Category: Basics

The History of the Dumbbell Pullover

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Earlier this week I was given a very generous gift. The gift in question was a complete set of Wills’ Cigarette Cards. Produced for an Irish and English audience in 1914, the cards depicted various physical culture exercises one could engage in to keep fit and healthy. The irony that the cards could only be obtained by buying a packet of cigarettes was evidently lost on the manufacturers.

In any case I gleefully went about examining my present and stumbled across the below photographs. Said to be breathing exercises with dumbbells, the movement represents an early iteration of the pullover exercise.

As is so often the case, I set to work uncovering the history of this particular movement with the result being this very article. So today, we’ll begin by examining the popularity and history of the pullover from the early to late twentieth-century. The pullover exercise has fallen from grace in the lifting community, from a once hallowed movement to a more niche and often poorly executed assistance lift.

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Guest Post: Injuries That Almost Changed Sports History

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Every athlete’s worst nightmare is not whether they’ll miss out on a trophy or whether they could have signed a more lucrative deal or played for another team. There is one thing they all dread more than anything and that’s an injury that could seriously affect their career. While every athlete experiences at least one injury during their career, some of those affecting some of the world’s greatest athletes could have completely changed the course of sports history. Here are just four of the most famous injuries that could have had major impacts.

Bodybuilding’s First Champion: William Murray

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While many credit Eugen Sandow as the father of modern day bodybuilding, very little is said about William, ‘Billy’, Murray, the world’s first recognisable bodybuilding champion. Today’s post will look at the interaction between Sandow, the unofficial father of bodybuilding and Murray, its first official king.

So who was William Murray? How did he win? And why has his place in bodybuilding history been largely forgotten?

The (Somewhat Complete) History of the Deadlift!

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Having previously looked at the history of the squat, bench press and even the smith machine, it seemed about time that we did a history of the deadlift. We’ve been putting this one off for quite a while, even looking at the Romanian Deadlift en lieu of the actual thing.

The stumbling block in approaching the history of the deadlift is the amount of smoke and mirrors surrounding one of the most popular exercises in the Iron Game. Someone writes something in a training book or blog and suddenly it becomes part of the popular lore. Actual research is a lot harder to come by. Nevertheless, it’s clear that deadlifts and variations on the deadlift have been around since time began. Man and woman kind has seemingly always displayed an insatiable desire to pick heavy things up from the ground.

For the sake of my sanity and timekeeping however, we’ll begin in with the eighteenth-century when a variation of the deadlift, of heavy lifting, briefly took England by storm.

Guest Post: A Brief History Lesson: Trophies and Awards

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Today, awards and trophies are a huge business. No matter if they are being lifted above winners’ heads after a grueling sporting match or if they are being handed to actors and singers at gala events, they have a clear purpose to award achievement. Each trophy tells you that the person holding it is a champion—they are the best of the best. They leave such a big statement that people of all ages from all sorts of organizations and branches get awarded trophies for their success. Since we live in a material world, most of us have a weird fascination with everything sparkly and glitzy, but trophies go beyond our love for glitter and gold. Want to know more? Here’s a brief history of trophies and awards.

Vince Gironda, ‘Common Errors in Bodybuilding’, The Master Series of Nutritional Bodybuilding (Iron Guru Publishing, 1983), 5-7

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Gironda is undoubtedly a site favourite. Known for his unique style of training and nutritional approach, Gironda didn’t pull any punches when it came to giving his opinion. The below errors, 35 in total, may raise a few eyebrows. Nevertheless they demonstrated Gironda’s willingness to give his opinion!

Peter McGough, ‘The Mike Menzter Story’, Flex Magazine, September (2001).

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In a career that spanned four decades, Mike Mentzer, who passed away on June 12, 2001 was one of bodybuilding’s most prominent, inspirational and controversial figures. In order to flesh out the unique life, times and psyche of this complicated star, we’re reprinting (beginning on the next page) a feature on Mentzer from the February 1995 issue of FLEX. Although the article was first published six years ago, we think it still provides insight into what drove this future Bodybuilding Hall of Fame inductee.

When this feature first appeared, Mike was writing regularly for FLEX, but he later moved on to work for Muscular Development. In the last two years of his life, he contributed to Ironman. His theories and writings continue to be a source for debate, and his books and articles remain popular (see http://www.mikementzer.com).

The History of the Cambered Bar

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Cambered bars, that is bars with a slight or pronounced bend, are one of the more niche elements of the gym floor. While many of us will be familiar with the EZ Bar, undoubtedly the most popular form of cambered bars, far fewer will have used Safety Squat, Buffalo or straight Cambered Bars as part of our routines. Somewhat unluckily for me, a recent shoulder problem has forced me to use safety bar squats as part of my routine.

Normally the preserve, at least in my mind, of the powerlifting community, the Safety Bar squat has allowed me to continue training my legs at a time when the traditional squat set up of pining the shoulders back is nothing short of agony. Aside from facilitating my obsessive need to squat, the Safety Bar provides the subject for today’s post. Who invented these bars? What advantages do they provide and how can we effectively use them? These are just some of the questions dealt with in today’s post.

The First Mr. Olympia

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It all began in April 1965 in a Joe Weider magazine…

Sick and tired of conversations about who was the greatest bodybuilder, Weider had decided to create a competition pitting champions from around the World against each other. In the same year that the iconic Gold’s Gym opened, Weider’s ‘Mr. Olympia’ would see A Mr. Universe, Mr. World and Mr. America pose, flex and tense in front of thousands of fans to determine the best that Bodybuilding had to offer.

Why create a new tournament?

Guest Post: History of Recreational Sports

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The recreational sport field has existed for quite some time now. Now we see it as a subset of both the recreation and leisure and the sport management industries. Those working in this field are tasked with providing sport opportunities to the widest range of participants. The idea behind recreational sport is that sport should be available to everyone and that all of us should engage in active, participatory sport experiences for many reasons. However, in order for us to be able to enjoy all the benefits now, recreational sport has had to develop and it continues to do so even today. So, why don’t we take a look back at the history of this noble and healthy idea?