Tag: Old School Bodybuilding

George F. Jowett, ‘The Standard That Determines the Ideal Shape’, The Key to Muscle and Might (c. 1925)

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There is no doubt in my mind that Eugene Sandow’s rise to fame was due more to the symmetrical shapeliness of his enviable body than to the difficulty of feats of strength he performed. Generally speaking, there are two things which will always impress the mind of the body culturist, shape and strength. With strength, we have already dealt.

Therefore, we will now direct out attention to the value of shapeliness, and the influence it has upon our mind and body. Oh yes, it has a great influence upon the mind. The next time you visit an art gallery notice the quiet reverence that is displayed by the art lovers, as they move from one picture to another. The serene beauty of the pictures permeates the whole atmosphere, leaving the beholders in silent wonder. I have a great friend who is a wonderful artist, and he often makes sketches of the body in varied postures, which he brings to me for scrutiny. On one of his visits he said to me, “I can always tell whether the drawings meet with your approval or not. Not by what you say, as much as how little you say. Your eyes are always drawn to the pictures you like best, and I have noticed that you have sometimes been so enraptured that you did not hear me speak to you.” He was quite right. Pictures of the body beautiful, correctly translated, never weary me. I can feast my eyes upon them for hours at a time. This rather contradicts the statement that, familiarity with the most beautiful objects, breeds contempt. For twenty-five years I have lived in the atmosphere of beautiful bodies, and I am still as enthusiastic as I was when I first commenced my studies.

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Arthur Saxon, ‘Routine of Training’, The Development of Physical Power (London, 1906)

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WITH regard to the routine of training, I again repeat, my idea is not to develop muscle at the expense of either health or strength. It is really impossible for me to prescribe special exercises with fixed time limits for same, and fixed days for each individual who may ready this book, as we are all possessed of different constitutions and staminal power, but roughly speaking it will be found correct in most instances to practice twice per week, and at such practices I advise that on each lift you commence with fairly light weights, and gradually increase the weight of same. Taking the double-handed lift, if your lift is about 200 pounds commence at 100 pounds, and with this light weight press overhead, then add 20 pounds and press again, and so on, until you are compelled to jerk the weight. Proceed until you reach your limit, then try another lift, say the snatch, commencing low and working up to your highest poundage. Surely this method of prac- tice is better than to attempt, as most English and American weight-lifters do, their heaviest bell right off the reel. As usual, they fail, and then get in reality no practice at all, only making their position worse, instead of better. Of course, to practice this way shot-loading bar bells would be a nuisance. The most up-to-date bells on the market for weight-lifting practice, in my opinion, are disc-loading bells. With these disc-loading bells one may have a weight as low as 20 pounds or as high as 400 pounds, and one bell would be sufficient for any number of lifters. The same plates used on the long bar may also be used on short bars for dumb-bells.

George F. Jowett, The Truth About Exercise (c. 1925)

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It takes all kinds of people to make a world, but some we often feel should be given an island, to make a world of their own. There are people who apparently are born with the pessimistic germ in their systems. They just cannot help taking a contrary view of the situation. You find them everywhere, and antagonistic to the popular beliefs of life, law and religion. I agree that the major part of their criticism is destructive rather than constructive, but why worry about them if you know you are right. You may say, “Look at the harm they do.” But I do not believe that. Like attracts like is my belief. Some people prefer to believe that black is white, so let them believe it. We have the same spirit to contend with in teaching the valuable precepts of physical training.

I happened to know a man who had an argumentative belief that exercise was harmful; he accosted a heart specialist on the question, with whom I am familiar. The specialist informed him that the causes of cardiac conditions were reduced to four, none of which were caused by exercise. The only time sports or exercise are liable to injure the heart are when the heart is out of condition. Then anything would injure it. More often bad eating, but rarely right exercise, which is constructive. The other man replied that just the same he believed exercise hurts the heart. Now a wall would have to fall on such a man before he would believe it had fallen. And, as an angel could not convert such a person, why worry about it?

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

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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…

Guest Post: George Eiferman – The Lost Tips

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Our latest post comes from the wonderful and talented Samantha Olivier from Ripped.me. We’re delighted to have Samantha featured on the site again and know you’ll enjoy her latest piece.

When you live and lift in a world where bodybuilding has been reduced to supplementation, cutting workout time in half and putting size before health, you become hungry for this noble sport’s true roots. And where better to look, than to the legends of lifting, to beasts such as Leroy Colbert and the gentleman from the title of this article who were and still remain at the forefront of the sport?

John Grimek, ‘Shaplier Biceps’, Strength and Health, November (1957), 35-49.

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The arm, particularly the biceps muscle, the best-known of all the muscles and incite more interest and controversy than any other group of muscles. Both old and young are for some inexplicable reason, fascinated by strong, muscular looking arms. The very young are always intrigued and not heard anyone with a fine pair of arms “to show me your muscle!” Youngsters don’t realise the almost 700 muscles comprise the muscular makeup of the body, but to then only the biceps muscles because they not up to a peak when the arm is flexed.

A History of Pre-Workout Supplements

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Situated halfway between the gym and the nightclub, pre-workout supplements have taken on a remarkable popularity amongst gym goers in recent years. Labelled with ‘hardcore’ names such as ‘Anarchy’, ‘Mr. Hyde’ or ‘Rage’, the pre-workout supplement has become a staple amongst portions of the lifting community.

Indeed, one may be forgiven for thinking that bodybuilders, powerlifters, weight lifters and just about anyone else who has ever graced the gym floor have been using these supplements since the dawn of gym going. This however, is not the case. In fact, the first major pre workout supplements did not hit the markets since the 1980s.

So what came before the pre-workout supplement? What did bodybuilders do in the time of physical culture or the time of Arnold and co.? Furthermore when did pre-workouts hit the market? And why did they become so popular? An ambitious set of questions, which today’s article seeks to answer.

Guest Post: 7 Oldschool Fitness Hacks For A Better Physique

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Fitness goals should be the top priority of everyone who wants to live a happy life. One cannot be happy until one is fit and healthy. Any kind of health problem can be troublesome for you and prevent you from enjoying your life. You won’t be able to do things in the cheerful ways if you are not on the best of your health. So, it is important that you should consider your health as the topmost priority and look for the ways to stay healthy. In addition to this, your fitness goals also include getting the better physique. It makes you look attractive.Attaining a better physique is not a single day task, you have to be consistent with fitness hacks to get the attractive physique.Teenagers who are in the growing years should start following the fitness rules right from their schooldays to get a better physique.

Henry Downs, How I Trained to Win the Mr. Britain Title (1957)

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December the 11th, 1955, was a date to remember for me, for it was on that day I was placed second in the Mr. Britain contest. I had trained harder for that contest than any up to that time and thought I was in better shape than ever before. Well as you know, I didn’t make the grade, so this year I used a different approach to what I had previously done.

History of the Leg Extension Machine

A mainstay in gyms across the globe, the leg extension is perhaps one of the most controversial machines amongst the lifting community, at least from the 1990s onward. For some it is a one way ticket to an ACL tear, while for others, it’s one of the most effective means of building up the iconic tear drop quad muscle.

That the machine’s existence causes such confusion undoubtedly gives us pause for thought. Who invented this machine? And why has it proved so enduring?