First Things First

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Bombing and Blasting, Dashing and Plodding


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Time has no mass, yet it weighs heavily upon me. A seemingly motionless hunk, I commence to lean upon it in the fall and push it earnestly during the early winter. Move on, you slug, make haste. During December it slips by with the rush of the holidays, but it’s back to heavy heaving by mid-January. Come February I can push no longer and, like a fool, resort to pulling and dragging the frigid days instead. Exhausted by March -- what’s the rush? -- I let time proceed at its unremitting pace.

Here we are in April and I note a peppy acceleration in the ooze of time. The once motionless blob appears to take flight and leave me behind. Throughout the warm and sunny summer I’ll chase the whimsical tease like a kite in the sky. Higher and higher and almost out of sight, it will return to the earth’s surface in the cool gray of autumn. After a few twirls and a half-hearted loop, time will crash at my doorstep -- a motionless hunk.

Am I alone here?

Well, not exactly. If you look closely, that’s me in the ‘93 maroon Toyota pickup stuck in northbound traffic approaching the Rt.1-Highway 17 fishhook on my way to the gym. It’s ‘whatever day,’ if I ever get there. What is ‘whatever day’ you ask? Good question. It’s the training day which, because I am so caught up or so far behind in my workouts, anything goes. I can stand in the middle of the gym floor and twitch and call it exercise.

In this particular case I’m on schedule and can indulge myself. It’s like going to the candy store when I was a kid with a pocket full of pennies and picking out any sweets I wanted. I’ll choose a few hard ones, a few soft ones and mostly chocolate ones. I won’t stuff myself, and I won’t go hungry. I might try something I never tried before, if such a thing exists... something with spreckles on top.

Hold on, this could be dangerous; the traffic is once again on the move. Candy store here we come. Honk. Move it, lady...

When I’m fully rested -- like after a cruise to the Bahamas -- and don’t feel too guilty about life in general, I like to blend the upper body muscles into a 60-minute free-for-all. Lighter and quicker, I’ll dash. When I feel strong, yet lack zoom and enthusiasm, I’ll mess with low reps and heavier weights at a slower pace. Taking on the burdens of the world, I’ll plod.

The gym is at the end of this long stretch, past the community pool on the left and the UPS terminal on the right. 1 PM, perfect timing -- the gym, she’s empty, and I’ll be done and on my way home before the frantic vehicles and their commanders hit the roads and beat them to death. Great being retired, if only I had saved some money.

The usual six to a half-dozen faces, focused and quiet, roam the gym floor. Nods define the depth of our friendship. If ever we met outside the gym walls -- in Cucamonga, a faraway bus terminal, an NRA convention, a Moody Blues concert -- we’d embrace like long lost souls. For now, we’re safe in our non-confrontational association. That’s life. If he’s not my enemy, he’s my friend. Ah, the clang and sweet bond of the iron.

Judging by the way I climbed the 13 stairs from the parking lot to the gym floor -- counting each one as if it were a rep in a set of heavy squats -- plodding is the preferred methodology of the day. Good. I’m in no rush to get anywhere. The record-breaking velocities and hairpin curves en route to the gym satisfied my need for risk and speed.

It occurs to me more and more lately that anything goes on the gym floor, as long as it’s thoughtful and effortful. I remember Larry Scott, my good bud and long-time inspiration, endorsing frequent change in workouts and cautioning lifters not to overtrain or frazzle the muscles and joints with workout similitude. “Change your workout frequently!” And I recall saying beneath my breath quite distinctly and with emphasis, humph, followed by an all-knowing phooey.

This articulate exchange was within the past few years, while I insisted on order and regularity in muscle overload and exercise repetition to exact the very last available contribution from any particular muscle- and power-building movement or routine. I still advocate such refined performance for the beginning lifter through the intermediate lifter. Anything less is playfulness reserved for the playful -- the Mickey, Donald and Goofy gang.

Ve must not haf fun! No happy!

But, as time -- the unrelenting glob -- moves on, we are positioned to take advantage of, or are in need of obliging its passage. We’ve gainfully reaped the fruits of our disciplined sowing, and our stores are in sufficient supply, muscle, routines, training knowledge, exercise understanding and finesse. We can now rake in and scoop up tender, ripe pickings without stooping low and lifting high.

It takes years to achieve this level of training freedom. Spare the back, save the joints, protect the internal system. Chill and savor the flavor. Stimulate, perpetuate and propagate. That doesn’t mean we stop blasting it, bombers. It simply means we don’t go nuclear. The concussion and fallout can be crazy.

Recentmost conversations among IOL participants indicate some of us are not as young as we used to be, or in less sensitive and personally correct terms, we are getting old -- we are aging. Rats! And some of us are admitting it. Double rats! Personally, I’m an advocate of denial. The longer we conceal the truth from our conscious minds, the longer we may live in the merriment of our fantasies. The truth shall set you free is the propaganda of a misguided culture.

Have you checked out my arms recently, measuring a muscular twenty-and-a-quarter inches? April Fools’... Gotcha there, didn’t I?

Seriously, as your coach and professor, good friend and priest and channel, your hairdresser, let me say this: There comes a time when precision in program construction is a disruption, and calculation in sets and reps is an interruption. Simply, purely, boldly lift the iron. Not enough? Lift with thanksgiving, appreciation and joy. That’s the outline, the bulk and the theme of a good workout.

Have fun. Be happy.

I stood in the middle of the Weight Room and twitched convulsively, which is a good sign these days. Legs rose to the surface of my mind, followed by midsection and core, with deltoids-plus as the runner-up. It was clear what muscle groups I was to work today.

This is not random training, bombers, a style I seldom support. It’s a joyful, orderly, instinctive approach (some call it mysterious cuz of the spooky way the bodyparts rise up in my mind), minus precision and calculation.

This is what I did:

Standing ropetucks (5 sets x 25-35 reps) for midsection activity and upper body pumping, stimulating and burning

supersetted with

Bodymaster Squat Machine (5 sets x 8 reps). I added two more sets for a total of seven sets.

One-arm dumbbell raise while lying sideways on a bench for deltoids and upper-torso action.

65 minutes and I threw in the towel.

I hooked the portable wings to my pickup (easy and effective as the Top Squat) and cruised home above the traffic. I sipped Bomber Blend along the way and counted my blessings. Now to land this thing in the redwoods.

Heads up... It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s an old beat-up pickup truck.

It’s the Bomber... Godspeed

Well, not exactly... there’s more...

Here's an idea: Brother Iron Sister Steel was called The Best Book on Bodybuilding Ever by Muscle and Fitness magazine. You'll ask less and train harder with more joy and certainty after reading its fun pages. Tips and hints, routines and nutrition, motivation and stories, and tons of pictures from the good times.

Go... Godspeed... Dave

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