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"I like the company I keep when I’m alone.... I trained every morning with fire in my gut before the cock crowed. Got along fine with the bird, ‘twas people who presented me minor distress. Or, was it the other way around?... I drank a little wine and smoked a little dope.... Frank, Arnold, Mentzer -- whoever -- did their thing and I did mine, light years apart.... Far as I could see the world nearby was kicking itself up and down the freeway and maybe I could help it by not participating.... Lo and behold, I joined the gold rush.... The banner read ‘World Gym’ in large print, my name in the corner along with the hours of operation."
Draper Book Brims with Wit and Wisdom
The Blond Bomber can write, and well. Dave Draper has a delightful way with words. He writes prose like no other bodybuilder I’ve ever read. To the best to my knowledge, except for his Website, he has no history as a writer; it must come naturally, from his life experience. That’s probably it, because he has an intriguing story to tell. For those new to bodybuilding, Draper was a bodybuilding superstar during the ‘60s and early ‘70s. He won the Mr. America, Mr. Universe and Mr. World, and in addition to being plastered all over the muscle magazines (he didn’t really write all those articles, or did he?), he was featured in a number of Hollywood movies. After winning the Mr. World in 1970, he dropped out of the bodybuilding spotlight, but continued to train hard. He reemerged in late 1989 to open a World Gym in central California.
"Be strong and courageous. Be fit. Expand your life through exercise,"
says Draper on the back cover of his book.
BROTHER IRON SISTER STEEL: A Bodybuilder’s Book is ostensibly about muscle building, but it’s really about Dave Draper’s 50-years-and-counting love affair with the weights. For the most part, he doesn’t tell you what you should do; he tells you in a most engaging way what has worked for him over the years – and offers suggested training routines for people of different levels of experience, from beginner to advanced. In the process, he imparts the wisdom gained from a half-century of serious training, which began at age 8 in his bedroom, moved to the YMCA in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and eventually to Muscle Beach, where in the ‘60s and early ‘70s, the "Golden Era of Bodybuilding," he says the tried and true training principles which stand today were established. He continues to blast away at the two World Gyms he now operates with his second wife, Laree, in Santa Cruz and Scotts Valley, California. At age 58, he’s in great shape, weighing 220, with a body fat well under 10 percent.
There Is No Secret
Dave has checked out all the cutting-age training information on the Internet and elsewhere, but insists that he’s found nothing to alter the course he mapped out in the early ‘60s during his Muscle Beach days. "I’ve acquired no insight that added an essential drop to the basics of consistent hard work, heart and common sense." He’s adamant on this point: "Unless you’re a student and not a ‘muscle freak,’ the minutia of scientific stuff will only slow you down, confuse you, and distract and distress you."
He then proceeds for more than 300 witty and thoughtful pages to prove that he learned quite a lot during the ‘60s about training – and life. (My guess is he continued learning after that as well.) "Training with the weights, given half a chance, will teach you about living and strengthen you in many ways where you may otherwise stumble." He should know, because he continued lifting no matter what, through thick and thin. Says Dave, "I can only guess what a mess I’d be without it."
I particularly liked his comments on motivation. He emphasizes the need to stay positive and enjoy your workouts. "To be consistent, training must be sweet and desirable; not slavery; not dull, boring and fruitless." That’s easier said than done, of course. Dave has a lot of good suggestions on how to make your training fun and productive. He obviously learned some sound psychology while training and observing in the gym.
If I’ve given the impression that Dave is dogmatic about training, that’s wrong. He clearly recognizes that there are many ways to skin a cat. He says there are many successful training styles and proceeds to describe divergent techniques employed successfully by the likes of Arnold, Frank Zane, Franco Columbu, Sergio Oliva, Leroy Colbert, Mike Mentzer and many other bodybuilding stars that he trained with or observed in the gym. He explains what has worked for him and offers many pages of suggestions to help readers develop their own style. Agree or not, you’ll enjoy what he has to say, and how he says it.
He gives his take on overload, overtraining, dynamic tension, isometrics, periodization, volume training vs. high-intensity training, Olympic lifting, powerlifting etc. and finds value in all of it. His only caveat is to warn against "the narrow thinker who believes his way is the only way" and implores you to "beware of adhering to one principle exclusive of [others]." He adds that he’s never been confused about training – until he began reading background material in preparation for writing the book. "The confusion," says Dave, "came with the reading."
