Category: Training

John Grimek, ‘Shaplier Biceps’, Strength and Health, November (1957), 35-49.

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The arm, particularly the biceps muscle, the best-known of all the muscles and incite more interest and controversy than any other group of muscles. Both old and young are for some inexplicable reason, fascinated by strong, muscular looking arms. The very young are always intrigued and not heard anyone with a fine pair of arms “to show me your muscle!” Youngsters don’t realise the almost 700 muscles comprise the muscular makeup of the body, but to then only the biceps muscles because they not up to a peak when the arm is flexed.

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The History of the Dumbbell Pullover

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Earlier this week I was given a very generous gift. The gift in question was a complete set of Wills’ Cigarette Cards. Produced for an Irish and English audience in 1914, the cards depicted various physical culture exercises one could engage in to keep fit and healthy. The irony that the cards could only be obtained by buying a packet of cigarettes was evidently lost on the manufacturers.

In any case I gleefully went about examining my present and stumbled across the below photographs. Said to be breathing exercises with dumbbells, the movement represents an early iteration of the pullover exercise.

As is so often the case, I set to work uncovering the history of this particular movement with the result being this very article. So today, we’ll begin by examining the popularity and history of the pullover from the early to late twentieth-century. The pullover exercise has fallen from grace in the lifting community, from a once hallowed movement to a more niche and often poorly executed assistance lift.

Joe Weider, ‘How it All Began’, Joe Weider Bodybuilding System (Weider Health & Fitness, 1988), 5-7.

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As a Weider student you should be interested to know that the Weider System is the most popular and successful bodybuilding course in the world. Because of my 50 years of involvement in the sport, the Weider System is the basis of all modern bodybuilding and weight-training techniques. Literally everything in bodybuilding has sprung from the Weider System. My system has stood the test of time! The results speak for themselves.

It is not by accident that the Weider System enjoys such popularity. Champions I have helped train hold every important bodybuilding title. Among my famous stars are Arnold Schwarzenegger (seven times Mr. Olympia), Frank Zane (three times Mr. Olympia), Sergio Oliva (three times Mr. Olympia), Larry Scott (twice Mr. Olympia), Franco Columbu (twice Mr Olympia), Chris Dickerson (Mr Olympia), Rachel McLish (Ms. Olympia), Lou Ferrigno (Mr America, Mr. International and twice Mr. Universe), Corinna Everson (American Women’s Bodybuilding Champion and threetime Ms. Olympia) and Lee Haney (American Men’s Bodybuilding Champion, World Bodybuilding Champion and three-time Mr Olympia).

Forgotten Exercises: The LaLanne push up

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This website’s love for Jack LaLanne is perhaps firmly established through our previous posts. Well with that in mind, today’s post discusses the LaLanne push up, a fingertip push up now synonymous with one of twentieth-century’s most vibrant fitness personalities. So in today’s short post we’re going to examine the exercise, its history, and most importantly, its application.

The Confusing History of Strength Co-Efficients

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Undoubtedly we’ve all been faced with the question, who is stronger? As a teenager it emerged when those weighing 150 lbs. or less sought to square up to their heavier brethren. Was it more impressive bench pressing 200 lbs. at 150 or 280 lbs. at 200 lbs. bodyweight? While our adolescent selves often solved this problem by calling the other side fat or skinny, we were nevertheless ignorant of this perennial problem. Can strength across bodyweights be compared? For powerlifters or weightlifters currently reading this post, the words Wilks or Sinclair has undoubtedly passed through your lips. For the unaware, the answer is yes, albeit with some reservations.

Since the 1930s a series of formulas have been used to with the express intention of discovering who is the strongest lifter across all weight classes. Varying in their level of nuance, the strength coefficients, as they’re termed, have given a scientific air to locker room debates about the strongest lifter. Perhaps more significantly, they’re also used in competition to determine the overall winner. With that in mind today’s post seeks to examine the history of strength coefficients, beginning in the 1930s and continuing to the present day. As will become clear, the evolution of the strength coefficients used largely echoes the growing professionalism of weightlifting and powerlifting more generally.

The Lost Art of Type Training

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Can every muscle fanatic become the next Mr. Olympia? Is the 220lbs. ripped physique attainable for those who want it bad enough? How far can one push past their genetic limits?

For George Walsh (seen above), the focus of today’s article, genetics had a huge role in determining who would be the next Mr. Olympia and who would be the slightly in shape trainer. Accordingly, Walsh advocated people train to their strengths and ignore the marketing of the muscle business which would have you believe that $200 worth of supplements and the latest training programme would make you huge.

Today’s post looks at Walsh’s successes with type training, what type training entailed and what it means for the modern trainer.

Peary Rader’s Magic Circle

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Loved and despised in equal measure, the squat has long been the iron game’s go to exercise for maximum leg development. A cornerstone of most trainee’s leg routines, there is certainly no doubting the exercise’s popularity.

Yet despite the fact that the back squat in particular has enjoyed a decades long dominance amongst gym rats, this does not mean that it’s position has not been challenged. Indeed for every man and woman who swear by the traditional squat, chances are you’ll find many more who curse it.

Owing to individual body mechanics, many individuals have found it difficult to perform the back squat with the form necessary to produce maximum development. This is not a new problem either as today’s post attests.

The History of Weightlifting Belts

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Owing to the increasing popularity of powerlifting, cross fit and olympic lifting, chances are you either own a weightlifting belt or see them on a regular basis on the gym floor. A means of bracing the abdomen, weightlifting belts are a source of controversy in the weightlifting world between those who see them as legitimate tools in the quest for heavier weights and those purists who prefer all lifts be done without any equipment whatsoever. For the majority of us, they’re simply a novelty to break out on a deadlift PR.

In today’s post, we’re going to explore the history of the weightlifting belt, from ancient mythology to the present day. Far from a new phenomenon then, the belt has long been a lifter’s friend.

Training with Titans: George Hackenschmidt

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Picture the scene. It’s 1911 and famed Wrestler George Hackenschmidt has finally retired from the squared circle. Looking forward to a life of relaxation and leisure, the man from Estonia grants you the privilege of an interview. In his strength and wrestling career, Hackenschmidt has popularised the Bear Hug, the Hack Squat and even set a world record in the Bench Press. His athletic exploits have dazzled crowds around the world for years. So when you sit down with him to talk training, a nervousness enters your body. The ‘Russian Lion’ is known for taking no prisoners.

Q] You have your first question lined up. Nervously you look George in the eye and timidly ask how to become strong like him…

Puffing out his chest, Hackenschmidt bellows out

“It is only by exercising with heavy weights that any man can hope to develop really great strength.”

Bigger Faster Stronger: The Mr. Olympia

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Bodybuilders, like most other professional athletes in the last four decades, have undergone an unprecedented change. Whereas the first Mr. Olympia weighed in at just over 200 lbs, the modern champion is more likely to be sixty pounds heavier and leaner as well.

While the reasons for this, at least in bodybuilding, are clear, it is still interesting to reflect upon this change. Today’s short post discusses the average weight for the overall Mr. Olympia since it’s inception and shows how and when ‘the mass monsters’ gained a foothold in the sport.