Well, we’ve gone far too long without a look back at the history of the iron game in the mid twentieth-century. With the whole world struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic, here’s hoping that you dear readers of FOUNDATIONS OF IRON and your loved ones are in good health. With businesses closed down and people everywhere having to stay home and unable to go have a workout at the local gym, there has been a huge surge in sales of home fitness equipment, to the point that many retailers and distributors are constantly running out of their stock, and consumers must keep checking their preferred sellers’ web sites frequently to see if anything new becomes available. Continue reading
So far, FOUNDATIONS OF IRON has primarily featured examples of historic physical culture from the US, and occasionally England. Now we take a step outside of the Anglosphere for a look at the physical culture of France, with a translation of an article from the January 1962 issue of La Culture Physique, a monthly fitness magazine that seems to have been in publication for several decades from the early to mid twentieth century.
The cover masthead of La Culture Physique. Click to enlarge (will appear in new window/tab).
In the history of physical fitness, it has been common for certain individuals to enter the limelight and be lauded as teachers and gurus. French physical culture was no exception. La Culture Physique was the official publication of physical culturist Edmond Desbonnet. Even five years after Desbonnet passed away in 1957, praise for the “Desbonnet method” and for Desbonnet himself still appeared throughout this magazine, including the article below.
This article calls for a more holistic and healthful approach to physical culture, in the face of a rising trend of what the author considered to be bodybuilding purely for muscular development. Continue reading
Many recreational lifters focus on areas of the physique that seem the most visible, such as arms and chest. However, only doing exercises for these body parts means missing out on the benefits of training muscular groups such as the legs and the back. Below is a brief article from the May-June 1962 issue of Physical Power, featuring the back training routine of Leon Burks. Burks was a physique competitor in the early 1960s in southern California. Unfortunately, precious little information seems to be available on him today.
Leon Burks displaying his back development in a photo which accompanied the article. Click to enlarge (will appear in new window/tab)
Brief further reading, a list of contests that Leon Burks placed in: http://musclememory.com/show.php?a=Burks,+Leon
Magazine Excerpt: Continue reading
Written works on serious weight training sometimes describe the “mind-muscle connection,” and serious trainees can attest that if their mental state is ‘off’ during a workout, then performance and results will suffer.
The article below illustrates the importance of the mind in weight training. This was taken from the May-June 1962 issue of Physical Power, a mid-twentieth century fitness publication which covered a variety of aspects of training for physique, strength, and sports. The writer, the late Chuck Coker, was head Track and Field coach at Occidental College in the late 1950s to the early 1960s.
A photo of Vince Gironda which accompanied the article. Click to enlarge (will open in new window/tab).
Further reading on Chuck Coker: https://www.oxy.edu/magazine/fall-2016/guts-glory
Magazine Excerpt: Continue reading
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.
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