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How to Behave in a Commercial Gym

Pet Peeves

Barbell curls for big biceps

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Pet peeves graze upon the prime acres of our lives, leaving them barren and discolored -- little irritants, unlikable compromises, disturbing habits, irksome characteristics, upsetting intrusions ... they are flocks, herds and hordes.

Pet peeves aren’t as cute as pet puppies, but since they’re yours it’s okay to let them run about freely and yap and nibble at your heels. If you don’t, you might believe you’re the only one in town who owns the ugly runts and they’ll grow into oversized monsters. I personally have a farm full of the little beasts and want to share them with you. Maybe you’ll see one you like and want to take it home. Help yourself. Or you may see several you chased from your own neighborhood because they’re naughty and pooped on your lawn. Bad peeves!

Stand back. I will now line up the musclehead’s common pet peeves one by one and briefly note their personality traits. Please, no feeding or teasing the rascals. They’re hard to control.

~ maintaining an anabolic environment every day, always and at all cost

Feed me. Feed me. This is like walking a tightrope across a leech-infested swamp and the only one who really cares is you. If you slip and fall, you don’t die, but what a revolting splash. It really sucks. Spoon-feeding the muscles so they grow without accumulating fat, yet assuring the body sufficient energy is a trick of the trade. Easy does it -- not too much, not too little; just right.

Give me a break. I don’t feel like eating every three hours, and I sure don’t want another can of tuna. You eat Chicken-of-the-Sea and low-fat cottage cheese for a month and tell us how many compliments you get for your charming personality, prune face.

Easy, love-handles. No name calling.

~ protein, protein, protein

I’m talking about real protein -- the entire amino acid balance in abundance, not the puny and partial protein in beans, pasta or a slice of Vita-grain bread. We don’t count soy, either, cheerleaders. Animal meats, milk products and eggs -- the power sources -- must be ingested if you’re serious about building muscle and might… not ice cream and Jell-O, whole wheat pancakes with syrup on top or a plate of Luigi’s Pasta Suprema. The stuff I’m talking about you chew with incisors and molars before swallowing it, Bomber Blend shakes excluded. And, ya know, sometimes chewing, swallowing and chewing is a drag.

Excuse me. It’s time for my post workout, pre-dinner high protein snack -- four hard-boiled eggs and eight ounces of spring water and some aminos. Burp!

~ no more eating this, that or the other lip-smacking thing, because it’s junk food

Junk food is junk food, pure and simple, but, oh, sugar is so sweet. Ice cream (been five miserable years) is more fun than a pony, and you never heard me say chocolate is gross. Gooey cinnamon buns are wonderful at the county fair and, thank heaven, it only comes to town once a year. These alluring foods are not enhancements to one’s training regimen and too often a little leak in the dyke leads to a growing trickle and sometimes a major break in the dam. They contribute to big and round, not lean and mean.

The chemicals used to add delightful flavor, texture, color and long shelf-life to your junk food will pickle your innards and dissolve your brain and cause your hair to fall out. The affect is as subtle as a skunk at a picnic. Just one deep-fried Twinkie, just one, will cause you to burst. An ugly sight! They sell them at the Santa Cruz boardwalk -- I’m serious -- and the staggering line is wrapped around the corner.

~ living around a workout schedule

It works best when we establish a particular time of day to exercise. It becomes a positive habit and we count on it for regularity and balance in our day. This is good; we’re hooked. The body adapts, grows conditioned to the strenuous output and responds with the development of muscle and might and the reduction of stress. We are fulfilled. Miss a workout and we have been known to fall apart: mood, digestion, appetite, relationships, blood pressure, libido... all that vital stuff. They cave in, fold up or go south.

Injury, illness, family responsibilities, careers and disasters happen; that’s life, but we’d rather move the planet by wheelbarrow than move our precious workout.

“Sorry, Mr. President, I can’t accept the promotion to Vice President. I work out during those hours.”

“Yes, sweetie, I want little Johnny too, but either you push hard now or after my workout, your choice.”

Never miss a training session, lest thou fall off the face of the earth. The other side of the same coin is an obligation to our training program that borders on obsessive. You’d love to miss a workout, for any reason, but the guilt is literally overwhelming; you quiver with remorse. You and your spouse won round-trip tickets and accommodations for 10 days on Tahiti, but Travelocity.com says there’s no gym, Lifecycles only. I don’t think so.

Last time you were forced to forego your workout, the fire department assured you that had you continued deadlifting you would have gone up in flames with the rest of the gym.

~ small piles of food supplements, morning, noon and night

Ugh, gulp.
Ugh, gulp, gag
Ugh, gulp, gag, glerp.

~ Squats and the day after squats... you’ve gotta love ‘em

The anticipation, the risk, the loading and unloading of the bar, the crushing weight on the back, knees and shoulders. The punishing sets, the interminable reps, the slow descent and the dubious ascent. The wrapping and unwrapping, belt on and belt off. Unrack the bar, step back like the Frankenstein monster, squat, step forward like a wounded fire-spewing dragon and rack it. Great stuff. Nothing like it. Let’s do it again.

