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Dave Draper - October 16, 2017 - 18:10

Are pullovers for the lats or chest? I know there are different variations (bent-arm, stiff-arm), so what variation do I use to hit the lats?

“Stiff-arm” or “Straight-arm” pullover — it’s one of my all-time favorites for the good feel of the big stretch. The exercise works particularly well as the part two of a superset (the subordinate exercise).

It’s primarily a lat movement with a bit of peripheral minor pec, longitudinal bi & tri, shoulder and abs. The pullover offers relief after a tough dumbbell incline or flat press, keeps the pump and heart rate going, keeps you active, warmed and timed.

Some do the exercise across a bench. I prefer to lie the length of the bench, head supported at the very end and the feet up. The starting position is with the dumbbell straight overhead, then slowly lowering with a tight negative to body-in-line position (plus a tad or two as you warm up and stretch) and back overhead. Palms should be flat on the plate with DB handle snug against the web of the hands.

Warm up with a light weight as a trial (10-20#) to assess the health and flexibility of your shoulders. Proceed wisely – 4×10-12 reps twice a week will add dimension to your workout. Can also be done with a barbell or bent bar for a neat variation.

Bentarm pullovers become a version of the French press or tricep extension and accent triceps development. There’s a substantial difference, as you’ll notice. Compare.


How to program for better recovery

Dave Draper - October 16, 2017 - 18:07

My recovery is quite slow, always has been. Given that, what workout frequency, ie what bodyparts and when, would you recommend to prevent overtraining and keep gains coming?

I’ll ramble as I answer your question hoping to cover associated matters for you and others at the same time (sneaky way of excusing my irrelevance and ignorance).

I know from earlier email that you upped your protein and the body fat has dropped and the muscle is coming on. This is the musclebuilder’s dream come true. I also know over the years as I headed in the direction of leaning up and dropping the bodyfat, shedding pounds in the process, my strength and ability to pump and recover dropped enough to make me grumpy (I’m so cool, no one noticed). If you’re in any way dieting — limiting your food intake — to lose fat while trying to gain muscle, you might be up against a recovery conflict, sort of a catch 22.

Age and, it seems to me, the level of muscular achievement are factors to be considered. The years in my mid-20s permitted me to train six days a week, each muscle group three times a week (4 exercises per body part x 5 sets – 12,10, 8, 6, 6 reps approx.). I was in the prime years for building and repairing, given my structure and system, and I pressed on. I don’t recommend this for you or anyone, twice a week per muscle group being my personal ideal for my training through 2000. Later, I wisely reduced my workouts to 4 per week based on feel, and hit everything twice a week regulating the intensity (always hard, sometimes harder) according to recovery. Age and percentage of muscle limits recovery, the later a condition I’m not yet clear on. In fact, we’re all working on the whole aging process from one moment to the next.

My method of operation to discover the mysteries of the aging of the musclebuilder (a dumb subject I have not undertaken by choice) was a mad course of taking things (workouts, sets, reps, weight, time) to the extreme to the best of my ability and working my way back to safe ground. (As always, I continued to refuse counseling.) I’m aware of overtraining, a mighty popular subject, yet I seldom saw anyone who trains intensely enough. Of course, I haven’t visited the training centers of the hi-tech muscleheads.

Are you still there? I want to answer your question clearly, but I don’t know what to refer to age, rest, job and family and playtime demands, eating habits, current training and training history, physical stats.

Use your internal muscle barometer to gauge when to withdraw a workout day from a week and what workout — perhaps rotate them. I like pushing and pulling combinations (super setting…duh) and never separating bis and tris. Go hard early in the week and pull back to fastidious focus and pace toward the week’s end. Chest and back — legs — shoulders and arms — day off — legs — is a creative mix of upper body, day off and repeat.


How did you get started in bodybuilding?

Dave Draper - October 16, 2017 - 18:03

Dave, how did you get started in bodybuilding?

My interest in building muscles started before I was ten. There were very few people lifting, virtually no gyms and little information on the subject. I started with pushups, chins and dips. My mom bought me a pair of hand grips and a spring/cable set and began the journey.

By the time I was 12 I bought my first set of weights – a 16-inch bar, collars and 70 lbs of assorted weights.
At 17 I became a member of the Y. There I trained with a guy, Joey Dinetta, a former Mr. N.J. who showed me some basics. I moved to California some 5 years later, ’63, and so on.

