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 the Assault Bike

Assault bikes are, for want of a better phrase, awful. Just awful. I remember how excited I was when my gym first got an old air bike. I hopped on, busted a gut for 2 minutes and then jumped off, vowing never again to use such a horrid machine. Funnily most people I chat to have a similar story to tell.

Now there are a few people I train with who claim to love the assault bike. Such an admission proves that there are indeed sociopaths present in all walks of life …

More seriously, the assault bike is now one of the more popular cardio machines. Used by Crossfitters, professional athletes and the average gym goer, the assault bike has grown in popularity over the past decade and a half.

Today’s post looks at the history of the air bike which, I was surprised to learn, is far longer than I gave it credit for. We’ll examine its origins, original markets and, of course, its rapid rise in usage.

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Harry B. Paschall, ‘How Barbell Men Go Wrong’, Muscle Moulding (London, 1950)

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You cannot spend a third of a century around physical culturists and barbell men without coming to a few conclusions. You see many enthusiasts who thrive on their training schedules and attain a perfectly satisfactory degree of physical development. You see others work and strain without noticeable improvement for months or years. Quite often these latter cases come up with the time-worn excuse that they are simply not the type to gain. Some experts even have given various names to these unsuccessful barbell men and inform them with regret that they cannot change their type and they are therefore doomed to failure.

The History of the Cambered Bar

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Cambered bars, that is bars with a slight or pronounced bend, are one of the more niche elements of the gym floor. While many of us will be familiar with the EZ Bar, undoubtedly the most popular form of cambered bars, far fewer will have used Safety Squat, Buffalo or straight Cambered Bars as part of our routines. Somewhat unluckily for me, a recent shoulder problem has forced me to use safety bar squats as part of my routine.

Normally the preserve, at least in my mind, of the powerlifting community, the Safety Bar squat has allowed me to continue training my legs at a time when the traditional squat set up of pining the shoulders back is nothing short of agony. Aside from facilitating my obsessive need to squat, the Safety Bar provides the subject for today’s post. Who invented these bars? What advantages do they provide and how can we effectively use them? These are just some of the questions dealt with in today’s post.

Vince Gironda, ‘Common Errors in Bodybuilding’, The Master Series of Nutritional Bodybuilding (Iron Guru Publishing, 1983), 5-7

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Gironda is undoubtedly a site favourite. Known for his unique style of training and nutritional approach, Gironda didn’t pull any punches when it came to giving his opinion. The below errors, 35 in total, may raise a few eyebrows. Nevertheless they demonstrated Gironda’s willingness to give his opinion!

Guest Post: The History of Sports Uniforms

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Sports uniforms have come a long way since they first appeared. Originally, the idea was to have all the players in the same team dressed the same in order for their teammates to see them better and not mistake them for an opponent. However, very soon after they were introduced, sports uniforms started representing the team’s spirit and values, as well as striking fear into the hearts of opponents. Nowadays, they are designed to provide maximum comfort to players wearing them, while at the same time designers are trying to make them as appealing as possible, so that millions, or even billions of fans around the world would also buy the uniform of their favorite club. So, let’s take a look at how these uniforms have changed when it comes to the most popular sports around the world.

Chris Dickerson’s Training Philosophy (1981)

ironman-bodybuilding-fitness-magazine_1_e0f34dbdfd438d197511a149b6118c7d.jpgIt’s difficult to elaborate on my bodybuilding philosophy. Bodybuilding has become such an integral part of my life that it’s almost impossible for me to identify where the bodybuilding stops and the rest of my life starts.

I think it’s important initially to understand that bodybuilding is my life, and it has been my life since I became serious about the sport 15 years ago. To be a truly great champion in any sport — and particularly in one as all-consuming as bodybuilding — you must be so dedicated that the sport becomes completely woven into the warp and woof of your life.

What I can do in this article is give you my views on five factors crucial to any man’s (or woman’s) success in bodybuilding. These factors are training, nutrition, rest and recuperation, mental attitude and skin preparation. Let’s look at each of these individually.

John McCallum, ‘Training for Gaining’, The Keys to Progress

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A bunch of us went down to the gym one time to watch Reg Park work out. He was in town doing a show. We lined up along the wall with our eyeballs hanging on our cheeks and tried not to look too jealous when he started lifting.

Park walked in looking more like Hercules than Herc did. He was weighing around 235 and it all bulged. Every time he moved he looked like he was coming through his skin.
The kid standing beside me poked me with his elbow. “Check the arms,” he whispered.
I poked him back and whispered from the corner of my mouth like they do on T.V.

Guest Post: The History of Golf

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Photo by Obi Onyeador on Unsplash

Golf is one of the oldest sports in the world. Since the time of Caesar to modern golf stars like Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy, this game went through a lot of changes, but it endured all of them. While you can appreciate this game without knowing anything about it, having a few historical information in your sleeve will definitely help you develop true admiration.

Ireland’s First Bodybuilding Show

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Since beginning my study of physical culture several years ago, I have been fascinated by  the extent of Irish physical culture. Part of the British Empire in the early twentieth century, Ireland was very much influenced by the broader spread of physical culture in Great Britain. So close were the two regions that the Irish physical culture industry was largely predicated on what was happening in Britain, but more specifically, in London.

Thus in the late 1890s and early 1900s numerous Irishmen, of all age ranges, began writing in to British physical culture periodicals seeking advice, support and kudos for their interest in purposeful exercise. Without simplifying things too much, Irish physical culture at this time was very much a poor imitation of broader British developments. When a British Amateur Weightlifting Association was founded in the early 1900s, a smaller Irish branch was opened the same year. Where Britain had physical culture magazines, Ireland had physical culture newspaper columns. What Britain did, Ireland followed and this extended to bodybuilding competitions.

Jeff Preston, ‘The 1991 Mr. Olympia: The End of an Era’, Iron Age (c.2003)

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I sat poised watching the clock with my finger in the ready position. I knew to get the desired seat I would have to have my ticket ordered the second that it went on sale. I called with speedy precision and connected with the agent who took all the needed

information and we both waited for the event to come up on the computer screen. “Joe Weider’s 1991 Mr. Olympia” appeared as “now on sale” and the VIP ticket was sold. First row, center section! It could not be any better.