up, people. We don’t know what’s out there, but we know
from past experience we must continually be watchful and ready.
The consequences of ignorance, neglect or complacency can be catastrophic.
We are entering the holiday season, supposedly a time of thanksgiving
and good cheer, yet it is the greatest challenge to our survival
and goodness. The bad guy is dressed up like the good guy and we
are stalked, persuaded and driven to lay aside our principles and
disciplines in exchange for indulgence and vice. Eat, drink and
be merry for tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Party, Marty, ‘tis
the season to be hearty. A toast to 2003, another to 04; let’s
drink to good friends and one to our foe.
where ya goin’? It’s early; besides, the gym will be
there tomorrow. Life’s short and then you die. More pie?”
sheep are led astray, the cattle graze, raccoons mischievously loot
and pigs continually root. The final reward: fat, out of shape and
boring. Bombers, like eagles, circle above the simple-minded revelry.
Life is good; the sky is clear, blue and endless. We can see forever.
precepts to memorize before taking to the stormy winter sky:
Do not allow your health and fitness goals to become buried in holiday
excuses or displaced by misplaced responsibilities. Care for yourself
and you care for others.
Do not miss one workout; one leads to two, then ten. Go before the
iron and steel, if only for 20 minutes of grappling and stress release.
Do not allow excess in your eating behavior. Stretch the margins
without overstretching. Indulge without the bulge. Have a drink
and an extra serving here and there, now and then, but not everywhere,
again and again.
Do not fail to encourage your partners in the pursuit of muscle
and might to continue the good fight. In encouraging them you encourage
yourself and you encourage goodness and right. That is in a sense
what the season is about.
Do not forget that life goes on and we pay heavily for our seasonal
misdeeds. They are nasty, difficult to undo and can become permanent.
of the spring and summer, sunshine and short sleeves, strength and
energy, your heart and lungs and your invested hard work. Party
now, pay later, big time. Have you forgotten?
I sound like a stiff, but I’m lookin’ out for ya. You
know what you ought to do and you know what you ought not to do.
Fly high, enjoy yourself and be careful out there.
not only the long drawn out holiday season, which begins with Halloween
and oozes like goo till the year’s end, it’s the winter
shutdown of energy and creativity that sabotages our muscle and
fitness plans. Everything that is homey and comfortable becomes
more and more appealing: early nights, food, couch, warm clothes,
sipping hot tea, naps, indoor entertainment and a relaxed mind and
body -- dormancy. The brightly lit and noisy gym floor is downtown
and requires an effort to reach and an effort to use. It’s
dark and chilly out there (poor baby), my mind’s a blank (uninspired),
I had a hard day (lazy), I’ll go tomorrow (lie). You’re
You need a plan, a defense, against the thin and pasty internal
riot causing you grief. You cannot give in, give up or give away
that which you have worked so hard to achieve. Before erosion begins
and hairline cracks riddle your foundations, note with healthy pride
your understanding of exercise and nutrition, and their value to
well being and long life. You’re informed and wise and practicing
the truths. Most people don’t have a clue (ignorance), could
care less (stupidity) or cannot or will not apply the principles
(weakness). You do, painstakingly, yet you don’t gloat or
glower, knowing they are a sad lot and need help. Appreciate the
tough and slow and ever-rewarding process of becoming more; applaud
your singular participation in the good deed and your strength to
persist. A strong back and a strong mind are beautiful.
Re-examine your discipline, as if holding an object of wonder in
your hands, and approximate its shape, heft and functionality. You
have a precious, multi-faceted possession in your grasp -- full
of life -- and it endures only as it is valued, cared for and engaged.
What role will it play in the days ahead and will it thrive? Healthful
eating and steady training depend on discipline. And, too, they
are its test, challenge and exercise. Never let the quality fail
flexible and be free. Training modifications are often needed to
enable consistency in the gym when the pressure’s on and time
is spare. Once you’ve established your personal responsibility
and coping out is not an issue, you will find it to your advantage
to have prescribed time-maximizing and intensity-magnifying routines
in your repertoire. Having prepared your gym bag with the necessities
(towel, favorite attire, water, an adequate MRB, Bomber de-coder
ring), enter the gym ready for action.
gang, wazzup!” Zoom, you’re on it: excited, energized,
determined, and totally focused. You warm up during the first five
minutes of midsection and the ball, AKA the Cannonball, is not rolling,
it is propelling. And you know what they say? Do not get in the
way of a propelling cannonball or you will get hurt; they do not
slow down or stop until they reach their mark.
