Category: Biographies

Guest Post: The Greatest Genetics? The Case of Flex Wheeler

Kenneth Flex Wheeler is often called the “Sultan of Symmetry” and known for being a living legend who has one of the best physiques to ever grace the IFBB stage as he has the widest back and shoulders among all bodybuilder competitors. In spite of muscle mass size, definition and proportion, Mr. Olympia judges have commonly been impressed with his muscle size than with body proportion, that`s why Flex Wheeler is justly considered as the greatest bodybuilder who has never won the Mr. Olympia, but who won Arnold Classic four times!

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Today Flex Wheeler is the 52-year old icon of bodybuilding who likes to amaze and make happy his fans announcing his comeback for the Mr. Olympia 2017.

Eat like a Saxon!

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Those acquainted with the history of Physical Culture will no doubt recall the Saxon brothers, a travelling troupe of German strongmen who performed at the turn of the twentieth century. Blessed with remarkable physiques, the trio’s mighty strength was undoubtedly aided by their healthy appetite for food and drink. In fact, as today’s brief post shows, the trio consumed a gargantuan amount of food even by today’s standards.

According to Kurt Saxon, who acted as the trio’s chef on the road, a normal day’s consumption for each individual man was as follows:

Steve Michalik’s Training Diary from 1968

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How bodybuilding champions train is an area of intense interest for muscle fanatics the world over. How many sets, how many reps and how intensely? What makes them great?

Seeking to satisfy demands, muscle magazines often publish polished workout routines written by the Champions. Yet nothing compares to the first article, making today’s post on Steve Michalik’s 1968 training diary just so fascinating. In it we see Steve’s hopes for the future regarding the stage and also his thoughts on training poundages an intensity. A gem of a find that I stumbled across on Dave Draper’s excellent bodybuilding website and forum.

You can check out the training diary below.

Suits, Boots and Brutes: The History of Powerlifting Gear

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Early this month I had the pleasure (?) of helping a friend of mine at his local powerlifting meet. Over the months he had squatted, benched and deadlifted with a remarkable intensity and focus. When the time came for the big day, I was honoured that he asked me to come along. Admittedly, I didn’t know what to expect.

Despite training for over a decade at this point, a time that has included powerlifting programmes, my knowledge of the sport was largely confined to big athletes lifting even bigger things. The powerlifting meet changed that. At least somewhat. Still big athletes and big things but now there were elastic singlets, knee wraps and in the warm up benching shirts. What I thought to be a simple sport (in theory, not in execution) was anything but.

Competitors discussed the relative merits of heel height in their lifting shoes, the importance of tight weightlifting belts and which squat suit provided the best bang for their buck. When the time came for my friend’s first squat, I had to peel him into, and then later, out of, his own squat suit. Moral of the story? Always ask what exactly is entailed when you agree to help someone!

In any case the experience rekindled my interest in the history of powerlifting, specifically all its bells and whistles. In today’s post, we’re going to discuss the emergence of weightlifting belts, shoes, squat suits and bench shirts to determine what emerged, when and why.

Frank Zane: A Bodybuilder You’d Want To Look Like

Outside of bodybuilding circles, Frank Zane is practically unheard of. Despite winning the Olympia three years in a row at the end of the 1970s, he was superseded by perhaps the most famous bodybuilder of all time, Arnold Schwarzenegger. But while Zane might have been forgotten by popular culture thanks to Arnold’s freaky muscles, he’s still the bodybuilder you probably most want to look like.

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Wikimedia Commons

Katie Sandwina: The Strongest Woman in the World

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Strongmen around the turn of the 19th century usually grab the attention of most people interested in Physical Culture. Almost everyone will know the name Eugen Sandow. Yet despite our preconceived notions that strength is an exclusively male pursuit, Physical Culture was in fact an all-encompassing movement that didn’t exclude based on gender. There were female performers as well, many of whom were stronger than their male counterparts. Society viewed these women with a suspicious eye. Was it possible to be strong and ladylike? Were they not too masculine? Katie Sandwina, once the ‘Strongest Woman in the World’ had to face many of these pressures. What’s more, she did it with a smile.

Charles Atlas and the Golden Age of American Constipation

Constipation: a condition in which there is difficulty in emptying the bowels, usually associated with hardened faeces.

Constipation may seem an odd topic of study, but the history of the condition and efforts aimed at relieving it open up interesting social, political and economic histories . From 1900 to 1940, the United States suffered a pandemic of constipation. The condition was widely acknowledged in public discourse and a thorn in the side of the medical profession. Today’s article focuses on Physical Culturist Charles Atlas’s role in promoting anti-constipation remedies. In examining Atlas’s story we will look briefly at what the medical profession had to say about the condition and what marketers were selling to consumers before examining what the ‘World’s Most Perfectly Developed Man’ had to say. It’s a story as bizarre as it is interesting.

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Come one come all to the WBF Show!

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In the first instalment we looked at the controversial beginning of Vince McMahon’s World Bodybuilding Federation. The WBF promised to revolutionise the way bodybuilding conducted itself and when June 15th was chosen for the first ever WBF show, people waited anxiously to see what would happen.

Creating a buzz

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In the build up to the show, crossovers between the WBF Bodystars and Vince’s WWF became more and more common. Indeed during WWF programs it was commonplace to see whole segments dedicated to the Bodystars discussing their workout routines. One particular bizarre publicity stunt saw a team of wrestlers face off against the Bodystars in Family Feud. Coupled with this, ahem ‘brilliant’ marketing, Vince’s supplement line, Integrated Conditioning Program, was blazoned throughout arenas in the US when the wrestlers were in town.