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Apply Your Savvy

It’s a sweet day, still Indian summer, and life is good. Sounds of the freeway and city are made small and harmonious by distance, and drift like a melody up the craggy hillside to the house. The hum of early-morning travelers, a fading siren, the occasional roar and shifting gears of a Harley are what I hear. Music, really.

I write this unprovoked, but, my friends, I have before me a mission: to get us going and keep us going.

I attempt to present a simple, clear and direct way to become involved in muscle building and health through weight training, thoughtful eating and discipline—the process commonly known as bodybuilding. Bodybuilding is not a term to be reserved for the development of champion physiques. It is, as the word implies, the building of one’s body healthfully to satisfying muscular proportions. This incomparable sport is for all of us.

I particularly underline the exercises, sets and reps, poundages, proteins, other nutrients and factors that have been established and proven over the past half-century. This is good stuff that has worked for my peers and me and is certain to set you in motion as a beginner or further you as an ongoing or returning enthusiast. Muscle building, I am commissioned to remind you, is an exciting, fulfilling and priceless adventure in seeking the good life.

Once you’re duly invested—conditioned, stable, knowledgeable—and being the free spirit this hearty pursuit attracts, you are bound to research the various training techniques expounded by the pool of experts in the field. I urge you to experiment and experience. It’s all good, now that you are relatively established and your instincts have been aroused.

Giant sets, single sets, powerlifting, Olympic lifting, HIT, Heavy Duty, Hardgainer, 1-2-3-kick, I’ve tried them all before they were articulated, had names and had cult followings. It’s the same with menu, macronutrient balance and the alphabet soup of anabolic, anticatabolic concoctions on and below the earth’s surface. All of it has been mixed with a curious, intuitive deliberateness to come up with the composition I sincerely offer you.

You and I have different chemistry, bone structure, DNA, mentality, personality and external influences. These factors will determine our training direction, our potential, our level of satisfaction, the why, how and how well we perform.

Don’t be lured down any one path as if it were the only path. When the timing is right, when you’re sound and confident, yet restless, take a four-to-six-week journey to stray from the norm. Invest in one of the highly touted training styles that draw your attention—or make up your own!

Be alert and open minded. Take the risk, apply your savvy, give yourself credit for creativity and discovery, and learn through the understanding that is beginning to surface. The point is to keep going, isn’t it? Aggressively, joyfully.

Every method and every technique will be to your benefit, even if it’s to teach you by a setback or injury that it is not the way for you.

Predictably, confusion and strife arise, confounding our progress. These, the big guns in the Devil’s armory, are ruinous and deserve dismantling. Let’s together attend the process through sharing and comparing.

Discussion is engaging, revealing and often endearing. Argument is for bullies, the frustrated and the insecure. Argument leads to war, which I’m certain restricts capillary action and prevents oxygen- and nutrient-laden blood from gorging the outermost microfibers that account for, maybe, 25 percent of our muscular growth.

Me? I’m an animal. I prefer working out to conversation—and sniffing like a hound dog and pulling the wagon like a workhorse.

—Dave Draper

Editor’s note: For more from Dave Draper, visit 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.

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