Tag: Strength Training

Guest Post: The History of Personal Training and Its Role in Fitness Today

The career in personal training is a relatively new one. Sure, the ancient Greeks and other past civilizations had their athletic traditions, but they were mostly aimed towards keeping people fit for combat, not for personal reasons. Exercising for health and hiring fitness experts is a new practice less than 100 years old.

A typical personal trainer image that we have today, a person that works with clients in a gym, didn’t exist until the late 1900s. In general, fitness became popular through TV programs and celebrities who sparked the fitness movement. In the early days, no certificate was needed to become a personal trainer and to be recognized as a fitness professional. It was not until the 90s that the first certificate was created and that personal training became a sustainable job path. Today, we have many different certifications and excellent experts who do wonders for people’s fitness and health. However, in order to understand today’s importance of personal trainers and their role, we need to know the history of this career and where and how it all began.

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?

The History of the Trap Bar

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A piece of equipment that has become increasingly common in recent years is the trap bar, that hexagonal device which has become the bane of many a lifter. An easy way to build up the quads and lower back, the trap bar first came into my consciousness when i began lifting in the early 2000s. An odd device, the thing kicked my ass as I attempted a meagre deadlift.

Since then, we’ve come to better terms to the extent that I began to wonder where this device came from. What was its original purpose? And how did it end up on a gym floor in Dublin? A series of questions that has led to today’s post.

The History of the Prowler

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Though athletes and workers have long pushed or pulled heavy weights, the idea of the Prowler is a relatively new one. Who amongst us, upon seeing this shining behemoth on the gym floor has not been tempted to try it out?

As an admittedly recent convert to the Prowler, I’m somewhat late to the party. As is so often the case, something comes along, everyone raves about it, and I grow incredibly cynical about it. Louis Cyr didn’t use one, why should I etc. While this attitude served me in good stead with the Swiss Ball, it led my astray with the Prowler. Putting my pettiness aside, I finally tried the device several months ago and have been hooked ever since.

It has kicked my ass on several occasions thereby leading my mind to the object of today’s post. What sadistic individual invented the Prowler? And what heinous group promoted its use?

The Confusing History of Strength Co-Efficients

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Undoubtedly we’ve all been faced with the question, who is stronger? As a teenager it emerged when those weighing 150 lbs. or less sought to square up to their heavier brethren. Was it more impressive bench pressing 200 lbs. at 150 or 280 lbs. at 200 lbs. bodyweight? While our adolescent selves often solved this problem by calling the other side fat or skinny, we were nevertheless ignorant of this perennial problem. Can strength across bodyweights be compared? For powerlifters or weightlifters currently reading this post, the words Wilks or Sinclair has undoubtedly passed through your lips. For the unaware, the answer is yes, albeit with some reservations.

Since the 1930s a series of formulas have been used to with the express intention of discovering who is the strongest lifter across all weight classes. Varying in their level of nuance, the strength coefficients, as they’re termed, have given a scientific air to locker room debates about the strongest lifter. Perhaps more significantly, they’re also used in competition to determine the overall winner. With that in mind today’s post seeks to examine the history of strength coefficients, beginning in the 1930s and continuing to the present day. As will become clear, the evolution of the strength coefficients used largely echoes the growing professionalism of weightlifting and powerlifting more generally.

Marvin Eder and the Four Hundred Pound Dip

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Few bodybuilders and weight trainers are unfamiliar with the dip exercise. A favourite of Vince Gironda, albeit with some modifications, the exercise is a prime builder for the chest and tricep muscles. Done correctly, the exercise is for my money, up there with the bench press. Done incorrectly, you’re just flopping up and down.

While records on the Dip exercise are few and far between, I wanted to write a short post about Marvin Eder’s incredible feat in the early 1970s, which saw him parallel dip over four hundred pounds!

Dave Waddington and the Thousand Pound Squat

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It was a timely moment for powerlifters. Anabolic steroids were by then de rigour. Weightlifting shoes, straps and suits had all evolved and greater attention was being paid to training and nutrition. Official powerlifting meets had been running for over two decades and the poundages were increasing with every competition it seemed.

Just as the Americans had rushed to the moon the previous decade, the 1970s and 80s in the powerlifting community were concerned with the race to the thousand pound squat. In today’s article we examine the first recorded effort at the thousand pound squat, undertaken by the American lifter, Dave Waddington.