I just wanted to have strong muscles; they looked good to me and gained respect from those around me. it made me different and turned out to be a very absorbing and satisfying sport and hobby.

Stick to it all your life and you’ll be happier and more productive person because of it.

The Bomber

Swiss balls in the gym

Dave Draper - October 10, 2017 - 12:53

What do you think of Swiss balls? We have trainers doing flyes on these rather than benches to have unsuitability to get functional stomach muscles and burn more calories. You have seen plenty of fads in 40 years in the business. Is this another fad or is everyone going to start training on big balloons now?

My gut feeling is these are cute trick items that will come and go like the rest of the excess gear we see. They might be around awhile for some jolly folks who enjoy the effect. They are bouncy and require stabilizing by the user, and that is the argument for their benefit. Soon the stabilizing is effortless and a limit is reached in the weight one can safely employ.

However, the stability of the solid bench encourages the lifter to pursue a heavier poundage and appropriately load the muscles for size, density and strength.

They’re comfy for stretching and crunching, but they ultimately interfere with the contraction of the abdominal muscles under the resistance of the body’s weight or added weight; that is, contracting under load.

Many personal trainers are quick to pick up on the latest tricks and techniques coming down the pike, fearing they might be considered out-of-step, uncool, not hip, old-fashioned or boring if they don’t.

The balls are okay. They will not revolutionize your training. The basics, like fire and ice, rule.

Tricks are for kids. Toughness in training is good.

Rock and roll… Dave

Pat Casey and Chuck Sipes

Dave Draper - October 10, 2017 - 12:50

Pat Casey and Chuck Sipes? Were they really as strong as people say?

These two men were at least as strong as reported. No one knows of the persistence and dedication and love that went into their achievements, another kind of strength. They were also good friends and great guys. Pat did the first official 600+ bench and Chuck was in the mid-500 range.

Chuck was outrageously strong in functional might, very intense in mind and body and emotion, and his artistic ability paralleled, if not exceeded, his physical ability. He took humility to grand heights. I liked and admired him. I trust everything you read about Chuck’s strength and prowess is accurate. He’s demonstrated it publicly and on stage often. Incredible lifter, bodybuilder, great artist and a good man.

I feel the same about Pat. True champions and heroes, a diminishing breed…

God’s might… Dave

Injuries after 30 years of lifting

Dave Draper - October 10, 2017 - 12:48

Be strong. Take heart. It’s time to give the shoulders, elbows and wrists a rest. They are designed to work hard with proper care and respect. Think of all the stress they undergo workout after workout while we push them beyond their healthy capacity. Over my history, I see it as obsession, insecurity, self-centered-ness, ignorance and meanness. That doesn’t make me a bad person; just a poor sap who needs to give his joints some peace while he reconsiders his purposes.

How about light dumbbells, warming up and going moderately heavy… flat and differing levels of incline? Moderate-weight flys supersetted with stiff-arm pullovers of medium weight. The change is smart, recruits new muscles that support the structure as the joints get relief, stimulates novel interest and broadens your training understanding. You’ll come back strong and encouraged instead of leaving torn and discouraged. Those impressive numbers will be around for a long time.

The machines work well (Hammer chest press, etc) but get off the heavy trip and commit to moderate weights with form, pace and supersetting as a substitute for heavy-weight intensity. Not for a day but for the season… live and learn and grow… nothing to lose and everything to gain.


Bomber Blend shipping

Dave Draper - October 1, 2017 - 19:53

I’ve tried your Bomber Blend a few times over the past 10 years. Recently I wanted to order, but the shipping cost is high and I’m thinking of going back to a product I can pick up at the local GNC. Can you tell me how Bomber Blend is better?

For me the important aspect of Bomber Blend is its high protein content and potent nutritional additives for muscle building, recovery and repair. Protein shakes are most valuable for breakfast, pre and post workout. When you realize their muscle building and energy benefits you’ll agree they are worth the investment. Be sure that investment is in a quality product.

Bomber Blend is very popular among its loyal users because it tastes great and is highly assimilable. (The vanilla outsells the chocolate because it is more versatile in mixing — fruit juices, milk and so forth.)

Shipping costs have been increasing, but the fulfillment warehouse was able to work out new pricing recently. I hope the cost to ship the Bomber Blend is not prohibitive. It is extremely popular for a variety of reasons: taste, purity, wholesomeness and training and anabolic efficacy the toppers.

