First Things First

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May I impose upon you to use your imagination?

 

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Muscularity for bombers, be they ready or not, that is today's subject. A muscle-building generality: Where you are going and how you get there depend upon who you are and where you are now.

~ Where you are going is a place of desirable and attainable muscularity.

~ Who you are is defined by your past, your genetics and your temperament.

~ Where you are now is that place in your journey determined by your acquired lifestyle and habits.

~ How you go from place to place is up to us, you and me, with the emphasis on you.

Let's take a look at the most common scenario among us, consider a course of action and see if we strike a chord or a nerve or my big swollen thumb.

May I impose upon you to use your imagination?

You're a guy of 40-something, worked with weights on and off in a garage with your buddies during high school and got in pretty good shape. A job with the city (the firm, school, institute, restaurant, mortuary, maternity ward) and married with two kids had you looking over a gut, 30 extra pounds and diminishing strength and energy. You haven't missed a workout since the grim revelation three years ago. You've lost 20 pounds of fat, gained muscle size, shape and density and you're semi-intentionally holding 5 to 10 pounds of extra mass for strength, workout drive and good luck. It's time to get trim, hard and see what's there…lurking.

You are not alone; a boomer, a product of the golden years of bodybuilding, a Zane, Scott, Howorth, Draper and Arnold knockoff of sorts, having grown up watching us flex in the muscle magazines. You did it, you fell and you're back, and, once back, you're back for good. YES! And high-fives all around. Now to get ripped.

Be prepared for a few head adjustments. You want to drop up to 10 pounds over the next months to achieve the desired leanness. This is fine on paper and in your imagination, but the actual loss of size in the shoulders and arms is devastating. You'll revolt; we all revolt. Furthermore, strength diminishes, muscle endurance is compromised and the pump of promise and hope takes a nosedive. Wait. There's more. You get to eat less scrumptious food and there's no cheating. Swell.

Bulking up is more fun. Can I go home now?

No, you can't. Commitment rules. Reaching for leanness can make you a better person, smarter by experience, tougher by restraint, harder by application and sharper by intensity.

You must keep your eye on the goal. Visualize strong, well-muscled glutes and the thickness of the waist replaced by a trim taper, the large torso minus the layer of thick padding, clear separation of muscle groups and thin skin that reveals veins and the ripple of underlying muscle -- the lean body, active and alive. This is authentic stuff. Anyone can get big; getting muscular is the real deal. Chumps get fat; champs get muscular. Besides, you can gain your precious monster size practically overnight (eat) if you find yourself sweating, quivering and going through withdrawals.

If you hear cliché in my presentation, it's in your ear and not in my voice. Listen to what's said, then add your heart and soul and desire.

You'll need four days in the gym; they will be direct, hard-hitting and concise, yet neither short nor rushed. Each muscle group needs to be hit twice a week, either directly or indirectly. Supersetting will be used generously because it is a most generous training method. It builds muscle strength, density, tenacity, shape, separation, endurance and energy; it stimulates training focus, involvement and excitement; it creates pace, rhythm and momentum. Supersetting contributes to muscularity like fire contributes to hot. Supersets work.

Yeah, so I heard.

The heavy weights will be replaced by moderate weights and each exercise executed with meticulous form and intensity. Set, rep and muscle concentration will be taken to new levels of demand and responsibility. With lighter, more controllable weight in your grasp, you will demand of the weight, rather than the weight, oversized and unwieldy, demand of you. A swifter training pace should be sought as accept your workout modifications and quickly condition yourself to the muscle defining regimen. I say "quickly" because a new intensity needs to be adopted if you are truly seeking rock-hard muscle and lower bodyfat. The goals before you come at a cost of enthusiastic and exhilarating blasting. Passionate blasting. Blasting and more blasting.

Do not fret. To satisfy your craving for the heavy weights, reserve two workouts a month for your low-rep power onslaught, a great addition and complement to muscularity training.

Here's the general layout. You've heard it before and why should it change? Eat more protein, less carbohydrate, ample essential fats and lower overall consumption; that is, fewer calories here and there in the six meals you'll be consuming throughout the day. You're a bomber and there'll be no hand holding, counting your calories or balancing your food groups with a calculator. Wing it.

Pull up a bench for a sec. We are reasonably seasoned muscle builders and things of the mind need not concern us. We are not bubbleheads. Disciplines have been established, perseverance exhibited, commitment expressed and evaluations considered. The requirements for each of us seeking rock hard sinew will be basically the same. All that is necessary are fingers on the dial, hands on the eating, arms around the training and full-body submission to time; finesse, hard work, compromise and patience. It's all under control.

Allow me to ramble: Eat less fat than Atkins would have suggested. Trimming the excess fat from meats is not a bad idea. No fried foods. I cringe when I witness lightly cooked bacon entering the human construction zone. Go easy on the carbohydrates and no carbs from dead foods like pasta and potatoes or sugar on the rocks (candy and cakes and booze); limited whole grains, light on the legumes and beans for now, and a few nuts in the palm of your hand is okay. Cut the milk products in half and in half again over time, as it is not uncommon to hear a bodybuilder preparing for a contest say dairy accounts for baby fat and thick skin.

Protein builds muscle and supplies energy when in excess. Unless you have a sick liver or kidneys, a large consumption of protein and the variety of amino acids will only benefit the body. Think one gram per pound as a minimum and one and a half to two grams per pound as good and greedy. Red meat builds best, fish and poultry trim best, and eggs and dairy are like busy workers scurrying around the construction site picking up stuff, moving and carrying things and keeping order.

Now you know my limited vision of nutrition; aminos with hard hats, hormones in boots operating bulldozers, enzymes with their sleeves rolled up reading blueprints spread on the hood of a muddy Dodge Ram.

If you are a calorie counter and carefully balance percentages of this and that to achieve physical improvement, stop it, for gosh sakes. Details are good for detectives and researchers and professors, but they distract from the instinctive trusts with which the dynamic musclebuilder forms the mold. That's what calorie counting does: it engrosses, misleads, confuses in the act of perfecting and accurately achieving. It's tiresome and muddles the mind of the aspiring athlete.

Fresh vegetables lightly cooked and in salads should be eaten in abundance for their carbohydrate, roughage and nutrient value.

We all are different with our chemistry, hormones, enzymes, muscle mass, bodyfat and metabolism. I leave it to you to kick around the yams and other carb sources, if you think you need them, and to alter your overall and time-specific "quantity" intake, as you steer your way through the leaning and learning curve.

A good protein powder plays an important role in building muscle. (You knew that, but you wanted to hear me say it again.) Backing off the food intake requires fortification at the proper times, conveniently and in concentration. I don't disapprove of running the body on low food volume (an occasional mini-fast) for periodic system relief, especially when leaning down.

I've gone on too long. You know what to do -- you don't need any more words. God's speed, bombers.

DD

*****

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