Category: Biographies

Louis Abele’s Back Program c. 1948

louis-abele

Although unknown to the modern olympic lifter, Abele was one of America’s finest lifters during the 1940s and 1950s. Unfortunately he was overshadowed by fellow US lifters John Grimek, Steve Stanko, and John Davis during the course of his career. Similarly the outbreak of the Second World War denied Abele the chance to lift at the 1940 Olympic Games, a time when he would have been in his prime.

Nevertheless, Abele’s lifting career saw him put up some rather impressive poundages as you’ll read about.

With regards to training philosophy, Abele was a strong advocate of specialisation and high intensity training. Illustrating this, Abele tells the reader that he once exercised so hard that his teeth hurt from breathing! I suspect that this level of intensity is relatively rare in today’s gyms. Anyway what fascinates me about Abele was his advocacy of specialisation and by that Abele meant training primarily legs for 2 to 3 months before moving on to another body part for a similar amount of time. In this way Abele would focus almost exclusively on one body part, to the detriment of others, reach what he felt to be a maturation point and then switch his training up. From memory I can’t think of too many current lifters who adhere to this sort of programming although one supposes that the concept of a deload week is vaguely similar.

Anyway, the below article details Abele’s back workouts from his early 20s. For interested parties, the text itself comes from a series of letters written by Abele to Chester O. Teegarden which were published by Iron Man Industries of Alliance, Nebraska in 1948.

As always… Happy Lifting!

The Fabulous Zabo Koszewski

irvinkoszewski

Famed for his god-like mid section, Ivan ‘Zabo’ Koszewski, is often forgotten about by modern gym goers seeking inspiration for their training. Although smaller in stature than contemporaries like Arnold or Frank Zane, Zabo’s physique was nevertheless the stuff of legend amongst his training colleagues.

Today’s post, written by Bob Hise for Strength and Health Magazine in 1967, details Zabo’s unique approach to training and nutrition. Whereas many of the time were eating between four and six meals a day, Zabo built his physique eating only twice a day. Something proponents of Intermittent Fasting will no doubt appreciate.

John Hansen, ‘The Day I Met Arnold, Lou and Franco’, Iron Age (c. 2004)

Frano-columbu-main

I have a great story to share about the day I met the three best bodybuilders in the world on the same day.

I was 14 at the time and had just started to get interested in bodybuilding. It was wierd because I had been interested in muscles and bodybuilding for a long time, from when I was very young. In the ’70’s, however, bodybuilding was very small and was not main stream at all. There were many myths and old wives’ tales surrounding the sport.

Guest Post: A Brief History of German Gymnastics in US Public Schools and its Relevance for PE Teachers Today

1.png

As several of the United States’ largest public school districts plan to continue online learning this fall, many physical education teachers will return to the Instagram Live workouts and virtual check-ins used to keep students active during the first months of the pandemic. The adaptability and resourcefulness they have exhibited resembles that of the subject’s first instructors. Beyond mindset, the gymnastics exercises taught in PE by German-American instructors during the late nineteenth century may serve as an example of how to conduct remote or socially distanced classes next year.

Bodybuilding’s First Champion: William Murray

60fd9025c8a0be3c9139e9cba8e04b9a

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?

P.H. Clias: An Early Pioneer

Unknown

This website has, at time of writing, been operating for a little over six years. When I began Physical Culture Study my intent was to shed some light on the weird and wonderful of the fitness industry. Little did I know at the time of all the things I could write on!

Somewhat shamefully it’s dawned on me that I have tended to neglect the early pioneers in the fitness industry, the men and women from the seventeenth, eighteenth and early nineteenth century who helped to create, normalise and promote, the practice of moving the body and building muscles.

The object of today’s post, Phokion Heinrich Clias, is one such individual. Born in the United States, Clias moved to Switzerland before travelling around England and France preaching the gospel of gymnastics in the first half of the nineteenth century. Here we are going to discuss his life and, more importantly, his legacy.

Tom Farrey, ‘Tough, Determind: Arlys Kovach Has Come Back From a Shattering Accident to Become One of Top Female Weightlifters in the World,’ LA Times, June 26, 1986.

22571977890_a66a9579d6_b

There was a time when people became strong from shoveling snow, hefting hay bales or wielding pick-axes in the mines, not from Nautilus machines, or steroids. They were cut from the land, products of their environment.

They came from hard-working farms and hard-working towns. One of those towns is International Falls, Minn., known to some as the home of Bronko Nagurski, a man whose very name is a synonym for football.

On the Canadian border, International Falls is about 320 miles north of the Twin Cities and two hours away from any other township of more than 100 souls. The gold that led to the creation of International Falls in the late 1800s has long since played out and the main industry in the city of about 5,600 is a paper mill.

Ronald Reagan’s Presidential Workout (1984)

Screenshot 2020-05-27 at 17.01.37

Not long ago, the editors of Parade asked whether I would write an article on how I try to keep in shape. I said I would be delighted because I am a great believer in exercise, not only for reasons of fitness but also sheer pleasure. So, move over, Jane Fonda, here comes the Ronald Reagan workout plan.

Exercise comes pretty naturally to me, since I’ve done it my entire life. When I was younger, I was a lifeguard during the summers, and I played football in high school and college. And for all of my adult life, I have enjoyed horseback riding and working outdoors.

Over the years, I have learned that one key to exercise is to find something you enjoy. The other key is to keep the exercise varied. Using those two principles, let me explain my fitness plan, and perhaps you can see ways in which this could help you in your own exercising.