Many thanks to the great team at Ted-Ed for all their work in creating this wondering YouTube video based on a previous post of mine on the dark history of the Treadmill. TED-Ed is a […]
Societal pressure on women is often a talking point.
Indeed previously on this website we’ve looked at slimming crazes dating back to the early 1900s when women worldwide were encouraged to lose weight and ‘become happy’.
Well it seems that the pressure on women to conform to a certain body type works both ways as the following set of ads from the 1980s demonstrates.
Once upon a time wate-On, an artificial weight gain product, was marketed to American women concerned with being too skinny. Shown below are a series of ads detailing the Wate-On message to gain weight, be merry and most importantly, be popular.
Needless to say I’m sure the conflicting messages about being too skinny and being too large caused many a headache for the 1980s woman.
Are bodybuilders becoming too large?
It’s a simple question but one loaded with controversy. Today most Internet forums are filled with heated arguments about whether the ‘mass monsters’ of today are helping or hurting the sport.
Rather than continue the common narrative that the 1990s and the Dorian Yates era was the dawn of the ‘Mass Monsters’, today’s post argues that bodybuilders and their forerunners have always taken their physiques to the extremes of their time. In other words, bodybuilders regardless of the decade, have always displayed bodies well beyond the reach of the common man.The bodybuilders of today who stand tall and wide are rather than damaging the sport, continuing the tradition of freakish bodily appearances.
After all, Bodybuilding has always judged physiques based on the best combination of size, shape, symmetry and conditioning. With this framework in mind, let’s examine the freaks of bodybuilding past.
Why train like a strongman from the 1900s?
Well if that strongman is Eugen Sandow, the father of modern day bodybuilding, the answer should be obvious. Sandow came at a time when steroids hadn’t infiltrated gyms and exercisers were forced to rely on food and training alone. Coupled with this Sandow was inspired by the aesthetics of old Greco-Roman statues, a look that most gym goers today are striving for. So why not train like a strongman from the 1900s?
Detailed below is Sandow’s exercise regime which he claimed kept the body in equal and awesome proportions. Combine it with the man’s advice on diet and you’re on to a winner.
This article written by P. G. Woodhouse, first appeared in Sandow’s Magazine of Physical Culture in December 1901. In it Woodhouse describes the latest scientific technologies being used by boxers preparing for a fight. Some such as the heavy medicine ball have remained with us whilst others like rubbing oneself with eucalyptus oil have sadly faded from our modern training regimes.
Regardless, it’s a fascinating insight into how athletes got into match condition over a century ago and well worth a read.
In the first instalment we looked at the controversial beginning of Vince McMahon’s World Bodybuilding Federation. The WBF promised to revolutionise the way bodybuilding conducted itself and when June 15th was chosen for the first ever WBF show, people waited anxiously to see what would happen.
Creating a buzz
In the build up to the show, crossovers between the WBF Bodystars and Vince’s WWF became more and more common. Indeed during WWF programs it was commonplace to see whole segments dedicated to the Bodystars discussing their workout routines. One particular bizarre publicity stunt saw a team of wrestlers face off against the Bodystars in Family Feud. Coupled with this, ahem ‘brilliant’ marketing, Vince’s supplement line, Integrated Conditioning Program, was blazoned throughout arenas in the US when the wrestlers were in town.
This article, first written by Vince Gironda in 1974 sought to set the record straight on whether or not a bodybuilder could train by instinct. As always, Vince is frank, honest and straight to the point.
Check out my latest post on Robert Prosinečki, the skilled Croatian playmaker who graced both the Camp Nou and Fratton Park!
In the first of a three part series, we look at the brief life of the World Bodybuilding Federation, an organisation financed by wrestling mogul Vince McMahon that tried to take on Joe Weider’s formidable stronghold on the sport.
While the WBF ultimately failed, its influence on the sport cannot be underestimated.
Part One: Kicking Ass and Taking Names
Bodybuilding is an interesting sport in more ways than one. Aside from the bulging muscles, oiled behemoths and flashy lights, there exists a fascinating business element to the sport.
For the greater part of the 20th and 21st century, bodybuilding has been ruled and prescided over by the International Federation of Bodybuilding, the IFBB. Every major professional bodybuilding tournament boasts the IFBB logo and many of the greatest bodybuilders from Arnie to Ronnie have cut their teeth in the organisation.
Created by Joe and Ben Weider, the IFBB spent the mid half of the 20th century fighting off and finally defeating Bob Hoffman’s AAU organisation thereby becoming ‘THE’ bodybuilding organisation that all the athletes wanted to be a part of for the remainder of the century. From the 1960s onward, the IFBB became a monopoly that few dared to challenge.
It came as a surprise then when Vince McMahon, a man associated more with pro-wrestling than bodybuilding, sought to overthrow the Weider’s in the early 1990s and establish his own bodybuilding federation, labelled the World Bodybuilding Federation. Whilst the WBF only lasted for two years, it diveded the bodybuilding community, bringing in reforms of varying success and making the sport somewhat more mainstream.