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Older But Better Texas Shredder

How Cover Man Dave Goodin Continues to Compete and Improve at 50 — Drug-Free!

2009-goodin-bigDave Goodin is amazing. He still has the motivation and rock-solid physique to hit the bodybuilding stage with the best—and come out on top, or close to it, every time. At his most recent outing, the ’08 NPC Team Universe Championships, he took second in the welterweight class, beating some very good, and young, drug-free bodybuilders. And he did it only a year after ripping his hamstring from the bone in a freak accident.

It’s not only contests he can zero in on. At every photo shoot he schedules, he’s rock-hard and ripped. Is the guy some kind of mutant, a shred-meister from planet Super-striate? Let’s find out.

IM: What’s your current precontest split? Lay out a one-week snapshot for me.

DG: Monday, legs; Tuesday, chest and light biceps; Thursday, back; Friday, shoulders, biceps, triceps.

IM: How does that change in the off-season?

DG: My preference is to go to a three-day Monday-Wednesday-Friday split in the off-season. I haven’t done that the past few years because I was accommodating my training partners. On my three-day split I do legs on Monday; chest, front and middle delts, and biceps on Wednesday; then back, rear delts and triceps on Friday.

IM: In the programs described in your blog at Iron, you often list, say, seven sets for squats or seven sets for bench. How many of those sets are lighter warmup sets on the big, compound exercises, and how many are work sets?

DG: When I list seven sets, usually my first four are warmup sets and my last three are work sets. Particularly with the basic exercises like squats, leg presses, deadlifts, bench presses and overhead presses I’m not only doing sets to warm up my muscles and joints, I’m also doing progressively heavier sets to prepare my nervous system for the heavier weights I will use on my work sets. If, for example, I tried to do a couple of warmup sets with 180 pounds and 270 pounds on the leg press and then jump straight to my workout weight of 810, I probably wouldn’t be able to handle the weight because (at least for me) my nervous system wouldn’t be ready. If I work my way up to the 810 in 90-pound-per-set jumps, when I get to 810, I can usually do it for at least 20 reps.

IM: Do you go to failure on your work sets? And what about forced reps—do you ever use them?

DG: I go very very close and sometimes to failure on my work sets. I rarely do forced reps. I’ll only do them if I have a spotter I’m really comfortable with. I like a spotter who gives just enough help to keep the weight moving smoothly. If you get somebody who is going to let the weight stop completely before they help you, then you’re in for trouble. At my age I really have to stay in the groove to avoid injury, and with forced reps it’s easy to get out of the groove unless your spotter is really good.

IM: I know you mix up the exercises at every workout. For example, I see you do hack squats first on some leg days, squats first on others. Are there any general rules you follow as far as exercises go, or do you just do whatever you feel like doing? Do you ever do isolation exercises first?

DG: I actually mixed up my leg workouts much more this year than I usually do. My legs were behind because of my 2007 hamstring injury [and surgery]. I had not done hack squats in years but was looking for a way to add more sweep to my quads. I’ve also had a lower-back problem that popped up as soon as I got off the crutches and painkillers last year—and it hasn’t gone away. I’ve had quite a few weeks that my back was really sore, and I knew I didn’t want to squat as heavy, so I did hacks or leg presses first.

My general rule is to always do the compound movements first so that I can handle the heaviest weights on them. I very, very rarely—almost never—do an isolation movement first.

IM: In one of the routines on your blog you supersetted a chest exercise with a back movement all the way through. How do you like that agonist/antagonist-superset method, and do you use it often?

DG: It’s not something that I do very often. Usually when I do that kind of superset it’s because it’s the week of a show and I’m working chest and back on the same day. Or, if I’m working out by myself and my shoulders are bothering me, doing a pulling movement after the pushing exercise makes them feel better. When I do it for that reason, I don’t go hard on the back movements. 

Occasionally, if I’m pressed for time, I’ll superset agonist and antagonist muscle groups on my isolation exercises. Last year I often supersetted leg extensions and leg curls. Another one I’ve done quite a bit, but rarely this year, is biceps and triceps. I like the pump I get when doing those supersets, but I’m always concerned that I can’t handle as much weight as usual on the second movement.

IM: You seem to train with a lot of volume. Do you think that’s best when you train each bodypart only once a week? Do you ever do lower volume and train bodyparts more often, or do you feel that may overstress your middle-aged body?

DG: I haven’t trained bodyparts twice per week since I was in my late 20s. I tried to go back to training everything twice a week when I was in my mid-30s, but my joints just couldn’t take it. I would say that part of the reason that my training volume is so high is my propensity for injuries. 

I’m experimenting with doing a little extra work for certain body-parts. This year I started throwing in three or four sets of curls after my chest workout in order to try to bring up my biceps. Those were more pumping-type sets—not exhaustive. It worked really well. Just a couple of weeks ago I added a few sets of laterals after chest to try to put more width on my medial delts.

IM: You and I are almost the same age, but I notice that you don’t have the loose-skin issues that I’ve been experiencing the past couple of years when I get lean. Do you do something to prevent that, is it genetics, or is it just a function of staying fairly lean all year so the skin never gets stretched?

