Steve Reeves’ Mr. America Workout

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Undoubtedly one of the most successful and aesthetic bodybuilders of the past century, Steve Reeves holds a special place in the hearts of iron lifters. Known for his remarkably genetics and interesting exercise variations, Reeves was the poster boy for mid-century bodybuilding.

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Vince Gironda’s Beginner Bodybuilding Course

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Well known as one of the greatest trainers of his age, Vince Gironda’s name has become synomous with bodybuilding champions from Larry Scott to Arnold Schwarzenegger. Though Gironda made his name producing some of the greatest bodybuilding champions the sport has ever seen, he sent countless hours with beginners and intermediates seeking to sculpt their bodies or build muscle.

Today’s post discusses Vince’s general bodybuilding approach for beginners with the caveat being that Vince was known for changing exercises based on each trainer’s physique. Nevertheless, there is much to learn from his more generic approaches.

Guest Post: History of Gyms: Then and Now

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Whether you want to get toned, lose weight, gain weight or just spend some time active, gyms have become such a staple part of our routines. There seems to be a gym on every corner, and they are all filled with an amazing variety of equipment. But have you ever wondered how this all started? When were the first gyms opened, and were they anything similar to the ones we frequent today? Knowing the history of it might not be crucial for building up muscle and stamina, but it can give us an interesting insight to how similar or different we are to our ancestors and where the future of gyms might be heading.

The Planet Muscle Growth Squad, ‘Growing Muscle’, Planet Muscle, Volume 4 (2001).

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…Have you ever noticed all the people who come into the gym and do the same training every time? You know who they are. They are the skinny guys in the dingy T-shirts, sans belt and with baggy cargo shorts that come down to their shins.

…These misinformed wannabes always do the same exercises, the same sequence of exercises, the same sets, and the same reps and take the same amount of rest between sets and/or exercises. They move their training weights in the same mindless, drone-like ways, never incorporating new or maturing training principles. They usually are accompanied by a so-called “training partner” who does nothing but chatter endlessly about Monday Night’s football game.

The First Weightlifting Supplements

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Weightlifting supplements, despite their ubiquity nowadays, are a relatively new addition to the realm of weightlifting. While the practice of eating mystical substances in the hope of improved athletic performance dates to Greco-Roman times, the marketing of explicit ‘body building’ supplements is a far more recent phenomenon.

Dating really to the emergence of physical culture in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, these supplements represented the first rudimentary efforts to market foods explicitly for those interested in picking heavy things up and putting them back down again. As expected, these supplements centred on muscle building, celebrity endorsements and benefits extending far beyond strength.

The History of 21s

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What teen or young lifter hasn’t been seduced by the idea of bigger biceps? Indeed in the bodybuilding universe of both males and females, no pose is more iconic that the front or back double bicep pose.

A difficult set of muscles to grow, except of course for the genetically gifted, the biceps have been subjected to a variety of tortuous and bizarre experiments aimed at growth. The subject of today’s short post, being one such example.

As a quick recap, ’21s’ is the name generally given to a set of bicep curls wherein seven partial reps are performed at the bottom of the movement, seven more at the top of the movement before finally, seven full reps are performed as one continuous set.

Long associated with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s repertoire of bodybuilding tricks, the purpose of today’s post is to highlight a potentially different story. A story that, in an odd occurrence, includes Arnold as a side character, away from the main spotlight.

The History of the Pull Up

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There are some exercises so basic, so ubiquitous and so difficult that their origins are often taken for granted. Previously when detailing the history of the squat, we encountered the difficultly of tracing a movement found in every culture and arguably every human movement. The Chin Up and the Pull Up exercises offer a similar problem.

The purpose of today’s post is not to discover the inventor of the pull up, if such a thing is possible, but rather to discuss its evolution over the past two centuries from gymnastic exercise to Crossfit controversies. As will become clear, even a simple movement carries a lot of history.

Lee Labrada, ‘Blast Your Chest, To Amazing Mass!’, Planet Muscle (March – April 2003).

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It was one of those rare moments where I thought I was dreaming. In fact, that would be putting it mildly! It was one of those rare moments in my 18 years when I was so blown away by what I was experiencing that I can barely describe it to you. It was 1978, the event, the Southern Cup Bodybuilding Championships in Tampa, Florida.

I had just witnessed top Mr. Olympia contender and poser extraordinaire Ed Corney, along with a young buck called The Golden Eagle, guest pose before the sell-out crowd (of which I was a part). After the winners had been announced, Sirs Ed and Tom Platz, surrounded by a sea of rabid fans, moved gingerly towards the front of the hall. The auditorium was almost clear when suddenly; I spotted the biggest bodybuilder I had ever seen. “Ohmygod! Is that Mike Katz?” I more than mumbled out loud. Mike Katz was one of the stars of M&F and Pumping Iron and there he was! Mike’s mind- blowing 60-inch expanded chest was so immense, he could balance a full glass of water on it without spilling a drop, and now, there he was! Just 2 weeks earlier, I watched Mike in Pumping Iron, and he was in the flesh in front of me, a super-hero, descending from Mount Olympus to walk amongst us mortals.

Maxick, Willpower and Muscle Control (1910)

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THE SERIOUS student of muscle-control will soon become aware of the fact that his will- power had become greater, and his mental faculties clearer and capable of increased concentration.

Thus it will be observed that the controlling of the muscles reacts upon the mind and strengthens the mental powers in exactly the same proportion that the control of the muscles strengthens the body and limbs.

Bill Kazmier, ‘Competitive Squatting Style and Techniques’ from Bill Kazmier, The Squat and Deadlift (Crain Power-Plus, 1981)

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The following extract comes from a fascinating twelve page pamphlet I recently got my hands on. Written by the Strongman and Powerlifter Bill Kazmier, the pamphlet details everything a budding strength enthusiast needs to learn to perform on the platform. Over the next few weeks we’ll be dissecting Kazmier’s advice for the Squat, Deadlift and the Bench Press

In the meantime, do enjoy the Strongman’s general tips and advice for performing the perfect powerlifting squat. As always…Happy Lifting!