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.

Guest Post: The Roots and History of Golf

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As with any other modern sport, the early origins of golf stretch thousands of years back. A game similar to what we know today as golf was played during the reign of Julius Caesar, and has gone through various changes until it became the modern-day sport. From striking a feather-stuffed ball with club-shaped tree branches, to a game where a leather ball was hit with the intention of reaching a target, several hundred yards away, to hitting a ball through hoops using a hammer ‒ various nations had different versions of the game, but the roots of today’s game are traced back to 1457 in Scotland.

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The History of the Goblet Squat

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Some exercises prove so simple and effective that we often take their existence for granted. The goblet squat has for me, been one such exercise. Over the past five years I’ve helped numerous friends begin their journeys into the lifting world with the aid of this trusty mechanism. While not everyone is as enthusiastic about the Goblet Squat as me, the exercise is a great primer for people learning about correct squat mechanisms. Furthermore it has proven a godsend in opening my hips before a heavy set of squats on leg day.

So what exactly is a Goblet Squat? Who invented it and how did it rise to popularity?

The History of the Zercher Squat

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Mentioned at various points on this particular site, the Zercher Squat has been described by many as one of the most effective but painful methods of building big quads. Uncomfortable to the nth degree, this lift isn’t exactly the most popular amongst gym goers. A point which leads us into today’s post. Why invent such a painful method of lifting? When did it come about and why has it remained with us today?

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!

The History of the Olympic Barbell

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A friend of mine recently made a very serious and from my perspective funny discovery. Having spent months training in a University gym replete with shiny new barbells, he decided to join me in my own gym for a catch up and quick training session. Ever the opportunist, he decided it was ‘Chest Day’ and first up was the Bench Press.

Engaging in some light hearted, at least he thought it was light hearted, joking we began loading up the plates. As his outbursts began to reach a crescendo, I made my way to the water fountain for some peace of mind. Hearing a squeal I turned around to see my friend pinned under the bar at a weight he assured me was ‘nothing.’ Thankfully his pride was the only thing injured and next time round he had me spotting him. The result? Still nothing.

Dr. Ken Leistner, ‘Hip and Thigh Power’, The Steel Tip, Vol. 1, No. 12 (1985).

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Heavy training for the hips and thighs gives the trainee the most return for the effort expended, but is usually not at the top of the list of “Favorite Modes of Training” due to the discomfort one is subjected to if the training is intensive enough to stimulate gains. The earliest lifting advice I received as an aspiring football player was to train the hips and thighs heavy, hard and consistently, even if it meant reducing the work done for the other body areas. Great gains in “overall body strength” come not from bench press specialization programs but from thigh, hip and lower back work. The proviso is that one train in a meaningful and productive manner, truly taking each set of each exercise to the limits of one’s momentary ability.

Are You WW2 Strong?

SoldierThe Second World War re-introduced the Western world back to the importance of health and fitness. The inter-war years were characterised by concerns that Europeans and Americans were no longer as strong as they once were. In the midst of war, Leaders became concerned. Victory in the battlefield could only be achieved through victory in the gymnasium. In 1942, the US Army introduced a formal fitness test to the incoming troops, with this in mind.

For the first time in American history, troops would be put through their places in several exercises to determine their value to Uncle Sam.

The men of 1942 had to do it. How would you have fared?

Guest Post: A Concise History of Swimming

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Ever since there were water and humans on earth, people engaged in swimming and diving. There are even ancient Egyptian documents and cave drawings that depict people treading water! At its beginnings, swimming was mostly used out of necessity, to prevent drowning, to cross a river or to hunt for food. However, swimming has come a long way from its clumsy early days. Today, people all over the world swim for recreation and fun or professionally compete in different categories. Let’s take a look at the history of swimming before we hit the water ourselves!