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To Train or Not to Train

Click here to read this 1977 article by Bob Zuver

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I don’t feel like going to the gym today, thus, I shall not go to the gym. I don’t want to, I don’t have to, I don’t need to, it’s not the law. I’m not gonna fall apart, break down, go to pieces, disintegrate, deconstruct, become undone, unglued or otherwise unraveled simply because I did not pass the portals of the iron palace and heave clanking metal this way and that. I shall not, minus one training session, evaporate or vaporize, disappear, vanish or go strangely into the night.

Do you think I’m bound to the task of lifting weights like I was a desperate soul obsessed, driven or unstable? Seriously! I toy with barbells and dumbbells on occasion, but no indispensable taskmasters they. My make-shift metal-clanking, steel-driven interaction is brief, intermittent and inconsequential… hardly critical or memorable.

However, I have a friend who has a friend (a musclehead), who becomes highly irritable should he miss a workout. Pitiful! He becomes petulant and prickly, trash-tempered and audibly abusive, vaguely violent and sorta suicidal. He claims all the work he’s put into the iron over the years -- the loading and unloading, the pumping and burning, the injuries, the aches and the pain -- commence their undoing in a single aborted session. ‘It’s a sad comment,” he said, “when a man foregoes his workout for any reason, short of 10-pound plate upside the head or poison in his smoothie.”
Touchy fellow... very sensitive… and articulate.
There’s more, he declares: Once you skip a workout, you irreversibly initiate devastating momentum toward training neglect and eventual abandonment, the consequences of which are lost health, diminishing strength, vanishing muscle and gross deposits of unsightly fatty; girly arms, blob-likeness, cratering self-esteem and avalanching personal disappointment. Discipline spins out of control, character withers, friends stop calling, dogs howl and bugs bite.

SPC -- Simultaneously Pathetic and Calamitous!

What, come to think of it, would or could I do if I went to the gym anyway? I can’t squat worth squash or deadlift to save my life and the bench press slaughters my shoulders.

See what I mean? Nothing but dead-ends; besides, the whole affair is mundane, tedious and dull (take your pick), not to mention exhausting, painful and hazardous. After an hour at the gym, if you don’t collapse from boredom, you leave with aches and strains. Oh, swell, I think I’ll go again tomorrow… but not till I have my tuna and water.

Liniment anyone? Wraps, aspirin? Mental evaluation?

Wait. I could do some hanging leg raises and rope tucks, the combination working the entire body with a big hit on the gut. Throw in some barbell curls and lying triceps extensions with my usual custom implementations of full body engagement in superset formation and I’d have continued torso work with a major accent on the guns (alas, BB guns), plus ample aerobics for a senior citizen of the grand old USA, and proud of it.

Confession of a musclehead: I went to the gym after all. I always do. But you knew that.  Missing a workout is like missing the last ferry from nowhere… gets lonely fast. I did what I conjured up in my mind in the previous paragraph. It took me 45 minutes; I was sufficiently aggressive, very tuned-in, savoring the bittersweet blend of pain, power and pump.

There was a time when 45 minutes covered midsection and warm-up with the remaining 90 for the real work, chest and back or shoulders and arms or legs… often training twice a day. Wow! Astonishing! Mortifying! Where did that come from? Whose big idea was that? Non-stop action, set after set, forced reps, tonnage, no mercy. Why didn’t some government agency step in and stop me… us? I wasn’t alone.

Oh, wait, that was in the last century before the loony czars and regulatory agencies and limitations on freedom.

That’s what I like most about lifting weights: the hope and change it provides in the grasp of your hand and the exertion of your will. Did you know that George Washington and Abraham Lincoln lifted weights? Oops! Beginning to sound political.
Last word: They also drank Bomber Blend. Seriously.

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God Bless America… The Bomber


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