“What a drag it is getting old.” —The Rolling Stones

Sometimes I reflect back on my days (or is it daze?) in college when I could just wake up, go directly to the gym, and pump away. Now, much like a guy suffering from ED, I can’t just get up and go. My pumping now takes careful planning, and a rigorous routine must be adhered to in order to sustain my lifting. Spontaneous lifting is a thing of the past and has been replaced by a protocol or check-list that would make NASA envious.

Since May, I have been awakened daily at approximately 3:00 am by a new gadget called the Licker 3000. This device is darned near fool proof and so far has proven to be 100 percent effective in what it was designed to do. Relentless and tenacious is how I would best describe it.

As you might have guessed, my alarm is actually a dog in the form of my new brindle boxer named Boo. She is programmed to rouse me on cue from my slumber so she can do her early morning lawn fertilizing. Boo is like my VCR. I have never been able to figure out how to reset either one of them. The problem is that once I am up, I can’t go back to sleep. So on my heavy bench day, I begin my preparation to lift three to four hours beforehand. Primarily because of my problematic shoulders, my day of supine pressing is the day that requires the greatest amount of planning and preparation.

Pre-lifting Checklist

As I stated earlier, I awaken at 3:00 am and let the dogs out. I then begin drinking coffee. My initial cups of coffee tend to be Folgers’s instant coffee. This consumption is done solely because of habit and serves no greater purpose other than to be part of a routine. I don’t even count these cups of coffee. It is sort of like drinking non-alcoholic beer—they just don’t count toward the total.

4:00 am

My first dose of liquid fish oil takes place at this time. The amount of fish oil depends on how bad my tummy feels. Generally on Friday nights I order a large pizza and devour all but two pieces. I should also say that I usually take 1200 mgs of Valerian Root the night before my heavy lifting day. Valerian is from the Latin word “valere” meaning strong. In this case, it means strong as in strong ass dirty socks smell. I like this herb for its relaxing properties. I feel well rested on lifting day when I use the Valerian Root. However, the pizza coupled with the pungent herb sometimes causes me to have rot gut. If this occurs, I up my dose of liquid fish oil and things seem to calm down.

Regardless, I use eight times the recommended dose of the fish oil on my lifting day. This has proven to be effective with no adverse side effects. I equate myself to the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz. That poor old chap needed some oil to go and so do I. On the other hand, I do have a heart, and the fish oil only makes it better. My brand of choice is Ascenta.

5:00 am

Time to fire up the Mr. Coffee and unleash the real stuff that Juan Valdez so graciously brought out from the foothills on his donkey. Folgers and Starbucks are the brands of choice. When I really want to get on a good one, I use the French Roast because xenophobia has no place in my gym. However, you will most assuredly be beaten with a Russian kettlebell if you try to do French curls.

I drink an entire pot of coffee before I lift. The consumption is done in intervals, and I often drink a small amount of Gatorade (10 ounces) for each cup of coffee. Depending on the size of my java holding mug, I would say I drink six to eight cups of coffee and 60 ounces of Gatorade prior to hitting the iron.

5:30 am

The time has arrived to pop my little blue pills. No, not the ones you’re thinking of but rather my Aleve. Yes, my NSAID of choice is naproxen sodium, and the dosage is usually 660 mg. The other common over the counter anti-inflammatories tend to make my insides feel as though a game of tug-of-war is taking place between my intestines. I strive to take Aleve only when I absolutely need it. I do not endorse taking this stuff daily as a pain preventative. Rather, I suggest replacing NSAIDS with a healthy dose of fish oil and extra virgin olive oil. If done consistently, I personally believe this is by far the best approach.

5:30–6:00 am

My pre-workout meal centers on eggs. Why? I happen to be a connoisseur of the fine art of egg scrambling—just ask my wife. I generally take six eggs and mix this with extra virgin olive oil, whole milk, two slices of Kraft American cheese, Portobello mushrooms, one whole bell pepper, and an extra helping of tender loving care to insure that only the most fluffy, delightfully flavorful eggs emerge from my specially heated skillet on the stove. As a bonus, I retrieve the two pieces of pizza that I had conveniently stored away in such a manner that my wife could not possibly sniff them out.

With the eggs and the cold pizza, I have manufactured myself a meal that Wolfgang Puck would not endorse but screw him anyhow. All I know is that it does me well. Sometimes I will throw in a protein drink for good measure. I like Muscle Provider by Beverly. My favorite concoction is to mix the powder with whole milk, heavy whipping cream, and two containers of Yoplait orange crème flavored yogurt. All I have to say is scrumpdillyicious!

6:00–7:00 am

During this time, I do some chores, check emails, or take care of some bills. As suspected, both coffee and other beverages are being consumed. I also start bouncing around ideas for the day’s workout in my mind. I tend to create the workout spontaneously with no real plan. My main goal is to be sure that I don’t repeat a recent workout, especially regarding the max effort movement.

I usually have the max effort and the second movement ready when the workout begins and then I wing it from there based on feel. The crew never knows what is coming next, and I think they like this. There is no fear or apprehension, and when workouts are known beforehand, I believe that many self fulfilling prophecies ensue as guys start envisioning what they are going to do that day. If they don’t know what’s coming, then this problem is alleviated.

