First Things First

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It's The Best Defense

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We sat at opposite ends of the long, polished mahogany conference table. I seldom enter the stiff and proper arena unless a systemic problem of considerable proportion arises. The board deemed the circumstance at hand worthy of critical discussion. I disagreed.

Leslie Rothschild, underscoring the broad range of my readership, suggested I was too frequently referencing my less-than-youthful years.

"We have young men and women seeking inspiration and motivation, Bomb Guy," said IronOnline's marketing senior, "not a battered bunch of dilapidated duffers swabbing their swollen joints with liniment."

I imagined a 100-pound dumbbell chained to this guy's leg as I tossed him off the Santa Cruz pier.

His deep-throated growling was supported by the songbird whining of Ms. Chelsea Billingsworth, CB, my chief PR strategist and travel coordinator.

"I urge you to maintain the youthful and sexy approach of bombing and blasting, DD," said the lady in the tweed pantsuit, "It's your signature."

She wouldn't know a bomb from a blast if they burst in her pants. I grinned; a fifty-pounder would be enough for Chelsea.

Bartley, assistant CFO, pleaded for me to curtail my talking-up the good old days, thus implying was a diminishing blast from the past.

Lilly from Draper International Products (DIP) begged me not to say "post-op" again.

"It depresses them," she warned. Lilly, the poor thing, has fibroids, polyps and herpes.

The maintenance guy, Chuck, who happened to be removing shredded documents, politely interrupted the esteemed financial advisor, Bertie Madenough, amid his urging everyone to invest briskly, asking, "How can I retain muscle mass, Big D, while I'm training to lose fat and get ripped? You've been around, like, forever. You've gotta know everything."

You can always count on the Chuckster.

As if on cue, Katie, the buffed lass from the warehouse, entered the conference room with a tray of Bomber Blend, coffee and high-protein snacks. Yum!

"Refreshments, everyone," she sang out.

Above the commotion, she asked, "Bomber, can you still make the afternoon workout with the crew at the hangar gym? Chest, shoulders and back? Please? Somebody's gotta keep us focused. Also, the Boy Scouts from Troop 50 were hoping you'd critique their training routines, and the high school cheerleaders could use a nutritional update."

I said, "Absolutely, KT. All I have to do is refill my oxygen tank, increase my morphine drip and change my diapers. Chuck will roll me over in plenty of time."

The Chuckster nodded. Meeting adjourned.

Excuse me, bomber-type rascals. I take a jab at the aging thing because it's the best defense I have to prevent it from sneaking up on me. Some of you understand my position, some of you will soon, and some of you have forgotten or are trying to forget. From time to time I poke the senseless bully in the snot-locker to let you know I know he knows we know. Ya know?

Then comes along some old-timer (eighty-five or ninety) to straighten me up and straighten me out and bust my butt with advice about aging gracefully. I love it.

Now, back to work, everyone, and no more trash about youth or age or who, when, why or where. No complaining, no doubting, no hesitating.

Can't handle it? Keep it to yourself! There's nothing more rewarding, more beneficial, more exhilarating and more fulfilling than a mean tangle with the steel, a round or two with the iron.

I was lying on the floor, had an extra ten minutes and wanted to rest my bones and consider the workout before me. I was fueled, yet needed to rev the engines. A little pre-workout visualizing always does the trick. You might call it psyching up.

I imagine that which I am about to encounter: the gym, the familiar faces, the background music and me (selfishly in the center of things) and the exercises that might suit my body. What would I like to do, what do I need to do and what can I do are the three main questions with which
I wrestle as I mind-stroll the gym floor.

What's gonna do it for me? What's gonna ring my bell? Will it clang or jingle? Fascinating! Maximum effort, minimum demand.

I know what you're saying. Doesn't this guy have anything better to do, like take out the trash, feed the birds, upgrade his iPod...text?

These brief mental-meanderings prepare me for a solid workout. Often I encourage impromptu workouts as part of our training discovery and understanding. Enter gym, follow nose, work hard, have fun, feel and play seriously.

Imaging is one step removed from spontaneous. I stand before the weights with a low-contrast mental picture of what I'm about to do. Because it's not yet done, I can change it any time to suit any circumstance, whatever it might be. As I go, I know. I call this over-seventy precision.

And whatever I do, it's going to be good and it's going to be done right. That part is certain, the effect of strong visualization.

Training back in the day, there was no straying from the set routine. None! To wander was to weaken; to drift was to die. Strict training principles were necessary, mandatory. The stern approach made working out almost fearful.

Nuts to that. The last thing I need in my life these days is fear. Today, wandering and drifting under the calm supervision of wise and mature eyes and a knowing nose is the way. The yellow brick road, the golden ironway.

Now, if you were twenty or thirty or forty and had been around a tough neighborhood gym for at least a year, and didn't wear a pink tank top with your hair in braids and wanted to build big arms, this is what I'd tell you: Maybe you can, maybe you can't, it depends...Do you have what it takes?

Whatever, this is what I would do if I were you.

Triset 1
Standing barbell curl (4–5 sets x 12, 10, 8, 6, 4 reps, ascending weight)
Lying barbell triceps extension (4–5 sets x 15, 12, 10, 8, 6 reps, ascending weight)
Pulley pushdowns (4–5 sets x 12–15 reps, ascending weight)

Triset 2
Seated dumbbell alternate curl (4–5 sets x 10, 8, 6, 4 reps, ascending weight)
Overhead two-arm triceps extension with dumbbell (4–5 sets x 12–15 reps, ascending weight)
Overhead pulley pushes (4–5 sets x 12–15 reps, ascending weight)

Forearm triset
Wrist curl (4 x 12–15 reps, ascending weight)
Thumbs-up dumbbell curl (4 sets x 10, 8, 6, 4 reps, ascending weight)
Machine dips (4 sets x 12–15 reps, ascending weight)

You'd be surprised how much upper body and torso comes into play to blast your way through this mean and hungry combination. Twice a week should be sufficient. Works best when accompanied by some protein before and after the workout. Some version of this workout went on year after year, from the mid-'60s to my mid-sixties.

There are those who say this is too much. There are those who think freedom is free.

Excuse me. I've got to lie down for awhile. I'm exhausted. Be in the back of the hangar on the cot under the wing of the biplane.



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