Tag: Physical Culture

Robert Fitzsimmons, ‘A Chapter for Women – To Gain Beauty with Strength’, Physical Culture and Self-Defense (London, 1901), 47-50.

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Muscle Building Will Bring Charms that the Toilet Table Can Never Furnish

MUSCLE building brings beauty to woman. This brief statement is sufficient, I think, to I make many women embark upon a physical development course. What will woman not do to become beautiful? They—some of them, at least—powder and paint, and bleach their hair, and do all kinds of other foolish things in an attempt to improve their appearance. If they but knew what a routine of daily, healthful exercise would do for them they would soon forsake their toilet tables for the gymnasium.
There is nothing in this world more lovely than a beautiful woman. There is nothing more pleasing to the eye than a browned, rosy­ cheeked, full­chested, straight—backed woman. Let her be all these and she is certainly queen.

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Guest Post: The History of Physical Fitness

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Society often makes certain demands on the level of physical strength of its members. This is especially the case in times of primitive communal systems. Yet even then, even in ‘pre-modern’ societies, there were peculiar principles of physical education, because a person’s life was largely dependent on their physical qualities.

Today, fitness is still of paramount importance to health and well-being. With that in mind, the following post details a brief history of physical fitness.

Vince Gironda’s Beginner Bodybuilding Course

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Well known as one of the greatest trainers of his age, Vince Gironda’s name has become synomous with bodybuilding champions from Larry Scott to Arnold Schwarzenegger. Though Gironda made his name producing some of the greatest bodybuilding champions the sport has ever seen, he sent countless hours with beginners and intermediates seeking to sculpt their bodies or build muscle.

Today’s post discusses Vince’s general bodybuilding approach for beginners with the caveat being that Vince was known for changing exercises based on each trainer’s physique. Nevertheless, there is much to learn from his more generic approaches.

The History of Kaatsu Training

“Wrap a band around your bicep until it begins to go numb, then pump out 30 reps with a light weight… Trust me, the pump is worth it.”

These are not the words of an enlightened man but rather my first experience of Kaatsu or Blood Restriction Training. Brought to my attention by a training partner whose grasp of science is not always the strongest, Kaatsu training has grown in popularity over the last decade. While my friend’s description may seem appropriate at first glance, there is quite a lot more to this training system than first meets the eye.

With this in mind today’s post seeks to answer three simple questions: what is Kaatsu training? How was it created? And, perhaps most importantly, should you try it?

Guest Post: A Short History of Nutrition in Bodybuilding

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If you’ve been in the fitness game for any amount of time, you know that optimizing your nutrition is half the job. Even more importantly if you’re a bodybuilder, your diet plan can make or break your physique no matter how much time you put in the gym, or how well you sleep. Eating whole foods coupled with quality supplements such as protein and amino acidsin general can present a winning combination that will help you build muscle and lose fat. But is it really that simple?

Guest Post: Jack LaLanne’s “My Daily Dozen” (1962, 1968)

Fitness guru Jack Lalanne’s “My Daily Dozen” pamphlet offers a short glimpse into the broad appeal of LaLanne’s early productions. 

LaLanne’s popular television show is often thought of as being aimed at mid-twentieth century American suburban housewives who wanted to lose weight.  But the charismatic LaLanne had a way of reaching out to a broad audience, including children. Published first in 1962 and revised in 1968, “My Daily Dozen” was an attempt to interest kids in exercise and healthy living. The simple booklet contains cartoon images and rhymes meant to make fitness fun and to encourage youth to move, eat well, and get rest.  The back of “My Daily Dozen” contained a chart that allowed users to mark their fitness and hygienic activities on a daily basis.

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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Sandow, Hercules and the Birth of Modern Weightlifting

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While Eugen Sandow has long been been held in esteem in the lore of bodybuilding, fans of weightlifting have seldom seen the Prussian as a figure of great importance for their sport. This is unsurprising given that over the past half-century, Sandow’s image has become so integral to bodybuilding that the sport’s top contest, the Mr. Olympia, hands out miniature Sandow busts as trophies. Nevertheless part of Sandow’s fame, at least initially, came from his raw strength which he used to set records, wow audiences and defeat opponents.

With this in mind, today’s post looks at Sandow’s 1890 weightlifting contest with ‘Hercules’ McCann, a controversial bout during which the men’s weights measured to a tee, the first time such precision had ever been introduced to the growing sport. The contest can thus be seen as a pivotal moment in the evolution of weight lifting as a recognised sport in its own right.