Do You Want To Go?
Magazine, April 1990
Dave Draper. Property of Ironman Magazine.
day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a
road do I take?" She asked.
response was a question: "Where do you want to go?"
don't know," Alice answered.
said the cat, "it doesn't matter."
a 12-year-old boy growing up in Secaucus, New Jersey, where immigrant
farmers raised pigs and New York City dumped its garbage, my weightlifting
goals were simple and to the point: build big and strong arms and
what motivated me to buy my first set of barbells and set my mind
and body to training. With the big arms came shoulders and a back
to match. In high school I was hard to catch, bring down and pin.
these things became evident and as my abilities and appearance improved,
goals began to emerge. Interestingly, I didn't set lofty goals,
like becoming a champion or Mr. America. I wasn't a fan and didn't
seek out heroes. My ambitions were focused on getting better each
day, one day at a time.
is not the kind of goal setting, reaching out and striving encouraged
in the '70s and '80s. It's not the kind I necessarily endorse as
I look back over some 35 years of avid bodybuilding. Yet my trudging
along with dogged determination has its qualities and should not
world of bodybuilding is out of the garages, and it's high on the
minds of people. There are 10 major publications and more than a
hundred books devoted to the sport, and it's seen on ESPN via satellite
all over the globe. World and Gold's gyms are in hundreds of cities
from east to west, and almost everyone alive wants a lean, hard
incredible media, television and computers are upon us and have
us expecting more of ourselves every day. Advanced technology has
boldly taken its place alongside the barbells and dumbbells, and
nutritional and medical research has brought us to bright new horizons.
so goal setting has become more than a primal function. Goal setting
has been researched, tested, evaluated and turned inside out. Man,
by nature, is goal-oriented and has spent the past two decades writing
books, articles and courses on the subject. Imagery and visualizing
(using our imagination to maximize our aspirations) have become
effective and practical in business, sports and medicine. "I
can if I think I can" and "I'm getting better every day
in every way" are axioms that seem to work in today's pressing
setting is your first concrete step toward turning dreams into reality.
Using your goals as guidelines, develop action plans to accomplish
them and then make your personal commitment to yourself to realize
setting is the number-one key to bodybuilding success. Goals come
in all shapes and sizes and can be broken up into two basic categories:
long-term goals - what you expect to achieve in the years to come;
and short-term goals - what you expect to achieve in the next days
and weeks. Both of these need to be addressed thoughtfully to assure
clean and positive action.
often dreamed as children, our goals masquerading as our fantasies.
This type of dreaming is healthy and keeps our eyes on the horizon.
But as adults we sometimes allow the child in us to set goals, and
we then mix fantasy with reality. Goals must be realistic, or disappointment
is the only thing you're sure to achieve. You'll be more successful
if you plan your next short-term goal slightly, but not too much,
above your last achievement. That way you'll steadily raise your
level of aspiration. Long-term goals should be carefully evaluated
before you make a commitment: Is the goal possible at all?
self-evaluation is the preface to realistic goal setting. Self-evaluation
requires time, careful consideration and unbiased insight. Determining
your strengths and weaknesses and your current position are invaluable
to realizing your potential and essential in arranging a productive
and realistic goal.
arranged a comprehensive list of 20 guideposts to consider to help
you assess yourself. The material reads like an application for
a life insurance policy, but separately and collectively it will
give you a valuable overall impression of who you are, how you are,
where you're going and where you can go if you choose.
each of the following items to help you in your initial goal setting.
Consider the topics thoughtfully, honestly and with a pencil and
paper to note your answers.
can't stress enough how important this step is. If you just read
through the points, you'll miss the most important guidance I can
offer after 20 years of professional bodybuilding. Arrange a couple
of hours alone with your tablet to concentrate on these important
thoughts. These honest answers will guide your goal-setting sessions
and help you to set realistic goals both short and long term.
Begin at the basics, from age, height, weight, general and body/muscle
measurement. Measure your bodyparts from chest, upper arm, waist,
thigh, shoulder and calf.
Consider your medical history: Have you seen a doctor recently and
had a physical evaluation? What were the results? Are you in excellent
health, moderate or even poor health?
Be aware of your vital statistics, such as blood pressure, resting
pulse, etc. Make a habit of checking your resting pulse each morning
to monitor your progress and check for a rise, which may indicate
either oncoming illness or overtraining.
Do you have any current injuries, ailments or physical weaknesses?
How about permanent or recurring weaknesses, such as back or shoulder
Determine your bone structure (large bone structure, narrow hips,
broad shoulders, thin wrists, etc.).
Check your skin tone. Is it thick or thin, healthy in color, and
is there any acne or oily skin?
Be aware of your body chemistry/body type (endomorph, ectomorph,
mesomorph). Do you seem to have a fast or slow metabolism? Have
you carried extra fat or been very thin all your life?
What is your current state of fitness, energy and endurance (flexibility,
ability to run or jump, strength based on other activities)?
Do you have a specific physical attributes and abilities, such as
excellence in other sports, outstanding beginning physique, large
muscle bellies since childhood?
What is your current state of mind (relaxed or anxious, attitude
- positive/negative, are you comfortable and confident)?
Review your past mental attitudes - level of discipline, attention
span, patience, persistence, willingness and ability to commit for
months and years.
Analyze your current lifestyle. Do you relax at home, or do you
party or eat out often? Do you get enough sleep? Do you want to
alter any habits that will slow down your bodybuilding progress,
or would you rather make goals that will allow more tolerance in
Note your job description (stress, overtime, 9 to 5, physically
demanding, doctor, lawyer, Indian chief). How much time is available
to dedicate to training each week?
What are your current nutritional habits, and what were your past
eating habits? Do you enjoy good, wholesome food, or do you need
fast foods or sweets to satisfy your hunger?
How long have you been attracted to bodybuilding/powerlifting? Have
you already tested your commitment through plateaus and occasional
Review your knowledge of weight lifting/nutrition, etc. Have you
read books on the subject, and do you keep up with the latest nutritional
Take a look at your peer influences both at the gym and away. Will
your non-athletic friends influence you to skip your workouts to
do other things? At the gym will your friends gradually influence
your goals without your being aware of it?
Are your training facilities adequate? Do you train where the equipment
is kept in good repair? Do you have all the equipment you need,
and if not, can you go elsewhere?
Is there coaching available? Do you have mentors locally that you
can go to for answers to your questions?
How is your training partner? Do you train alone or with a partner
you can count on? Is your partner committed to the same type of
goals, and if your partner's goals change, will you begin to flounder?
you've spent some time with these self-assessing guidelines, it's
probably been a bit of a confrontation. Perhaps it's the first time
you've honestly faced these considerations, and it might have opened
your eyes and maybe even closed a few doors. You're to be applauded
if you've finished a truthful self-evaluation and you're ready to
decide what exactly you can do with your weight training.
do you want to go? Don't be caught like Alice, who, after she peered
in the looking glass, wandered through unknown lands with no sense
of direction or purpose. Use your time at the looking glass; make
your long-term goals and follow that with your short-term plan of