Guest Post: Women’s Sport History

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Historically, people idealized woman’s femininity and frailty, frowning on female participation in sports that threatened to destroy those coveted qualities. However, in spite of that, there were always sporting outlets for women to participate in. Certain sports like tennis, croquet, archery and swimming were available for women ever since the Gilded Age. While today we have women participating in every major sport, times were not always so thrilled with equality. Here’s a brief history of women’s sport.

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The Sig Klein Challenge

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Face it.

Every now and then you want to try something new in the gym. A new lift, a new rep range or an entirely new style of training. The mind gets bored of monotony, something which the lifters of yore were all too acquainted with. Today’s post on the Sig Klein challenge will not only help reinvigorate your training, it’ll provide a test of your overall strength. Not bad for something new huh?

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!

John Hansen, ‘The Day I Met Arnold, Lou and Franco’, Iron Age (c. 2004)

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I have a great story to share about the day I met the three best bodybuilders in the world on the same day.

I was 14 at the time and had just started to get interested in bodybuilding. It was wierd because I had been interested in muscles and bodybuilding for a long time, from when I was very young. In the ’70’s, however, bodybuilding was very small and was not main stream at all. There were many myths and old wives’ tales surrounding the sport.

Anthony Ditillo, ‘The Single and Double Progression Method’, The Development of Physical Strength (Wm F. Hinbern, 1982).

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When beginning a book on physical training, I feel it is only natural to begin with the most basic concept used in any barbell endeavor. We all use this training aid in one form or another and its use makes possible the goals of which our dreams are made.

By single and double progression I mean the basic way we arrange our sets and repetitions with a given weight, which will enable us to do so many things in our training, that its usefulness cannot and should not be overlooked when discussing barbell training, in general.

All trainees use this method for keeping track of their progress as well as preventing injury and over-training. In fact, I would go as far as to say that most of today’s problems concerning progress with the weights stem from a mistaken notion of the use of this single, double and even triple progression system and all it pertains to.

Doug Hepburn, ‘The Challenge’ (c. 1999)

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The below text is something I’m rather excited about. Earlier this month, I stumbled across Doug Hepburn’s website from the late 1990s and early 2000s. Hepburn was one of the strongest men of the mid twentieth century, famed for his seemingly inhuman feats of strength.

You can imagine, then the joy I felt when I began reading Doug’s articles on his now defunct website (I’ve included the source at the bottom and would encourage you to check it out!).

I don’t want to give away too much but Hepburn’s ‘Challenge’ was a shot fired at modern lifters to match the feats of strength of gear fear lifters. I’ve published it in its entirety below (including the ALL CAPS text). It’s provocative but shows Doug’s love and promotion of pure strength. Enjoy!

Guest Post: Steroid Use through History

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We all know how competitive humans are, especially when it comes to sports. Athletes are pushing themselves harder and harder every day to be the best and achieve what nobody has achieved before. Sometimes they resort to various substances to enhance their performance, but many of those substances are actually quite harmful and forbidden.

Still, this has been happening ever since people discovered that some substances help them improve their athletic performance. The ancient Greeks used sesame seeds, while the Australian Aborigines chewed the pituri plant. On the other hand, Norse warriors were fond of hallucinogenic mushrooms and we there is a lot of evidence that many other ancient cultures had similar traditions.

1970s Muscle Building Advice

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The greatest problem that faces the young bodybuilding enthusiast is that of gaining weight. It’s usually this reason for taking up weight­ training in the first place. However, after the inevitable gain of a few pounds body-weight almost immediately the weight-training course has been embarked on, one finds further progress very slow. Each pound towards his ideal body weight is gained with an ever increasing span of time. Once I couldn’t gain more than two or per­haps three pounds a year — training three times a week. Eventually my bodyweight gains became stagnant and no amount of training would alter it.

Eugen Sandow on Heavy Weightlifting

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A point previously discussed on this website was the regularity with which early physical culturists promoted light weight training as opposed to heavy lifting. The reasons for this are numerous. In the first instance, light weightlifting is easier to promote to the general public than heavy weightlifting. It requires less equipment, can be done in the comfort of one’s own home and can be done with relative ease. It was for this reason that individuals like Eugen Sandow, Professor Attila and a host of other physical culturists promoted light weightlifting for their followers. A few, like Arthur Saxon, bucked the trend and argued that heavy lifting was needed to build a strong physique.

With that in mind, today’s brief post examines the brief words Eugen Sandow gave to heavy weightlifting in his seminal book, Strength and How to Obtain It. Published by Sandow first in 1897, Strength was, for many, Sandow’s most important work. It came at the height of his popularity, sold widely and was more accessible than some of his later works which were far more medical in composition. Thanks to the British Library in London, I was able to consult Sandow’s 1897 edition, as well as his third edition published in 1905. Sandow did not expand greatly on how to lift heavy but nevertheless provided an insight into the progressive training practices of the late 1890s and early 1900s.