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GDB -- Getting Down to Business

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December limbo: Great time of year once you get the hang of it. You’ve got to let go and go with the flow. Well, no... not exactly... maybe release your grip slightly and allow yourself a moderate margin of latitude. Going with the flow can be frightening, devastating. Perhaps it’s better to stay indoors till it’s all over... come out say January 15th or so. Especially in the colder climates where there’s ice, hail and wind.

Okay, so much for the warm and fuzzy happy holiday stuff. Pull up a bench or piece of the floor and let’s get down to business. First question...

Q) I’m 37, trained with weights for sports in high school and college and now, with a loving wife and two young teens, I want to get back in shape again. I’m sort of average, which is not good – ten pounds overweight, evidence of a pouch, undermuscled and clinging to fading fitness. I jog semi-regularly. One, what should I do, and two, where do I begin?

A) One: Lift regularly, eat right and be courageous. Two: Begin in a bedroom, basement, garage or a gym. Next question... just kiddin.’

Allow me to take the long road as we resolve your situation. You see, it’s a common question, and more than one ear might be tuned in.

Having jogged somewhat regularly is a big plus. You’re engaged moderately, somewhat, some way, rather than disengaged totally, no what, no way. You have sneakers and sweats, you recognize perspiration, your heart beats above 140 bpm on occasion and your SID is approximately four (you register 4.1 on the Scale of Interest and Determination).

I’m encouraged. We at IBBI (Iron Bombing and Blasting Institute) infrequently observe the above quantities in viable combinations. Very promising.

You have a weight training background and your recall is good (that you remember your name, age and marital status is all we require from a reemerging musclehead). Apply yourself: lift systematically, regularly and consistently with good form and focus, intensity and enthusiasm.

Your purpose, your goal, has been stated: get back in shape. A good goal, worthy, straight forward and achievable. Think of your goal regularly. Claim your progress and visualize your improved and improving muscle tone, shape and strength. This is not arrogance, presumptuousness or dopey; it’s mental gymnastics, a head-strong technique that puts your subconscious mind to work. Slip into the pattern of right thinking as you practice your workouts. Positive imaging is parallel to confidence; it’s weird, it’s fun, it’s good, it helps. We need all the help we can get.

Lifting can be simple, engaging and productive, or it can be disordered, dreadful and worthless. Life is often a fork in the road, a matter of choices. The choice is yours. The choice is easy (a no-brainer): the former by all means. The former takes guts.

Initially, think of devoting yourself to three alternate workouts a week with the semi-regular jogging regularly in between. While you’re at it, recall your favorite basic exercises. The basics work best, then, now and forever. They’re eternal.

Let’s see if I’m close to your recollection: Bench press -- Dumbbell press and fly, various inclines -- Lateral raise variations -- Deadlift – Squat -- Leg extension -- Leg curl -- Calf work -- Curls - barbell and dumbbell -- Triceps press - barbell, lying and overhead -- Bentover row - barbell and dumbbell -- Lat pulldown -- Seated cable row -- Pulley pushdown, triceps -- Cable crossover. What did I miss?

A sufficient list to last a life time: Any personal modifications of the above fundamentals constitute a new exercise specifically yours. Improvising is commendable. As time proceeds and we advance, age and adapt, we understand, discover and invent. Time’s donation, aging’s few rewards.

Assuming you’re training at a basic gym, decide the best, most convenient, most probable time to train without interruption and explain why you want, need and must to anyone you can think of offhand (wives, girlfriends and such). That settled, you’re ready to design a bare-bones training scheme. I prefer the word scheme to routine. Routine suggests dull; scheme suggests clever and fascinating. There’s more mind in lifting than muscle. Lifting’s the simple part.

Remember the old standards: We’re all different and different strokes. I like push-pull routines, I like supersetting, I like moderate weight (since I left my wild and crazy youth behind me about three years ago) and I like muscle-mind engagement.

These training modalities contribute to the wholesomeness and pleasure of working out, its involvement, productiveness and longevity. Have fun -- enjoy your workouts and be thankful, and your training survives the test of time. Time yields muscle.

I also like training intensity and training each bodypart twice a week. The latter can be accomplished directly or indirectly, as both promote substantial hypertrophy. Intensity must be instinctively determined as injury lurks in intense neighborhoods. Beware.

I seek the last rep without losing form, or risking an injury or crossing into training overload. Tricky, like walking a tightrope. I don’t recommend walking the tightrope. Warm up a lot; take it slow but sure, workout by workout. Never miss, never quit, never be disappointed in yourself or your training performance or your training progress... unless, of course, you’re a slouch and deserve it.

No wimps allowed. The same goes for jerks.

Move on. Live, learn and grow. As long as you’re lifting, you’re moving forward.

Oh, yeah... it’s coming back to me now... the scheme... what about the training scheme, the plan of attack?

Some trainers like pushing one day and pulling another, some like low-frequency, high-intensity training, some like circuit, cross, instinctive, volume, periodization, power, light weight-high rep or heavy weight-low rep training methodologies. Forget about it. Just lift.

This is what I would do if I were you. Pack your gear, hug the kids and ask your wife if she would like to join you at the gym. If you’re lucky, she’ll say, “Okay, sweetie. Let’s go.” If you’re really lucky, she’ll give you a squeeze and say, “No, dear, thank you, you run along. I’ll stay home and take care of the kids and make a high-protein dinner, balanced with nutritious carbs and good fats. I was thinking prime rib.” Those are the only options I can think of.

Once at the gym, take five or ten to warm up and stretch and acclimate. I do a series of rope tucks and mobility movements, which, once they are perfected, can constitute a more prominent role in your workout. Remember: lift, learn and grow. If you’re lifting, you’re learning and growing. It’s a rule, it’s a truth.

Next week, after you’ve reappeared in the gym and reacquainted yourself with its gadgetry and variations of exertion, I shall present you with three schemes to engage you as you advance toward your goal, and you goal’s sub-goals. Tell a friend, tell a stranger, tell anyone who’ll listen.

Look up, see sky, go... God’s speed... Dave

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