Tag: Alan Calvert

Alan Calvert, ‘General Training Program’, Health, Strength and Development (Philadelphia, c. 1920s).

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Hundreds of prospective pupils write me to ask how long they will have to train; how much time they will have to spend each week, etc., etc. This seems a good place to answer those questions.

The average pupil practices the first course in developing exer­cises for two or three months. He practices every other day (that is, once in 48 hours), and the practice period covers about 30 minutes.

By the end of the second or third month the pupil has attained a certain degree of strength and development, and then his training program is altered. On two days a week he will practice the more strenuolls of the developing exercises from the first course, and two other days a week he will practice the Eight Standard Lifts; that is, the second course. He keeps up this training for two or three months and during that period the time consumed is about three hours a week.

The Standard Lifts Course, as well as the First Course in Devel­oping Exercise, is given free to every pupil who buys a bell-whether it be a low-priced plate bell or the most expensive MILO TRIPLEX bell on the list.


Alan Calvert, ‘Are Weight-Lifters Stronger Than Other Men?’, Confidential Information on Lifters and Lifting (Philadelphia, 1926)


I frankly confess that when I was young I was just as much hypnotised by pro­fessional “strong men” as you are today. I was as strong as the average boy; maybe a little stronger, for I could take a 65 lb. solid iron dumb-bell and push it slowly above my head with my right arm. But then I had done a lot of gym work, especially on the parallel bars, and consequently the pushing muscles in my arms were strong.

But when I went to see Sandow perform, and saw him push up a weight said to be over 300 lbs. I immediately thought “that man is nearly five times as strong as I am.” I was at an age when .I believed any darn claim that a stage-performer chose to make.

After I got into the business of making weights, you can imagine my disillusion­ ment when I found out that the weight Sandow pressed on the stage was only a little over 200 Ibs.; that he used what is called the “bent-press method”-which is not a real lift. That when he lifted the way I had done, (or, as any other unskilled man would do) he could press up only 121 Ibs. So instead of being five times as strong as I was, he was less than twice as strong, in that particular direction. And he was called “the world’s stl:ongest,” and weighed, say, 190 lbs.; whereas I was by no means a “strong man” and weighed 135 lbs.

Harry Paschall, ‘The Ideal Man’, Muscle Molding (1950)


For mid-century American Iron Heads Harry Paschall represented one of the most informative and humorous writers on all things related to fitness. Through the use of cartoons and an alter ego named Bosco, Paschall provided just the right mixture of old school methodology combined with the latest ideas, exercises and techniques. If you want to know more about Paschall and the infinitely more famous Bosco, check out Clarence Bass’s detailed write up here. Alternatively if you want evidence of the great man’s writing, The Tight Slacks of Dezso Ban provides some nice samples. I digress…

Now recently I was lucky enough to pick up a second hand copy of Paschall’s 1950 work Muscle Moulding. Briefly known as the Bodybuilder’s Bible, Muscle Moulding detailed everything from nutrition to workout programmes in a simple and concise manner. It’s well worth the read and unsurprisingly given Paschall’s focus on simple exercises, much of the advice has latest the test of time. Something that caught my eye while reading it was Paschall’s standards for “the ideal man” given by Alan Calvert in 1914. Though lifting weights had progressed quite a bit since Calvert’s time, I found it interesting that Paschall was so in favour of his ideal man. While measurements are inherently subjective they do give pause for thought.

So without further adieu…