The Times They Are A-Changin’

Dave Draper

Automobiles have come a long way since the Model-T. Bigger, stronger and faster, and far too many: on the roads, at the intersections, in garages, on lots for sale and in backyards rusting away. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Gyms aren’t much different. There were barbells and dumbbells, benches, racks and pulleys, also a very good idea. And then came along bigger, stronger and faster and far too many: on the corner, in the mall, down the boulevard and in the towering office building, with contraptions to do the same things the solid steel did, except the steel did it better.

New, advanced and state-of-the-art machines are available each year to the naïve and undiscerning consumer and the optimistic and obliging gym owner, who is also going broke. “I’ll take a barbell, a dumbbell and a bench, and throw in a dozen treadmills, stair-steppers, ellipticals and stationary bikes with the built-in TVs and stereo sound systems. Thank you.”

Nothing builds muscle and strength better than the basic barbells and dumbbells and benches plus a handy milk crate, a few blocks of wood and some bars for dips and chins. Add desire, enthusiasm and improvisation, and you’re in the bodybuilding business—make that bodybuilding heaven.

There are some odd rules and regulations bodybuilders are urged to follow these days, along with the impossible selection of highly advanced (cough cough) and technical equipment. Many come from people who research and write for muscle-building mags, I guess, and have visited a 24 Hour or Bally’s gym to get an up-close, firsthand and in-depth feel for their subject matter. Some are even technically legit.

Here’s a good one: Don’t train for more than 60 minutes, or your body will go into catabolism and destroy your muscle tissue.

Oh, that my brothers and sisters would or could train an hour a day, what a fine world this would be. Health and fitness would abound; discipline and self-esteem would define our character. There’d be less crime and more civility, less apathy and more excitement.

If you’re in good shape to begin with—not undermuscled, round as a beer barrel and health-impaired—an hour a day is swell. But who do you know who’s in shape to begin with?

It’s good idea, science in a nutshell: inflammation, overtraining, rise in cortisol, decrease in testosterone. But do any of us who are so inclined believe we can build a serious body by lifting weights one hour a day? It takes that long to get warmed up, focused and rolling. Then there are the sets and reps and strain and pain and overload and hypertrophy, a slug of water and a deep breath and a towel across the brow, hello and good-bye.

Isn’t 60-minute-max a generalization? Are we all the same? What about muscle structure and body chemistry, training methods and intensities, rest and ability to recuperate, nutritional support, power of the mind and lifestyles? Goals?

Give me 90 minutes five days a week, Doc, I’m beggin’ you. I take Bomber Blend; I’m good to my wife and cat; I don’t litter, cuss, speed...c’mon...just an hour and a half. Whaddaya say? Does that include aerobics?

Here’s another beauty: Exercise one bodypart a day for maximum muscular growth.

Cute idea for kids messing around in the backyard with their water-filled plastic weights (or the mysterious person who’s in good shape to begin with), but not for lifters interested in building serious muscle and strength anytime soon.

Bombing and blasting is old-fashioned—like hard work—and went out of style in the ’60s and ’70s. Training with your personal trainer or iPod is very popular these days. What happened to focus and thinking on your own? Have they evaporated with personal responsibility and serenity?

I know, I know. A little background music is harmonic and companionable, and a little direction and encouragement from a sturdy guide are often priceless. Alas, I suppose I’m just a stubborn ol’ mountain goat (though I prefer to think of myself as a lone wolf, a solitude shark in deep waters, a soaring eagle on high, a camouflaged stealth warrior).

Train hard, be strong, Godspeed...the Bomber.

Editor’s note: For more from Dave Draper, visit www.DaveDraper.com and sign up for his free newsletter. You can also check out his amazing Top Squat training tool, classic photos, workout Q&A and forum.


Ride to Romance

Becky Holman

Ride to Romance

So you’re complaining again that your gal is never in the mood. Take her on a bike ride. A study out of the University of Washington found that one 20-minute cycling workout increased the women subjects’ sexual arousal by almost 170 percent! That jump in libido could be due to the increased blood flow to the genitals and/or the pulsating movement on the bike seat. Either way, you can ride your way to romance—and give new meaning to the term bi-sexual.

Mess Equals Stress

Becky Holman

Mess Equals Stress

According to Daryn Eller in “Make Sense of Home Healing” in the February ’09 Prevention, “Experts suggest that humans are hardwired to seek out spaciousness, harking back to our ancestors’ need to flee predators.” That may explain why clutter creates anxiety. In other words, mess leads to stress. It pays to keep a fairly neat environment, and cleaning can actually be therapeutic. Researchers recently found that people who did 20 minutes of housework were less anxious and depressed.

Chin Up or Pull Down?

Charles Poliquin

Chin Up or Pull Down?

Q: What one upper-body exercise not commonly performed would you like to see added to a bodybuilder’s program?

A: I’m a firm believer in chinups and pullups for upper-body mass. If you believe that the squat is the king of leg exercises, then you probably wouldn’t waste your time doing endless sets of abductor-machine work, leg extensions or (gasp!) the near-useless Smith machine, right? Well, the chinup and its variations are the squat’s equivalent in mass-building qualities and the ability to quickly improve functional strength. In fact, most bodybuilders would be jealous of the back development of top-level gymnasts and kayakers. Their conditioning programs center on—you guessed it—chinups.

Category 5 Workout Intensity

Peter C. Siegel

Category 5 Workout Intensity

Have you ever had a workout where you were so feverishly driven that you felt you could, metaphorically speaking, burn a hole through steel? Where the weights you used felt light in your hands—as if the force flowing through you totally outmatched the iron’s attempt to overcome and exhaust you? Remember? It was as if your muscles were an extension of your will; they performed and contracted at a level seemingly beyond where they ever had before—you could actually f-e-e-l the deepest underlying fibers firing in a way you never had before.

The Wisdom of Mike Mentzer

John Little

The Wisdom of Mike Mentzer

Rep Cadence

Q: What were Mike Mentzer’s thoughts regarding the optimal speed of repetitions?


A: Mike’s biggest belief about repetition speed was that each rep should be performed under strict control, thus removing any chance of momentum or outside forces stepping in and unloading the musculature. He didn’t advocate speed reps, nor—to the surprise of some in the high-intensity community—did he recommend ultraslow reps. As he put it: