Underground Dungeon Documents

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I convinced everyone last week I’m a withering shrub on the perimeter of a once-thriving garden. Best we can do is water the thing, prevent the sun from scorching its limbs and the cold from frosting its leaves. I intentionally paint a bleak picture of my condition so upon my return to the posing dais in 2012, or thereabouts, my appearance will be by contrast significantly more stunning than expected.

I’m thinking of opening with the theme from 2001, A Space Odyssey, and segueing midway into Rocky. A blaze of lat spreads and most muscular poses will accompany strobe lights and applause. Where will you be in the fall of 2012?

It’s been three days since I’ve been to the gym and rattled the iron and I’m feeling tense and antsy. You ever get that way? I’m on schedule, haven’t missed a beat, but insecurity is setting in like rigor mortis. What if my truck won’t start, or the freeway is closed, or the gym is on fire? Can’t rule out an earthquake or a terrorist attack.

I sit, put my head between my legs and inhale and exhale deeply. I’m fine. I don my sunglasses, sip some water, grab my gear and head for the gym before I get another attack. I’ll be okay after the first set. One more close call.

I push and pull today, which translates into chest, shoulders and back. Currently, this is my favorite workout day. It’s the toughest and most productive of my three weekly 75-minute romps. Ha. Romp is a cutesy word for skirmish, which is a mild word for battle, a worn word which falls short of war. I don’t really romp, never did. Been at war most of my life. Lately, in case you’re interested, I mostly deal in skirmishes, bloody skirmishes.

I’m snuggling up to dumbbells these days, engaging various degrees of incline presses and flys to effectively combine chest and shoulder work in my condensed training scheme. I condense my workouts not to save time, but because extending time would be overtraining, fatiguing and counter-productive.

The dumbbells are light, though they feel plenty heavy as the focused and deliberate reps and sets pile up. These sets and reps do not happen without purpose and pain and perseverance. The legendary trio defines the sacred qualities that guide those precious metal lobes heavenward, enacting the very muscles we seek.

Playfully serious, my first set of five or six supersets begins at a 20-degree angle with an amusing pair of Ivankos. I just want to get my cranky hands around the things, toss them overhead and run them though the old mill. Oof, ugh, screech, scrunch, ooh... ahh... how sweet it is.

Were you counting? Six reps of stiffarm pullover-a-la-flies from the rear, six reps of classic flys and six reps of classic presses with the pair of fickle rascals, which finally shift from playful to serious... mean, nasty, irascible and despicable. Ahh... how sweet it is.

The incline increases by five degrees with each set, and the weights by five pounds; the reps diminish, but the force is held to a sensible maximum. Modifications in groove match my needs and capacities, thus engaging all that is engageable (new word) and avoiding loss of morale. Finesse and verve and madness lead me eventually to steep incline presses and scorching shoulders.
I balance the effort and increase the effectiveness of each set by alternating the presses with some version of close-grip lat rows. “Oh, my, how novel,” you say with feigned surprise, a resigned shrug and yawn, palpable mockery, or mild disdain. Another Draper Secret dug up from the Underground Dungeon Documents. Get the shovel.

I watch the lad to my left and his dumbbells go up and down like Ford pistons. The fellow to my right perform his rows like a kid in his first Chevy automatic -- back and forth, back and forth. This isn’t a driveway or auto-mechanics 1-A, ladies. This is almighty weightlifting, our first and last stand. Let’s get into it.

My sets and reps, were their pathways marked with infrared and made visible on a screen, would reveal they traverse everywhere they’re able with utmost precision and completeness. The lines zigzag deliriously, yet outline a systematic pattern to define my muscular and structural totality. This unique ability is instinctive, and inherent only in the committed, the peculiar and the mad.

You know exactly what I’m saying, don’t you? Admit it. It’s just us.

My compression of exercises, sets and reps and time is like tasing the body. The current travels through the entire system, leaving no region un-zapped. Some areas get more zapped than others, depending on the zapper.

I mentioned the second of two exercises as “some version of close-grip lat rows,” and you scoffed. Performance is everything, from anticipation to execution, from effort to form, from attention to completion. Be there, be strong, fight. Embrace strain and pain, seek gain and fame, never complain, never wane.

S’cuz me: Got swooshed away by the Winter Olympics. Late one night during a recap, I watched a young American lioness, Hannah Kearney, bob and bounce and twirl and flip incredibly – dynamically and explosively, gracefully and poetically -- down a fierce, bump-studded slope of snow at the speed of a bullet. She didn’t miss a beat. She won the Gold. My jaw was hanging. I felt like crying.

Back to the gym and the iron and the famous DSs from the infamous UDDs: There are overhead overhand and overhead underhand close-grip pulldowns and seated lat rows from a low pulley and from a high pulley, each of which is sufficiently different in action and effect to be worthy of seriously playful application. I love them all and use them all regularly, as they, like corks in a pond, pop up in a workout.

You can pull through a full range of motion with complete extension and contraction, or abbreviate the movement to isolate certain areas or to work around injuries. You can pull from here to there, or from there to here; that is, you’re in control of the action according to purpose or whim.

I prefer vigorous sets reaching 12 and 15 repetitions of diverse muscle-wise pathways. However, going heavy for sets of eight brutish reps can be fun (your definition of fun, please?). 

Looky here. We’ve come to the end of the time allocated for my contribution to the newsletter. Laree assures me no one reads more than 50 words of Draper senselessness before they start skimming, growing numb or glazing over. I lost focus somewhere around the Ford and Chevy analogies.

I should stick to B-29s and B-68s... the stuff I know.

B-Zoom... DD

PS:  While I jot down these words in my wooded hillside digs in sunny coastal California, courageous men and women in camouflage gear and packing guns hide amid hot, dusty IED-concealing rubble in a God-forsaken country and seek suicide bombers directed by their god to exterminate us.

Think daily, with thanksgiving, of our warriors, our shields, our protectors -- our brothers and sisters, our sons and daughters, our family. Pray for them, even if you're not a believer. Pray for them. It helps build big and strong muscle, might and right.


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