Thumbs Down on Aerobics
Dave isn’t big on aerobics. Physical fitness, he says, is "vitally important" and admits to engaging in some intense cardio from time to time. He doesn’t necessarily discourage aerobics, but says it is "over-rated, over-consumed and over-worshiped." His bottom line: "The ‘iron’ is better, that’s all... honest."
When you consider that he trains hard, two hours a day, five days a week, it’s easy to see where he’s coming from. He simply doesn’t have time or energy for aerobics. Judging from his photos, he sure doesn’t need the fat loss benefits of aerobics. I don’t know about his coronary arteries, but someone who can train at a fast pace for two hours probably has a fairly decent ticker. Plus, he confesses, "I love barbells." Finally, turning scientific, he says, "Excessive aerobics causes your body to shift its chemistry, calling on muscle protein to provide energy."
I would phrase it differently and get there by a different route, but I find a lot of truth in what Dave says about aerobics. In short, don’t overdo long slow aerobics -- unless you want to look more like a marathoner than a bodybuilder. As Dave suggests, it’s for each individual to decide what’s best for him or her. It depends on your unique physiology, your goals and what turns you on. Again, Dave is not being dogmatic. He’s just offering his opinion for your consideration, and doing it in a classy way. I like that.
Draper on Diet
"Junk is for jerks," says Dave. "Stay away from nasty fats, excessive salt and simple sugars." That’s Dave’s number one nutrition rule. And who can disagree? Not me.
Dave offers 12 nutrition rules, all quite sensible, nothing extreme. The only place we part company is on protein. He buys into the 40–30–30 Zone diet formula. Says Dave, "I have always instinctively leaned toward a higher intake of protein over carbohydrate to build a lean body." I’m just the opposite. I function, think and train, better on a little better than a 2 to 1 ratio of carbs over protein. (We both agree that the carbs should be complex and clean.) Most nutrition experts would agree with me, but what do we know. Dave’s arms are bigger than mine and any nutritionists or registered dietitian I know anything about. Again, he is simply reporting what works best for him. He leaves the decision to you. And so do I.
He’s up to speed on essential fatty acids. He recommends getting your quota of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. Bet he didn’t learn that in the ‘60s. Shows that he’s open to new ideas. Right on Dave.
Draper recommends a balanced and complete vitamin and mineral supplement and a whey protein powder, "forever and with confidence." Again, nothing extreme. He also takes creatine monohydrate regularly. (Something else he didn’t learn in the ‘60s.) Here’s why: "Having observed no adverse side effects, I simply enjoy the benefits – maximum muscle contraction, the strength boost translating into hard, efficient workouts, and the resulting vitality and muscle pump throughout the workout." Makes sense to me.
Say "No" To Steroids
"I offer no advice on the matter as I know very little," says Draper. "I simply say, ‘Don’t’."
Dave was already 235 pounds and Mr. America when steroids came widely on the scene. He used them "sparingly under a doctor’s supervision." They worked. He "noticed marked improvement in muscularity and separation," but he also "noticed a marked loss of improvement" when he stopped taking them. That, he says, was " the big catch."
His advice to young bodybuilders is straightforward and clear: "If you’re not taking them, don’t. If you do, you’ll wish you never did. They’ll eat away at the foundation you’re trying to build before you build it." Pros know the score, according to Dave. They’re on their own.
Draper offers more detail on the physiological and psychological down side of steroids, but you get the drift. He’s against steroids, especially for young and inexperienced bodybuilders. I documented the same roller-coaster effect in Ripped, so I fully agree.
I’ve only scratched the surface. There’s plenty more good stuff, believe me: plateaus and sticking points, stoking the training fires, injuries, aging, a wonderful memories chapter, and training, training and more training. Draper loves to train -- says it makes life livable – and it comes through loud and clear. I’m sure you get the idea that I enjoyed Dave’s book tremendously and highly recommend it. It’s a must read for anyone seriously interested in building muscle and keeping it for lifetime.
BROTHER IRON SISTER STEEL can be purchased from us. You can see it on our Recommended Books page. The price is $24.95 plus $4.00 shipping media class or $6.00 priority mail. If you want to purchase this book from us and you have ordered from us before and we have your credit card number, simply send us an e-mail, tell us your name and zip and let us know what class postage to use.
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