The History of the Low-Carb Diet

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Ah the low-carbohydrate diet, a form of eating that has become so ingrained in 21st century culture that you could be forgiven for thinking it was a relatively new idea. The truth is that low-carb diets have existed since the 19th century, when an Englishman named William Banting began promoting a low-carb way of life. Although clinical obesity is a relatively new phenomenon (it only really came to the fore in the 20th century), people for centuries have dealt with weight issues. William Banting was one such man, who so impressed with the result’s of his diet, began to market the low-carb way of living.

So who was William Banting and how did he discover this diet?

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Training with Titans: George Hackenschmidt

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Picture the scene. It’s 1911 and famed Wrestler George Hackenschmidt has finally retired from the squared circle. Looking forward to a life of relaxation and leisure, the man from Estonia grants you the privilege of an interview. In his strength and wrestling career, Hackenschmidt has popularised the Bear Hug, the Hack Squat and even set a world record in the Bench Press. His athletic exploits have dazzled crowds around the world for years. So when you sit down with him to talk training, a nervousness enters your body. The ‘Russian Lion’ is known for taking no prisoners.

Q] You have your first question lined up. Nervously you look George in the eye and timidly ask how to become strong like him…

Puffing out his chest, Hackenschmidt bellows out

“It is only by exercising with heavy weights that any man can hope to develop really great strength.”

Reps for Jesus? Muscular Christianity

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Is it a Christian’s duty to be strong and muscular? Does strength equate with Godliness? How should a man behave? These were just some of the questions that permeated the 19th and early 20th century in Victorian England and the United States. They were the questions at the forefront of a movement better known as Muscular Christianity. In the maiden article for this website, we briefly introduced the idea of Muscular Christianity but today we will look at it in greater detail.

Eat like a Sandow!

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How many times do you eat a day? Do you eat carbs after 3pm? Post-workout protein shake?

Such are the questions faced by the modern day strength enthusiast. Are we overthinking the way we eat? In a world faced with a growing obesity epidemic and continuous production of low quality foods the answer may appear no. If we dig deeper however we may begin to question why we stick to rigid diet tips by people supposedly in the know. Where should we turn for diet advice? The muscle mags are one place, yet one often has to traverse through forty pages of advertisements before stumbling upon anything remotely sane.

What about the strongmen of yore? What about Eugen Sandow? How did he eat and why?

Katie Sandwina: The Strongest Woman in the World

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Strongmen around the turn of the 19th century usually grab the attention of most people interested in Physical Culture. Almost everyone will know the name Eugen Sandow. Yet despite our preconceived notions that strength is an exclusively male pursuit, Physical Culture was in fact an all-encompassing movement that didn’t exclude based on gender. There were female performers as well, many of whom were stronger than their male counterparts. Society viewed these women with a suspicious eye. Was it possible to be strong and ladylike? Were they not too masculine? Katie Sandwina, once the ‘Strongest Woman in the World’ had to face many of these pressures. What’s more, she did it with a smile.

The Real Father of Bodybuilding?

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When people think of the father of modern day Bodybuilding, Eugene Sandow is the name that comes to mind. Without denying the incredible work done by Sandow in the spreading of physical culture, to speak of a ‘father’ of bodybuilding does a great disservice to the men and women who preceded Sandow. One such man is Ludwig Durlacher or Louis Attila, the man who discovered Sandow. Today at Physical Culture Study we are going to examine the life of ‘Professor Attila’ and ask why his name has largely disappeared from popular physical culture narratives.

Your System or Mine? The ‘Battle of the Systems’

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Free Weights or Machines? Cardio or Weight Training? TRX or Crossfit? These days the fitness enthusiast seems to be bombarded with a wealth of choices to keep themselves fit and agile. Training systems may seem relatively benign and a matter of personal choice, but scholars often raises uncomfortable questions about why people do what they do.

What is Physical Culture? Why is it important?

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So what is Physical Culture and why is there a website dedicated to the study of it?

In its simplest definition, Physical culture is a health and strength training movement that originated during the 19th century in Germany, England, and the United States. This may seem relatively benign thing to study but the origins and expansion of physical culture in the 19th and early 20th reflect societal, economic and cultural trends of the time. What’s more the legacy of the physical culture movement affects how many of us train, eat and view health.