First Things First

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Come and Get Your Fresh Roasted Peanuts


Photo by Tom Peterson, Zimbabwe, early '70s

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I had a peanut-size workout today and feel great. The dumbbells were pink in color with light blue polka dots and emitted neither an irritating clank nor an abusive thud. I used whatever bench was nearby without improvising a precise training angle by intricately stacking boards and blocks under one end.

Foregoing a critical 10-minute search, any old handles dangling on the cable machine sufficed, and I instantly performed my tucks and extensions and crossovers. And, you might note, without applying progressive mathematical formulas to determine my specific set-and-rep scheme. I just repped out till I seriously pumped and burned.

Supersets dominated the exercise arrangement (Duh!) and I completed my input with three of each superset, rather than the usual four or five. The fourth and fifth sets, as you well know, are particularly grueling and require extended rest and recuperation time. The clock ticks ruthlessly. Though not in a hurry, I didn’t want to disrupt my peanut-size workout plan.

Little or no time was spent on devising the order of the exercises. They were almost random and slightly spontaneous, but the flow of movements was natural and comprehensive. Walking between sets and climbing stairs after the weights served as my lightweight leg workout and aerobic. Sunday I’ll pepper the thighs.

Why the diminishment of my workout, you ask; what happened to bombing and blasting? How can one expect to get huge and ripped on a pint-sized peanut workout? You’re puzzled, aren’t you; perplexed, bothered and bewildered? This retreat has every appearance of a cheesy copout, a fading of bomberness, a relinquishing of power and might, a slowing down and giving up.

Did you mention giving up? Gasp! Bombers give, but they never give up. They never give in, they never give way and they never give out. They give generously. Give me a break.

The fact is -- for some unimaginable reason -- my joints are squealing like a truckload of pigs on their way to the Spam factory. Must be something I did in the past. Perhaps, 90,000 sets of curls or 900,000 repetitions of bench presses. One more rep; who counts? Anyway, I had the usual choices; one, let the body rest (hiss) or, two, stimulate its rebellious components by going to the gym for a mild workout. Torture is out of the picture these days, unless, of course, I’m certain it will work.

The left shoulder is particularly cranky, putting up a fuss with every reach and grab. My plan was to be cool and warm up the entire system, punishing none of the squealers, sparing them all and offering them extended life. Hence, the Peanut Workout, PW, if texting.

My twice-a-week training schedule is no longer applicable. It worked during a post-op recovery period, coincidentally matching the then-gargantuan gas prices and winter weather. But now it’s time for Plan B, three workouts a week with more muscle coverage, yet less intensity in performance. The seductive last reps, those entering the red-zone, threaten the tendons of bombers born between WW ll and the Korean War.

Plan B will be a relief and benefit in more ways than one. Let’s face it, B-52 enthusiasts; a battle-scared bomber needs more mental fixes than two a week. Two workouts a week qualify you as a dabbler in weightlifting, a tinhead, a tinster. Unacceptable!!

I short out after two days without a dose of the iron. I lose my pump permanently (last seen in the dumpster), stiffness follows me like a spook and my muscles take on the consistency of dough. After three days, I feel like bugs are crawling out of my eyes to devour my flesh.

Bill Pearl -- the lad has ten awesome and formidable years on me -- trains daily at the crack of dawn with a handful of badboys. He rolls out of bed and onto the gym floor, and after a few greetings he’s rolling dumbbells. His gym, a barn filled with racks, weights and muscleheads rather than tractors, plows and cows, is 50 feet from his Oregon hillside home.

He urges and persuades his body with wisdom, sternness and care. No more hammer-to-the-nail insistence for the mighty man. Rather, persistently applied force on the right spot at the right time drives the spike home.

I entered the gym with a revived mindset. I didn’t have to get a bunch of stuff done to last me long enough till I get the next bunch of stuff done. Lately, I’ve felt as if I’m earnestly playing catch-up. There’s stress and frustration in the Heinz-57 approach, like playing five-card stud with only four cards. No matter how good your hand, something is missing and you can never win. I prefer Go Fish, myself.

Outlined below are elements of a typical mind-, body- and soul-saving Peanut Workout. Refrain from blinking, or you’ll miss the whole dern nutty formula.

Rope tucks supersetted with flat bench dumbbell flys:

You hear me refer to rope tucks or cable tucks frequently these days. That’s because they’re seriously cool. They start out as simple standing tucks to work the abs and torso, and develop into high-rep (40-50) thrusts and exertions on an expanding network of muscles from head to toe. The upper body is the main benefactor and the advantages of tucks depend on the concentration and direction of the one who tucks. It’s a creative process that develops by following the body’s inmost leaders -- pump, burn, desire, joy, need. Playing hard works.

The flies are light, yet heavy enough, and comfortably bent-arm and done in three distinct patterns to engage a broad range of chest and upper torso muscle: to the sides 90 degrees to the body, rearward at 45 degrees and straight back in line with the body, 5-6 reps in each consecutive position. Do it, feel it, nice... you should tingle and burn all over the place. The biceps are not just there for the ride.

Incline dumbbell presses supersetted with alternate dumbbell curls:

I have a way of positioning my hands and arranging the groove when performing a steep incline shoulder press, so as to dynamically affect the triceps and exert added delt ‘n tri benefit. Using lighter weight enables the custom action (you’d have to see it, as I can’t explain it). One makes the best of one’s limitations. Will and patience instruct, persistence ensures and instinct rules. A smile makes us happy.

A curl is a curl is a curl, if you’re as healthy as an all-American star. Sometimes, should a star lose its sparkle from time to time, a curl becomes any version of a curl you are able to do... and dumbbells are most persuasive. Biceps become the precise target.

One-arm lateral raise:

I’m not saying the lateral raises were light, but a draft came in the back door, causing the dumbbell I was using to roll southward between sets. Someone suggested I call them litter raises. Cute. I told her to leave me alone, I was concentrating. When the shoulders have been around awhile, they tend to ache, pain or throb (mine are convulsing). No problemo. They can be healthfully stimulated by hanging onto an upright and applying a one-arm raise according to pain-directed need. Fun fight; gain through pain, 8 to 10 reps, left and right.

One-arm dumbbell row:

Again, be grateful for the one-arm advantage when soreness or injury visits thy bodula. A steady, rhythmic pull with a modified range of motion is sufficient. Far-reaching ranges and rough thrusts tend to antagonize grumpy systems whose muscles and joints and associated parts need kind-hearted attention (TLC). Be nice.

Wrist curl:

I did them because they were there!

I was walking out the door and, lo and behold, there was a thick bar with some plates hanging off its sides. I couldn’t resist. A mean wrist curl has a way of working its way into the biceps region. I went for three sets of the thick-bar wrist curl two-fer.

Great Googa Mooga, let me outta here... Dave

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