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You Are Not Alone


Still from The Monkees episode Dave was in

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It’s the middle of July, mid-summer at my dot on the earth and the sun is pouring down. How sweet it is. Throughout the winter I lament pitifully, protesting the cold and dull days. What a sap. From this day forth I shall rise above my self-centered and monotone behavior. I shall embrace whatever weather conditions confront me and celebrate life’s cornucopia of offerings, the good times, the bad times and the times of mystery and surprise.

Our days on this wonderful planet are brief and few, savor every moment.

What’s that, clouds forming on the eastern horizon and they’re heading this way? Gasp! But I was going to bask in the sun on the deck, heal my throbbing body, and deepen my tan. Can you stop the dreaded onslaught? No. Of course not. What if I hop in my trusty pickup and head westward away from the approaching shadows? No. There’s that ocean. Rats.

I’ll go to the gym instead and work off the stress of the pending gloom. Before I grab my gym bag and be on my merry way, a word about the latest principles in developing lean and healthy, functional muscle. Now there’s a smart and tidy combination of incentives for exercising. Keep these in mind as you approach and engage in every set, every pumping rep of your workout. Allow the mind to wander, and purpose, like fuel in an uncapped gas tank, evaporates into thin air. Talk about waste and lost energy!

Sometimes we get caught up in one or two aspects of our training and forget (or never discover) the multiple reasons we lug our bodies to the gym, barbell to barbell and rack to rack. Consider these reasons regularly to charge your training, powerize your mind and give flight to your heart and soul.

Training without a well-directed and positive mind is like training without barbells and dumbbells. Training without enthusiasm is like training without cables, benches and racks. You don’t have to love the dedicated work before you, but you’ve gotta want it and need it; you’ve gotta believe it and trust it.

You’re building muscle and trust at the same time. Side-by-side, well-being and confidence are under construction. Function and capability unfold as you stand by your convictions and push that iron. The person you wish to be is developing and shows promise to live a long and productive life. Lift that steel.

Today’s lifters often begin their iron quest seeking muscle and might and soon find the way too narrow, rugged and steep. They want lean muscle at once. Lifting tonnage is awesome, but simultaneously developing leanness is an intrusion when hoisting bars bent with weight. Hefty bodyweight is needed.

And health and wellbeing are too often overlooked or compromised in the process of gaining muscle and might: overloaded muscle, injured joints, large waists, excess bulk and compromised cardio-respiratory condition.

Then we have the portly beginner trainees whose mass, once conditioned and engaged, enables them to lift substantial weight, which they do because they can. “Forget lean-muscle, diet and endurance,” they say, “I scream for ice cream and long pauses between sets.”

Big People at Work.

As we get older -- dedicated powerlifters excluded -- training for health, lean muscle and function should be the targets of our operations, sensible and righteous. Good-looking muscle will follow obediently like a roaring lion.

About today’s latest training principles: There aren’t any, unless you consider presses, curls, squats and deadlifts revolutionary. I sat in the gym one afternoon last week determined to invent yet another exercise, technique or methodology, something to stimulate my drowsy system, something I could bring to the table of contents in this week’s newsletter. I caught myself slouched and nodding off on the incline bench, a sorry sight indeed.

What I’m saying is this: Don’t stop hitting the gym regularly and with purpose, or eventually the men in white jackets will take you away, kicking and screaming, on a gurney or in a tote bag. Then what, huh?

You’ve gotta know your training, and knowing it comes from practice -- timeless, undying, enduring practice.

Take heed, long-suffering warriors. We hold in our hands a double-edge sword. Alas, one edge is worn and dulled by age, but its razor-sharp counterpart is honed by time. Both share a common point exacted by experience. A wieldy thing, it serves to clear the way ahead, yet slow us down sufficiently while directing without fail the way we should go. This, the sword of life, is dear.

Well, actually, I drop the darn thing occasionally and it lands on my foot with a painful twang. Swords can be slippery. Hold on tight.

Nevertheless, after a series of questionable thrusts and swipes, I’ve personally made a number of discoveries that might interest a few bombers whose wings are not of the sonic, swept-back variety. You captains of the twin-wing craft -- the daring yet aging biplane -- are of particular focus.

Remember, you’re not alone out there. I’ve got your wing. So what I don’t know how to fly.

Up, up and away... Draper the Bomber


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