Dave Draper

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Answers to common weight training questions
Updated: 2 hours 10 min ago

50 pounds to lose

March 20, 2017 - 17:44

I’m a 50-year-old beginner who can’t seem to drop 50 pounds of bodyfat. I lift 3 days a week and do cardio daily. What do you think about low carb dieting? Will it work for me to drop that extra sludge and is it safe?

Low carb will do well for you (maybe include up to 75 grams of carbs). It seems to work especially well for people with a chunk like that to lose.

Continue your hard training… it’s the smartest move you’ve ever made and I say that even if you’re a medical doc or a pastor or an Indian chief.


Arnold vs Sergio

March 20, 2017 - 17:43

In an onstage battle between Arnold vs Sergio in 1970, who do you think should have won?

Isn’t that a tough question? Which wonder, The Taj Mahal or The Great Wall? What hour is best, sunrise or sunset?

I sit in the judge’s seat and say, “Which body would I like to have?” The answer is in the eye of the beholder, one of personal preference and, often times, a whim.

Sergio stood out with his unique proportions, awesome size and projection of sensational power.

Arnold, no less massive and symmetrical, ruled the stage with a presence no one can imagine, pretend or imitate.

I guess I’d like to have the body of Sergio, but, alas, I’m me.


A regular tuna and water thing

March 20, 2017 - 17:42

I did your tuna and water thing recently and it worked well. Is this something I can incorporate into my routine on a cyclic basis? If so, how often? Are there any issues or concerns I need to be aware of?

The tuna thing can be done regularly for a day or two or three with satisfaction, especially when fortified with some Metamucil for roughage, a high-quality vitamin-mineral supplement and two tablespoons of fish oil. You can extend it by adding salad ingredients and by adding chicken as a second protein source or Bomber Blend in water. Then bring on the red meat. Eggs work well too.

It’s a good plan for tidying up our acts.

Push that iron… and God’s speed… DD

Lee Haney

March 13, 2017 - 17:36

If Lee Haney were competing today and made the necessary dietary changes to achieve the new standards of definition, could he still be competitive?

My first thought is, “Silly question for adults to ask.”

Could George Washington, were he apprised of today’s world affairs, make a worthy president?

Give Lee an updated menu with the essential ingredients one might find in today’s massive bodybuilders and the stage would likely collapse. What a catastrophe! The strong will survive.


Program to lose weight and keep muscle

March 13, 2017 - 17:35

Please let me know how to lose weight and keep the muscle, split training or supersetting? Doing cardio first or on alternate days?

Dropping the fat and keeping the muscle requires time, hard training and a smart hi protein, lower fat and carb diet.

I don’t know your details, but supersetting is a great musclebuilding and muscularizing technique. Apply it where and when you are able and want.

I also split my routines, chest, shoulders and back on one day, arms the next for more muscle concentration.

I’d do cardio on off days, but go for HIIT style (more intense 12-15 minutes), rather than long duration low intensity (30 minutes and over).

Refer to Brother Iron for routines and reminders… Have fun… Dave

Trying to gain weight

March 13, 2017 - 17:33

Could you please suggest a workout and foods or supplements that would help me gain weight and particularly muscle mass?

As long as you’re following a basic musclebuilding routine using barbells and dumbbells, you’re on the right track. Thoughtful and relatively hard 60-minute workouts 3 or 4 times a week should do and limited cardio work — three 20-minute moderate-intensity stationary or treadmill sessions a week. If your daily on-the-job work input is physically busy and your workouts are aggressive, you can cut out the aerobics till you gain substantial sound muscle mass.

Eat smaller meals (5-6) more often throughout the day and have a protein shake for breakfast and before and after every weight training workout.

Eat plenty of lean red meat (daily), along with dairy, fish and foul, plus fresh vegetables and fresh fruit of course.

This is nothing new to you, but the plan must be in process all the time.

A visit to the doc for a blood test will reveal any thyroid condition or hormonal imbalance or nutritional abnormality — all amendable.

Rest, relaxation and sleep are priceless to enhance the health of the entire system. Lots of water, water, water. Less stress, stress, stress and as my dad always said, Seek ye first the kingdom of God.

