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Dragging an Unwilling Body to the Gym

There are times when a slow training session with precise and deliberate movement is preferred. It matches power and energy, accommodates the mood and is most effective for muscle development.

We invent ways to make life at once interesting and effectual; that’s what we do—most of the time. A ton of work, an ounce of profit, a slab of business, a slice of play: We’re a patchwork of this and that. We piece together what we want to do with what we must do, the good, the bad and the ridiculous. And with every day and every deed we do the best we can do—most of the time.

Some days we don’t want to do a thing: Another day, we say without gratitude; another opportunity, we note without enthusiasm. Who cares? Why bother? We’re burned out. The job is boring, and the pay ain’t so good. Fun is bothersome, and our companions are as dull as decaf. We watch the latest news to divert our attention (yikes). We down a can of tuna and a slug of water to slake the appetite (ugh). We put on our baggies and head to the gym to lift our mood (groan). We get caught in traffic, a favorite diversion (honk).

You made the right decision, by hook or by crook, by rack or by stack. You’re going to the mounds of metal and the stacks of steel to chomp on the iron and chew on the hard stuff. Nothing like a dose of solids and heavy minerals to lighten the load…. Not bad for building muscle and might either.

Did I mention character?

You see, bombers, the gym is a hot spot for action and a cool setting for focus and thought. Once you step over the threshold and enter its boundaries, you and the space come alive. The noise is a wall to the outside world, the effort put forth a sword against life’s pressure, the routine you choose a highway to triumph, the pain you endure a relief from the blues. The gym straightens the winding road, brightens the dismal way and adds purpose to a pointless day.

I say these things only because I’m approaching the hour when I grab my stinky gear and drag my less-than-enthusiastic bod to the house of barbells and dumbbells, cables and racks and other cuddly devices of body manipulation. I need all the help I can get.

Sleep did not come like a gentle butterfly in the night. I wrestled fleeting opponents and awoke from a thin dream, greeting the day with a fat headache. Good morning, world!

Today I shall slip into a slow, full-body workout. You’ll notice I did not say leap, hop, skip or jump into this or that program. Also, bombing and blasting are not the outstanding word choices used to describe the manner with which I intend to apply myself.

There are times when a slow training session with precise and deliberate movement is preferred. It matches power and energy, accommodates the mood and is most effective for muscle development. Not all our workouts need to be knock-down, drag-out sessions. Lighten up, wacko. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

A slip ’n’ slow full-body workout means light on the legs with a few select basic movements to bombard the upper torso without concentrating on any particular area. I did say bombard, didn’t I? I can’t resist.

Routines of this sort are best devised in the car on the way to the gym. Of course, some of you train at home, in which case you need to drive around the block a few times. Just kiddin’. Forgoing a drive around the block, seated on the end of the bench press will do. Lots of thinking is done on the end of the bench press—the point being that they’re last-minute designs built on the latest sensitive input.

Total attention to the muscle action is essential, and form is ideal when it matches the performer, mood, needs and ability. My body, older and more developed, less supple and more restricted, compels me to modify my movements to continue my training, extend my progress. The resulting modifications are deliberate and not perfunctory, carefully determined and not accidental. Failing to apply these rules, I risk injury, proceed with constraint, or must eliminate the unaltered exercise entirely—any such options limit my growth and training experience.

The abbreviated workout you do may look like a day in the shade. Lemonade, anyone? In action it’s a generous mix both soothing and exciting to the mind and body. IM

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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