First Things First

Before you get distracted by all the great options you're about to find here, please sign up for Dave's free weekly newsletter so he can continue to encourage and motivate you toward your fitness goals.
Chris M writes:
"You blend plain-spoken wisdom, motivational fire and wry humor into a weekly email jolt that leaves me itching to hit the gym. Whether I'm looking for workout routines, diet tips or a friendly kick in the butt, the Bomber comes through every time." ... Read more...

The Underlying Dilemma

Hacking the Hinge, new DVD by
Charlie Weingroff and Mark Cheng

Download the full Draper here newsletter
in printable, live-link, pdf format, here.

I have a long-overdue stack of email requests from folks, male and female, of differing ages and various levels of experience with a broad range of training problems. However, upon reading and re-reading them, the underlying dilemma is the same: training frustration because improvements have stopped dead in their tracks; no sign of life, not even a twitch. They’re convinced the problem is the workout or the diet or a combination of the two, and they can’t untangle the mystery.

One guy wants to gain weight -- muscle, of course -- and another wants to lose weight -- fat, of course. A third wants to get stronger and harder at her current bodyweight. Can you see the predicament?

I ask you, what do I suggest? I don’t know the parties involved, beyond their letters of request; I don’t stand before them to determine structure, sturdiness and skin tone. While asking questions, I can’t look in their eyes, the windows of perception, to discern the muscle-building conviction, depth of understanding and willingness to train hard, real hard.

I have only hollow specifics: age, gender, height, weight and an outline of the current eating and training scheme. This is fodder sufficient to make a perfunctory assessment for the average Jane and Joe, but does nothing for the bomber who is about to take a nosedive.

I can make the usual menu recommendations: increase the protein, drop the junk foods and sugars, go with frequent feedings and a protein supplement (Bomber Blend’s my fav) … been there, done that, thank you.

Training insights? Increase the volume, more basics, more supersets, pyramid… yeah, yeah, yeah. The bases are covered, but nobody’s up at bat. Maybe that’s it. I’m confusing the sports… take a wider stance, stay loose in the hips, choke up on the bat and keep your eye on the ball.

The answer is not in the training program or the eating habits. It’s in the heart. It’s not in the black and white of principles. It’s in the red-hot fire of passion.

And it’s in the patience and perseverance.

The fact is we could make one single nutritional and exercise program to fit all three that would serve them exceedingly well and position them on track toward their urgent destinations.

The requirement -- the unquestionable necessity, the absolute responsibility -- is moving on that track with confidence, high hopes and controlled acceleration. This means up the long grades, along precarious ledges, across deep ravines, through tempest and storm and barren desert heat, all the time pressing on with unwavering zeal, merciless power and pace. Now I’m a frontiersman, Davy Crockett entreating the traveler to heroism and high spirits to conquer unknown territories.

Expect much, but no more than you have to give.

This is not a stretch. We are influenced by the abundance of information, choices of exercise and food, and therefore believe we must need them all and make use of them all… if not at once, then very soon.

Further, the desire for entertainment, the threat of apathy and the submission to monotony has us frequently looking for change, easily convinced by the thin theory that exercise variation promotes growth and prevents muscle staleness.

Is it possible that trainees fail to maximize an exercise or a routine fully and thus do not achieve the margins of muscle-building overload it offers, the finer margins that demand muscle adaptation and growth, where none might be found in any manner less intense, less painful and less sacrificial?

Retain a good exercise until it evaporates and you absorb it.

Don’t give up. Trust your iron and steel investment. Crank up the volume and throw out the calculator. Built within and ever-developing are the feelers that, given half a chance, will direct you toward your potential.

In all your training you must be the governor. You’re in charge of your workout regularity, levels of intensity and focus of performance. Wherever there is a decision to be made within your routine, you make it. For example, adding weight on a strong day or going light on a blue day; when to do your aerobic activity, before your workout, on an off day, or on the same day, but at a separate time. It’s the live-and-learn principle, which is no different than the-learn-as-you-go precept. Try it.

Takes common sense, builds confidence and makes life easier.

None of this training stuff is all that critical at any particular stage. Big in, big out vs. little in, little out theory. (See, I did my homework.) Seek counsel, yet grant yourself credit for thoughtfulness, logic and creativity.

You’re on the sky pages, which suggests you have the basics down, or at least they’re at your fingertips. We live and die by the basics. What we do with them determines how well we live, how big and lean, strong and quick, long and healthy, and how happy and fulfilled.

“You know, Bomber, for a living legend you sure talk in circles. I’m falling asleep here and you are yet to make any sense or tell me something I need to know. I want a smoothie.”

Where’s everybody going?

Remember: When you discover a treasure, consider its worth, delight in its touch and hold it close. It sparkles and glows only when we keep our eyes on it.

Do not remove your hand from the throttle or your eye from the sky.



Take a trip over to our
Musclebuilding Q&A Blog
... where Dave allows us a peek into his email outbox.

Did you sign up for Dave's expanded email yet?
It's free, motivating and priceless!
We'll also send you a link to Dave's free
Body Revival Tips and Hints e-report with your confirmation notice.

Cut through the confusion! Grab your copy Brother Iron Sister Steel to make your training path clear.

Our IronOnline Forum will answer your training and nutriton questions right here, right now.

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.

Here's Dave's previous week's column.