Mr. Universe Dave Draper
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Dave Draper's Iron Online

Weight Training - Bodybuilding - Nutrition - Motivation

Been There

I’ve got to get some workouts under my belt, not to mention a few steaks and a night in my own bed. Cruising up and down the West Coast was rewarding and I met a bunch of swell people, but I’m feeling red-eyed and itchy. Hold it there, hound dog: “Swell” does not adequately describe the very cool folks you met during your Body Revival excursion, Drapes. “Absolutely stupendous” is a bit overkill, but we’re getting close. Try “Very special” or “Terrific.” Now you’re talkin’.

I walk into the bookstore about 10 minutes before 7pm, the scheduled presentation time, and look for an anxious face wondering if and when the muscle-guy author will show; this nervous person would be the store’s events coordinator, whose relief is palpable as I approach him or her with a big smile and outstretched hand. We exchange greetings and I’m directed to the area designated for my appearance, a handsome wooden table displayed with books -- mine, I hope -- and a bright bouquet of fresh flowers. Before the table, folding chairs are arranged to seat the expected audience. This is always a challenge. Are there 10 or 20 chairs; is anyone seated or are the chairs empty and will they remain that way? I peek before heading to the restroom; the friendly and helpful relations person gets me water, an oasis in the desert, and makes one last announcement over the PA system. My name fills the hushed air and 10 billion silent, awaiting pages absorb the sound. It’s happening… again.

Time seems to stand still as I make my way to the space reserved for authors -- ha -- through the endless aisles of bookcases overflowing with books, books and more books. Bookstores are not familiar haunts for me, and I find myself searching for a squat rack or pair of dumbbells as volumes of oddly passive yet intimidating hardcovers and paperbacks amass at my sides. Three people sit self-consciously among the metal chairs assembled in a loose semicircle, a curious trio not knowing any more than I what to expect.

Three’s not a crowd so I join them, a feeble attempt to enlarge the scant gathering. The strategy works well to make new friends and in minutes we’re lost in conversation. I look up to accept the water offered by the coordinator and notice the seats filling up and some curious onlookers lingering, waiting for me to speak. Another challenge...

“Brother Iron” and “Your Body Revival” get the formal treatment, a babbling introduction from someone who prefers writing to vocalizations, lifting weights to selling his wares or notions. Soon enough and with little panache, I end my preamble and exhale, “Time for questions and answers, my rapt and fascinated book-readers and bombardiers.” We’re all grinning. Life is good. It’ll be 9 or 10 o’clock before I’m graciously removed by book security while resolving yet one more training dilemma.

Who are the good folks seated and standing immediately before me and what do they want to know? Each store, stop, community and region offers a different audience in size and composition, but as I look back they are surprisingly alike in personality. Allow me to confuse you: Each individual is unique, but the overall personality of the groups is similar. There are men and women (boomer bombers), a few teens (surely precocious) and an assortment of fit and less fit seekers of muscle and might. They are welcoming, receptive and lively; at least five are IronOnline regulars and some don’t know me from Lurch. I don’t see any slugs in tank tops with chips on their deltoids… torn rotators, but no chips.

The interests range from food supplementation choices to training around plateaus, the future of bodybuilding to the merits and risks of training through injury and illness. Muscle gains over 40 and 50 is a popular subject and the tuna and water diet gets a fair amount of animated discussion. The questions are simple, as are the answers, if the one providing the answers were to take the direct, unembellished route. I, of course, get lost taking the road most traveled, and instinctively wander through territory completely off the beaten path to an answer so convoluted we all forget the original question. Nobody cares. We learn. I keep moving.

Next question… you, sir, in the leopard-skin leotard.

All of the questions are valid. They are not new. The answers are not new and they are not brilliant. Mostly what the gang sitting around and gabbing in the corner of the gym or the bookstore wants is identification. They want reassurance. They want someone to tell them he loves this stuff as much as they in the group do and that it is good, very, very good. They to want to be told the “how and why” are basic and simple, not hi-tech and complex, and that it absolutely works. The confusion big, greedy business has brought to a simple place needs to be eradicated, expelled, stomped out -- publicly and vociferously -- by an infamous character. Standing on top of the bookseller’s table, hands raised overhead and shouting, “Protein, protein, protein… Back to the basics… Don’t believe the deceivers… We must superset,” I fit the role.

