Author: Conor Heffernan

Conor is currently researching Ireland's physical culture movement as a PhD student at University College Dublin. When not in the library or the gym, he likes to try his hand at writing....with mixed results.

Mark Berry’s Simple But Effective Workout Course (1930s)

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A phenomenon unknown to the modern lifter is the importance of workout posters within the gymnasium. Scattered across the gym walls, workout courses from Joe Weider, Mark Berry and a host of other weight lifting aficionados would highlight simple and effective workouts for both the beginner and advanced trainee.

Such courses would usually come in a series of stages. Stage one would be aimed primarily at the beginner or novice lifter. Including all the basic compound exercises, this phase of gym going life would continue for several weeks or months before the trainee was encouraged to move on. After that, stage two would commence. Exercises remained similar but the instructions and ordering changed.

This cycle would continue ad nauseum until the lifter either began designing their own routines or switched to another mentor’s course. It was a time honoured way of earning one’s gym stripes. And indeed should you still train in an old-school gym, such courses will undoubtedly line the walls.

With that in mind, today’s post examines Mark Berry’s three simple but effective weightlifting routines as taken from his 1930s mail order workout course. Featuring a young John Grimek, the course was targeted at lifters across the life cycle. For those in search of a good full body workout routine, look no farther.

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Guest Post: No Meat Athlete: Is It Possible to Achieve High Performance as a Vegan?

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Vegan nutrition is often perceived as healthier than standard, meat-based ones and it’s completely understandable – there’s nothing wrong about basing your diet on vegetables, fruits, and seeds, and trying to keep it as natural as possible. Add a humane note to the whole story and you’ll see why many high-level athletes decide to give it a shot and go animal products-free. However, there are several problems vegan athletes face sooner or later, so the question is – is it possible to achieve high performance as a vegan?

Pushed For Time? Make Exercise Suit Your Schedule

One of the common complaints amongst those who don’t exercise is that they don’t have enough time. Whilst others would argue that it’s not difficult to carve 30 minutes out of your day for the gym, it is tough to fit everything in. Early starts, late finished, not to mention family and social commitments, you start to realize how tough it is for some of us to find time to exercise. And when we do eventually have an hour free? Chances are you won’t want to put on your workout gear and head to the gym. So what are the alternatives…

Reg Park – How I Trained for the 1958 Mr. Universe

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An ideal for Arnie and countless others, Reg Park was one of the biggest bodybuilding names of the mid-century. Known for his powerful physique and raw strength, it’s no surprise that even though the great man has passed away, many still follow his old workout routines to a tee.

Today’s post was generously given by a reader of the blog who stumbled across an article written by Park following the 1958 Mr. Universe. It details his training, supplementation and general state of mind leading up to the competition. I’m sure you’ll find it as interesting and informative as I did.

Now in the interests of accuracy, and my own laziness, the article will appear below just as it did in 1958…Enjoy!

Guest Post: 5 Things to Consider Before Joining the Gym

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Joining the gym is probably one of the best decisions you can make for your health. The workouts don’t have to be intense and the goals you set don’t have to be too ambitious, but any sort of physical activity will drastically improve your physical and mental health. This doesn’t mean that it’s something that should be decided on hastily and without proper planning. The facilities and equipment you choose should be well suited to your goals and the pace at which you are willing to work.

Guest Post: How to Prepare Before Going to the Gym

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When you start exercising, you’ll realize that the more you do it – the better you get at it. You will be able to exercise longer as you become more flexible, stronger, and faster. However, as reaching any other goal in life, good preparation is required.

If you’ve never gone to the gym before, there are certain steps you should take to be ready for your first workout.

Forgotten Bodybuilding Exercises: The Gironda Motorcycle Row

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How do I train my back? A common concern for weightlifters, bodybuilders and the average Joe or Jane seeking to get the most from their training.

We all know the basics: chin ups, rowing movements, pulldowns and of course the deadlift. But what else can be done to throw some variation into our training systems. Well, as we so often do on this website, we decided to return to Vince Gironda’s bag of tricks for inspiration.

Aside from pulldown movements utilising a range of hand positions and his own unique style of chins ups, Gironda was greatly fond of the 45 degree row or the motorcycle row as it has been termed in later years. Seen by the Iron Man as one of the quintessential back builders, the Motorcycle row is undoubtedly a neat addition to your regular workout.

How to Row Gironda Style

Pumping Iron II and the Birth of Female Bodybuilding

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Who can forget Pumping Iron? The iconic bodybuilding movie which pitted an enviably charismatic Arnold Schwarzenegger against Lou Ferrigno, the man who later became the Incredible Hulk.

A tragic epic of Homeric proportions, the initial Pumping Iron has been credited with helping bodybuilding become a more mainstream sport or at least pursuit, in the eyes of many. Furthermore it became a source of inspiration for hundreds of thousands of gym goers seeking to replicate the muscularity, determination and definition of the men on screen. In short, Pumping Iron helped normalise and accelerate male bodybuilding’s popularity.

But what then of Pumping Iron’s sequel Pumping Iron II, which focused exclusively on female bodybuilding? Why was it made? What impact did it have? And just where can one watch the original?

Every Which Way But Loose: Gary Strydom’s Chest Training Turns his Pecs Inside Out for Awesome Mass

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Written by Jerry Brainum in 1991, the following article details then Bodybuilding prospect Gary Strydom’s impressive training routine. As readers of the blog will remember, Strydom dominated the briefly run World Bodybuilding Federation run by WWE’s Vince McMahon. Owing it would seem more to internal politics than meritocracy, many feel that Strydom was never given his dues within the Iron Game.

Gary Strydom hates competing. But he loves bodybuilding, and loves the fans. If it were up to him, Gary would prefer giving exhibitions and seminars and forget about competing.

Skeptics may say that Gary Strydom is afraid to lay it on the line, that he doesn’t want to get onstage and match muscles with the major league players in bodybuilding. How else to explain his absence from the Mr. Olympia ranks two years in a row?

These critics have short memories. They forget the ripped-to-shreds Gary Strydom of the 1988 Mr. Olympia who placed a respectable fifth in his first attempt at that title. On the considerably heavier Strydom who pushed Mike Christian in every show on the Grand Prix circuit last year. No. Strydom’s reluctance to compete doesn’t stem from fear.

A History of Pre-Workout Supplements

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Situated halfway between the gym and the nightclub, pre-workout supplements have taken on a remarkable popularity amongst gym goers in recent years. Labelled with ‘hardcore’ names such as ‘Anarchy’, ‘Mr. Hyde’ or ‘Rage’, the pre-workout supplement has become a staple amongst portions of the lifting community.

Indeed, one may be forgiven for thinking that bodybuilders, powerlifters, weight lifters and just about anyone else who has ever graced the gym floor have been using these supplements since the dawn of gym going. This however, is not the case. In fact, the first major pre workout supplements did not hit the markets since the 1980s.

So what came before the pre-workout supplement? What did bodybuilders do in the time of physical culture or the time of Arnold and co.? Furthermore when did pre-workouts hit the market? And why did they become so popular? An ambitious set of questions, which today’s article seeks to answer.