Category: Training

Should you Workout to Music? Old School Approaches

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Unless you own a home gym, the issue of whether or not you train to music is usually decided for you. Nowadays the gym stereo is a much a part of the gym floor as the weights themselves. Depending on your gym, the decision to leave your headphones at home results in anything from pop music to death metal drumming through your ears. There is, very little wrong with this in theory. After all, the early callisthenics teachers of the nineteenth-century advocated exercising to music.

How were things done during the so-called ‘Golden Age’ of bodybuilding in the 1960s and 1970s? Furthermore, if possible, should you train without music? The bodybuilders of yore held mixed opinions…

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Forgotten Exercises: The Dumbbell Swing

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Almost a half-century ago the one and two hand swing lifts were very popular among lifters and bodybuilders alike, especially the one hand lift. Over the years, however, both of these lifts have slumped into oblivion so that today there are very few who ever practice them, either as an exercise or for record-breaking performances. Because of this the world record in both lifts still remains at that poundage that was lifted many years ago. The one hand record is 199 pounds, and the two hand record is 224 pounds, just 25 pounds more than the one hand swing.

John Grimek, The Dumbbell Swing (1959)

This weekend I had the pleasure of dipping once more into Arthur Saxon’s excellent work from the early 1900s, The Development of Physical Power. Notable, for me at least by Saxon’s no nonsense attitude and frankness, the work does not seek to deceive or flatter. Instead, one of the strongest men of his generation sets out his remarkable strength and some of the means used to sustain it. Many of the exercises set out by Saxon are still done today, except for the above mentioned dumbbell swing.

The purpose of today’s post is thus twofold. First, we’re going to examine what this exercise is and how to perform it. From there, we get to delve into it’s fascinating history.

John Christy, Why Aren’t I Getting Bigger?, Hardgainer Magazine, May/June (2003)

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Author’s note: If you’re wondering why this isn’t the second installment of “The Keys to Success” series, it’s because the article “out-grew” the pages of HARDGAINER. l’ve decided to turn “The Keys to Success” into my first book. I should have it completed by the end of the year.

Ah, the grand old question of them all. I’ve heard it a thousand times: “I’m doing everything right, so why aren’t I getting any bigger?” Let me give you the reasons why.

Abe Goldberg (1951) Article -Low Back Power

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Written in the 1950s but containing information relevant to the modern gym goer, the following article by Abe Goldberg will be sure to interest both those seeking to bring up their squat numbers and bend over without significant discomfort. A nice follow on from our article on the reverse hyperextension, Goldberg’s exercises will hit your posterior chain like nothing else.

Enjoy!

Vince Gironda, ‘Workouts And Body Rhythm’, IronMan Magazine, (November 1983)

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Question: 

You seem to write a great deal about exercise techniques, yet I have noticed that much of it is in fact conflicting advice.

I have been bodybuilding for ten years now, before that I did six years of weightlifting. I still do not know what is the best system to use.

Vince, how do you justify your writing when you even go so far as to contradict your own advice?

Answer:

I once wrote an article entitled, Muscle Confusion, which was not understood by many. Readers actually made fun of it. I will now attempt to explain in more detail the essence of that article. The following is dedicated to those of little faith and to the ones who resist change.

George F. Jowett, ‘The Standard That Determines the Ideal Shape’, The Key to Muscle and Might (c. 1925)

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There is no doubt in my mind that Eugene Sandow’s rise to fame was due more to the symmetrical shapeliness of his enviable body than to the difficulty of feats of strength he performed. Generally speaking, there are two things which will always impress the mind of the body culturist, shape and strength. With strength, we have already dealt.

