First Things First

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Through Hot and Cold, Thick and Thin


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Brrrrr… And so we shelve summer for another year, nine months if you’re counting, and ready ourselves for the short, cold days ahead. I don’t have a particular plan in mind beyond lifting the iron as hard as I can, when and while I can, eating right always (occasional buffalo dogs excluded) and managing a positive attitude amid the daily tasks, trials and deeds.

Some things never change, bombers.

That straightforward training philosophy is as old and heavy as the iron itself. Of course, these days I’m working with limited resources and restricted capacities, sluggish recovery and equivalent zeal (gee, I sound like a small business owner under a government of fools and charlatans). That doesn’t mean I’m a wretch. It means I’m bold… minus the irrelevant B. 

Between you, me and the squat rack, I’d rather be a wretch. Word has it ‘old’ sucks.

Occasionally, constantly and continually, I get this overwhelming urge to return to the form and power of my youth. Silly, I know -- no doubt a peculiarity particular to me -- nonetheless it has me reaching, which is good, but not so far as to fall on my schnazzolla or, worse, yet, my bony buttustie.

Exception: My recent plan to return to regular squatting -- briefly outlined in last week’s newsletter -- came to a painful halt after my first baby knee-bends in that general direction. My thighs and glutes are so sore I walk like a wooden soldier and the pain has my hair standing out like wires. Cute! Laree, embarrassed, refuses to take me for my daily lurch in the park. So much for huge and ripped at 68.

And those farmer walks with the kettlebells, remember those? They lasted about two weeks. I was reduced to a pile of ravaged, trembling flesh. So much for lithe and quick and sexy. 

Relax. That doesn’t mean I learned anything, lest you worry about me converting to sane and rational. Heaven forbid. Madness is forever, the crazy-cycle continues...

A) I shall groan and wince, be submissive and sensible and follow the straight and narrow. B) I shall repair and rejuvenate, be grateful and happy and become audacious and bored. C) I shall superset deadlifts with overhead presses while in a cast and hooked up to an oxygen tank. D) I shall return to A) and repeat.

Levelheaded bombing and blasting, this is what I long for. How about you? Many of you are young and a loaded bar is your limit, some of you are getting used to your first lost rep [the one you never missed till this day], and others, like the dashing dude whose reflection I see in the mirror, find loading the bar is half the workout, unloading it the other half and anything that happens between a miracle. Oh, to be contemplating my first lost rep.

I’m slowly beginning to question the value, the wisdom, the benefit, the sanity of training to the point of stiffness, swollenness and soreness, immobility, constant distraction and sleeplessness. It has nothing to do with courage and a lot to do with stupid. Have I come to equate pain with progress? How’s it go again? No pain, no gain? No brain!
 
Lately I notice, if I allow enough time between workouts for the pain to diminish, to actually disappear, my mind grows agitated and my disposition sullen. Guilt, restlessness and frustration, accompanied by muscle loss, weakness and sloth replace the screaming joints and muscle soreness. I love the smart and delightful choices muscleheads squirrel away in their gym bags: rotten or lousy, torment or agony, dumb or dumber, fat or skinny.

Newsflash! Your attention please: We’re all different. Our needs and motivations are not the same. Our capacities and personalities are dissimilar. Our structure and chemistry do not match. Our knowledge, discernment and resolve are unalike.

Me? I’m gonna take my handful of advantages and disadvantages, strengths and weaknesses, and determine a more productive and less painful road to travel, one with curves and hills for interest, but plenty of straight-aways for satisfying and swift progress.

Progress should not be gauged by the pain we bear and the misery we suffer or the total pounds we hoist, the movements we perform or the sets and reps we congregate. It’s not the pump and the burn. Progress is measured by the laughs and smiles, the chuckles and gleaming grins we share while blood drips from our brow and greenish body fluids ooze prolifically from our pores and orifices amid headlong plunges into the iron. Now you’ve got it.

If you’re anything like me, you poor sap, you have a considerably long list of exercises you’re able to perform. Sure, the other list of movements you can no longer practice far exceeds this one, but you’re not only far older, you’re far smarter and far more desperate. You can and must make do with what you have at your gnarly, arthritic finger tips.

I love to beat myself up. Makes me appreciate how much I have despite how old the folks around me are getting. We have acres to plow, farmer bombers, ample seeds to sow and a bounty of raisins, prunes and nuts to harvest.

Today, I’ve got curls and presses, rows and laterals, dips and pulldowns, bars and plates, light weights and maximum contractions, congregated reps and accumulated sets, cables and benches and racks. That’s fresh air in my lungs and the occasional thump is the beat of my heart and these buggy whips are my arms and those carrot sticks are my legs.
 
There are enough movements, bits and pieces in the preceding paragraph to build a rhino from the ground up, and certainly enough to maintain an ole’ goat.

I’m going to the gym this afternoon, not cuz I have to, but because I have to. I must see if I can still perform leg presses despite my zealessness, lassitude and decomposition. Furthermore, about those buggy whips? There must be something I can do to build those suckers up: more triceps work (snap goes the elbow), super-heavy (ha) barbell curls with the ole’ Draper thrust (pop goes the tendon).

Where there’s a will, there’s a way… to fantasyland, dream town, paradise, glory, the land of milk and honey, the iron castle in the sky.

I’ll say it again: I love the choices we ironheads share.

Later… Dave, DD, Draper, the Drapes, Bomb, the Bomber

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