Dave Draper Interview

PB: This is Paul Becker of TrulyHuge.com and today I'm interviewing Dave Draper. Hi Dave, thank you for granting us this interview.

DD: Thank you it's a privilege.

PB: Tell us a little about yourself and the titles you've won.

DD: Ok, let's see. The first time I won was in 63 the Mr. New Jersey and I was about 20 or 21. The second contest was the Mr. America in 65. That was in New York City at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The next contest, which was the IFBB Mr. Universe in 66, was in New York also. I tried out - I went to New York to enter the Mr. Olympia - but I hadn't done my proper preparation and I just bailed out at the last minute - things weren't just right. I didn't compete again until 1970 and I competed in the (Mr.) World - I won that one. I entered and managed to win it.

PB: What did you do next?

DD: At that time I sort of just got into my training for myself and didn't compete after that. I didn't pay a lot of attention to the sport. My attention to the sport had much to do with my own relationship with it. What I liked about it, from its origin - to get strong and to have a nice physique. To have the kind of strength you could use and apply it. To find that kind of diversion - all the things we love about it.

But (I was) not enthralled with the competing part - (it was) too much of what appeared not to be the focus of the sport for me and so I got into other things where I could use my strength. I mainly made furniture for the next fifteen years and applied myself to a trade like that. I made the move from Southern California to the Northern California area - I now live in the Santa Cruz area and over the years - Ten years ago, my wife and I put together a business plan and opened up these two World Gym's. One in Santa Cruz and one in Scott's Valley. We've been pursuing these most directly and deliberately. It's a good business but a hard business - with a lot of competition and so you've got to be on top of it all the time and it's consuming (too).

PB: I wanted to see if we can get some training tips from you.

DD: Well, my training has been very much the same now as it was years ago. With the (obvious) limitations because of injuries and age. Now I am 56 and by the way weigh 220 pounds at six feet tall. I have the limitations that you get. A fall - an injury - damaged my shoulder and tore it up a little bit a long time ago. As a result, although it looks fine, I have to watch Bench Presses and Inclines and things like this because of damage to the ligaments. Plus all the usual things - the recuperation doesn't - the repair time is limited.

PB: Sure.

DD: But I'm really maintaining well. Enjoying and loving my training. In the early days, I would train three times a week, usually twenty sets per muscle group - 4 different exercises. A lot of super-setting and now it's down to everything twice a week. (Still) with a lot of super-setting training five days a week and it's 3 on I off, and 2 on one off. So I get my splits that way but I combine a lot of my muscle groups much as I did then and (done) with as much intensity as I can. I still like to train pretty much full bore. As long as I don't damage my joints and tendons. My eating is pretty much the same - what I am saying is things really haven't changed that much over all - is what I'm saying.

PB: So how would you usually combine body-parts?

DD: Ok early on it was chest, back, shoulders on one day and legs and arms on the next - that kind of split. Chest and back three time a week. Legs and arms three times a week. I would do, unless it was pre contest training, everything in the morning between 6am and 9am. It's really a load - those three-hour workouts went on for years. You know we didn't have the ingredients for the repair time. When I say ingredients, I mean more of the pharmaceutical type of the types that are available these days. But that's what I needed to do. I could look back and say its over training and I wouldn't do that again. But that's what I did. That probably went on through the seventies and then it sort of thinned out a little bit. Not the training time but the work-outs would be down to twice a week - but (with) pretty much the same combinations. PB: Right.

DD: A lot of super-setting, which would be heavy Bench Presses with light Bench Presses or Heavy bench with flyes. Now let's see what else I did do then. There was a lot of chest and chest super-setting and shoulder and shoulder super-setting. Say, press behind neck with lateral raises. Rather than push-pull, say chest and back which I do these days. As far as sets of everything, the range would be usually be - not a pyramid but a light weight starting and increasing the weight and decreasing the reps. More like a 15-12-10-8-6 kind of system of incrementing and I still follow that. But these days I've altered things where I do chest and back together. I'll do bench press combined with wide grip Pulldowns. (And) I'll do dumbbell inclines with pullovers. Different variations like that. I stay pretty much the same on a regular basis, so that 75% is always the same and 20-25% is in flux, where I'll alter it dependant on that particular workout - if anything's been hammered or over-trained or just not up to it.. The incrementing system of 12-10-8-6. Sometimes I'll try for PR's or singles maybe once or twice a month, just for interest and just to see how the body's doing. This week (is) typical: it would be chest and back one day, arms and legs the following day and a mixture of the two on the third and then a day off. Following the same regime: chest back and shoulders and a mixture of arms and legs the following day. A lot of room for modifying, but the routines are pretty much like I said 80% in order.

PB: Great. I'd like to see if we could also get some diet tips. Like what kind of diet you would suggest to gain some muscle mass?

