Joe Weider’s Power Bracelet

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Joe Weider is undoubtedly a divisive figure in the history of bodybuilding. Influential to the nth degree regarding the modern climate of the sport, Weider has been continually criticised for selling snake oil supplements to a naive public.

Today’s post briefly examines Joe’s ‘Hell-Bent for Leather N’Lead’ product, a set of bracelets brought out by the Canadian entrepreneur in the early 1970s. Utilising the bodies of then Mr. Olympia Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mr. America Roger Callard, Weider promised incredible muscle gain and strength through the sheer act of wearing one of his patented bracelets.

Bodybuilding’s First Champion: William Murray

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While many credit Eugen Sandow as the father of modern day bodybuilding, very little is said about William, ‘Billy’, Murray, the world’s first recognisable bodybuilding champion. Today’s post will look at the interaction between Sandow, the unofficial father of bodybuilding and Murray, its first official king.

So who was William Murray? How did he win? And why has his place in bodybuilding history been largely forgotten?

Randall M. Taylor, ’18-Min Home Dumbbell Workout’Planet Muscle, 4: 1, (2001)

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…For many years serious athletes and bodybuilders have known that free weights build muscle size, strength and power faster than any other form of resistance training. Today’s smart bodybuilders are also acutely aware that the process does not take as much time as many have erroneously believed and that, by using dumbbells (because they DO require balance), the whole process happens more quickly than with machines or even free-weight barbells. Nearly all serious bodybuilders use free-weight barbells and dumbbells almost exclusively to do their ominous thing.

…Over the last 12 years, ongoing American University Athletic Department and PE Research has verified that a free weight, all- PowerBlock dumbbell program produces high levels of strength and size. These great results were accomplished even with very short (as little as 12-30 minutes duration), high intensity workouts.

Dennis B. Weis, The Lee Haney & Fred C. Hatfield Seminar

Recently I had the good fortune to obtain an audiotape seminar on nutrition and training. The seminar was sponsored by Bio Chem Supplements (a division of Country Life) and was hosted by eight-time Mr. Olympia Lee Haney and power lifting icon “Dr Squat” Fred C. Hatfield.

As I began to listen to the audio seminar, two things became quickly apparent. First, this seminar wasn’t about pushing or praising the Bio Chem product mix. Second, the seminar wasn’t a sham toying with the emotions of easily manipulated bodybuilders. The seminar is about two superstars with the right credentials talking about the “Supplement Game.”

Louis Abele’s Back Program c. 1948

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Although unknown to the modern olympic lifter, Abele was one of America’s finest lifters during the 1940s and 1950s. Unfortunately he was overshadowed by fellow US lifters John Grimek, Steve Stanko, and John Davis during the course of his career. Similarly the outbreak of the Second World War denied Abele the chance to lift at the 1940 Olympic Games, a time when he would have been in his prime.

Nevertheless, Abele’s lifting career saw him put up some rather impressive poundages as you’ll read about.

With regards to training philosophy, Abele was a strong advocate of specialisation and high intensity training. Illustrating this, Abele tells the reader that he once exercised so hard that his teeth hurt from breathing! I suspect that this level of intensity is relatively rare in today’s gyms. Anyway what fascinates me about Abele was his advocacy of specialisation and by that Abele meant training primarily legs for 2 to 3 months before moving on to another body part for a similar amount of time. In this way Abele would focus almost exclusively on one body part, to the detriment of others, reach what he felt to be a maturation point and then switch his training up. From memory I can’t think of too many current lifters who adhere to this sort of programming although one supposes that the concept of a deload week is vaguely similar.

Anyway, the below article details Abele’s back workouts from his early 20s. For interested parties, the text itself comes from a series of letters written by Abele to Chester O. Teegarden which were published by Iron Man Industries of Alliance, Nebraska in 1948.

As always… Happy Lifting!

The Birth of Tabata Training

Training while travelling has always been a pain for me. While I try my best to find hotels close to gyms or with some adequate facilities, chances are I’ll get caught out every once and a while. Though not boasting the largest lifting numbers, certainly much lower than much of the site’s readership, there are times when even I’m confronted with weights too light for a decent workout. This has been the case at several points this summer when travel to remote locations has brought me into the domain of cheap, ill equipped and frankly strange hotel gyms. On the latter point, one gym boasted solely lime green dumbbells weighing no more than 25 pounds. That such devices ever seemed like a great idea is…quite frankly…mind boggling.

Once my panic attacks/anger passes, I get to work as best I can and in this regard tabata training, especially when it comes to training with a short amount of time, has been a godsend. For those unaware, Tabata training is a relatively straightforward concept. Exercise for twenty seconds at a high intensity, rest for ten seconds and then repeat for 8 rounds. While the initial research concerned itself primarily with cardiovascular forms of training such as bike riding, subsequent proponents have used Tabata style training for a range of bodyweight and free weight systems. So in today’s post we’re going to examine the history of Tabata training. Who invented it? How did it become so popular and how can it best be used in the average gym.