Harry Paschall, ‘The Ideal Man’, Muscle Molding (1950)


For mid-century American Iron Heads Harry Paschall represented one of the most informative and humorous writers on all things related to fitness. Through the use of cartoons and an alter ego named Bosco, Paschall provided just the right mixture of old school methodology combined with the latest ideas, exercises and techniques. If you want to know more about Paschall and the infinitely more famous Bosco, check out Clarence Bass’s detailed write up here. Alternatively if you want evidence of the great man’s writing, The Tight Slacks of Dezso Ban provides some nice samples. I digress…

Now recently I was lucky enough to pick up a second hand copy of Paschall’s 1950 work Muscle Moulding. Briefly known as the Bodybuilder’s Bible, Muscle Moulding detailed everything from nutrition to workout programmes in a simple and concise manner. It’s well worth the read and unsurprisingly given Paschall’s focus on simple exercises, much of the advice has latest the test of time. Something that caught my eye while reading it was Paschall’s standards for “the ideal man” given by Alan Calvert in 1914. Though lifting weights had progressed quite a bit since Calvert’s time, I found it interesting that Paschall was so in favour of his ideal man. While measurements are inherently subjective they do give pause for thought.

So without further adieu…

  • Height 5’ 8”
  • Weight 175 pounds
  • Neck 16 ̋
  • Chest 44″
  • Waist 32″
  • Hips 39″
  • Thigh 24″
  • Calf 15″
  • Ankle 9″
  • Biceps 16″
  • Forearm 13″
  • Wrist 7″

According to Harry,

this was actually about the average achieved by Alan Calvert’s dozen star pupils of the era…and it was only “slightly under the Eugene Sandow proportions.”

Incidentally, Harry noted that Sandow had biceps of 16.9 inches but that otherwise his measurements were within ̋ inch of the “ideal man” measurements that Calvert suggested.

Anyhow, we look at Calvert’s vision of the ideal man, and we may or may not be very impressed, especially in light of the ‘Mass Monster‘ so prevalent in modern bodybuilding. There was however more to Calvert and Paschall’s ideas. Measurements alone were not enough. Trainee’s needed strength and fitness, thus Harry’s follow up that

Now let us go further into the qualifications of the perfect man. Certainly if he is going to have so much muscle, he is going to be strong. But how fit is he, ah, that depends on you! We like to go back to an early prospectus of Calvert’s for the ideal man of strength. He said he should weigh so much, and measure so much, as we have indicated above; but then he went on and pictured such a man as we all would like to be. His finished pupil, he said, must be able to lift 150 pounds overhead with one hand; leap a five-foot fence at a bound; walk, run or swim for miles without effort or fatigue, and excel any strong laborer in any feat of lifting or strength to which the workman was accustomed. His ideal man must not only look strong, but be strong. He must be an athlete PLUS. This conception of my early teacher I accept as gospel. We must so train that we build organic strength and fitness as well as the visible muscles.

What do you think about Paschall and Calvert’s prescriptions? Are they more realistic for the steroid free trainee or have they underestimated the progress that trainees can attain? How do you match up? Let us know in the comments below!

As always… Happy Lifting!

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