First Things First

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Summertime, Summertime, Sum Sum Sumertime


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Who doesn’t love a vacation? Head out the door, bags in hand and put it all behind you. No bosses, no responsibilities, no chores, no alarm clock, no time clock; different faces, different places. Anything but the same-old, same-old; a bad vacation is better than no vacation at all.

Well, that’s not exactly true. I remember sleeping at O’Hare Airport for two nights while union workers haggled, or sitting on the runway in San Francisco for 18 hours (maybe it was 8) before disembarking a cancelled fight to London (engine repair), or the time I showed up in Australia for month tour and my luggage didn’t, ever. And do not lose your passport in Germany, kids... a nightmare I never want to relive. The worst was a flat tire on the ole’ Buick station wagon halfway through a dark tunnel in the rocky wilds of Utah.

Sometimes the best vacations are spent in your own backyard. Freedom to meltdown with a root beer float amid the chaos-as-usual.

Where are you going on your vacation this year? Me? I’m smarter now. I don’t leave the house except to go to the gym or the health food store. Truth is, I miss a workout, I go into convulsions. I eat junk food, I stop breathing. My social worker, mother, personal trainer, UPS guy and psychiatrist -- separate persons -- agree I need help.

Some new age lifters and lazy old duffers say a layoff will do me good. A dull misconception. What part of “just do it, shut up and lift, no pain, no gain, one more rep and no wimps allowed” don’t you understand? 10 minutes into the wasteland of an iron-free vacation and I’m climbing the walls.

Notion: Summer vacations are pleasant pauses in our disciplined musclebuilding routines and we don’t want to diminish their welcome by fretting over, say, the fear of getting fat and flabby, the guilt of getting out of shape, or the shame of bearing the accompanying adverse side-effects: stressed, irritable, nasty, pathetic, shattered and pouty. I hate pouty.

An occasional and well-planned training respite is good for all your bits, parts and pieces. An enthusiastic musclebuilder -- half-crazed, iron-slinging, muscle-pounding, self-brutalizing weightlifter -- is notorious for over-engaging his body and his mind. What a relief it is to put the weights aside for a week and allow yourself to relax, to heal and to grow, and to refresh the joy of lifting. A little time off is good for the joints and the point of view.

On the other hand, bomber with sturdy wings and turbo-control ailerons, you who are hell-bound and do not glide on the mild breezes of airhead layoffs, holidays need not be void of the uplifting disciplines and the benefits of condensed training schemes. Workouts can be on-the-spot 15-to-30-minute quasi-structured exercise injections or on-the-fly aerobic and freehand improvisations.

Here are a few thoughts to consider: Miniature workouts are better than no workouts at all. They kick butt. When under limited training conditions, smart eating -- when, what, how much -- is extra important. It’ll save your butt. Accepting, believing and applying the aforementioned tips bring truth and effectiveness to the pair. They’ll shape your butt.

That was deeper than it sounded, trust me. No, don’t read it again.

The eating thing is easy: No junk, lots of water, and wholesome food in sensible quantities throughout the day. It’s unlikely you’ll eat too much with no junk added to menu. Sensible quantities, however, might cause the hunky to trip. Sensible is a word one can conveniently misshape, stretch, twist, distort and abuse. Do not eat too much of the good stuff or any of the bad. You’ll be sorry, you’ll feel guilty, you’ll feel soft and sluggish and self-conscious, angry and defeated.

No casual grazing, no sudden stuffing, no jolly drinking. Discipline, responsibility, self-regard, honor, courage and strength: These are the qualities for which ironclad bombers are celebrated. We’re battle ready. We’re fighting fit. We win wars. We’re bored and boring.

No more chit-chat, girls! Your vacation is unfolding. Here’s what you do: Everyone’s asleep, the birds are stirring and you can hear an occasional car starting. The morning buzz is building in the air. Out of bed (quiet), start the coffee, swig some water, wash your face (quiet!), brush the teeth and get into comfortable gear. Stretch like a cat; knock out some sensible leg raises and enough sit-ups and good mornings for warmth and momentum. Call it taxiing.

You are there, bomber; wings are catching air, landing gear is up and clear skies are ahead. You’re embracing the day, as you knock out some friendly and accommodating push-ups (super-exercise -- flat out, feet up on a chair, wide-grip and close), chins from a broom across two chairs or from a rafter overhead (no way to beat this exercise performed by a dedicated blaster who knows how grip changes work different muscles) and dips between chair-backs that remind you of when you were a kid not so long ago.

How many? As many sets and reps as you please, need or are able. Work and play and work, as the muscles flex and the heart finds its rhythm and the endorphins rise and your creative calorie-burning lights a fire. Be attentive: listen, feel, urge, seek; don’t hurry, don’t worry. Tris and bis, delts, back and pecs, we thank you for your generous participation.

Less-than-dazzling sample workout: 2-3 sets x max reps -- 80% effort -- of three exercises using any body, arm and grip placement. You bring the dazzle.

Tomorrow you sneak out of bed again and, after quietly washing, hydrating and stretching (What? Am I your mother?), jog a hill, run some stairs or do a bunch of sets of freehand squats for slow, thoughtful, prayerful, high reps. A few of these and you’ll know why you’re praying. God, help me! Toe raises between sets and some hip-mobility movements while leaning against a sturdy counter (I pretend the counter is my pickup truck that needs a jump-start... again). Push, harder, push, faster... thighs, calves, back, shoulders.

I hope this vacation never ends; I’m getting huge and ripped while my loving, long-suffering and sympathetic family enjoys the early morning quiet. Listen... I can hear them moving... quiet voices...

Hey... somebody want to help me push the pickup truck? The sooner we get the thing started, the sooner we get on the road.

I love road trips, don’t you?

Godspeed... Da Bomba

Next time I’m bringing my exer-cables and TRX... Olympic set... kettlebells... platform. Just kidding about the platform.

THE BEST KEPT SECRET -- TOP SECRET TOP SQUATS

Save your shoulders, be nice to your back, improve your squat, delight in the action and build thunder thighs. Grasp the handles of a Top Squat, settle the padded bar across your back and lower yourself safely, comfortably and precisely to your favorite depth, and in the same way lift yourself up.

You can’t squat -- you will. You squat poorly -- you’ll squat properly. You hate squats -- you’ll adore them. You like squats -- you’ll love them. You love squats -- you’ll marry them.

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Did you know Bomber Blend will provide the least expensive and most nutritious meals in your daily eating regimen? It’s not an added extravagance to your food budget; it reduces your budget and improves your nutritional intake. It builds lean, strong and shapely muscle. Regular servings of Bomber Blend raise your IQ and enable you to time travel. Made into a poultice and smeared on the scalp will prevent baldness and kill tics. Good stuff.

Scoop the blend into a glass, stir and drink with pleasure and satisfaction, when you need to, want to or should. All the time.

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

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