We Blast to Last

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What's the purpose of this newsletter, anyway? In search of something qualified to say, I usually pluck at my keyboard like a hungry rooster. Eventually I give up and head for the gym. This is done, of course, with a grand invitation amid my chicken-scratching for you to join me.

The ultimate purpose of IronOnline is to get you to the gym any way you can, with courage and enthusiasm or with your gym bag dragging behind like a millstone (or a worn, fuzzy blankie). Getting to the gym regularly, unfailingly and purposefully is the hardest part of the workout. Once there, the rest is like snatching candy from a three-year-old... gorilla, that is.

One topic bounces around my head like a speeding pinball. It's as old as my fifth-grade arithmetic exam and about as difficult: What are my training goals these days?

Though I nimbly peck about the keyboard (using both index fingers!), I'm no spring chicken. The same inquiry has forever dictated my training, while at the same time it has forever confounded me. Goals are set, but seldom reached; they are imagined, but infrequently realized; modified and reworded, but always out of grasp. The best I can do is pursue them with all my might.

I strain, persist and hope. Behold, I head in the right direction.

The cause never changes, though it assumes various shapes and sizes. To this day I secretly want to build muscle and might. I want to be bigger, stronger and faster. I also want the island of Galapagos.

Lean and mean are alluring, slim and trim have an appeal. I settle to fight the good fight, a cliche as old as the iron ore from which the dumbbell was conceived. Health and fitness move graciously to the forefront as time goes by. There's the eventual struggle for maintenance, which parallels the survival of the fittest, both good causes. Ultimately, I cannot let go of the thing I know. Who would I be, where would I go, what would I do?

Ah, tell it to a shrink.

What is my goal these days, my purpose, my cause? Let's face it, when the dust clears, when the gloom of night fades, when the floodwater recedes and the storm abates, we want to be big, ripped and powerful. We know we cannot, but that doesn't stop us from trying. To stop trying is to slip softly into the forbidden faraway place we dare not mention (old age... gasp, gurgle, gag).

While I'm ranting mildly, allow me to cite another puzzle that stumps me lately: How hard does one train to build a body over 60 or 70 years of age before the training becomes excessive, counter-productive and destructive.

When are we no longer building the body, but wearing it out?

This problem is best confronted now than later, before it's too late. Imagine, training to stay young at the cost of living long. Does that sound like a musclehead paradox or what? Pride, ego and vanity rise above reason, commonsense and humanity.

I'm open to research and empirical direction, but I repel being told what to do in matters that are highly individual and still uncharted. What has been observed in others in the past does not necessarily apply to you and me now. How much do we really know about the mature musclebuilder of today as he approaches tomorrow? Everything they -- the young and untrained -- would have you believe is certain to mislead us, I suspect.

Apparently, he's attempting to sound profound in unraveling the mysteries of life, time and aging, when the only thing unraveling around here is him. Another Draper fiasco.

I've been stalling, as you've noticed, which I do when I don't have any answers. My goals are tightly bundled with my training limits. I determine to press on with all my might and achieve all I can at every stage of the game, then, now and later.

I recently heard from a friend in Florida who suggested I slow down (with the pedal to the metal I'm going 15 MPH) and spend more time at the beach. “Relax,” was his advice. He's absolutely right, almost. I have introduced that vital quality to my life -- relaxation -- since retiring from the gym biz. But frolicking in the sun at the water's edge still eludes me.

It's just a feeling, nothing certain. I can count on my hand the times I've walked into the gym and trained at one or two reps short of maximum. I can count on the other hand the times I left the gym without vigorously completing my workout. Arrogance doesn't rule my message, though ignorance might.

Today my training is no different in approach, but pared down to avoid injury, catabolism, central nervous system breakdown, fatigue, extinction and loss of joy. I blast to last, not to explode.

Six training days a week was my choice those half-dozen years of battle while training for size and competition. Five were suitable for my iron fix when I was a footloose woodworker and slave gym owner. Four blasts a week did the job just fine after I turned six-oh.

I always contended I would save aerobic training to augment my workouts when the time was right. At about my 65th birthday, I realized the time was right, and it became three with the iron (90 minutes), three with the metal pedal machine (20 minutes, sometimes 40).

That I included aerobics in my training scheme does not make me a liar, a cheat or a scoundrel.

I train slower and lighter, yet with the same intense level of muscle output per set and rep. (This is the true test of a lifter. It's called humility. It's also called depressing.) Focus intensity replaces heavy weight. Exercise performance precedes poundage employed. Training creativity substitutes diminishing muscle might.

Appreciation for what you have outshines the craving for what you don't or can't have.

The sky's the limit, bombers, why settle for less? Can't let a little thing like gravity prevent you from pushing forward, lifting upward and rising high... soaring. If you think the weight you're using is light, drop it on your toe.

Told ya...



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