Go… Dave

Torture vs training

March 4, 2017 - 18:13

I’ve been reading about the value of doing all-out, super-intense effort that you can barely sustain for five seconds. I am an old gym rat and love to be in the gym. What do you think?

I believe in intensity and often point out that I don’t see enough of it on the gym floor.

You certainly can apply some version of that principle to your workout scheme, but as a routine to live with and train by, it seems to me it would be dismal.

My thoughts: This severe plan is for a certain aggressive personality who has distinct needs to satisfy — not freedom of form, motion, rhythm, pace and muscle shaping. It appears to be a plan best suited for younger bodies and already conditioned. I suspect straining for sustained periods invites nasty injuries and muscle tears.

More importantly, the method will remove all love-of-the-gym and lifting from one’s spirit.

Does it work? In theory, it satisfies the physics of hypertrophy. In reality, I believe it’s a powerlifter’s system trying to penetrate the musclebuilder’s territory. Different animals.

I’d become mean real fast and they’d have to drag me to the gym for my next workout.

You’ve got to love it… God’s speed… Dave

On stage with Sergio Oliva

March 4, 2017 - 18:10

Your first onstage meeting with Sergio was at the 1967 Mr. Olympia contest. What was your immediate impression of him?

Backstage Sergio wore a full-length white robe of a canvas-like utility fabric, giving it the appearance of a spinnaker of a large sailboat. It hung loosely on him with only his mighty and well-carved calves on display, impressive suggestions of what else might be pulsating beneath the billowing tarpaulin. The S.S. Sergio.

He was in the middle of pumping up for the pre-judging when I arrived from the airport and his spirits were high. I was sinking from jet lag and Sergio’s sails were full of wind. He greeted me like an old friend, gave me a quick tour of the facilities and assured me of what a good time we’d have.

It takes time to focus, get the blood from one place to another and decide who you are when entering a room full of heavily muscled men whose bodies are shining from sweat and baby oil. My first impulse is to run, but I stuck near the cop from Chicago who roamed the body-filled rooms and halls like they were his beat.

I wasn’t afraid — nothing to fear — just in need of a friend, a chattering, smiling, spontaneous and unabashed friend to distract me. It works.


Eating only once a day

March 4, 2017 - 18:10

There’s a theory that only eating once a day will help in getting a person lean due to better hormone and enzyme activity. I’m a bodybuilder thinking of competing one day and wondered what you thought of that diet.

No doubt a whole bunch of overeaters could benefit from this diet, however, for the muscle and strength builder, the high protein, low carb and medium fat diet is the one I lean toward for all body types of whatever specific motives.

The action of enzymes and hormones is important and a fascinating study, but for the muscle guy looking for results, I say train hard, consistently and positively, sharpening your training understanding as you focus and go.

I see more folks spinning their wheels looking for the real minute, often contradictory or misleading details in training performance and simple eating, and thus looking the same year after year because they didn’t put the pedal to the metal and go, go, go…

We’re thinking ourselves out of the hard and disciplined training and into a dark, musty corner. Let your instinctive nose guide you.

And go with God… DD

Rep ranges

February 26, 2017 - 17:41

I’ve been doing sets of 12 reps every set and would like to try something new. Do you have a favorite rep scheme?

For most exercises, I have always preferred the 12, 10, 8, 6 rep scheme, incrementing the weight appropriately each consecutive set. I enjoy and benefit from both high and low reps, all in a single routine that way.

With the sets of 6 or 10, try each and determine the feel and decide the weight accordingly. Mix them from time to time to match mood, urge or body sensation.

Try sets of 8. They’re all good if you train positively, attentively and intensely.

Go Godspeed… Dave

Broken toe

February 26, 2017 - 17:40

I broke a toe yesterday. That hurts! When do you think I’ll be able to train again, and what should I do then?

I suspect you’ll be back to hobbling about before too long (less than a week) and be able to devise a routine that is suitable and perhaps even aggressive.

The pain and instability is high at first and after long days we become impatient and testy, and finally adapt. Careful moving about will be good therapy for the injury.

All sorts of exercises might gain your interest and you’ll put your common sense to work and discover training from a creative viewpoint. That, after all, is my favorite way to train.