is the first of a series of cannonball routines to decisively execute
those short, yet crucial battles in the season ahead:
The first five minutes of every cannonball workout are devoted to
non-stop crunches and leg raises: For example, 25-30 crunches followed
by 10-15 leg raises followed by 25-30 crunches followed by 10-15
raises till your time is up. No lingering or loitering; you will
Arms and upper body ramrod:
barbell curl: with a moderate weight and mild body thrust, curl
a bent-bar from fully hanging position to a high-up, bar-approaching-forehead
position, medium-slow return and repeat. (4-5 x 8) The high-up range
of motion increases the work load of the movement; tighter and fuller
biceps action, adds stimulating muscle resistance to the front shoulders,
plus more upper-back recruitment to stabilize the torso.
machine or freehand: Freehand dips with weight hanging from a waist
belt are a superior approach for you power heads. Go for sets of
6 to 8. High reps are also advisable to whack the tris and make
up for lost sets and reps due to the abbreviated workout. With machine
dips you have the advantage of positioning your body in order to
isolate different muscle groups throughout the sets. Lean forward,
more pec. Lean back, more tris. Round your back, more mid and upper
back. Practice this as you focus on the muscles and the body’s
placement. 4-5 x 10 -- 20+.
pushdowns: Stand one foot away from the overhead pulley and for
your handle use a rope or a slightly angled bar. Hold your upper
arms close to your sides and extend your forearms forward of your
body. This is an appropriate starting position; from here push down
until the arms are fully extended by the power of the triceps and
with focus and moderate pace; return to the starting position, and
repeat for 6-8 reps. Nice, but you’re not done. Listen closely;
that is the standard action for standard triceps engagement (wherever
that is, around and about, never could distinguish the three heads).
Now, holding your starting position, take a step back (18”)
with your right foot and place your left foot forward (18”)
toward the pulley apparatus as if you were in a runner’s stance.
Good. Now push the handle downward and specifically forward at 45
degrees toward the floor. This re-positioning of the body makes
the movement interesting, challenging and fun and bears a different
resistance on the triceps, like higher and to the outside. Get another
6-8 reps, steady as she goes, as the position demands renewed stabilizing
energy and talents.
wait, there’s more (secret infomercial speech meant to excite):
You have a few more reps lingering in your torso and tris if you
stretch out and throw in some thrusts. After your last designated
forward-thrust rep, re-assert your staggered stance and allow the
handle to return to a high-up position, passing your forehead and
just above your hairline, and pour your remaining strength into
forward-triceps thrusts, noting the involvement of the torso, serratus,
lats, minor pecs and stabilizing upper-back muscles and, finally,
is tough, yet exhilarating work, and the grip is powerized by the
succession of these hand-demanding exercises.
job. Do it again -- a little harder. And again -- only this time
blast it. And again -- remember, this is a short workout, let’s
go for intensity. And again, like your life depended on it. Swell.
You can go home now, roll over and play dead.
must remind you that in my observation, intensity is lacking in
the performance of exercise on the gym floor. It is wise to prepare
yourself for muscle exertion, to practice and condition yourself
for tough, yet fulfilling work. Without substantial muscle overload
the body does not get the message.
Most folks mount the aerobic equipment and wait for progress to
arrive from heaven. Someone from outer space or a university has
unfairly indoctrinated the ready-to-liquefy trainee. Weights equal
cold, dull, grueling, ugly, muscle-bound, male, not female, dumb,
and stiff. They do not wish to tire themselves, hurt themselves,
build muscles nor anything resembling muscles. Therefore, they sprinkle
themselves with exercise like it was fairy dust and flitter around
the gym floor, winter butterflies migrating. One must build up to
more challenging levels of training to achieve progressive stages
thoughtful characters who are fit and training for maintenance require
robust physical exertion, not cross-eyed, tongue-hanging-out-of-the-side-of-the-mouth
demanding, but effort that is energetic and expressive. This is
a happy and satisfied group. They’re cool. The gym is their
refuge and exercise is their diversion.
overweight and under-muscled -- those most in need -- must grab
the beast by the horns and wrestle it to the ground. Disappointment
and discouragement, fatigue and aches rage. It takes wit, guts,
certainty, stamina and an increasing effort that grows with their
muscle, might and will. This works. Push that iron with purpose.
Lift that steel with resolve. Now you know. The body was not meant
to sit and munch and roll around. Use it, hard, fast and strong.
The intermediate, slightly seasoned lifter -- you, perhaps -- might
occasionally wander down a freshly made path trimmed with dandelions
and river rock. How cute, a new-age training style developed by
trend-setting bubbleheads. The temptation is irresistible. Skipping
and leaping and a series of feather kicks take you down the happy
trail and to its end in 30 minutes, and only once a week. “That
was weird and it feels as if nothing happened.” And you are
The hardcore agree. It’s the basics. Intensify, pound, seethe
and periodically wallow like a boar in your workouts. How else will
your muscles and bones, heart and lungs, enzymes and hormones know
you really care?
go, dear bombers. Time to wallow and seethe.
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