The hammering results come as spasms, crawling to the bathroom in the middle of the night, backing down stairs and backing up stairs, loss of appetite and peripheral vision, delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), which is preceded by absolutely instantaneous muscle soreness (AIMS), lower back seizures that resemble earth tremors, and pulsating knees that glow in the dark. I love growth.

~ sticking points, plateaus, slumps and the musclebuilding blues

The conditions above are indistinguishable; they are common and they are unbearable, disappointing, discouraging, inevitable and inextricable. They can be fixed and overcome, but only by the persevering, and that by courage and might. Now you know everything there is to know. The rest is unknown, yet to be discovered.

He who endures plateaus wins.

Oh, one other thing: As you resolve one sticking point, it is replaced by another. Immediately.

~ holding in the gut

Ever get sick of holding in your gut? For once you just want to forget about the pendulous bulge and relax, but no, that will not do. Everything comes tumbling down, a sudden avalanche below your chest. It’s all that muscle, I suppose, and oversized organs to accommodate the process of musclebuilding. Certainly isn’t fat!

Alas, it’s good for us, bombers. The exhausting muscle contraction is indeed a discipline and requires substantial fat-burning energy to effect and maintain. Posture awareness is a most valuable benefit accompanying abdominal vigilance and slumping shoulders are often corrected as we pull in our stomach regularly. This is further muscle flexing and calorie burning to add to our ongoing, almost perpetual training regimen.

The alternative is hideous. Relaxing the mighty midsection muscles and allowing things to unfold is lazy and pathetic, an immediate source of guilt and insecurity. The mere letting go of the belly makes one feel fat all over, and certainly the constant released pressure against the wall of abdominal muscles stretches them beyond reconstruction. Then there’s the image, shameful after all the work, attitude and sacrifice one invests in seeking strength, fitness and svelte appeal.

Laree suggested we design a slim-line girdle, call it the Bomber Fuselage Control. I dunno.

~ whole body shaving

I’ll pass on the horrid details.

~ Lady Fairchild asks to work in on the leg press and I’m going heavy

Go away is the first thought that comes to mind, and don’t come back is the second, a continuation of the first thought, but I say neither. "Sure," I offer before I can stop myself, "how many plates you want?" Where did that come from, big mouth, I ask myself in a whisper. "Did you say a little one, ma’am? Which little one; this little one or this really little one? I gotcha, the really little one. There you go. You’re welcome."

"What’s that? Did you say what is the exercise called and how do you do it? It’s called the leg press, for building strong leg muscles. Nope. Does nothing for the chest. You sit here like this... What’s that? You’d rather stand. I see... well, no I don’t see. Have you seen the neat treadmills in the aerobic area near the TVs? You like soaps?"

~ deadlifts today and she’s doing stability–ball crunches on the lifting platform

Hi, Lady Fairchild. How about doing those worthless exercises in the parking lot? Again, I keep my mouth shut, but she tells me she loves the treadmill thing and asks what I suggest for her arm muscles. I say, "Let’s take this purple ball and put it in the corner and I’ll show you standing dumbbell curls and machine dips." We’re both thrilled. I place my gym bag in the center of the lifting platform and spread about my straps and belt as if big action is underway, a common ploy used by selfish muscleheads to retain equipment and space. I’ll be back! First, I will make my friend sore. Heh!

~ she’s chatting on the cell while sitting on the leg extension -- my leg extension

How would you like to eat that thing, Lady Doolittle Talkalot? I say nothing and make noisy adjustments on the leg curl machine immediately to her right. Plates are clanging and moving fast, as she continues to whisper into the devilish device. I vow not to glare because it’s childish and I do it too often and feel like an impulsive dope afterwards. Why I think it’s okay to toss the 25s and 10s around like an infant's rattles I’m not sure, but it’ll come to me later in a rush of guilt when I cool off. Who’s she talkin’ to when I need an extreme thigh burn? I huff and puff, flex the tris and lats as I strut and grunt on the last reps of thrusting leg curls. ERRRRRR! I’m bad! She’s impervious.

~ loaded Oly bar on chest, won’t budge, no spotter and Lady Fairchild’s watching

"When you’re done there... Dave, is it? Can you show me... umm... what’s it say here on my little chart... the bench press, please?"

Humility chooses the right time and place with sufficient exertion to accomplish its wonder. Words cannot describe the joy of growing in character under the weight of cold, immovable iron.

Bombers, if one day you can not fly your craft, for heaven’s sake, grease your flaps and change the oil instead.

Soar! Train hard, seek sanity, be nice, thank God... Dave

P.S. Bombers! The Stealth Tri-Baster is in continual use at our base in Santa Cruz. I spoke with a big rugged lifter I’ve known for 20 years, the welder who keeps the Santa Cruz Boardwalk Amusement Park from falling apart. He grabbed the beefy triceps-building handle with his huge hands and commented on its construction, applauding the clean welding and the strength of the steel.

"This thing’s a steal for the price," he said.

Click here to take a look at Dave's TriBlaster bar

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