Some of you are in your teens or 20 something, and to you the number of years you’ve gathered here on earth is remarkably incidental. Collecting years is no more on your mind than collecting string.
Yeah, well, live it up. Turning 30 will probably get your attention (Who am I, where am I going, and why ain’t I there yet?). And the big 4-O is always good for a few wisecracks, nervous laughs and at least six months of restlessness and doubt (Where did my life go?).
Not everyone embraces the 40s with open arms (they hide in the closet), and those truly wonderful years can cause a good man or woman to do some really strange things’they submit to nips ‘n’ tucks, buy a sports car and chase the opposite sex. There’s consuming introspection and, not infrequently, the bottle nestled in the bottom of the laundry basket.
Of all our pathetic blunders, the strangest and most disturbing is losing those priceless years trying to save them. We need not resist the passing of time, as if life were slipping by and we were diminishing. That is to support the misperception of aging, to feed it, fear it and become its victim. Big mistake’like allowing a child to kick and scream to get his way. Discipline the spoiled brat.
My plea: Go to the gym with renewed purpose and passion; eat right, for cryin’ out loud, and the youth that left will reappear. To spectators, I say, start exercising and discover real discipline and fulfillment. Get rid of the sugar and eat protein and give your beloved body something to feed on and live for. Stop grumbling and chasing midlife daydreams. Grasp authentic strength, health and action with willing hands. Stand up. Be strong. Today!
Things don’t go from bad to worse. They go from better-than-you-think to terrific. The years of your life add up, yes, but you can add years to your life. Youth isn’t wasted on the young, nor are the 40s and 50s wasted on the middle-aged. You’re in control at the prime of your life with all you need to know. Fix what’s broke and soup up what’s workin’. Zoom, zoom. We got places to go and things to do.
I have a special affection for those middle years, 40 to 50, because I beat my 30s, that season of princes and princesses, repeatedly with a blunt object, yet was reborn in the 10 years that followed. I was 42, to be exact, when I got to my feet, dusted myself off, surveyed the burned-out territory upon which I stood and started walking forward, one step at a time. The point, please, O sorrowful, fallen victim: The 40s are really good for that sort of thing, making magnificent strides over craggy surfaces, lifeless wastelands and beast-ridden mountainsides. The 50s work very well also, but you’ve got to be like Jack, nimble and quick, alert and ready. While I’m at it, the 60s, it seems, take a nickel from one pocket and put a dime in the other. You don’t know whether to say, hey, hands off, or thank you, thank you, thank you.
During the early years, when we were growing up, we ate what we ate because it was there and did what we did because we were told to. Later, as we got older, we imitated our surroundings, what we viewed on the big screen, TV and in the media. Most of it wasn’t very good. Today, with the passing of time, the good has diminished, and the bad has increased. We eat like horses and act like hogs; we do what’s easy and as little as we can.
I’ve been weight training for a long time, more or less in pursuit of muscles and strength since I was a kid. Even when I was bad and messin’ up, I was training and eating tuna. The last 20 years have been as straight as an arrow, and I’ve been attentive to life around me, the days gone by and the days ahead. How to keep the stone rolling and free of moss has become my hobby. Keeping you periodically informed of my observations encourages me to observe more keenly.
So what’s the latest? Remember, dear reader, whose eyes have yet to require magnifying glasses to read this article, this stuff is for all ages and levels, breeds, makes and models. Listen and learn.
I have only positive news to report. Last spring I added certain exercises that I had ignored for 40 years (didn’t like ’em) to my workout to replace those exercises that were overused, worn out, abused and not withstanding the years. The additions included low-incline flyes for pecs, reverse cable crossovers for the back and rear delts, bent-over triceps kickbacks, wide-grip pulldowns, behind-the-neck and medium-wide parallel-grip pulldowns. Dig in your worn junk pile. ALL These have proven to be effective and productive, and my strength in each movement has increased considerably. That’s great news when inflammation and nerve pain due to repeat trauma’exercise redundancy’start to limit one’s plane of resistance, repertoire of exercise and joy of performance. Little things started to happen and continue to happen here and there: fullness, tightness, hardness, expanded capability, comfort and reduction of ‘bad’ pain in critical areas. The direction remains forward and upward, in spite of the wrinkles and aches time insists we bear to keep us humble and forever grateful.
Maximum muscle intensity in difficult regions is approachable through warmup, focused reps, periodic forced slow reps and the odd accommodating position. Pressing on is successful; development is possible. That’s the point of my story, hopeful bombers, not me and my clay-footed pursuits.
We train for muscle and power, health, fun, expression, stress repression and because, once bitten, we must. When I train for maximum response’that is, muscle growth, definition, density, strength and intensity in performance’I train with ultimate focus and concentration. My attention does not veer from the work before me. To the extent it does, my workout is compromised. The physical and the mental and the emotional become entwined, tightly strung. I love my training most when it’s at that level. Only then is it really training. Other times it’s play’which isn’t altogether bad.
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