Therefore, we will now direct out attention to the value of shapeliness, and the influence it has upon our mind and body. Oh yes, it has a great influence upon the mind. The next time you visit an art gallery notice the quiet reverence that is displayed by the art lovers, as they move from one picture to another. The serene beauty of the pictures permeates the whole atmosphere, leaving the beholders in silent wonder. I have a great friend who is a wonderful artist, and he often makes sketches of the body in varied postures, which he brings to me for scrutiny. On one of his visits he said to me, “I can always tell whether the drawings meet with your approval or not. Not by what you say, as much as how little you say. Your eyes are always drawn to the pictures you like best, and I have noticed that you have sometimes been so enraptured that you did not hear me speak to you.” He was quite right. Pictures of the body beautiful, correctly translated, never weary me. I can feast my eyes upon them for hours at a time. This rather contradicts the statement that, familiarity with the most beautiful objects, breeds contempt. For twenty-five years I have lived in the atmosphere of beautiful bodies, and I am still as enthusiastic as I was when I first commenced my studies.

David Rensin, ’20 Questions with Jack Lalanne’, Playboy Magazine (October, 1984).

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“When the interview began in La Lanne’s living room at 8:30 A.M., he had already been awake for five hours. He’d exercised, had breakfast and donned a red jump suit.”Most people know La Lanne only from his TV show. It’s the least of his achievements. On each birthday, La Lanne performs a muscle-numbing feat. At 45, he did 1000 push-ups and 1000 chin-ups in an hour and 22 minutes. At 60, he swam from Alcatraz to Fisherman’s Wharf–handcuffed, shackled and towing a 1000-pound boat. At 66, La Lanne swam more than a mile–handcuffed, feet shackled, towing ten boats carrying 77 people. In 48 minutes.”Most of us have trouble just turning on a tape recorder. Happy birthday, Jack.”

Q1 Playboy: What incredible feat are you planning to do to celebrate turning 70?

Jack La Lanne: I’m planning to swim underwater from Catalina Island to Los Angeles. That’s 26 miles. I’ll do it in less than 24 hours. But what I really wanted to do was carry a 350-pound bar bell on my shoulders down Hollywood Boulevard to protest all the male and female prostitution, all the dope and crap. I wanted to show people that there are better things in life, that you can be fit at any age. Can you imagine 350 pounds on your back for half an hour? All your muscles contract simultaneously. That’s plain pain. And I would challenge anyone in the world to do that and give him $10,000 if he did. But I can’t do it now. Some kid hit my new Porsche 924 head on. About $15,000 damage. I had to have surgery on my knee to take cartilage out, and that took care of that. But I got a new Porsche 944 recently. It’s a pistol. I had it up to 130 the other day.

Product Review: Heroic Sport’s Pahlavandle Clubs

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Regular readers of this blog will be aware of my fondness for Indian clubs. I’ve posted on them at several points, published a few academic articles on them and even spent a year in Cambridge doing a thesis on them. Alongside and indeed fuelling this interest, has been my daily use of the Indian clubs.

Every morning without fail, I swing the clubs for 10 to 15 minutes. This has been my morning routine for the past three years and in that time my mornings have become more pleasant, I’ve perked up and perhaps most importantly of all, my previous shoulder problems have become a thing of the past. Like many other lifters, my first forays into the gym resulted in far too much time bench pressing like my life depended on it. The result were very…very beat up shoulders.

Swinging lightweight Indian clubs in a variety of ways has slowly, over time, helped stabilise, solidify and save my creaking joints. I am therefore…. a fan.

You can imagine the childlike giddiness created when Heroic Sport contacted me about reviewing their Pahlavandle Indian clubs. Based in Denmark, this rather clever device allows you to bring your Indian clubs with you wherever you travel. Having trialed the Pahlavandle out for a week, I thought it’d be beneficial to discuss my initial reaction.

Guest Post: A Short history of JAZZercise

People dance when they feel good.

People workout because they want to feel good, to have a good look.

What do these two activities have in common? They both make people feel better about themselves. They both provide a sense of wellness.

From ancient times, when people were physically working every day, fighting, or hunting to survive, people were running, exercising and this would keep them in good shape, having good health. Nowadays people workout because they don’t do any physical activity and they have to lose weight. Sedentary life is not suitable for health as many diseases can occur: gaining weight, back problems, slow metabolism, constant fatigue feeling, and many others.

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?