Author: Conor Heffernan

Conor is Assistant Professor of Physical Culture and Sport Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. When not in the library or the gym, he likes to try his hand at writing, often with mixed results.

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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Bradley Steiner, ‘Partials, Rack Work And Isometrics’, POWERLIFTING (1972), 16-17

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In 90% of the training you do the emphasis should be on picture-perfect form AND heavy weights. Cheating is undesirable, and while it SEEMS that you are working harder because you are lifting moreyou are, in fact, working less intensively since the “heavier” work is being distributed over many hefty muscle groups – instead of being placed on the ones that you wish to work.

Sometimes – SOMETIMES – a little cheating is okay. But more often than not when the urge comes to really pile on the workload you are better doing partials. This way you will actually be putting forth the work where it is desired, with no outside assistance. Let me show you what I mean by partials.

Guest Post: A Brief History of German Gymnastics in US Public Schools and its Relevance for PE Teachers Today

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As several of the United States’ largest public school districts plan to continue online learning this fall, many physical education teachers will return to the Instagram Live workouts and virtual check-ins used to keep students active during the first months of the pandemic. The adaptability and resourcefulness they have exhibited resembles that of the subject’s first instructors. Beyond mindset, the gymnastics exercises taught in PE by German-American instructors during the late nineteenth century may serve as an example of how to conduct remote or socially distanced classes next year.

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?

Guest Post:The Early History of 4 Famous Sporting Countries

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There are a lot of countries renowned for their zealous sports fandoms; however, this hasn’t always been the case. In order to get where they are now, various sports had to evolve and fight for their status in society. This involved the formation of early organizations, governing bodies and teams. So, here are several things you should know about the early history of four famous sporting countries.

Forgotten Exercises: The Scott Press

The first Mr. Olympia and one of the 60s most admired bodybuilders, Larry Scott is rarely credited these days as being a bodybuilding great. Whereas Zane, Arnold or Olivia are regularly, and rightly, praised for their physiques, Scott is too often seen as an afterthought. Trained by Vince Gironda and the winner of two Mr. Olympia’s Scott’s thoughtful training style should not be underestimated. It was, after all, Scott who helped popularise Gironda’s preacher curl in the 60s and 70s.

Working together, Gironda and Scott made quite the formidable pair. The object of today’s post, the forgotten Scott Press, is testament to that statement. So in today’s brief post, we’re going to examine the history of the Scott Press before giving some words as to how to best implement it in your own training programmes.

Guest Post: The Evolution of the Gymnasium Over 3,000 Years

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Today, everyone knows what a gym looks like whether they go to one or not. However, if someone had to walk into a gymnasium in Athens 2,500 years ago, there would exist striking differences from a modern-day gym. For the most part, it was an open-air space, unlike a four-walled facility. With no fixed equipment, only men could work out at the gym. Olympic sports such as discus, javelin, running, and wrestling was practiced making it resemble more with an athletics venue.

Forgotten Exercises: Kazmaier Shrugs

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So admittedly I am a massive fan of the World’s Strongest Man competition having grown up watching clips from the 1980s and 1990s. As a child I marvelled at the strength of Geoff Capes, the ‘Viking’ Jón Páll Sigmarsson and I even had a soft spot for Rick ‘Grizzly’ Brown. There was one strongman however, who always captured my attention and it was the immortal Bill Kazmaier.

An accomplished powerlifter, strongman and, for a brief period, wrestler, Kazmaier is rightly counted as one of the strongest men to have walked the earth. Looking at his old World’s Strongest Man footage, it’s impossible not to be impressed with the man’s sheer size. As a powerlifter, Kazmaier totalled over 2,000 lbs. and his body reflected that. Like other strongmen and accomplished lifters, Kazmaier regularly devised new methods and approaches to his training, including the Kazmaier shrug.

Guest Post: The History of Sport in New Zealand

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New Zealanders are well-known for being active, outdoorsy and healthy people, so it’s not a surprise that sport has been something that unites the population and makes them proud of their identity and their country. Small countries like New Zealand treat sporting success as something very significant since it can help put them on an international stage. While the beginnings of sports were in NZ were slow, the late 1800s brought a lot of good for the nation, and New Zealanders are still going strong in many sporting events. Here’s a little introduction to Kiwi sporting history and their success today.

Guest Post: 5 Things to Know About Menopause Weight Loss Strategies

Before the medicalization of menopause that occurred in 1970, the term and the notion of this new stage of a woman’s life encompassed many a strange thing. While different cultures observed different symptoms as the clear signs of menopause, so we have the western predominant hot flashes, poor vision in India, and shoulder pain in Japan, treatments were all the more peculiar. Crushed ovaries of animals as a form of estrogen therapy, or testicular juice were both considered acceptable as a way to help women cope with the lack of estrogen and other bodily changes.