Muscle: Lean and Healthy, Functional and Attractive

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It’s the middle of July, mid-summer at my dot on the earth and the sun is pouring down. How sweet it is. Throughout the winter I lament pitifully, protesting the cold and dull days. What a sap. From this day forth I shall rise above my self-centered and monotone behavior. I shall embrace whatever weather conditions confront me and celebrate life’s cornucopia of offerings, the good times, the bad times and the times of mystery and surprise.

Our days on this wonderful planet are brief and few, savor every moment.

What’s that, Laree? You see clouds forming on the eastern horizon and they’re heading this way? Gasp! But I was going to bask in the sun on the deck, heal my throbbing body pounded by the iron, and deepen my tan. Can you stop the dreaded onslaught? No. Of course not. What if I hop in my trusty pickup and head westward away from the approaching shadows? No. There’s that ocean. Rats.

I’ll go to the gym instead and work off the stress of the pending gloom. Ah, Life and its cruel hand, its fickle finger of fate. An afternoon of squats and deadlifts is before me. How sweet it is.

Before I grab my gym bag and be on my merry way, a word about the latest principles in developing lean and healthy, functional and attractive muscle. Now there’s a smart and tidy combination of incentives for exercising. Keep them in mind as you approach and engage in every set, every pumping rep of your workout. Allow the mind to wander, and purpose, like fuel in an uncapped gas tank, evaporates into thin air. Talk about waste and lost energy!

Sometimes we get caught up in one or two aspects of our training and forget (or never discover) the multiple reasons we lug our bodies to the gym, barbell to barbell and rack to rack. Consider them all regularly to charge your training, powerize your mind and give flight to your heart and soul.

Training without a well-directed and positive mind is like training without barbells and dumbbells. Training without enthusiasm is like training without cables, benches and racks. You don’t have to love the dedicated work before you, but you’ve gotta want it and need it; you’ve gotta believe it and trust it.

You’re building muscle and trust at once. Side-by-side, well-being and confidence are under construction. Function and capability unfold as you stand by your convictions and push that iron. The person you wish to be is developing and shows promise to live a long and productive life. Lift that steel.

Today’s... um... cutting edge lifters begin their iron quest seeking muscle and might and soon find the way too narrow, rugged and steep. They want lean muscle at once. Lifting tonnage is awesome, but simultaneously developing trim muscle is an intrusion when hoisting bars bent with weight. Hefty bodyweight is needed.

And health and wellbeing are too often overlooked or compromised in the process of gaining muscle and might: overloaded muscle, injured joints, large waists, excess bulk and compromised cardio-respiratory condition.

Then we have the portly beginner trainees, whose mass, once conditioned and engaged, enables them to lift substantial weight, which they do because they can. “Forget lean-muscle, diet and endurance,” they say, “I scream for ice cream and long pauses between sets.”

Big People at Work.

As we get older – dedicated powerlifters excluded -- training for health, muscle-leanness and body-function should be the targets of our operations, sensible and righteous. Good-looking muscle will follow obediently like a roaring lion.

About today’s latest training principles: There aren’t any, unless you consider presses, curls, squats and deadlifts revolutionary. I sat in the gym one afternoon last week determined to invent yet another exercise, technique or methodology, something to stimulate my drowsy system, something I could bring to the table of contents in this week’s newsletter. I caught myself slouched and nodding off on the incline bench, a sorry sight before the high school soccer team.

“Can we work in, mister?”

What I’m saying is this... don’t stop hitting the gym regularly and with purpose or eventually the men in white jackets will take you away, kicking and screaming, on a gurney or in a tote bag. Then what, huh?

You’ve gotta know your training, and knowing it comes from practice -- timeless, undying, enduring practice.

Take heed, long-suffering warriors. We hold in our hands a double-edge sword. Alas, one edge is worn and dulled by age, but its razor-sharp counterpart is honed by time. Both share a common point exacted by experience. A wieldy thing, it serves to clear the way ahead yet slow us down sufficiently, while directing without fail the way we should go. This, the sword of life, is dear.

Well actually, I drop the darn thing occasionally and it lands on my foot with a painful twang. Swords can be slippery. Hold on tight.

Nevertheless, after a series of questionable thrusts and swipes, I’ve personally made a number of discoveries that might interest a few bombers whose wings are not of the sonic, swept-back variety. You captains of the twin-wing craft -- the daring yet aging biplane -- are of particular focus.

My recent journey into doctor’s offices and hospital Lala-land has taught me a several new lessons and tricks, tricks not unlike jumping through hoops of fire and rolling over and playing dead. One is recovery. Slow and tedious and frustrating are the descriptive words I use primarily. Fun, you will note, is not among the list. Nope! Not fun.

Another lesson, more of a discovery: All drugs are not equal. Some have side-effects as subtle and insidious as an exotic snake bite. I was prescribed a popular statin medication to control cholesterol six weeks after a surgery I endured earlier this year (long story). To that point my recovery was as cheery and predictable as any quadruple bypass recovery can be. Bombing was reduced to a crackle and pop.

For the next weeks after adding a statin to the mix, my improvement slowed to a halt and I began to slide backwards. I seemed to be healing, yet fatigue consumed me, an all-day fog. Nausea became a regular companion, a lump in my throat, and I felt a wall-eyed dizziness somewhere in the back of my head. More than once I had to pull over or sit down and hang on till the reeling passed. Recovery, I concluded, was more of a challenge than I anticipated.

I lost weight and the gym reminded me of a barred-window sweatshop. Be strong and courageous, I’d say, as I sank into a slump. That’s my slick advice to sinking bombers; might as well give it a shot.

It then struck me like the crack of dawn: The particular statin I was prescribed was, perhaps, suitable for the rest of the world but not me. The first week of this month I dropped the little white pill. Thud. Ten days later I am a new man. Gained five pounds and can’t wait till I leap into the gym with all those squeaky iron gadgets and stuff. Push, pull, one more rep! Oh, boy!!

Ain’t it funny, how quick we forget! You don’t know what up is till you’re down.

Furthermore, I have a consultation appointment with an osteopath in Santa Cruz who will give me the once over (that’s all it takes) and determine my qualifications for IV chelation therapy. I suspect they’ll be super. I have lifted heavy metals all my life, you can be sure I have them in my blood. Time to move them out. More on that subject later. Laree will join me and bring her notebook and questions and theories and suggestions and curiosity.

Remember, you’re not alone out there. I’ve got your wing. So what, I don’t know how to fly.

Up, up and away... Draper the Bomber

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