Category: Basics

The Harmful Squats Myth: Dr. Klein Klein and the Back Squat

23939034385_e64d4908e8_o.jpg

Image Source.

When I began lifting in my teens, the coaches and older men in the gym floor seemed like fountains of indisputable knowledge. Don’t bring the bar all the way down to your chest on the bench press. Stability work on Bosu Balls worked your core and brought muscle gain. Drink a protein shake within 30 minutes of your workout or your anabolic window will shut. The most sacred of their dictates revolved around the back squat.

When learning how to squat we were told two simple things. Never go below parallel and under no circumstances should the knees track over the toes. These rules were so infallible that none of us dared to cross them. Even when we realised their advice on other lifts had been misguided to say the least, we adhered to their squat advice. It wasn’t until I changed gyms that I realised squatting with a full range of motion, even letting those knees slip over my toes, wasn’t going to kill my knees.

Where had this idea about the squat come from? Whenever we asked we were told about vague scientific studies that ‘everyone knew about’. It wasn’t until I dug into the history of the back squat for a recent article on Barbend that I became reacquainted with this subject.

Our goal today is simple. Who first promoted the idea that squatting below depth was harmful and how did this theory become so prevalent? Our story today revolves around Dr. Karl Klein and his followers.

Advertisements

George F. Jowett, Why Home Exercise is the Best (c. 1925)

keytomightandmuscle-1.jpg

You may have heard would-be body culturists say, “Aw gee, how can I train? There is no gymnasium around here, and any way if there was, I couldn’t afford it.” Actually, hundreds of young men have presented this problem to me, hoping that I would be able to solve the little difficulty for them. It is quite natural for any person to consider exercise and a gymnasium at the same time. As I have said at different times, it depends on what you are after. If it is games or calisthenics, all right. By all means become a member of a gymnastic class. They will certainly teach you to become good at the game you prefer, and this will help to keep you healthy and fit at the same time. Calisthenics will freshen you up and keep you normally fit, but if it is your whole body you want to build up to a stage of perfection, then it is an entirely different proposition. Of course, there are exercise rooms in all gymnasiums to which you can go and seclude yourself, but they do not always have the proper apparatus at hand for the body culturist to use. Of course, there is always the congeniality of companionship, but I have found that this is often very embarrassing, especially to the man who is under developed or too fat. There is always somebody willing to pass remarks, which even when made in fun, go a long way to diminish enthusiasm. Often a man is too conscious of his condition, and what he requires is encouragement, not to made the object of fun no matter how good natured it may be.

The History of Olympic Weightlifting

olympics-944950_960_720.png

A spate of YouTube videos has recently rekindled my love of Olympic Weightlifting. Specifically the iconic footage of German weightlifter Matthias Steiner winning a gold medal at the 2008 games in Beijing has encouraged me to begin digging into the history and indeed, the evolution of weightlifting at the Olympic Games. For those unaware of Steiner’s path to the games in 2008 I suggest a quick google search as I simply cannot do justice to the man’s story.

My goal today is not to discuss Steiner’s life history but rather to examine the sport he competed in. So with this hopefully simple goal in mind, we’re going to explore the history of weightlifting at the Olympic games. Beginning with the first official games in 1896 and moving across time and space towards Tokyo 2020.

The History of the Bosu Ball

Bosu-Ball_600x

Part of the functional training fetish exhibited by members of the strength and conditioning community in the opening decade of the twenty-first century, the Bosu Ball was not too long ago, a ubiquitous piece of gym equipment. Nowadays found in the corner of the gym floor, if at all, the Bosu Ball, along with the Swiss Ball covered previously, represented a shift in training from strength and hypertrophy and balance and functional strength (whatever that means).

Having rediscovered the Bosu Ball recently, and by that I mean having tripped over one in the gym, I thought the timing seemed right to finally uncover its history.

Dr. Mel Siff, A Short History of Strength and Conditioning (Dolfzine, 2003)

Strength training has always been synonymous with the so-called “Iron Game,” a broad generic term that includes the competitive lifting of heavy objects by “strongmen/women” during the last century or so. Feats of lifting strength, however, have appeared throughout the history of most nations, but it has only been in very recent times that training to produce strength has become a scientific discipline.


Mel C Siff Ph.D.
This science did not arise overnight, but is the culminating point of thousands of years of trial-and-error methods of training.

The earliest reference to formal strength training occurs in Chinese texts dating as far back as 3600BC when emperors made their subjects exercise daily (Webster, 1976). During the Chou dynasty (1122-249BC) potential soldiers had to pass weight-lifting tests before being allowed to enter the armed forces.

Dorian Yates’ Workouts from 1982-1985

72460749171f.jpg

Yates in 1986

Known as ‘The Shadow’ in bodybuilding circles, Dorian Yates was the goliath of early 1990s bodybuilding. Winning the Mr. Olympia six straight years in a row from 1992 to 1997, Yates was famed for his intense approach to training. A modified form of the high intensity training advocated by Arthur Jones and Mike Mentzer, Yates’ success briefly brought this style of training to the bodybuilding fore.

The following post, stemming from a Dorian article with Flex magazine from the mid 1990s, details the Englishman’s training programme prior to his meteoric success. While everyone wants to know how a champion trains, knowing how they became a champion is equally important…Enjoy!

Should you Workout to Music? Old School Approaches

bodybuilder-925770_960_720.jpg

Unless you own a home gym, the issue of whether or not you train to music is usually decided for you. Nowadays the gym stereo is a much a part of the gym floor as the weights themselves. Depending on your gym, the decision to leave your headphones at home results in anything from pop music to death metal drumming through your ears. There is, very little wrong with this in theory. After all, the early callisthenics teachers of the nineteenth-century advocated exercising to music.

How were things done during the so-called ‘Golden Age’ of bodybuilding in the 1960s and 1970s? Furthermore, if possible, should you train without music? The bodybuilders of yore held mixed opinions…

Forgotten Exercises: The Dumbbell Swing

ernest-cadine-dumbbell-swing.jpg

Almost a half-century ago the one and two hand swing lifts were very popular among lifters and bodybuilders alike, especially the one hand lift. Over the years, however, both of these lifts have slumped into oblivion so that today there are very few who ever practice them, either as an exercise or for record-breaking performances. Because of this the world record in both lifts still remains at that poundage that was lifted many years ago. The one hand record is 199 pounds, and the two hand record is 224 pounds, just 25 pounds more than the one hand swing.

John Grimek, The Dumbbell Swing (1959)

This weekend I had the pleasure of dipping once more into Arthur Saxon’s excellent work from the early 1900s, The Development of Physical Power. Notable, for me at least by Saxon’s no nonsense attitude and frankness, the work does not seek to deceive or flatter. Instead, one of the strongest men of his generation sets out his remarkable strength and some of the means used to sustain it. Many of the exercises set out by Saxon are still done today, except for the above mentioned dumbbell swing.

The purpose of today’s post is thus twofold. First, we’re going to examine what this exercise is and how to perform it. From there, we get to delve into it’s fascinating history.

John Christy, Why Aren’t I Getting Bigger?, Hardgainer Magazine, May/June (2003)

muscle-building-supplements.jpg

Author’s note: If you’re wondering why this isn’t the second installment of “The Keys to Success” series, it’s because the article “out-grew” the pages of HARDGAINER. l’ve decided to turn “The Keys to Success” into my first book. I should have it completed by the end of the year.

Ah, the grand old question of them all. I’ve heard it a thousand times: “I’m doing everything right, so why aren’t I getting any bigger?” Let me give you the reasons why.