After decades of trying various protein powders, it’s still my fav.


Just getting started with training, have a bad back

Dave Draper - October 1, 2017 - 19:46

I’m just getting started with training, and all I wanted to know is which workout is best for guys with bad backs who work out at home with limited equipment.

Try this:

Warm up with your floor movements, then stand up straight (at attention) as a starting position and perform 10 reps of bent-leg good morning exercises (modified deadlifts), reaching for the floor to maximize your range of motion and to continue to work and warm up the back region.

Then perform a second set. In future workouts you’ll look forward to holding light weights in your hands for resistance and strengthening of involved systemic and ancillary muscles (lower back, grip, thighs).

As you are able, position a pair of light dumbbells overhead as you sit on an incline bench. Perform 2 sets of dumbbell inclines for 10 reps. Soon you will move to 3 sets, maybe four sets, and increase the weight as your strength grows.

Seated on the end of the bench, perform two sets of 10 reps of alternate dumbbell curls. In time move to three and four sets, increasing the weight to accommodate strength increase. Lower reps to eight where and when needed. Your commonsense is welcome. (provides biceps, grip and some torso action)

Lying on the bench with both hands gripping and positioning a single dumbbell in an overhead starting point, lower the dumbbell so the plates just pass the forehead by bending the arms at the elbow only, and return to the starting position. The upper arm should remain stationary, thereby placing the resistance on the triceps. Repeat and follow same rep-weight protocol as suggested above.

Focus, hope, daring, patience and practice.

This is a substantial beginner routine for someone with some light background, some drive and some heart. It’s great practice to start someone thinking right and take them to the next level.

As you learn and improve you can apply more and more effort and acquired savvy. This routine, though modest, will work an advanced musclebuilder if a person gives it all he or she has.

Backs are tricky… you be the guardian as you proceed.


Max-OT Training

Dave Draper - October 1, 2017 - 19:38

It’s time for me to switch routines and I was wondering if you have heard of Max-OT training? I was thinking of trying that.

I don’t know the routine, but if it appeals to you and is reasonably sensible, give it a shot. As long as you’re observing and training hard, you’ll discover as you go — within a few weeks — if it’s a scheme for you.

The important factors are to continue to train, and to train with confidence and enthusiasm. You’re learning every day, always.

God’s speed… Dave

Questions about Joe Gold’s gym

Dave Draper - September 26, 2017 - 17:40

Could you tell us something about Joe Gold’s original gym? Was it the equipment or atmosphere that the great bodybuilders were drawn too? What was the atmosphere like and how big was it? And if I were to build one, what advice might you have for me?

Every part of it. Lifting and musclebuilding and expressing one’s self were all coming into being with an enthusiasm that matched restless times. The improved basics — benches, racks, cables, chin and dip bars and barbells and dumbbells — excited the early lifters and the rawness of the gym matched their nature, needs and finances. Anything else was false and intrinsically intolerable.

It was beautifully basic, as seen in Zeller black and white pictures — geometric, high-ceilinged, simple, colorless, soundless but for the clang and rumble, non-commercial, commonsensical, sufficiently sized for the intent gang, clean enough, well-lubed and maintained.

It was no more than 3,000 square feet, including men’s and women’s locker rooms and office-less desk area (stool, utility desk which held Zabo’s paperbacks and a lock box for very small cash transactions).

We fashioned ours after Joe’s original gym in Venice; no frills but very cool, off white, black and red in smart balanced contrast, clean, with the best, needed equipment.

No jerks aloud, money was not the bottom line — integrity instead, and respect and responsibility.

Beware of overhead — rent and basic expenditures (if serious, think of owning the property) — and staff and incoming competition.

People are wonderful, but they can be disappointing and demanding and thankless.

Have bucks aside for the tough times. Be prepared and willing to work hard unless you’re running a dump with a bunch of loud-mouthed, arrogant fools for members.

I love this stuff, but don’t like jerks or the places that serve them.

Good luck


Weightroom training for a high school wrestler

Dave Draper - September 26, 2017 - 17:40

My son is a junior in high school and is wrestling. What should his weightroom training look like?

I don’t know much about grappling or wrestling, and his coaches will direct him, no doubt. But here are my uneducated thoughts.

