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Something to Think About


Mad Magazine

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A soft rain is falling on the treetops dispensing comfort with its enduring pitter patter. Welcome tranquility settles on limbs, an aching need for water is satisfied and there’ll be no furious hillside fire this wet day in February. Neither will there be fury on the gym floor this afternoon; no records set, no elaborate schemes implemented and no unforgettable moments bordering the underside of a bar.

Go, get there, do something constructive and come home. There’s something special about simple pushing and pulling that makes the heart beat with cheer. We’ll save the sophisticated stuff, the high-tech principles, the advanced methodologies and the complex formulations for another time, the spring, perhaps, when energy and hope are in the air.

For now, presses and curls will do nicely, performed in sets and reps to pump and burn and please. Gee, we get all wrapped up and in a tizzy over this, umm, musclebuilding theatrics, the iron drama, the shadowy stage of cold steel. Just go and don’t turn back.

You ever go and turn back; enter the gym, turn and exit? I did, once upon a time. It’s dumb and shallow and debilitating. The havoc it wreaks is unforgettable: shame, guilt, loss of confidence, sudden muscle shrinkage and immediate fat storage; hives, stuttering, loneliness, BO, descending health and hygiene.
 
There’s no turning back, bombers.

When I was a young man and there was time, I had an entire year’s agenda outlined in my head – bulking and power these months, shaping and leaning those months, squats and deadlifts here, arm priority there.

40-50 years after the fact I do what I can with what I might, and rejoice.

I wonder at what point I’m wearing myself out rather than building myself up. Is it wise to task my body with brisk exercise output because it satisfies my need to press on, or am I overburdening my system and, thus, shortening its span of healthful and productive days? I wrestle this dilemma with every workout, set and rep.

Flash: Madman Still at Large after All These Years

Sometimes I win and sometimes I lose. Hanging out regularly at the thin end of the dumbbell rack does not preclude me from blowing a gasket, rupturing a lifeline or shorting the electrical.

I appreciate the light end of the dumbbell rack. It took a year to adapt to the surroundings, the culture and the natives, but the slower pace, frequency of female participants and absence of bullies (though cranky is not uncommon) makes for a gentler, more amiable exercise arena.

Watch it, lady. That’s my dumbbell.

The weights are smaller, more compact, yet they seem to weigh more, and produce sufficient clanks and thuds and pumps and burns to suit this sore, soaring B-67. Additionally, not to be dismissed, the blend of aromas from perfumes and liniments and mild sweat is alluringly brisk.

Laree, being exercise-performance-oriented in comparison to humongous-muscle-oriented, suggests I alter my training methodology to suit my “age-challenged” fitness needs. Sweet! She points to the value of the kettlebell and core-focused movements.

“Give the dumbbells a rest, Dribble Puss,” she says with a twinkle in her eye.

Laree has just completed the editing of her third advanced performance training book by one of the industry’s top coaches and educators, Gray Cook. You, of course, know Dan John (Never Let Go) and Mike Boyle (Advances in Functional Training) from previous On Target publications.

These elite names echo regularly through our household as Laree edits and publishes their works. I'm impressed with them, and I'm impressed with Laree. Pass me a barbell and I'll lift it with all my dysfunctional, incoherent, lopsided might. Ask me to do it with reason and good sense and I'm a blank.

Wha... how... why...?

I’m cooperative and curious. I grabbed an 8-pound kettlebell, noting its size and heft was just what I needed -- good balance, well-placed handle, agreeable circular thickness. I set my bench at a 15-degree angle with the aid of a wooden block, and carefully placed the stout round unit at the high end with the handle facing the downward slope.

Clever.

I assumed my position the length of the bench and precisely adjusted the kettlebell beneath my head. Implement placement, stability and comfort are important in achieving focused leg-ups for core muscle development and hip flexor mobility. A folded towel served to soften the ironheadedness of the solid and immovable kettlebell headrest.

Marvelous.

No more testy neck aches for this high-performance athlete. Laree insists there are other applications, but for now I’ll exercise the basic function of the pencil-neck support. Am I missing something, guys?

The kettlebell swing? Never heard of it. Is that anything like the dumbbell two-step or the barbell bounce?

Laree leaves Thursday for a three-day video-editing seminar in northern California. I’ll stay home and keep an eye on the rocket launchers and missiles while she’s goofing off and causing trouble. Just fill the cupboards and fridge with musclebuilding food and I’ll do the rest, I said magnanimously. Soon as she’s gone, me and the boys will set the place on fire. We’re a hoot, gettin’ high on beef, desiccated liver, Bomber Blend and standing barbell curls with a little bit of thrust.

Please excuse me, bombers, but I’m cutting my inspirational and informative newsletter short (my what?) cuz I’ve got sniffles, bleary eyes and a stuffy head (sound like former girlfriends) and I can’t think straight (what else is new?).

Hello... DD

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