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Dragging My Bones to the Gym

It’s been raining steadily for 48 hours—not cats and dogs, but we’ve got pups and kittens on the rooftop and running down our driveway. I’m loving it, and the redwoods are soaking it up. California’s cupboard is not only bare; the well is dry as a bone.

My desk—a hunk of plywood balanced on cinder blocks—sits in the corner of the living room next to a vertical 20-by-40-inch window overlooking the forest. When not writing—with insight and inspiration, drama and amusement—I gaze out the glass and watch the trees grow and deer and squirrels frolic.

As you might guess, I pretty much gaze out the window all day long. Guess it’s high time I went to the gym to get huge and ripped and meet chicks. Just kidding; at my age huge and ripped are no longer options.

“Enough already, Bomb. Give us the skinny on building muscle.”

Speaking of skinny, I weighed 199 this morning. Don’t laugh. I put on my favorite tank top and it slid down to my ankles. It’s crazy. One pound under 200, and I feel like a dart. So I slugged down a 16-ounce glass of water and weighed myself again. Presto! 200, plus or minus a drop. I’m back.

He’s back!

You can fool some of the muscleheads some of the time, but ya can’t fool me. I took a handful of supplements just to be sure.

Though it’s been three days since I last saw the inside of the gym, things were pretty much the same: benches, bars, plates…the feeling of magic in the air…that familiar bone rack in the mirror looking bewildered…as if everything he worked for, his lifetime investment, was dwindling.

Stinking economy. I should have invested in gold rather than iron. Wrong. A pound of iron weighs just as much as a pound of gold…and it’s cheaper.

Revised plan: I shall apply a new technique to the stacks of iron and slabs of muscle. I shall not bulk up, as is the custom for lifters, bulls and bears, nor shall I strain to set records in the squat, bench and dead. I shall make the weights sing.

It’s time for music, maestros.

Music is entering the gym with a grin, affecting sufficient pain and strain where it belongs and leaving with a smile when you’re good and ready. It’s the first and last rep with no injury, no regrets. A sweet song is enough sets and reps, not too many or too few, and enough weight, not too little or too much, followed by a glance in the mirror without disappointment, pride or recrimination.

A catchy refrain is an old exercise with a new groove that hits the spot when there are fewer and fewer spots to hit. Or, should you prefer those unforgettable sounds, a string of golden oldies unfolding harmoniously to make the body glad.

Of course, the sweetest tone to the ear is the clang of the last rep of the last set that, like a key, unlocks the exit door that leads to the parking lot and your awaiting wheels to take you home to food and friendship, rest and recovery.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not always hungry when I eat. If I had to be hungry when I ate, I would never have weighed 250 in my young dungeon days or 200 this morning after glubbing a tall glass of water when all the dopiness started. I eat because I hafta. No eaty, no weighty, Chalie.

That’s the reason, Tower Power permitting, I praise Bomber Blend: EZ no-mess preparation, loaded with protein and monster-building nutrients, super-yum tasty and absolutely no chewing necessary. In fact, chewing is really dumb.

Secret note: Laree says if I rave about the remarkable protein blend too often, I’ll sound like I’m trying to sell the stuff…salesy, pushy, greedy…despicable, unbomberlike traits. “We have our sterling reputation of humility and selflessness to consider, Bomb Guy.”

I hate it when she calls me Bomb Guy. It all started when I called her T.P., an affectionate contraction for tower power, and she associated the letters with toilet paper.

She’s really good with computers, though.

My latest musical extravaganza:

Actually, it’s more like a recital. Because energy and endurance, bodyweight and strength, time and zeal and incentive are daily disasters, I went straight to the dumbbell rack for consolation and a pair of 25-pounders. A few years ago, 25-pound dumbbells were not acceptable for paperweights. Now they’re the center of attraction, the most versatile and sought-after hunks of iron in the gym.

Yeah, yeah, I know; it’s not how much it weighs but how ya use it.

And don’t forget, always warm up, take your supplements, be nice to your dog, dump the Camels and say no to wreckreation drugs.

Let’s see now, where was I? Here’s one—always on the tip of my tongue: Who am I, and what am I doing here? Actually, that’s two, if you’re counting.

A good arm workout always picks up my spirits and, if done right—absolute focus, unbroken devotion, unaltering pace, unfaltering form—will energize and engage and delight the whole body. Some portions a little more than others, but the entire system, given credit and applause for its participation, will respond dutifully, faithfully and lovingly.


• Back-against-wall reverse curls with thick bar—lightly moderate or moderately light weight, 8 reps

Without pause

• Freestanding (allows persuasive thrust) undergrip curls—same bar, same weight; max reps, 8, 10

One deep, exhilarating breath

• Seated overhead triceps extensions—same bar, same weight; max reps, 12, 15


Repeat four times—not out loud and no whispering.

Remember: sensitive, smart, savory reps—little rest between sets, as allowed by light-weight advantage. Enjoy immensely, have intense fun.

Four tri-sets composed of wrist curls (10-12 reps), thumbs-up curls (8-10 reps) and machine dips (12 -15 reps) add base and treble to the harmonious chorus.

Three supersets of hanging leg raises (18 reps) and rope tucks (35 reps) complete the deafening crescendo before I stumble out the door, any door.

Concert’s over. Stash your trash. Drive carefully.

Bye bye…Bomb Guy.

—Dave Draper

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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