Tag: Weightlifting

The History of the Olympic Barbell

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A friend of mine recently made a very serious and from my perspective funny discovery. Having spent months training in a University gym replete with shiny new barbells, he decided to join me in my own gym for a catch up and quick training session. Ever the opportunist, he decided it was ‘Chest Day’ and first up was the Bench Press.

Engaging in some light hearted, at least he thought it was light hearted, joking we began loading up the plates. As his outbursts began to reach a crescendo, I made my way to the water fountain for some peace of mind. Hearing a squeal I turned around to see my friend pinned under the bar at a weight he assured me was ‘nothing.’ Thankfully his pride was the only thing injured and next time round he had me spotting him. The result? Still nothing.

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Vince Gironda, ‘Workouts And Body Rhythm’, IronMan Magazine, (November 1983)

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Question: 

You seem to write a great deal about exercise techniques, yet I have noticed that much of it is in fact conflicting advice.

I have been bodybuilding for ten years now, before that I did six years of weightlifting. I still do not know what is the best system to use.

Vince, how do you justify your writing when you even go so far as to contradict your own advice?

Answer:

I once wrote an article entitled, Muscle Confusion, which was not understood by many. Readers actually made fun of it. I will now attempt to explain in more detail the essence of that article. The following is dedicated to those of little faith and to the ones who resist change.

George F. Jowett, ‘The Standard That Determines the Ideal Shape’, The Key to Muscle and Might (c. 1925)

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There is no doubt in my mind that Eugene Sandow’s rise to fame was due more to the symmetrical shapeliness of his enviable body than to the difficulty of feats of strength he performed. Generally speaking, there are two things which will always impress the mind of the body culturist, shape and strength. With strength, we have already dealt.

Therefore, we will now direct out attention to the value of shapeliness, and the influence it has upon our mind and body. Oh yes, it has a great influence upon the mind. The next time you visit an art gallery notice the quiet reverence that is displayed by the art lovers, as they move from one picture to another. The serene beauty of the pictures permeates the whole atmosphere, leaving the beholders in silent wonder. I have a great friend who is a wonderful artist, and he often makes sketches of the body in varied postures, which he brings to me for scrutiny. On one of his visits he said to me, “I can always tell whether the drawings meet with your approval or not. Not by what you say, as much as how little you say. Your eyes are always drawn to the pictures you like best, and I have noticed that you have sometimes been so enraptured that you did not hear me speak to you.” He was quite right. Pictures of the body beautiful, correctly translated, never weary me. I can feast my eyes upon them for hours at a time. This rather contradicts the statement that, familiarity with the most beautiful objects, breeds contempt. For twenty-five years I have lived in the atmosphere of beautiful bodies, and I am still as enthusiastic as I was when I first commenced my studies.

David Rensin, ’20 Questions with Jack Lalanne’, Playboy Magazine (October, 1984).

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“When the interview began in La Lanne’s living room at 8:30 A.M., he had already been awake for five hours. He’d exercised, had breakfast and donned a red jump suit.”Most people know La Lanne only from his TV show. It’s the least of his achievements. On each birthday, La Lanne performs a muscle-numbing feat. At 45, he did 1000 push-ups and 1000 chin-ups in an hour and 22 minutes. At 60, he swam from Alcatraz to Fisherman’s Wharf–handcuffed, shackled and towing a 1000-pound boat. At 66, La Lanne swam more than a mile–handcuffed, feet shackled, towing ten boats carrying 77 people. In 48 minutes.”Most of us have trouble just turning on a tape recorder. Happy birthday, Jack.”

Q1 Playboy: What incredible feat are you planning to do to celebrate turning 70?

Jack La Lanne: I’m planning to swim underwater from Catalina Island to Los Angeles. That’s 26 miles. I’ll do it in less than 24 hours. But what I really wanted to do was carry a 350-pound bar bell on my shoulders down Hollywood Boulevard to protest all the male and female prostitution, all the dope and crap. I wanted to show people that there are better things in life, that you can be fit at any age. Can you imagine 350 pounds on your back for half an hour? All your muscles contract simultaneously. That’s plain pain. And I would challenge anyone in the world to do that and give him $10,000 if he did. But I can’t do it now. Some kid hit my new Porsche 924 head on. About $15,000 damage. I had to have surgery on my knee to take cartilage out, and that took care of that. But I got a new Porsche 944 recently. It’s a pistol. I had it up to 130 the other day.

