Tag: Old School

The History of the Dumbbell Pullover

645px-Dumbbell-bent-arm-pullover-2

Earlier this week I was given a very generous gift. The gift in question was a complete set of Wills’ Cigarette Cards. Produced for an Irish and English audience in 1914, the cards depicted various physical culture exercises one could engage in to keep fit and healthy. The irony that the cards could only be obtained by buying a packet of cigarettes was evidently lost on the manufacturers.

In any case I gleefully went about examining my present and stumbled across the below photographs. Said to be breathing exercises with dumbbells, the movement represents an early iteration of the pullover exercise.

As is so often the case, I set to work uncovering the history of this particular movement with the result being this very article. So today, we’ll begin by examining the popularity and history of the pullover from the early to late twentieth-century. The pullover exercise has fallen from grace in the lifting community, from a once hallowed movement to a more niche and often poorly executed assistance lift.

Advertisements

Peter McGough, ‘The Mike Menzter Story’, Flex Magazine, September (2001).

Mike_Mentzer

In a career that spanned four decades, Mike Mentzer, who passed away on June 12, 2001 was one of bodybuilding’s most prominent, inspirational and controversial figures. In order to flesh out the unique life, times and psyche of this complicated star, we’re reprinting (beginning on the next page) a feature on Mentzer from the February 1995 issue of FLEX. Although the article was first published six years ago, we think it still provides insight into what drove this future Bodybuilding Hall of Fame inductee.

When this feature first appeared, Mike was writing regularly for FLEX, but he later moved on to work for Muscular Development. In the last two years of his life, he contributed to Ironman. His theories and writings continue to be a source for debate, and his books and articles remain popular (see http://www.mikementzer.com).

John Kuc, ‘A Guide to Thigh Development’ (1984)

s-l1600

When I did the original outline for this article I tried to think of an appealing title. Many trainees do no leg work at all, and those that do usually do not do enough. I thought an appealing title might entice some of them into including leg work in their training programs. I later decided that an honest evaluation of the pros and cons of leg work would be the best enticement.

I won’t try to deceive anyone; leg work done properly can really be tough. There are no easy leg exercises, and to be effective you really have to go all out. This is one factor against leg work. The fact that your legs are normally covered is the second factor. Most individuals prefer to work the muscles that are seen by everyone. Also, some leg exercises require a relatively heavy weight to be effective. Heavy poundages seem to create a mental barrier for some individuals. Combine all these factors and you can see why leg work could be ignored.

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

bosco1

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.

Vince Gironda, ‘Common Errors in Bodybuilding’, The Master Series of Nutritional Bodybuilding (Iron Guru Publishing, 1983), 5-7

vince_gironda.01

Gironda is undoubtedly a site favourite. Known for his unique style of training and nutritional approach, Gironda didn’t pull any punches when it came to giving his opinion. The below errors, 35 in total, may raise a few eyebrows. Nevertheless they demonstrated Gironda’s willingness to give his opinion!

Jeff Preston, ‘The 1991 Mr. Olympia: The End of an Era’, Iron Age (c.2003)

91 olympia cover

I sat poised watching the clock with my finger in the ready position. I knew to get the desired seat I would have to have my ticket ordered the second that it went on sale. I called with speedy precision and connected with the agent who took all the needed

information and we both waited for the event to come up on the computer screen. “Joe Weider’s 1991 Mr. Olympia” appeared as “now on sale” and the VIP ticket was sold. First row, center section! It could not be any better.

Physical Culture Library: John McCallum’s Iconic ‘Get Big Drink’ Article

arnold_schwarzenegger_protein_shake

John McCallum has been covered at several points on this site already. What’s been missing in our discussions has been an insight into just how wonderful his writing style was. McCallum wrote in parables that were simultaneously funny and inspiring. This was best seen in McCallum’s iconic ‘Get Big’ drink article.

The ‘Get Big’ drink was a bulking technique that offered thousands of extra calories in an easy fix. Without delving into the article too much, I’ll stop now by saying that all of McCallum’s articles can be found in The Complete Keys to Progress, available here.