Category: Biographies

The Amazing Physique Of A. Schwarzenegger & How He Developed It (1967 Article)

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Published in Iron Man Magazine in 1967 by Arnold’s friend Albert Busek, the following article details Arnold’s rise to fame alongside his working routine of the time. A fine biography and reminder that even during the 60s, people marvelled at the Austrian’s successes.

JUST a short year ago his name was still generally unknown, but on October 30, 1965, in Stuttgart, his meteoric rise to international fame began.

However, let us review his story from the very beginning. Arnold Schwarzenegger was born on July 30, 1947, the son of police inspector Gustav Schwarzenegger and his wife, Aurelia. As a child he was taken along by his father to curling contests, and very soon the desire to emulate his father’s interest in sports awakened in him. At the same time he realised that that wouldn’t be a very easy thing to do, for his father was – and still is – an outstanding sportsman. Among other things, his father was the European title holder in distance curling, and several times he won awards as state champion in gymnastics and calisthenics. In his early efforts to achieve distinction in athletics, Arnold had to content himself with a merely average performance, and was very disappointed in this result. That happened in February, 1962, at the Graz City Championship in Distance Curling for Juniors. Arnold only won sixth place. For the son of a well-known sportsman that was naturally an unfortunate start, but Arnold was simply too weak to assert himself against the best performers. Thus, for the moment, his drive to reach the top came to a sudden halt.

A Brief History of Strongman

Strength sports, as an endeavour, are simultaneously a modern, and pre-modern, sport. Accounts of men engaging in contests date back to the Chinese practice of lifting heavy stones and cauldrons in 6000 BC (Hai-sheng, 2012). Likewise, Ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt, among other regions, had strength cultures (Crowther, 2007). That withstanding, strength contests and feats, like Hafþór’s deadlift, trace their immediate history to the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, when ‘physical culture’ emerged as a new recreational movement. Defined by Michael Anton Budd as a late nineteenth and early twentieth century phenomenon concerned with the ‘ideological and commercial cultivation’ of the body, physical culture marked the beginning of mass gym cultures (Budd, 1997). Originating in Europe and spreading to the United States, physical culturists included strongmen and women who routinely competed against one another for prestige and popularity.

Charles Gaines, ‘Cutting Some Fancy Figures, Sports Illustrated, 10 July (1972).

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Outside the auditorium, or Pavilion, as it’s called, it is a gorgeous Sunday afternoon at the Mountain Park amusement center in Holyoke, Mass. A roller coaster clatters up and down a wooden trestle. Children fly around in little whirly things that look like boats with wings. There are clam bars, pizza stands, dart throws, cotton-candy booths, a commando machine-gun stall. The sky is raucous blue, the sun is hot and a lot of people are laughing. Outside Mountain Park, on all sides, stretches Holyoke suburbia, big homes and fine lawns that make the place feel mischievous and isolated, an island of gaudery in the midst of all that yawning green. Especially today. Today in the Pavilion a body contest is going on, a “Festival of Flesh”—maybe the gaudiest of all sporting events and strange as a llama race to the average suburban fan. Leon Brown, who works in a laundry in New York, is in there posing for the 1972 Mr. East Coast title.

Louis Abele’s Back Program c. 1948

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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

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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)

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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

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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.