Tag: Olympic Weightlifting

The History of Olympic Weightlifting

olympics-944950_960_720.png

A spate of YouTube videos has recently rekindled my love of Olympic Weightlifting. Specifically the iconic footage of German weightlifter Matthias Steiner winning a gold medal at the 2008 games in Beijing has encouraged me to begin digging into the history and indeed, the evolution of weightlifting at the Olympic Games. For those unaware of Steiner’s path to the games in 2008 I suggest a quick google search as I simply cannot do justice to the man’s story.

My goal today is not to discuss Steiner’s life history but rather to examine the sport he competed in. So with this hopefully simple goal in mind, we’re going to explore the history of weightlifting at the Olympic games. Beginning with the first official games in 1896 and moving across time and space towards Tokyo 2020.

The History of the Olympic Barbell

Screen Shot 2018-02-12 at 13.41.28.png

A friend of mine recently made a very serious and from my perspective funny discovery. Having spent months training in a University gym replete with shiny new barbells, he decided to join me in my own gym for a catch up and quick training session. Ever the opportunist, he decided it was ‘Chest Day’ and first up was the Bench Press.

Engaging in some light hearted, at least he thought it was light hearted, joking we began loading up the plates. As his outbursts began to reach a crescendo, I made my way to the water fountain for some peace of mind. Hearing a squeal I turned around to see my friend pinned under the bar at a weight he assured me was ‘nothing.’ Thankfully his pride was the only thing injured and next time round he had me spotting him. The result? Still nothing.

Forgotten Exercises: The One Arm Clean and Jerk

saxonjerk.jpg

Recently I had the good fortune to stumble across Alan Radley’s excellent History of Physical Culture work. A combination of fun facts, serious scholarship and enough photographs to keep any Ironhead happy, it’s likely that I’ll be dipping in and out of this work for years to come.

In any case, Radley’s scholarship highlighted a number of odd lifts and techniques that although hugely popular during the heyday of physical culture in the early 1900s, have now largely fallen by the wayside.

The focus of today’s short post is one such lift, namely the one arm clean and jerk.

From Waffles to Weightlifting: Eleiko Barbell

E_Classic_OlympicBarbell.jpg

In many ways the gold standard of the Iron game, few lifters will go through their careers without using an Eleiko barbell at some point in time. An iconic range in the weightlifting community, the history of this Swedish company is often forgotten. Indeed, so commonplace have Eleiko products become, be they barbells or plates, that we often take their very existence for granted. Having previously examined the history of the barbell, it seems only fitting to examine one of the most iconic barbells around.

When one digs a little deeper however, a bizarre story of waffles, weightlifting and innovation begins to emerge.

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.

The History of Weightlifting Belts

shutterstock_1273653.jpg

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.

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.

Louis Abele Training Programme

louis-abele

Although unknown to the modern olympic lifter, Abele was one of America’s finest lifters during the 1940s and 1950s. Unfortunately he was overshadowed by fellow US lifters John Grimek, Steve Stanko, and John Davis during the course of his career. Similarly the outbreak of the Second World War denied Abele the chance to lift at the 1940 Olympic Games, a time when he would have been in his prime.

Nevertheless, Abele’s lifting career saw him put up some rather impressive poundages as you’ll read about.

With regards to training philosophy, Abele was a strong advocate of specialisation and high intensity training. Illustrating this, Abele tells the reader that he once exercised so hard that his teeth hurt from breathing! A level of intensity unrivalled by many today.

The text itself comes from a series of letters written by Abele to Chester O. Teegarden which were published by Iron Man Industries of Alliance, Nebraska in 1948.

The Training Programmes of Louis Abele

Weightlifting at the 1904 Olympics

200px-1904summerolympicsposter

It was the first time that the Olympic Games were held outside of Europe and the first time they were held in an English speaking country. It was heralded as a monumental step in the internationalisation of the Olympic spirit and it was prompted as such.

Unfortunately, the reality of the 1904 St. Louis Olympics proved to be anything but. Owing both to the Russo-Japanese War and the sheer difficulty in sending athletes to the United States from Europe, the 1904 Games were largely bereft of elite athletes. Nevertheless, perhaps owing to the determined attitude of the organisers, the Games continued regardless.

Whether this was a blessing or a curse for the sport of weightlifting is up to the reader to decide.

Today’s post examines the re-emergence of weightlifting at the 1904 Olympic Games. The sport had been part of the inaugural games in Athens in 1896 but had failed to appear at the Paris showing four years later. As a sport still in its infancy, weightlifting depended on international showings to improve its popularity. While the first international weightlifting competition was held in London in 1891, the Olympic games five years later had seen significantly more media interest in the event.

Weightlifting in many ways needed genuine Olympic interest to attract more to the sport.