First Things First

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Nothing Much Has Changed


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I've never been a student...that is, one who studies. School from grade one was a ladder I had to climb to get out of the hole I was in. It seemed like a very deep hole with a steep ladder of many rungs. I tried filling the cavernous space with water and floating to the top, but that failed. I did learn how to swim.

As time went by, the subterranean dearth of knowledge became a barbwire wall to be scaled. Gee, that's a very tall wall. Tunneling the barrier didn't work, and before I was ten I broke a wrist trying to leap the towering confine. I did learn how to dig, leap and fall, and I learned a thing or two about futility, patience and perseverance.

Growing up is hard to do.

My brothers were older, and from my viewpoint much better at the task. Their second-hand toys didn't help, so I got me some used weights from a neighbor. Ever since that day I ceased trying to grow up. Growing big and growing strong took its place. Now a bomber, I cruise the steel-blue skies, a somewhat sinewy child not planning to land anytime soon.

Have Iron, Will Travel.

But first let's pause. Take a moment. Dare to look yourself in the mirror without judgment, ridicule or unseemly pride. Now, take a deep breath and ask yourself, who am I, what am I doing here and what exactly do I want from my training experience?

Can you do that, bombers? It's difficult, isn't it, more difficult than you expected?

Me? I cannot do that. It doesn't even enter my mind. Why bother? For the past decades, as soon as I enter the gym, I've got to grab some iron and go. The last thing I need to do is think about stuff like who I am.

Who cares? Does it make a difference?

Lift now. Lift hard. Lift good.

Incidentally, I'm here for fun and to build muscle 'n might, health and character, improve sports performance (Slap Jack, Go Fish) and survival abilities, to kill time and overcome insecurities (neither of which I personally have), beat myself up badly, pay off guilt and keep evil away. That's it, folks.

Here's a challenge for the lifter who knows a muscle burn from an injury, a pump from an inflammation, one-more-rep from the last rep: The next time you cruise the gym (the gym on the corner or the barbell in your basement), allow yourself to go on auto-pilot for an hour...okay, thirty minutes. It's necessary.

Rule and order are good; routines are great. But we must let go occasionally to know who and where we are. Detach and discover; let go and learn.

You're meeting yourself in action, the only way to know the truth. The questions you ask answer themselves.

Here I am. There are the tools of resistance. Go.

But, but, but...I, I, I...duh...

Hint: Do some ab and torso work to warm up. Have I ever mentioned rope tucks or hanging leg raises? These get me going every time and give me time to appraise my body and access my needs, possibilities and desires.

The first set opens the door and in I go like I own the joint.

Say today is supposed to be back and shoulders, but I notice hey feel worn and achy. Hmmm. The bis and tris scheduled for Friday feel like they could use a tender-loving kick in the butt today, some trisets like old man Draperwitz brags about given half a chance.

Why's he always underscoring the advantages of supersetting?

Because they're a blast and they work.

Best supersets when I was a kid (any time between 1963 and 2006):

~ PBN (press behind neck) and seated side-arm lateral raise
~ Deadlift and dumbbell pullover
~ Dumbbell inclines and seated lat row
~ Standing barbell curl and lying triceps extension
~ One-arm dumbbell row, left, then right (sort of a superset)
~ Full squat and dumbbell pullover
~ Seated dumbbell incline curl and overhead triceps extension
~ Front press and bent-over lateral raise
~ Leg extension, leg curl

Everything was four or five sets x 12, 10, 8, 6 reps...max effort without passing out or wiggling like a fool. Focus is intense, form purposeful, pace moderate, unfailing and steady, and lessons learned countless, constant and continual.

Not much has changed, except everything.

dd



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