First Things First

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Muscular Mass, Strength of a Giant

As seen in Samurai magazine, March 1975, where the article
notes Dave as a "recent convert to the Martial Arts,"
not quite accurate, according to Dave.
Photo courtesy of Bruce Anders

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That was quick. It seems like only two weeks ago we were talking about summer training and how our workouts tend to thin out as our bodies fatten up. I recommended we lighten up our exercise load to allow for vacations and leisure typical of the fair-weather season. Better to maintain a casual schedule than have a fit every time we miss a workout from a demanding regimen. I’m always looking out for you; it’s my classy, compassionate nature.

The next thing you know I’m bombarded by a score of anxious bombers -- original, pure, authentic muscleheads -- assuring me under no uncertain terms are they gonna minimize their training attack. Several exhibited resentment at my use of the term “lighten up” in regards to their sacrifice and commitment, their passion and duty of lifting weights: “How dare you... a despicable, unforgivable mockery!” Rather, they are bound to hit it hard, relentlessly and will take no prisoners.

Some offered up one-line arguments hardly worthy of mentioning, but as I’m personally without words, I’ll pass them along:

• Do you not know? Have you not heard? The sunny skies and warm weather inspire mighty training and restoreth thy body and soul.

• Stick this in your biplane and fly it, airbrain: Body heat is a catalyst for lean muscle growth.

• Have you lost your way, old bombster? Summer is the time for blasting, blitzing and burning.

• Yo, bro... July and August give me and the boys more garage time to lift and get huge.

• Lo and behold, my dear fair-muscled fellow: Summer is that golden time when spirits are high, the days never-ending and graceful muscles blossom like wildflowers.

• Dude, like, isn’t summertime the reason we workout? I mean, like, you know... cool muscles, the beach, the babes?

Absolutely no creativity, no originality, but you get the message. I was hoping I had a more profound audience... surprised they can read. “Hey, dude”... “old bombster”... What’s that all about?

I must admit, despite my well-meaning guidance, neither do I intend to “lighten up” during the bombastic months ahead. But my motivations are far more sophisticated than those recorded above.

The glorious weather is perfect for incubating burgeoning muscle tissues and vastly increasing their population across the broad landscape of the rugged back regions and the mountain peaks of the biceps, the rolling hills of the pecs and the deep valleys of the abdominals. My body is my own orbiting sphere and it thrives amid the summer cycle. Let the sun shine and the temperatures soar and the warm winds blow, distributing almighty seeds across this miraculous micro planet of life, this bright and shining star.

Whatever! I tried to ease back the throttle. Doesn’t work. Once a barbell finds its way into my hands, I can’t let go till I’m done. And I’m not done until I get the last nasty rep. So what, the weight is chrome-plated, dinky and has the scent of perfume deep in the knurl. My muscles don’t know that and I’m not gonna tell them. They think they’re moving a freight train... poor shrinking, aching rascals.

Truth is we must reserve time and place, energy and will for exercise every day. No time of year is occasion to dismiss our training programs. Blast it when we can, soar and dive when we must. For example, writing this portion of the newsletter it’s July 4th and I want to work out, sort of my way of celebrating America’s hard-earned freedom and honoring our heroic founding fathers, and getting a quick pump. So I shall.

So I did. I was not alone.

The gym was lightly peppered with familiar faces and a few I haven’t seen since bell-bottoms became uncool the first time around. I settled into an upper body scheme to include everything from hips to lips. Five sets of five exercises of varying reps: narrow grip thickbar benchpress supersetted with overhead pulldowns with underhand close-grip, 20-degree incline curl supersetted with pulley overhead tri-extension, plus a pulley pushdown combination, wrist curls and three sets of rope tucks for good measure. I averaged 85-percent exertion, which means I didn’t quiver, turn blue in the face or regurgitate upon the last rep.

Workout complete, I crawled to the nearest bench and broke out a thermos of cold Bomber Blend, the nectar of life. The gym was empty. Where was everybody, I wondered, a clear and sunny July 4th at 3 in the afternoon? Declaring independence, I concluded. “But as for me, give me liberty, or give me death. My freedom comes from the iron.” I raised my thermos to the air... “To muscle and might,” and took another slug. I’m a true patriot.

God bless America, land of the free!

A stranger sat beside me as I made my vociferous toast to no one in particular. Gregarious and engaging sort that I am, I said, “Who are you, where did you come from, how’d you get in here and whadaya want? The gym’s closed!”

He said he was pleased to meet me, too, was a long time fan and had a question, if I wasn’t too busy. I called for the manager but he was cleaning the ladies’ toilets. “What question?” I asked, the path of least resistance.

Encouraged, my new friend went on to say, “I heard it suggested that one should limit one's workouts to one hour max, since anything above and beyond increases cortisol production. What were the normal workout durations for you and your peers in the 1960s?”

My turn: “I understand the science behind the cortisol theme, but what can one really do in an hour to build a powerful and muscular body? Not enough, in my opinion. As the old bodybuilding adage goes, everyone's different.

“If you're hooked big time on the iron and have the structural and metabolic and mental potentials, you'll live the life, make the time, consume significant amounts of the appropriate foods (include bulking up in the winter off-season), train hard, wisely and confidently, and rest plenty. Being possessed, two rigorous hours daily are suitable with one or two days off a week according to your training plan. Sometimes two workouts a day (60 to 90 minutes) will do nicely when advanced training is called for (pre-contest, major personal push, spring-summer prep).

“In my day we were known to train two to three hours a day without skipping a beat. The shorter 60-minute workouts suit average, sane iron-enthusiasts and fitness folks. Have fun. At the other end of the pendulum swing, those lifters heavily dependent on pharmaceuticals are able to get away with shorter training schemes as well... longer ones even more. Look out.

“Once a musclebuilder develops a suitable level of muscle, smart and short workouts are sufficient to maintain shape and mass. Diet plays an important role in every stage of muscle development, muscle health and muscle retention. Eat right always. Pack in the animal protein, vital carbohydrates and valuable fats.

“Today I train hard and steady 75-minutes three times a week.

“Now, get lost. Beat it, scram, shove off... and don’t forget your walker.

“That’s actually a pretty nifty walker, Mister. Is that titanium? How fast can ya go? Does it come with wings?”

Flee, fly, flow, flop... The Bomber

PS -> Swoop, Zoom... Godspeed.

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