My second dose of fish oil is taken as 7:00 am approaches. The oil is taken in conjunction with my thermogenic compound of choice, Thermal Rage. This does not contain ephedrine, but it does the trick. On rare occasions, I will use an ephedrine-based product, but for the most part, I try to abstain. I have experimented with a product called Ready for War. If this is how one gets ready for war then prepare to meet your maker. This did nothing for me except give me a case of the Virginia quicksteps!

7:00 am

Before we had our little one, I would venture to my watery retreat from reality known as the whirlpool bath at this time. Now, I am met by an army division of rubber duckies and Dora the Explorer in full scuba garb. Last time I tried this, a tiny air tank penetrated my nether region.

Even though I miss the jets of joy on my achy breaky body parts, it has become too much of a chore to visit this bubbly paradise. Plus, my wife and baby girl are often still sawing logs at this time, or in the case of the baby, kindling. I currently choose to take a hot shower with the goal of loosening up my shoulders. I emphasize directing the shower jets to my deltoids, and I try to perform various stretches as I shower, especially focusing on external rotation. This is approximately a ten minute procedure.

7:10–7:30 am

Now its time to get my lube on. I utilize the trifecta approach of liniment application. My focal point of pain and discomfort is my deltoid region and this takes priority. Capsaicin in the form of Equi-block is preferred and is suggested for anyone with chronic arthritis or soreness. I also use the CVS brand simply called Capsaicin HP. The capsaicin works in a cumulative manner, and I have done this for so long that I feel nothing when it’s applied to my shoulders. However, if you get this stuff on other body parts, you will quickly conclude that the HP stands for Holy Peckerhead!

I wait until the capsaicin somewhat dries and then apply a spearmint scented horse liniment called Absorbine Liniment to my elbows and wrists. Finally, I apply an external analgesic called Muscle Rub throughout my upper torso. This tends to warm me up and get the juices flowing. When I initially used this product, I misinterpreted the analgesic part and had trouble sitting for days afterward.

7:30–7:45 am

This time slot is reserved for both pre-workout stretching and simply putting my workout clothes on. I have been following a regime specific to shoulder traction/stretching that is outlined at Testosterone.com and was penned by none other than dangerous Dave Tate of Elite Fitness. I strongly suggest taking the time to research and read it. I rotate between a traction movement with the jump stretch bands and putting on another layer of clothing.

Upon completion of this circuit, I have a sleeveless Under Armour garment on followed by an old size 60 single poly Inzer bench shirt, a tight-fitting shirt by Champion, a T-shirt, and finally my flannel. The use of the loose Inzer is totally based on how bad my shoulders feel. The worse they are, the greater chance it will be used. The shirt is so loose I can put it on and off by myself. However, it still helps just enough to keep me going week in and week out, especially the bad weeks. Lately, I have not worn it.

7:50–8:00 am

“I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike, I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride it where I like.” However, I tend to stay in one place. I ride my stationary bike for ten minutes averaging 100 RPM. I tend to knock out 3.6 miles during this time. When I am finishing this up, the crew starts arriving. I already have broken a sweat, my heart rate is elevated, and I am ready to roll. Below is what I reaped from my last protocol of preparation and the resulting workout.

Workout 9-16-2006

Max effort movement = fat bar, 3-board presses with a three second count after each rep on the board. That is, hold the bar on the 3-board for a three second pause for each repetition.

Bar = 60 lbs

150 X 3

200 X 3

250 X 3

300 X 3

350 X 3

400 X 3

450 X 3

500 X 3

550 X 1

When I hurt a bit more, I take 50 lbs jumps, and if I feel good, I take 90 lbs jumps.

Dumbbell floor presses:

120 lbs dumbbells

For the first set, I did 15 reps with someone yelling “press” each rep so it mimicked the pause in a meet. For the second set, I just banged out 15 reps, and it was tough.

I did one arm rows with a hitch. I rowed the weight up and then caught it at the top with both hands. I then dropped the weight and caught it with the arm I initially performed the row with. I did eight reps each arm. Next, I did this standing on a platform to add to the degree of difficulty. I did ten reps each side.

Fat bar overhand grip deadlifts:

This was tough. I did three reps up to 300 lbs and then did a single with 350 lbs. This is as high as I could go with the overhand grip. Is this common?

Dart pull-ups:

My handpicked throwing partner on this had me doing 20, 3, 17, and finally 13 reps in the pull-up exercise. I used a regular grip, palms facing, under grip, and finally a v-handle. Because of my lack of dart throwing skills, my partner did half the reps I performed.

Card fat bar curls:

I turned over a card and did that many reps with the obese bar. I sort of had some sort of fetish for the more rotund bar of steel on this day. I just did a bunch.

You may be saying, “All that for this lousy workout?” All I know is that I’m happy and feel blessed by the Great Spirit to still do this stuff week in and week out. I thought a couple of years ago that I had lost my mojo, but it is coming back. I turned 40 on September 11th, and I foresee a meet on the horizon. My daughter, who had originally played a role in the demise of the mojo, is now resurrecting it. She loves watching the crew lift and ‘ole dad wants to show off for her. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Good lifting!