Product Review: Heroic Sport’s Pahlavandle Clubs

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Regular readers of this blog will be aware of my fondness for Indian clubs. I’ve posted on them at several points, published a few academic articles on them and even spent a year in Cambridge doing a thesis on them. Alongside and indeed fuelling this interest, has been my daily use of the Indian clubs.

Every morning without fail, I swing the clubs for 10 to 15 minutes. This has been my morning routine for the past three years and in that time my mornings have become more pleasant, I’ve perked up and perhaps most importantly of all, my previous shoulder problems have become a thing of the past. Like many other lifters, my first forays into the gym resulted in far too much time bench pressing like my life depended on it. The result were very…very beat up shoulders.

Swinging lightweight Indian clubs in a variety of ways has slowly, over time, helped stabilise, solidify and save my creaking joints. I am therefore…. a fan.

You can imagine the childlike giddiness created when Heroic Sport contacted me about reviewing their Pahlavandle Indian clubs. Based in Denmark, this rather clever device allows you to bring your Indian clubs with you wherever you travel. Having trialed the Pahlavandle out for a week, I thought it’d be beneficial to discuss my initial reaction.

The History of the Glute Ham Raise

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Owing to the inquisitive nature of a PCS reader, I’ve finally gotten my act together, or at least come close enough to some semblance of normality, to go down the rabbit hole once again. The topic of todays post, is the rather more niche but nevertheless effective Glute Ham Raise (GHR) machine.

Having spent years devotedly using reverse hyperextensions and 45 degree back extensions, my own relationship with the Glute Ham Raise only began in the last twelve months. Since then I’ve made a point of trying as many different alternatives as possible. As is so often the case, I became too engrossed in using the machine that I forgot to look into its history. An email this month asking me about the GHR finally set me straight.

So without further ado we’ll crack into the history of the GHR. What is it? Who invented it and how did it become so damn popular?

Arthur Saxon, ‘Routine of Training’, The Development of Physical Power (London, 1906)

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WITH regard to the routine of training, I again repeat, my idea is not to develop muscle at the expense of either health or strength. It is really impossible for me to prescribe special exercises with fixed time limits for same, and fixed days for each individual who may ready this book, as we are all possessed of different constitutions and staminal power, but roughly speaking it will be found correct in most instances to practice twice per week, and at such practices I advise that on each lift you commence with fairly light weights, and gradually increase the weight of same. Taking the double-handed lift, if your lift is about 200 pounds commence at 100 pounds, and with this light weight press overhead, then add 20 pounds and press again, and so on, until you are compelled to jerk the weight. Proceed until you reach your limit, then try another lift, say the snatch, commencing low and working up to your highest poundage. Surely this method of prac- tice is better than to attempt, as most English and American weight-lifters do, their heaviest bell right off the reel. As usual, they fail, and then get in reality no practice at all, only making their position worse, instead of better. Of course, to practice this way shot-loading bar bells would be a nuisance. The most up-to-date bells on the market for weight-lifting practice, in my opinion, are disc-loading bells. With these disc-loading bells one may have a weight as low as 20 pounds or as high as 400 pounds, and one bell would be sufficient for any number of lifters. The same plates used on the long bar may also be used on short bars for dumb-bells.

John Grimek, ‘Shaplier Biceps’, Strength and Health, November (1957), 35-49.

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The arm, particularly the biceps muscle, the best-known of all the muscles and incite more interest and controversy than any other group of muscles. Both old and young are for some inexplicable reason, fascinated by strong, muscular looking arms. The very young are always intrigued and not heard anyone with a fine pair of arms “to show me your muscle!” Youngsters don’t realise the almost 700 muscles comprise the muscular makeup of the body, but to then only the biceps muscles because they not up to a peak when the arm is flexed.

John Christy, The White Moment, Hardgainer Magazine (1996)

Berserker (noun):
An ancient Norse warrior who worked himself into a frenzy before battle.

Do you understand what I’m getting at? It’s aggression, pure 100% focused effort. You can use the “perfect” routine, sleep eight hours a night, eat great, concentrate, visualize, feel the movement, and do everything “right,” but get minimal results unless you experience what at my gym we call “the white moment.” You ‘II never come close to reaching your potential without it, no matter how perfect you do everything else.