First Things First

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You Stumbling?

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It's the love for the activity of weight lifting and the great feelings and rewards surrounding health and strength and exercise execution that have kept us close for so long. Herein lie the primary motivations.

We like it; it feels good and it's good for us.

The most effective secondary motivator, having trained and known the good feelings of conditioning oneself and being in condition, is to contemplate what happens if we don't continue in our attitude and practice of training and eating right. Look around and, without being cruel, how do you describe your neighbor across the street? Apart from the rare exception and unless we're talking about a young person (and this, no longer an acceptable criteria), he or she is probably under-muscled and underpowered, unhealthy, limited and negligent.

Is that someone with whom we want to identify?

He's ignorant and unaware and undisciplined and lazy and a conformist. Sounds cruel, I agree, but his condition is a reflection of his values and purpose. He's not unlike everyone else. He's got a job and aspirations and friends, perhaps, but he's ignoring his greater treasures and gifts -- his health, long life, vitality, physical might and ability, personal power and enthusiasm and creative thinking.

She's there, limited by herself, doing, yet winding down. She's neglecting her body, an intricate and miraculous system of flesh, bones and muscles, electricity, brain waves, glands, hormones and pulsing life. That's a shame, a loss, a crime and a sin.

You who stumble over your exercise and menu, where will you be next week or a year from now? Will you be blending in with the unknowing and uncaring puppets around you, bumping into furniture and bouncing off walls?

Day by day neglect pervades; it gets worse, less tolerable, harder to confront and more difficult to fix. It eats a person alive physically and emotionally and is evident in our personality, thinking, appearance, performance and spirit. Darkness, darkness, is there no light?

There's motivation in that black tale of defeat. Put those healthy, friendly, comforting practices you're familiar with back into play and the multiplicity of deterioration stops short, reverses immediately and your very own goodness returns, as sure as the sun rises in the morning. The process is not magical nor does it occur overnight, but it is certain and that's good enough for me and you and the man in the moon.

You stumbling? Do this: Put aside an hour a day for as many days a week as you can, a minimum of three. This is your precious time to train. Acknowledge it, respect it, be thankful for it, use it. It should not be a severe, austere hour and not a casual hour, but one of dedication and exhilaration. Forget aerobic exercise for now and get into the business of basic muscle building. Let your continued training and smart eating diminish the fat while you build strong muscle by pushing the iron.

Keep it pure and simple, as the basic exercises work best -- more punch with less set-up time and frivolity. Do what you know and like the most, seek balance and don't try to do it all. It's important and most effective to be focused, content and unhurried, yet following a good pace with good form. Haste makes waste. Hurry makes one anxious, stressed, and is counterproductive. Relax and train hard and enjoy it.

You want to get a new grasp on your training and want to enjoy it before lousing it up with pressure and demands (bigger guns, more cuts, etched abdominals, big bench, competition), which often leads to disappointment and overload and injury and quitting. You can alter your training scheme down the line -- be grateful for steady and pleasurable training till the end of the year. You're back in the saddle again, cowboys and cowgirls.

When we enjoy our work, missions and projects, we don't need motivators. We do them because we like them. School, study, the job, yard work -- to some folks these are a joy, rewarding and fascinating and satisfying.

Discover in your exercise plan -- your training -- these characteristics and attractions. They are there. Fashion or refashion your powerful and worthy fitness endeavor to be interesting, meaningful, stimulating, exhilarating and challenging. This requires common sense -- next to a dog, it's man's best friend -- and a little analysis and effort.

Rediscover your training, worth more than polished gold to the dimming luster of abandoned health and fitness.

Keep your eye on the purpose and rewards during the moments you feel the steel and execute an exercise. Contract and extend, pump and burn, seek form and establish pace. Wake up, look up, step up and build up. That you have the perception of lifting weights and smart eating and the means and the ability to practice them are gifts. Enjoy the iron, and the might to push it. Savor the proteins and tantalizing disciplines. It only gets better and better every day… unless, of course, you interfere with wrong thinking, old habits and lost courage.

Like it or not we have an image of self and we respond to it. That image can be accurate or inaccurate, and we tend to become who we think we are. Be careful of what you think of yourself; you might become a scoundrel, a loud mouth or a portly and complacent loser.

Adjustments are at your fingertips, bombers. It's a stray from the well-traveled road to run a mile down it, to grab a bar by its girth and extend it victoriously in the air overhead, to pit your body with all your might against nearly immovable objects, to apportion an hour a day to tire yourself in good battle under the weight of heavy, lifeless metal and to insanely strain with pain to gain the edge. Isn't that motivation enough: to stray from the norm, to strain to gain, to extend, to battle and seek the edge?

Is that too much?

I like lists. So here's a long list of training motivators -- incentives to work out and eat right by – presented to the curious mind:

Are you guilty of self-neglect and low-esteem? Work out and eat right. The duo effectively fights enemies and conquers foes of all manners.

Are you a confused and disorderly person? Working out is actively meditative and restores thy soul.

Are you sluggish? Exercise and right eating generate energy, endurance, hormonal balance, healthy digestion and clear thinking. They build and rebuild, and deter destruction.

Are you well fed, but hungry? A workout satisfies your appetite. The joy of fulfillment from a workout well-executed is indescribably delicious. A workout poorly executed is more rewarding than any dessert.

Are you uninterested in healthy food? A workout arouses a real desire to eat.

Are you broken? A workout is the fix.

Are you bored? Weightlifting is a fun and fulfilling diversion.

Are you lonely? A workout is a swell companion.

Are you tired? A workout stimulates.

Are you wired? A workout promotes needed rest and relaxation.

Are you anxious, nervous or strung out? A workout soothes and untangles the mess.

Are you troubled and unsure? Problems are solved while working out.

Are you fearful and worrisome? The workout dispels the paranoid misplaced pair.

Are you doubtful? Work out and all doubt is gone.

Are your emotions erratic? Work out. Stabilize them with active, physical confrontation.

Are you achy and suffering general malaise? The prescription is a caring workout.

Are you sniffling with a cold? A gentle workout stimulates the immune system.

Life's motivators vary with time and age and the panorama. But health and fitness, muscles and might are a loyal and consistent troop of incentives and stimulators. Coddle them now, curry their favor, set them in stone and they, like your friends and loved ones, will never leave your side.

Soar high and always.

Godspeed... Draper

*****

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