Train hard, eat right and be strong. God’s might… Dave

Arm routine

February 26, 2017 - 17:38

I’ve been training for over two years and am mostly happy with the results. However, my arms haven’t changed very much and I’m frustrated. Can you recommend a program for me?

You’re not alone, buddy. The only thing that works is persistent hard work, lots of protein throughout the day, especially 30 minutes before and after your workout (protein drinks work well here).

Of course, a swell routine must be applied for a sufficient length of time, 6 weeks at least.

My two favorite arm routines: (to be performed with absolute intensity and focus and form, minor thrusting allowed)

> Standing barbell curl (4-5 sets x 10, 8, 6 rep range) supersetted with overhead bentbar triceps extension (4-5 x 10-12 reps)

> Seated dumbbell alternates SS with machine dips or freehand dips, same set and rep range

On occasion, when you get the urge, go up and down the dumbbell rack with thumbs-up curls to set you on fire.

Use cables for pulley pushdowns of various description to blast and pump the tris — you might add these as a third exercise to your supersets, tough, builds endurance and works.

Start forearm work on a regular basis: wrist curls (3×12-15 reps), reverse curls (3×10, 8, 6 reps) and lying triceps extensions (3×10-12 reps). This is a great asset to upper arm development as well.

Reasonably intelligent training backed by unwavering perseverance, intensity of performance and high hopes provide grand solutions to small problems.

God’s speed… Dave

Arm shot and Zabo question

February 17, 2017 - 18:23

Would you say your arms were about 21 inches “cold” in this photo? Also, do you think the Zabo used steroids in the 1950s?

Zabo never used any steroids or drugs, but he liked his Mary Jane.

That picture was taken in Joe Gold’s Gym in the late-60s. My arms were rarely measured… I’d guess 19+ inches cold. Bodypart measurements are notoriously exaggerated.

To the good old days… Dave

Night shifts and bodybuilding

February 17, 2017 - 18:22

I’m a nurse who works 10 or sometimes 12 hour shifts, and often get switched to night shifts. I want to pursue bodybuilding. I try to change my training and food intake around the long days, but can you give me an idea of how many calories to eat daily?

Your training on top of your nursing schedule is commendable. Stay strong. I hesitate to bounce the ball back in your court, but I’d approximate your food intake and play things by ear. Your consistency in eating is important, but you have margins of flexibility.

You want to serve your body and its health: as long as your training is satisfactory and your moods and energy are agreeable, *experiment* with your eating plan commonsensibly.

It’s tough to seek bodybuilding features when working under stress and changes, but your training is valuable and productive. Seeking as you are will direct you to the best choices, of this I’m certain.

You are dialing in your training and eating patterns to suit your serious work schedule… and on the right track.

The only thing stronger than a nurse is bomb shelter. Carry on the good fight.


Santa Monica, Parks, Scott and Sheffield

February 17, 2017 - 18:18

In the mid-60s I visited Santa Monica Beach a few times. On one of those times we saw Dave at an indoor gym we were visiting. Do you know what gym that might have been? I also met Reg Parks, Larry Scott and a bodybuilder I think was named Sheffield. Do you happen to have an update on where they are today?

The gym was either the old Muscle Beach Gym moved to a basement at 4th and Broadway, Santa Monica. It was affectionately called the Dungeon. Or, it was Joe Gold’s very first Gold’s Gym on Maine Street in Venice. Joe built it himself – the best ever.

In brief, those men found joy in their training, lived productive lives and died in time.

George Sheffield is the full name. He sorta left the scene in the early ’60s.

Reg traveled with his adoring family and settled in Johannesburg, South Africa. Successful business man and great guy. Died 2007 at 79.

Larry Scott settled in Salt Lake City with his own successful fitness company and died in 2014 at 75. Another good man.

God Bless Us and sweet curls ‘n presses


Which bar for curls?

February 12, 2017 - 18:45

Which bar do you prefer for curls, a straight bar or and EZ curl bar?

I have used both bars successfully and enjoyably over the years. In time, the straight bar becomes difficult to wield if (when?) the wrists lose flexibility. For many years I’ve used a thick handle (1 1/2 inch) bent bar and love it. It’s powerful and comfortable and safe.

The difference in action is subtle but significant to the long-time lifter.

Either bar, along with dumbbells, good food and hard work will do the trick.

