticed my faithful pup had become a fleabag mongrel. We played no more; we fought. Warriors refusing to lose, we respected each other and shared the good fight. The gym floor often became the battlefield.

Do you love the deed?

Not once have I not loved the idea of weightlifting. The practice itself holds other experiences. The early attempts to move the iron are novel and exciting, curious and mysterious and inventive. Continued applications of force against steel yields rewards that multiply and are most desirable. Don't you love the pump, muscular growth and regular increases in strength, the designing of workouts, their smooth execution and the last engaging rep?

Obstacles and plateaus be leveled by cannons; they test the body, mind and soul. Enduring them lifts us to new levels of completeness, physical, mental and spiritual. Who among us doesn't appreciate endurance and its plentiful fruits?

Appreciation borders on love.

Beyond the early days of play, struggle and the horizon of plateaus, we one day, sooner or later, come to the tantalizing engagement of muscle and might, the tuneful rhythm of exercise and pace, the slow release of doubt and fear and the gratefulness for one's time and place amid the steel.

As if these delights were not enough, there are more: the comfort of expression and freedom and the understanding born of discipline and purpose, compromise and patience, no matter the abundance or scarcity indwelling your bones. These joys are difficult to distinguish from love.

Is your exercise time an obligation, a responsibility?

Why not? Obligation and responsibility develop strong women and men. Strong men and women undertake obligations and responsibilities. One's strength and health is a responsibility, a major responsibility and a largely neglected one. Look around you and what do you see? Seven out of ten feel neither obligated nor responsible for their strength and health, shape or wellbeing. We all lose, we all pay and it doesn't stop at their waistlines.

For you and for me, our exercise is an obligation, one we embrace with open arms as it streamlines our life. And, I suspect, the iron is far more than responsibility alone. By itself responsibility is a chore, and chores can get old and redundant, imitated and boring and lifeless and bitter. Our workouts must never take on the characteristics of a chore, lest we become an image of what we do.

Is your training a habit, a blank, going through the motions without emotion?

Good habits are very good. In the door, to the weights, sets and reps, sweat and strain, hi-goodbye, out the door and home. The workout doesn't have to be a ritual, a production, a ceremony, a major project. Just do it.

It's the emotionless blanks who need a nudge. I know people like that. They're zombies walking heavily through the gym with their arms extended, mouths open and their eyes like galvanized quarters. "Take me to your exit." From the stationary bike, magazine in hand, they make a lap around the gym floor before sitting on the leg extension for an extended length of time thinking of cookies. If only we could inspire them to grasp a barbell, dumbbell and pulley. They would come alive, their vacant eyes would see and they'd grunt audibly with their once-silent open mouths.

Nice sneakers, though... clean, snappy. Cool iPod.

Is your time on the gym floor recreation, playtime and talk time?

Nothing wrong with a little fun, mixing business with pleasure and few friendly words with your buds and chums. Intermingling is healthy, supportive and fulfilling. I know some hard trainers who can carry on meaningful conversations throughout their workouts with tacit nods, grunts and a few key words.

I seldom feel alone or abandoned in the gym, amid a crowd or at the solitary crack of dawn. I don't have much to say and I do have a lot to do. But there are some who enter the gym, look about earnestly, as if seeking inner training direction, and adroitly zero in on a sucker, the most likely to respond to grandiose conversation. Sports are a favorite (bearable), opposite sex is in the top five (pitiable) and politics slither in like a venomous snake (deplorable).

Just leave the magazine in the rack and the cell phone in the locker-room. This is a gym. Starbuck's is down the street.

That doesn't mean you can't have fun. Feel the steel.

Are your workouts a preparation for other sports?

Some of us remember when team coaches forbade weight training, an unhealthy pursuit by warped minds. Today, almost every superior athlete engages in the activity to enhance his or her ability. Sport-specific weightlifting is an integral part of professional pre-season training, and the champs work out year-round.

