Dave Draper on Making Muscle

The thinking man's approach to packing on muscle.


When I think about my mass-building workouts and reflect on the changes I’d make while applying the experience and knowledge I’ve gained over the nutty years gone by, I realize that nothing has changed. I’m still me in an older body practicing the same basic combinations to fulfill the same basic needs; eating the same basic menu to sustain the same basic muscle.

Early on in the ’60s I trained each muscle group three times in a six-day workout week. Today, I think more rest is healthier and more productive. For most of you, I prefer a five-day week hitting the muscle groups twice each week. A three on and one off, two on and one off with maximum intensity and slugging pace sounds just about right.

I used to train chest specifically only once a week. The second half of the training week had me condensing the shoulder and chest routines. Hoping to work on my pressing power as part of the “mass intentions,” I’d put one pressing early in the week to match the winging-it power workout. The mid-to-steep incline sufficiently bombs both high chest and shoulder mass. The inclusion of dips for arms would, with focus and body positioning, further the chest cause. Plenty of hard and complete pec work without overload is provided. Too much repetitive, heavy benching is tough on the rotators over the years ahead, and I don’t recommend it for anyone.

I’ve always loved wide-grip chins to the front with a nice arch for a big and wide back. Pulldowns to the front are also wonderfully effective for achieving lat development—the only substitute if you’re not ready for chins. This superset, or any superset done with an aim for mass, will help build solid muscle by the pounds, in time, providing your menu is as sound and particular as your training.

Don’t be misguided to believe supersets are only for getting ripped. You can still handle the poundage as you condition yourself and plan ahead.

Bentover rows are a major, comprehensive mass builder. They fall into the category of squats and deads in that so much of the muscle system is involved that entire body growth is stimulated. Over the years, I always went once a week on barbell rows to save the lower back from overload. One-arm dumbbell rows with a supportive three-point stance allow us to go heavy without excessive lower-back demand.

And with those you have the advantage of varying the range of motion and contraction that only dumbbells can provide. Here, too, a power program can be implemented to get all-over mass and thickness. Train hard and enjoy it. – FLEX


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