To Top

Counting Sets and Reps and Other Blessings

ironmanmagazine.comYou know you’re in the somber winter stretch when it’s dark at 5:15 and you’re digging around your wardrobe for a sweatshirt, the hooded one with a pouch for your frigid paws. Brrr! Ask me how happy I am that I live where temperatures seldom dip below 50 and there is no snow. Very! I might dig out a pullover, but no need to dig out the car and the driveway.

It’s during the weeks and months ahead that getting ripped, sliced and diced is replaced by getting hunky ’n funky. What now? A hurried workout, a festive weekend, a partial workout, shopping, a short workout, a long weekend with family, a miniworkout with dumbbells; food, friends and fun; two workouts in one, late nights, cheers and bells ringing. I’ll drink to that. Down the hatch.

Have joyous and glad times, be grateful and generous, but do not neglect or forget yourself, your discipline, your fitness and health. Be sensible and be responsible. Lighten the load, but don’t release your grip. Back off, but don’t back away.

Don’t mind me—just thinking out loud. I’m certain any time you’re away from the gym it’s for rest, recuperation, nutritional research and workout redesign, and any weight gain is part of your scheme to bulk up and build muscle mass and power in preparation for your spring training onslaught. Sacrifice and devotion are admirable attributes, prerequisites of achievement. Sure they are.

I remember one winter in the mid-’60s when I bulked up to 250. I felt like I was gonna burst, my arms stuck out like oars on a life raft, and my face was as round as a beach ball. My muscles pumped, burned and squirmed at the sight of the lusty iron sprawled on the Dungeon floor, and the hefty mounds moved with ease. I grew, I was determined, I was 21. I ate tuna, beef, eggs and milk products and desiccated liver. I was mad as a Toronto mayor. Just kidding!

Holy moly. One half a century ago; 50 years, 2,600 weeks, 18,250 days or 438,000 hours, plus or minus.

I’ll never forget doing dips between bedposts in my bedroom as “Earth Angel” by the Penguins oozed from a box radio amid static. White-knuckled, I clung to the door ledge, chinning spastically while Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers asked, “Why Do Fools Fall in Love?” Elvis and his sideburns accompanied my buddies and me as we tugged on rusty pipes jiggling with five-pound plates in the back room of Patty’s Grocery in Hoboken. Don’t be cruel!

“Get your butts out here. We have orders to deliver!”

Today, of course, I’m reasonably sane. I eat the same food, all I can, only half as much. I train the same, hard as I can, only a fraction as much. It works the same, try as I can, only not much—which is enough.

Enough, too, of gazing at the past in the reflective mirror. The road is under our boots; life is in and around us and requires—rather deserves—our undivided attention. Without being frivolous, let’s enjoy our workouts and have fun in the gym.

Another cheap notion, rambling thought, twisted statement: The less we anticipate our training sessions, the more we enjoy and profit from them. Anticipation, thinking about, considering and assessing our training sessions before we train often causes anxiety, dread and apprehension. “Oh, no, another round of self-inflicted torture! I know nothing!”

Forethought can be tiresome and destructive.

The anything-is-better-than-nothing viewpoint is applicable and appropriate, truer and more effective today than yesterday. We’re invested, we know what works and what doesn’t, we know what we like and what we don’t like, and we know how to piece it all together for the most bang from each bombing session.

We don’t have to or need to; nor are we able to spend too much time under the iron in the gym. Just enough will do.

My last workout in sufficient detail:

• Low-incline dumbbell curls to flyes to presses to triceps extensions, all in one maxi-set with max exertion and max concentration, 4 x 10 reps, 6 reps, 10 reps, 6 reps—with 25 pounds (our little secret)

• Hefty rope tucks to seated lat tugs, 4 x 18 reps and 6 reps

• Barbell wrist curls, 4 x 10-12 reps

Stirred up some bi’s, tri’s and forearms; chest, back and shoulders and torso as well. I walked a block to and from my truck—legs and cardio.

Go, Go, Go.… God speed.…

—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.


Instantized Creatine- Gains In Bulk

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

More in Latest