Pondering: Earlier This Week...
I'm about to leave for the gym. It's a sunny fall day, Saturday - one you might call perfect; low '70s, light breeze and no humidity. There are things I could do other than work out with the weights within the gym walls -- more appealing and exciting, perhaps -- yet to the gym I am bound.
Why? What is the draw, the attraction, the force that persuades or, more rather, compels me to attend the movement of heavy metal through a series of laborious sets and repetitions? A mystery.
I know what the motivations are for me; I can guess what they are for you, and only suspect they in their variations might coincide along the way. For myself, the workouts have to be done, come rain or shine.
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The value of yesterday's workout and other days gone by depends on today's; the workout of tomorrow and the days to follow are founded on the ones before them -- in particular, the one upon which I am about to embark.
No single training session is more important or less important than the other; they are equally important. They are intertwined, interwoven and interdependent, like words in the sentence of a complete and undefiled thought, a truth.
We say, "If I don't work out today, I'll work out tomorrow." But what do we say tomorrow if we don't work out tomorrow, "I'll work out next time?" And so the conversation goes until it fades into guilt or a forgotten subject...
I'm training this afternoon because it promises a good challenge, joy, exhilaration, reinforcement, order, stress relief, camaraderie, and inner conversation that links me securely and properly with the days ahead.
I need to express myself physically that I might be healthy and whole. Daily activity and busy-ness fall short of this role and certainly do not provide sufficient exercise; they only accentuate the need for it.
Live To Lift Another Day
This day is not just another day. What day in your life is "just another day?" Today is a miracle, one surprise after another, sometimes shouting, often whispering of the hope of more to come. The man or woman who thinks tritely of his or her life will endure a trite existence. This day, today, is the most important day!
Exactly your point, you say, why waste it or use it up in the gym under the iron? I say, so the sun will shine tomorrow and the next day and the next... in your heart, from your soul and upon your strong back.
As there are the moments, minutes and hours before the gym and its industry, there are the corresponding times after. Who among us is not disheveled and misshapen when we miss a scheduled workout?
We outlive the discomfort, we rationalize our choice to forego exercise, we defend our lame excuses -- after all, we are a free and unfettered people, not chained to the conventions of absolute discipline, or more appropriately, boring habit; we could use the rest and fun and, really, we do have forever -- but our once-enthusiastic plans, the proper self-image we fashioned, the promises and commitments we made to ourselves to develop ourselves are weakened.
Where we might dread the resistance the weights present and anticipate with shortness of breath a run on the endless, timeless treadmill and long for a stretch on the couch with the remote at our command, we are able to reprogram our minds with thoughts of purpose and fulfillment and development and accomplishment.
Don't weaken under the weight of your own flesh and bones that beg for your attention. You're not lazy or lost or dismal; it'll take more than a few poor choices and rationalizations to bury yourself in that infertile ground!
You're building a palace for tomorrow, rooms for the future, and the work is evident in the structure always. The sketches are in your imagination and alter with time and living day to day. The foundation is sound and development is taking place regularly beneath the floorboards and walls. Wiring and pipes and reinforcements and security systems cannot be seen, yet your mighty hands install them.
It might require effort of mind and will, but think of the good of the pushing and pulling, filling the lungs with oxygen and the muscles with blood; the goodness of the warmth of energy that spreads through the body and the moisture of resolute toil worn like a shield.
Oh, the thrill of a workout completed or the unbearable woe of yet another put aside! It's getting late and the last train for Paradise is idling at the station, waiting for all to board. I hate to keep the train and its spirited passengers waiting.
Gravity Lifts Me Up, Higher N' Higher
The mystery that drew me to the gym, the indescribable urge I could no more contain than flying outhouses, pig pens, chicken coops, and moonshine distilleries in an Arkansas tornado, materialized in a series of slow-moving challenges between a barbell nailed to the gym floor and me.
I hadn't noted that the gravity in the vicinity of the lifting platform registered in the red zone late Saturday afternoon. I loaded on the plates and proceeded to execute deadlifts, or more accurately, as I recall, it was the other way around; they executed me - 6 sets x 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, and 2 reps.
I started with the bar and a plate and a half, or 185 lbs, for 12 reps. With each successive set, I added 50 pounds till the last set of 405 lbs for 2. I don't know what's more hysterical, the high reps or the heavy weight.
Sufficiently warmed up, I continued my mirthful routine with of wide-grip bent-over barbell rows supersetted with mid-weight, stiff-arm pullovers using the Odis thick-bar.
| What Does Supersetted Mean?
A superset is the alternating back and forth between two (or more) exercises until the prescribed number of sets is complete, usually with no rest between exercises. There are various types of supersets, however.
Find more definitions in our glossary.
No rush at this point, as I met up with Bill Keyes, the famous good-natured Large Man (a.k.a. Big Fellow, Sir Huge, Mountain), who regularly moderates the IOL discussion group and passes out strength advice to the hardy.
Between sets we discussed iron bending and metal moving and agreed, since he was visiting from out-of-town and we rarely see each other, heavy-duty monster conversation was permissible.
Not Designed For Tykes
Back to business: My stance is narrow. I bend low and grab the bar three inches from the collars and pull it high to the upper pec. The pull focuses on muscle-action -- contraction and extension -- depending less on thrust and the physics of momentum to move the weight.
The pullovers tug on those lats while allowing you to lie down on a bench, oxygenize, stretch and stare at the ceiling between the tough sets.
Press on and don't look back. Bill threw my battered body over his shoulder and retreated to the juice bar for a Bomber Blend shake to ensure his muscles would grow to outrageous proportions during his long drive home -- waste not, time or muscle-making efficiency.
On the way, he dumped me off at the cable-crossover where I knocked off the popular pec-defining exercise; nice tie-in to the muscle-action of the pullover. This burning, yet non-consuming exercise was completed in swift, meticulous form to achieve maximum pump and efficiency.
What's this? I stood upright and rolled my shoulders back and noticed there was something missing below the scapula and along the lower sweep of the lats. Using my built-in MPS (Muscle Positioning System), I determined one-arm rows blended with rounded-back dips would harmonize the un-sung regions and complete my composition for the day.
The biceps and triceps didn't go home this hungry Saturday without drawing blood, either. The whole greedy lot got in on the act. Did I mention I started with crunches and hanging leg-raises? Yesiree.
Now maybe you'll recall the secret appeal that makes life without the weights regrettable. How quickly we forget.
Better check your fuel, ammo, parachute, helmet, socks, underwear... Bombers are forever.