First Things First

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Strike a Spark
Getting Started with your Workouts

Dave Draper, IFBB Champion

Hi, Bombardiers.

And the beat goes on. Tuesday night, getting late, and no Wednesday dd.com newsletter. I thought of copying something obscure out of a vintage 1959 "IronMan": "Heavy Squats in Deep Sand," The IM Power Principle or "The Squat, Deadlift, Bench Press Heavy Duty Triset - One Set, One Rep, Once a Week." Stimulating read, sound training, but alas, plagiarizing - a weak man's last resort. Not for this Bomber.

When the mind's not yet in motion, I put the pencil to the pad and write anything. Like going to the gym when you don't want to and know you must. You walk in, grab some weights and push 'em around, trying to strike a spark. You've got to take the doubt, the apathy, the guilt, the laziness… the muttering weakling harshly by the ear and lead it on a somewhat aimless path 'till there's the warmth of an ember. Ahhh, fire. Maybe not a bonfire, but it's hot.

What's this? The Number 2 Soft Ticonderoga is writing a list. I love lists. Hope it's relative, not groceries or bad habits I need to fix.

It's a list of the top 12 reasons people exercise.

Reduce non-muscle weight - slim down - appearance

Build muscle - tone up - also appearance

Increase strength - practical - every day
Increase energy

Rehabilitate an injury

Increase cardio respiratory level - heart conditions - doctor's recommendation

Improve health - overweight, high blood pressure, low energy - doc's orders

Add quality to life with age - healthy cardio respiratory and muscular function - bone density

Longevity - add healthy years

Overcome stress and its debilitation

Improve sport performance - muscular and cardio respiratory

Recreation - social diversion, fun

I just made these up. I'm sure you recognize them. Some are of more importance than others. There are many you could add.

All are virtuous. All require work and commitment. All build us in the course of their achievement in ways we do not expect or can yet imagine or understand.

The fruits of exercise and its significant partner, nutrition, are abundant and delicious; they embrace each other yet they do require tender loving care. Ironically, this presents a problem.

We differ, we have various limitations, some greater than others. We have potentials of varying proportions. Yet, through exercise and good eating we can effect and improve our lives. All of us. Why do we find this such a difficult undertaking? The very things we need to extend and improve our lives - our being, our presence here on Earth - most of us ignore or procrastinate.

I'm 6 feel tall. No, I can not be 6 feet one inch. Impossible. But I can through work and commitment apply myself to any one of "The Top 12 List" or to all of the 12 and make slow but sure progress. It's not only possible, it's inevitable. You can control this. In addition you will discover improvements in areas of your life that are nearly untapped. Patience, discipline, perseverance, organization, order. Priceless charms to adorn your new and vital body.

Something else worth noting, without exercise and good eating, in each single item listed we will diminish from this day forward. We deteriorate. Deny this now, and in several years you'll know what we speak of here. Some of you know this. Don't be amongst the sad-eyed who say "I should have" or "if only." Do this instead:

It's called the silver lining. (Small note, if you're six weeks from an NPC National Pro Qualifier or currently squatting and benching 450 for reps, you might want to forego this program. Save it for another time, or print it out and pass it on to your "sad-eyed" spouse, parent or roommate. Get them hooked. Don't be stingy.) If home is your gym, step outside and walk a block and run a block for 15 minutes or 15 blocks. Upon returning, do as set of crunches for a maximum number - 35 to 50 reps - followed immediately by leg raises 12-15 reps. Sit up - rest 60 seconds and repeat.

At this point you're warmed up. Stretched out and have a head of steam. Do a set of maximum pushups, full straight body if you're able or half bodied till you are able. Stand, 15 seconds to gain your breath, and while holding on to a stable object (bed post or table top) for balance, do full or partials lunges for maximum reps (8-12-20?) - repeat this combination after 60-90 seconds 2 times, depending on your condition. This combination of exercises works the chest, shoulder and triceps muscles followed by the thigh and glute areas. Also, high heart rate and deep breathing is maintained. Very athletic.

Now we're rolling, pumped, sweating and the heart's pounding. Let's devise a pull-up bar - something overhead is best eventually. Until constructed (sturdy, stabilized steel pipe or bar over beams in the garage or a simple commercial doorway chinning attachment), lay a bar across the backs of sturdy back-to-back kitchen chairs. Lie below the bar, reach up and grasp at a point some 6 inches wider than each shoulder. With a rigid body, pull yourself up to your chest and lower slowly for as many repetitions as possible. This all takes practice, a little improvising, some trial and error, mostly courage and will.

Follow this pull-up by standing deep breathing knee bends (free body squatting) for maximum reps. Here we have recruited biceps and back muscles, torso strength followed by full quadriceps activity. Again, continued high athletic heart and lung involvement will further conditioning.

You're done.

Do this every other day, 3 times a week and prepare to increase intensity, improve exercise form and efficiency of performance. This will work. Get over the awkwardness you may feel at first by practice and familiarity. Three weeks you'll turn a corner and it'll all feel fluid and comfortable and productive. You'll see. Trust me. Slay the dragon.

Check out the gyms in your neighborhood when you get the urge.

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