How crazy can we get? Pretty crazy! Consider my habit of eating smaller meals throughout the day as I go about my tasks at home. The frequent-eating events, though of substantial nutritional worth, don’t earn a place at the dining table with an attractive place setting and glowing candles. Instead, I take in the fare of tuna, water and cottage cheese while standing at the kitchen counter conversing with Mugsy (world-famous cat) or the redwoods outside the window, whichever will listen.
Neither does, not for very long.
Alas, eating alone can be lonely, and the neutral stance is conspicuously tiresome and unproductive. However, neutral becomes quite engaging when thrown into low gear, a groaning four-wheel-drive workhorse. Thus I nourish and labor co-operatively.
A bite of food, and I’m in slow motion. Standing four to five feet away from the waist-high counter, I lean forward with my palms on its edge and commence pushing—as if trying to jump-start a stalled ’56 Buick Roadmaster. My stocking feet slide on the hardwood surface beneath me as I control the pace and resistance with my body’s positioning. I stretch the calves and hamstrings, I labor the thighs, and soon my triceps and shoulders are aching. I lean, I push, I thrust, I persist.
The Buick goes nowhere, wheels still, engine silent. No sweat, no pain, no burden—just invigorating motion, vitalizing action.
Give it a break, Bomber! You’ve been at this madness too long. Have you considered shock therapy, a lobotomy, a pitcher of margaritas? You’re exhibiting scary signs of kettlebells for brains.
You mock, but weirdness sometimes pays off. The diversion is effective and eases stiffness, soothes aches, accelerates healing, stretches, oxygenates, encourages, pacifies and, last but not least, wards off evil spirits. And it’s free.
I entered the gym earlier today and promptly immersed myself in crunches and leg raises. The only way outta the gym is through it. Go, go—not quickly, not hurriedly, not elsewhere, but here and now, thoughtfully and deliberately, like a locomotive changing cars in a freight yard, a crane loading and unloading cargo at the docks.
I noted at the outset how comfortable I felt just lying on the bench, stretching, flexing and contorting in preparation for the workout. Mugs indulges in a similar repertoire regularly and purrs. The muscles and joints responded blissfully to the tensing and reaching and arching. If only they knew what I had in store for them, a merciless pounding, beating and thumping into shape.
I decided for the first time in my training history to ever-so-slowly simmer the concoction of muscles and bodyparts before bringing them to a full boil. Why not? I’m the head chef, after all, and preparing nutritious gourmet specialties to tantalize discerning palates is my art form. I’m not running a fast food joint, Bub. Feed them right and they come back for more—that’s what I always say.
I grabbed a pair of darling 10-pound dumbbells and lay flat on a bench, the cutesy weights straight overhead. With arms straight and palms forward, I extended the dumbbells behind me, simulating a stiff-arm pullover movement. Thoughtfully and slowly I established a one-two-three-four count from the starting position to the return and retained it through the entire slow six-rep set.
If you don’t try this stuff, Mr. and Mrs. Stuck-in-the-mud Conformist, you’ll never know what you’re missing. So there!
I savored the good feelings within the lats, the grip and bi’s and tri’s, the pecs and about the shoulders. The abs were not without stabilizing contraction, and the buttocks and thighs hugged the bench for support. We don’t often notice that favorable multiplicity of activity or appreciate it or tally it as a valuable part of our muscle-building experience or progress.
This style of training was proving to be a lesson in muscle engagement, extension and contraction, action and response, and exercise groove, while revisiting pump and burn with a side trip to in-depth focus.
Shame on us: We grab, go and power through; we chase the sets, reps and action away, rather than pursue them; we endure the pain, we suffer the burn, we groan with exhaustion as the iron crashes to the floor. Great set… let’s do it again.
Listen, Bizzy Lizzy and Murray-in-a-Hurry: Be encouraged. Don’t stop, but learn to observe and be aware along the way. It is a learning process. And it is very colorful, amusing and profitable. IM
Editor’s note: For more from Dave Draper, visit www.DaveDraper.com 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.