Charles Atlas’s ‘Special Secret for Rapidly Building Enormous Power’

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When Atlas Wasn’t Playing Tug-of-War he was giving out Diet Tips

“I realize you are anxious to build up great strength and power as soon as possible. Here is a simple secret which should help give you the results you hope for.”

Charles Atlas, Mail Order Workout Programme, Lesson Two, c.1930s

 In 1921 Charles Atlas won Bernarr McFadden’s ‘Most Perfectly Developed Man Competition’. In 1922, he won again and by this time McFadden ceased holding the competition. Rumour has it McFadden stopped because he felt Atlas would win every time. By the end of the 1920s Atlas was marketing his own unique mail order workout programme aimed at delivering fast results to his customers. The World’s Most Perfectly Developed Man promised to turn his weak students into dynamic man, just as Atlas had done with himself. In just 12 basic lessons,  Atlas covered everything from diet and training to the right mind-set for building an awesome physique.

In the second lesson of the Atlas programme, aspiring muscle men (and women) were given a secret muscle-building programme by Atlas. It revolved around a single food…a ‘super food’ in modern day parlance.

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Why Coconut Oil Isn’t Fit for Pigs!

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Have you heard about the health benefits of Coconut Oil?

It’s great for energy, will help you burn fat and can even help you stave off infections. Coconut juice was even used as an IV Drip for injured soldiers during the Second World War. It’s been labelled a ‘super food’ by many in the dietary industry but what the medical world isn’t telling you is that coconut oil isn’t even fit for pigs to eat. Recent history has shown us this.

Charles Atlas and the Golden Age of American Constipation

Constipation: a condition in which there is difficulty in emptying the bowels, usually associated with hardened faeces.

Constipation may seem an odd topic of study, but the history of the condition and efforts aimed at relieving it open up interesting social, political and economic histories . From 1900 to 1940, the United States suffered a pandemic of constipation. The condition was widely acknowledged in public discourse and a thorn in the side of the medical profession. Today’s article focuses on Physical Culturist Charles Atlas’s role in promoting anti-constipation remedies. In examining Atlas’s story we will look briefly at what the medical profession had to say about the condition and what marketers were selling to consumers before examining what the ‘World’s Most Perfectly Developed Man’ had to say. It’s a story as bizarre as it is interesting.

Malcolm Allison and the Modernisation of English Football

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Playboy, character or revolutionary?

Rarely are such terms used to describe the same person and that is what made Malcolm Alexander Allison such an enigma to those who knew him. Allison was hugely influential in the introduction of modern training systems in 1960s England but his reputation as a trainer was often overshadowed by matters off the pitch. A shame when one considers Allison helped spread ideas about weight training, aerobic fitness and nutrition in a sport renowned for its archaic training methods.

Hakoah Wien and Muscular Judaism

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Is there a Jewish style of football?

Once upon a time this question would have been answered definitively. Yes. In the early 1900s, Hakoah Vienna or Hakoah Wien were a dominant force in Austrian football who were staunchly proud of their Jewish roots. From 1909 to 1938, Wien rose up the ranks in Austrian football before being shut down by the Nazi Regime. It’s a story few know, but one worth examining.

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Attached below is Eugen Sandow’s classical book Strength and How to Obtain It. Whilst Sandow wrote a number of works, Strength and How to Obtain it was by far his most popular. Luckily for us in 2014, it’s also free to download and free to read.

Strength And How To Obtain It

Find out Sandow’s measurements for the perfect body. Sandow’s tips for heavy weight training and even some great anecdotes from Sandow’s life. It’s a great book for the strength enthusiast and the physical culture historian alike.

So go on, download it now and enjoy it for yourself!

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“Hey Skinny, Your Ribs Are Showing”: Charles Atlas and American Masculinity

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Introduction

Consciously or unconsciously, we are all aware of Charles Atlas and his business. In today’s article we will look at Atlas, Physical Culture and constructions of White Masculinity in 1920s to 40s America. I believe Atlas’s ‘Dynamic Tension’ product was successful in this time as claimed to provide men with masculine qualities that they wanted at a time when American White masculinity was seen as threatened. Atlas did not target other races, genders or sexual orientations instead focusing solely on white male heterosexuals. Atlas once said: “15 minutes a day! Give me just this and I’ll prove I can make you a new man.” Well in much less than 15 minutes you’ll have an idea of what type of man Atlas and his customers had in mind.

An Early History of Weightlifting

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Recently on this website we have looked to the Ancient World in search of the origins of health and fitness. It is likely that weightlifting is as old a pastime as time itself but it’s important to take this into account. So often we take the short view on the history of fitness and date it from the mid to late 1800s. Regardless of what we may think, exercise was part of man’s (and woman’s) life two thousand years ago just as it is today. In fact archaeologists have uncovered bronze objects dating back to 5000 BC that are not unlike the dumbbells we use today.

Lifting heavy things up and down is as natural to human beings as walking or running. It is perhaps unsurprising that very quickly in the history of mankind, people began to realise that the stronger a muscle is, the heavier the object that can be lifted. Thus the idea of weight lifting was born. Having looked at Athens and Rome in previous posts, today we will examine Ancient China, Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt.

The History of the Mind-Muscle Connection

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“What puts you over the top? It is the mind that actually creates the body, it is the mind that really makes you work out for four or five hours a day, it is the mind that visualizes what the body ought to look like as the finished product.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger

The mind-muscle connection? That’s what Arnold talked about right?

Well yes but he wasn’t the only one as I discovered recently when going through some old material written by Peary Rader.