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Plates On, Plates Off


From the Mae West Show

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We’re smack-dab in the middle of summer. Our fair-weather training has kicked in and we’re ripped, tan and pulsating. I leap out of bed in the morning and rush to the window as the dawn breaks. What shall I do this glorious day, I ask, what shall I dare, what shall I desire, what shall I achieve? The possibilities are endless and whirl in my mind, a kaleidoscope of visions.

I, then, stumble into the bathroom, take my third pee of the night and stumble back to bed while still half asleep. Where was I… oh, yeah… ripped and tan and leaping. I dare to dream.

I speak for myself only, but July has gone by like a hapless incident. June was sorta pleasant, slightly sunny and showed promise, so I ran with it. I raved as its exciting successor, Super July, approached -- things to do, places to go, muscles to build, holidays, sun, sand, surf. And, then, without a pump, a wave or a picnic, it’s August, the month before September, when the summer evaporates and the fall descends.

Brrrrr… Where’s my hooded sweatshirt?

Seldom do I enter the gym and leave having failed. I may scrap and claw as I drag myself into the chamber of iron, but once inside and settled on a bench, the battle has begun. And that it has begun, it is won. The only thing left undone is the fierce clash of iron and flesh. Triumph is but 75 minutes away.

I’m inspired.

I’m out the door, in the pickup, peddle to the metal and stuck in traffic on Hwy 1 where all vehicles in California convene when I dare travel. No worries… a slug of Bomber Blend provides security and achievement, and a lip-smacking smile of contentment upon my face.

Aha, the Weight Room, right where I left it last time I was here. And there’s a comfy bench upon which to perch, and a heap of iron to toss about like jacks, Legos and pick-up sticks. Toys ’n Dumbbells R Us. Let the games begin.

I’m thinking dumbbell presses. Curls crossed my mind, but the biceps withdrew at the thought. The arms are like mules, working all the time to keep the rest of the body happy. Pick up, put down, plates on, plates off, pull in, pull down, pull over. Gimme a break or I’ll shrink, shrivel and shake! Can you say buggy whips, pipe stems, carrot sticks?

I get the message. Dumbbell presses from flat to steep, two sets at four positions -- level, 25 degrees, 45 and 75 degrees. The ascension is subtle yet effective. It’s all in positioning, adjusting and blending smoothly: full chest and front deltoid, upper chest and more deltoid; less chest and more shoulder with a shift in load to the side delt, and finally, maximum deltoid with little chest. And all the time the triceps are powering through like workhorses.

Where would the back, lats, shoulders, chest, traps, torso and legs be without a team of wild horses and stubborn mules? Head ’em up, move ’em out.

Needless to say, with each pressing movement there’s a complementary pulling movement. It’s Drapemore’s Push-Pull Principle, an established law of physics, and, also, a firm commandment: Thou must superset.

Thus, with the first four sets of presses I include straight-arm dumbbell pullovers. Besides feeling terrific, we have about 100 bodyparts contracting and extending and pumping and burning in rhythmic synchronicity. This is very cool.

The latter four sets are combined with pulley lat rows from a seated position on the floor employing a high cable and a close-grip handle. This unusual positioning allows a long, high reach and enables a great stretch and long arching contraction and wide range of lat and back involvement.

The pressing is kept in the six to eight range and the pulling is in the 12, 10, 8 rep area. Pace is lumborous (new word) and steady. Exertion level is a gasp short of passing out or tearing a tendon.

At this point in my workout, I check the clock and my heart and my inner vibe. If they are in agreement, I do my shrug-shouldered thumbs-up curls supersetted with mixed pulley triceps extensions (4 sets X 10, 8, 6 and 15–20 reps).

My calculations are important. If I’ve been struggling and my 75 minutes is running out, my silly heart has me gasping and I feel green and pukey (inner vibe), I crawl out the door and drag myself home. Small smile, I’m grateful for what I was able to do.

If, for some unknown reason, my pump is pumping and I’m not fatigued or concerned with overdoing it (ha, you laugh), I blast on according to my margins. Big smile, I go home and cause trouble with my old lady. Just kidding…

Twice a week and a few kettlebells in between and I’m a happy cat licking his wounds and chowing down on tuna. Miss the days when I walked into the gym and turned it upside down for the fun of it. Note: I always put it right side up before exiting. It’s a rule. Be nice to Jim.

For those of you who are paying attention, the thumbs-up curl ala Drapier’ (French) is more of a thrusting trap, delt, forearm, biceps-lite and upper-body slam than a baseball-bis-buster, and the pulley extensions are more of a multi-upper-bod-blaster than a tris-exclusive horseshoe-maker. I can’t help myself… I’ve gotta smack the working livestock on the butt… pure affection.

Just wanted to set the record straight. You can go now. Put your weights away, no cussing and don’t slam the door.

Later… Draper

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