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Mark Berry’s Simple But Effective Workout Course (1930s)

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A phenomenon unknown to the modern lifter is the importance of workout posters within the gymnasium. Scattered across the gym walls, workout courses from Joe Weider, Mark Berry and a host of other weight lifting aficionados would highlight simple and effective workouts for both the beginner and advanced trainee.

Such courses would usually come in a series of stages. Stage one would be aimed primarily at the beginner or novice lifter. Including all the basic compound exercises, this phase of gym going life would continue for several weeks or months before the trainee was encouraged to move on. After that, stage two would commence. Exercises remained similar but the instructions and ordering changed.

This cycle would continue ad nauseum until the lifter either began designing their own routines or switched to another mentor’s course. It was a time honoured way of earning one’s gym stripes. And indeed should you still train in an old-school gym, such courses will undoubtedly line the walls.

With that in mind, today’s post examines Mark Berry’s three simple but effective weightlifting routines as taken from his 1930s mail order workout course. Featuring a young John Grimek, the course was targeted at lifters across the life cycle. For those in search of a good full body workout routine, look no farther.

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Proportion It’s Your Body -Build It to be beautiful – Greg Zulak 1995 Article

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The ideal physical shape for a bodybuilder is what is called the”X-frame” — that is, wide shoulders, wide lats, small waist and hips, flaring “sweep” on the thighs and diamond-shaped calves, with proportionately developed arms and torso that are hard and muscular. It is this type of physique that best “delights the sense and exalts the mind” of fans at bodybuilding contests. Any bodybuilder who has an X-frame physique just looks “right” to the eye — right and beautiful.

The Lamb-chop and Pineapple Diet

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Hollywood transformations have long been a subject of intense public scrutiny. From Christina Bale’s incredible body transformations for what seems like most of his movies to Charlize Theron’s weight gain for Monster, we the consumer have read in amazement at the lengths actors seem to go to in order to secure a part.

This, it would seem, is not a recent phenomena. Something that became clear to me recently as I read Heather Addison’s excellent monograph entitled Hollywood and the Rise of Physical Culture. Dealing primarily with the period 1910 to 1940, Addison showcases how both male and female stars of the age faced an almost daily struggle to keep and maintain a svelte physique.

One such technique was the ‘Lamb-Chop and Pineapple’ diet, the topic of today’s post which was favoured by many females actresses during the 1920s.

Guest Post: Top Dietary tips to put on Lean Mass

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One of the worst mistakes I get the pleasure of observing on an almost daily basis is people trying to put on muscle mass through a very heavy ‘bulking’ phase.

Now don’t get me wrong, to build new muscle tissue we need to be in a calorie surplus – this is fact.

But, like most things, this can be taken much too far. People using a traditional bulking phase tend to overeat to the absolute extreme. Although this will undoubtedly make gaining muscle mass slightly easier, it can also lead to large increases in fat mass, hormonal dysfunction, and a host of other health implications (included an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes).

As a result, it is by no means the most effective (or healthy) way to add muscle to our frame.

Fortunately for us, there are a number of ways we can manipulate our diet to maximise the development of new muscle tissue while limiting fat accumulation (and all the other negative effects associated with a heavy ‘bulk’).

In the following article I outline the key dietary tips allowing us to put on lean mass.

Gains, Gains, Gains! Simple Ways To Increase Your Muscle Mass

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For a lot of guys, the main goal of their workout it to increase their muscle mass. Sure, there are plenty of people out there looking to lose weight, or simply become more active, but for the vast majority of men, the final goal of their routine is to get some serious gains. The issue is that there are far too many guys out there who simply don’t know how to achieve that result. They have a vague idea of what they want, but they don’t actually know how to most effectively go about making it happen. A lot of the time this then leads to them getting discouraged and giving up altogether. To help make sure that this doesn’t happen to you, here are some incredibly simple things that you can do to help increase your muscle mass.

Continental and Military Pressing

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What could be simpler than lifting a weight overhead?

Well like everything else in the world of fitness, a simple idea is often needlessly complicated, something exemplified by today’s post on overhead pressing at the turn of the twentieth-century.

Unlike modern weightlifting competitions, which have largely standardised the manner in which lifts can be executed, the competitions of one hundred years ago were notable owing to the sheer variation in how weights were lifted.

Take for example, the often acrimonious debate about continental and military pressing.

Sandow the Lion Tamer

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Though more synomous with bodybuilding than wrestling, the late 1890s saw Eugen Sandow, the man many credited with possessing the perfect physique, wrestle a caged lion in front of a US audience.

The bout was undertaken during Sandow’s extensive tour of the United States under the tutelage of promoter Florenz Ziegfeld. Perhaps unsurprisingly, many viewed the event as an exercise in futility during which a half dazed lion lazily swiped at the Prussian showman.

Today’s post focuses on the circumstances leading to this bizarre encounter, the fight itself and it’s aftermath, to explore just how far Sandow was willing to go to promote his body and his business.