In the weightroom I would be doing deadlifts and squats and standing barbell curls, close-grip bench, straight-arm pullovers and presses with dumbbells. Those basics will give him the power and the muscle to move his opponent, while his wrestling practice will keep him sharp.

I’d be cycling or running for wind and endurance, limiting my input to three or four 20-minute tough-enough sessions a week.

All this depends on his desire, the importance of the activity, life outside his training, the demands of the coaches and so forth. Coaches often starve their guys to ensure they make their weight… this is bad… beware.

A major concern is injury due to pushing the iron too aggressively. Train intensely and wisely. Don’t go for one-rep limits, no lifting with poor form or hurrying. Stick to the reps, push it, but don’t break down. Have him feed himself an hour before and after every workout. Keep the protein high (red meat for toughness on the mat) and the water flowing. Rest and sleep have new meaning.

That is a start, anyway. DD

Draper arm measurements

Dave Draper - September 26, 2017 - 17:39

What were your arm measurements back in the day, and what are they now?

My right arm measured 20.5 inches at 235 a month after the Mr. America in ’65. It was a true and unpumped measurement on a Thursday evening in early winter.

I’ve never measured since… my reasoning, why?

Now they resemble buggy whips. Anyone asks, I say they were over 20 last time I measured them… and then I quickly change the subject — set myself on fire, run into traffic…

Let’s carry on with God’s might… Dave

Overweight and out of shape

Dave Draper - September 18, 2017 - 18:51

I’m 34 and quite a lot out of shape and very heavy at 225 (female, 5’4″). I’m looking for a bit of encouragement or suggestions that may help me get started.

I understand your dilemma and you can fix it, but you must not hesitate. Things will get a lot better as you put the basics of exercise and eating right into motion; they will get a lot worse if you don’t. There are no shortcuts despite our advanced technology and the promises made by so many deceptive advertisements and promotions. Don’t waste your time and hopes looking in that direction.

Getting in shape takes work, time, commitment and discipline. It takes courage and determination. It also saves your life and makes you a better and more capable person in absolutely every way. Exercise approached with a healthy attitude is a wonderful diversion and great fun. It needn’t be the “thing we have to do,” or an intrusion in our day and life.

The treasure is in the digging.

I’ll bet you need more protein, less stress, more love for your self (not that you don’t like the neat person you are), a membership in a small local gym (you’ll get over the self-consciousness in 30 seconds or less), the exhilaration and oxygen and welcome body motion of your first week of exercise and sugar-free eating.

In a month just think how great you will feel. You’re at an age where muscle strength and tone will progress with your regular and eager assistance, bodyfat will diminish and your health in body, mind and spirit will soar. It’s fun being tough and it will take toughness.

God’s speed… Dave

Hernia surgery

Dave Draper - September 18, 2017 - 18:51

A few months ago I had surgery for two hernias one in my groin and a second under my belly button. Do you know of suggestions that can help me get back in the Game of Bodybuilding?

Sorry for the dilemma… time heals. Until then, I’d:

  • Use the machines for stimulation
  • When straining, keep my knees tucked to the midsection comfortably to protect the vulnerable area
  • Do no cleaning of dumbbells to press position for a safe time
  • No heavy work

I’d use my instincts and sensors to approach exercising the area by contracting the involved muscles while lying with my legs on the bench… slight tuck contractions, slight extensions of the legs and slight bent-leg leg-ups… all to assess, investigate, familiarize and prepare for some physical therapy… go from there.

I’ve never experienced this on my own, so tune into the forum for more ideas from the mouths of experience.

God’s speed… DD

Deads three times per week?

Dave Draper - September 18, 2017 - 18:47

At 53, do you think hitting the legs two days straight with heavy deadlifts is developmental? Or at least twice to three times a week?

The above training strategy is something you might apply periodically or for several weeks at a time. After that I expect you’ll want to revise your approach as the body becomes fatigued or unresponsive or you get tired of it.

I always felt good for one super-hard leg workout a week (squats, leg press, extensions and curls), with a hard session of bentover barbell rows or deads later in the same week. This was my regular and preferred method of operation throughout my development. Works great.

Carry on, buddy… DD

Does nitric oxide work?

Dave Draper - September 11, 2017 - 17:18

What do you think of nitric oxide? Does it work?

There have been plenty of studies on NO and many are positive. The supplement seems to work for those who need the ingredients and no dif is noticed by those who don’t. I experienced no changes. I was also taking creatine and eating a lot of red meat at the time I tested it (when it first came out), so that may be why it didn’t work for me.

