Dave Mulvane: Senior Citizen, Mentzer Pupil

by Paul Skinner, MS RD LDN CPT


Before his first weight training session, Dave Mulvane weighed about 157 pounds at 5'7." Currently, he is 165 pounds and has lost 2 pounds of body-fat. He has a small frame with and carries 10% body-fat. Overall, Dave has gained 10 pounds of muscle within 14 months.

I first met Dave at a dietitian seminar that concerned the use of ergogenic aides in sports nutrition. He and I were the only two attendees who asked questions about supplements. The overall lack of interest from the rest of the audience made them seem like mannequins in comparison.

It had been two years since I had spoken with Dave when I bumped into him at a bookstore in January of 2008. We talked about our views on nutrition, and other supplements that help with heart health and cancer. I then hit on the topic of exercise and inquired if he did any and if so, what? Surprisingly, he performed no structured exercise.

He alluded to the fact that he used to lift weights at age 20, and his best lifts were a squat of 440 pounds and a bench press of 135. He worked out daily and each workout would last many hours. He stated he worked as "hard as he could." My comeback was "No you did not, you worked out as long as you could. If you worked out hard, you would have collapsed after 20 minutes. Furthermore, you would need at least a week to recover and grow stronger before the next workout." Instead of the usual skepticism I received from others, Dave stopped talking and starred at me intently while I explained the theory of Mike Mentzer's HEAVY DUTY™ High Intensity Training.

After my explanation, he looked at me with a smile and said with certainty "Today, something intuitively said to me - EXERCISE! Here we are talking about weight training as though our meeting was serendipitous." He further added, "I suspect this method may work because of my irregular progress with various sports activities." I asked Dave if he would consider being my workout partner. He thought about it for a moment and said yes.

Our training journey together started and has continued through today. Due to Dave's active lifestyle, he was in fairly good condition so I immediately launched him into the "Heavy Duty regimen". We started with the Peck Deck. I must admit, my expectations were not high until I witnessed him attacking the weight like a lion tearing into an antelope. Dave thrived on my yelling, expletives, and of course positive comments so that he strived for the gold standard of true failure.

After our many months of training together, we sat down to discuss his deep passion for nutrition and how weight training became a high intensity labor of love. "When did you first become interested in nutrition? What was the impetus?" Before answering, Dave had a somewhat reflective appearance and maudlin tone to his voice, "I was hyperactive as a child, my adrenal glands were weakened, even as a young adult I wouldn't date because I did not know how I'd feel physically. At age 28, I started having chest pains, but if you asked me how I felt, I would say I felt great."

"By the time I was 33 years old my hair was falling out; I was two years away from having my teeth pulled. I had the blahs. I must admit I smoked three packs of cigarettes a day and I drank alcohol. When I looked in the mirror, it was obvious that I was not healthy. This was when I hit rock bottom," he said with a melancholy tone.

At this point, it is important for me to explain some details about Dave's physical health early on in his life and his life style, so that you might find inspiration from his experiences and his successful accomplishments. Dave's mindset and commitment for a healthier body is an example of what Mike Mentzer meant when he said: "One cannot actualize his goals until he visualizes them clearly in the mind's eye."

"I had a severe heart attack at age 34, and I blacked out while at work, slipping on snow and mud. My wife took me to the hospital, and I forced myself to walk twenty feet until I had to sit down and rest. The chest pains scared the hell out of me!" Finally, my wife convinced them to give me an EKG, and it confirmed that I did in fact have a heart attack. It was this episode that inclined me to do whatever it took, whatever risk was necessary to get better or die trying," he stated in a challenging tone.

"Explain your experience when you went back to school to get your nutrition degree," I inquired. "Well, first I did everything to change myself, including changing my way of thinking, quit smoking, started taking supplements, and of course I changed my way of eating, quit drinking alcohol and coffee," he said proudly. "After about a year and one-half, I started to feel better, and I tried to help people around me who were suffering with illnesses. The problem was I did not have any credibility," he said in a frustrated tone. "I went back to school in 1984 and obtained my Bachelor's followed by my Master's Degree in Nutrition for the purpose of providing the best possible advice to my customers," he said contented.

"Later on you started lifting weights again because you noticed you started losing muscle mass," I asked. "I thought that I could get everything I needed from food and supplements and that exercise was a foolish waste of time," he exclaimed. "I concluded that at this stage of my life perhaps it was necessary, and I went to the gym for about 3 weeks; quite frankly, I hated weight training. I had to drive a long distance to the gym, workout for a couple of hours, and socialize a bit, take a shower, and so forth; it ate up most of the entire day! I did not enjoy the exercise," he said in a disgusted manner. "I don't know why I wasn't enjoying it, but perhaps because it was painful," he laughed. "The workouts were long and boring with many sets and reps. I felt that I wasn't getting the gain for the pain I was enduring and that deep down inside there was a more efficient way of exercising that would yield better results. I was putting in more than half a day working out, and I had to ask myself do I really want to do this, and if that is going to be my social life am I going to be satisfied? The answer was no!" he said firmly.

"We have been training together using Mike Mentzer's HEAVY DUTY™ high-intensity style once a week. Do you enjoy this type of training?" I asked. "He said with enthusiasm, I do. It is almost like a victory of some kind. A minimal amount of time invested for the maximal gain. I feel and see the difference in the amount of muscle mass. The book entitled "High Intensity Training the Mike Mentzer Way" really helped me grasp the concept of intensity, volume, and frequency. I now feel energized before each workout."

"Overall Dave, what have you learned from using HEAVY DUTY™ high-intensity training?" I asked. He replied with a smile, "I learned what I suspected when we first met. I found that the results were even more real than what I expected, working a muscle group once a week to get good results, and of course, proper weight training technique."

I thanked Dave for his time, and now feel that I would like to pass along the incredible goal that Dave met with major physical illnesses, as well as his success in bodybuilding. Following are the workout exercises and his impressive improvement during the last 14-month period:

MARCH 2008 MAY 2009
Peck deck 50 lbs. x 10 reps Peck deck 90 lbs. x 10 reps
Pull down 70 lbs. x 16 reps Pull down 140 lbs x 25 reps
Upright row 20 lbs. x 12 reps Upright row 70 lbs x 12 reps
Close grip bench 40 lbs. x 6 reps Close grip bench 175 lbs. x 7 reps
Seated row 80 x 12 reps Seated row 140 x 6 reps

The following photos show a lean, well developed, healthy physique at age 69:

Dave Mulvane

Dave Mulvane

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