Tag: Strength

Anthony Ditillo, ‘The Single and Double Progression Method’, The Development of Physical Strength (Wm F. Hinbern, 1982).

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When beginning a book on physical training, I feel it is only natural to begin with the most basic concept used in any barbell endeavor. We all use this training aid in one form or another and its use makes possible the goals of which our dreams are made.

By single and double progression I mean the basic way we arrange our sets and repetitions with a given weight, which will enable us to do so many things in our training, that its usefulness cannot and should not be overlooked when discussing barbell training, in general.

All trainees use this method for keeping track of their progress as well as preventing injury and over-training. In fact, I would go as far as to say that most of today’s problems concerning progress with the weights stem from a mistaken notion of the use of this single, double and even triple progression system and all it pertains to.

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Eugen Sandow on Heavy Weightlifting

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A point previously discussed on this website was the regularity with which early physical culturists promoted light weight training as opposed to heavy lifting. The reasons for this are numerous. In the first instance, light weightlifting is easier to promote to the general public than heavy weightlifting. It requires less equipment, can be done in the comfort of one’s own home and can be done with relative ease. It was for this reason that individuals like Eugen Sandow, Professor Attila and a host of other physical culturists promoted light weightlifting for their followers. A few, like Arthur Saxon, bucked the trend and argued that heavy lifting was needed to build a strong physique.

With that in mind, today’s brief post examines the brief words Eugen Sandow gave to heavy weightlifting in his seminal book, Strength and How to Obtain It. Published by Sandow first in 1897, Strength was, for many, Sandow’s most important work. It came at the height of his popularity, sold widely and was more accessible than some of his later works which were far more medical in composition. Thanks to the British Library in London, I was able to consult Sandow’s 1897 edition, as well as his third edition published in 1905. Sandow did not expand greatly on how to lift heavy but nevertheless provided an insight into the progressive training practices of the late 1890s and early 1900s.

W. A. Pullum, ‘Great Strenth’, How to Use A Barbell (London, 1932), 21-24.

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To gain great strength one needs to consider the factors that unite to produce it. For until this is done one cannot be sure upon what lines to work.

The things that make for outstanding physical strength are great vital force, a high degree of nervous energy, and superlative quality of muscular tissue. Contrary to the belief that still persists in some quarters, the mere quantity of muscle that a person possesses is not a decisive factor. And at the beginning the student of this section would do well to understand that clearly.

The History of the Face Pull

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I grew up in the age of rotator cuff injuries. Whether or not the danger was as real as people believed, it didn’t matter. I, like many others, spent the first five years of training involved a series of mind numbingly boring shoulder exercises as part of our warm up. Taking light dumbbells, we would wave at one another in a variety of stilted poses and directions. Slowly but surely our coach’s obsession with shoulder injuries lessened but I still remain convinced that a shoulder injury was just one sloppy set away. Some time ago, I was told that the face pull was the answer to my fears.

The face pull has existed in a variety of forms over the past century but in my developmental stage of training, the exercise gained a remarkably important stature. We were told that, done correctly, this exercise would add mass to our backs, ensure we remained injury free and keep us standing upright, which admittedly is a tall task of any teenager.

In homage to an exercise which has taken up hours of my time, today’s post looks at the face pull. We’re going to examine its origins and, perhaps more importantly, how it came to be popularised among the lifting populace. Aside from the prowler, it is probably fair to argue that the face pull was one of the first real exercises to benefit from a mass internet exposure.

Interview with Wisdom of the Body’s Rob Allen

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Many of the early physical culturists stressed the relationship between mind and body, viewing the two as symbiotic. The drive towards the physique above all else is a rather more recent phenomenon. It is for this reason that I am delighted to have had the opportunity to speak with Rob Allen from Wisdom of the Body. As you’ll quickly find out, Rob’s philosophy on training and life encompasses that mind/body holism preached by men like Sandow and Hackenschmidt. No doubt you’ll enjoy reading his responses as much as me. Who knows, you may even learn something!

The Birth of the Arnold Strongman Classic

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Earlier this year we were treated to perhaps the most exciting Arnold Strongman Classic to date. We saw Hafthor Bjornsson win the event for the second year in a row with a domineering display of power. The ‘Wheel of Pain’ from Conan the Barbarian made an appearance and it was joined by an exact replica of the famed Husafell Stone. The competition itself, and its sponsor, Rogue Fitness, spared no expense or difficulty in devising a truly remarkable show.

For those unaware of the Arnold Strongman, the competition is an annual gathering of some of the strongest athletes in the world held as part of the Arnold Classic, a multi-sporting event hosted by Arnold Schwarzenegger. While the Classic itself began in 1989, largely as a bodybuilding contest, it has grown since then to include everything from Ninja Warrior to fencing. It’s this multi-sporting appeal which resulted in the inclusion of a strongman event.

Regular readers of the blog will no doubt be asking why a strongman event came to the Arnold. After all, the World’s Strongest Man contest (WSM), as detailed previously on this site, had been running since the late 1970s. Herein lies the beauty of the Arnold strongman. Whereas the WSM is often times decided by a combination of muscular strength and athletic endurance, the Arnold, as conceived by the Todds, Peter Lorimer and Arnold Schwarzenegger, is interested solely in brute force. In the WSM, a competitors’ endurance is often a limiting factor. This is especially the case in any long distance carrying events or lift for reps features. In the Arnold, the lifts are closer to one rep maxes or are done under very strict time limits. The thinking behind this is that the Arnold is a better indication of who is the strongest man while the WSM combines strength and endurance. Think of the Arnold as a test of strength alone.

Now while that is simplifying things somewhat, it provides a nice indication of the organiser’s initial motivations. So with that in mind, today’s post takes us back to 2002 and the inaugural Arnold Strongman Classic.

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.