Mr. Universe Dave Draper
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Shop Talk

Dick Tyler, John Balik, Dave Draper at last week's Ironman Expo

If you'd like to download the full Draper here newsletter in live-link, pdf format, click here.

Word about the Top Squat is getting around.

I want to thank Powerlifting USA for a recent display of the Top Squat and mentioning its features in their popular and rambunctious monthly power magazine. And thank you John Koenig and the boys at T-mag for their rave review of the squatting unit, and for the super 10 rating -- they’re tough to please. Last month training specialist Brian Johnston of IART demonstrated the value of the Top Squat in conjunction with the popular Bowflex apparatus for emphatic quad training. I’m honored, everyone.

We’ve sold a bunch and I’m encouraged. Only two returns from folks who misunderstood the unit’s purpose and many messages from delighted users: I can squat again, I can squat without pain in my knees, back and without shoulder discomfort, I can go deeper and engage more muscle, I have more control, I feel safer and I’m getting stronger and squatting is more fun. The opposite sex finds me irresistible and my declining stocks have risen dramatically.

I’m a proponent of the full squat for its muscle-building benefits and systemic advantages. Including the comprehensive squat movement in your training regimen assures you of maximum quad, hamstring and glute development, the wise improvement and maintenance of lower back strength and overall body health and energy.

That some musclebuilders don't squat -- lest they are forbidden -- is a mistake; the exercise works hard for everyone. Full and deliberate squats are a comprehensive exercise and the whole system responds: growth hormone and muscle-building enzymes are stimulated, the metabolism is enhanced and bone density improves. Further, squats are highly cardiovascular, endurance is positively affected and fat-burning aspects are raised. Did I mention they launch the endorphins, and the fulfillment of a squat workout well done is incomparable?

Squats are a fearsome movement to the beginner. The ponderous bar on the back, the balancing act, squatting down without knowing where you’re going, the wobbly descent with the wiggly ascent, on your toes and tipping forward and on your heels and tipping back, breathing and not breathing, gasping and grasping the bar with all your might and how on earth do I get this thing back into the rack. “You’re kidding me, you’re not serious, I can’t walk, my butt’s killing me and I’m gonna die.” It gets better with the second set. Why would I lie to you?

Come to think of it, squats frighten the intermediate trainee and advanced professional as well. Perhaps that’s why we love them so much.

Has it been a while? Are you just starting? Prepare the legs with leg extensions and leg curls and leg presses for a month or more and bring partial squats into your wonderful life slowly but surely as an exercise only. Practice form and muscle action and seek full range of motion. If the knees or lower back are problematic, practice regularly two or three sets of 10 reps of light-weight, partial squats; wear a belt, and wrap the knees when tenderness and vulnerability suggest.

Don't depend on running or the treadmill or the stairs for your legs’ healthy needs.

Practiced squatters, of course, have gone through the act described above and they’re tough. Grrrrunt. They eat nickel and dime plates for breakfast and don’t have any interest in the Top Squat since most long-time squatters are attached to tradition... “there ain’t no replacement for the real squat, man.” I tend to fall into that hardcore category, myself. However, when injuries catch up with us and demand minor modifications, we bow obligingly. Fact is, a squat’s a squat despite how you hold the bar. I find the TS encourages squatting efficiency and effectiveness, safety and comfort. And it gets better with usage and familiarity.

I'm no powerhouse, but four plates is a lot for a non-powerlifter/musclebuilder (I hear they -- Scot Mendelson and crew -- bench 930 now) and I postponed such attempts for a long time. Last week I got four low, no-bounce reps with 400 and let a fifth go by 'cuz I didn't have a spot. The worst part is backing the bar from the rack and walking it forward to re-rack. No back or knee pain during the set or over the following days. I expect I will do this regularly (Lord willing) now that I've made the move. I’ll be curious to hear about your progress and TS applications over time.

I dragged the Top Squat to the Ironman Expo and passed it around to visitors at John Balik’s suggestion. John likes it. I visited the World Powerlifting Organization Booth and asked for a critique from the three Buick-sized WPO representatives. They loved it. “I can’t squat ‘cuz I tore my pec. This is perfect. I want one.”

I’m beginning to sound like a creepy salesman. Which reminds me; I have a cool new attachment for your pulley system. It’s a short two-inch thick handle set at a 120-degree angle for triceps pushdowns or close-grip biceps curls. I like the oversized diameter for comfort and affect and change. Laree will put a picture of the unit on the web page in a week. It’s called the Stealth or the Detonator or the TriMaster or the Maxifier... still working on the name.

How about this? The other day I saw a masked man running out of Wells Fargo with a bag of money from the bank’s vault. People were screaming, ducking and hiding. Without hesitation I opened a canister of Bomber Blend, downed a scoop of instantized, delicious vanilla powder with water, dropped to the ground and knocked out 20 pushups, sprang to my feet and he was gone. No big deal, but I felt great, got an instant pump in my tris, pecs and front deltoids. You’ve gotta try thus stuff.

While I’m on the subject, here’s a quiz to keep you alert: What does WCBS stand for? The winner gets a picture of Laree, Mugsy and me in absolute darkness at Mugsy’s recent birthday party. Ready? WCBS stands for West Coast Bodybuilding Scene, the book full of photos and gossip and articles portraying the Golden Era of bodybuilding -- 1965 to 1971. I know you knew that, I’m just messin’ with ya.

Dave with Armand Tanny at the 2004 IronMan Expo

WCBS was a highlight at the recent Ironman expo and we’re getting calls from the subjects whose images and history are related in the book. Eddie Giuliani and I talked last night about the Golden Era and its universal and eternal popularity and Brad Harris just called, laughing about the crazy days of muscles and might depicted with affection and warm humor in the pages. Rippin’ Frank Zane, inspired, promises to write a song about the WCBS -- The Golden Era -- and play it on the harmonica with his band, Inzane. The book is a beauty and was it a kingdom, Laree would be its queen. She did a fantastic job gathering, piecing together and artfully presenting Dick’s very cool works. Long live the Queen.

By the time you receive this newsletter, the Queen and I will be on our way to the Arnold in Columbus (wish it was in Hawaii). Meet us at exhibition #225. I’ll be wearing a Top Squat around my shoulders like an iron shawl -- I’m Bad. Torque Athletic will have some of their M-1 gym equipment on display; the Draper Dungeon squat rack and (with any luck) my new pulley handle, finally entitled the TriMaster, will be there. Meet Odis Meredith and his merry band of Torque engineers and pick up a copy of one of our publications; BISS, YBR, SK and WCBS. Got a question? Got an answer. Got a camera? Take a picture. Like dull and quiet and privacy? Stay home.

No, don’t. The Arnold is a scene. People are wondering if the Governor will show and my money’s on the man, as usual. Of course, when I return next week I’ll fill you in on the details, though I promised not to. Gotta keep the bombers up to date on politics and current events. We are the sharp edge of the cut.

Word of caution: Do not dismantle your craft if you’re not sure how to re-assemble it. Be strong and wise, bombers.

Fly high... Dave Draper

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