Category: Training

The History of the Leg Press Machine

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Though oftentimes derided on the gym floor, the leg press machine has nevertheless become a staple of weight lifting life through the globe. Yes it’s not as ‘hardcore’ as the squat and yes it’s oftentimes abused by bros quarter repping but this piece of equipment has a long and interesting history behind it.

A long and interesting history, which will take us into today’s post. We felt that having only really covered the Smith Machine in detail, it was time we began to look at the history behind some of the more popular machines known to lifters.

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The History of the Preacher Curl

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A piece of equipment ubiquitous across the gym floor, the Preacher Curl is a go to exercise for gym bros and dedicated trainees alike seeking to build their biceps. Combined with the EZ Bar, whose history is covered here, the Preacher Curl is likely an exercise we’ve all turned to in need of arm development.

When did this piece of equipment enter the gym zeitgeist, what was its original purpose and how did it become so popular? Furthermore, how does one perform the exercise correctly? Well strap in folks as we take another trip down memory lane…

The History of the Zercher Squat

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Mentioned at various points on this particular site, the Zercher Squat has been described by many as one of the most effective but painful methods of building big quads. Uncomfortable to the nth degree, this lift isn’t exactly the most popular amongst gym goers. A point which leads us into today’s post. Why invent such a painful method of lifting? When did it come about and why has it remained with us today?

Bill Starr, Gaining Weight The Natural Way (1993 article)

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It was the first really warm day of spring. The trees and shrubs displayed tiny buds, but the insects and crawling creatures were not yet out in force and, best of all, the poison ivy was still dormant. It was the ideal time to hike through the woodlands of the Susquehanna State Park. I tracked down the source of a small stream, watched a six-foot blacksnake slither up the limbs of a sapling in order to do some serious sunbathing, and observed a dozen adventuresome canoeists guide their crafts over the white water of Deer Creek.

The History of the Trap Bar

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A piece of equipment that has become increasingly common in recent years is the trap bar, that hexagonal device which has become the bane of many a lifter. An easy way to build up the quads and lower back, the trap bar first came into my consciousness when i began lifting in the early 2000s. An odd device, the thing kicked my ass as I attempted a meagre deadlift.

Since then, we’ve come to better terms to the extent that I began to wonder where this device came from. What was its original purpose? And how did it end up on a gym floor in Dublin? A series of questions that has led to today’s post.

Forgotten Devices: Edward Aston’s ‘Anti-Barbell’

Much to my surprise, and great shame, Edward Aston is not someone mentioned a lot on this website. This, I hasten to add, has everything to do with my own deficiencies. Born in England in the late nineteenth-century, Aston was known to contemporaries as one of the strongest men around. In 1910, he won the title of ‘World’s Middleweight Weightlifting Champion‘ after defeating Maxick in a series of lifts.

Renowned for his grip strength in particular, a topic he published extensively on, Aston also tried his hand at barbell designs. Well barbell designs of sorts. In late 2018, I had the opportunity to spend several weeks at the Stark Center at the University of Texas where, aside from other things, I stumbled across Aston’s ‘Anti-Barbell’, an unevenly loaded barbell Aston claimed would revolutionise the weightlifting community. Shown below, Aston’s ‘anti-barbell’ was marketed during the mid to late 1910s, primarily in British physical culture magazines such as Health and Strength.

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