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Around the Corner, Over the Hill


looked in the bathroom mirror this morning and gasped, urgently beseeching the distressed image before me, “Are you all right? Do you need help? Are you in pain? Who did this to you? Was there more than one perpetrator?” Before I could dial 911, I realized the focus of my appeals was me, the Bomb.

Note to mature muscle builders: Hydrate in the morning before indulging in your first admiring look at your naked torso in your gleaming full-length bathroom mirror, even if the lighting is inspiring and dramatic. Ingest an eight-ounce glass of H2O, administer 60 seconds of Charles Atlas’ Dynamic Tension, and you’ll expand like a dried sponge dipped in dish water. Exhilarating!

No sense in hurrying to leave the bathroom. You’ll need to pee in five minutes.

Smile, ironkids. Notwithstanding an occasional hitch—arthritis, incontinence, dementia, fleas—life is a joy.

I started training back in the ’50s, when iron was cheap and I didn’t know any better. Having established muscle over the years, all I need to do is go to the gym twice a week for 75 minutes of intuitive gasping and groaning to attend my appreciable collection of lumps. I eat just enough of what is good for me and sleep as much as I can. It’s all so simple. The hard part is letting go.

Now a lot of readers are not only ironheads from the past but older guys and gals new to the lifting and muscle-building experience. They might have tripped over a dumbbell when they were in high school, but the immovable stumbling block had not been encountered since—not till now.

The word’s out. There’s life in that iron.

Few mature iron aficionados are seeking coconut deltoids and turkey-leg forearms, but the retention of muscle and strength and the healthy functioning of their cardio systems are vitally appealing to them. Their collective goal is called life.

Tell me about it. Earlier today I reread some of my writings from five years ago. I was ripping and tearing, pumping and burning and bombing and blasting with a subtle reference to the stiffness and aches of aging. They were there, early and certain signs, but I didn’t want to express them because I didn’t want to expose them. Plus, I didn’t know how to regard them without appearing negative and submissive.

Bombers don’t do that. Bombers bomb. Boom!

Nowadays, I usually begin by describing how I courageously crawled to the keyboard despite seizures, radioactivity, internal bleeding and paralysis of the lower thoracic region to relate to you the absolute need to eat right, train hard and keep up the spirits, no matter how tough it gets. Bombers never quit! Never. Never.

Another keeper comes from Dan John: “Never let go.” Of course my favorite is, “Miss a workout, and I’ll tear your guts out with my bare hands,” the freaky words I scrawled across our contract with members of our World Gym in Santa Cruz, California. Oops! There I go again, got sidetracked with the good old days.

The best approach to training after peak efficiency is to be active and involved every day. Walking is a great exercise, especially when you include hills and stairs and a weighted back pack regularly or occasionally. I know the truth of this because I cannot. My cardio condition prevents me from freely participating in the activities and simultaneously underscores the value of those leg-flexing, torso-engaging, heart-pumping activities—life-giving movements. Great transportation, as well.

Get up. Go somewhere. Take a friend. I’d go, but I can’t. So, you go! What’s stopping you? Git!

Eighty-year-old Bill Pearl, one of the absolute best muscle-and-might builders of all time, from head to toe and from heart to soul, trains every day with the iron. No, he doesn’t rip it apart and toss it around like a crane in a junkyard, but he moves it around daily with intention and direction and affection. He carefully nudges pain and injury and excess like a workhorse nudges a pony. Bill’s smart and intuitive and practiced.

He’s also a leader, and his gym is 30 feet from his backdoor. He has a handful of guys who meet him regularly to greet the morning.

Most of my buds my age and residents of the Steely Town get to the gym three or four days a week, the dirty rats (I’m jealous). Prompted by rips and tears and bitter anguish, they’re resigned to training with a modified degree of oomph. The few who haven’t—the bullheads five to 10 years younger—howl like wounded buffalo as they add that last miserable plate to the bar. What can ya say?

Me? I keep saying I’ll lighten the load, train more often and revel in the frequency and consistency of pushing and pulling. Instead, I look at the vehicle, the gas gauge, the freeway, the miles, the traffic, the time, the trees and the time and the traffic and settle for two busters a week, Buster Wednesday and Buster Sunday. Not ideal, but then I could be in politics or bleeding out in the ER or wedged under the left rear wheel of a caboose or sitting in a pot of stewing roots and palm leaves in the cliffside camp of the Wambaba tribe in southwest Andes.

Always remember, bombers. Things could be worse.

What? That’s no way to view life! Life is precious, a joy, a gift—a superset and one-rep max…

Hurl, heft, hoist and heave… by God… Saboo, the wonder boy

Editor’s note: For more from Dave Draper, visit and sign up for his free newsletter. You can also check out his amazing Top Squat training tool, classic photos, workout Q&A and forum.


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