First Things First

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It's Monday as I write this, and Monday reminds me of a freshly scrubbed man all dressed up in a suit, uncomfortable, tugging at his sleeves and apprehensive.

The days of the week have different moods and personalities. Tuesday and the tie is loose, the collar unbuttoned and the hair is slightly out of place. The tie and jacket hang over a chair back on Wednesday, the sleeves are rolled up and the hair has been roughly combed a hundred times with spread fingers. He's smiling on Thursday morning and, as he leaves the house, the suit coat is slung over his shoulder like an old friend. His free hand is in his pant pocket, jiggling loose change, and there's a bounce in his step. Good morning, world. The jacket's in a heap ready for the cleaner and a sport shirt is tucked in a pair of casual slacks, and Friday, the last day of the workweek, is embraced like a long lost friend. Long time, no see... let's boogie.

Mondays are serious: places to go, things to do; time is money and no time to waste... the early bird gets the worm. Thank goodness for clichés and barbells.

Tell me. Why does one workout get nines and nine point fives, when some bouts with the iron don't register on the score board?

There are a lot of influences that determine the outcome of our training sessions. What is it that lifts us up or lets us down? Some of the influences are subtle or hidden or not in our control; others are obvious and we confront them or we ignore them.

There's only one way to get to the bottom of this provoking mystery and you know what it is. We make a list and we consider its contents. A good bomber is also a good detective.

~ The weather

A no brainer. The weather's crappy, you have a crappy workout -- the weather's amazing, you have an amazing workout.

Too hot, too cold, too rainy, snowy, miserable and threatening -- these extreme conditions negatively affect our training. Their influences are physical and psychological and sway our moods, desires, energy and endurance, flexibility and ability to exert. Weather conditions can cause confusion and distraction and one might get a hand tangled in a violently thrashing umbrella caught in a gust of wind en route to the gym. We long for extended and mild springs and summers and autumns with light clothing, tan bodies and long days. Pump and burn, grow and show.

~ Our pre-workout feeding and fueling

Training on empty is possible, common, and it's a big mistake. An insufficient anabolic environment causes the lifter's system to seek immediate energy from its most available source, and it's not fat; it's our precious amino acids stored as prized muscle. Horrors! Recuperation is compromised and muscle pump and its accompanying inspiration is noticeably absent. Nuts! Low blood sugar is often experienced as trembles and overwhelming weakness, even fainting.

Avoid the dilemma. Pour yourself a tall one, Bomber Blend straight up, and blast away.

~ The psyche, the mood, the attitude we establish before the training session
What kind of head you carry into the gym makes a big difference in what you can expect from the weights. Bad moods and negative attitudes subvert our workouts and they need our immediate and certain attention. Truth is we depend on the workouts to do that job for us, but we can set the process in motion by throwing our crankiness a few unwelcome glares and some mental jui jitsu.

There's no secret to the power of psyching up. Prepare yourself for a great training session by imagining and visualizing and enjoying the possibilities.

~ The prevailing atmosphere of the gym

The way you like it is central to your training success. We're all different and some of us are more sensitive than others. Give me a handful of trainees on the floor, no loud mouths, no competition and the way is clear. You share a few knowing exchanges, toss out an occasional encouraging comment and dig in -- no apprehension, no atmospheric pressure, no interruptions and no distractions. Very cool, very focused and very internal.

Some guys and gals prefer the scene: loud music, boastful banter, clanging plates, dropping dumbbells and swinging from the overhead florescent lamps. Hey, somebody set off the sprinkler system... how cool.

~ Our wear and gear for training comfort

Ever train in the only gear you can find in the closet that's clean? Sheesh! The shorts that make you look like Wendy Walrus or the saggy baggy sweatpants that are way too short -- hi, my name's Billy Blob. How about the t-shirt with the paint stain that looks like vomit? I hate that one. My workouts go downhill when I look like an authentic slob.

~ The time of day

The best time is the best time, when you're relaxed, most energized and at your peak strength. Aim for this slot and bomb away.

~ Time sufficiency to prevent the haste that wastes

It's wise to train with a solid and purposeful pace complemented by total focus. This requires freedom from time restrictions, which impose haste in performance and distraction in concentration. Block out a time of day for training devotion.

~ The particular workout -- body parts and training approach

Favorite workouts can lift you up. Yes! The tough ones can depress or frighten you. Oh, no. You've gotta have heart and courage and readiness for them all. Aren't you glad you're a bomber and not normal?

~ Prevalent stresses and personal distractions

We all have a monkey on our backs and a pain in the gut marking our days with strife. Life, it seems, is not without these unwelcome attendants, and they need to be subdued, if not eliminated. Let's use the wretched forces as incentives to train harder, channels for our aggression and targets of our anger and despair.

~ Body's readiness for an intense workout

Too often we have legitimate reasons for poor exercise performance and low marks from the mysterious judges. Influenza will do it, a fractured rib will slow us down and too many workouts without adequate rest takes its toll on energy, muscle and might and well-being. You've got to know when to rest and how to lick your wounds. Flat on the back works. Sometimes short, stimulating workouts with affection work better. Nothing wrong with a doctor, a nurse, penicillin and a splint either, if your instincts should fail.

~ Confidence in workout schedule

When in doubt, you've got problems. Lack of confidence in your workout scheme will weaken your enthusiasm for training, compromise your exercise performance, retard progress and sabotage your general hopefulness. Let's see: weaken, compromise, retard and sabotage. You need help. Break out Brother Iron, Sister Steel and choose a routine to fit your mood and needs.

That was easy.

~ Attention toward, trust in, commitment to and enjoyment and appreciation of the weightlifting and musclebuilding processes

Otherwise known as obsession, this can be a delicate subject to the typical, highly intelligent builder of muscle and might. Should any of the above prerequisites -- attention, trust, commitment, joy and appreciation -- diminish or tarnish or distort, the lifter's integrity is subject to question. This can be devastating.

Sometimes we forget why we go to the gym and the driving forces -- the countless reasons for lifting heavy with meticulous form and in relentless pursuit -- are left behind, under the bed with the dust balls, in the closet with the dirty laundry or at work under a stack of papers. Get in the habit of recalling who you are and why you're here: to be good to your neighbor; to cultivate high morals; to be loyal to your country; to eat your protein and to train hard, with undying commitment to health, strength and long life.

Board your craft, brothers and sisters. The sky is your canvas; your wings are the brush. Paint big pictures, delightful and bright.

Yo Cap... dd


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