The History of Weightlifting Belts

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Owing to the increasing popularity of powerlifting, cross fit and olympic lifting, chances are you either own a weightlifting belt or see them on a regular basis on the gym floor. A means of bracing the abdomen, weightlifting belts are a source of controversy in the weightlifting world between those who see them as legitimate tools in the quest for heavier weights and those purists who prefer all lifts be done without any equipment whatsoever. For the majority of us, they’re simply a novelty to break out on a deadlift PR.

In today’s post, we’re going to explore the history of the weightlifting belt, from ancient mythology to the present day. Far from a new phenomenon then, the belt has long been a lifter’s friend.

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Training with Titans: George Hackenschmidt

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Picture the scene. It’s 1911 and famed Wrestler George Hackenschmidt has finally retired from the squared circle. Looking forward to a life of relaxation and leisure, the man from Estonia grants you the privilege of an interview. In his strength and wrestling career, Hackenschmidt has popularised the Bear Hug, the Hack Squat and even set a world record in the Bench Press. His athletic exploits have dazzled crowds around the world for years. So when you sit down with him to talk training, a nervousness enters your body. The ‘Russian Lion’ is known for taking no prisoners.

Q] You have your first question lined up. Nervously you look George in the eye and timidly ask how to become strong like him…

Puffing out his chest, Hackenschmidt bellows out

“It is only by exercising with heavy weights that any man can hope to develop really great strength.”

Bigger Faster Stronger: The Mr. Olympia

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Bodybuilders, like most other professional athletes in the last four decades, have undergone an unprecedented change. Whereas the first Mr. Olympia weighed in at just over 200 lbs, the modern champion is more likely to be sixty pounds heavier and leaner as well.

While the reasons for this, at least in bodybuilding, are clear, it is still interesting to reflect upon this change. Today’s short post discusses the average weight for the overall Mr. Olympia since it’s inception and shows how and when ‘the mass monsters’ gained a foothold in the sport.

Guest Post: Protein Supplementation – A Complete History

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Image provided by Zeyus Media

Whey protein is probably the most widely consumed fitness supplement in existence. It’s a simple product. It contains protein, which is a vital part of building muscle. Without enough protein, your body will not be able to repair itself as effectively, and your growth will slow.

The reason many people turn to Whey Protein as another source of protein, is because not only is it such a simple and easy source, but it’s relatively inexpensive. It’s also one of the best sources of protein you can get, even among whole foods, only beaten by the egg.

Gaining Muscle and Losing Fat: The ABCDE Diet Experiment

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Gaining muscle and losing fat at the same time is often held up as the Holy Grail of body recomposition. A desirable goal, that advanced or even intermediate trainees are now told is only possible for beginners or those using chemical means.

Today’s post examines the rather lengthy sounding Anabolic Burst Cycle of Diet and Exercise or ABCDE, an eating program devised in the late 1990s by scientist/bodybuilder Torbjorn Akerfeldt, the ABCDE promised to promote both muscle growth and fat loss amongst drug-free trainees. Publicised in detail by Muscle Magazine in 2000, the diet quickly became the de rigour form of eating for gym goers across the world…at least initially.

Though simple in design, as we shall see, the ABCDE proved to be hugely ineffective for some as reports of excessive fat gain were numerous. Nevertheless, some have achieved good recompositions using the approach, making it worthy of our attention.

Joe Weider’s Power Bracelet

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Joe Weider is undoubtedly a divisive figure in the history of bodybuilding. Influential to the nth degree regarding the modern climate of the sport, Weider has been continually criticised for selling snake oil supplements to a naive public.

Today’s post briefly examines Joe’s ‘Hell-Bent for Leather N’Lead’ product, a set of bracelets brought out by the Canadian entrepreneur in the early 1970s. Utilising the bodies of then Mr. Olympia Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mr. America Roger Callard, Weider promised incredible muscle gain and strength through the sheer act of wearing one of his patented bracelets.

Bodybuilding’s First Champion: William Murray

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While many credit Eugen Sandow as the father of modern day bodybuilding, very little is said about William, ‘Billy’, Murray, the world’s first recognisable bodybuilding champion. Today’s post will look at the interaction between Sandow, the unofficial father of bodybuilding and Murray, its first official king.

So who was William Murray? How did he win? And why has his place in bodybuilding history been largely forgotten?

Randall M. Taylor, ’18-Min Home Dumbbell Workout’Planet Muscle, 4: 1, (2001)

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…For many years serious athletes and bodybuilders have known that free weights build muscle size, strength and power faster than any other form of resistance training. Today’s smart bodybuilders are also acutely aware that the process does not take as much time as many have erroneously believed and that, by using dumbbells (because they DO require balance), the whole process happens more quickly than with machines or even free-weight barbells. Nearly all serious bodybuilders use free-weight barbells and dumbbells almost exclusively to do their ominous thing.

…Over the last 12 years, ongoing American University Athletic Department and PE Research has verified that a free weight, all- PowerBlock dumbbell program produces high levels of strength and size. These great results were accomplished even with very short (as little as 12-30 minutes duration), high intensity workouts.

Dennis B. Weis, The Lee Haney & Fred C. Hatfield Seminar

Recently I had the good fortune to obtain an audiotape seminar on nutrition and training. The seminar was sponsored by Bio Chem Supplements (a division of Country Life) and was hosted by eight-time Mr. Olympia Lee Haney and power lifting icon “Dr Squat” Fred C. Hatfield.

As I began to listen to the audio seminar, two things became quickly apparent. First, this seminar wasn’t about pushing or praising the Bio Chem product mix. Second, the seminar wasn’t a sham toying with the emotions of easily manipulated bodybuilders. The seminar is about two superstars with the right credentials talking about the “Supplement Game.”