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.

The History of the Assisted Pull Up Machine

fb37a0f02815fd5b_assistedpullup

Now admittedly this is not the catchiest title I’m ever going to use but it hopefully conveys the purpose of today’s post. Back when I started training, assisted pull up machines were a thing of scorn. Who, we would wonder, would bother with such an oddity? Couldn’t individuals muster a solitary pull up by themselves? Well several humbling years later, during which time I realised my version of pull ups was generous to say the least, I discarded the arrogance of my teenage years and used the machine for the first time. It has since become a staple in my training, used at the end of workouts to ensure my back and ego is fried in equal measure.

While we’ve covered mainstream machines like the leg press, prowler or leg extension, I have to admit that I find niche and oftentimes strange devices like the bosu ball or foam roller to be far more interesting. You see for me, the more esoteric devices often represent an attempt to reach out to new trainees or those uncomfortable in the traditional gym setting. As becomes clear when studying the assisted pull up machine, the device was born from a increased societal interest during the late 1970s.

John Hansen, ‘Where Have All the Good Gyms Gone?’, Iron Age (c. 2008)

rogue-dumbbells-h

The number of health clubs and gyms in America have increased by a phenomenal rate over the last 10 years. According to statistics, there are now 17,807 health club facilities in the United States. There has been a 41% increase in the number of health clubs and gyms in this country since 1992.

This is great news for those of us involved in the fitness industry or even just those of us who are fitness advocates. Now, whenever or whereever we may travel, there will always be a place to get our workout in. Health clubs and fitness are now “in” and those of us who exercise on a regular basis are no longer seen as odd or eccentric.

The History of the Reverse Grip Bench Press

anthonyclarkreverse.jpg

Without doubt one of the odder movements in the gym goers’ repertoire, the reverse grip bench press is a lift you’re unlikely to see on a regular basis. Somewhat circus-like in its execution, the lift is nevertheless an invaluable one to those suffering from issues of shoulder mobility and I’d suggest, boredom.

A fun lift to try, even just once, the Reverse Grip Bench Press (henceforth the RBGP) has a relatively recent and interesting history. A history that stems primarily it seems, from the world of powerlifting and hardcore bodybuilding gyms. A history that will be examined in today’s brief post.

Bev Francis – A Balanced Approach For Dynamite Delts (1991)

BevFrancis1.jpg

It never thought in terms of training individual bodyparts when I was a world-champion powerlifters, and I certainly never did any specific shoulder exercises as part of my workouts. In those days, I’d think in terms of doing bench presses and squats, not chest and legs. So when I switched to bodybuilding, I had tremendously strong front delts from all those years of heavy benches, but my side and rear delts were lagging.

Let me add that my benches back then weren’t strict, bodybuilding benches, but an all-out powerlifting movement — bringing the bar very low, arching and pressing up using a lot front delts and even lats as well as chest and triceps. I was always a shoulder presser, which gave me even more disproportionate front deltoid development.

Guest Post: The History of Sports Nutrition

Unknown

We have come a long way in terms of boosting our workout performance by fine-tuning all the habits that surround that single one, and in particular, by refining our menus to suit our goals. Athletes have always done their absolute best to find that perfect ratio when it comes to food intake in order to maximize their potential in any given sport.

Knowing just how much of a major role diet plays in an athlete’s performance, science has done a tremendous job over the years giving us data on how to improve. Aside from fad diets meant to please the crowds, those focused on long-term health and fitness know that eating plays a vital role in the process – and that has always been the case.

Forgotten Training Protocols: 4 x 10 Clusters

weights-664766_960_720

For whatever reason some training systems remain in the public psyche while others fall to the wayside, continued only by a few dedicated and often fixated trainers. Thus while nearly every intermediate and certainly every advanced trainee is familiar with manipulating rep ranges, few seem to stray outside the comfort zone of 5 x 5, 8 x 3 and whatever other bland rep schemes we chose. What about 7 x 4 for a change?

Musing aside, today’s short post details 4 x 10 clusters, a method of volume training first introduced to me several years ago by an older trainee and a fallback I use whenever my training gets a little stale.