’m at that point in my training where I don’t know if I’m building myself up or wearing myself out. Am I enhancing my life with the stroke of the iron, or am I subjecting it to excessive overload to serve my incurable and wanting ego? Swell! After 55 years at the forceful end of a dumbbell, I’ve become one (a dumbbell, that is, not the Zen rendition of the catastrophe). Conditioning and physical fitness, applaudable goals, have never been my motives. They have been accidental byproducts in my scrunch-faced quest to become Godzillic.
Why would I think anything has changed? Because I’m older, I’ve grown up? Not. Insomuch as I cannot remember where I keep the dang weights, what difference does it make? I don’t think so! I’m certain to wind up like those guys who say, “When I go, they’ll have to bury me with dumbbells clutched in my grimy fists.” Tough ole buzzard! But wait.… I said that in a newsletter in the spring of 2005. It was the same issue in which I asked the reader to choose his single favorite word to describe his most desired condition, offering a list of one dozen possibilities: Thick, Huge, Ripped, Sliced, Gargantuan, Beastly, Absurd, Colossal, Enormous, Ridiculous, Svelte or Slick. Nasty, Creepy and Disgusting were summarily ruled out.
Yeah, the good old days.… Beastly prevailed, by the way.
Today, I dragged myself to the gym, made my way up the rear staircase (getting creaky—me and the staircase) and plopped down on the closest bench. A shadow in the far corner called out and waved. I wasn’t alone. The place looked good—well-used, with everything in order. I rummaged through the ugliest gym bag in the world and pulled out my wraps. They’re pathetic, but they do the job. After a slug from the jug, I arose and sauntered—PC for stumbled—toward the weight rack.
Halfway there I noticed I didn’t feel much like walking, and supersetting sounded complicated. It was one of those days, bombers. “Can we go home now?” Not exactly. Instead, I took a seat at the Smith press and pondered my future, the next 75 minutes of which was dedicated to lifting weights and getting beastly.
I decided to break several laws of the universe and perform the next 10 sets there at the Smith press: a warmup set of 15 reps followed by 12, 10, eight, seven, six, five, four, three and two thoughtful, forceful reps with ever-so-loving increases in weight along the way. It felt great. I sat, pressed to the max and arose (I like the word arose. Say it out loud: Arose. See what I mean?). I added the appropriate weight, sat, focused and pressed again. How cool is that? No walking across the gym floor, no supersetting, no confusion, no, like, which exercise is next, where am I? Just sit and press. It felt almost lazy.
I fell asleep. Just kidding.
I endured no pain, just some grief from the elbows, but those cranky critters complain when I play solitaire and do crossword puzzles. The pump wasn’t anything to write home about, but then, the last time I wrote home about my pump, stamps were 13 cents.
Pressing complete, I shuffled off to the seated lat row machine for some heart-pounding, back-blasting, torso-tormenting and biceps-bursting tugging.
Seated lat rows can be done politely or they can be done viciously. Having been around for a few winters, I’ve discovered a way to do both at once: Oxygenize sufficiently, reach forward and grasp your favorite handle decisively, set your feet firmly and assume resistance on the cables. You’re in position and ready to go. Can you feel the fire?
Your job isn’t simply to pull, contract and release, again and again till you can’t anymore, oomph. That’s for muttonheads. Your duty, mission, inspiration and delight is to engage the body and mind from toe to cerebral cortex. Get this: I begin in the seated upright position, back slightly arched, knees comfortably bent and arms fully forward. Power and force are supremely evident in every fraction of my flexed being. The static hold suggests the joy of the muscle involvement before me. At the right instant, I release my tight posture and lean forward, enabling the elaborate system of sinews and tendons to energize and engage, extend and contract.
Attention, sensation, muscle understanding and instinct guide the unfolding repetitions. The focused full-forward position demands all the back has to offer, erectors to the sweeping lat formation. The torso, the gut, the midsection, the trunk regions are in there for the heavy haul.
The slow, steady and focused pull (not a quick, abrupt and thoughtless yank) sends a series of muscle-building sensations and messages up the forearms and biceps and into the upper back and ear lobes. You do not want to miss these sensational sensations, painful as they might be to lesser individuals. Be there from start to finish, extension to contraction, smile to grin.
I did five crucial, critical sets of 10 reps, eight reps, six reps, four reps and three reps with adorably tormenting increments in weight along the way. I was beaming.
By now I was significantly pressed and adequately pulled, yet something was missing to the left and the right. I needed to stretch this way and that. I grabbed a pair of 25s (you laugh, you die), positioned myself on a flat bench and did six stiff-arm flyes to the sides of my quivering body, four similar actions 45 degrees head-ward and four repetitions straight in line with my torso. I was hurting good. Before I released the dainty, delicate dumbbells, I did four final reps like heavy flat presses—cuz by now, they were.
I sat up, gasped. Gee, 20 reps. Burn! Pump! I did five sets, the last three of which reminded me of trips to the dentist when I was a kid.
That’s 20 sets total, girls. Puny for a grown man, so I did four sets of wrist curls, 10 to 12 reps,. just to be antagonistic and antithetical. It’s blowin’ in the wind.
Can we go home now?
After you eat your vegetables!
It always somethin’… the Bomber
Editor’s note: For more from Dave Draper, visit www.Dave
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