DG: I’m sure that genetics does play a part in it, but I think that staying fairly lean is the biggest thing. In the past eight years I don’t think I’ve been more than 15 pounds out of contest shape. I prefer to keep it within 10 to 12 pounds. I’ve also noticed that since I started taking essential fatty acids, my skin looks much healthier in contest shape. 

IM: You’ve said that you stay in the 8-to-10-percent-bodyfat range most of the year and then take 12 weeks or more to come down to 3 percent for competition. Do you think staying so lean makes it harder to build more muscle?

DG: Well, I’ve never gone over 10 percent bodyfat. I usually stay around 6 to 8 percent, depending on how often I drink margaritas. [Laughs]

I think the big thing is that eating poorly makes it harder to put on muscle. There are a lot of physique athletes who go back to really bad eating habits in the off-season and rationalize it as “bulking.” I’ve done the bulk-up thing a couple of times. There were a couple of years that I got to 30 pounds over my contest weight, but by the time I dieted back down into ripped condition, I was only a pound heavier. I had to diet so much harder and do so much more cardio to get the fat off that any muscle I may have added was lost by the time I was in contest shape. Getting fatter to add more muscle that I can’t hold on to doesn’t help me out at contest time. Plus, I like looking good all the time—not just when I’m getting ready to step onstage.

IM: A sound approach I’m finally realizing myself. Can you list your most recent precontest diet? Have you changed it in any way over the past few years as you’ve gotten older?

DG: I changed my contest diet dramatically about 14 years ago. When I first got into bodybuilding in the early ’80s, the lowfat, high-carb, moderate-protein diet was in vogue. When I started competing in the WNBF [without weight classes], I needed to put on a considerable amount of muscle to be competitive with the other natural pros. I doubled my protein intake from about 125 grams per day to 250. I also cut starches out of my contest diet and got my carbs from low-glycemic fresh fruits. The only adjustments I’ve made to my diet in the past few years are: 1) following some of the nutrient-timing guidelines, 2) adding essential fatty acids and 3) in just the last two years I’ve added a lot more supplements from Muscle-Link to my nutrition plan.

Here’s a typical day from my contest training this summer. I’d estimate it’s about 2,300 calories.

Breakfast (6 a.m.-ish)

4 egg white omelet with 2-3 ounces grilled chicken and nonfat cheese; 1 orange or grapefruit

On the way to work

Venti black-eye from Starbucks (large coffee with two shots expresso)


1 protein bar or Pro-Fusion protein drink

Noon (workout)

During workout: 8-10 ounces Gatorade and 8 ounces water with 1/2 scoop Pro-Fusion, 1 scoop Xtend and 1/2 scoop Creasol

Immediately after workout: 10-12 ounces Gatorade with 1 1/2-2 scoops Pro-Fusion and 1/2 scoop Creasol


8-10 ounces grilled chicken breast, salad, 1 or 2 pieces fresh fruit

Late afternoon

1 protein bar or Pro-Fusion protein drink


12 ounces grilled chicken or grilled fish, salad, 1 piece fresh fruit

Before bed

1 piece fresh fruit or protein bar

IM: How does your diet differ in the off-season? Also, when you start your precontest diet, do you move to what you outlined earlier, or do you gradually cut down to that over the first few weeks?

DG: In the off-season I add starches back into my diet. I also like a glass or two of wine with dinner, and I like to sip a good tequila when I go out. During the off-season I’m not nearly as strict, and I’ll eat chips and salsa if it’s set in front of me or pizza occasionally with my kids. 

My off-season diet is still lowfat most of the time. I never eat fried foods and rarely eat desserts. I eat desserts usually only at Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners (my mom makes great apple pie!). 

I plan the start of my contest diet by how many pounds I think I need to lose. If I’m 10 pounds over my contest weight, I’ll give myself 12 weeks. A few years ago I found myself 15 pounds over, so I started my contest diet 17 weeks out. I usually gradually work my way into the full-blown contest diet over the course of a few weeks.

IM: You’re not a low-carb guy. I believe you said you usually keep carbs at about 40 percent. Ever tried the low-carb route? 

DG: I’m definitely not a low-carb guy. Even with about 40 percent of my calories coming from carbs, I will sometimes get glycogen depleted. I feel horrible! I can’t think straight, my legs feel like lead, and I can’t get a pump or a burn when I’m training. When I’ve done carb depletion in the past, I got terribly flat from it. Having adequate carbs in your diet spares protein. I’m not that big of a guy. I don’t have any extra muscle that I can afford to lose as I prepare for a show.

IM: How do you keep the fat-burning process moving along as you get leaner? Do you increase cardio as a contest gets closer, or do you reduce your calories or both?

DG: Sometimes I reduce calories a little by cutting back on carbs a bit or by cutting out fats where I can. But the biggest thing for me is increasing cardio. I’ll add more cardio sessions—sometimes doing it two or even three times per day. I prefer that to having one much longer session.

