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I Remember When

This is the front cover of our new DVD—
Gray Cook: FMS, Applying the Model

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The following 1,050 words, titled “Solid, Bold, Mighty,” were written exactly 10 years ago when I thought I was getting old, which I was. If I did this routine today, they’d have to bring in crime scene investigators from Miami, New York and Las Vegas to determine exactly what took place.

I ache all over, but don't worry about me. I can still work out in spite of the self-inflicted cruelty. Endurance to go on day after day needs continual hard work, cultivation and obsessing. The stiffness in the joints, of course, is an affliction we all suffer as the years weigh heavy on the Olympic bar of life. I'll make it. I've invested in wraps of various shapes and sizes to fit just about everything that moves; liniments don't help, but I like the eye-watering medicinal smell. I've got a special plastic-lined, zippered compartment in my gym bag for tubes and jars of the stuff, mixed with bottles and tins of Tylenol, aspirin and ibuprophen... I call it my hope chest.

Don't worry about me, though I confuse the 10s for 5s when fumbling to change the plates too quickly (quickly... ha... I wouldn't know quickly if it took a day and a half to happen). I think of color-coding the weights but forget about it by time I'm in my truck ready to head home, faint, gasping, nauseous and searching for my keys. Don't miss the hearing, actually, because I get to concentrate better in the silence and don't have to listen to all that dumb noise they call music these days. Don't need ears to blast it, big fella. Thank heaven for protein powder, eggs, bananas and milk. If I had to chew all my muscle-building protein, it would take all night and day gnawing with my wobbly choppers. Don't need teeth to blast it, either. That's what I always say, though nobody listens to me anymore. They'd listen, I guess, if I talked above a gravelly croak and didn't spit, sput and stutter.

But, don't worry about me. I don't mind being alone; get more done, more time to blast it. Don't have to wear that ragged "Don't bother me, jerk, I'm working out!" t-shirt anymore. Getting older isn't bad. Old bodybuilders never die; they just bomb away.

Now then... who… what? Oh, yes, solid, bold and mighty workouts and their attributes: They keep us young, you know, and alert. A good workout three times a week keeps us strong and slim or gets us there if we're not. Exercise takes stress and strife and stuffs it in an iron and steel compactor and crushes it. Your system is like a bunch of parts and molecules (complex scientific information) going off in different directions causing internal and external confusion; weight training and good nutrition put everything in proper order. Sleep better, stand taller, relate honestly, laugh harder and more often, attract the opposite sex effortlessly, and gain riches and natural authority -- cool stuff like that.

Let me give you this week's solid, bold and mighty workout routine, the upper-body cluster bomb.

Hanging leg raises: Some folks forego this abdominal exercise because the hanging alone is tough. It is for this very reason I have more regularly included the movement in my routine. The stretching and demand on the network of torso muscles, the straightening of the elbows and the strengthening of the grip make this lower ab and hip-flexor exercise an attractive bodybuilding bonus. I superset it with the hyperextensions, 4 sets times 12-15 reps. Moderate bend at the knee, draw legs up as tight as possible as if crunching and lower using muscle might without the advantage of swinging. A few good reps (2, 3 and 4) are better than applying the trapeze motion. Practice, focus and build the muscles and numbers.

Hyperextensions: The focus is on the lower back, as we slowly and deliberately arch into contraction. Engage no swinging or body momentum that diminishes the muscle work and enhances the risk of excessive and damaging hyperextension. This movement will stretch and strengthen the hamstrings and glutes. Focus and feel the action of the back and butt.

Forty-five-degree incline Smith press: I find the guided press a beneficial variation to the free-bar incline in exercising my front deltoids and the muscle mass high across the chest. I'm able to exactly position the bench to accomplish my purpose and mitigate any nagging pain that often accompanies the standard incline. Working the bar against the guides allows me to target the muscles in ways I can no longer do with the big bar. Put power on the back burner and go for pace, tight reps and a clear mind: 4 or 5 sets x 8-10 reps (No Smith press? Use dumbbells, Mr. Jones.)

Bent-arm pullover: Start with your head at the end of a bench and a bar held in an eight-inch grip across the chest. Lift up and back above your face and down into an extended position toward the floor. Doesn't that feel good? Tiny pause and up with the bar in a smooth and powerful tug and back to the starting position. Doesn't that feel great? Another pause, noticing the variety of muscle benefiting and rejoicing with the ever-changing resistance, and repeat. What we have here is a treat for the rib cage, the lats and serratus, triceps, chest, grip, abs and frontal lobe. We're networking again, weaving the upper body together. Don't go for power on this series of exercises, as you'll tear yourself apart. With moderate weight in hand, you can superset the pullover with the Smith press: 4 or 5 sets x 8-10 reps.

Bent-over dumbbell lateral raise: This takes on the expression of a bent-over lateral raise crossbred with a row. We're targeting the rear delt with more weight than we should, causing the lateral movement to collapse into a two-arm dumbbell row, a very effective compromise for the back. Focus, practice and improvise, 4 sets x 8 reps.

Standing heavy barbell curl: You've been there, done that. What can I say but congratulations, brother and sister? Superset the heavy beast with machine or freehand dips. More than biceps are at work when the weight is heavy and the body is struggling: 4 or 5 sets x 6 reps.

Dips: I was doing dips before I was walking and talking. (Of course, I didn't walk or talk till I was 10.) They get a lot of work done on the whole upper body, cinching the muscles together like a well-tied knot: 4 or 5 sets x intense reps.

Gotta go. I hear something in the bushes. DD


Laree has just completed the courageous, outrageous undertaking of compiling, editing and publishing Gray Cook’s 2011 workshop they filmed in Long Beach last August. The finished material, three months in the making, was express-mailed to the replicator for commercial reproduction and packaging Monday afternoon.

I was witness to the events. Stunning!

Stacks of the 4-DVD information wellspring -- Functional Movement Systems: Applying the Model to Real Life Examples -- will be on hand inside of two weeks and available to earnest athletes, trainers and coaches shortly thereafter.

Bombs Away. Clink… clank…

You know me: Give me one barbell, two dumbbells, a four-legged bench and a dimly lit corner and I’m in heavy-heaven. Push, pull, pick up, put down, pluck, pound, pummel and press… ponder and perceive. If it hurts, stop. Or, more likely, if you’re an authentic ironhead… duh... like me, work around it, through it, over and under it. Heft, hoist and heave some more.

Crazy, man. Ask Sandow, John Grimek, Reg Park or Zabo.

Not Gray and his brand of wise and wary warriors. If it hurts, find out why and fix it before it immobilizes, breaks, ruins and otherwise kills you… through observation and application of Functional Movement Screening. Sounds sensible, because it is. Sounds smart, simple and strategic because it is. Furthermore, the straight-forward methodology works. Seriously.

I might be an old dog, but I’m learning new tricks daily. Check it out: Gray Cook, Functional Movement Systems, Applying the Model.


Gray Cook's Movement—now out in paperback!


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