David Dupre: Inside the Vortex

Great Interview of oldschool bodybuilder Dave Dupree. He will tell you how Steve Reeves trained and he will give some inspiration about diet and protein drinks! Interview was published by James Crowford in 1979 – Mr. Berg

“Southern California is the steamy playground of the world’s leading bodybuilding champions. It is generally a dry, warm place where ‘the pump’ is the ultimate ‘high’. Only a few men who play there gain recognition, others are symbolically buried beneath ‘Cal’s’ sand never to surface. Champion is the word, and champion is the scene. One man among the many to make that scene is native Californian David Dupre.

Dupre is a swirling vortex of thoughts, drives and emotions. His dedicated years in the sport have nor been easy. He has never wanted or expected them to be. In his early years he followed our sport according to the dictates of his own visions which were stimulated by a need to harmonize with nature’s idea of proportion and physical practicality. Dupre is a man who made sense out of the Southern California muscle building ‘Pandora’s Box’ of futility.

Question: “You have a reputation of being a very symmetrical and proportionate bodybuilder, not only around California, but across the country. You’ve beaten many of today’s biggest names in competition. Your personal style would be considered unorthodox by some. Where did you come from and why do you thin as you do?

Dupre: “I originally came from Oakland, California. I saw Steve Reeves and that’s what go me started. It happened to me a long time ago, when I was at the age of ten or twelve and he was at some show back there. And I said, that’s it. The next time I saw him he was on TV. As I remember the first incident, it was the way he looked. He had a short sleeved sport shirt on and there were these ‘arms’. Well I’m 32 years old now, and I don’t remember how I got to that contest. It’s all kind of hazy as I look back on or, but Reeves is very clear to me. His films were released around this time too, and I guess that’s what tipped the apple cart for me. It changed my own personal sense of aesthetics and inspired me to re-fashion and better myself physically. You know, I have not always been the healthiest. I have dozens of different physical allergies which give me many uncomfortable problems. Bodybuilding helped me to face these as well.”

Question: “How did you start training? Who taught you bodybuilding?”

Dupre: “I learned and taught myself from reading and seeking out what I needed to know. Some of it came from Muscle Building publications. I’m still using the same principles I used in the beginning. Actually, I patterned myself after the way Steve Reeves trained. I questioned everybody I found who knew him; read all I could find about him. I adopted anything in my routines that I thought Reeves used. My first gym was Jack Delinger’s. Jack was Mr. America in 1949 and an old friend of Steve’s from way back. I guess I constantly annoyed jack with questions about Steve, but he’d always tell me all about him. And there was Russ Warner, one of bodybuilding’s greatest photographers, who had much knowledge of Steve and helped me learn.

Question: “What were some of the things that Jack or Russ imparted to you about Reeves’ training approach?

Dupre: “One of the earliest things I found was that Steve always used strict style in his training, getting the most tension and deep action in every movement. He never cared about the weight, it was correct style. That, I put in my own routine. Strict style is important.

Russ Warner is one of the greatest living physique photographers who’s come through a number of generations of bodybuilders, almost from the very beginning of modern times in our sport. He had a few really good stories on Steve. For instance when Steve strolled into a restaurant or public place everyone would stop and turn to look at him. Steve might be wearing a tailored jacked and some times people would stop and kid him and say, ‘Hey, those aren’t real shoulders.’ But they’d be even more surprised when he removed his coat because they were genuine muscular shoulders. It was stories like that which drove me on.. I also learned early to train fast. Steve always trained fast and strict, maintaining a tempo. I found Steve often did super sets to save time and work a muscle harder from all angles. Naturally I adopted this too.”

Question: “All right, that’s interesting. You’re a Steve Reeves fan and wanted to build symmetry into your structure. But the current California Dave Dupre physique champion has a reputation of more than being just a pretty body. You’ve also got the power. We find this related in other books and your name is in the reports of important powerlifting events.

Reeves never possessed quite the kind of strength you have. You deadlift around 750 pounds weight at a little over 200 pounds. Where did this physical force develop from?

Dupre: “I wanted strength too. I also worked on the Olympic lifts and powerlifting. My best snatch was 275 and 198 pounds body weight. The press leveled at around 300 and my clean and jerk climbed to 340 or 350. Let’s see, in those power moves.

440lb on the bench press, best squat 550lb. I didn’t deadlift 750 at all. It was only 730 pounds. I competed earlier but I injured my knees with the rugged heavy lifts and that ended my aspirations in that direction I had been using the split style for cleans and snatches. I took some powerlifting shows but nothing phenomenal happened for me at the weightlifting end. I think I did that in the 181 pounds class.”

Question: “When you trained for power how did you accomplish this?”