Encouragement is more valuable than a cutting edge routine guaranteed to build gargantuan arms... slim hips… melt fat… get huge… ripped, etc. Encouragement is oxygen and water to the soul.

Motivation to stick with your simple plan to train hard and eat right for good cannot be purchased. Motivation is priceless.

Confidence acquired from within through time, sacrifice and hard work is authentic and absolute. Confidence comes from knowing the truth.

Enthusiasm realized and established through achievement is contagious and exhilarating. Enthusiasm is fire in heart.

We’re alone often in our pursuit and the world around us is not helping. Fitness, muscle and might are words that dimly haunt the shadows of our listless and bent-back neighbors. They have time, eat what they want, have few restrictions, let their bellies hang over their belts and laugh as they and their multitude of companions shuffle about their lives. We, with little encouragement and against a bombardment of synthetic media hype, exercise, eat right and keep smiling. Good motives, growing discipline and guts separate us, and aloneness is a consequence. Attributes more precious than gold are not available in abundance through TV infomercials or at the fast-food restaurants. They are not displayed brazenly across the chest in the public square, but cherished in the heart and shared generously with those who value them. That would be you and me, brother and sister, and we are hardly alone.

Alone is not lonely, it’s being together with yourself. Being separated from the crowd and alone, that’s lonely. We are not of the crowd.

The young lady by the towering bookcase… you were about to say something?

I cornered three workouts at hardcore gyms en route and managed to keep the dragon within from raging and breathing fire. The bodyweight held up and the energy remained high till I completed my last event -- #9, Seattle. That’s all I wanted; all I could hope for. After that it was back to the barn, pedal to the metal, eye on the rear view and downhill all the way… zoom, zoom, zoom.

Next stops: Santa Rosa, Oakland and Las Vegas, October 10th, 11th and 19th. All aboard.

Routine of the Week

A couple in Issaquah, Washington, kept me company as I signed the last of the unsold books for the store’s stock. He lifted and was an IronOnline email groups participant since its infancy, and she was an obliging wife whose interest was stirred by the book signing and his excitement about it. She wanted to join him in his passion. She was also gaining weight day by day and becoming sluggish and she wanted it to stop.

I’m thinking “how easy,” right? All you have to do, dear nice lady, is exercise, eat right and go about your life with promise and a smile. It will happen. She had already heard a dozen people discussing the simple nutritional and meal management steps -- more protein, smaller and more frequent meals, lots of water, dump the sugar, shoot junk food on sight, yada yada. All she needed now was a push-pull, full body routine to keep her busy.

“Hey, an hour a day, three times a week and you’re a new woman in a year,” I tell her. Am I right or am I wrong? The only way to find out is through application. She’s listening, I’m signing books and Timothy is grinning.

Here’s the routine:

Aerobics of choice: Work up to 15-20 minutes -- intensify.

Midsection: Basic crunches and leg-raise combination for starters.

Dumbbell press -- flat bench
Dumbbell pullover -- straight arms
Seated lat row
Dips (machine or bench version)
Curls (standing barbell)
Leg press plus calf action

First week -- 1 set of each exercise, 12 reps
Second and third weeks -- 2 sets, 10 reps each
Fourth, fifth and sixth weeks -- 3 sets, 12, 10, 8 reps per set

I defined the purpose of each exercise, pointed out the energy-saving, muscle-recuperation logic of the basic push-and-pull combination, defined pump and burn, encouraged eventual intensity and praised the attributes of discipline, patience, hard work and persistence. Now all three of us are grinning and she buys a copy of Your Body Revival for her sister.

Big T looks forward to demonstrating the exercises with form and focus the following afternoon. He promises his adoring wife that she’ll commence supersetting at the end of her six-week introductory cycle. She’s impressed. Go, Tim.

“One last thing,” I said, “the most important elements to achieving your goal are being demonstrated right here, right now: commitment and enthusiasm, purpose and trust. Don’t let them go, nurture them, crave them and realize them. You are close to where you want to go. You’re in control. Don’t let the disappointment of deceptive worldly expectations rob you of your ambition. Be strong and courageous, girl.”

I said “God bless you guys,” as the mild-mannered bookstore security guard led us out the front door and into the dark and empty parking lot. “Blast it.”

Gotta go. Time to rest this old B-51 before the sun rises on a brand new day.

The Bomber

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