Girl Weight Lifters (1954)

Today we pick up again after a brief summer hiatus, to begin a series of posts focusing on women’s weight training as it was practiced in the middle decades of the twentieth century.

We kick this series off with some vintage footage from British Pathé, posted on their Youtube channel.

This video highlights the benefits of weight training, at a time when it was thought by the general public that lifting weights would distort women’s figures and cause them to become overly masculine, in addition to various supposed ill effects on health.

Stay tuned in the upcoming weeks for more on this topic, with exclusive vintage magazine excerpts on women’s weight training!

Michael Pearman — Strongman Hairstylist (1959)

British Weightlifter Michael Pearman appears in this 1959 profile vignette, from the archives of the British Pathé Youtube channel. This somewhat whimsical profile shows how, at the time, Pearman was developing skills in two separate and unrelated fields: as an Olympic weightlifter, and as a ladies’ hairdresser. Yes, strength is for everybody!

After this, Pearman participated in a number of international weightlifting competitions, and he represented Great Britain as part of the weightlifting team at the Olympic Games in 1964, 1968, and 1972. He would go on to become a weightlifting coach, including as chief coach to the British weightlifters at the 2001 world championships in Antalya, Turkey, and as head coach to the English squads at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland. He currently coaches the weightlifting club at Brunel University London.

It is unknown whether Pearman has kept up his skills as a ladies’ hairstylist over the years.

This video also highlights changing attitudes toward weight training for athletes. Continue reading

Vince Gironda posing (1950s?)

Today we feature footage of the late “Iron Guru” Vince Gironda doing a physique posing exhibition, from the “ironguru” Youtube channel. The footage has been paired with Vangelis’ “Chariots of Fire” theme, which was one of the preferred compositions of Gironda’s student Mohamed Makkawy.

Continue reading

Don’t Do It, Fellows! A Warning About Tissue Building Drugs [Part 2] – Peary Rader (1962)

Last time, we presented the first part of Peary Rader’s warning against tissue-building steroids, as it appeared in the November-December 1962 issue of Iron Man. Here is the rest of the article, in which Rader turned his attention to the efforts of the livestock industry to maximize muscular development in cattle. This excerpt highlights the value of good nutrition for muscle growth in humans, and makes mention of the nutritional work of Irvin Johnson, who would later be known as Rheo H. Blair.

Magazine Excerpt:

As some of you may be aware, the livestock industry is seemingly far ahead of us humans when it comes to research in tissue building. Millions of dollars are being spent to find new methods for adding pounds of muscle to a steer almost overnight, and because of this research they can practically double the weight gain of cattle and other livestock over what it was only a very few years ago. Since I live in one of the greatest livestock areas in the world, I’m exposed to much of this work and take a great interest in what is going on and find it most enlightening to listen in on discussions of cattlemen as they talk of the methods they use to stimulate greater growth in their cattle. I have never met a group of men who know more about proteins, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, as well as all the known drugs used for stimulating tissue growth. Stilbestrol is one of the drugs widely used for this purpose and some amazing things were accomplished with it. Recently our government has forbidden its use in many instances–especially in chickens, because of the dangers to humans who eat the meat it is used on. Still, it is being used in many areas, even on chickens, in spite of this government order, we are told. Continue reading