Tag: Gym

The History of the Cambered Bar

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Cambered bars, that is bars with a slight or pronounced bend, are one of the more niche elements of the gym floor. While many of us will be familiar with the EZ Bar, undoubtedly the most popular form of cambered bars, far fewer will have used Safety Squat, Buffalo or straight Cambered Bars as part of our routines. Somewhat unluckily for me, a recent shoulder problem has forced me to use safety bar squats as part of my routine.

Normally the preserve, at least in my mind, of the powerlifting community, the Safety Bar squat has allowed me to continue training my legs at a time when the traditional squat set up of pining the shoulders back is nothing short of agony. Aside from facilitating my obsessive need to squat, the Safety Bar provides the subject for today’s post. Who invented these bars? What advantages do they provide and how can we effectively use them? These are just some of the questions dealt with in today’s post.

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The History of Weightlifting Belts

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Owing to the increasing popularity of powerlifting, cross fit and olympic lifting, chances are you either own a weightlifting belt or see them on a regular basis on the gym floor. A means of bracing the abdomen, weightlifting belts are a source of controversy in the weightlifting world between those who see them as legitimate tools in the quest for heavier weights and those purists who prefer all lifts be done without any equipment whatsoever. For the majority of us, they’re simply a novelty to break out on a deadlift PR.

In today’s post, we’re going to explore the history of the weightlifting belt, from ancient mythology to the present day. Far from a new phenomenon then, the belt has long been a lifter’s friend.

Pat Neve, ‘Attain Maximum Arm Size’, Ironman Magazine (November, 1975).

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Most people recognize a bodybuilder by his muscular arms. The arms are usually the first muscle people notice. If your arms are developed then you have a good start on your bodybuilding career.

The main muscles of the upper arms are the bicep and tricep. Let’s first talk about the bicep.

The bicep is a two headed muscle, having two tendons of origin and a single tendon of insertion. It is primarily a muscle of the elbow joint. The two heads of the bicep converge to a common tendon of insertion. They have a common action at the elbow joint.

Forgotten Exercises: Sternum Chin Up

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Pull ups are perhaps the most misunderstood exercise on the gym floor. At the risk of descending into a ‘back in my day’ rant, when I was taught how do to a pull up or chin up, the form was simple; Pull chest to bar, lower until arms are straight. Rinse and repeat. It was a simple, although far from easy, thing to do. Nowadays pull ups seem to be a mixture between hurtling yourself at full speed towards the bar i.e. the kipping pull up or an exercise in which the body is lower a 1/2 inch from the bar, i.e. the bro pull up.

Admittedly I’ve varied through using strict, not so strict and completely reckless form when doing pull ups. On some day I’d use all three during the same set. What forced me to reevaluate my form was the Sternum Chin Up, an exercise synonymous with Vince Gironda. The Sternum Chin Up is perhaps one of the most effective and unforgiving exercises from yesterday I’ve recycled in my own training.  In today’s post, we’ll run through the history of the exercise, what it looks like and how you can incorporate it into your own training.

Wrestling and Weightlifting: The WWF and Fitness in the 1980s

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I’ll admit it, although born in the early 1990s, I was a Hulkamaniac. Aside from growing up during the WWF attitude era, where individuals like Triple H, The Rock, Mark Henry and Stone Cold were living embodiments of strength, I regularly went through back catalogues of old wrestling shows. There I’d see Jimmy Superfly Snuka’s iconic finishes, Jimmy Hart’s unmatched smack talk and everything weird and wonderful that wrestling offered from the 1980s onwards. I, like many others, was enthralled by the athleticism of the wrestlers. I suspect that my initial interest in training came from my love of wrestling where the heels and the babyfaces sported muscular bodies in equal measure. In that vein, today’s post examines the WWF’s crossovers into health and fitness in the 1980s.

Dr. Mel Siff, A Short History of Strength and Conditioning (Dolfzine, 2003)

Strength training has always been synonymous with the so-called “Iron Game,” a broad generic term that includes the competitive lifting of heavy objects by “strongmen/women” during the last century or so. Feats of lifting strength, however, have appeared throughout the history of most nations, but it has only been in very recent times that training to produce strength has become a scientific discipline.


Mel C Siff Ph.D.
This science did not arise overnight, but is the culminating point of thousands of years of trial-and-error methods of training.

The earliest reference to formal strength training occurs in Chinese texts dating as far back as 3600BC when emperors made their subjects exercise daily (Webster, 1976). During the Chou dynasty (1122-249BC) potential soldiers had to pass weight-lifting tests before being allowed to enter the armed forces.

Harry B. Paschall, ‘How Barbell Men Go Wrong’, Muscle Moulding (London, 1950)

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You cannot spend a third of a century around physical culturists and barbell men without coming to a few conclusions. You see many enthusiasts who thrive on their training schedules and attain a perfectly satisfactory degree of physical development. You see others work and strain without noticeable improvement for months or years. Quite often these latter cases come up with the time-worn excuse that they are simply not the type to gain. Some experts even have given various names to these unsuccessful barbell men and inform them with regret that they cannot change their type and they are therefore doomed to failure.