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The Seven-Year Itch

There are a lot of influences that determine the outcome of our training sessions. What is it that lifts us up or lets us down? Some of the influences are subtle or hidden or not in our control; others are obvious and we confront them or we ignore them. There’s one way to get to the bottom of this provocative mystery. We make a list and consider its contents. Good bombers are good detectives.

The weather. A no-brainer. The weather’s crappy, you have a crappy workout—the weather’s amazing, you have an amazing workout.

Too hot, too cold, too rainy, snowy, miserable and threatening—these extreme conditions negatively affect our training. Their influences are physical and psychological and sway our moods, desires, energy and endurance, flexibility and ability to exert. Weather conditions can cause confusion and distraction, and one might get his hand tangled in a violently thrashing umbrella caught in a gust of wind en route to the gym. We long for extended and mild springs and summers and autumns with light clothing, tan bodies and long days. Pump and burn, grow and show.

We already mentioned gloomy and sunless Monday blues with body aches and lazy bones. Tough combination, yet they were overcome by strength and drive.

Our preworkout feeding and fueling. Training on empty is possible, common, and it’s a big mistake. An insufficient anabolic environment causes the lifter’s system to seek immediate energy from its most available source, and it’s not fat; it’s our precious amino acids stored as prized muscle. Horrors! Recuperation is compromised and muscle pump and its accompanying inspiration are noticeably absent. Nuts! Low blood sugar is often experienced as trembles and overwhelming weakness, even fainting.

Avoid the dilemma. Pour yourself a tall one, Bomber Blend straight up, bottoms up and blast away.

The psyche, the mood, the attitude we establish before the training session. What kind of head you carry into the gym makes a big difference in what you can expect from the weights. Bad moods and negative attitudes subvert our workouts, and they need our immediate and certain attention. Truth is, we depend on the workouts to do that job for us, but we can set the process in motion by throwing our crankiness a few unwelcome glares and some mental jui jitsu.

There’s no secret to the power of psyching up. Prepare yourself for a great training session by imagining and visualizing and enjoying the possibilities. Exercise is our gift to our self, after all.

The prevailing atmosphere of the gym. The way you like it is central to your training success. We’re all different, and some of us are more sensitive than others. Give me a handful of trainers on the floor, no loudmouths, no competition, and the way is clear. You share a few knowing exchanges, toss out an occasional encouraging comment and dig in—no apprehension, no atmospheric pressure, no interruptions and no distractions. Very cool, very focused and very internal. In the words of James Brown, “I feel good.”

Some guys and gals prefer the scene. loud music, boastful banter, showing off, clanging plates, dropping dumbbells and swinging from the overhead florescent lamps. Hey, somebody set off the sprinkler system. How cool.

Our wear and gear for training comfort. Ever train in the only gear you can find in the closet that’s clean? Sheesh! The shorts that make you look like Wendy Walrus or the saggy baggy sweatpants that are way too short—hi, my name’s Billy Blob. How about the T-shirt with the paint stain that looks like vomit? I hate that one. My workouts go downhill when I look like an authentic slob. I like my Ts tight, makes me feel big and bad, muscley and strong. Looks dopey—so?

• The time of day. The best time is the best time, when you’re relaxed, most energized and at your peak strength. Aim for that slot and bomb away.

Time sufficiency to prevent the haste that wastes. It’s wise to train with a solid and purposeful pace complimented by total focus. That requires freedom from time restrictions, which impose haste in performance and distraction in concentration. Block out a time of day for training devotion—or not.

The particular workout—bodyparts and training approach. Favorite workouts can lift you up. Yes! The tough ones can depress or frighten you. Oh, no. You’ve gotta have heart and courage and readiness for them all. Aren’t you glad you’re a bomber and not normal?

Prevalent stresses and personal distractions. We all have a monkey on our back and a pain in the gut marking our days with strife. Life, it seems, is not without these unwelcome attendants, and they need to be subdued, if not eliminated. Let’s use the wretched forces as incentives to train harder, channels for our aggression and targets of our anger and despair. I like funky monkeys, and the pain of gain is like sweet summer rain, but these chumps are for the dumps.

The body’s readiness for an intense workout. Knowing thyself comes with close attention, practice and common sense.

Sometimes I moisten my finger and put it to the wind.

Too often we have legitimate reasons for poor exercise performance and low marks from the mysterious judges. Influenza will do it, a fractured rib will slow us down and too many workouts without adequate rest will take its toll on our energy, muscle and might and well-being. You’ve got to know when to rest and how to lick your wounds. Flat on the back works. Sometimes short, stimulating workouts with affection work better. Nothing wrong with a doctor, a nurse, penicillin and a splint either, if your instincts should fail.

Confidence in our workout schedule (quality appraisal). When in doubt, you’ve got problems. Lack of confidence in your workout scheme will weaken your enthusiasm for training, compromise your exercise performance, retard bodybuilding progress and sabotage your general hopefulness. Let’s see: weaken, compromise, retard and sabotage. You need help, Son. Break out Brother Iron, Sister Steel and choose a routine to fit your mood and needs.

That was easy.

Still crazy after all these years…the Bomb.

—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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