Category: Resources

Dr. Mel Siff, A Short History of Strength and Conditioning (Dolfzine, 2003)

Strength training has always been synonymous with the so-called “Iron Game,” a broad generic term that includes the competitive lifting of heavy objects by “strongmen/women” during the last century or so. Feats of lifting strength, however, have appeared throughout the history of most nations, but it has only been in very recent times that training to produce strength has become a scientific discipline.


Mel C Siff Ph.D.
This science did not arise overnight, but is the culminating point of thousands of years of trial-and-error methods of training.

The earliest reference to formal strength training occurs in Chinese texts dating as far back as 3600BC when emperors made their subjects exercise daily (Webster, 1976). During the Chou dynasty (1122-249BC) potential soldiers had to pass weight-lifting tests before being allowed to enter the armed forces.

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The History of the Glute Ham Raise

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Owing to the inquisitive nature of a PCS reader, I’ve finally gotten my act together, or at least come close enough to some semblance of normality, to go down the rabbit hole once again. The topic of todays post, is the rather more niche but nevertheless effective Glute Ham Raise (GHR) machine.

Having spent years devotedly using reverse hyperextensions and 45 degree back extensions, my own relationship with the Glute Ham Raise only began in the last twelve months. Since then I’ve made a point of trying as many different alternatives as possible. As is so often the case, I became too engrossed in using the machine that I forgot to look into its history. An email this month asking me about the GHR finally set me straight.

So without further ado we’ll crack into the history of the GHR. What is it? Who invented it and how did it become so damn popular?

Harry B. Paschall, ‘How Barbell Men Go Wrong’, Muscle Moulding (London, 1950)

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You cannot spend a third of a century around physical culturists and barbell men without coming to a few conclusions. You see many enthusiasts who thrive on their training schedules and attain a perfectly satisfactory degree of physical development. You see others work and strain without noticeable improvement for months or years. Quite often these latter cases come up with the time-worn excuse that they are simply not the type to gain. Some experts even have given various names to these unsuccessful barbell men and inform them with regret that they cannot change their type and they are therefore doomed to failure.

Vince Gironda, ‘Biceps: A Six-Week Bulk Course’, Vince Gironda Six Week Bulk Course (c.1968), 3-4

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This program’s purpose is designed to produce quick size by working non-specifically (four different aspects of each muscle) – in other words, it is not a shaping course. Now, the muscle to receive the most work is the muscle you start with. I always start with the arms. So, this is how I will set up the course. Before we start, I would like to point out that muscle tissue does not grow unless taxed 85 per cent! Beware, however, never work to 100 per cent because maximum energy output will stop all muscular growth!

Frederick C. Hatfield, ‘Dr. Deadlift’, Powerlifting USA, Vol 10 No 4. Novemeber/1986

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It’s a little known fact that the eruption of Mr. St. Helens, and the continuing subterranean growls in the area, are purely mythic.  What really happened up there in the land of perpetual rain and majestic mountains was that Doyle Kenady took a heavier than normal deadlift workout.  It’s not a coincidence that those after-rumblings ceased on a certain day in April of this year.

Guest Post: Women’s Sport History

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Historically, people idealized woman’s femininity and frailty, frowning on female participation in sports that threatened to destroy those coveted qualities. However, in spite of that, there were always sporting outlets for women to participate in. Certain sports like tennis, croquet, archery and swimming were available for women ever since the Gilded Age. While today we have women participating in every major sport, times were not always so thrilled with equality. Here’s a brief history of women’s sport.

The Sig Klein Challenge

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Face it.

Every now and then you want to try something new in the gym. A new lift, a new rep range or an entirely new style of training. The mind gets bored of monotony, something which the lifters of yore were all too acquainted with. Today’s post on the Sig Klein challenge will not only help reinvigorate your training, it’ll provide a test of your overall strength. Not bad for something new huh?

Anthony Ditillo, ‘The Single and Double Progression Method’, The Development of Physical Strength (Wm F. Hinbern, 1982).

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Image Source.

When beginning a book on physical training, I feel it is only natural to begin with the most basic concept used in any barbell endeavor. We all use this training aid in one form or another and its use makes possible the goals of which our dreams are made.

By single and double progression I mean the basic way we arrange our sets and repetitions with a given weight, which will enable us to do so many things in our training, that its usefulness cannot and should not be overlooked when discussing barbell training, in general.

All trainees use this method for keeping track of their progress as well as preventing injury and over-training. In fact, I would go as far as to say that most of today’s problems concerning progress with the weights stem from a mistaken notion of the use of this single, double and even triple progression system and all it pertains to.

Doug Hepburn, ‘The Challenge’ (c. 1999)

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The below text is something I’m rather excited about. Earlier this month, I stumbled across Doug Hepburn’s website from the late 1990s and early 2000s. Hepburn was one of the strongest men of the mid twentieth century, famed for his seemingly inhuman feats of strength.

You can imagine, then the joy I felt when I began reading Doug’s articles on his now defunct website (I’ve included the source at the bottom and would encourage you to check it out!).

I don’t want to give away too much but Hepburn’s ‘Challenge’ was a shot fired at modern lifters to match the feats of strength of gear fear lifters. I’ve published it in its entirety below (including the ALL CAPS text). It’s provocative but shows Doug’s love and promotion of pure strength. Enjoy!

Guest Post: Steroid Use through History

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We all know how competitive humans are, especially when it comes to sports. Athletes are pushing themselves harder and harder every day to be the best and achieve what nobody has achieved before. Sometimes they resort to various substances to enhance their performance, but many of those substances are actually quite harmful and forbidden.

Still, this has been happening ever since people discovered that some substances help them improve their athletic performance. The ancient Greeks used sesame seeds, while the Australian Aborigines chewed the pituri plant. On the other hand, Norse warriors were fond of hallucinogenic mushrooms and we there is a lot of evidence that many other ancient cultures had similar traditions.