Dupre: “I bought some old “Reg Park Journals” (magazines formerly published by Reg Park) and studied the power an Olympic lifting articles they contained I’d follow them certain months of the year. I’d try to fit them into the bodybuilding workouts I was following. This was important because at that time Olympic Lifting was still a part of physique events. The fact that you practiced them for another sport gave you athletic points which enabled you to compete in the AAU. Mr. America event and would be added to your physique score…you had to be strong to be a real Mr. America. I’m sorry it’s gone. Today’s bodybuilder may be less athletic because of it.”

Question: “What’s your opinion of today’s bodybuilder the way he looks?”

Dupre: “I think he looks hideous…he’s not always healthy. In proportion to current muscle size today’s bodybuilder is often weak. They don’t have all around strength. Some are good on their pet lifts like the bench press. Don’t ever ask modern bodybuilders to do an overhead lift. Few can do it because so many have bad backs.”

Question: “What is your favorite routine for training?”

Dupre: “My two hour a day, six days a week, once a day routine. The same routines I used from the beginning I have never become over-trained nor stunted my progress. I grew from this, and sometimes I’d train every day. I pick the best exercise for one muscle group and work it for sets. I do low reps not high reps. I add weight on each set and I perform about four exercises for each bodypart.”

Question: “You are in show business as well. What’s that all about?

Dupre: I’ve appeared in a few B-films. I don’t remember their names. The titles have been changed and I’ve never seen them. The only one that comes to mind at the moment is “Sextet” with Mae West. On the stage I’ve acted in “Kisdmet” (author’s note: Steve Reeves worked in the original Broadway production of “Kismet” in the middle 1950’s. We believe Dave had the same role as Steve).

Up North when I was going to school, I studied contemporary black drama and acted in several important black plays there. Let’s see there was “No Place to be Somebody” written by Charles Gordone. I played a main character called Johnny who ran a tavern with all the dramatic situations of people in change or searching for themselves in the black theme.”

Question: “Do you have any social comments you’d like to make. ”

Dupre: “I think society is still basically racist I can identify with some of the parts that I played in the black genre like. We did South African plays, and often I played the adversary which opened my eyes to the other side of the picture too.”

Question: “Let’s return to bodybuilding, how does this apply to bodybuilding?”

Dupre: “I feel that it’s pretty much the same. I’ve felt black people have been discriminated against in bodybuilding. I’ve glanced through a couple of things that Rick Wayne has written on the subject and found them interesting.”

Question: “Okay, back to pure bodybuilding for its own sake. What about your diet?”

Dupre: “This year I’m following a different type of diet. Mostly carbohydrates and calories. That’s high carbo, high calories. It’s working excellently since I have a fast metabolism and handle it well. Last year I was on a low carbohydrate diet and looked stringy while feeling weak.

I restricted my carbs and ate more meat and vegetables. This years it’s the other way around. I’m using a milk and egg protein and I’m staying cut up. Weight training and working at an active job keep me that way. I utilize protein drinks mixing half and half with milk and egg protein twice a day eight ounces each or sixteen ounces a day. I don’t count my grams of protein and if I find myself smoothing out I cut back on one protein drink and watch my calories in the foods I eat.

I eat yogurt, and I’m leaning toward a vegetarian style, although not totally. I feel so much better on this type of diet regimen. I haven’t been bothered by the asthma I suffer from. That’s been with me all my life. I don’t seem to have as many aches and pains as I did last year.

Actually I have fifty different allergies. I react to certain foods like orange juice, chocolate and milk. I was raised on goat’s milk because I couldn’t take cow’s milk. As I got older and started drinking cow’s milk I’d always get an attack. Some people say asthma is psychosomatic, but the physical feelings I get when I experience a bout with it are very real and uncomfortable. I’ve found I’m allergic to most animals with fur.

I do have to live a sheltered life to some degree and be careful. Like if I’m dating a girl and we go out. If she has a cat or dog my date might end earlier than it should because I’d have an attack if the animal was in the house or same room with us. I could fight this a little with pills, but usually when I meet a lady I’m interested in I have to find out if she has any animals, otherwise it’s motel time.”

Question: “Is this one of the reason you began training, because all these allergies kept you weak and sickly?”

Dupre: “No, I wasn’t weak. I just didn’t have any breath. Asthma is an inflammation of the bronchial tubes in the lungs. I just seemed to be allergic to all sorts of things and that would effect my breathing mechanisms. Training helped me to build up a good deal of cardiovascular power, but it’s the dietary things that I really must take care with. Sometimes I eat ice cream, natural ice cream, but even that effects me and I get queezy if I take in too many dairy products.”

Question: “Modern bodybuilders, especially the California “Heroes of the Piece”, train twice a day and engage in all kinds of muscle building methods that make their life style both unique and precarious from the average stand-point. How do you think on that matter?”

