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It’s the middle of June and I’m in the middle of nowhere. It’s as if I fell asleep and awoke in a world I don’t exactly recognize. I mean, it looks the same, yet everything is sorta sideways, slightly backwards and somewhat upside down. I’m going to the gym to stir up some muscle and might and motion. The gym with its iron and plates and bars and racks is where I lighten the load that holds me down and arouse the strength that picks me up.

I note from my distant perspective that you, too, are a bit lopsided and your eyes are slightly glazed over. Tsk. Here are some thoughts to think before we grab our stinky sneakers and shredded Ts:

     ~When’s the best time to train?

Let’s face it: Train when you can, regularly and at the same time slot. I’m stronger, more energetic, more mentally receptive, less prone to injury and, thus, more productive in the early afternoon, rather than my formerly scheduled early morning timeframe.

     ~What level of training output is recommendable?

Train as hard as you are able or as hard as you want according to your limitations. Many of the over-40 members of the Weight Room Santa Cruz train with an intensity that is agreeable, healthy and sufficient for maintenance. They are light years ahead of their neighbors. Some of my buddies are pushing it to keep that hard edge, outwit the injuries and foil the stooped stalker. I train with heightened senses to blast it most every set without explosions and devastation to the surrounding real estate. That is to say, I apply the intelligence of warming up; I move continually but without haste; I grasp the weights and assume my lifting position precisely to protect the prickly joints and other odds and ends, and I proceed lifting with cautious aggressiveness until red lights come on. I then regroup, oxygenize and move on with attention and resolve. I want all I can get without breaking. (Excuse me… I counted 10 “I’s” in this paragraph, hopefully to make a point.)

     ~How long can you train?

The troublemaker is hurry, and the anxiousness, carelessness and discomfort that accompany the thug. Oh, that we could find the time in this unfair world we’ve built to allow us to wallow in the enterprise of health and muscle-making. Once you’ve established your training plan, you can accomplish your fitness needs without haste and anxiety in 60 delicious minutes. Three times a week and some weekend treats are a fair share of exercise work ’n play for the well-behaved citizen soon to get 10% off on Denny’s Senior Special or discounted tickets at the Cinemaplex.

Some of you have the luxury to train longer without excessive pressure on the boiler system. I do not linger or tally or loiter, but include more care and preparation into more time. I can no longer grab a set of innocent dumbbells and flail them around like a rattle for 10 reps and move on to the next attack. I’m as hardworking, yet less brash. I position myself, grope around for the dear groove and mindfully squeeze out the reps for maximum muscle tension.

The seconds allocated for grateful movement add up.

I hit a total 20 to 25 sets per workout. I watch people come in and go out as I pant. My workouts are 75 minutes, but who’s counting?

     ~What exercises are wrong and should be eliminated?

The ones that hurt the most. The longer we roam the planet’s surface, the greater the potential for accident, overuse, abuse, disability from illness and general wear and tear. And, there are some of you young guys and gals who know more pain and rough terrain than any of us born before Sputnik. Our bodies and sometimes our doctors tell us what to discard and when. Pain dictates our moves and pain deserves respect. You’ve heard me commend pain as if it had life and personality, the stern instructor, teaching, directing, humbling and protecting. Take advantage of the brute; listen closely.

Having been knocked around a bit, I found myself running out of moves that didn’t threaten the old bone pile. I gave up flys 'cuz they pulled at my biceps; after shoulder surgery, bench presses were removed from my memory through repeated electro-shock treatments; reverse curls for biceps and forearms became impossible 10 years ago and sidearm laterals refused to cooperate after the earthquake in ’89. Front presses eluded me in the same year, but the deltoids held on through traditional dips and some sneaky light-weight dumbbell presses.

Rejection is gruesome. Revenge is sweet. Out of need and desperation I dragged each retired movement from the heap, and with determination, patience and time, reinvented them one by one.

     ~What is a realistic goal for an older beginner?

Training over 40, 50, 60 and so on can be and should be a treat, a highly regarded undertaking, a thrill, a commendable robust challenge, a cool and courageous endeavor, a productive diversion, a favored sport of action and purpose and a fulfilling release. It is so healthful as to make you want to burst with pride and thanksgiving. You are fixing, restoring, replenishing and reviving; you are adjusting, exacting, developing and improving; you are polishing and brightening and readying and preparing. Why do people think exercise, good eating and fair care are painful, unthinkable labor?
  
   ~How about eating?

My diet is the same today as it was when preparing for those crazy contests during the last half of the last century…maybe stricter. I no longer have an appetite for sugar and desserts (chocolate will raise my eyebrow) and protein remains the priority. Beneficial carbs and fats share a role of equal importance. I add fish oil, Super Spectrim vitamin and mineral supplement, CoQ10 (heart health), Creatine, Vitamin D and Body Ammo Glucosamine-Chondroitin-MSM mix for the joints.

I eat three smaller than larger solid meals with the vastly important Bomber Blend protein drinks carefully placed as brick and mortar to hold the whole structure together, adding to its height and reach and adorableness.

~Watch the intake of saturated fats, sugar, junk food, fast food, packaged food and chemicals.
~Control cravings, don’t binge or stuff yourself at single sittings.
~Eat living foods high in natural nutritional value, vegetables and fruit in variety.
~Don’t smoke. Limit your alcohol; drink water instead.
~Get a thorough checkup.
~Take a nap.

God bless us… DD

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