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Getting Straight to the Point

7204-prime1My latest killer workout, the one-day-at-a-time routine, has multiple benefits and, curiously, blends well with my all-time favorite, the whatever-you-can-do-today-that-doesn’t-kill-ya muscle-maximizer. I’m one of those ironheads who plan ahead and need to know precisely what they’re doing.

It’s taken me some 50 years of consistent iron management, up-close and hands-on encountering and journals and blackboards full of set-rep algorithms to determine exactly how and when to decisively shift cumbersome ferrous forms.

Some hapless folks think the determination of the trajectory of applied weighted objects is dumb, dull and repetitious hard work. Not so, pumpkin! It’s a science, it’s an art form, it’s a love affair, an inexpressible expression and a daring discipline; an unrelenting taskmaster, a vicious form of self-abuse, a sick obsession, a boorish pastime and an indication of something important missing in the psyche of the perpetrator. It’s what we do best.

Here’s a question for you, droopy drawers and smarty pants.

How do older lifters (master blasters, ripened rippers, bald ’n’ bearded bar benders, teetering-tottering tri-setters, time-tested tonnage-tossers) know when they’re building themselves up during their training, maintaining their muscle and well-being or wearing themselves out? What is too much, what is not enough, how much exertion, how long and how frequently should they work out?

But, wait, that’s eight questions.

When a man is a lad and a lady is a lass, the answers are important, but they are not critical. Add 50 years to the buggy ride, and you’ve got road signs to observe: Speed Bump Ahead, Reduce Speed, Caution—Soft Shoulder, Be Prepared to Stop, No Parking. Break the laws, and there are consequences: warnings, loss of operating privileges, moving violations, collisions, tow charges, impound fees.

Dragging rear ends, flats, overheating and smoke pouring out of the tailpipe are further effects, a fun discussion for another day. Oops, there goes my hood ornament.

Day by day, workout by workout, that’s my scheme for master training. The biggest challenge is getting to the gym, wherever it is. The pre-iron decision can be heavier and tougher than the workout itself. If you were born in the ’50s, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you’re from the ’60s, you have a pretty good idea; the ’70s, your nose is still runny; the ’80s, you’re a brat.

Once there, already pistol-whipped and submissive, I typically go to the nearest cable system and hang on for dear life as I knock out four sets of rhythmic rope tucks for 25 reps and slip gracefully into a seated position, adding six reps of full-range lat rows. I’m tuckered as I lean against a rail and do 25 reps of push-truck thigh/calf movements and sissy squats between sets.

Resting in the middle of a set is an exhausting process—gasp.…

Now warmed up and invested (dangling by my thumbs), I go to a combination of incline dumbbell pressing for shoulders, chest and tri’s (make the most of solid, clean, forceful reps with accents on anything and everything that counts) and wide-grip pulldowns for the back, lats and bi’s. Mild thrusting is okay on the final reps to engage some mass.

Four supersets are still my choice, eight to 12 reps on these movements suits me fine. Heavy is no longer a word I use to define the weight I handle—light is more precise. But the exertion I employ is pure and full.

Gasp, gasp.…

I have a brilliant idea, novel and adventurous: low incline dumbbell curls, six to eight reps, and overhead triceps extensions with cables, 12 to 15 reps, for four supersets. Throw in some wrist curls just to be rude and obnoxious—I dare ya.…

Gasp, gasp, gasp.…

Home, James!

I know I didn’t answer the central question, “How much is too much?” I’m still working on that one, bombers. Once I’m under the spell of the iron in motion, I go for an hour, tough and hard but not harsh and ruinous. Twice weekly is all she wrote.

Here comes my bus.… See ya.

—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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