I’ve never been a student—that is, one who studies. School from grade one was a ladder I had to climb to get out of the hole I was in. It seemed like a very deep hole with a steep ladder of many rungs. I tried filling the cavernous space with water and floating to the top, but that failed. I did learn how to swim.
As time went by, the subterranean dearth of knowledge became a barbwire wall to be scaled. Gee, that’s a very tall wall. Tunneling the barrier didn’t work, and before I was 10, I broke a wrist trying to leap the towering confine. I did learn how to dig, leap and fall, and I learned a thing or two about futility, patience and perseverance.
Growing up is hard to do.
My brothers were older and from my viewpoint much better at the task. Their secondhand toys didn’t help, so I got me some used weights from a neighbor. Ever since that day I ceased trying to grow up. Growing big and growing strong took its place. Now a B71, I cruise the steel-blue skies, a somewhat sinewy child not planning to land anytime soon.
Have Iron, Will Travel.
I’ll zoom south to Goldsville, California, as soon as I complete this educational essay on the fine art and play of moving iron from one place to another repetitiously to keep the mind sharp, the muscles active and the might from flight. There I shall put into practice the simple recommendations I convey today.
Pause. Take a moment. Dare to look at yourself in the mirror without judgment, ridicule or unseemly pride. Now take a deep breath and ask yourself, Who am I, what am I doing here, and what exactly do I want from my training experience?
Can you do that, bombers? It’s difficult, isn’t it; more difficult than you expected?
Me? I cannot do that. It doesn’t even enter my mind. Why bother? As soon as I enter the gym, I’ve got to grab some iron and go. The last thing I need to do is think about stuff like who am I.
Who cares? What difference at this point does it make?
Lift now. Lift hard. Lift good.
Incidentally, I’m here for fun and to build muscle ’n’ might, health ’n’ character; improve sports performance (Slapjack, Go Fish) and survival abilities; kill time and overcome insecurities (neither of which I have, personally); beat myself up badly, pay off guilt and keep evil away. That’s it, folks.
Here’s a challenge for the lifter who knows a muscle burn from an injury, a pump from an inflammation, one-more-rep from the last rep: The next time you cruise the gym (the gym on the corner or the barbell in your basement), allow yourself to go on autopilot for an hour...okay, 30 minutes. It’s necessary. Rule and order are good, routines are great; but we must let go occasionally to know who and where we are. Detach and discover; let go and learn.
You’re meeting your self in action, the only way to know the truth. The questions you ask answer themselves.
Here I am. There are the tools of resistance. Go.
But, but, but... I, I, I... duh.…
Hint: Do some ab and torso work to warm up. Have I ever mentioned rope tucks or hanging leg raises? These get me going every time, and give me time to appraise my body and access my needs, possibilities and desires. The first set opens the door, and in I go like I own the joint. Today is supposed to be back and shoulders, but they feel worn and achy, I notice. Hmmm. The bi’s and tri’s scheduled for Friday feel like they could use a tender-loving kick in the butt today—some tri-sets, like old man Draperwitz brags about given half a chance.
Why’s he always underscoring the advantages of supersetting?
Because they’re a blast, and they work.
Best supersets when I was a kid (anytime between 1963 and 2006):
• PBN (presses behind neck) and seated lateral raises
• Deadlifts and dumbbell pullovers
• Dumbbell inclines and seated lat rows
• Standing barbell curls and lying triceps extensions
• One-arm dumbbell rows; do left, then right (sort of a superset)
• Full squats and dumbbell pullovers
• Seated dumbbell incline curls and overhead triceps extensions
• Front presses and bent-over lateral raises
• Leg extensions, leg curls
Everything was four or five sets x 12, 10, eight, six reps—max effort without passing out or wiggling like a fool; focus intense, form purposeful and pace moderate, unfailing and steady; lessons learned countless, constant and continual.
Not much has changed, except everything.
Is that a 25-pound dumbbell? Can I borrow it? I’ll put it back when I’m done. Promise.
Honest to God...Kid Draperski
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