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.

1974 Fred Howell Article: 10 Bulk Routines That Work

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This article, first written by Fred Howell for Muscular Development in 1974, details some of the fastest and toughest ways to put on slabs of Muscle. While the routines aren’t for the faint of heart, they’re guaranteed to get results!

Somehow in the past few weeks the word leaked out that I had at least a ton of weights in my cellar. All of a sudden every kid in town that owned a barbell or was going to train someday showed up at my door asking to see this old man’s collection of iron.

Talking with the kids I learned that each and every one of them had, as their goal, a desire to gain weight. Some of them, I’m sorry to say, will be very lucky to gain a few pounds with the type of courses they follow. Their training routines are far from weight gaining routines. I was able to convince one super enthusiast not to train every day and expect to add on the pounds. Not when he’s just a beginner.

Nature plays a horrible trick on the human male. When a male needs the weight most to excel in some head-busting sport it’s hard to put it on. Then a few years later when we have no use at all for extra bodyweight, we can add it just by looking at food. I had to smile to myself as they talked about their routines and how they wanted to weigh a certain amount in a couple of months. And here I am fighting the battle of the double bulge.

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Attention Women: Left out because you’re too skinny? Try Wate-On!

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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. 

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Tracing the Mass Monster in Bodybuilding

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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.

Sandow, the Original Mass Monster EugenSandowTrue

Train like a Sandow!

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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.

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How Boxers Trained in 1901

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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.

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Come one come all to the WBF Show!

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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

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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.