Category: Nutrition

Tony Sansone’s Weight Gain Diet

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Born at the turn of the twentieth-century, Tony Sansone is perhaps one of the most famous physical culturists never to turn his hand to bodybuilding. Nevertheless his influence on bodybuilders and those seeking to get in shape was remarkable. Training under both Bernarr McFadden and Charles Atlas, Sansone developed one of the most sought after physiques in 1930s America.

He modelled, quite provocatively at times, wrote extensively on good nutrition and ran a series of gyms, which included a regular training spot for the legendary Steve Reeves. Shunning excessive bulk for definition and aesthetics, Sansone possessed a body that many men today would envy. Indeed, the renowned physical culture historian David Gentle once commented

If Sansone had been born in Greek antiquity, he would have been immortalized as a god.

With this in mind, today’s post looks at Sansone’s simple and effective way to build muscle mass while maintaining a relative level of leanness.

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C.F. Langworthy, ‘Dietary Study of Sandow, The Strong Man.’

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One of the things which always fascinated me is the diets of those early physical culturists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. At a time when gym culture was in its infancy, these men and women experimented with their training, their diet, and their mindsets to achieve maximum results. For some, like the Saxon Trio, their diets were the thing of legend – they ate everything in sight. Others, like the vegetarian Bernarr MacFadden, took a meticulous interest in what they ate. 

The subject of today’s post, Eugen Sandow, lay somewhere in between. Deemed by many as the world’s most perfectly developed specimen, Sandow was frustratingly coy about what he ate on a day to day basis. That’s what makes today post so fascinating. A reproduction of a one day study conducted in the United States, it is the first time, to my knowledge that we have verified audience of what Sandow ate. It’s not particularly illustrative, but it does give an indication of what Sandow ate in a scientific context. Enjoy!

Guest Post: The History of Intermittent Fasting

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Among many kinds, intermittent fasting (IF) has proven to be an effective approach to maintain and improve a healthy lifestyle. Fasting can be done to lose weight, detoxify the body, or for religious reasons. Scientifically, there has been a large amount of research that supports health benefits driven by fasting. Even though it has been largely tested only on animals, the results are still promising. Fasting reduces oxidative stress, improves memory function, preserves learning, and enhances biomarkers of disease.

Before the Carnivore Diet? Rheo H. Blair’s Meat and Water Diet (1960s)

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The Carnivore Diet – the practice of solely consuming meat products – has grown exponentially in the past few years. As someone who has experimented with a range of diets, everything from all fruit to raw meat, it’s remarkable to see an all meat diet gain traction for the lifting community and the general populace. While Vilhjamur Stefannsson popularised the Inuit’s meat dominated diet in the early 1900s, an all meat diet for athletes or lifters appears to be a new development.

So being the type of individual that I am, I decided to go through the annals of bodybuilding and see if anyone had dabbled with a carnivore-esque diet in the past. Echoing the wonderful ‘nothing new under the sun series‘ produced by Chaos and Pain (definitely not safe for work!), we have a precedent for the current carnivore diet in the form of Vince Gironda and Rheo H. Blair’s ‘meat and water’ diet, a short term weight loss diet used by bodybuilders prior to a competition.

With that in mind today’s post examines the reasons behind Blair’s experiment, the bodybuilders he used it on and what lessons, if any, his meat and water diet holds for present day lifters.

Chris Dickerson’s Training Philosophy (1981)

ironman-bodybuilding-fitness-magazine_1_e0f34dbdfd438d197511a149b6118c7d.jpgIt’s difficult to elaborate on my bodybuilding philosophy. Bodybuilding has become such an integral part of my life that it’s almost impossible for me to identify where the bodybuilding stops and the rest of my life starts.

I think it’s important initially to understand that bodybuilding is my life, and it has been my life since I became serious about the sport 15 years ago. To be a truly great champion in any sport — and particularly in one as all-consuming as bodybuilding — you must be so dedicated that the sport becomes completely woven into the warp and woof of your life.

What I can do in this article is give you my views on five factors crucial to any man’s (or woman’s) success in bodybuilding. These factors are training, nutrition, rest and recuperation, mental attitude and skin preparation. Let’s look at each of these individually.

MIKE MENTZER, ‘The Essential Nutrients’, HEAVY DUTY NUTRITION (1993), 11-14.

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In order to maintain health and provide for optimal growth, our bodies require more than 40 different nutrients. These various nutrients can be found in the six primary food components: water, protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals.

WATER: Whether or not you believe live began in the sea, the fact remains that life exists in an inner sea within our body, two-thirds of which is water. All of life’s complex biochemical processes take place in a water medium, which accounts for the fluidity of our blood and lymph system. Water is our waste remover through urine and feces; it lubricates our joints, keeps our body temperature within a narrow range; and last but not of least importance to the bodybuilder, water is the primary constituent of muscle tissue.

A History of Pre-Workout Supplements

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Situated halfway between the gym and the nightclub, pre-workout supplements have taken on a remarkable popularity amongst gym goers in recent years. Labelled with ‘hardcore’ names such as ‘Anarchy’, ‘Mr. Hyde’ or ‘Rage’, the pre-workout supplement has become a staple amongst portions of the lifting community.

Indeed, one may be forgiven for thinking that bodybuilders, powerlifters, weight lifters and just about anyone else who has ever graced the gym floor have been using these supplements since the dawn of gym going. This however, is not the case. In fact, the first major pre workout supplements did not hit the markets since the 1980s.

So what came before the pre-workout supplement? What did bodybuilders do in the time of physical culture or the time of Arnold and co.? Furthermore when did pre-workouts hit the market? And why did they become so popular? An ambitious set of questions, which today’s article seeks to answer.

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:

The History of the Big Gulp

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In the 1970s the average can of soda weighed about six ounces. Nowadays you can buy one weighing 32 ounces or more from 7-11s and other convenience stores.

The reason for this dramatic increase can be traced in part back to the history of the ‘Big Gulp’, 7-11s iconic colossal drink.

Today we look at the history of the Gulp, who created it? Who bought it? And why did it become so popular?

Physical Culture Library: John McCallum’s Iconic ‘Get Big Drink’ Article

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John McCallum has been covered at several points on this site already. What’s been missing in our discussions has been an insight into just how wonderful his writing style was. McCallum wrote in parables that were simultaneously funny and inspiring. This was best seen in McCallum’s iconic ‘Get Big’ drink article.

The ‘Get Big’ drink was a bulking technique that offered thousands of extra calories in an easy fix. Without delving into the article too much, I’ll stop now by saying that all of McCallum’s articles can be found in The Complete Keys to Progress, available here.