Iron Halos, Steel Commands

Dave Draper

Soaring through workouts

Page 1

Ah, the weekend to myself. Laree’s gone to visit her mom north of the Napa Valley in California’s charming wine country. The sun clings to the thin edge of fall, unable to conceal the restrained cold of a restless winter. There’s a lot said in the candid utterance, “Brrrr,” on the lips of those whose sleeves are too short for the chilly day.

I miss Laree already. It’s dinnertime. I’ll open a can of tuna. Mugsy will join me. I’ll ruminate, Mugs will purr, and the world’s problems will diminish; we shall solve them one by one. What’s this? We’re outta tuna? You’ve got to be kidding!

Wall Street falls, Washington’s bailout fails, Main Street fumbles and now this: a devastating home-front fish-flop. We’re finished.

Just kidding about the tuna.

Trouble is contagious. I’ve been getting more and more e-mail from guys who are having difficulty looking the iron in its cold, hard mug. I’ll bet there are an equal number of gals, but they don’t complain. They don’t see what they used to see—playfulness, pump, promise, progress—and shrug their shoulders in dismay.

It’s a bleak place, an ugly viewpoint, a revolting predicament, when what was once the answer is now the question. The vital activity that eased yesterday’s pain is now the source. The invigorating challenge of earlier days is today’s burden too heavy to bear.

I don’t have the energy, the endurance, the strength, the will. I don’t care.

I’m weary, I’m frustrated, I’m sore all over. Oh, my aching back.

Oh, no, you don’t, you wingless pretender. Get ye behind me, thin tin fake. You, unguarded and susceptible bomber, are listening to the wrong voice within—an imposter of the soul, an agent of threat to muscle might and all that is good. Confront the lying demon, the deadly enemy! There’s no time to waste. Grasp the iron now. Pump or burn. Curl or curl up, push or be pushed, pull up or be pulled down, press on and on—or be depressed.

Screech, scream, clang, clank, thump.

We must be prepared on all occasions. I prefer not to exhibit necessary harshness in the public square, but believe it or not I just resisted the temptation to abandon today’s workout and submit to sulking and brooding and counting my woes. How scary is that? Instantly I shall don my favorite shredded T-shirt, have a slug of Bomber Blend and head to the gym, where angels are known to reside.

Upon my return, I’ll recall in sufficient detail my continued defeat of the will to quit, which attacks us all when we least expect it.

Well, I’m back from my workout, and it’s now Monday, a day later. I entered the weight room, and it was mine. Not a sign of life—only the music, unaware of itself as it danced around the equipment. I decided to follow the impetuous sounds and set up the apparatus for a quadruple multiset blast.

Four cycles of four consecutive exercises—torso-demanding rope tucks, incline dumbbell presses, straight-arm pullovers and wide-grip pulldowns—composed my scheme to light up the upper body. Reps ranged from 35 on torso- and cardio-demanding rope tucks to 10s and 12s on the three basic muscle makers that followed.

It worked. Anything works—everything works—after the first 10 years of devoted weight-training madness. It’s all in the way you approach the iron, your attitude and finesse, intensity and sufficiency.

Be encouraged, lad and lass. When you’re new and just starting, unsure and unpracticed, anything and everything works. As you continue, though, should you continue, patterns and plans evolve that assure sound muscle and strength development. Favorite routines and even misguided schemes drag us through the tangle of weights and cables, sets and reps and injury and repair.

We may never arrive at the destination we sought, but we’ve arrived where we are, and that’s good. Sing-song quad sets work when the gym and training seem like hell. I got me a halo made outta tempered steel.

The four-set roam-a-gym workout went well. Haste-in-pace would have ruled 50 years ago, but slow walks from gear to gear with purpose minus the hurry took control. I’ll blast it when I get there. Meanwhile let me breathe...deeply.


Snooze to Lose Fat

Becky Holman

Snooze to Lose Fat

One of the biggest culprits slowing your muscle gains and fat losses may be lack of sleep. You’ve probably heard of cortisol, the stress hormone that causes your body to burn muscle tissue for energy, wreaks havoc with your health and leads to weight gain through various mechanisms, including carb binges. Researchers compared subjects getting six hours of sleep to those getting eight, and the six-hour group had 50 percent more cortisol in the bloodstream. If you want to get the best results from your workouts, be sure and get enough sleep to keep cortisol low.

Move It to Lose It

Becky Holman

Move It to Lose It

Research out of the University of Massachusetts shows that the longer you sit, the greater your appetite. Sedentary subjects felt almost 20 percent hungrier than those who moved more during the day. Apparently, being still for long periods triggers the release of ghrelin, a hormone that ups your appetite. If you’ve got a desk job, get up and move around every 30 minutes.

Nola Trimble

Ian Sitren

Nola Trimble

When you first meet Nola, you might think that she’s kind of quiet and reserved. When you talk with her for a while, though, you find out how really out-there and aggressive she can be! There’s a lot to this lady.

She’s 5’6” and a successful figure competitor, as well as a full-time federal firefighter, EMT and hazmat specialist at March Air Reserve Base in Southern California. She enlisted in the Air Force right out of high school and became a surgical tech—as well as a champion USAF golfer.

Get a Grip

Charles Poliquin

Get a Grip

Q: You always talk about using different grips. Trouble is, I don’t have the imagination to think of them. I would like to know what these different grips do. For instance, what grips can I use while doing dumbbell or barbell curls? How about pull­ups and pulldowns?

A: You have basically nine permutations of grip positions per upper-body exercise and three forearm-orientation positions: supinated (palms up), neutral (semisupinated, anatomical, hammer) and pronated (palms down). You can multiply them by the three grip widths: narrow, medium and wide. However, not all grips are ergonomically correct; for example, you couldn’t do narrow supinated bench presses or wide pronated barbell curls without seriously compromising the joint integrity of your elbows and wrists.

Surf Your Brain Waves

Becky Holman

Surf Your Brain Waves

According to the February ’09 Bottom Line Health, Web surfing is good for your brain. Scientists measured brain activity in 24 adults, aged 55 to 76, as they searched the Internet or read books. Searching the Internet won out, triggering more extensive brain activity than reading. It’s believed that searching the Internet produced more brain activity because it requires quick evaluations of significant amounts of information.