Category: Basics

“Hey Skinny, Your Ribs Are Showing”: Charles Atlas and American Masculinity

Untitled

Introduction

Consciously or unconsciously, we are all aware of Charles Atlas and his business. In today’s article we will look at Atlas, Physical Culture and constructions of White Masculinity in 1920s to 40s America. I believe Atlas’s ‘Dynamic Tension’ product was successful in this time as claimed to provide men with masculine qualities that they wanted at a time when American White masculinity was seen as threatened. Atlas did not target other races, genders or sexual orientations instead focusing solely on white male heterosexuals. Atlas once said: “15 minutes a day! Give me just this and I’ll prove I can make you a new man.” Well in much less than 15 minutes you’ll have an idea of what type of man Atlas and his customers had in mind.

Advertisements

An Early History of Weightlifting

Weightlifting_Review_th

Recently on this website we have looked to the Ancient World in search of the origins of health and fitness. It is likely that weightlifting is as old a pastime as time itself but it’s important to take this into account. So often we take the short view on the history of fitness and date it from the mid to late 1800s. Regardless of what we may think, exercise was part of man’s (and woman’s) life two thousand years ago just as it is today. In fact archaeologists have uncovered bronze objects dating back to 5000 BC that are not unlike the dumbbells we use today.

Lifting heavy things up and down is as natural to human beings as walking or running. It is perhaps unsurprising that very quickly in the history of mankind, people began to realise that the stronger a muscle is, the heavier the object that can be lifted. Thus the idea of weight lifting was born. Having looked at Athens and Rome in previous posts, today we will examine Ancient China, Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt.

The History of the Mind-Muscle Connection

1330-fitandcrop-484x305

“What puts you over the top? It is the mind that actually creates the body, it is the mind that really makes you work out for four or five hours a day, it is the mind that visualizes what the body ought to look like as the finished product.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger

The mind-muscle connection? That’s what Arnold talked about right?

Well yes but he wasn’t the only one as I discovered recently when going through some old material written by Peary Rader.

History of the Squat…Kind of

arnold-squats

Bench Press, Deadlift, Squat. What could be easier than that? For most people it makes up the brunt of their training programme, yet we rarely stop and ask where did these exercises come from? I mean after all, if you’re going to spend countless hours in the squat rack, at some point you should question how the Squat became popularized. Right?

So who did invent the Squat?

The History of the Low-Carb Diet

William_Banting

Ah the low-carbohydrate diet, a form of eating that has become so ingrained in 21st century culture that you could be forgiven for thinking it was a relatively new idea. The truth is that low-carb diets have existed since the 19th century, when an Englishman named William Banting began promoting a low-carb way of life. Although clinical obesity is a relatively new phenomenon (it only really came to the fore in the 20th century), people for centuries have dealt with weight issues. William Banting was one such man, who so impressed with the result’s of his diet, began to market the low-carb way of living.

So who was William Banting and how did he discover this diet?

Reps for Jesus? Muscular Christianity

Muscular_Christianity_Gruger

Is it a Christian’s duty to be strong and muscular? Does strength equate with Godliness? How should a man behave? These were just some of the questions that permeated the 19th and early 20th century in Victorian England and the United States. They were the questions at the forefront of a movement better known as Muscular Christianity. In the maiden article for this website, we briefly introduced the idea of Muscular Christianity but today we will look at it in greater detail.

Your System or Mine? The ‘Battle of the Systems’

cropped-cuban-gym_opt.jpg

Free Weights or Machines? Cardio or Weight Training? TRX or Crossfit? These days the fitness enthusiast seems to be bombarded with a wealth of choices to keep themselves fit and agile. Training systems may seem relatively benign and a matter of personal choice, but scholars often raises uncomfortable questions about why people do what they do.

What is Physical Culture? Why is it important?

physical-culture

So what is Physical Culture and why is there a website dedicated to the study of it?

In its simplest definition, Physical culture is a health and strength training movement that originated during the 19th century in Germany, England, and the United States. This may seem relatively benign thing to study but the origins and expansion of physical culture in the 19th and early 20th reflect societal, economic and cultural trends of the time. What’s more the legacy of the physical culture movement affects how many of us train, eat and view health.