Tag: Powerlifting

The History of the Zercher Squat

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Mentioned at various points on this particular site, the Zercher Squat has been described by many as one of the most effective but painful methods of building big quads. Uncomfortable to the nth degree, this lift isn’t exactly the most popular amongst gym goers. A point which leads us into today’s post. Why invent such a painful method of lifting? When did it come about and why has it remained with us today?

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Dennis B. Weis, The Lee Haney & Fred C. Hatfield Seminar

Recently I had the good fortune to obtain an audiotape seminar on nutrition and training. The seminar was sponsored by Bio Chem Supplements (a division of Country Life) and was hosted by eight-time Mr. Olympia Lee Haney and power lifting icon “Dr Squat” Fred C. Hatfield.

As I began to listen to the audio seminar, two things became quickly apparent. First, this seminar wasn’t about pushing or praising the Bio Chem product mix. Second, the seminar wasn’t a sham toying with the emotions of easily manipulated bodybuilders. The seminar is about two superstars with the right credentials talking about the “Supplement Game.”

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

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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.

Forgotten Exercises: The One Arm Clean and Jerk

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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.

The History of 20 Rep Squats

Kevin Phengthavone 415lbs squat black and white

Though few exercise programmes maintain a venerated status for long in the Iron Game, the mystique surrounding 20 Rep Squat programmes has endured. As hinted by the name, such programmes require lifters to back squat twenty times before unloading the bar, and in my own experience, lying on the ground questioning your decision-making.

Primarily touted for individuals struggling to build mass or to bulk up their legs, such programmes originated in the 1920s and 30s. That they still exist, albeit with some modifications, is testament to their efficacy and popularity. The goal of today’s post is to highlight the original promoters of the programme, to explore the writers who kept the idea in the public mind and finally to question why the programme remains popular in the current age.

History of the Good Morning Exercise

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Depending on the gym you attend Good Mornings are either a commonplace exercise or a complete rarity. Aside from the cynical observation that far too many back squats one sees in the gym are bastardised good mornings, the reality is most like the latter. Used by numerous bodybuilders, powerlifters and athletes, the Good Morning is oftentimes a neglected thing, confined to a few strange individuals no doubt wearing belts and high heeled shoes.

This, the present post argues, is a rather pitiful thing. The Good Morning has a long and rich history within the Iron Game, one that we’re going to delve into today.

The History of the Zercher Squat

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Mentioned at various points on this particular site, the Zercher Squat has been described by many as one of the most effective but painful methods of building big quads. Uncomfortable to the nth degree, this lift isn’t exactly the most popular amongst gym goers. A point which leads us into today’s post. Why invent such a painful method of lifting? When did it come about and why has it remained with us today?

Bill Starr, ‘Sex and the Barbell’, Defying Gravity How To Win At Weightlifting (New York, 1981), p. 24.

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I once wrote a piece for the “Behind the Scenes” section in Strength & Health magazine dealing with the subject of sex before competition. I thought that I was quite obviously tongue-in-cheeking the presentation and made the comment that lifters would do well to lay off sex during the final week before a meet. As it turned out, I was not obvious enough as I received numerous letters and a few phone calls from irritated wives. It seemed that many lifters took my advise as gospel and denied their ladies any sexual gratification in the week prior to the contest. I have often suspected that many of these lifters merely used my words as an ex-cuse and most likely were doing a bit of hankey-pankey on the side at my expense.

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?

A Brief History of the Barbell

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Whether you bodybuild, power lift, cross fit or simply keep fit, there’s no denying the importance of the barbell to your training. Easily adjustable, stable under enormous weights and challenging to the nth degree, barbells are a time honoured means of building muscle and strength.

Yet despite the barbell’s unrivalled popularity amongst the current gym going population, we tend to know very little about its short history. Borrowing from the work’s of historians such as Jan Todd, today’s article seeks to present a brief history of the gym-goers favourite device.