Iron Halos, Steel Commands
Dave DraperSoaring through workouts
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.