General conditioning readies the average person for everyday sports participation from hiking and climbing to golf and tennis. It also serves to ready us for the impact of the day: race on the freeway, run down the street, full body contact at the mall, scrimmage at the office, sliding into the parking lot, stress and strain at home and chasing the kids.

Train hard, play hard.

Do you skip workouts without disappointment or guilt or total collapse?

Did you pause to think about the answer? Or did you say with assurance (indignation, perhaps), "I don't skip workouts, Bub." The answer is usually somewhere in between. We all miss workouts. Life has a way of inconveniencing us from time to time, demanding our attention. Family, job, TV, weddings, funerals... it's always something. One postponed training session is tolerable, two is unmentionable, three threatens sudden implosion and four borders on death by firing squad; five, they seize the spouse, kids and dog, and, six, the western hemisphere is vaporized. No seven... no... none!

If you don't agree, I can't help you. You're doomed.

Are those hours and days of the week with the iron a passion?

If you don't know what passion is, go on to the next question. You don't need passion to exercise; ordinary interest, common sense and responsibility will do just fine. But to train vigorously, enjoy it and develop serious muscle and might, passion is essential.

Passion is the inner fervor, the burning desire, the lust-less love, the insatiable zeal that causes the lifter to lift beyond his limit, to train when the castle walls are burning and to grin as the bar bends on his back and crumbles his shoulders. The passionate trainer never misses a workout, even when he should. One more set leads to another, one more rep to another, and another.

Passion is one degree short of obsession. Obsession is a disease; passion is love. Don't you love to work out? Of course you do!

Do you train and leave it in the gym, or do you pack it up and take it with you?

I've actually seen people leaving the gym as if nothing had happened. They're fresh and bright and smell good. Not staggering, not red-eyed, no bruises, no gasping. "You forget your high heel sneakers, Sue?" I say under my breath, hunched in the dark corner by the rusting metal, sagging bars and cobwebs.

Training? I take it with me. Can't just leave it there after all that blood, sweat and tears... nobody else wants it. We're inseparable. A wise person needs good companionship, a buddy with whom he can share all things, delights, despairs, wins and losses. I guess training and the iron come 'round full circle after all the years -- follows me like a warm fuzzy pup I can't ignore.

I hear thunder overhead, the rumble of bombers in the clear blue sky. No time to waste. Laree and I are headed to the gym to prepare for takeoff. Save us some air, bombers.

God's speed... DD

Click here for Laree's Bash Report and photos


Quick note: To avoid mucus formation and the resultant throat-clearing that guarantees thunderous pain in the wired sternum, I ingested no milk products to this date. I’ve been a dairy man all my life. Today I mixed two scoops of Bomber Blend in cold water and guzzled it like a wild pig. No mucus, color returned to my face, I felt a warm pump all over and I laughed for no apparent reason, the first time in three weeks. Go figure.

I'm seriously considering the elimination of milk from my diet, maintaining some yogurt and cottage cheese and increasing my already substantial intake of the Bomber Blend. Man against mucus!


IronOnline, our weekly newsletter, has been delivered to mailboxes and shared for eight years.
Our endeavor began as a weekend curiosity (whatsa-web-site?) at the brink of 1999 and grew into a gazillion (3,000) page wonder. We enjoy each other, we encourage each other, we inform each other, we depend on each other, and one might say we know each other.
Aware of this community relationship, Laree and I do our best to provide the best of everything to make your muscle journey productive, enjoyable and complete: inspiration, motivation, information, instruction, explanation, suggestions and advice in muscle and might, exercise and nutrition, attitude and behavior.
Among our ranks are some of the brightest trainers who have been there, done that, and delight in doing it still. They have joined forces with us to offer devoted bombers direct personal training through IOL. Here’s an opportunity to engage in one-on-one training with IOL’s finest to progress confidently and vigorously in your training -- workouts, menus and motivation.
This gallant team of muscle minds and iron heads are long-time friends. They are knowledgeable, understanding, honest and generous benefactors who will help you over the obstacles that drive us Crazy.

Enjoy and trust them.

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