Give it a try and see for yourself.


Still a few pounds overweight

Dave Draper - September 11, 2017 - 17:16

At age 32, my training is going great and has been for years. However, I’m still a few pounds overweight and have been unable to get rid of them. Do you have anything that worked for you that might work for me?

Striving bodybuilder types are, by and large, a self critical, introspective group and their training is therapeutic and enlightening. Much of who we are visits us as we press on; the planning, the goal, the focus and order and flow of exercise, the significance of our purpose, the fulfillment of the collective sets, the honesty of the effort, the discipline applied that is so sadly lacking in our neighbor, the respect and responsibility that we struggle to foster in our selves and in one another.

These silent, unsung exertions mold and fashion us in ways far beyond muscle size and shape.

However, a slick trick I saw that worked for a friend was to carefully and honestly jot down at the days’ end exactly what she had eatten. She found it took dismal effort to list some of the items and this helped her eliminate the need to do so. Truth . . . she dropped to her lowest bodyweight ever and her spirits found a new high.

Strive on,


Triceps out of balance

Dave Draper - September 11, 2017 - 17:11

I was just wondering if you knew why the day after I blast my triceps, my left triceps is sore (muscle sore, not pain sore) from the top to my elbow, and my right triceps only hurts on the top inside part. Am I working my left harder than my right?

We are all a little (or a lot) out of balance in structure and it is reflected physically in a variety of ways — more or less.

You might be going through a natural balancing process, one side of the body or one set of muscles exhibiting overload apart from or different from its counterpart.

I’d ignore the enigma and continue to push forward. I bet it fades like so many other conflictions.

Carry on the good fight … Dave

Carbs, protein and training volume for musclebuilding

Dave Draper - September 4, 2017 - 19:04

What were/are your protein and carb levels? And what is your favorite musclebuilding routine?

There was a two-year stretch in the mid-sixties when my carb intake was near zero and protein was in the 500s. I was working with a 22+ year-old-body weighing some 240 pounds. The carb intake came from low-fat milk products (milk, cottage cheese, yogurt, cheese), which I sort of neglected to count.

Through the years, the carbs have come up somewhat, in the form of vegetables and fruit and some low-gylcemics, the protein went to the 300s and the bodyweight to around 220-225. I finessed my food intake to match my workouts and daily activity, including sleep.

Throughout my history, protein was (and continues to be) my number one priority in diet. Pre-workout carbs should be dialed in to satisfy energy and appealing pump and to prevent tissue catabolism.

Nothing’s changed, really.

The volume, 80% supersets driven by your own hands-on-the-wheel, the basics, some heavy workouts (power style, low reps on deads, squats, rows, dumbbell inclines, barbell curls) throughout the month, generally twice a week per muscle group, a 12, 10, 8, 6 sometimes 4 pattern of reps, 3X 20 minutes cardio in a 6-7 intensity range, fuel to train and feed to build, positive overviewing without obsession, consistency, time, confidence (don’t be deflected by the new-age thinkers born early this morning) and spirit equals muscular.


Your greatest career memory

Dave Draper - September 4, 2017 - 19:04

What was the greatest moment in your bodybuilding career and why?

When asked to recall the greatest moment of my life as a muscle builder, I realize the whole panorama can be tucked into a thimble with plenty of room left for excitement. Let me rummage through my spare pickings and choose an occasion worth mentioning.

There was a time when I spent a summer — 1966 — making a film with Tony Curtis and Sharon Tate called “Don’t Make Waves.” That in itself is way up there in the “Great Moments” category, and the fact that I won Mr. Universe during its shooting doesn’t diminish the experience.

But the moment I’m thinking of began when I was invited to appear on the “Johnny Carson Show” to promote the release of the movie the spring of ’67.

To be live before millions on national TV with Johnny for 15 minutes talking about this and that, being his comedic straight man, demonstrating exercises and feats of strength (the grinning host sitting on my back like a jockey as I knocked out reps of pushups) was splendid. We had met only briefly backstage and he chose to trustfully, respectfully and eagerly engage me in his spontaneous nighttime entertainment. I felt like a professional helping the classic original with his favorite skit.

Probably viewed by the rest of the world as less than amazing, but for me, it was one of my greatest moments as a muscleman.

Good luck and God bless you, emphasis on the latter… Dave