Professor Attila’s Five Pound Dumbbell Exercises (1913)

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“One thousand dollars to any charity if I cannot conclusively prove that every alleged instructor of physical culture in this country is either a former pupil of mine or using one of the systems I have originated and perfected.”

Professor Attila,  1894

Can you build muscle with just five pound dumbbells? For Professor Attila, the man who kickstarted Eugen Sandow’s career, the answer was an unequivocal yes. Today’s lost read is Professor Attila’s Dumbbell Exercises, a short monograph published in 1913 by the publishing house of Richard K. Fox.

Although many may scoff at the idea of training with five pound dumbbells, it is important to remember that Attila trained in a way very different to modern lifters. For Attila, dumbbells acted merely as grippers to allow maximal tension within the muscle. For example, in doing a bicep curl you would tense every muscle in the arm and slowly execute the movement for reps. This method was hugely similar to the dynamic tension advocated by Charles Atlas and a more intense form of training than the mind-muscle connection advocated by modern bodybuilders.

Aside from describing a new way of training Attila’s work also has some fascinating insights such as the use of one legged squats or back extensions to build muscle, exercises, which truth be told, I thought were more ‘modern’ methods.

So click below, have a read and enjoy!

Professor Attila’s Five Pound Dumbbell Course (1913)

11 Comments

  1. I actually just gave this a try today and found it a fun change of pace, although I must have missed the part about tensing my muscles fully as I was going through his exercises. I’ll have to give it a try that way next time now.

    Still, the high reps make for a fun workout and I had some dumbbells just gathering dust, so either way I’ll probably make it a part of my cycle.

    1. Hey Al, thanks so much for stopping by. That’s awesome you tried it out. Have you ever done DDP Yoga? He explains tensing through a movement quite well. I found that it takes a few goes before you can keep tension through the exercise.

      As you say, its super fun isn’t it?

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