Forgotten Devices: Edward Aston’s ‘Anti-Barbell’

Much to my surprise, and great shame, Edward Aston is not someone mentioned a lot on this website. This, I hasten to add, has everything to do with my own deficiencies. Born in England in the late nineteenth-century, Aston was known to contemporaries as one of the strongest men around. In 1910, he won the title of ‘World’s Middleweight Weightlifting Champion‘ after defeating Maxick in a series of lifts.

Renowned for his grip strength in particular, a topic he published extensively on, Aston also tried his hand at barbell designs. Well barbell designs of sorts. In late 2018, I had the opportunity to spend several weeks at the Stark Center at the University of Texas where, aside from other things, I stumbled across Aston’s ‘Anti-Barbell’, an unevenly loaded barbell Aston claimed would revolutionise the weightlifting community. Shown below, Aston’s ‘anti-barbell’ was marketed during the mid to late 1910s, primarily in British physical culture magazines such as Health and Strength.

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Guest Post: The History of Amino Acids and their Integration into the Fitness Industry

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In the fitness world, amino acids are known as the building blocks of protein that aid the muscle-building process, along with other benefits. They are also primarily known as the supplement every successful athlete uses on a daily basis to boost performance and aid the post-workout recovery process. While there is no denying that workout supplements such as BCAAs definitely should have a place on your kitchen shelf, it’s important to understand their history first in order to expand your knowledge on the subject and make informed decisions when it comes to your nutrition, supplementation, and training.

Keep in mind that the history of amino acids goes way back before the age of sports science and their integration into the fitness world. With that in mind, let’s revise the past, the present, and even the future of amino acids and their role in your fitness lifestyle.

Vince Gironda on the Nautilus Machines (Muscle and Fitness, 1974)

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Published by Joe Weider in 1974, the following interview with Iron Guru, Vince Gironda, details the influential trainer’s thoughts on the then growing popularity of Nautilus Machines. Unsurprisingly given that Weider was in direct competition with the Nautilus machine’s founder, Arthur Jones, the interview proved to be negative at best.

In any case, it highlights Gironda’s own training strategies and serves as a timely reminder that muscle magazines rarely publish without an agenda.

Enjoy!

The Gironda Neck Press

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Popularised by the ‘Iron Guru’, Vince Gironda, the Gironda Neck Press (or ‘Guillotine Press’) is unlikely to be an exercise you see every day on the gym floor.

Dangerous if executed improperly, the neck press has sadly evaded most gym goers of the 21st century owing to the repetition of bland training programmes and the dogmatic belief that the bench press is the be all and end all of chest development.

Nevertheless for those strange few, the neck press is one of the most effective means of building the chest muscles in an effective and somewhat tortuous manner!

So what is the ‘Neck Press’ and why should you care?

Sandow, Hercules and the Birth of Modern Weightlifting

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While Eugen Sandow has long been been held in esteem in the lore of bodybuilding, fans of weightlifting have seldom seen the Prussian as a figure of great importance for their sport. This is unsurprising given that over the past half-century, Sandow’s image has become so integral to bodybuilding that the sport’s top contest, the Mr. Olympia, hands out miniature Sandow busts as trophies. Nevertheless part of Sandow’s fame, at least initially, came from his raw strength which he used to set records, wow audiences and defeat opponents.

With this in mind, today’s post looks at Sandow’s 1890 weightlifting contest with ‘Hercules’ McCann, a controversial bout during which the men’s weights measured to a tee, the first time such precision had ever been introduced to the growing sport. The contest can thus be seen as a pivotal moment in the evolution of weight lifting as a recognised sport in its own right.

Lies, Snake Oils and Downright Deception: Selling and the Fitness Industry

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The fitness industry, was and is, a notoriously dubious business place. For every honest athlete seeking to help his fellow trainer, there are dozens of genetically blessed individuals who seek to make a living with half-truths.

This chicanery, is however, a time honoured tradition as evidenced by today’s article. Surveying the great names of the physical culture game, today’s post looks at the forerunners to the current market industry and demonstrates how many sought to promote their products over the truth. Unsurprisingly names like Sandow, Sick and Inch all feature.

So if you thought that deceit was a new phenomena in bodybuilding, you are sorely mistaken!

The Workouts and Diets of the Bodybuilding Champions

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* This article first appeared in Iron Man magazine in 1991 and includes the workouts and eating patterns of Lee Haney, Rich Gaspari, Lee Labrada and Mike Quinn. Jerry Brainum was the author. 

Needless to say it’s a fascinating insight into the dietary and training habits of some of the greatest bodybuilders of the 80s and 90s. Check it out below. You might just learn something!