All of my cardio is walking outside or riding the Lifecycle. I did probably 90 percent of my cardio walking this year. The “Shredder Walk,” which is what the guys at Hyde Park Gym here in Austin named it, is four miles round trip from the gym down to Memorial Stadium, where the Longhorns play. About a block before the stadium there’s an eight-story parking garage. When I get there, I run up the stairs, come back down and continue to the stadium. At the stadium I walk up the ramps to the upper deck—11 stories. Then I go back down, back to the parking-garage stairs again and then back to Hyde Park Gym. You don’t notice that it’s slightly downhill when you’re headed to the University of Texas campus, but you notice that it’s uphill on the way back!

I do the Shredder Walk only once or twice a week. Most of the time my walks are about two miles.

IM: Have you ever tried high-intensity cardio—the interval method, alternating all-out sprints with lower-intensity work?

DG: Yes, I have. About six years ago I thought that would be a good idea, and the second time I went out to do sprints, I tore a hamstring (even though I was thoroughly warmed up). A few years later one of my buddies tried sprinting for cardio and tweaked a hamstring. I just talked to Mary Hobbs, a national-level bodybuilder, a few weeks ago. She tore a calf muscle sprinting ramps as she prepared for the NPC USA and had to drop out. 

While it sounds great in theory, the practice is risky. The other issue I have with high-intensity work for cardio is where to put it into your weekly routine. My leg workouts are so exhaustive that by the time the soreness wears off, I wouldn’t have time to recover from the sprints before it was time for my next leg workout.

IM: Do you have any workout secrets and/or favorite supplements for getting your patented Texas Shredder look?

DG: Workout secrets? Hmm—not really. Go extremely hard on the basic exercises, but that’s not much of a secret. Don’t cheat on your diet—but that’s no secret either. 

Favorite supplements—I have a bunch! Here they are in order of importance:

Pro Fusion (protein powder—Muscle-Link)

Creasol (titrated creatine—Muscle-Link)

Omega Stak (essential fatty acids—Muscle-Link)

Life Pak Nano (Pharmanex)

Xtend (branched-chain amino acids—Scivation)

Red Dragon (beta-alanine—Muscle-Link)

GH Stak (Muscle-Link)

ZMA-T (zinc and magnesium—Muscle-Link)

Cort-Bloc (phosphatidylserine—Muscle-Link)

Ribose Size (Muscle-Link—this I use much more in the off-season)

Hyperdrive 3.0 (ALR Industries—I just discovered this product last summer; it’s the best thermogenic I’ve come across)

You’ll notice that the first six supplements listed are things that actually add to the nutrition that I’m taking in. I think those are the most important. If you can afford to take more supplements, then you add compounds that affect changes in hormone levels. That said, I have to say that  GH Stak, ZMA-T and Cort-Bloc are incredible. I don’t think I could do without them now that I’ve used them and seen the results.

IM: I know you don’t do the same exercises at every workout, but can you list your favorite mass move for each bodypart?

DG: That’s easy! 

Legs: Squats and leg presses

Chest: Bench presses and incline presses 

Back: Deadlifts and rows

Shoulders: Overhead presses

Biceps: Dumbbell curls 

Triceps: A toss-up between skull crushers, pressdowns, dips (when my shoulders feel good) and seated triceps extensions

IM: Do you have any training tips for middle-aged bodybuilders that might help them keep packing on the muscle?

DG: Be consistent! There is no substitute for consistency—and that’s in both training and diet. People always ask my age. Then they ask me how I can be in such great shape at 50 (I’ll actually be 50 on March 8). The thing is that I eat pretty clean year-round, and I’ve never stopped training. In 27 years my longest layoff was six weeks—and that was 16 years ago. In ’97 I had biceps-tendon-reattachment surgery. I was back in the gym a week later doing everything that I could do with a cast on my right arm. Last year I had the hamstring tendon reattached on a Friday, and I did a chest workout the following Tuesday. People marveled that I was dedicated enough to hobble around the gym on crutches with a leg ridiculously swollen and immobilized. But my response was, “What should I do? Sit around and let everything else shrink up? I know I’m going to have one seriously atrophied leg, but I’m not going to let the rest of my body go to pot!” The importance of being consistent cannot be overstressed.

I guess the only training adjustment I’ve made as I’ve gotten older is that I have to move the weights much more smoothly and deliberately. I’m really careful with my technique and very careful not to get out of the groove. I can’t train with the reckless abandon that I did even 10 years ago. It takes the injuries too long to heal these days. 

I also listen to my body more. If my joints are sore (I mean sorer than usual), or if anything doesn’t feel right, I’ll keep the weights lighter and do more reps. I’m also careful not to get overzealous when I’m having a really good day. I might feel like I could handle 10 more pounds, but if I’ve done enough to properly fatigue the muscles, I’ll move on and save the increase for next time. Hopefully, I’ve gotten wiser. Sometimes I question that though. [Laughs]

Editor’s note: Visit Dave Goodin’s Texas Shredder blog at  IM

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