The Times They Are A-Changin’
Automobiles have come a long way since the Model-T. Bigger, stronger and faster, and far too many: on the roads, at the intersections, in garages, on lots for sale and in backyards rusting away. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Gyms aren’t much different. There were barbells and dumbbells, benches, racks and pulleys, also a very good idea. And then came along bigger, stronger and faster and far too many: on the corner, in the mall, down the boulevard and in the towering office building, with contraptions to do the same things the solid steel did, except the steel did it better.
New, advanced and state-of-the-art machines are available each year to the naïve and undiscerning consumer and the optimistic and obliging gym owner, who is also going broke. “I’ll take a barbell, a dumbbell and a bench, and throw in a dozen treadmills, stair-steppers, ellipticals and stationary bikes with the built-in TVs and stereo sound systems. Thank you.”
Nothing builds muscle and strength better than the basic barbells and dumbbells and benches plus a handy milk crate, a few blocks of wood and some bars for dips and chins. Add desire, enthusiasm and improvisation, and you’re in the bodybuilding business—make that bodybuilding heaven.
There are some odd rules and regulations bodybuilders are urged to follow these days, along with the impossible selection of highly advanced (cough cough) and technical equipment. Many come from people who research and write for muscle-building mags, I guess, and have visited a 24 Hour or Bally’s gym to get an up-close, firsthand and in-depth feel for their subject matter. Some are even technically legit.
Here’s a good one: Don’t train for more than 60 minutes, or your body will go into catabolism and destroy your muscle tissue.
Oh, that my brothers and sisters would or could train an hour a day, what a fine world this would be. Health and fitness would abound; discipline and self-esteem would define our character. There’d be less crime and more civility, less apathy and more excitement.
If you’re in good shape to begin with—not undermuscled, round as a beer barrel and health-impaired—an hour a day is swell. But who do you know who’s in shape to begin with?
It’s good idea, science in a nutshell: inflammation, overtraining, rise in cortisol, decrease in testosterone. But do any of us who are so inclined believe we can build a serious body by lifting weights one hour a day? It takes that long to get warmed up, focused and rolling. Then there are the sets and reps and strain and pain and overload and hypertrophy, a slug of water and a deep breath and a towel across the brow, hello and good-bye.
Isn’t 60-minute-max a generalization? Are we all the same? What about muscle structure and body chemistry, training methods and intensities, rest and ability to recuperate, nutritional support, power of the mind and lifestyles? Goals?
Give me 90 minutes five days a week, Doc, I’m beggin’ you. I take Bomber Blend; I’m good to my wife and cat; I don’t litter, cuss, speed...c’mon...just an hour and a half. Whaddaya say? Does that include aerobics?
Here’s another beauty: Exercise one bodypart a day for maximum muscular growth.
Cute idea for kids messing around in the backyard with their water-filled plastic weights (or the mysterious person who’s in good shape to begin with), but not for lifters interested in building serious muscle and strength anytime soon.
Bombing and blasting is old-fashioned—like hard work—and went out of style in the ’60s and ’70s. Training with your personal trainer or iPod is very popular these days. What happened to focus and thinking on your own? Have they evaporated with personal responsibility and serenity?
I know, I know. A little background music is harmonic and companionable, and a little direction and encouragement from a sturdy guide are often priceless. Alas, I suppose I’m just a stubborn ol’ mountain goat (though I prefer to think of myself as a lone wolf, a solitude shark in deep waters, a soaring eagle on high, a camouflaged stealth warrior).
Train hard, be strong, Godspeed...the Bomber.
Editor’s note: For more from Dave Draper, visit www.DaveDraper.com 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.