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“Together we raise our hands to the sky and await the next dumbbell to drop. Heavy may it be, but not so heavy for us to retreat. Our backs may bend and our arms cry out, but our spirits shall greet the load with valor and daring. No thing is so great to defeat our center, our soul.”

Dramatic prose expressed by Hercules to Yoli from his chariot in Hercules Unchained, Steve Reeves, circa 1956.

Herc’s message: We are in this good fight together, warriors. Neither alone nor afraid, we stand united. As bombers fly in tight formation, we charioteers charge uniformly across the field. Watch my back, I’ll watch yours.

I entered the gym this afternoon and the floor was empty. Or, to put it another way, I was alone, all by myself, most singular and unaccompanied. Where was the ‘we’ and the ‘us’ as declared in the stirring aforementioned language? And who was this guy Hercules anyway?

Just another oaf with a horse, a woman and a cart... shave the beard, big fella, and work ya calves!!

Warning, crew: I’m gonna blast my arms. Bim, bam, boom. When I said I was going to blast my arms 40 years ago, half of Joe Gold’s gym members scattered out the back door and the other half -- Zabo, Zane, Katz, Columbo, Arnold -- cowered behind the counter.

The cinderblock walls rocked, dumbbells rattled and barbells rolled. Thunder roared, lightening flashed. The workout was a heavy metal concert.

Just kidding... nothing bothered Zabo.

Nowadays, I say anything about blasting and some guy leaning on the squat rack yawns and the duffer staring at the corner scratches his butt. I don’t get no respect.

One cannot blast his arms without the inclusion of standing barbell curls, overhead triceps extensions and reasonable and authentic grunting. Proper grunting is important. If grunting is false, exaggerated or otherwise concocted, biceps will not grow and triceps have been known to shrink. Excessive groaning of the fake variety is highly discouraged. Furthermore, any and all moaning whatsoever is intolerable. No moaning. None! Growling, however, works under certain...

‘Scuz... went off on a small tangent... do that a lot lately.

I train my arms directly once a week, biceps and triceps together. Hardly rated as blasting sessions (blasting today would cause rips and tears, crumbling and demolition), the workouts are tough, paced and focused. Risks -- heavy tugging, quivering presses -- are no longer welcomed and entertained, though merely entering the gym feels risky on some occasions.

I follow this pattern with the remaining muscle groups -- once a week devoted to a direct bout, while the remaining workouts stimulate, more or less, the whole body’s system of muscles.

This methodology -- love that word, methodology, sounds so intelligent -- enables me to train the entire structure, sorta, like (sorta, like, not so intelligent), twice a week. Just right for a gritty man-child with well-earned shreds in his training gear.

Here’s a thought: Once time has been invested and the muscle has been established and a few years have mounted with distinction, intense training is useless and can be counter productive. The muscles refuse to grow larger, insertions are less flexible and more prone to injury, and recuperation slows.

Another thing, “intense” might not exactly be in a less-than-youthful trainee’s personality and plans and schemes. Endurance wanes, madness fades, so they say, and incentives droop.

Sound like scare tactics to me, brother iron, sister steel.

So, what did I do exactly on this particular arm-blasting day, which did not qualify for true blasting, but was certainly sufficient for sound muscle work and not necessarily restricted to biceps and triceps only? Well, I’ll tell ya... pull up a bench.

No, no, no -- not that bench. I’m using it.

I did four sets of standing and kneeling rope tucks for the core and other associated muscle parts. If you do rope tucks with pizzazz and finesse and creativity and gusto, you can walk away from the pulleys a well-trained (blasted) tinhead. I’m just saying... they’re dynamite.

I proceeded to execute five sets of wrist curls with an oly bar. The wrists have known a lot of curling, twisting and turning and I treat them with care and respect. The reps are slow and thoughtful and momentum builds. Once part of a triple-set, I now reserve wrist curls for single-set training to avoid torquing and overload. Live, learn, accept, smile. Never Let Go.

Have you read the book? You should!

Drum roll... I then leaned a bench on a milk crate and did lying dumbbell curls for a long stretch and total biceps concentration. I chose this exercise because it’s simple, effective and not exhausting. Conserve wisely thy energy, lads ‘n lasses. Four sets of six and eight reps were supersetted with pulley pushdowns, 12-15 reps. Neat, clean, deliberate, tasty... intense enough, though the wrapped right elbow growled conspicuously, as I grunted inconspicuously. We’re a team.

What do you mean, “I don’t have a milk crate”?

I love standing thumbs-up dumbbell curls, starting with devoted isolation and moving into bold thrusting, as the weight and reps and tiring and burning and pumping muscles demand. Great for forearms, bis, shoulders and back stuff.

Like popcorn and a movie, this hunky movement goes well with dips. Yeah, I know: What happened to the standing barbell curls and overhead triceps extensions? I’m saving those for my next arm workout, when I have more energy and my elbows aren’t so sore. You see, that’s the way the training goes these days, with the changing tides, abilities, wants, needs and cans.

You pleasantly mix what you want to do with what you need to do with what you can do.

The workout was a blast, though I did not blast it. Actually, bombers, I did blast it. The charge was smaller. Ordinary dynamite, none of that C-4 stuff from TV.

The only thing greater than supple and vigorous youth is advancing age well-received, embraced and adored. I mean, like what’s the option, Bub and Babs? You can run, but you can’t hide. Come to think of it, you can’t run.

When the time comes, I intend to age in full view of my youthful peers.

I say that now, but 20 to 30 years from now I’ll be training in a closet.

iPod, digital camera, widescreen plasma TV, surround sound, GPS, $3,200 computerized stationary bike, and no milk crate. No respect...

God bless bombers here, there and everywhere...  Dave “Baboom” Draper


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