Go… God’s might… Dave

Working bodyparts once a week

February 12, 2017 - 18:44

I’ve been reading about a training program that works each bodypart once a week. What do you think of that? Should I try it? I don’t have much time to work out these days and thought this might be an answer.

You can devise a routine that appears to work one bodypart a week, but in fact works each muscle group twice or more, just less directly. Most basic exercises do not recruit one muscle group exclusive of other associated muscles unless extreme isolation is exerted.

A few examples:

Bench press for chest recruits front delts, triceps and associated torso mass

Pulldowns for back and lats engage biceps and grip, possibly minor pec

Barbell curl with legitimate thrust works torso and upper body associated muscle — traps, back/shoulder/chest tie-in

Pulley pushdowns with thoughtful and worthy thrust engage more than triceps only, but much of the upper body’s lesser mass for shape and muscularity and athletic strength

Careful planning and full-body action — legitimate thrusting and complete range of motion — in exercise performance can condense your training and make it more enjoyable and motivating.

Working one muscle a day, and a total of once a week is weak. Sounds wimpy, trendy and new-age, like less is better, which it isn’t. Ya get what ya pay for.

Go… Godspeed… dave

Preacher curls

February 12, 2017 - 18:41

Do you advise against using preacher curl machines with cams or preacher curl machines in general or neither?

Preacher curls in general are a suspicious exercise. It’s the hard extension at the bottom of the movement (upper arm rigid against the pad) that overloads the biceps attachments, and our determined vigor in the execution of the exercise that risks biceps health.

The exercise is not intended for developing biceps mass, but biceps peak and muscularity and should be done with focused isolation and moderate weight — not heavyweight thrusting. The latter is often hard to control for the eager musclebuilder.

You’d be wise to remove the preacher curl from your arm-building repertoire. Dangerous, mediocre and not worth the risk.

Go… God’s strength… Dave

Bodybuilding magazine workouts

February 6, 2017 - 18:45

I’ve been training for two years and have been reading all the bodybuilding magazines. I sometimes have a hard time trying to decide which workout routines to follow after reading them. The workouts are really hard, which I like, but will they all work or should I be doing something else?

Be careful of what you read in the muscle mags. There are many on the market and competition for readers is fierce. Truly valuable material — the
meat we need to get us where we are going is limited and so becomes rehashed, reduntant and unexciting [unsalable]. Hence, the publishers fill the pages with fascinating, [perhaps] and abstruse scientific research 95% useless to us, as if what we do and seek here were deeply profound.

The remainder of the mag is filled with articles about the champs and their routines. The editors often embellish upon the submitted material to offer entertainment and visual aids to sell and hype stuff. Buy. Buy. Takes a couple of reads to learn how to glean, but it won’t take you long.

Beware. Don’t compare yourself to the heroes of the Olympia. We’re talkin’ tractors, cranes and bulldozers here. What they do and how they do it works for them. Appreciate it, register it and be inspired. Can you even imagine the different chemistry they have than you? Be yourself.

This, of course, takes some discovery. Still at it myself.

Mid volume, moderate-weight training provides training familiarity, needed practice of form, muscle and attachment conditioning, muscle molding and sensible focus for early trainees. Heavy stuff should be a grand choice as one’s mental-physical structure and training personality emerge.

I like an instinctive mix. That comes to one as a dividend from time invested. A good n hard road to travel. No short cuts.

Keep it alive. Train on.


Become your own training partner

February 6, 2017 - 18:40

I used to train with a partner every day after work, but when he moved away, I lost my momentum and never regained it. Do you have any suggestions on how to find a training partner?

You need to become your own training partner. You’re not lazy, the motives are clear, you have time — you need to slowly and surely invest in yourself and build up a sort of savings account. Day by day a little more distance in your walking and resistance exercise, the conjuring of little plans of training attack, a little more reference to the supportive and informative pages of davedraper.com, perhaps lurking on the forum for shared experience, regularly improved or attentive smart eating and assessing your input with approval and self-encouragement.

With sufficient reference to our past, we need to look most closely and clearly at our present position. That we care about our health and well-being is huge, that we have these resources at hand is enormous, that we apply them is magnificent.

I pray a lot to God almighty…