Rough ’Er Up, Tough ’Er Out, Suffer ’In

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Due to time and space restrictions we will not discuss our miseries this week. I know this comes as a disappointment to most of you, as we do love to wallow in pain and suffering. But there are other things in life (the illusive phantoms of joy and happiness), which deserve a fair share of our attention.
Here’s what I did the other day when I perceived the moment to be mine and not the possession of the ogre of urgency, the tyrant of time or the demons of delays, deadlines and daily doubts.

I grasped the iron and proceeded to pick it up, push it and pull it. Hang on... it gets a whole lot more interesting; I lifted it and lowered it, raised, pressed and extended it, all the time planning to swing it while contracting and isolating it. Do you get the picture? I’m hoisting, straining and laboriously maneuvering. I shove and thrust with might. Plates are flying -- there goes a two-and-a-half... clink. Dumbbells are soaring -- there goes a five-pounder... boink. I’m wet with sweat and I gasp for air. Under the heavy metal (bar plus collars), I drive it away from my chest, over the metal I tug it to my shoulders and beneath the cumbersome weight I force it upward with my wobbly legs. Lost in spontaneity and gaiety, I grab a pair of glittering chrome dumbbells and stumble around the equipment-strewn floor as if on a mission. I wind down after four breathless, staggering circuits and collapse.

Out of all the madness I recalled why I love supersets and discovered a burning shoulder combination with an emphasis on the rear delt, upper back and lateral-head of the triceps with a touch of pulling for the bis. We are wondrously made and intertwined. The first superset is a warm-up, the second set produces searing heat and evidence of smoldering; with the third set there is a significant blaze and the fourth near-devastating round sounds five alarms, an out-of-control blaze.

It goes like this:

 ~ Seated Smith front press with the back supported by a utility bench. Positioning of the bench and the body under the guided bar is very personal and critical. Take your time. Using a medium-wide grip, the bar should descend to the chin (maximum exercise range) without the head thrust forward. The deeper the bar goes in its decent, the greater the stress on the shoulder joint region. To emphasize muscle action and protect the vulnerable shoulder area, use a moderate weight with focused movement, avoiding rapid lowering, rapid thrusting and bouncing.
4 sets x 12, 10, 8, 6 reps (increase weight each set, decrease the reps accordingly), supersetted with…

~  Pulldown behind and before the head, a productive mix, performed with a medium-wide grip, medium weight and concentrated muscle action. At the top of the movement (arms fully extended), the lats are the target and do the work and take the hit. At the bottom, the upper back is contracted intensely to amplify its participation and the often-neglected rear delts are engaged tightly as you concentrate on their involvement. As in all muscle recruitment, you make it happen by focus and form and force. Think hard -- harder, especially now that you’re older.

Eight reps sap my strength, but not my desire and need. The remaining four reps, done to the front of the head, allow me to introduce a friendly and cooperative lean and tug -- similar muscle demand, but more energetic and expansive, and different enough to fill in the gaps.

Tip: I sit with my back to the pulley unit enabling me to situate myself more advantageously for the mix of actions.

4 x 12 reps, supersetted with…

~ Seated bent-over lateral raises, performed seated at the very end of a flat bench and folded over extended thighs. The rather light weights hang down toward the floor. While looking forward, raise the dumbbells outward from your sides and slightly forward, maintaining a palms-down grip until the weights are head-high. At the peak of the movement, emphasize the contraction of the rear delt to assure maximum muscle involvement. Lower with deliberation to the starting position. Focus, breathe, work.

The movement is less than inspiring, as the recruited muscles are usually
under-trained (good reason to train them), not large, the action awkward and hard to define and the response muted.

Remember: The posterior deltoids are very important to the health and integrity and fortification of the entire shoulder complex and are very appealing to gorillas. Chimpanzees, not so much.

4 x 6-8 reps…

You know when you’re done cuz you fall off the bench and whine, whimper and weep, while insensitive tank-topped sweat-heads nudge you with their feet before dragging your wilted body to the aerobic area and out of the way.

Warning: Whine, whimper, weep and wilt not, wittle wascals.

Be thankful. The best seasons for flying low and slow are here -- short days, gloomy skies and frigid winds. Hold on and don’t let go. Your training is an on-going mission and every challenge has a reward. When asked, “What is defeat?” you’ll answer, "I want my mommy. Can I go home now?"

God’s speed, boys and girls... Dave


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