First Things First

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Gravity, Iron, Force, Time, Space (GIFTS)




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I can’t help but note today’s date. Six months have passed since we started 2009 and life bears the same grin on its deeply etched face. I see the expression as a smile, tentative and faint, but agreeable. Humankind, life’s players, pad along like little kids, curious, playful, busy, productive and mischievous, in hopes of finding a good thing -- amusement, comfort, satisfaction, and perhaps a puddle of naughtiness or a loose thread of tomfoolery. Oh, boy!

The good stuff is so good and enduring it outweighs, overcomes and outshines the bad. A grin is the best life will offer us this day; a broad smile will surely come later. Today we must lift the iron and respect the steel and recognize our cause, our inalienable right, to build muscle and might.

Only the strong smile or are worthy of its shine. The unworthy, the weak, eventually smirk or sneer or wear a mask with upturned lips. Personally, I go to the gym with a brown paper bag over my head. No, duh, I don’t bump into stuff. I poke two holes in the middle for the eyes.

Few things prevent me from going to the gym and having a satisfactory workout (an overturned tanker on the freeway containing hazardous waste, femoral bleeding, misplaced propeller). Let’s face it, bomber, that’s what it’s all about. Iron! Gravity! Force! Some folks think there’s more to life, like, what are we here for, what’s it all mean? By the time they come to zero conclusions, I have half my workout done, a good burn and a decent pump.

Huge and Ripped, that’s my motto. Veins and Striations, that’s my cry. Thick and Powerful, hear my plea. Sheik and Svelte... my heart’s desire, I suppose, if I were a girl. Weird there for a sec, thinking of what a girl might be thinking if I was one... gave me the shivers.

Lord, have mercy! July 1st, 178 days till Christmas.

Tans are well under way; the guy in the tee shirt dropped 12 pounds, his girl in the shorts, 14. Gyms R Us parking lots are full at 5PM, promising cleavage and abdominals by the end of the month. Warm breezes, long weekends, beaches, barbecues and beer. Things are looking up. I bet people watch less news during the summer, freeing their spirits, like long-tethered dirigibles, to rise in the fresh air.

The goal of the smiley, wide-eyed gym member is no deep secret: to look good. Power is nice, but slice it, dice it, or stand it on its head and the main aim of the game is the same: to look good! One might elaborate upon one’s emphatic or faint gestures at one’s spa and health club, conveying messages of health, athleticism, inner strength and discipline, but the story is the same short story: to look good.

Maybe, when the sun’s shadows shorten and the temperatures drop and fair-weather festivities fade, they’ll notice health is wealth and discipline builds character; the oneness of lifting weights and the magic of hocus-pocus focus. More power to them, but right now, looking good tops the charts.

Nothing’s changed. It hasn’t gotten better. The swelling of the swollen, having swelled swells on. The same folks who vowed and sought to look good a year ago are back for more... or less. A few are absent (having succeeded or surrendered) and more are present. Alas, the crowd is growing bigger along with the individual.

Nothing’s changed. It hasn’t gotten easier. Losing bodyfat, building muscle and accentuating curves -- looking good -- is not an easy gig. The way may be clear, but those with no will have no way. No courage, nowhere. No discipline, nothing.

Nothing’s changed. Take hold of the iron, set your mind to the steel, make the metal move and good things happen. Muscle and might are born, strength and health come alive and the mind and spirits awaken.

While shadows are yet long and the sun pours down like molten gold, let us cast a pair of pure and precious bodyparts. Chest and back are my favorite grouping, unless we’re to consider bis and tris, whereupon we just might agree those two are a handsome and accommodating couple.

Shoulders and arms, on the other hand, are a mean alliance devoted to long and deliberate torture. The truth comes out before the first reps, but the truth isn’t enough. In charge of the brutal act, we, the frantic lifters, seek the essence of life; another dimension, a portal in time, a bold glimpse of the future. We, also, seek bowling ball deltoids, lightening bis ‘n thunder tris.

Call us crazy.

Here’s one (don’t ask me why, it just feels good), a powerhouse leg workout (squats, squats, squats) followed by a closet-size arm workout... just big enough to rack four or five pair of well-pressed close-grip benches with matching Olympic bar curls. Nothing sophisticated, basics only; moderate impression with subtle effects. Think casual and comfortable, pumps and burns only.

The last time I did a split routine -- half in the AM, half in the PM -- was the spring, summer and fall of 1970. The reason, as I recall, was some upcoming pro contests which involved duds like Zane, Katz, Columbu, Arnold (Schwarzenegger) and Tiger Woods, I think. Did I say duds? I meant dudes. Honest! I was 28, going on 12-to-life. That’s what you get, if you get caught and don’t have a good defense lawyer. I escaped shortly thereafter and fled LA to hide out in the vast, bewildering forests of Central California.

Funny, the things you remember without really trying. Funnier yet, the things you cannot forget with really trying.

Gee! The middle of 2009 and we’re still at it, bombers. Remember when the greatest sci-fi flick ever, “2001, A Space Odyssey,” lighted the silver screen in 1968? I stood in a crowded and excited line on glittering Hollywood Boulevard one summer evening to attend the opening of the unforgettable epic. What a trip!

The improbable 2001 came and went, though not without fracturing the world and its inhabitants. And, here we are today, a million years later, iron in hand.

We press on. We never let go. We never quit.

God’s Might... Dave

THE BEST KEPT SECRET -- TOP SECRET TOP SQUATS

Save your shoulders, be nice to your back, improve your squat, delight in the action and build thunder thighs. Grasp the handles of a Top Squat, settle the padded bar across your back and lower yourself safely, comfortably and precisely to your favorite depth, and in the same way lift yourself up.

You can’t squat -- you will. You squat poorly -- you’ll squat properly. You hate squats -- you’ll adore them. You like squats -- you’ll love them. You love squats -- you’ll marry them.

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BILL PEARL/DAVE DRAPER LIVE SEMINAR DVD

The  Package includes a one-hour-and-fifteen-minute tape of the July seminar, two muscular slide shows, plus a 32-page booklet outlining the subsequent interview between the mighty one, Bill Pearl, and me in which we discuss some favorite subjects untouched by the seminar. ~Dave

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Golden Era fans will rejoice in this excerpt from West Coast Bodybuilding Scene.

Are your shoulders tight? Do your shoulders hurt when you squat? It's practically a miracle! Dave's Top Squat assists squatters with shoulder problems.

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