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Pushing and Pulling in Concert

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It’s a good day, in case you hadn’t noticed. Five days forth and it will be spring, a time to leap into the air and throw our hands skyward as we shout with delirious delight. Our bodies automatically shift into the muscle-growth cycle, which is accompanied by the fat-loss period, the energy-expansion phase and the power-enhancement rotation.

Of course, to take advantage of this natural succession of multiple dynamics, all we need to do is blast it, eat right and embrace life with overflowing enthusiasm. I’m ready, are you?


I just returned from the gym after a very fine workout. I used to say great or ferocious; now very fine is just right and will do nicely. Gee. See what happens to exclamations of glee and excitement after you hang a quick turn at a certain remote corner, the corner with the lamppost flickering at night, the same lamppost you tell all your secrets to? You settle for words like fine and nicely.

Fine and nicely, along with their equally expressive counterparts, good and swell, translate muscle-wise into somewhat spontaneous, well-executed, balanced and orderly, effortful and productive and gratifying... and humbling.

On second thought, iron rockers, ‘great’ still applies.

Not to be redundant or bore you -- far be it from me, your bim bam boom bomber, to be redundant and boring -- but I suspect you’re wondering, what exactly did this very fine workout consist of. Good. Wonder is a very fine feature.

There’s that very fine thing again.

Plodding along, it’s not what exercises you select, the basics for sure, but how they are treated... with enormous respect and total attention, smartly placed and precisely paced, affectionately persuaded, yet aggressively executed. The exercise and its practice is not a thing to be scheduled and done, an action after which you move on. It is to be greeted, experienced, encouraged and developed at once, alive and lived and applauded.

Yeah, I know. What happened to storm the gym, slap the dumbbells silly, pounce on the squat rack, bend the barbells and toss the 45-pound plates like Frisbees? Well, once I was a child and did childish things, now I am an adult and do very fine things... and anything else I dare or am able to do.

Sure miss being a kid.

Not having been in the gym for a week due to a cold the size of Texas, anything I did would be monumental. My fat and skinny body was eager to sniff around the dumbbell rack, like a mutt cruising hydrants and park benches anytime, anywhere. Self-assurance sure takes a hit when the weights are absent from eating, sleeping, living and breathing. I’d rather be naked in Grand Central Station.

Sniff, sniff... sniff...

It wasn’t long before I found a pair of familiar pint-sized rascals and tossed them overhead as I plopped onto a comfy 45-degree incline bench. Warm up with high reps, seek the perfect groove and go for broke... without breaking or compromising or being childish, as I am an adult.

If you can tolerate a layoff, it sure feels good to knock out the very first set upon your return. Four more sets with precise direction and form, gradually increasing weight and decreasing reps added one hefty pound of pure gold to my revenue of confidence.

Pushing dumbbells from an incline does add character and voice to the shoulders, pecs and triceps. If I was in a rush, three sets would be enough (bronze), four would be just right (silver), but I wasn’t in a rush. Five, thank you (gold). Rushing a workout is for children.

Time to pull, Sir and Madam Feelgood. The seated lat row is meant for pulling and building and making a weak man and woman strong and able, sweeping and tingly from head to toe. I dare say it is great and very fine. And it all depends upon how it is done. Full range of motion, vibrant extension and contraction, accurate and controlled thrust, measured release and meticulous, yet growling reps between 6 and 12. The reps come down as the weight goes up and the spirits climb. I did five sets.

Since I wasn’t supersetting, between sets I leaned against a racked barbell and pushed heartily, as if I was at the rear end of a stalled pickup truck in a nasty neighborhood and I was desperate to get the darn thing started. The sun was going down fast. Great for the legs and the core and for staying busy.

Casting creativity aside and focusing on what needed to be done and what I wanted to do, I did five sets of flys on a 15-degree incline. Done correctly, the pecs and serratus and bis and associated muscles scream like fans at a rock concert. Done wrong and the insertions squeal like pigs and are in danger of being roasted.

Note: Done correctly means you don’t just grab the dumbbells and flail around on the bench like a crab. You direct the pectorals muscles to move the iron by upper-level focus, concentration and feel.

Fifteen sets, each a minor production, plus a half-dozen frightening pickup truck jump starts, and I was closing in on my enough-is-enough, red zone for dysfunctional, ever-rehabbing, post-Texas-size-cold suffering adult children. A symphonic superset was in order, a small reward for swell behavior.

We have at the Weight Room a 1990 black custom-made Excalibur, a handsome pulley device for working the pecs if we sit facing machine-outward, or the rear delts and upper back if facing forward. Got that? I face forward and bomb -- yes, bomb -- the back good.
From there I slip over to the Cybex dipping unit and I dip... I dip good. Lean forward, lean back, arch or hunch the back, think tris or pecs or back or shoulders. Ride ‘em cowboy... four supersets of 10 to 15 reps.
We’re making sweet music, pulling and pushing in concert.

Some of you are saying, “That’s it!” That’s what I used to say, when I was a kid.

Bombs-R-Us... DD                  


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