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Lost and Alone Without the Iron

What would life be like without the gym, the workouts, the weights? Curiously, I’ve never confronted that question.

What would life be like without the gym, the workouts, the weights? Curiously, I’ve never confronted that question. I feel slightly dazed…a little faint…I’d better sit down.

No sets? No reps? No cunning determination of how to bombard the delts or blast the biceps? Days on end without pursuing extreme pain through maximum muscle exertion? Endless weeks free of plodding to the gym through wind and rain and fire? Infinite months unburdened of the anxiety of missing a good workout, or, worse yet, completing one badly? No more swelling, throbbing, aching; no more ice and heat and painkillers? Freedom from limping and limited range of motion, sudden yelps and sleepless nights for, like, ever?

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry or run and hide. The latter sounds appealing, and I’m thinking of under the bed with my pillow.

But wait, there’s more: No more exhilaration after the completion of a heated workout. Unthinkable! The glorious pump and burn that charges the muscles will fade with the harmonious clang of the iron. Unbearable! The stress eliminated by the disengagement of training will not compare to the stress elimination by the engagement of training. Win a few skirmishes; lose the war…not the strategy of a bomber. Defeat is unacceptable! Full body, full strength, full breath and fulfillment are lost, gone, no more: nary a remnant to remind, disappoint or shame. Shoot me!

Let’s face it, not everybody obsesses as I do. Such insanity is manifest in pro bodybuilders and madmen only, not those who sensibly seek strength and health and good form through the sporty diversion of weight training. Excuse my arrogance, but I’m doubly condemned, as I am both a professional bodybuilder and professional madman at once. Strap me to the gurney.

I’m a riot to live with. I go to the gym in a few unnerving hours. Between now and then I’ll ponder whether to go or not to go, paw over the pros and cons and subtly drag Laree into the all-too-familiar delirium. She’s selfless and persuasive—cute as a button—and accurately hurls my creepy gym bag in my direction as I hurriedly escape the front door. Git!

Love her enthusiasm and spirit; they’re contagious. I’m guaranteed a super workout.

It’s pouring out, cold rain blasting the forest, thunder on the rooftop—a legitimate reason not to go to the gym. It’s wet out. It’s comfy and snug and safe in front of the fireplace. I can contemplate something. Besides, a tree or two might come down across the roadway, preventing my triumphant return. I bet the freeway is a mess. The gym might be closed because of a power outage—it’s happened before. No letup, yet; it’s teeming relentlessly. I must remain on the front line to protect my home and my loved ones, Mugs and Laree. How could I even consider a death-defying expedition to the gym with the world coming down around us? Mudslides, floods, drowning…

Laree just tossed me a snorkel. Git!

Main thing at this menacing moment is to take my Ageless Growth (six caps 30 minutes prior to the workout) and a good dose of Bomber Blend. I keep a baggy of BB powder in my gym bag, a spoon and water for quick on-the-spot refuel and recharge when I get the urge, spoonful in mouth, slug of water, instant muscle blast, zoom, gone.

Now to plan my rainy day WOMO (Work Out Method of Operation): Whatever I can do in 90 minutes without excessive damage and suffering. It’s one of my favorite approaches, commitment without commitment (CWC). Go, give it your all, do your best, be there, and don’t crash and burn in the act.

Some light legs and some light dumbbell pressing with enough torso movements to fill in the empty spaces: That’s the plan, subject to last-minute changes—commitment without commitment. When you’re old enough and know what you’re doing, that training technique works. It also works if you’re not old enough, but have a clue. CWC.

Let’s hear it for the essentials of character, noble bombers: courage and perseverance. I’m speaking to you and preaching to myself. I need a kick in the butt right about now. Minus courage and perseverance, life is frightening, and we go nowhere, joylessly.

Be strong, last long. Smile, be happy.

Curious thought: I suspect those who even begin to read my stuff hurry along so as not to be trampled by the gush of people, places and things around them. Honk, honk, coming through, no time to stop, no time to think, I’m late and have gotta catch up. Anybody have the time? It’s late!

“Too many words,” they mutter. “When will it end? Nothing new, same ol’ slop. Don’t just write, D-bo. Say something.”

They’re skimming to snag a secret, garner a clue, extract some magic or get a quick fix. No new exercises, same sets and reps, and—oh, no—tuna on whole wheat. I want muscles now, more and better. “If only,” I say, “they understood gibberish and ingested and assimilated the words, the very words that tell us the truth and lead us onward with certainty and spirit. Alas!”

Standing barbell curls supersetted with lying triceps extensions and overhead pushdowns are a fantastic big-arm blaster and whole-body stimulus—but only when performed with courage and perseverance.

How many sets and reps? Enough; till you’re done—who knows? Two, three, four or five supersets of eight to 12 reps, depending on your goals, inner gorilla, ability to recover, age, energy, endurance, time, diet, rest, responsibilities. Just be strong and never quit. Courage and perseverance, lass and laddy! Bravery and persistence also work.

Same with bench presses supersetted with pullovers and cable crossovers. Focus and form with guts and reverent resolve; more words, more meaning, more achievement. Get the job done with serious labor: more if you’re younger, less if you’re older, enough whoever you are, whatever your purpose. Words of direction put into action blended with sufficient iron produce silver and gold. Pure alchemy.

One of my favorite combinations, front presses accompanied by wide-grip pulldowns, makes for an upper-body triumphal bonanza. Muscle engagement and expression of robust variety are exalted as the affiliation of movements get delivered and go on display. Each rep insistently reaches toward its successor: boldness and persistence in synchronized motion.

You know, come to think of it, as thinking is the theme of the day, those three multisets constitute a heck of a workout. Top them off with some sprints or stairs, and you’re in outer space—or the emergency room.
Practice any one of them singly, separately and alone, with conviction, verve and zeal, and your investment in metal and mettle is quite sufficient.

“Valor and tenacity go hand and grip with iron and steel.” —Franklin Benjamin

—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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