First Things First

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The Learn from My Mistakes Interview, Part Two

Dave Draper's Iron in My Hands

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This is Part Two. Click here if you missed Part One.

Continuing with the Q&A, the fourth question:

Are there any nutritional secrets that beginners need to know to develop a powerful, healthy physique?

There are no secrets. Train hard, eat right and be happy!

Nutrition counts -- big time. What you eat is what you get. Eat regularly to fuel and restore the muscles throughout the day -- once every three to four hours. Up your intake of muscle-building protein (red meat, fish, poultry, dairy products, some nuts); exclude or greatly minimize simple sugars in your menu; eat lots of fresh vegetables and a fair share of fresh fruit (watch the sugar); get your fiber and eat whole-grain breads and grains that have not been overly processed.

Don't eat junk food, fast food and don't overeat. Without drowning yourself, drink jugs of water. Add an excellent vitamin and mineral with antioxidants, along with a dose of essential fatty acids (EFAs) daily, and a protein powder to supplement meal planning if eating consistently is a problem -- or to help gain weight, or as a most important pre-workout and post-workout fortifier.

Simple, basic, honest. Takes devotion and habit building.

It works, that's all. It works.

5. Unfortunately, injuries are common in weight lifting. What mistakes can lead to injuries in the weight room? And how can beginners avoid them?

Injuries will visit without being invited. They come from eagerness, lack of body conditioning or preparedness... overload, not being warmed up, poor execution of an exercise, lack of concentration, undernourishment, inadequate pre-workout fueling, excessive overload, collective muscle tears over a period of time and/or lack of recuperation.

There's more I'm sure; the list goes on. The question requires a volume to answer even briefly.

I'll highlight a few of the common mistakes:

~Too eager, too soon. Pushing a heavy bench press before the muscles and tendons have had a chance to adapt, thicken, lengthen and whatever else they need to do before squirming under the stress of an impossible weight. Imagine a new biceps and a young lower back under the enthusiastic swing of a cumbersome bar littered with cold iron...

This activity is wonderful, tough, takes time and requires wisdom. Injuries impart wisdom. Slow down, think, be smart and save time... and a whole lot of misery.

~Similarly, it's cold; you're in a hurry, you press the dumbbells and the deltoid gurgles as a spike of pain is loudly hammered home.

Never hurry. Raise the body's core temperature with sufficient aerobic work or, better yet, a vigorous ab workout, and hit the muscles and joints about to be blasted with a few light sets in preparation.

~You're into this for a long time and the benchpress lures you on and on. The bench does that. I'll bet you eventually get a chronic shoulder problem that threatens your sleep and the rest of your training if you persist to try to conquer the impenetrable steel fortress. The exercise is decent, though not the most efficacious muscle builder and shaper. It certainly is replaceable with safer dumbbell movements.

Beware. As a power lift, it will lead to troubles. The shoulder mechanics do not provide for the extreme overload demanded by power training on a flat bench press. There is a protective bone-like tab within the joint to prevent overload and this becomes aggravated, and in time enlarged and inflamed causing real pain and limitation. Who among long-time benchers does not have a shoulder complaint?

~Improved nutrition invariably accompanies a solid interest in weight training. The basics of sound eating combined with sensible physical conditioning cause the system to more fully cooperate (as designed) and will add vitality, improve the health and flexibility of joints, increase bone density and improve resistance to injury. The muscles become an attractive armor against the perils of the hard work.

Feeding yourself healthfully is a primary factor in preventing injury on the gym floor.

6. When you are in the gym, what are some of the most common mistakes you see weight lifters making, and what can they do to correct the mistakes?

The answers to the question in regard to mistakes made that might cause injury would be poor form, too little focus and too much weight. The corrections, I think, are obvious: Learn and practice good form, concentrate totally on your training from start to finish (more practice) and lower the working weight. Be smart.

To answer the question broadly and assuming the goals are the development of body strength and health and not entertainment, which is certainly okay, the mistakes or shortcomings include lack of training involvement and too little intensity in exercise performance.

Amplitude is missing. Desire and direction are major requirements if time spent on the gym floor is to be productive and fulfilling. They wane rapidly. This muscle-building and strength-building stuff works best when you work hard, want it bad, refer to your internal compass and have an honest sense of confidence in your pursuit and performance. You've got to blast it when you're amid the metal, cable and racks.

Another thing: There's more time and effort and wonder in seeking faster and easier ways to achieve muscle building goals than there is in the act of muscle building. Don't waste your resources. Face it, muscle and power building is tough work, not magic.

7. Finally, what is the single biggest mistake you made in your bodybuilding career and what did you learn from it?

Aside from drinking too much alcohol all those years ago and learning I'd have been better off not to drink at all, I reckon the mistakes I've made have only been incidents that contributed to the person I happen to be today, good or not so good.

I'll spare you the philosophical baloney, but I prefer to think of muscle building as something I do as I go about my life, not who or what I've become -- not the career thing referred to as “bodybuilding.” I have always trained -- building muscle and might -- for function, focus, good fun and a hundred other valuable reasons.

That which others might call mistakes were just days of my life. I stepped on a few toes and acted like a jerk and hurt some folks along the way and would gladly wish for the good folks involved to edit out those occasions.

Yet, somehow, the world has continued to turn, for which I thank God.



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