Tag: Fitness

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?

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!

The History of the Assisted Pull Up Machine

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Now admittedly this is not the catchiest title I’m ever going to use but it hopefully conveys the purpose of today’s post. Back when I started training, assisted pull up machines were a thing of scorn. Who, we would wonder, would bother with such an oddity? Couldn’t individuals muster a solitary pull up by themselves? Well several humbling years later, during which time I realised my version of pull ups was generous to say the least, I discarded the arrogance of my teenage years and used the machine for the first time. It has since become a staple in my training, used at the end of workouts to ensure my back and ego is fried in equal measure.

While we’ve covered mainstream machines like the leg press, prowler or leg extension, I have to admit that I find niche and oftentimes strange devices like the bosu ball or foam roller to be far more interesting. You see for me, the more esoteric devices often represent an attempt to reach out to new trainees or those uncomfortable in the traditional gym setting. As becomes clear when studying the assisted pull up machine, the device was born from a increased societal interest during the late 1970s.

John Hansen, ‘Where Have All the Good Gyms Gone?’, Iron Age (c. 2008)

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The number of health clubs and gyms in America have increased by a phenomenal rate over the last 10 years. According to statistics, there are now 17,807 health club facilities in the United States. There has been a 41% increase in the number of health clubs and gyms in this country since 1992.

This is great news for those of us involved in the fitness industry or even just those of us who are fitness advocates. Now, whenever or whereever we may travel, there will always be a place to get our workout in. Health clubs and fitness are now “in” and those of us who exercise on a regular basis are no longer seen as odd or eccentric.