First Things First

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World Peace and Weightlifting


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I know life isn't all about me and you know life isn't all about you, yet the concept is tough for most folks to accept. The obvious truth is you and I take care of ourselves so we are more able to take care of those around us. We are extraordinarily generous and considerate people, like a breed of our own. We lift weights that we may lighten the load for our neighbors. We eat healthy foods that we may care for the ill when they grow faint. We seek longevity because someone must attend the aging and failing in their time of need. We sleep, rest and relax with peace-loving diligence that we may serve others tirelessly. We, through our consistent exercise, develop discipline, patience and compassion, needed character qualities when called upon by God and man to mitigate strife and negotiate peace.
 
Alas, there are envious and narrow-minded beings across our precious planet who are unaware of personal responsibility and self-respect and accuse us of vanity and self-centeredness. Of us they say we are obsessed. We must understand their suffering, forgive them and try to reach them through our noble purpose, stature and behavior. We must work with them, for them and because of them, as we are all so vitally connected. When our gracious attempts to draw them to the right way of living and thinking fail, and ignoring them is unfair, immoral and impossible, do not fret.
 
Fretting is one of the devil's secret weapons.
 
I hate fretting. Fretting is loathsome. Come to think of it, those who provoke fretting are loathsome. Got a sec, Dude? Gimme a spot? Swell! They're nincompoops and pipsqueaks. I’m going for 12 awesome ripping and burning reps. They live pointless lives. On three: one, two, three… oomph, ooph, ugh, thud. Yes! Fat-butt do-nothings. Put a dime and a nickel on the bar. Clink, clank.  They're the reason the world is falling apart, ya know… bink, clink, dink… them and global warming. They make me wanna scream… clink, thud, clunk? What are they thinking… fools… ooph? Check out my tris…
 
So, what did you do today to strengthen yourself -- improve and enhance your body, mind and soul? I went to the gym a little earlier than usual to beat the traffic and take more time pushing the iron -- less stress, more comfort, total contemplation, undivided concentration.
 
The older I get, the less I hurry. I don't know if this is a motor condition, wisdom, laziness or helplessness, but I enjoy and respond to slower and more deliberate training movement, between sets and within each set and rep. This in no way suggests I'm slowing down.
 
Wake me when this is over…
 
The barbell and dumbbells must be grasped more thoughtfully, the body arranged more particularly and the groove established more precisely in response to the persuasion of time, wear and tear. Each rep becomes a carefully engaged movement to the next rep, close attention determining the way. The reps are calculated in reference to good pain and abusive pain and the pain of wrath, a long and fascinating journey. The last repetition comes as thunder following the lightening strike of the prior reps. Don't you love a good storm... the fresh air, the strong wind, the cool rain?
 
Concentration, an essential element of successful weightlifting -- and every great endeavor -- that primary ingredient I struggled to attain is now as natural as the iron I move with certainty across the floor. Where once my mind wandered and progress slipped through gap in my focus, I now cling to each rep as if joined by a sort of musclebuilding crazy-glue -- devotion, affection, need and the attention-grasping pain of persistence and burning and swelling.
 
The sets of repetitions are staggered according to my ability to go on, my mood, the pain, the available energy and unhurried time, and the flavor and favor of my purpose -- to build, maintain, rehabilitate or revel. The pause between sets can last from 15 seconds to minutes, depending on the exercise and mode of action. … the intensity builds and pain in the joints starts to holler. It was amid the latter experience that I learned to eliminate hurry from my training program.
 
The between-set break is just long enough to prepare for the next delightful onslaught: breathing deeply, unwrapping and rewrapping, willing pain away, rearranging equipment, hydrating. No gazing out the door, reading, conversing, texting, creating or resolving conflicts. Mingling trite activities with the serious weight training dilutes the iron action, and exposes an intrinsic lack of desire, fire and need. Grow up, Dude.
 
I'm a volume trainer who incorporates four or five sets of six to twelve or eighteen reps of any particular exercise, depending on muscle group. I choose six exercises to comprise a workout. Some might say, "That's it?" I take no offense, remind them I’m a B-68 and key their cars while they’re in the shower. It’s the intensity within each rep and set of exercise that determines the value of the workout, and its duration.
 
The first few sets, whether single sets or supersets, are steady and well-paced, each set increasing in weight and decreasing in reps. Pain from wear and injury and burn heightens proportionately, as does specific muscle fatigue. Sets four and five, the critical sets in which hypertrophy is hunted down, begged for, manipulated or coerced, require greater recovery time, slower execution and intensified resolve. I slow down as the clock moves on.
 
I'm quite chipper during the first half of my workout, all grins, walking upright, looking sane and acting sensibly. I'm bombing. It's the second half when I slow down due to the wobbly legs, battle fatigue and furtive glancing from side to side, all impediments to form, focus and pace. I'm bombed.
 
I like to weave and blend the muscles at work, direct a course and follow my nose, paint a picture on a large canvas with all the colors and space I need, go this way and that way purposefully with my eye on the goal, and travel a straight line full of curves and adventure...
 
Is that the exit? See ya… DD

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