In the ensuing years, weight training continued to gain popularity throughout the world. The once cult hobby is now recognized by leading medical authorities as the most effective method of controlling weight, staying healthy and living longer. To millions of people, it's a way of life.
Bodybuilding has gone through many changes. There have been innumerable men and women who've shaped it along the way. It has also been a product of the changing tides, often dictated by ephemeral fashions -- for better and for worse.
From the 1980's to the 1990's and into the new century, fads have come and gone. New theories, new apparatus and new magazines have made a splash -- then were gone as quickly as they appeared. But one thing has remained -- bodybuilding itself. The pursuit of a stronger, more muscular body remains because it's an integral part of human nature. Just as muscle was admired by cultures long gone, it continues to captivate another generation and will continue to do so as long as people yearn to transform themselves into something greater.
It doesn't matter where you are in your bodybuilding journey, for as long as you have the desire to turn your body into the best it can be, you too are a part of bodybuilding's great history -- a link in the long chain of devotees that started at the turn of one century and has led to the beginning of another.
Bodybuilding's past may not be common knowledge to a lot of people -- even bodybuilders. Nevertheless, its roots are deep and its had an impact on all of us...whether it's realized or not. Many great individuals have made it possible for today's trainees to build their bodies into something that was considered inconceivable just a few short decades ago. We've reaped the rewards of their pioneering efforts. We owe a great debt to the men and women who refused to accept the negative connotations about bodybuilding which were flung their way and continued with what they believed in. It took a long time, but we made it.
Today, if you're a bodybuilder, you don't have to explain yourself. Thanks to the understanding most people have about the benefits of weight training, your intentions are well understood -- and admired. Bodybuilding truly has a great heritage. Be proud of it.
THE (Abridged) ENCYCLOPEDIA OF BODYBUILDING GREATS
Each day, millions of bodybuilders sweat and strain in an effort to make the most of their bodies. And although even the more casual gym-goer may know of many of today's muscle stars, how many know of the men and women who brought bodybuilding to where it is today? It's fair to say that without the pioneering efforts of the iron game's ancestors, we would not have the muscle building advantages we now enjoy. As bodybuilders, we should recognize and appreciate their efforts.
It would be impossible to mention everyone who has contributed to the state of modern bodybuilding, but there are certain individuals who need to be acknowledged. In an effort to broaden the understanding of our lineage, presented is a montage of some of bodybuilding's forefathers -- those who were the first, and those who were the finest. You may not be familiar with some of the names, but they've all been influential in the sport of bodybuilding as we now know it.
PAUL ANDERSON...The first undisputed strongest man in the world. Anderson was never defeated in Olympic competition. Listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as having lifted the greatest weight ever raised by a human in his 1957 backlift of 6,270 lbs.
CHARLES ATLAS...Perhaps the most famous and most recognizable name in all bodybuilding. Born Angelo Siciliano, Atlas started a mail order course with little success until 1928 when Charles P. Roman joined the company as campaign director and suggested the company advertise in comic books. The plan worked. The Charles Atlas course of Dynamic Tension sold millions of copies and continues to be advertised in comic books to this day. Some people feel Atlas did bodybuilding a disservice since his course didn't advocate weight training, even though Atlas would employ weights in his personal program. The Dynamic Tension system was mostly isometrics, calisthenics, general health information and self-empowering affirmations, making the course a precursor to today's "self-help" books. It can be fairly stated that Charles Atlas introduced more people to bodybuilding than any other individual.
PROFESSOR ATTILA...The first known strength coach to employ barbell and dumbell techniques. If he only knew what he started.
RHEO BLAIR...Nutritionist who developed the original "engineered food." At a time when protein supplements were made from soy flour, Rheo experimented with a combination of milk, whey and whole egg in an effort to match the amino acid ratio of human mother's milk. When Rheo died, his formulations were discarded by his family. They're lost forever.
JOE BONOMO... Circus strongman (circa 1940) who went on to be a bodybuilding entrepreneur. His claim to fame was selling pocket books (tiny 3 x 5 booklets) at newsstands and supermarkets which remained available until the early 70's. His slogan read; "What Would You Give For 10 More Years Of Life?"
JIM CARUSO...Photographer for the Weider mags of the 60's who set a new standard in physique portraits.
FRANCO COLUMBO...Thick, dense and seemingly as wide as he was tall, Franco was considered one of the strongest bodybuilders of his time.
LOUIS CYR...Nineteenth century Canadian strongman famous for lifting 535 pounds with one finger. Cyr never lost a contest of strength but his lifts weren't officially substantiated.
