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.

Fitness Programmes in the 1960s: Dennis the Menace, Mr. Wilson’s Uncle

  When I say mid-century fitness programme, you’re probably thinking of Jack LaLanne’s long running programme broadcast across the USA. While this is a fair assumption to make, old Jackie boy was not the only […]

Guest Post: History of the Mediterranean Diet

5 Craziest diet ancient diet that people have forgotten-1

The Mediterranean diet is a very healthy eating plan, which is primarily based on plant foods, olive oil, and lots of herbs instead of salt. Red meat is a no-no, and fish is a staple. Plus, red wine. Who could say no to that?

The idea behind this diet is limiting, but not eliminating fat consumption. It’s all about making smart choices and choosing monounsaturated over saturated fats. It’s a diet that many doctors recommend as a heart-healthy eatingplan. Research shows that it reduces the risk of heart disease, since it’s low in bad cholesterol.

But where did it all start?

The History of the Glute Ham Raise

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Owing to the inquisitive nature of a PCS reader, I’ve finally gotten my act together, or at least come close enough to some semblance of normality, to go down the rabbit hole once again. The topic of todays post, is the rather more niche but nevertheless effective Glute Ham Raise (GHR) machine.

Having spent years devotedly using reverse hyperextensions and 45 degree back extensions, my own relationship with the Glute Ham Raise only began in the last twelve months. Since then I’ve made a point of trying as many different alternatives as possible. As is so often the case, I became too engrossed in using the machine that I forgot to look into its history. An email this month asking me about the GHR finally set me straight.

So without further ado we’ll crack into the history of the GHR. What is it? Who invented it and how did it become so damn popular?

The History of the Plank Exercise

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Chances are every single one of use has spent a seemingly endless amount of time stuck in the ‘plank’ position shown above. When I first began weight training for rugby as a starry eyed teen we did every kind of vacation imagine. We did it for time, we moved in circles, we placed weights, and even at times each other, on our backs to increase the resistance and improve our core.

Was it all a waste? Probably if truth be told. Though one can feel the effects of the plank on their abdominals almost instantly, any pain I suffered from having a week ‘core’, that oh so mercurial term, was eventually solved through copious amounts of squats, deadlifts, reverse hyper extenions and back extensions combined with strict cable crunches and hanging leg raises If these exercises don’t challenge your core, I’d suggest re-evaluating your form.

Now in any case it’s undeniable that the plank exercise has become a mainstay in the fitness community over the past two decades. Though fading out in my own gym, at least somewhat, it’s still used by numerous personal trainers and classes the world over. This leads us to the point of today’s post. Who invented the plank exercise and how did it become so damn popular? Furthermore, is it actually beneficial? I’ll put my own prejudices aside as best I can for the last point.

Alan Stephen – Bulking is Easy (1950 article)

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Published by the mid-century Bodybuilder Alan Stephens, the following article from Your Physique magazine details some time honoured means of bulking up in the easiest and most efficient way possible. Though much of Stephens’ advice will seem like old hat to those a few years in the Iron Game, his writings were geared toward the beginner and those seeking to change things up.

What’s more. It was never overly complicated. Indeed according to the man himself

All you need to do is follow the right exercises, eat plenty of nourishing food and get as much rest and relaxation on your non training days as you possibly can.

With that in mind though, we’ll dig a little deeper.

The Fabulous Zabo Koszewski

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Famed for his god-like mid section, Ivan ‘Zabo’ Koszewski, is often forgotten about by modern gym goers seeking inspiration for their training. Although smaller in stature than contemporaries like Arnold or Frank Zane, Zabo’s physique was nevertheless the stuff of legend amongst his training colleagues.

Today’s post, written by Bob Hise for Strength and Health Magazine in 1967, details Zabo’s unique approach to training and nutrition. Whereas many of the time were eating between four and six meals a day, Zabo built his physique eating only twice a day. Something proponents of Intermittent Fasting will no doubt appreciate.

Judging a Physique Contest

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This article first appeared in Bob Hoffman’s Strength and Health Magazine in 1957. It details the point scoring for the precusors for today’s modern bodybuilding shows. Of particular interest are the categories dealing with muscularity and athleticism.

Many of us forget that physique competitions used to include some form of strength component dealing with the 3 big lifts (the two hand press, the two hands snatch, the two hands clean and jerk).

How would bodybuilding be today if Kai Greene and Phil Heath had to compete in the clean and jerk for the Olympia crown?

Since judging a Mister Competition has become one of the touchiest subjects in the Iron World, a great deal of time was devoted to clarifying this issue at the official AAU Convention last Fall in Los Angeles. I am going to try to briefly sum up these points for the benefit of officials who handle such contests.