& Fitness, August 1988
Jeff Everson. Property of Weider Publications, Inc.
Dungeon at Muscle Beach was small. There was barely room to move
around. Located at the corner of Fourth and Broadway in Santa Monica,
California, the Dungeon was a famous hideaway gym for some of bodybuilding's
most powerful men. Dark and dirty, the Dungeon was also quite smelly
since it was located in a basement below an old hotel that had a
the hot California summers, the old beer taps would leak and the
brew would eventually make its way through cracks in the floors
to the Dungeon. In the winter, when it rained, the walls and floor
would also leak and pretty soon, with the rank odors of stale beer
and mildew mixing with smells of new and old sweat, the Dungeon
had a most unusual aroma. No one who worked out there, though, seemed
Dungeon had no fancy equipment. No Universal or Paramount machines
and, of course, Nautilus was still nothing but a seashell since
we're talking '60s here. There was no daylight in the Dungeon, either.
Lighting was provided by four rows of overhead bulbs. Benches weren't
padded. Splinters were picked out in the shower. Clothesline served
as cables, there wasn't even a hack or leg press machine and most
of the stuff teetered on rusty nails and bolts. But, oh, the bodies
that came out of the Dungeon!
Eiferman first brought Dave Draper to the Dungeon in 1962. A neophyte
bodyman then, Draper was awed. Steve Reeves used to train there
when he came to town. So did Eiferman himself and Zabo and Hugo
Labra, Bill McCardle, Gene Shuey and monsters Steve Marjanian and
Chuck Ahrens. Later, when Draper came out to California from New
Jersey with Joe Weider, he joined the Dungeon - for $48 a year -
to heave the odd-weighted dumbbells that made champions.
has been said that every generation looks back, longing for the
good old days. The same is true with our sport. Dave Draper considers
the '60s the golden era of bodybuilding, the romantic age of iron
when the camaraderie and simplicity of bodybuilding were at their
zenith. It was the time when Joe Weider, Trainer of Champions, dubbed
Draper the Blond Bomber.
yes, the '60s - when Colbert, Ross, Grimek, Reeves, Eiferman and
Tanny gave way to Pearl, Park, Scott, Wayne, Oliva, Draper and Schwarzenegger.
The way Draper sees it, the golden era of bodybuilding started to
wind down when Oliva and Schwarzenegger stopped battling and ended
completely when Arnold retired in 1975 after six successive Mr.
the mid '70s, bodybuilding illusion gave way to bodybuilding reality.
Up to this time, anabolic hormones were an "inside tip"
and used by an elite clique in limited dosages. The steroid surge
of the '70s changed the faces (and livers) of bodybuilders forever.
Steroids gave the mediocre their chance for fleeting fame.
Draper misses the old days, the sweet siren call of the '60s. In
the days when Joe Weider's Muscle Builder featured the Blond Bomber
as everything that a young man could be as a bodybuilder, the iron
sport was indeed friendlier, simpler and more romantic in lifestyle,
nutrition and training. Could the Dungeon survive today in the age
of Cybex and Myotech?
the '60s, before the extreme emphasis on being ripped to the bone,
bodybuilding was fun. There were few hardships, drugs were something
Timothy Leary talked about, growth hormone was still buried with
the dead. In the '60s bodybuilders lifted heavy weights, but they
also lifted heavy, dripping T-bones. They didn't measure their protein
powder, they shoveled it in.
fundamentals could be described in five words, "eat a lot of
protein." Draper did - to the tune of 400-500 grams a day.
That meant a lot of calories too. Consequently, bodybuilders in
the '60s were big and strong. Oliva, Schwarzenegger, Ferrigno, Katz
and Draper were the biggest bodybuilders of all time.
a testament to the simplicity of the '60s compared to today, bodybuilders
then talked about Crash Weight Gain #7 and Weider's Super Pro 101.
Hell, there was even a lawsuit back then over weight-gain powders!