DAVE DRAPER...The personification of the Malibu "beach god" -- big, blonde and loving life because he had a "he-man" body. (At least that's how he was marketed.) At 6 feet, 220 pounds, the "blond bomber" was considered a giant back in the 1960's. Today at age 58, he looks better than ever! He remains an inspiration to young and old alike. Dave still follows many of the patterns he learned from Vince Gironda and Rheo Blair. He insists; "It's not because I'm old fashioned, stubborn, conservative or unaware. It's because the wheel is round and I like it that way. It works better when it's round."
DAN DUCHAINE...The first person to write on the application of anabolic enhancement for bodybuilders. ("The Underground Steroid Handbook") All steroid information that has since been released is, in some form or another, based on Duchaine's original findings. As Dan put it, he..."took steroid information out of the doctor's office and placed it on the kitchen table."
CORY EVERSON...The most popular Ms. Olympia. She held the title from 1984-1989. Muscular, defined and beautiful, Cory remains active as a model, actress, motivational speaker and exercise instructor.
BEV FRANCIS...First woman to exhibit muscularity far beyond what was thought possible for a female. A bright and articulate spokesperson, Bev Francis will forever be linked with the excessive muscularity displayed by contemporary women bodybuilders. (For better or worse, depending on your perspective.)
VINCE GIRONDA...Regarded by many to be the greatest authority on the topic of training. Vince maintained peak condition well into his 50's when he also wrote a column for MuscleMag Int. Entirely self taught, many of Vince's concepts were not only ahead of their time, they are just now being fully recognized and understood. Vince had a reputation for being surly -- he was the consummate "know it all." In Vince's case, however, he really did.
JOE GOLD...Hollywood stuntman and owner of the famous Gold's Gym in Venice which was featured in the movie "Pumping Iron."
JOHN GRIMEK...Considered to possess the ideal man's body in the 1940's. To this day, he's the only bodybuilder undefeated in competition. He trained (heavy!) until the last day of his life. He died in his sleep at the age of 88.
LEE HANEY...Successor to Arnold's string of Olympia wins with a total of eight -- the longest running hold of a major bodybuilding title to date.
BOB HOFFMAN...Early proponent of weightlifting and President of the York Barbell Company, Hoffman published Strength and Health and Muscular Development magazines. Despite his reputation as a health authority, Hoffman was known to indulge in several un-healthy practices such as smoking, drinking and keeping late hours. Even as a sick old man, Hoffman would insist he "never felt better in his life!"
ARTHUR JONES...Inventor of Nautilus equipment (the first bodybuilding "machines"). Advocated that employing a single set to absolute failure would produce superior results to traditional multi-set routines. Mentor to Mike Mentzer who dubbed the training system, Heavy Duty.
GEORGE JOWETT...Published the first monthly magazine devoted to bodybuilding entitled "Strength."
BOB KENNEDY...Photographer, writer and muscle building authority who ia also the publisher of MuscleMag International, which is the longest running bodybuilding magazine to date. Bob still maintains his enthusiasm for new and interesting theories that will more effectively help people reach their bodybuilding goals. He's also the originator of the "Pre-Exhaust" principle of training which is a staple of many a successful bodybuilder's routine. Bob continues to expand on every aspect of health and betterment. He also publishes the women's publication, "Oxygen" and more recently launched the men's health magazine, "American Health & Fitness."
SIG KLEIN...An early proponent of weight training and thought to be the first person to refer to bodybuilding not as a sport but an art form. His motto was; "Exercise for shape--and strength will follow." Klein owned the first bodybuilding gym in New York City where he designed most of the equipment himself. He lived to the age of 85.
IRVIN "ZABO" KOSZEWSKI...At a time when best bodypart awards were presented at bodybuilding competitions, Zabo never lost the "best abdominals" category. He also may have won more overall contests than any other bodybuilder. In an 1997 interview, Zabo was asked how long he needed to alter his diet for a show. His answer: "Three days."
JACK LALANNE... The man who refuses to age! Jack was perhaps the most successful of the early fitness pioneers. His exercise television show was one of the longest running programs in history spanning over 20 years. To celebrate his birthday each year, he would swim across the San Fransico Bay to Alcatraz pulling a tugboat! And he'd do it handcuffed! (Just to make it challenging.) Finally, at the age of 71, the ritual stopped. "I wanted to do it," says Jack. "But my wife wouldn't let me." At age 80, Jack trains two hours a day and can still perform 1000 pushups!!!
(Some guys just don't know when to quit.)
