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It's glorious hard work

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There is no secret routine. There is no secret to muscularizing.

You eat lots of protein and train like crazy till the job is done, which it never is. Not much more to it than that. What there is, you figure out along the way.

Worse thing you can do, besides quitting, is thinking too much: researching, reading, studying, referring to the muscle mags and asking everyone else for advice. You are “it,” bomber. You and your self are the whole, the question and the answer, the problem and the solution, the challenge and the victor, the raw material and the finished product. Intellectualizing is exhausting and suffocating. You need oxygen and action.

Now, that doesn't mean you can't talk things over with a friend, a tree stump or your pet. Review and encouragement, reflection and hope, observation and humor, assessment and adjustment, these are the essential tools of construction, the implements of development seldom at hand. Let's make them ever-ready.

A word of support can carry you over broken glass and burning embers.

When perplexed I remind myself that someone had to think this stuff up. Many hazy years ago some brute, probably, or a less-than-delicate woman with hairy legs, stood in silence and contemplated muscle and strength. How can I be more powerful and physically impressive, lift heavier barrels, anvils and logs and bend bigger spikes? Practice, train, perform and repeat. Start small and add weight and size to the objects of attention. Improvise stuff, devise and contrive weighted things to assist the muscle-building and strength-building process: stones of different sizes, logs of various thickness, length and weight, graduating barrels filled with material of increasing density, assorted steel rails and axels with wheels on the ends.

The latter is a most interesting concept, worth developing.

Pulling things is unlike pushing things and broadens the treatment of muscle and might. A rope over the back or around the waist or formed into a harness is attached to a wagon, empty at first and later loaded with men and women of like interest. The passionate one-man beast-of-burden pulls with all his might till the wagon creaks forward and his body screams in glorious pain and the whole affair reaches its mark across a stretch of rutted dirt road. The occupants go for the ride of their lives and spectators line up to award the rope-bearing, sinewy marvel with cheers and laughter. What a grand feat.

How about this? Sitting on the ground with his feet braced facing the wagon and the rope in his grasp, Big Mac pulls the staggering load to him hand over hand. Or, a platform is constructed, a rope is dropped through a hole in its center and attached to a weighted object and lifted from above. Here's a simple one: the strongman hangs from an overhead beam and pulls himself upward till his chin touches the beam and fully lowers himself as many consecutive times as possible -- call them a set of repetitions.

What I'm saying is this: It's not rocket science with mathematical formulas and equations requiring genius. It's not masterful techniques and intimidating processes. Nor is it inherent talents or accomplished skills. It's lifting weights -- and eating good food. It's not voodoo and a witch's brew, black magic, smoke and mirrors. It's logic, common sense and persistence. It's resourcefulness and guts.

It's glorious hard work.

Relax and be confident. Don't stiff-arm your training or place it coldly outside your life as if it were a bad-tempered junkyard dog or simple-minded relative. Get comfortable with exercise, cozy with your training. Know it as you know a friend. We can love good friends and find them maddening at times, but they are entirely too important to be without. So it is with the vigorous activity of exercise, the vital undertaking of fitness. A little of both sentiments with an accent on appreciation and respect is quite an acceptable mix.

This promising venture takes more time and work than most people think, much to their surprise and disappointment. After a month, most aspirants feel beat up and cheated, toppling off the wagon and onto the rutted road below. The wagon bounces along with a hardy bunch still clinging to its sideboards, the journey a wild one and destination a seductive unknown. God bless them and grant mercy on those who toppled and settled with yesterday's dust.

Among the selection of goals sought by the lifter, muscularity is possibly the classiest. Muscle mass is impressive, shape is envied and strength is everyone's prize. Yet, fine muscle definition carried with ease is hot like fire. Sinew visible through thin skin and crowned with faint veins conveys instant quickness, sudden power and boundless energy. Raw human life itself is seen in vivid action: rippling, separating, stretching and contracting; functioning, living and breathing. In man or woman, it's fascinating, captivating and alluring. We want some.

Modern or new age lifters might say, “The basics, supersetting and volume? You'll never build muscle that way. I read it somewhere. That's overtraining.”

Yeah, well get over it. Unless you're one in 20 million (my own approximation) or you're looking for cute little teeny weeny, itsy bitsy muscles, you're going to require hard work and lots of it. I withdraw the second condition of the former statement; itsy bitsy muscle requires hard work and lots of it, too. And if you're new at this stuff, maybe muscularity isn't in your immediate future. Good old-fashioned muscle of any description might be most acceptable… and agreeable.

Here's where learning to love your training comes in handy.

You want to train each muscle group, directly or indirectly, two times a week over a four-day workout week. Don't be random in your routine, but allow yourself legitimate margin for exercise alterations where and when necessary.

Explanation: Without being a wimp, if a series of tough workouts fatigue you, let a day go by so you can blast it the next day. If the insertions are tender in the biceps, change your standing barbell curl to thumbs-up curls or reverse curls or wrist curls; if the bench is killing your shoulders, go to dumbbells to avoid damage and allow relief and repair. When your legs are noodles, work the shoulders and arms and catch up with the legs the following day or so.

Fit it all together with feel, instinct, logic and finesse -- and responsibility.

Hit the abs and torso and lower back as a region three or four times a week with full-bore vigor, high reps, tight contractions and multi-set combinations one workout to the next. Vary the combinations of exercises to make the job interesting and certain, as the healthy condition of the region of muscles is vital and its toned appearance most appealing. Allow 15 to 20 minutes for the tough, worthwhile action, remembering the activity is aerobic and prepares the body for action. You'll beat the back pain and disability of midlife and old age. You'll stay strong.

Remember, exercise doesn't change from moment to moment or year to year, as does medicine, high tech and finance. What you've learned will hold true next year...and the one after that.

Well, put down my landing gear, I've come to the end of the runway. Take advantage of the summer's amazing days and the fine life we share.

God bless us all,

The Bomber

*****

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