Dupre: “I think twice a day training, especially for a beginner, is stepping off into the wrong field, because you can become dependent on it. The guys today think they can’t train otherwise. Some can’t even endure a full workout unless they go to the gym twice a day. Now if you are employed at a decent job, that’s impossible to do. I’ve always trained once a day and have tried twice method but never could get anywhere because I resent going back to the gym for a second time in one particular day. These guys don’t have any endurance to go straight through. Sometimes my workouts last three hours and I go non-stop. I think to train double-daily weakens the health of the bodybuilders and his body. Specializing like that just isn’t necessary, not even before a contest.

Question: “What’s your favorite piece of training equipment?”

Dupre: “The incline bench and the seated calf machine.”

Question: “Ah yes, another heavy duty Reeves preferential here, How do you use the incline bench?”

“I prefer the incline for chest and arm work, doing dumbbell curls and presses for pecs on it. In the curls I might start off with a pair of fifty pound dumbbells. Since I do four sets, jumping the weight ten pounds on each set, I end at nineties for the last set, and I’m doing them as strict as I can. On the last set I might only get two or three reps. At times when I’ve been stronger I’ve done more. I know that Steve Reeves used to handle poundage’s like that too on the incline, which might surprise a lot of people who think he had no real power.

On incline dumbbell presses, I’ve gone as high as 150’s for five reps. I’d clean those weights myself and rock them back into the pressing position.”

Question: “In today’s bodybuilding arena, who’s the best?”

Dupre: “I guess Frank Zane. The man has a symmetrical developed body with everything in balance. I find, interestingly enough, that a lot of young kids are coming up in that same mold.”

Question: “Who’s the worst?”

Dupre: “Most of the bodybuilders around. They have to strive for balance and they just don’t”

Question: (The interview reported here took place over dinner.) “You don’t seem to eat very much. Why?”

Dupre: “I’ve never had a big appetite. In order to gain weight I have to drink protein foods. My high calories in the form of carbohydrates are not based on refined fattening foods, but natural carbos. But I do drink a lot of beer.

The brand I prefer is ‘Lite’ beer..I love it – the stuff is a training food. It makes me gain weight, makes me stronger and replaces the sweat so my workouts are better. All the greatest old-time strongmen trained on it, and within my limits I use the same method.”

Question: “Where is most of your building done out here?”

Dupre: “I do some of my training at the Venice Beach weight pen. Down there by the ocean there’s a lot of added benefit. For instance the iodine which evaporate from the Ocean salt water into the air stimulates me and helps me cut up. I don’t train there in the winter time though, because it’s too damp. And then there’s Jim Morris’s gym in West Hollywood over on Santa Monica Boulevard. I’ve found the atmosphere quite right there for training. The people are friendly and congenial. That’s the way Jimmy maintains it. He’s kind of low key and yet thoroughly scientific in his approach.”

Question: “You said earlier that bodybuilders aren’t healthy. Why do you feel that way?”

Dupre: “They don’t have any energy reserves. You are not supposed to be tired after a workout. This is why they must train twice a day. Real training is supposed to stimulate and refresh you.

Look at some of these guys; study their faces,, the vitality is missing. Bodybuilding is designed to be a health-building sport, and then think of all the steroids that’s in their bodies. All the thyroid preparations they use to get cut up. It’s amazing the junk these kids are taking. The monkey hormones. Where can I get this? So they run across the Mexican border and try to buy what they hear somebody else is taking. Now these are the young kids I’m talking about. It’s a shame. The seasoned bodybuilders I don’t care about. They probably take everything. And it really doesn’t work. It only makes them sick and look worse. All these guys have to do is go to the supermarket or health food store to get what their bodies need. But they want an easy way out.

They say Arnold trained twice a day so we’ve got to train twice a day. Arnold was commercially backed: He didn’t have to work hard. So these kids simply come out here and they don’t want to work. All they want to do is lay on the beach, train twice a day and consume all these crazy drugs.

People don’t believe that I do what I do. I hold a full time physical job and workout once a day the way I described. They point at me and say, ‘How could he do it at thirty-two years of age?’ Well I feel great…But these kids are always too tired, they train twice a day, lack energy, and don’t work. I don’t understand that.

It’s really much better for your metabolism to be on the go. It’s a natural way to cut and recuperate from hard workouts, rather than laying around with these toxins and lactic acids staying in your fibers and blood stream. Moving helps your kidneys and lungs to get rid of them. The situation is bad for your mind too, because a lack of activity causes stagnation to set into the mental outlook.

I’ve tried that type of training, going twice a day and laying up on the Beach, while eliminating everything else. My training suffered in tempo and general performance interest…I find that life motivates me to train, not the opposite.

Bodybuilding to me is not an end in itself, but a channel to which I apply some of my basic life forces to express myself…Too many people want it overnight – they don’t want to work hard. They use way out methods which they think are simple and faster. Some of the stuff is so far out that the people who use them may never be able to come back in.”

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