DAN LURIE...TV strongman turned bodybuilding entrepreneur. From 1950 to 1980, a boy's first 110 pound weight set purchased at the local department store was more than likely the Dan Lurie brand. As a teenager, Dan was diagnosed with having a heart murmur--a condition he reversed through exercise. That experience was the inspiration for his lifelong motto; "Health is Your Greatest Wealth."
RACHEL MCLISH...The first Ms. Olympia. Rachel personified the ultimate woman bodybuilder -pretty, shapely, muscular yet feminine. The ideal didn't last long.
SERGIO OLIVA...The Myth! And the original mass monster. Prior to Oliva, most young men began training to compensate for their lack of size. Once Oliva hit the scene, it attracted bigger men to bodybuilding. The only Mr. Olympia holder to win the title uncontested. (1968)
BILL PHILLIPS...The man who could be considered the forerunner of modern bodybuilding journalism. Phillips broke convention by openly discussing drug use in his publication Muscle Media 2000. In 1996, Phillips made an about face and decided to aim his marketing skills to more mainstream audience, much to the dismay of thousands of hardcore bodybuilders.
HAROLD POOLE...A star of the 1960's bodybuilding scene , Harold was the first bodybuilder whose muscularity was referred to as "freaky."
STEVE REEVES...With his classic good looks and perfect proportions, Reeves was tailor made for the silver screen. The movie "Hercules" was not meant for release in the United States until producer Joseph E. Levine took notice of Reeves' star quality. "The movie was pretty bad," says Levine, "but I knew I could sell it." Male muscle in the movies dates back to the silent film era, but Reeves set a new standard, which to many, has never been surpassed.
JOE ROARK...Bodybuilding historian who may very well know more about the chronology of bodybuilding than anyone alive.
SANDOW...Appearing in the wildly popular "Ziegfield Follies" of the 1920's, Sandow was the first commercially successful muscle star.
LARRY SCOTT...The first Mr. Olympia. His amazing arms are legendary.
ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER...Some big Austrian guy who came to the states to be a bodybuilder and was never heard from again.
CHUCK SIPES...A member of the Weider stable from the 1960's, Sipes' extraordinary overall development would give today's competitors a run for their money. He performed a strongman act which included breaking a chain, bending a one inch steel bar, and inflating a hot water bottle with his breath until it burst!
PUDGY STOCKTON...One of the first women bodybuilders who was also a master gymnast and acrobat as well as a powerlifting champion. Now 84, Pudgy still works out with weights. She's coyly stated; "I used to total over 350 pounds, but I don't think I'll be matching those numbers anytime soon."
VIC TANNY...Member of the muscle beach crowd and the first man to open a chain of gyms throughout the country. The chain folded and Vic went bankrupt.
DR. FREDERICK TILNEY...Early bodybuilding author and exercise analyst. Helped co-write and edit many famous bodybuilding journals including works by early physical culturists such as Bernarr
McFadden, Earle Leiderman, Bob Hoffman and Charles Atlas. An early advocate of nudism. (!)
JOE WEIDER...Plain and simple; bodybuilding would not be what it is today had it not been for Joe Weider. Throughout his career, Weider has published over 40 magazine titles. His IFBB Mr. Olympia contest is still regarded as the biggest event in professional bodybuilding.
FRANK ZANE...Many people feel Frank achieved the ultimate combination of symmetry, proportion, muscularity and definition. There's been bigger, but few have been better. Also a master poser, Zane won the Mr. Olympia title at a weight of 175 pounds.
ARTIE ZELLER...Physique photographer extraordinaire. Zeller conducted the majority of his work from 1962-72. His use of light and shadow has never been equaled.
JOHN ZIEGLER...The infamous, and brilliant, inventor of Dianabol, the original steroid. (And what many believe to still be the most effective steroid mg per mg) Ziegler had high hopes for the benefits of anabolics but toward the end of his life, was regretful that he didn't anticipate the potential for their abuse.
Have we missed anyone? It's very possible. Everyone has their favorite icon from the past and many of them are worthy of attention. In fact, if there's someone you think we missed, drop a line and tell us why you believe he or she deserves mention.
These are some of the greats from years gone by. We owe our respect to these people because they engaged in weight training at a time when it was scorned by the populace. They broke new ground and gave their all toward the pursuit of a better body. We owe them a debt of gratitude in that their efforts made it possible for the sport of bodybuilding to improve and to flourish. I think I speak for many of today's bodybuilders when I address these legends of the past and say; Thank you all for what you've done for us. We'll take it from here.
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