Tag: Strength

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.

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.

Forgotten Exercises: English Style Deadlifts

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Admittedly this is an exercise for your physical culture purist. Stemming from the early origins of physical culture in the late nineteenth-century, English style deadlifts are unlikely to be seen in your gym any time soon. Nevertheless, this style of lifting was hugely popular amongst British and European lifters of yesteryear. Used by Goliaths like Herman Goerner, this style of deadlifting was seen as inherently strict and the greatest measure of a lifter’s power.

That being the case, today’s short post will be addressing three simple questions. What is the history of the lift? How does one deadlift English style? And how can we incorporate it into our routines?

Bill Kazmier, ‘Competitive Squatting Style and Techniques’ from Bill Kazmier, The Squat and Deadlift (Crain Power-Plus, 1981)

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The following extract comes from a fascinating twelve page pamphlet I recently got my hands on. Written by the Strongman and Powerlifter Bill Kazmier, the pamphlet details everything a budding strength enthusiast needs to learn to perform on the platform. Over the next few weeks we’ll be dissecting Kazmier’s advice for the Squat, Deadlift and the Bench Press

In the meantime, do enjoy the Strongman’s general tips and advice for performing the perfect powerlifting squat. As always…Happy Lifting!

The Confusing History of Strength Co-Efficients

Kevin Phengthavone 415lbs squat black and white

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.