Profile: Dave Tate
From special education classes to CEO of a multimillion-dollar fitness company, Dave Tate’s journey will inspire you to overcome and succeed.
What are the main differences between these two styles of training?
I had to learn how to stop training the movement and start training the muscle. They’re two completely different things.
For example, with the bench press, I tore both my pecs during my career, so I had to learn how to bench without using my pecs if I wanted to compete in powerlifting. That meant I was primarily using my shoulders and my triceps. My bench press was a shoulder rotation and a triceps extension.
When I started directly training my chest again, I had no idea what to do, and the weights I had to use in order to start movements with a chest contraction were so ridiculously light that it was frustrating. I had to understand that this would be a gradual process and that the muscle was the thing, not the movement. Once I made that adjustment, my strength came back.
What can other guys take away from the way you currently train?
Right now, I’m using a bodybuilding-based program. John “Mountain Dog” Meadows writes my programs, and I modify them based on a sort of block periodization model, with 12-week training blocks. I think other guys can get something out of this because it’s kept me injury-free and because things change often enough to keep it interesting.
For the first 12 weeks, I try to get as strong as I can. I can’t handle that for more than 12 weeks because I’ll break down, but for that initial period, I’m not worried about contractions or tempo or anything like that. It’s just old-school bodybuilding, trying to lift more weight and do more reps every time.
The next 12 weeks are kind of a “stagnation” phase where I’ll still do my compound lifts in a movement-based way, trying to use the same weights I used for the first segment of the program. The difference happens with my smaller movements. There, I’ll take things to a complete stretch and flex and make it all about the muscle.
For the last 12 weeks, everything — even the compound exercises — is about tempo, contraction and flexing. The weights will drop, and I’ll tighten up my diet and try to get leaner.
This sequence has kept me injury-free for a long time now. I’ve had no soft-tissue injuries, and I’ve really been able to keep joint problems at bay.