Category: Basics

George F. Jowett, ‘The Standard That Determines the Ideal Shape’, The Key to Muscle and Might (c. 1925)

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There is no doubt in my mind that Eugene Sandow’s rise to fame was due more to the symmetrical shapeliness of his enviable body than to the difficulty of feats of strength he performed. Generally speaking, there are two things which will always impress the mind of the body culturist, shape and strength. With strength, we have already dealt.

Therefore, we will now direct out attention to the value of shapeliness, and the influence it has upon our mind and body. Oh yes, it has a great influence upon the mind. The next time you visit an art gallery notice the quiet reverence that is displayed by the art lovers, as they move from one picture to another. The serene beauty of the pictures permeates the whole atmosphere, leaving the beholders in silent wonder. I have a great friend who is a wonderful artist, and he often makes sketches of the body in varied postures, which he brings to me for scrutiny. On one of his visits he said to me, “I can always tell whether the drawings meet with your approval or not. Not by what you say, as much as how little you say. Your eyes are always drawn to the pictures you like best, and I have noticed that you have sometimes been so enraptured that you did not hear me speak to you.” He was quite right. Pictures of the body beautiful, correctly translated, never weary me. I can feast my eyes upon them for hours at a time. This rather contradicts the statement that, familiarity with the most beautiful objects, breeds contempt. For twenty-five years I have lived in the atmosphere of beautiful bodies, and I am still as enthusiastic as I was when I first commenced my studies.

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

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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.

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.

Joe Weider, ‘How it All Began’, Joe Weider Bodybuilding System (Weider Health & Fitness, 1988), 5-7.

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As a Weider student you should be interested to know that the Weider System is the most popular and successful bodybuilding course in the world. Because of my 50 years of involvement in the sport, the Weider System is the basis of all modern bodybuilding and weight-training techniques. Literally everything in bodybuilding has sprung from the Weider System. My system has stood the test of time! The results speak for themselves.

It is not by accident that the Weider System enjoys such popularity. Champions I have helped train hold every important bodybuilding title. Among my famous stars are Arnold Schwarzenegger (seven times Mr. Olympia), Frank Zane (three times Mr. Olympia), Sergio Oliva (three times Mr. Olympia), Larry Scott (twice Mr. Olympia), Franco Columbu (twice Mr Olympia), Chris Dickerson (Mr Olympia), Rachel McLish (Ms. Olympia), Lou Ferrigno (Mr America, Mr. International and twice Mr. Universe), Corinna Everson (American Women’s Bodybuilding Champion and threetime Ms. Olympia) and Lee Haney (American Men’s Bodybuilding Champion, World Bodybuilding Champion and three-time Mr Olympia).

Mike Mentzer, ‘Balancing Your Muscle Building Diet’, Heavy Duty Nutrition (1993), 9-10.

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The majority of bodybuilders I meet at my numerous exhibitions and seminars all over the country still seem to think that protein is needed in tremendous quantities to build muscle. The fact that muscle is only 22 percent protein suggests that our protein requirements are not nearly that high. And just because muscle is more than 70% water doesn’t mean we should begin drinking gallons and gallons of water a day to hasten the muscle growth process either.

What would happen if we were to drink such large quantities of water? We would go to the bathroom a lot to eliminate the excess water. In the case of consuming excess protein, however, we aren’t so lucky, since protein contains calories which turn to fat when consumed in excess. The point I am trying to make here is that our bodies possess specific needs for all the various nutrients each and every day. We don’t force more utilization of nutrients by taking mega- doses. Nutrients consumed beyond need are excreted, in part, and the rest is turned to fat.

The Confusing History of Strength Co-Efficients

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Undoubtedly we’ve all been faced with the question, who is stronger? As a teenager it emerged when those weighing 150 lbs. or less sought to square up to their heavier brethren. Was it more impressive bench pressing 200 lbs. at 150 or 280 lbs. at 200 lbs. bodyweight? While our adolescent selves often solved this problem by calling the other side fat or skinny, we were nevertheless ignorant of this perennial problem. Can strength across bodyweights be compared? For powerlifters or weightlifters currently reading this post, the words Wilks or Sinclair has undoubtedly passed through your lips. For the unaware, the answer is yes, albeit with some reservations.

Since the 1930s a series of formulas have been used to with the express intention of discovering who is the strongest lifter across all weight classes. Varying in their level of nuance, the strength coefficients, as they’re termed, have given a scientific air to locker room debates about the strongest lifter. Perhaps more significantly, they’re also used in competition to determine the overall winner. With that in mind today’s post seeks to examine the history of strength coefficients, beginning in the 1930s and continuing to the present day. As will become clear, the evolution of the strength coefficients used largely echoes the growing professionalism of weightlifting and powerlifting more generally.

Thomas Goldwasser, ‘Pumping Iron, Not Concrete’, The New York Times (1986)

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LONG before Arnold Schwarzenegger became a movie star and pumping iron a glamour business, weight lifting built the York Barbell Company into a strapping success. York Barbell, founded 54 years ago, put York on the map as Muscletown U.S.A., and still brings Olympic weight lifters here to train. The company still dominates the barbell business, with a 70 percent share of the market for cast-iron weights made in the United States.

Physical Fitness for the Nation (1936 British Pathé Video)

The 1930s were a tumultuous period of European history. Traditional political structures appeared to be faltering, fascist regimes were rising and the modern fitness levels appeared to be dropping dramatically. The following video, taken from the wonderful British Pathé archives, gives a snippet into the British government’s attempt to reverse the political tide and create a nation of strong and fit men.

Hemp/CBD Oil: Its History and Benefits

37424782764_bc72ef8f5c_bCBD or cannabidiol is one of the hottest topics that has been doing rounds among people for quite some time now. People argue about the benefits that CBD oil brings with it, while some argueabout the potential risks that it may have. While there are limited studies about CBD oil and its benefits, people have reaped its benefits for quite some time now. So much that out of the 50, 29 states of the US have already legalized the use of CBD for medicinal and recreational purposes.

What is CBD oil?

CBD or cannabidiol is one of the many compounds found in hemp and cannabis plant. The oil that is extractedout of the compoundis known as CBD oil. People often confuse CBD oil with marijuana, but in reality, they are different in many ways. Unlike marijuana, CBD oil does not have THC – the compound that is responsible for the intoxicating effect that marijuana is dreadedfor. CBD oil does not have THC, which makes it very safe for human use. Also, the lack of THC means that the compound doesn’t have any psychoactive effects on the body as well.