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Dave Draper's Iron Online

Weight Training - Bodybuilding - Nutrition - Motivation

Give Me Five, Make that Ten, Do I Hear Fifteen?

To bulk up or not to bulk up this winter, that is the question. Perhaps not the question on everyone’s lips, but I’m stirred by the email of those readers who are lightweights, inch along in their struggle for muscle and resist the long-range adventure of bulking and bombing.

It’s been so long since I’ve strayed from my automatic menu of essentials that I’m beginning to take on the features and personality of The Muscleman Robot by Mattel. Pull the string from my lower lumbar and I say, “Where’s my tuna and water?” or “I want Bomber Blend.” The voice is monotone and mechanical, the expression serious and the movements stiff. I’m not much fun to play with anymore and I won’t go away.

Bulking up would change my appearance and I could start pushing the weights around in the gym once again, maybe even some of the members like I used to when I was younger. “Hey, I’m using that bench, lady.” Lately, they just ignore me or hiss. I hate that.

It’s tough to listen to your own advice when push comes to shove. Adding muscle is cool, but at the cost of the quivering striation in your pecs or the loss of that brazen vein tracing a solitary path across the biceps? Hmmmm. Who really wants to trade in his minor six-pack for a major keg? (Yes, the only clothes that fit me are out-stretched, extra-large sweats but I can squat with plates, Bubba.)

Gaining weight at 6 feet, 220 pounds and 60 years will require a few adjustments and it would be a good idea to spend 30 seconds answering some basic questions, like: Why? How? When? What about your training? No doubt we can all learn from a review of the list.

“Why?” can go around in a circle before the answer is clear. Various personalities roaming within my concerned body clamor to be heard.

Mr. Wonder is curious and his goal is to observe the bulking process, determine its current success and failure possibilities and report it to the IronOnline readers. -- Studious.

The big, bad and insecure child wants to growl and flex and get huge and strong, that’s why. You got a problem with that? -- Stupid.

The guy who writes the newsletter, DD Dull, says, “It’s time to stir it up and stretch it out: Keeps the interest from freezing up in the winter and fires up the goals before the spring.” -- Smart, almost.

“Let’s put some meat on those bones. Plenty of good food under the power of good training is good medicine.” Here we have the observation and optimism of the logical, but often spacey elder, Doc D, who inhabits the thin air of the cosmic web pages and speaks his mind occasionally. -- Sensible.

The Blond Bomber looks forward to blasting it through the winter and building up his muscle stockpile for getting ripped in the spring. -- Simple.

It’s a change, a challenge, a worthy goal, a fun and interesting experience, healing and stabilizing and defensive. It’s productive (unless you already register 30 on the BMI scale or have busted out your XXL sweats).

“How?” is straightforward. Only a few choices are available at the captain’s table, the same meal schedule with bigger portions of protein and complex carbs. Steak dominates the plate and butter melts on the vegetables. Additional servings of fruit and cottage cheese are sought, and the protein powder flies like a B-52. Another meal might be tossed in just to be revolting. A flagrant option (hold onto your hat) could be the inclusion of stuff like ice cream and cheesecake. I dunno, girls and boys… this is, like, weird.

Eating becomes a primary activity, shopping an event, food costs rise, muscles grow and that’s that. Quality food and careful feeding begets a quality body and superior well-being. Protein powder must be logically assessed as an integral part of the food budget, not as a supplement. Protein shakes are valuable and inexpensive meals, not secondary snacks. Cut out the cappuccino or beer or the spouse’s allowance.

“When?” is sometime in November as The Bash fades from the headlines and the world goes back to normal; as the filmmakers decide who will star in the screenplay and when it will be released. Five months of living in sweatshirts and sweatpants can be ugly, and it sure is dumb. In March and April the cocoon is slowly shed and the morphed creature emerges. What if I gain 15 jiggly pounds of fat, it’s stuck like pudding everywhere and I can’t lose it… ever? Life is often cruel.

How about the training? That will unfold as the food intake and the body weight increase. I’m certain it will be similar to my current methods of operation with an increase of the weight handled in most exercises. Strength improves agreeably with the addition of food and pounds. Motivation increases in a reasonable, direct proportion with the increase in muscle strength. And, unless the mass gained is too much, too soon and too loose, endurance and energy will rise as well. We become ideal muscle builders with the perfect anabolic environment: fuel to press on and on, ingredients for extensive repair and construction, developing body weight to accommodate ever-growing muscle overload and the amplified attitude to motivate. Stand clear of moving parts.

Seeking personal records in favorite heavy lifts (squats, deadlifts, dumbbell presses, thick bar curls) that provide comprehensive stimulation will frequent the agenda. Risk of injury will be carefully monitored and overtraining avoided.

No peeking under the oversized sweatshirt … ride the spin bike for 20 minutes three or four times a week instead. Keep your eye on the springtime and your grip off the love handles. Feel the power and pump and don’t scrutinize and criticize tone and shape. You are not scratching an itch or rubbing your nose. You are a work in progress, not a canvas to be unveiled. You are a construction zone, persons at work, a hardhat area where machines and material are scattered and in use. Proposed completion: late spring-early summer, 2003.

Today, mid-October, the sun is shining, the sky is blue, the air is warm and the skin is glowing beneath short sleeves. Bulking up, packing on the pounds, getting huge on big steaks and heavy squatting under layers of sweatshirts sound like the pressing plans of a tomorrow.

Right now I’m going to get some fall rays out on the deck while they last. See ya later.

By the time you receive this conjecture, Laree and I will be zooming across the desert to reach a cool halfway point en route to Las Vegas. Wish you could be there so we could talk face to face while they’re covered with barbecue sauce and big smiles. I’ll give the gang your best and save you a few ribs if there are any left over, although, you’d more likely to get a 600-pound bench press for reps.

Bomb on, dear friends. Dave

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