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 Carbohydrate Loading

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As a teenager the advice I got when it came to diet and exercise was often problematic to say the least. We lifted too heavy, with terrible form and took far too little rest. This, we were told, would make us better rugby players or something to that effect. When it came to diet, we were told to ‘carb load’ before big games or tournaments to make sure we had that competitive edge. For those of you experienced in such matters, you can probably guess what happened when a team full of 18 year olds were told to load up on carbs. Yep… we had big bowls of pasta, copious amounts of sandwiches and even potato waffles just to be safe. 18 year old me wasn’t complaining but it seemed like an odd concept even at the time.

Fast forward to today and I’ve played around with every diet imaginable from fruit fasting to keto. One area that has always perplexed me though is ‘carbohydrate loading’ before a big event. Nowadays my friends who run marathons continue to swear by it while those in the lifting community advise low to moderate carbs around workout times. Nutrition will always be a contested arena and to that end, today’s post explores the birth of carbohydrate loading as a scientific concept in 1967 and examine its remarkable rise in popularity soon after.

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Guest Post: The History of Personal Training and Its Role in Fitness Today

The career in personal training is a relatively new one. Sure, the ancient Greeks and other past civilizations had their athletic traditions, but they were mostly aimed towards keeping people fit for combat, not for personal reasons. Exercising for health and hiring fitness experts is a new practice less than 100 years old.

A typical personal trainer image that we have today, a person that works with clients in a gym, didn’t exist until the late 1900s. In general, fitness became popular through TV programs and celebrities who sparked the fitness movement. In the early days, no certificate was needed to become a personal trainer and to be recognized as a fitness professional. It was not until the 90s that the first certificate was created and that personal training became a sustainable job path. Today, we have many different certifications and excellent experts who do wonders for people’s fitness and health. However, in order to understand today’s importance of personal trainers and their role, we need to know the history of this career and where and how it all began.

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.

Bob Gajda’s Peripheral Heart Action (PHA) Training

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One point that always fascinates me about training is the sheer diversity one finds when it comes to training systems, exercises and training philosophies. What works for one trainee can prove pointless to another. No matter how good the programme, it often has to be tailored towards the individual, and indeed, we often find that the most successful trainees when it comes to bodybuilding have devised or used workouts advantageous to themselves.

Today’s post is a case in point. Titled ‘Peripheral Heart Action’ or PHA training, this form of exercise has come to be associated with Bob Gajda, the 1966 Mr. America Winner. Counting a host of proponents, including Charles Poliquin, PHA training is a rather interesting combination of circuit, strength and hypertrophy designed with bodybuilding in mind. That being the case, today’s post seeks to answer three simple questions. What is PHA Training and who invented it? Why did it come to be associated with Gajda and finally how can it be used for the modern trainee?

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?

Guest Post: The Condensed History of Surfing and Other Water Sports

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About 71% of the world is covered in water. It is the elemental and essential constituent of life, which is reflected in humans themselves as pretty much 50% to 70% of our bodies consist of H2O alone. It is therefore far from strange that we are so fascinated with this element – the vast blue horizons and angry rivers that cut through the countryside. Humans are naturally inclined to enjoy water-related activities, and throughout their existence, civilization has given birth to numerous water sports – some of which are prominent while others have been altered or buried by the sands of time. If you are eager to learn about this topic, here is the condensed history of water sports.

History of the Good Morning Exercise

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Depending on the gym you attend Good Mornings are either a commonplace exercise or a complete rarity. Aside from the cynical observation that far too many back squats one sees in the gym are bastardised good mornings, the reality is most like the latter. Used by numerous bodybuilders, powerlifters and athletes, the Good Morning is oftentimes a neglected thing, confined to a few strange individuals no doubt wearing belts and high heeled shoes.

This, the present post argues, is a rather pitiful thing. The Good Morning has a long and rich history within the Iron Game, one that we’re going to delve into today.

Guest Post: A Short History of Workout Clothes

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Women’s workout fashion has gone through major transformations over the years, and it has come a long way. Today, it’s even grown to become everyday leisure wear, and instead of being worn solely to the gym, workout wear is often the main part of an everyday outfit. Whether it’s for running errands or going to break a sweat, sportswear has found its way to our hearts and is here to stay and become part of every outfit.