Category: Training

Arnold Schwarzenegger on the Squat (1976)

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When I was first learning how to train, I used to do full squats. I did them exclusively for the thighs. I labored under the belief that if I did my full squats faithfully on a firm reps and sets basis, I would get everything I needed in the way of thighs. Over the years my thinking has changed considerably.

Everybody does squats: weightlifters, bodybuilders, football players, track athletes and even ballet dancers. The squat increases the power, speed and spring of the legs. When practiced with heavy breathing, it permanently expands the rib cage. It can help you gain weight. It can help you lose weight. with these multiple benefits, the squat goes on record and the best all-around exercise.

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The History of the Front Squat

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Having briefly discussed the history of the back squat some time ago, efforts were made over the past few days to create a similar account for the front squat. Sadly, perhaps owing to the popularity of its older brother, histories of the front squat are virtually non-existent as many writers seem to take its existence as a simple fact.

Nevertheless it is clear that all exercises are created at some point in history and with this in mind, I went trawling through old Physical Culture magazines and a selection of secondary books on the topic.

Forgotten Exercises: The Roman Column

While many exercises, such as the squat, appear to be timeless in the lore of exercise history, there are many movements and machines that fall away with the sands of time.

Today’s post looks at the Roman Column, an inverted strongman exercise created in the mid-eighteenth century and used by famous performers such as Eugen Sandow and his mentor, Professor Atilla.

What is the Roman Column?

Louis Abele Training Programme

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Although unknown to the modern olympic lifter, Abele was one of America’s finest lifters during the 1940s and 1950s. Unfortunately he was overshadowed by fellow US lifters John Grimek, Steve Stanko, and John Davis during the course of his career. Similarly the outbreak of the Second World War denied Abele the chance to lift at the 1940 Olympic Games, a time when he would have been in his prime.

Nevertheless, Abele’s lifting career saw him put up some rather impressive poundages as you’ll read about.

With regards to training philosophy, Abele was a strong advocate of specialisation and high intensity training. Illustrating this, Abele tells the reader that he once exercised so hard that his teeth hurt from breathing! A level of intensity unrivalled by many today.

The text itself comes from a series of letters written by Abele to Chester O. Teegarden which were published by Iron Man Industries of Alliance, Nebraska in 1948.

The Training Programmes of Louis Abele

Evandra Camara 1982 Article – Weight Training and Body Structure

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The effects of weight training on body structure has been a subject much bandied about in bodybuilding circles for the past three decades. These effects are the direct concern of this article, not the physiology of exercise, per se, or health related aspects. Modern physical culture has, from its earliest phases (starting roughly in the late 1940’s with the appearance of Steve Reeves) determined that the ideal male physique should sport wide shoulders, latissimus dorsi sweeping all the way down to a small and muscular waist and narrow hips, full thigh muscles, and large, diamond-shaped calves. Accordingly, bodybuilders have been urged all along to train in such a fashion as to mold their physiques along these lines.

The direction of training instruction found in the the muscle magazines and books has been changing in a continuum, from only tangential references to natural potential, to an increased awareness of this factor in connection with muscular development, to today’s strong emphasis on natural ability as a frame of reference by which the trainee must guide his bodybuilding efforts. The bodybuilding magazines of the 1950’s, particularly the more commercially-biased ones, pretty much pushed the hereditary factor aside, while emphasising the technique of specialization as a way of overcoming structural deficiencies.

Vince Gironda’s Beginner Bodybuilding Course

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Well known as one of the greatest trainers of his age, Vince Gironda’s name has become synomous with bodybuilding champions from Larry Scott to Arnold Schwarzenegger. Though Gironda made his name producing some of the greatest bodybuilding champions the sport has ever seen, he sent countless hours with beginners and intermediates seeking to sculpt their bodies or build muscle.

Today’s post discusses Vince’s general bodybuilding approach for beginners with the caveat being that Vince was known for changing exercises based on each trainer’s physique. Nevertheless, there is much to learn from his more generic approaches.