Guest Post: THE PELOTON WIFE AND DEBBIE DRAKE

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Images of a young, beautiful woman filming herself with her Christmas gift went viral last month. A television advertisement for the home exercise cycle Peloton depicts her trying out the new product, a present from her partner/husband, as she records her experiences on a cell phone. The appearance of the woman—identified as “Grace from Boston”—sparked controversy. Selfie stills from the commercial emphasize her complicated expression, a face somewhere between being excited about using her Peloton bike and seemingly terrified of it.

Arthur Saxon, ‘The Bent Press’, THE DEVELOPMENT OF PHYSICAL POWER (LONDON, 1906)

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Constant practice is the only way in which one may succeed in raising a heavy weight in this position. It will, no doubt, be useful to read below how the lift is performed, but it will be no use to expect an immediate increase in your present lift simply by reading my instructions as to this position. PRACTICE is the great thing, all the time endeavoring to find a position which will suit yourself. I will describe the barbell lift, as in a bar bell more may be raised than in any other way.

Sig Klein’s Beginner Workout

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Earlier this year I had the great fortune to visit the H.J. Lutcher Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports in Texas. Founded by Jan and Terry Todd, the Stark Center is a playground for anoraks like me. Containing the collections of Bernarr MacFadden, Professor Atilla, Bob Hoffman and several other Iron Game legends, Stark holds the history of the Iron Game.

So gushing praise aside, part of time there included a search through Sig Klein’s own personal papers. For those unaware, Klein ran one of the most popular and revered gymnasiums in New York from the 1930s to roughly the 1970s. Famed for his strength and amazing physique, Klein’s best known motto was to train for shape and the strength will come.

Though an advanced lifter in his own right, Klein was always keen to encourage the beginner. With this in mind today’s post details Klein’s beginner workout given to those new to his gymnasium. No tricks, no gimmicks, just simple hard work and consistency were Klein’s twin pillars for success.

John Balik, Total Muscularity: SuperStar Nutrition (Santa Monica, 1979)

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Describing himself as Arnold’s Seminar Nutritionist, Balik opened his short pamphlet on gaining muscle with the often forgotten law that ‘nothing beats persistence.’ Produced alongside a pamphlet on gaining muscle, which we’ll be discussing in a future post, Balik’s Total Muscularity represents a great insight into the training philosophy of 1970s Muscle Beach bodybuilding. Sparing myself the task of typing out his pamphlet word for word, which I suspect would infringe on some form of copyright law, I decided that a brief synopsis of the book would suffice. At the very least it would pander to our ever decreasing attention spans.

So in today’s post we’re going to look at Balik’s theories on individual body types, the type of diet he recommended and also what we can learn from it nearly forty years after its publication.

Bill Starr, ‘Sex and the Barbell’, Defying Gravity How To Win At Weightlifting (New York, 1981), p. 24.

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I once wrote a piece for the “Behind the Scenes” section in Strength & Health magazine dealing with the subject of sex before competition. I thought that I was quite obviously tongue-in-cheeking the presentation and made the comment that lifters would do well to lay off sex during the final week before a meet. As it turned out, I was not obvious enough as I received numerous letters and a few phone calls from irritated wives. It seemed that many lifters took my advise as gospel and denied their ladies any sexual gratification in the week prior to the contest. I have often suspected that many of these lifters merely used my words as an ex-cuse and most likely were doing a bit of hankey-pankey on the side at my expense.

The Birth of the Arnold Strongman Classic

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Earlier this year we were treated to perhaps the most exciting Arnold Strongman Classic to date. We saw Hafthor Bjornsson win the event for the second year in a row with a domineering display of power. The ‘Wheel of Pain’ from Conan the Barbarian made an appearance and it was joined by an exact replica of the famed Husafell Stone. The competition itself, and its sponsor, Rogue Fitness, spared no expense or difficulty in devising a truly remarkable show.

For those unaware of the Arnold Strongman, the competition is an annual gathering of some of the strongest athletes in the world held as part of the Arnold Classic, a multi-sporting event hosted by Arnold Schwarzenegger. While the Classic itself began in 1989, largely as a bodybuilding contest, it has grown since then to include everything from Ninja Warrior to fencing. It’s this multi-sporting appeal which resulted in the inclusion of a strongman event.

Regular readers of the blog will no doubt be asking why a strongman event came to the Arnold. After all, the World’s Strongest Man contest (WSM), as detailed previously on this site, had been running since the late 1970s. Herein lies the beauty of the Arnold strongman. Whereas the WSM is often times decided by a combination of muscular strength and athletic endurance, the Arnold, as conceived by the Todds, Peter Lorimer and Arnold Schwarzenegger, is interested solely in brute force. In the WSM, a competitors’ endurance is often a limiting factor. This is especially the case in any long distance carrying events or lift for reps features. In the Arnold, the lifts are closer to one rep maxes or are done under very strict time limits. The thinking behind this is that the Arnold is a better indication of who is the strongest man while the WSM combines strength and endurance. Think of the Arnold as a test of strength alone.

Now while that is simplifying things somewhat, it provides a nice indication of the organiser’s initial motivations. So with that in mind, today’s post takes us back to 2002 and the inaugural Arnold Strongman Classic.

Henry Downs, How I Trained to Win the Mr. Britain Title (1957)

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December the 11th, 1955, was a date to remember for me, for it was on that day I was placed second in the Mr. Britain contest. I had trained harder for that contest than any up to that time and thought I was in better shape than ever before. Well as you know, I didn’t make the grade, so this year I used a different approach to what I had previously done.

Before the Carnivore Diet? Rheo H. Blair’s Meat and Water Diet (1960s)

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The Carnivore Diet – the practice of solely consuming meat products – has grown exponentially in the past few years. As someone who has experimented with a range of diets, everything from all fruit to raw meat, it’s remarkable to see an all meat diet gain traction for the lifting community and the general populace. While Vilhjamur Stefannsson popularised the Inuit’s meat dominated diet in the early 1900s, an all meat diet for athletes or lifters appears to be a new development.

So being the type of individual that I am, I decided to go through the annals of bodybuilding and see if anyone had dabbled with a carnivore-esque diet in the past. Echoing the wonderful ‘nothing new under the sun series‘ produced by Chaos and Pain (definitely not safe for work!), we have a precedent for the current carnivore diet in the form of Vince Gironda and Rheo H. Blair’s ‘meat and water’ diet, a short term weight loss diet used by bodybuilders prior to a competition.

With that in mind today’s post examines the reasons behind Blair’s experiment, the bodybuilders he used it on and what lessons, if any, his meat and water diet holds for present day lifters.