Irvin Johnson’s Scientific Body Building and Nutrition Course (1951)

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Better known as Rheo H. Blair, Irvin Johnson was one of the foremost bodybuilding nutritionists of the 1950s and 60s. Producing one of the most sought after protein powders in the Iron Game, Blair was lauded for his nutritional knowhow and ability to achieve seemingly unbelievable weight gain amongst his clients.

Bearing that in mind, today’s short post details a sample eating plan from Johnson’s ‘Scientific Bodybuilding and Nutrition Course’, a mail order course produced in 1951 which promised to increase reader’s weight and muscle mass if followed correctly.

Similar to the ‘Get Big Drink‘ previously covered, the diet acts as a timely reminder that calories are needed for muscle gain. And that a systemised eating plan is often the easiest method of going about this. Enjoy!

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Dave Waddington and the Thousand Pound Squat

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It was a timely moment for powerlifters. Anabolic steroids were by then de rigour. Weightlifting shoes, straps and suits had all evolved and greater attention was being paid to training and nutrition. Official powerlifting meets had been running for over two decades and the poundages were increasing with every competition it seemed.

Just as the Americans had rushed to the moon the previous decade, the 1970s and 80s in the powerlifting community were concerned with the race to the thousand pound squat. In today’s article we examine the first recorded effort at the thousand pound squat, undertaken by the American lifter, Dave Waddington.

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.

The History of 20 Rep Squats

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Though few exercise programmes maintain a venerated status for long in the Iron Game, the mystique surrounding 20 Rep Squat programmes has endured. As hinted by the name, such programmes require lifters to back squat twenty times before unloading the bar, and in my own experience, lying on the ground questioning your decision-making.

Primarily touted for individuals struggling to build mass or to bulk up their legs, such programmes originated in the 1920s and 30s. That they still exist, albeit with some modifications, is testament to their efficacy and popularity. The goal of today’s post is to highlight the original promoters of the programme, to explore the writers who kept the idea in the public mind and finally to question why the programme remains popular in the current age.

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.

Guest Post: History of Gyms: Then and Now

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Whether you want to get toned, lose weight, gain weight or just spend some time active, gyms have become such a staple part of our routines. There seems to be a gym on every corner, and they are all filled with an amazing variety of equipment. But have you ever wondered how this all started? When were the first gyms opened, and were they anything similar to the ones we frequent today? Knowing the history of it might not be crucial for building up muscle and stamina, but it can give us an interesting insight to how similar or different we are to our ancestors and where the future of gyms might be heading.

The Planet Muscle Growth Squad, ‘Growing Muscle’, Planet Muscle, Volume 4 (2001).

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…Have you ever noticed all the people who come into the gym and do the same training every time? You know who they are. They are the skinny guys in the dingy T-shirts, sans belt and with baggy cargo shorts that come down to their shins.

…These misinformed wannabes always do the same exercises, the same sequence of exercises, the same sets, and the same reps and take the same amount of rest between sets and/or exercises. They move their training weights in the same mindless, drone-like ways, never incorporating new or maturing training principles. They usually are accompanied by a so-called “training partner” who does nothing but chatter endlessly about Monday Night’s football game.

The First Weightlifting Supplements

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Weightlifting supplements, despite their ubiquity nowadays, are a relatively new addition to the realm of weightlifting. While the practice of eating mystical substances in the hope of improved athletic performance dates to Greco-Roman times, the marketing of explicit ‘body building’ supplements is a far more recent phenomenon.

Dating really to the emergence of physical culture in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, these supplements represented the first rudimentary efforts to market foods explicitly for those interested in picking heavy things up and putting them back down again. As expected, these supplements centred on muscle building, celebrity endorsements and benefits extending far beyond strength.

The History of 21s

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What teen or young lifter hasn’t been seduced by the idea of bigger biceps? Indeed in the bodybuilding universe of both males and females, no pose is more iconic that the front or back double bicep pose.

A difficult set of muscles to grow, except of course for the genetically gifted, the biceps have been subjected to a variety of tortuous and bizarre experiments aimed at growth. The subject of today’s short post, being one such example.

As a quick recap, ’21s’ is the name generally given to a set of bicep curls wherein seven partial reps are performed at the bottom of the movement, seven more at the top of the movement before finally, seven full reps are performed as one continuous set.

Long associated with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s repertoire of bodybuilding tricks, the purpose of today’s post is to highlight a potentially different story. A story that, in an odd occurrence, includes Arnold as a side character, away from the main spotlight.