Tag: Old School

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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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!

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.

The Secret of Rheo H. Blair’s Protein Powder

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Having discussed Bob Hoffman’s (failed) attempts to create a protein powder that was both tasty and efficient, the time seems right to examine Rheo H. Blair’s famous protein powder from the mid-twentieth century.

Iron game historians will long be aware that Blair’s protein powder was the go to supplement for bodybuilders, average trainees and even Hollywood stars of the 1960s and 1970s. It was one of the first protein supplements and was highly regarded by others in the industry including Vince Gironda.

Heck, so highly regarded was Blair’s protein that it was credited with adding pounds upon pounds of muscle in a short space of time. Some bodybuilders spent months eating nothing but the protein powder alongside some vitamin capsules.

So what exactly was in Blair’s protein and what made it so special?

Forgotten Exercises: English Style Deadlifts

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Admittedly this is an exercise for your physical culture purist. Stemming from the early origins of physical culture in the late nineteenth-century, English style deadlifts are unlikely to be seen in your gym any time soon. Nevertheless, this style of lifting was hugely popular amongst British and European lifters of yesteryear. Used by Goliaths like Herman Goerner, this style of deadlifting was seen as inherently strict and the greatest measure of a lifter’s power.

That being the case, today’s short post will be addressing three simple questions. What is the history of the lift? How does one deadlift English style? And how can we incorporate it into our routines?