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The Relationship between Iron and Man

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Shall I engage the iron or ignore the defiant scraps scattered across the rubber mats, amassed upon racks and poised on Olympic bars?

I want to go, but my musclehead unequivocally says, "Umm, give me a sec...err...sorta, maybe...sure, why not?"

But the brain says think twice, Tinhead, is this for your health and well-being, your muscle and power, your ego and amusement, or your addiction and neuroses? What drives your train wreck: responsibility, obligation, approval, insecurity, entertainment, fulfillment, fear, pleasure, pain?


Gee, put that way it sounds like a thing of great consequence. No trivial matter, this relationship between iron and man. When did it become so complicated? It's just iron. You lift it or you don't.

One time I went to the gym Sunday early afternoon -- one PM -- and it was as empty as a bank vault after closing. The treasure was there, but no one to plunder it. I felt like a thief about to stuff his bag with bounty: any exercise I want, as many sets and as many reps -- squats, supersets, dumbbells, benches and cables.

It's mine, all mine. I'm rich.

At that point a straggly part-time guy -- he was broke and had no life -- stepped from behind the front counter and requested my membership card and reminded me to sign in, "It's policy."

The dirty little...

He introduced himself, Billy Jay Whimple, like it was a number he was assigned when he swiped his first breath. With emphatic mockery I said, "I'm Steve Reeves."

"A pleasure, Steve," he said, assuring me it was never too late to exercise. "Have you been a member for long? I don't recall seeing you around."

I was robbed right there in what was once my very own muscle bank by little Billy Jay with jump ropes for arms.

Empty bag in hand, I dragged myself to a bench, sat and glared at the sun-filled parking lot through the airy doublewide doors. Sunday, now 1:03, and the place was packed with a crowd of three -- Steve, Billy and me.

At least Steve knew who I was -- The Sunny Sunday Sunshine Bomber. I should have gone to the beach.

I trained for seventy-five minutes while BJ Guns studied the TV above the front counter. I think it was a reality show. I had an oddly rewarding workout, like cold soup on a hot day.

I learn something new every time I train. Or I uncover something old, so old, it seems like something new.

Like, check it out...that guy grabbed the bar above his head and is pulling himself up to his nose and down and up. Original noses, old as Muscle Beach...ya feel what I'm saying? I cannot remember the last time I did wide-grip noses.

This particular day I rediscovered standing barbell curls are indisputably the best exercise for building massive biceps and they, combined with overhead triceps extensions, will complete the deed for colossal arm development. Who is willing to dispute these facts; who would dare?

I felt empowered, alone and drenched in silence.

I applied my discovery with concentrated enthusiasm, intensity and might. Another pure truth unfolded: An ordinary exercise performed with focused enthusiasm, intensity and might becomes an extraordinary exercise, extravagant in yield. I was raking it in as shadows crossed the floor.

I inhaled deeply, threw my shoulders back, spread my lats and flexed my tris. Ever try that one? Looks dopey, but feels cool. Emboldened and undistracted, I pressed on, taking advantage of the calm and solitude.

In less than a rep and as suddenly as a torn rotator, a vein of unflawed certainties lay bare before me. Had I had hit the mother lode, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?

To demonstrate the veracity of the find, I blasted a superset of dumbbell incline curls and pulley pushdowns. The reality of the matter is this: Dumbbell incline curls define the biceps and contribute unselfishly to their density and shape.

There's more: Combining them with pushdowns etches a rugged grin on your face, unless you're a girl, whereupon it's a sassy smirk.

It doesn't stop there: Intense pushdowns add horse to horseshoe triceps, as they can be performed 100 different ways according to the practitioner's needs and desires and intentional positioning of the cable. Thus and therefore, they are multi-applicational and multi-engaging.

The practitioner (with a little imagination, this could be you) is in total charge of the action of the exercise. You're not on the other side of the handle or bar going through the motions. If you're going through the motions, you might as well go home or to the beach or wherever.

And no talking while in the middle of the set...this empty place look like a social club to you?

In charge means you control the effort, the groove and the pace, all of which take persistent practice, attention and time. Here's where most wide-eyed gymsters fail: They don't persist.

They are persistless!

Flooded with knowledge and understanding and rediscovery, I topped my arm workout with a triset from heaven's storehouse. I imagined thunder broke the silence and a streak of lightning devoured the shadows. Wrist curls were followed by thumbs-up curls followed by machine dips -- epic poetry in decided motion.

The combination of movements consumed the arms from the tips of the fingers to the shoulders they hung from. No new discovery, but the reminder was exhilarating. This trio wrapped up a powerful arm workout, and it wasn't as if the rest of my body was not vigorously stimulated.

A constant revisited: There was something throughout, above and beneath it all that would always be true -- nothing like a silent, empty, shadowy gym to brighten the day...add clarity and sparkle to an ordinary, sunny, summery, Sunday afternoon.

Oops. The Jayster's standing at the backdoor jingling the gym keys like they were gongs. Closing time already? Time flies when the sun shines and the beach is mobbed.



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