Tag: history of sport

Guest post: Nike’s waffle shoes or how inspiration comes from the unexpected

2015_Sneaker_Culture_7.-Waffle-Trainer-Ron-Wood_4000W.jpg

Running shoes do not have too long of a history, with the first pair being developed around 200 years ago. They were initially made from leather and each decade brought a number of changes, such as the rubber soles and spikes. Companies began manufacturing sneakers in the 1930s, with running shoes being used by athletes from all over the world and in major competitions, including the Olympics. In the 1970s, Bill Bowerman, the co-founder of Nike, one of the major names in the industry, changed the world of the running shoe forever. And it all started with a waffle iron.

Advertisements

The (Somewhat Complete) History of the Deadlift!

Weight-Fitness-Studio-Fitness-Dumbbell-1882721.jpg

Having previously looked at the history of the squat, bench press and even the smith machine, it seemed about time that we did a history of the deadlift. We’ve been putting this one off for quite a while, even looking at the Romanian Deadlift en lieu of the actual thing.

The stumbling block in approaching the history of the deadlift is the amount of smoke and mirrors surrounding one of the most popular exercises in the Iron Game. Someone writes something in a training book or blog and suddenly it becomes part of the popular lore. Actual research is a lot harder to come by. Nevertheless, it’s clear that deadlifts and variations on the deadlift have been around since time began. Man and woman kind has seemingly always displayed an insatiable desire to pick heavy things up from the ground.

For the sake of my sanity and timekeeping however, we’ll begin in with the eighteenth-century when a variation of the deadlift, of heavy lifting, briefly took England by storm.

The History of the Bulgarian Split Squat

IMG_0133-1024x785.jpg

An exercise designed to enact as much pain as possible.

That at least is the thought that almost inevitably runs through my mind during a set of Bulgarian split squats. Heavy squatting? Fine by me. Heck throw in breathing squats for fun. I can grind through that. But high volume split squats? That’s an altogether different story.

By the tenth rep, I’m a sweaty mess. My quads are burning, hip flexors being stretched beyond belief and I’m making internal deals with myself about the next rep. Only three more reps then we rest…promise!

What keeps me coming back to the exercise again and again? Its sheer effectiveness.

Here is an exercise that overloads the quads, improves flexibility and prevents to a large part, any degree of cheating. Try leaning forward too much on the Split Squat and you’ll end up on the floor toot sweet. An experience many of us have encountered at one point or another.

Who then is responsible for this oh so necessary evil? When was the exercise created, who popularised it and what is the correct way of doing things? Stick around, and you might just learn a few things.

A Brief History of the Barbell

weightlifting_

Whether you bodybuild, power lift, cross fit or simply keep fit, there’s no denying the importance of the barbell to your training. Easily adjustable, stable under enormous weights and challenging to the nth degree, barbells are a time honoured means of building muscle and strength.

Yet despite the barbell’s unrivalled popularity amongst the current gym going population, we tend to know very little about its short history. Borrowing from the work’s of historians such as Jan Todd, today’s article seeks to present a brief history of the gym-goers favourite device.

The History of American Powerlifting

bench_press_yellow

Perhaps the most popular form of training for modern gym goers, powerlifting is nevertheless a relatively recent phenomena. Indeed, while bodybuilding and Olympic Weightlifting date to the start of the twentieth-century, it was not until the 1960s that the art of lifting incredibly heavy things was formally recognised.

Today’s article thus looks at the birth of American powerlifting, from it’s humble beginnings, past it’s first competitions and into the age of international contests. A story of strength, politics and fun.

Vince Gironda on the Nautilus Machines (Muscle and Fitness, 1974)

vince_gironda.01

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!

Continental and Military Pressing

weight-training-for-competition

What could be simpler than lifting a weight overhead?

Well like everything else in the world of fitness, a simple idea is often needlessly complicated, something exemplified by today’s post on overhead pressing at the turn of the twentieth-century.

Unlike modern weightlifting competitions, which have largely standardised the manner in which lifts can be executed, the competitions of one hundred years ago were notable owing to the sheer variation in how weights were lifted.

Take for example, the often acrimonious debate about continental and military pressing.

PIONEERS AND PARIAHS: ORANGE FREE STATE BANTU F.C

OFS-1899-team-photo-b

It’s often difficult to pinpoint seminal moments in sport. This is especially the case in football. Ask people when the first football match was played and the answers will range from the fifteenth-century to the recent 1800s. History teaches us to be weary of ‘first ever’ occasions in a sport with such a long past.

Luckily the birth of Black football in South Africa is a much less fraught affair. Brought to Southern Africa in the mid nineteenth-century, the beautiful game quickly spread across the country among settlers and natives alike. By the 1890s, African football boasted a host of tournaments and had begun to attract the attention of British teams. In 1897, the revered English amateur gentlemen side Corinthians toured South Africa for a 23-match tour. The purpose of Corinthian’s tour had been to test the mettle of the South African sides and raise the sport’s popularity even further. Little did the English side know that two years later a representative African side would travel to England to return the favour. Remarkably this team was made of native African players, as opposed the whites only teams Corinthians faced two years prior.

Their name was Orange Free State Bantu F.C and they were the first black South African football team to tour the world. Their story is one of politics, race and of course, the beautiful game.