DD: A lot of protein - a really high protein intake, moderate carbohydrate, being careful how I place all my meals. The six meals rather than the three, making sure you eat breakfast. Making sure you eat a pre-workout meal. A lot of these (meals) being protein drinks. With all the magic that's out there and all of the miracle working ingredients - its still vitamin and mineral that's of good quality - you know not mega-vits but cold processed and time released and of a real good source. Then I take a good protein - the whey protein.

I eat a lot of red meat, for the muscle mass and aggressive training and more of the poultry and fish for leaning up. There is nothing startling to my diet. But it is very consistent. If I want to gain weight I just east more and I'll probably bring in more fat and carbs and more protein as well. Probably - with that will come greater strength and aggressiveness in the gym.

When I want to trim down it's pretty easy for me to do that. I have to struggle to keep my weight up. Then I'll stay with the red meat but I'll limit the quantity and if I really wanted to do something for some reason - that had me in a pre-contest state, of course there's none of that now, but every once in a while I want to get real sharp - then I would be pulling out the carbohydrates and pulling out fat entirely. And maybe my strength would go down and I would train with more pace and particular form. Just keep the reps on the higher end rather than the lower end. Altering things just a little bit like that will drop the body fat and keep me reasonably strong and with good muscle density. So it's always the high protein and the carbs medium, but brought in at those very useful times and pretty limited in the fat. But if I don't have the fat in my diet, my bodyweight drops pretty quick.

The vitamin minerals, the protein powders that you bring in - good quality stuff - whatever becomes your favourite. I usually drink maybe a couple of quart size drinks a day. I like the free-form amino acids that are available from a variety of companies that I happen to use - Anabol Naturals and Super Spectrum. They (aminos) are what I'll go to when my diet is stumbling around.

PB: What is the secret to your success?

DD: I think what makes things different with me, or anybody that applies themselves, is the consistency, trying to keep your mood and spirit elevated for training. So that it's desirable, so that you train with enthusiasm and you train for forward motion. You don't take (time) off unless you're on the borderline of over training and its wise to. I don't miss my meals - after all these years I have it all really well practised - and I don't tolerate it. Its not with such a rigidness that's it's uptight but it's just that I point myself in the right direction all of the time.

There have been times in the past when I did take training less seriously but its always been in there. I was always never less than four days a week and never less than one and half-hour to two hour sessions. Right now it's right on (and) has been since we opened the gyms 10 years ago. I'm waiting for the shoe to drop - I seem to be hanging on real well, you know when it comes to being muscular & having low body fat. Gravity hasn't tortured me yet me yet.

PB: That's good. I think - I don't know about you - but the older I get the idea of what's older gets further and further away - especially when you keep in shape.

DD: I gotta hang on to that one and then I look at Bill Pearl, whose ten years older than me at least. I've seen him within the past year and he just looks so good, so vital and powerful looking. As long as you keep with the training and keep it, so that I look forward to the workouts I'd say 8 out of 10 of them are really good. There's a couple that's are sort of satisfactory or adequate.

PB: Right.

DD: But I'll get five in a week, every once in while I'll miss or drop one out and get three days rest in a row. I take Creatine. I've been taking that three or four years. I don't cycle it I just take about maybe 3 teaspoons a day as part of my intake. So I have Amino Acids - free form, the good vitamin mineral, the good protein powder - for breakfast / pre-workout / post workout and if my bodyweight is beginning to struggle, I'll bring in another one of those.

PB: So you have own World Gyms?

DD: There's one in Santa Cruz - the one I'm sitting in and one in Scot's valley. The one neighbouring inland town, ten minutes from here. A different community and it's far enough away so that serves its own borders. So they kind dwell well together even though they're so close. I'm here a lot. I'm here from nine until around six o'clock something like that.

Training and working people out, something like that. That's a good participation for me. I enjoy that. I don't train people that are advanced. Like somebody that wants to compete or looking for the strictest of gains. I figure its pretty much that's up to them in applying themselves and I can give advice. But its mostly working with people that are new to it. Trying to turn them on to what this has to offer beyond the muscles and the strength. The obvious things you know. The training has so much to offer (such as) putting your life in order. It kind of helps define your life in a lot of ways. Taking away the stress and finding yourself battling the highs and applying them to your life out door.

PB: Yeah for sure. I've always told people that when your training shows you - I mean it gives you valuable lessons about life. There are times you have to persist in life (and) try something different in life too. You learn 'stick-to-it-iveness'.

DD: yeah.

PB: That you need just in life sometimes.

DD: Yeah, all of that is here.

PB: Great.

DD: A lot of people don't recognize that. Unless they stick it out for more than a month on into six weeks. Maybe they stay a bit longer and they leave and come back in six months. Then they notice that what's bringing them back. That reference point. That good feeling - that ability to come back again and head in that direction again. That feeling that you had and good strength and 'wait-a-minute', 'wait-a-minute' I can apply this to other things too.

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