Today, attend a bodybuilding seminar and you'll hear free-form aminos,
branched chain aminos, succinates, medium-chained triglycerides,
branching glucose polymers, glucogen and sodium loading. You'll
hear about such esoteric supplements as yohimbe bark. Bodybuilders
back then knew you got all that stuff in steak, eggs and milk.
then the science of anabolic steroids was spelled Dianabol. Today
we have designer steroids - ones to add density, others to add size,
others to add strength. There's even an Italian one that's supposed
to build up individual muscles. Some lulu in Europe even claims
to split muscle fibers with electrical probes. Is it any wonder
that Dave Draper pines for the '60s?
the Dungeon, buried beneath that old Santa Monica hotel, from 1963-67,
Dave Draper built one of the greatest physiques of all time. He
trained with enormous energy expenditure fueled by thousands of
calories. He trained six days a week from 6-9 a.m. The Dungeon,
which had the rusty vestiges of the old outdoor Muscle Beach equipment,
was all a man expected a gym to be.
the years '63-67, Draper changed from a 260-pound beachball to a
230-pound bull. In the second contest of his life, the 1965 IFBB
Mr. America, he won first place. That alone catapulted him into
the Weider hall of fame. In 1966, he entered the IFBB Mr. Universe,
his third contest, and won it. He was favored in the '67 Mr. Olympia,
but Sergio Oliva took it. There was no doubt that the training Draper
did has to be unusual. He built up fast and efficiently with some
of the shabbiest equipment allowable by law!
Dungeon training was fast, hard and heavy. Almost every set was
an attempt at a strength or endurance record. He and his training
partner Dick Sweet constantly challenged each other - for the entire
three-hour session. Despite the plethora of energy enhancers and
drugs available today, I'd venture to guess that most modern-day
bodybuilders would overtrain on Draper's plan. Bodybuilders today
don't eat enough fat for long-term energy, their calories are too
low and they don't get enough rest and relaxation. By and large
they lack patience, too. Besides, the guys in the Dungeon would
never have to put up with someone who claimed to be overtrained.
There was no such thing then.
rotated his bodyparts so that he trained everything three times
a week. On day one he'd work chest, back and shoulders. The next
day came abdominals, biceps, triceps and legs. He did an enormous
number of sets, from 20-30 per bodypart. That might mean over 80
sets per workout! Draper field-tested a lot of Joe Weider's ideas
before they went into the Weider system, things like supersets and
cheating. Draper supersetted nearly his entire program and got plenty
massive (it's interesting that Sergio Oliva did the same things
and still does today).
his 54-inch chest (in the 1966 movie, Don't Make Waves, Sharon Tate,
later murdered by the Manson family, swooned over it), Draper started
with five supersets of collar-to collar benches and close-grip benches.
He also used the Weider Pyramid Principle while keeping his reps
between 6-8. At this point in his career, he could bench press over
450 pounds and military press 300 pounds. Draper was a strong guy.
He had to be with powermongers Ahrens, Casey and Marjanian lurking
about the Dungeon.
five hearty supersets, Draper followed with five more on heavy dumbbell
inclines and flat bench flyes. He went up to 150 pounds in his inclines.
If you think that's a lot (and it is!), Draper fondly recalls watching
Pat Casey do the same exercise with a pair of 220-pound dumbbells.
Casey, of course, was the first man to officially bench press 600
pounds. Draper also remembers watching Chuck Ahrens do seated dumbbell
presses with a pair of 160-pound dumbbells.
such inspiration, Draper then proceeded to blitz his phenomenal
back, which Arnold called the best in the business. Dave started
with five supersets of wide-grip bent-over rows and stiff-arm pullovers
for 6-8 reps. Following this he did what some would consider and
unusual superset, five sets of behind-the-neck presses with five
sets of wide-grip pullups. Here he'd push his reps up to 12 or so.
Not finished despite an upsurge of blood equal to the denouement
of Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch, Draper had some more supersets
to do. This time, five sets of 12-15 in the long pulley row and
lat machine pulldowns. In both exercises, the Blond Bomber thought
nothing of doing his reps with more than 300 pounds!
already pre-exhausted his posterior deltoids with rows and behind-the-neck
presses, Draper started his shoulder training with 90-degree dumbbell
presses without supersetting. He made a point of working up to at
least 105s for 6-8 strict repetitions. Next was a conventional Draperism,
a superset that was really a compound set (a superset within the
same bodypart). He did five sets of heavy, cheat lateral raises
and five sets of strict laterals with his back flush to a wall.
