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.

Sandow the Lion Tamer

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Though more synomous with bodybuilding than wrestling, the late 1890s saw Eugen Sandow, the man many credited with possessing the perfect physique, wrestle a caged lion in front of a US audience.

The bout was undertaken during Sandow’s extensive tour of the United States under the tutelage of promoter Florenz Ziegfeld. Perhaps unsurprisingly, many viewed the event as an exercise in futility during which a half dazed lion lazily swiped at the Prussian showman.

Today’s post focuses on the circumstances leading to this bizarre encounter, the fight itself and it’s aftermath, to explore just how far Sandow was willing to go to promote his body and his business.

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A Life in Strength: William Joseph Murray

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Oftentimes this blog has focused exclusively on the star names of the physical culture industry. This, as perhaps can be guessed, is due to the extensive documents such men and women have left behind. The true physical culturists, that is those people who exercised for the joy of it, are much harder to track down.

Luckily, a discussion on a previous article has thrown up a fascinating source on one William Joseph Murray, an English born strongman of considerable interest to those studying the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. A keen athlete, Murray’s life exemplifies several of the trends discussed in previous posts as well as reminding us that fitness is inevitably, a lifelong pursuit.

Guest Post: Safe exercising after plastic surgery

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Regular exercising is very important for maintaining the overall health and staying fit. Thanks to the exercises, the joints strengthen, the body becomes more flexible and heart health improves. You get both mental and energy boost and relieve stress thanks to the release of toxins. Of course, the physical appearance changes to the better as well. Still, in order for an exercise to work its magic and be beneficial, one has to do it properly and practice safety all the time. This is especially important after some kind of plastic surgery. No matter how much you’re eager to get back into your usual routine, under no circumstances should you jeopardize your health.

Who is the Best Bodybuilder Ever? An In-Depth Analysis

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The following post comes from the immensely talented Erny Peibst of jackednatural.com. If you’re looking for advice on the best natural supplements to take or simply a review of the latest training trends, I highly recommend it. 

Guys who’ve just hopped on the bodybuilding bandwagon might have heard of legendary names such as Ronnie Colemanand Dorian Yates whispered from the shadows in their local gyms…

But how good really were these guys?

And more importantly…who was the best bodybuilder ever?

If you’ve decided to become a bodybuilder, you owe it to yourself to know who the king of this sport was.

But the answer to this question all depends on how you define the ‘best bodybuilder ever’.

Here’s a few ways to judge who the best bodybuilder of all time is:

  • Who won the most Mr Olympia titles
  • Who’s made the most impact on the sport
  • The most aesthetic guy
  • The biggest and most shredded guy of all

The most Mr Olympia titles – Lee Haney and Ronnie Coleman (8x)

Who had the biggest impact on bodybuilding – Arnold Schwarzenegger. He was the star in Pumping Iron. If you haven’t already seen it, order it off amazon…like straight after you finish reading this article, it’s amazing.

The most aesthetic Mr Olympia – Arnold, Franco Columbo, Frank Zane or Lee Haney.

The biggest & most shredded: Ronnie Coleman or Phil Heath.

So it depends how you interpret the question ‘who is the best bodybuilder ever’.

However, Arnold Schwarzenegger is regarded by many as the greatest ever.

Why?

  • He won 7 Sandow trophies
  • He changed the world’s opinion on bodybuilding; from being disgusted to intrigued.
  • He built one of the greatest physiques of all time. Huge mass with a tiny waist – a look that’s still highly coveted by gym rats to this day (50 years later).

Arnie sounds like a worthy choice to me.

However, for entertainment purposes I’m going to select the top 5 bodybuilders of all time, and put them on stage against each other.

…So you can decide for yourself!

Lies, Snake Oils and Downright Deception: Selling and the Fitness Industry

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The fitness industry, was and is, a notoriously dubious business place. For every honest athlete seeking to help his fellow trainer, there are dozens of genetically blessed individuals who seek to make a living with half-truths.

This chicanery, is however, a time honoured tradition as evidenced by today’s article. Surveying the great names of the physical culture game, today’s post looks at the forerunners to the current market industry and demonstrates how many sought to promote their products over the truth. Unsurprisingly names like Sandow, Sick and Inch all feature.

So if you thought that deceit was a new phenomena in bodybuilding, you are sorely mistaken!

‘Diuretics’, Muscle Builder, June 1961,

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The following article on diuretics comes from 1960s bodybuilding magazine, Muscle Builder. Though now a commonplace drug used by pro bodybuilders to ‘lose water weight’ and increase definition on the day of a show, diuretics were a relatively new phenomenon in the 1960s, hence the magazine’s admiration for the ‘wonder drug’.

Nowadays the drugs are synonymous with highly uncomfortable side effects and in extreme cases, death. Similar to our previous posts on steroids, the article highlight’s the sports initial naivety to the drug.

Armand Tanny and Raw Meat Bodybuilding

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Bodybuilding and physical culture has, at its core, always been about pushing the limits of nutritional consumption. After all, no other sport promotes periods of intense dieting in the manner of the iron game. The quest for new nutritional approaches has led to some rather interesting diets, Armand Tanny’s raw meat diet being a case in point.

For those of us too young to remember, Tanny was a highly influential name in the bodybuilding business of yesteryear. An accomplished bodybuilder in his own right (Winner in the 1949 Pro. Mr. America and the 1950 Mr. USA competitions), Tanny also spent many decades writing on bodybuilding for the various Weider magazines.

Unlike his fellow iron game compatriots however, Tanny followed an almost entirely raw diet. That meant raw milk, raw vegetables and of course, raw meats.

So what prompted Tanny to follow this diet, what did the diet entail, and what can the modern lifter learn from it?