Steps to Rediscovering the Fire Within
Muscle & Fitness, May 2000
Dave Draper. Reprinted courtesy of Weider Publications
up this morning'
find my shoes
My baby done left me
And I got the trainin' blues.
the haunting words of this sad refrain echo in your mind? Has lifting
heavy metal lost its thrill? Do you gag at the thought of bench
pressing? Do you find the gym depressing and its members a bunch
to BBA, Bodybuilders Anonymous. Stand up, state your name and repeat,
"I am a bodybuilder and I have lost my will to train." This is a
common and treatable disease, not to be ashamed of or denied. There
are 10 steps we must consider if we are to overcome this malady
and put our training in good order. Let's work together, one day
at a time.
No. 1: The first step in recovering your muscle-building
spirit is to review your early training goals. Question:
Why are you training in the first place? The desires, the passions,
the anticipated rewards we originally formed are remarkable and
we need to never lose sight of them. They are the essential catalyst
of our formation, the spark that makes us go. They set us in motion,
keep us in motion. Our goals, like DNA, ultimately account for our
uniqueness and significance.
2: Reassessing every now and then is healthy and a sure sign
of growth. Adjust your early impressions and objectives
at this point in time. Who wants barn-door lats, cannonball delts
and washboard abs, anyway? Sounds a little silly, come to think
of it. I'm not suggesting you set your sights low to assure that
you don't miss the mark. Set them high. Just don't set yourself
up for disappointment.
Bodybuilders tend to be tough on themselves once they've become
regularly invested. This is good if it's drive: you'll grow. This
is bad if it's driven: you'll burn out.
No. 3: Our training edge can't be expected to maintain its
sharpness; life is a tough gruel through which it must cut. We have
only so much time, energy, focus and discipline. Something's gotta
give. Job, family and responsibilities, though often filled with
joy and satisfaction, devour us.
Life is big and can bully us. Our training will take a hit once
in a while. Be strong, don't submit, accept daily living.
If you fall, pick yourself up. Adjust your exercise schedule to
suit the times, the struggles, the detours. Remember, the gym and
the workouts prepare us for the grind. It's during these days that
your training pays off in toughness, endurance and perseverance.
How does anybody get through the week without training, the great
4: After starting exercise, stopping and starting again, you've
come to realize you need it. You feel better, much better, when
you're on than when you're off. You know the list of endless benefits.
Review "The List." You're happier with yourself and
about yourself when you eat right and work out. You're more comfortable,
less stressed, more competent and confident. Of course, you feel
less guilty because you're taking care of yourself as compared to
neglecting yourself. What a relief. You lift more with less effort
in half the time. Your flesh flexes rather than jiggles and there's
less where there should be less. Energy and endurance are like buried
treasure discovered, keys to doors once locked. Your doctor remarks
approvingly about your blood pressure and the checker at the market
asks where you work out. Yes!
5: Alas, there's a constant element in daily living about which
we stumble. It moves silently and forever and pauses for no one,
not for an instant. Neither you nor I have enough; it's time. I
listen to people at the gym who are overweight, under-muscled and
unconditioned. They tire easily and settle for a small portion of
life. Without energy, they are without enthusiasm, creativity and
the joy of living. "You can fix this," I say. They nod reluctantly
and say, "I don't have the time."
could possibly be more important? You're 25, or is it 40? And your
youth, vitality and zeal threaten to leave you like a receding tide.
Is it your job, family and obligations? To whom or to what are you
more responsible than you, your health, longevity and quality of
must we do to recover our misplaced training? The corporate term
is "prioritize." We must make time - regular, unrushed, focused
and devoted training time. Under these conditions only will
we respond to our training: build muscle, burn fat, learn, fulfill
and enjoy. Squeeze it in when and where you can and you feel half-empty
and frustrated. Make time to train.
are a hundred reasons and a thousand excuses why we can't make it
to the gym. If you believe them, they're all valid. Believe this:
stop exercising and things will never get better. They'll only get
6: This should be a universal command: Do not allow a
gap in your training. You cruise, you lose. A day becomes
a week; a week becomes a month. Layoffs? Sure, when absolutely necessary,
but regard your exercise and menu as part of your life, like your
house, your work, eating, sleeping, friendships, good habits and
opinions. Spare yourself from training darkness. Don't let a training
gap spread over you like an evening fog. It's so hard to find your
No. 7: Here's another good question; be honest - are you
new at this? Have you figured it out yet? Listen, this is not complicated
stuff. Getting in shape is tough; make no mistake. It takes a lot
of patience, discipline and long hours of hard work. But it isn't
complex. If you go hunting for secrets, believe the incredible hype
and prefer anatomical, biochemical and physiological research to
lifting weights and eating good food, then you got "complicated"
and you're off in the wrong direction, more like outer space. Get
into the basics of hard training and sound, high protein eating
and stay there.
Hit heavy workouts. Everybody's worried about overtraining. Sheesh.
Push it, blast it, no tiptoeing through the fields of metal. Train
with confidence and enthusiasm - the only way to train. If you perceive
exercise and hard work as dull and suspect, they will be. Fact is,
they are fun, exciting and fulfilling. Your perception may be broken,
your confidence not established. Pain, strain, gain.
got a little carried away there. Just stay focused on the good old
basics should you peruse the worldwide junkyard of information.
There are no secret methods, no secret ingredients except enthusiasm
and confidence. The seventh step in training resuscitation: keep
it simple, orderly, clear. Practice form and focus. Load,
aim, fire, hit the target.
8: This step is thin yet integral and has to do with moods,
urges, rhythms, seasons, vibration... that stuff. Sometimes everything
is right and nothing is wrong, yet you have the training blues.
As long as you're not given to defeat or negativity, ride it out.
Don't miss your workouts, don't lay off, don't be cynical, don't
complain. Just wait. Be patient. Persist. The fire
will come back and you will unknowingly kindle it.
No. 9: Inspiration, that majestic charge that stirs us, comes
when we're loose, open and honest, faithful and hopeful. Inspiration
is everywhere. It isn't a thing to pursue; inspiration pursues us.
Somewhere in the words above is the ninth training fix - an ether
of sorts. Breathe deeply.
No. 10: Finally, share the good fight with a pal who
understands. "Misery loves company" should not be the theme
of your relationship. Pity parties are for losers. But kicking things
around in the light of good company reveals resolution, clarity
and substance. It's like cleaning out your junk drawer and putting
it in order.