Physical Types – George W. Kirkley (1963)

Today we present another excerpt from Kirkley’s book Weight Lifting and Weight Training. The excerpt below is the second chapter, which describes the classic concept of somatotyping, or categorizing physiques into three general types: ectomorph, endomorph, and mesomorph. Nearly any book on strength or bodybuilding/physique training is likely to repeat some version of these ideas.

In recent years, fitness writers have been more critical of the somatotype model for trying to shoehorn every human body into one of three distinct categories, and many weight trainees have trouble determining which somatotype they are supposed to fit into, as they may have aspects of more than one of these types. However, Kirkley here acknowledged that these types are generalizations rather than strict, hard-and-fast categories; and his approach to training different body types in different ways was based on years of experience and observation. Most importantly, he did not dismiss any body type as hopeless when it comes to physical improvement.

KirkleyDeadliftThe author Kirkley demonstrating the deadlift, from elsewhere in his book (click to enlarge, will open in new window/tab)

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The Apparatus Needed – Michael Fallon (1960)

The text below is from another weight training manual to come out of English physical culture, Michael Fallon and Jim Saunders’ Muscle Building for Beginners (1960). This pocket-sized paperback book is focused on training for physique development. The book is divided into two sections. Part I, by Michael Fallon, is an overview of the field of physique training, including tips on gaining and losing weight through nutritional changes. Part II, by Mr. Universe, Class II Jim Saunders, features more specific information on training muscle groupings such as arms, chest, back, etc.

FallonSaundersMuscleBuildingBook cover: click image to enlarge (will appear in new window/tab) Continue reading

Principles of weight training – George W. Kirkley (1963)

Welcome to FOUNDATIONS OF IRON! We hope that this site will provide insight on physical culture and weight training for strength and physique as practiced decades ago, and that this online archive will continue to grow over the coming years.

We begin with an introductory text. The following excerpt, entitled “Principles of weight training,” is the first chapter of Weightlifting and Weight Training, by George W. Kirkley (1963). This paperback volume was a very good introduction to lifting weights for strength, physique, general athletics, and for the sport of competitive Olympic weightlifting. Among other credentials, Kirkley was senior coach of the British Amateur Weightlifters’ Association, and he had decades of experience in the field. However, little other information seems to be readily available on Kirkley himself. The text below gives excellent reasons to engage in this activity, and presents a basic overview of how to go about lifting weights.

KirkleyWeightLiftingBook cover: click image to enlarge (will appear in new window/tab)

Book excerpt: Continue reading