Category: Resources

Forgotten Exercises: Kazmaier Shrugs

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So admittedly I am a massive fan of the World’s Strongest Man competition having grown up watching clips from the 1980s and 1990s. As a child I marvelled at the strength of Geoff Capes, the ‘Viking’ Jón Páll Sigmarsson and I even had a soft spot for Rick ‘Grizzly’ Brown. There was one strongman however, who always captured my attention and it was the immortal Bill Kazmaier.

An accomplished powerlifter, strongman and, for a brief period, wrestler, Kazmaier is rightly counted as one of the strongest men to have walked the earth. Looking at his old World’s Strongest Man footage, it’s impossible not to be impressed with the man’s sheer size. As a powerlifter, Kazmaier totalled over 2,000 lbs. and his body reflected that. Like other strongmen and accomplished lifters, Kazmaier regularly devised new methods and approaches to his training, including the Kazmaier shrug.

Guest Post: The History of Sport in New Zealand

New Zealand and rugby

New Zealanders are well-known for being active, outdoorsy and healthy people, so it’s not a surprise that sport has been something that unites the population and makes them proud of their identity and their country. Small countries like New Zealand treat sporting success as something very significant since it can help put them on an international stage. While the beginnings of sports were in NZ were slow, the late 1800s brought a lot of good for the nation, and New Zealanders are still going strong in many sporting events. Here’s a little introduction to Kiwi sporting history and their success today.

Guest Post: 5 Things to Know About Menopause Weight Loss Strategies

Before the medicalization of menopause that occurred in 1970, the term and the notion of this new stage of a woman’s life encompassed many a strange thing. While different cultures observed different symptoms as the clear signs of menopause, so we have the western predominant hot flashes, poor vision in India, and shoulder pain in Japan, treatments were all the more peculiar. Crushed ovaries of animals as a form of estrogen therapy, or testicular juice were both considered acceptable as a way to help women cope with the lack of estrogen and other bodily changes.

Eugen Sandow, ‘The Jar and Fret of Business Lift,’ Sandow on Physical Training (New York, 1894).

Eugen Sandow lionskin

Theoretically, at least, we all pay tribute to the value and importance of physical education. We admire physical strength and beauty, and recognize, though only faintly as yet, the inter- relation of mind and matter. We know, moreover, that a healthy, active brain is sadly handicapped by an ill-developed, sickly body. We see around us every day of our lives masses of our race of imperfect growth and unsound constitution, and almost daily the lesson comes home to us of the break-down of some friend or acquaintance, whose weakness of body could not withstand the mental and bodily strain in the struggle of life.

Two Worlds Collide: Bill Kazmaier and Cactus Jack

The internet can be a truly wonderful way to occupy one’s time and recapture childhood memories. As a child of the 1990s, who grew up with television shows from the 1980s, I had two twin loves, wrestling and the World’s Strongest Man (WSM) competitions. Sadly for me, television broadcasting in Ireland during that time meant that I was often limited in my consumption of either. Despite these limitations, I still found my sporting heroes, two of whom feature in today’s post.

The History of the Assault Bike

Assault bikes are, for want of a better phrase, awful. Just awful. I remember how excited I was when my gym first got an old air bike. I hopped on, busted a gut for 2 minutes and then jumped off, vowing never again to use such a horrid machine. Funnily most people I chat to have a similar story to tell.

Now there are a few people I train with who claim to love the assault bike. Such an admission proves that there are indeed sociopaths present in all walks of life …

More seriously, the assault bike is now one of the more popular cardio machines. Used by Crossfitters, professional athletes and the average gym goer, the assault bike has grown in popularity over the past decade and a half.

Today’s post looks at the history of the air bike which, I was surprised to learn, is far longer than I gave it credit for. We’ll examine its origins, original markets and, of course, its rapid rise in usage.

Dr. Terry Todd and Angel Spassov,’Bulgarian Leg Training Secrets,’ Muscle and Fitness (1989).

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Almost a decade ago, a retired Soviet hammer thrower came to the conclusion that traditional forms of squatting were not the best way to strengthen the muscles of the thighs and hips. Many in the Soviet Union considered this heresy, as the squat was the king of leg training in that country just as it was, and is still, in the United States.

Ten years ago, the full squat was the foundation of exercise programs for almost all elite athletes in the Soviet Bloc nations, whether they were weightlifters or not. Soviet athletes – be they wrestlers, runners, fencers, soccer player or swimmers – all squatted. But because the retired hammer thrower had won the gold medal in the 1976 Olympic Games and because he was a respected graduate of the Central Institute for Physical Education and Sport in Moscow, his opinions were taken seriously. His name: Anatoly Bondarchuk. His studies led him to conclude that a particular form of what we’ll call the high step-up had two significant advantages over the standard back squat. Bondarchuk concluded that high step-ups, firstly, produce greater gains in thigh and hip power and secondly, cause fewer injuries.

Charles Poliquin’s Nausea Leg Routine

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In 2018 the strength and conditioning community lost one of the most creative, and controversial, coaches of recent memory, Charles Poliquin. Known primarily for his work with Olympic athletes, Poliqun’s training methods and philosophies were often times at the cutting edge of the field. This is not to say that Poliquin was not without his quirks – and indeed many criticised his approach to the body’s hormones – but rather that Poliquin was an individual unafraid of trying the new, weird and wonderful.

As something of a warning, I have to state that I was, and am, a great admirer of Poliquin’s training systems, having been trained under them for several years. Today’s short post looks at one of Poliquin’s simplest, but undoubtedly cruelest, training programs – the ‘nausea leg routine.’

P.H. Clias: An Early Pioneer

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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.

Naim Süleymanoğlu and the Importance of Public Histories

As part of my writing with Barbend I’m currently in the middle of an article on Naim Süleymanoğlu, the great Turkish weightlifter from the 1990s. Naim’s story is one of Cold War politics, individual athleticism and raw feats of strength.

The above video, found on the Olympics’ own Youtube channel is such a wonderful idea and something I’d love to see more of in the history of sport. In trying to express Naim’s amazing career and importance to others, the above video gives a succinct, and entertaining example.

This led me to wonder about how the strength community is currently preserving its legacy. As someone who grew up at the very beginning of the internet age – a time when bodybuilding and powerlifting forms were in their infancy, I have always been fascinated with how the history of gym culture – in all its forms – is discussed among weight trainers.

As a historian of physical culture, I am perhaps overly interested in this topic but as the past few years using this website have thought me, the public’s interest in this history is very real. So in today’s post I want to highlight some of the places where this history is being preserved, as well as ruminating on the future of lifting history in the online age.