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Breaking the Mold
March 26, 2003

Oh, no, Mister Dave. I don’t want to go to the gym and get beat up. Don’t hurt me. I’m too young to die.

Not every workout has to be a knockdown, drag-out battle. I’m all for blasting it and drawing blood, but sometimes it’s just plain good to go to the gym and roll around on your back like a playful dog.

On those curious days when the old mutt -- puppy, actually -- in me comes yapping to the foreground all paws and no restraint, either because I’m way ahead of the game or so far behind it doesn’t really matter, I let myself go and follow my tail. The results are always the same: a good time accompanied by relief, learning and growth. Oddly, the workouts are equally intense and unrelenting as the prescribed regimens; that I don’t anticipate them, that they are spontaneous, the real deal and not a repeat performance gives the execution of the movements freshness and the training a sense of adventure.

How long has it been since you associated freshness and adventure with your workouts?

I’m a proponent of sticking to a workout scheme for six weeks to achieve the maximum results it can afford. Too little time with one plan and you don’t dig in deeply enough to excavate its densest ore; you don’t overload the muscles repetitively enough with might and discovery to send the message to the brain that you need more powerful cellular structure, more rippling muscle to accommodate the consistently applied workload -- you need the muscles to grow. Nevertheless, a tail-wagging diversion is often what’s necessary to put some bark in the routine and bite in the workouts. Sit, stay, roll over... good doggie.

You get bored regularly? Tough. Keep digging!

Some people talk about surprising the muscles with new routines. Whoopee. What’s this, a birthday party at the Pizza Hut? You’ve got to pound size and density and shape into your muscular system. That’s when they and their possessor are their happiest, most content. Surprise your neighborhood this summer and train like an animal this spring.

There are those who proclaim intense, steady, slow repetitions for maximum muscle intensity, some thing bordering on isometrics and dynamic tension with a twist of language suggesting it’s the cutting-edge method. Where has the motion gone, the action, the excitement, the circulation of oxygen and blood and nutrients, the expression and revelry? Put me under an Olympic bar for 10 minutes while I do six reps (or whatever) and I’ll implode. Do it on a regular basis and you as an aspiring musclebuilder will last three days to three weeks. Don’t listen to me. I’m just hypered, old-fashioned and narrow-minded.

“Short workouts of 45 minutes, three times a week are the outer limits for the most efficient muscle and strength growth.” This theory is getting a lot of play from some wise guys who fear the demons of catabolism and don’t really understand how anybody could want to go to the gym and get huge or ripped or strong and healthy. In 45 minutes a good natural bodybuilder carrying any muscular size is just getting warmed up and inspired. You want time to fly? Throw the clock out the window. Zoom, zoom. You want to grow? You’ve got to do some saturating and penetrating and exploding. Boom, boom.

One workout a week per bodypart for beginner and advanced bodybuilders is a recent rule put forth by the big guys (who hang out on the corner near the Rexall). Makes sense as long as you’re intertwining and blending and overlapping exercises in such a brilliant way that every bodypart is receiving its necessary twice weekly blessing and bombing after all.

Don’t be stingy. Don’t be cowardly. Don’t be lazy. Don’t be dumb. Be generous and be wise. Use your common sense and train hard and efficiently, with good order, crisp pace, absolute focus, intelligence and zeal. Stop listening to the noisy voices out there that confuse you with the latest ingredient, method, holistic adventure, scheme, gadget, scam or whatever.

Look in the mirror and be that person you see, your best friend. Give him or her credit for inner knowledge and understanding. Learn the very simple basics in exercise and nutrition and practice and apply them happily and with confidence. Now you are on your way, not their way. You’ll learn and you’ll grow as the days go by with your tender loving care. Stand and be strong.

I know the gym and training and good nutrition are important to you. Your health and well-being and body comfort are necessary and you don’t want to make them your god or your worship. My gym is full of good folks who just love to mingle and stimulate and break up their day. It’s healthy, productive and freeing. The one-hour expression refreshes the spirit, renews the body and inspires the mind. The gym is a refuge and fueling station, bombing and blasting excluded. It’s a place and time to coax the muscles and fill the lungs and bloodstream with oxygen and goodness. Eyes toward the skies you grab, lift, push and pull the iron, engage the cables and pulleys and make the back work. The moments are yours, well lived and valuable.

Jay who? Periodization when? Androstendione what? That’s what I say, that’s what I like to hear. Keep training, never doubt and turn up the volume if you get the urge. Forget the news, life is good.

Now for you who are mad about your training and are currently mad “at” your training as well, which includes all of the above terrific characters, here’s a Draper Diversion you are permitted to enjoy from time to time. It’s not exactly a box of chocolates, but then it’s not sardine and onion pie either.


Start with a lightweight leg routine to plunge into a highly stimulating warmup and aerobic-like program. Responders: Heart and lungs, legs, lower back, midsection, grip and a multiplicity of related muscle throughout the torso.

Leg press 3x25 – for burn and oxygenization
Supersetted with
Stiff-leg deadlift 3x10 – stimulation and therapeutic advantages
Supersetted with
Standing calf raise 3x15 – stimulation and burn

Choose a weight that allows and encourages total attention to form, moderate rhythm of contraction and extension, near perfect and precise reps with 80 percent output. Set-pace is back n’ forth, back n’ forth, near non-stop, yet no race. You’re looking for hard-earned joy, not knockdown, gasping misery.

Occasionally straying from the norm assures originality and maintains agility. Unless we are dared, threatened or cajoled, an oddball collection of exercise combinations is seldom permitted and seldom sought. However, they provide rarely experienced mind and body stimulation, a teaching distraction and possible doorways to less-than-ordinary yet profitable training MOs.

Bent-bar reverse-grip curl 3x6-8 -- bis, forearms, grip, torso stabilizing muscles
Supersetted with
Close-grip pullover n’ press 3x6-8 -- lats, tris, pecs, front delt

45-degree incline DB press 3x6-8 -- front shoulder, related pec and minor tris
Supersetted with
Reverse close-grip overhead pulldown 3x6-8 -- back n’ lat, bit of bis

Reverse close-grip bent-over row 3x6-8 -- lat n’ back, accenting lower regions, bis
Supersetted with
Dips -- feet up on bench 3x6-8 -- tris, mixed upper body, chest, shoulders, back

Friends, this diverse routine is something to think about during these trying times besides the trying times. Don’t let your training slide, don’t let your guard down and don’t withhold your affections from yourself and those around you. Train hard, eat right and be ready. We’ve got work to do and no one does it better than a well conditioned, spiritually and emotionally fortified bomber.

Take it up and keep it close to home. God bless you… Dave

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