Mr. Universe Dave Draper
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Weight Training - Bodybuilding - Nutrition - Motivation


Can't let a week go by without writing some version of a newsletter whether it's worthy of your reading or not. It's like missing a workout or a set or rep, know what I mean? You miss one and your life crumbles before you and there's no going back. Why bother? What's the use? Who cares? It's too late. It's over. You've failed. Today, let's discuss three truths of the iron: courage, conviction and conquest while under pressure.

I've been away three weeks of the past five and there were no workouts while on the road. I have a list of legitimate reasons "why not" scribbled on a napkin somewhere if anyone insists on hearing them. My first workout after a week allowed me any exercise combination I pleased as no muscle group was in the red zone of over-training and no plan was in effect. I was fresh and nothing I could do was wrong. "Why lock yourself into a routine when anything you do will be a welcome stimulation and relief to the sometimes-obstinate ole mule?" I asked. Treat yourself, play, invent, discover. This revolutionary thinking, at first, frightened me and caused a surge of doubt. My hands quivered and my knees shook, a strange sensation I accepted as the companion of daring and the price of creativity. I ignored them as I did the nausea, headache and gasping. One set and it will all go away.

This is what unfolded: the wrist curl/reverse-wrist curl combo, followed by the low incline curl and press, the seated bent-over dumbbell tug, stiff-arm pulley pushdown and machine dip super-multi-set. This may sound like an unlikely, unsophisticated and confused pattern of exercises but I don't care. It was fun and exhilarating and the five giant sets kept me productively pumping for twenty-five minutes. Let me give you a brief rundown of the tidy little mess.

Warmed up and loose from having already completed my mid-section, I chose wrist curls as my starting block simply to exert my grip and strangle the weights with uncomplicated directness. The movement strengthens the hands and wrists and builds big forearms as well. I grab a smoothly rotating Olympic bar and rest the bony downside of the forearms on the protective cushioning of my thighs as I sit straddling a bench. The hands extend beyond the knees allowing enough room for unobstructed movement. I regularly perform wrist curls and vary the grip from thumbs-under (strength advantage yet mildly torques the joint) with thumbs-released (limited power yet directly loads the forearm). The reps range from twenty-five down to ten as resistance is increased with each set; burning half reps with fingertips extended at the finish of every set take me to a painful end.

The reverse-grip wrist curl follows immediately as if an extension of the first and is performed with the same care in positioning. An awkward movement with little muscular expression, the reverse offers functional strength and a mound of subtle muscle across the outside the arm. Cool. Sets of ten to fifteen as you please.

The low incline curl and press is the inspirational original that deserves a blue ribbon. Resourcefully raise one end of a bench eighteen inches for that special effect. Lie down on the incline, feet up on the bench and allow a pair of dumbbells to hang fully extended by your sides (a light weight to familiarize, practice and warm up). Curl the weights to the shoulders in a palm- forward groove, rotating your grip as the dumbbells reach their zenith atop the chest and continue the curl into a press that completes its action overhead. Lower slowly and reverse the movement, concentration being your almost visible companion. The smooth transition at the shoulder/chest apex — the curl to the press — is where I find a complementary motion, a harmony of biceps, deltoid, pec and triceps, and expect practical strength and muscular fullness until I become greedy, go heavy and shred the joint and insertions. What a chump. Sets of 10,8,6.

Seated, bent-over dumbbell tugs are a variation of dumbbell rows for the back, yet done in pairs and position to maintain the multi-set pace and discourage the tendency to use exhausting, heavy weights. Sit on the endmost corner of the bench with your legs close together and extended before you. Bend at the waist bringing your chest to your thighs and allow a pair of moderate dumbbells to hang below you — no touchy da groundy. You're ready. Pull the weights from a back-rounded, forward-reaching position toward your mid-back, arching and contracting your back as your effort peaks. Your hands and groove are yours to manipulate as you direct the resistance to preferred areas of the back and lat or rear delt. Body thrust is okay if you insist on heavier weight; moderate weight suits the fastidious form and focused discipline of volume multi-set training. Sets of 6 to 8. Breathe.

The stiff-arm pulley pushdown is a stimulating stretching and contracting movement that spikes the length of the torso. Stand before a high pulley system, grasp a rope or short straight bar and step back four to six feet from the apparatus, crouching. Bend at the knees and at the waist with your arms extended forward (toward the pulley) and under the resistance of the system. Stretching. With your inborn finesse and natural logic, draw the cable downward in an arch before you to a point of completion close to your waist. The backside shifts outwardly and you arch your back in a compensating position to counter the resistance and locate muscular advantages. You are fighting the load by flexing your lats, serratus, abdominal, longitudinal bis and tris, minor pec, lower back and grip. This is a slow rep movement that you personalize as you practice and understand its enormous value in form, function and physical delight. Sets of 15+ as you wander through the reps and vary the demand. Enjoy this gift.

Dips are dips. You should know them well as they are a magnificent service to the upper body as we attempt to weave its musculature together in form and function. Lean forward and accent the pecs, lean back and accent the triceps, round your torso and accent the back, shift from position to position as particular regions fatigue. Squeeze out the reps slowly, fully extending and contracting the mob of muscle involved. Don't hustle. You're pumping. Reps in the 10 to 15 range work nicely.

Set to set in a determined yet unscrambled pace. Deep breathing between sets to assure full oxygenation and the water bottle nearby. Focus and concentrate. Become involved. Increment the weights used systematically. Push the sets and reps without losing precious form. No talking, please. We're watching. Several minutes between sets as you adjust the equipment and refresh and think how blessed, gifted or lucky you are. Plunge in for three, four or five multi-sets. It gets better and better. Don't forget to fuel and feed the beast. Grow. See ya at the ranch. Bomber.

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