On his cheats, he'd use 60s. For his strict laterals, 30s were the
order of the day. Draper was known to have a pair of the biggest
delts in bodybuilding. No wonder.
and Sweet moved through their heavy training like a Kansas twister
through a mobile home park. They wreaked havoc on their bodies,
but paid themselves back at the training table. During his workouts,
Draper would never think about outside things. He envisioned himself
as a piece of lead, thick and dense. Rest? Draper and Sweet rested
only as long as it took them to catch their breath between exercises.
That way they didn't have time to think about anything else.
two started with abs. Draper always warmed up on this day with a
series of supersets between incline sit-ups and leg raises. He not
only kept his waist trim by doing this (in the e'60s, the abs and
legs were secondary to arms, chest and shoulders) but he also freed
himself from outside thought during this time.
started out with biceps training by doing 15 sets, consisting of
five sets each of barbell curls (6-8 reps), alternate incline dumbbell
curls (6-8 reps) and preacher curls (also called Scott curls, 8-10
reps). He'd finish off with five sets of high-repetition wrist curls,
Draper's arms were around 21 inches at his best and his biceps had
an amazing peak. However, triceps were his babies.
almost always did 25 sets for those muscles. He started with five
supersets of standing overhead triceps extensions with a rope-pulley
arrangement and his back supported and conventional triceps pushdowns.
He favored reps in the 12-15 range for the best triceps pump. His
next superset was lying triceps extensions with the EZ-Curl bar
and behind-the-head rope-pulley extensions, both for 10-15 reps.
made it a point to finish his triceps work with parallel bar dips.
Although he saw Pat Casey, who weighed 320 pounds, do 10 reps with
300 pounds strapped around his waist, Draper would have not part
of that! He did five sets of as many reps as he could with bodyweight
alone. That worked well enough.
were next. Draper used the Weider Pyramid Principle in the squat
for adding mass. Usually he ran through seven or eight sets (not
counting his light warm-ups) as follows:
lbs. x 10 reps
lbs. x 8 reps
lbs. x 6 reps
lbs. x 4 reps
lbs. x 2 reps
lbs. x 10 reps
lbs. x 10 reps
squats, he did 5-6 sets of leg extensions and leg curls with as
much weight as he could possible muster for 10-15 repetitions. He'd
finish his leg pump with 10 sets of 12-15 reps in the donkey calf
his intense attitude and heavy training in the Dungeon, Dave molded
a worldclass physique in short order. Even though he won both the
America and the Universe in his meteoric rise, his exit was just
as fast - but that was his choice.
Dave Draper there was a shift in bodybuilding in the late '60s and
early '70s. The thrill was fading rapidly. He says: "Around
1968 I grew disillusioned. I grew up during the romantic era of
bodybuilding with people who worked out in the Dungeon. We thought
the most important things in life were heavy training, good eating
and basking in the sun. In those days, bodybuilders would hitchhike
together along the shores for days just to see a contest."
continues: "Attitudes mean a lot to me and they changed drastically.
Competitive bodybuilding got complicated. There was too much preoccupation
with big muscles and much less camaraderie than before. Things weren't
as simple. You used to pose to music selected by the contest promoter.
All of a sudden you had to prepare music and routines. I liked it
much better before, although I still trained. I put my mind outside
of bodybuilding after that."
did go on to win the Mr. Universe in 1970 (after training eight
weeks), but it was never the same for him again. He officially retired
his legend in 1970.
is at peace with himself today after battling personal demons for
years. He's wiser, more mature and in incredible shape. He loves
training, but what he cherishes most in life is his self-built home
in beautiful Santa Cruz, time with his friends and his memories
of the romantic age of bodybuilding. In the golden '60s, when the
Blond Bomber was king, he bombed away in the Dungeon and built one
of the greatest bodies of all time.