First Things First

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We get up in the morning, shake off the dust, splash water on our faces and get into our rags. What happens from there is often random chaos. With few exceptions, we have an idea what to expect, the same ole', same ole' -- have breakfast, hop in the car, fight the traffic, battle the crowds, get to work, do our jobs, win a few, lose a few, eat, laugh, grumble, mumble and home again. Phew! If married, it's the spouse and, maybe, the kids, dinner, TV and bed. Shelter, family, food, clothes, job and life. That's all it takes, thank heaven.

However, some of us rise in the morning, arouse the amazing structure of flesh and bone surrounding us saying, good morning, partner, what's shakin'? Remember our agreement; I take care of you and you take care of me. We have places to go and things to do and we want to do them right. And to do them right we need the right stuff: energy and endurance for starters; strength and courage are a big help, and intelligence and commonsense are particularly welcome.

Let's eat.

Those six qualities do not grow on trees. They are not free, you can't buy them, they can't be found under a rock and they are not won by chance. No begging will gain them. They are awakened, formed and developed as we aspire. And I believe -- perhaps you agree -- the Big Six are born and carefully cultivated as they are painfully applied in the manufacturing plants known as gyms, not to be confused with colorful high-tech playpens full of toys and noise, girls and boys.

This day will not be done well, nor the days to follow, unless we go to the gym and train hard, unless we eat right when it's the right time to eat. Seriously, do you want to be a mover and shaker, on the cutting edge, one of those who are on the same page and push the envelope; you want to think out of the box and make things happen? Clue: The answer is no. That's why you go to the gym: to stray from the norm, avoid the mob and be free of cliche; to assure you do not get with the program or have another double nonfat cappuccino.

You know the basic rules of exercise: 1) train at least three alternate days a week for 30 to 60 minutes, 2) be consistent, 3) chose a balanced routine to include all muscle groups, 4) be engaged -- train with form and focus at a moderate pace, 5) exercise with purpose and vigor, and 6) feed yourself appropriately before and after the workout for maximum benefit and wellbeing.

Swell, but there's more to apple pie than apples and crust. Each one of the six basics could use some elaboration and clarification, and a little more time in the oven.

1) Training occasionally is not training at all. It's like scratching an itch, or rather, scratching a sore. Nothing is satisfied, only irritated. Commit to regular exercise as you commit to a career, family and friends. Only then, with time and sweet sacrifice, will it develop and become worthy and wonderful. Training, like your body, mind and soul, is meant to last a long, long time.

Monday, Wednesday and Friday has a nice swing to it. Whenever possible, I suggest Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, Friday -- quite solid. Weekend workouts, plus one or two during the week for stability can be fun. Get in there, do it with completeness and order and get out, picking up as much satisfaction as you can along the way. The harvest is bountiful.

2) Without consistency, we suffer guilt and frustration and achy muscles; we create large training gaps and exercise confusion, and achieve nothing more than distraction. I wrapped up in one sentence a lethal dose of life's daily poisons. We set out to improve our physical and mental health, only to gag on a weak solution.

Make time or lose it.

Regular and progressive training rewards us with strength and health in all dimensions of our being. Day by day we add to the structure, and the structure adds to itself. Be consistent and you pick yourself up. Be inconsistent and you let yourself down.

3) Choosing a routine is simple. As a beginner, turn to your manual, routine number one, and do one exercise for each muscle group as suggested, one to three sets of 8-10 reps. In a month, that which was foreign is friendly. You proceed to routine number two, gulp, and in 30 days that which was difficult is easy. And so it goes.

With each workout and the passing of time, understanding and knowledge accumulate. You move on, stronger and more capable. Your muscles grow.

It's when the accumulation of muscle and strength do not correspond to your expectations that choosing a routine becomes confounding; you doubt your understanding and knowledge and the rising of the sun.

Now is the time for Brother Iron Sister Steel, the IronOnline discussion board and researching davedraper.com. You are arriving. You're a bomber recruit. Welcome aboard.

4) Engagement in your workout, unlike going through the motions to get it over with, requires attention and desire. Engagement -- involvement -- is certain wherever enthusiasm abounds. Enthusiasm is a wonderful state of being. It suggests inspiration and energy, prime factors for joyful living, aspiration and achievement. And progress is sure when this fire of the mind and spirit is applied.

When not present on its own, the fire needs to be kindled and fueled with a disciplined and positive mind. This is deliberate and dedicated work. This man-made fire is also known as attitude. Get your attitude together, bomber. Spread your wings, if you want to fly.

5) About purpose: Let's assume you know why you're training. It's a large and important theme and if it escapes you at the moment, there's not enough time, space, energy or patience to discuss it. About vigor: Exercise that is not vigorous is like ice cream without ice and cream. Eat all you want, but it's no fun and not at all satisfying. Over the years, as a trainee, a trainer and a gym owner, I noticed that the major ingredient missing in most folk's workouts is intensity. And training intensity largely determines the advancement one makes toward the goals of weight loss, conditioning, increased muscle mass and strength, improved muscle shape and tone.

Tricky term, training intensity. It's subjective and what is hard to one trainee is mild to another. And where some can and should train hard, others cannot, nor should they. Workout intensity needs to match the individual, health and ability and goal. However, intensity should at least be considered by the person standing before the iron. It should be sought, calculated and wisely applied.

Blasting it is not for everyone, but a little snap, crackle or pop every now and then is welcome. Can we please see an authentic wince of effort and hear an honest, though muffled groan, iron-warrior? There ya go... very cool.

Too often it appears the lifter is taking the path of least resistance back to the locker room. Cute, but no cigar. The idea is to choose the path of greater resistance with challenge and aggression, commonsense and intention. Now you're on the direct route to your goal, which has nothing to do with the locker room or juice bar or exit or gabbing or flirting. No sweat, no get.

It's the muscle overload derived from intense training that causes hypertrophy, which we commonly know as bigger and stronger and shapelier muscle. Anything less should be considered a C-minus.

But there's the other end of the pulley. Too much lifting intensity can cause burnout, injury, fatigue and overtraining. Intensity: To what degree do we apply it, when and where, and at what time do we ease up? Who said weightlifting is simple? It makes rocket science look like a video game.

6) How we eat has become contentious and a worldwide topic of conversation. Most of us know what to do, but are too lazy or undisciplined or uncaring to do it. It's pitiful and we all pay. So much for ranting, nobody loves a ranter. Let's move onward to encouragement, information and advice.

We want to enjoy our workouts, to train with high spirits, wellbeing and a good head of steam. Training with energy and endurance, striving beyond the burn and achieving a good pump contribute to great and productive workouts. Without proper pre-training fuel, these preferred training conditions are less likely. In fact, quite the opposite occurs: sluggishness, disappointment, irritability and muscular deterioration are common side effects. A 12- to 16-ounce Bomber Blend 30 minutes before a workout replaces disaster with the time of your life.

And you don't go across town to the gym, park the car, jump in your gear, hit the weights, whimper like a big baby, shower and fight the traffic going home for nothing. You want lean muscles, right? Have a post-workout Bomber Blend within 30 minutes of your last set for quick recovery, muscle-building at its best.

Finally, about rest, bombers: Relax and sleep tight.

Fly your sturdy craft high, measure the horizons and count the stars.

Draper

*****

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