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Iron Halos -- Steel Commands

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Ahh, the weekend to myself. Laree’s gone to visit her mom north of the Napa Valley in California’s charming wine country. The sun clings to the thin edge of fall unable to conceal the restrained cold of a restless winter. There’s a lot said in the candid utterance, “brrrr,” on the lips of those whose sleeves are too short for the chilly day.

I miss Laree already. It’s dinner time. I’ll open a can of tuna. Mugsy will join me. I’ll ruminate, Mugs will purr and the world’s problems will diminish; we shall solve them one by one. What’s this? We’re outta tuna? You’ve got to be kidding!

Wall Street falls, the Washington’s bailout fails, Main Street fumbles and now this, a devastating home-front fish-flop. We’re finished.

Just kidding about the tuna.

Trouble is contagious. I’ve been getting more and more e-mail from guys who are having difficulty looking the iron in its cold, hard mug (I’ll bet there are an equal number of gals, but they don’t complain). They don’t see what they used to see -- playfulness, pump, promise, progress -- and shrug their shoulders in dismay.

It’s a bleak place, an ugly viewpoint, a revolting predicament, when what was once the answer is now the question. That vital activity that eased yesterday’s pain is now the source. The invigorating challenge of earlier days is today’s burden too heavy to bear.

I don’t have the energy, the endurance, the strength, the will. I don’t care.

I’m weary, I’m frustrated, I’m sore all over. Oh, my aching back.

Oh, no you don’t, you wingless pretender. Get ye behind me, thin tin fake. You, unguarded and susceptible bomber, are listening to the wrong voice within: an imposter of the soul, an agent of threat to muscle-might and all that is good. Confront the lying demon, the deadly enemy! There’s no time to waste. Grasp the iron now. Pump or burn. Curl or curl up, push or be pushed, pull up or be pulled down, press on and on... or be depressed.

Screech, scream, clang, clank, thump...

That was a close one, a seldom performed mid-newsletter exorcism. We must be prepared on all occasions. I prefer not to exhibit necessary harshness in the public square, but believe it or not I just resisted the temptation to abandon today’s workout and submit to sulking and brooding and counting my woes. How scary is that? Instantly, I shall adorn my favorite shredded t-shirt, have a slug of Bomber Blend and head to the gym where angels are known to reside.

Upon my return I’ll recall in sufficient detail my continued defeat of the will to quit, which attacks us all when we least expect it.

Well, I’m back from my workout and it’s now Monday, a day later. I entered the Weight Room and it was mine, not a sign of life, only the music unaware of itself as it danced around the equipment. I decided to follow the impetuous sounds and set up apparatus for a quadruple multi-set blast.

Four cycles of four consecutive exercises -- torso-demanding rope tucks, incline dumbbell presses, straight-arm pullovers and wide-grip pulldowns -- comprised my scheme to light up the upper body. Reps ranged from 35 on torso- and cardio-demanding rope tucks to 10s and 12s on the following three basic muscle makers.

It worked. Anything works -- everything works -- after the first 10 years of devoted weight training madness. It’s all in the way you approach the iron, your attitude and finesse, intensity and sufficiency.

Be encouraged, lad and lass. When you’re new and just starting, unsure and unpracticed, anything and everything works also. But, as you continue, should you continue, patterns and plans evolve that assure sound muscle and strength development. Favorite routines and, even, misguided schemes drag us through the tangle of weights and cables, sets and reps and injury and repair.

We may never arrive at the destination we sought, but we’ve arrived where we are and that’s good. Sing-song quad-sets work when the gym and training seem like hell. I got me a halo made outta tempered steel.

The four-set roam-a-gym workout went well. Haste-in-pace would have ruled 50 years ago, but slow walks from gear to gear with purpose minus the hurry took control. I’ll blast it when I get there, meanwhile let me breathe... deeply.

Let’s see: directly and indirectly, I excited the abs and torso, the shoulders, chest and back, the bis and tris and dimly lit up the cardio system. What area would appreciate and enjoy an extra charge?

I think back to my origins and what always worked when I was kid. When in doubt, without knowledge or equipment, a job or responsibility, knock out some dips. They get everything and anything every time. And there are 99 grooves to choose from, invent or discover. Like finding a purse full of loose change, you can’t buy much but you sure feel rich.

The purse is emptied without haste or waste and the rear exit is my final exercise -- one set of one rep and I’m outta here. Hello and goodbye, stacks of steel, it’s been a blast. En route I pass a very seductive combination, a sturdy upright only six feet from the 25s. I am weak.

I grab a single dumbbell with hand A and the sturdy upright with hand B and arouse the shoulders and outer biceps with a series of one-arm lateral-raises. This exercise has become a recent favorite because it has spirit and personality, and is very forgiving. My shoulders love to work, but they’ve grown a little grouchy lately. They, left and right, often prefer to work alone -- much more productive.

Done! More to do, but I have nothing left. This might be my biggest mistake, my biggest regret. More to do, but nothing left. I’m still learning and yet to discover when enough is enough. In the meantime, I press on.

We have single sets, supersets and a range of multi-sets at our fingertips. Single sets and supersets have made up the majority of my training menu over the years. They provide the feast for bulking up, cutting up and just plain celebrating. We wish we were younger, most of us, but aren’t you glad you can pull up a bench anywhere at the table and dig right in?

It’s kinda like flying, bombers, once you’ve done it you never forget how.

Higher and higher... the sky’s the limit.

Godspeed... DD


“I’ll pass on seconds, thanks.”

“It’s delicious, thank you, but no more apple pie.”

“Another Christmas party! How fun. Sorry, but I’ve got an appointment at The Weight Room.”

Rumors are going around the IOL newsroom there’s an End of Year Challenge underway. We in the biz call it the EOY Challenge and commend you, the hardy participants, for your courage and resolve. Though goals may differ and methods of achievement vary, the purposes are the same: to become better and more responsible people with bodies like Steve Reeves or Rachel McLish.

Several years ago I, gifted with a military disposition (hence, the Blond Bomber) submitted we unite forces in a similar mission, the Year’s Up Confrontation, or YUC. Participants were ordered to eat tuna and water, fast regularly and mix Bomber Blend into a paste for breakfast with crushed Super Spectrim Vitamin/Mineral tabs sprinkled on top.

Never got off the ground. Folks said it interfered with their festive spirits, Ho Ho and all that stuff. Humbug!

This is perfect, people: the perfect time to unite and share your story, seek and offer advice and, thus, multiply interest and encouragement. These are the prerequisites for us to alter our bodies and enhance our lives.

Soak yourself in a taste of bodybuilding’s Golden Era with Dick Tyler’s on-the-scene record, written in his easy-going, one-of-a-kind style, West Coast Bodybuilding Scene.

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Cut through the confusion! Grab your copy Brother Iron Sister Steel to make your training path clear.

Readers agree: Dave new book, Iron On My Mind, is non-stop inspirational reading.

Our IronOnline Forum will answer your training and nutriton questions right here, right now.

Golden Era fans will rejoice in this excerpt from West Coast Bodybuilding Scene.

Are your shoulders tight? Do your shoulders hurt when you squat? It's practically a miracle! Dave's Top Squat assists squatters with shoulder problems.

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