Back to the Future
posted on 23/06/2015 11:12:00 AM
Back to the Future
Words: Michael Cunico
Photos: Dallas Olsen
Traditional strength training movements have stood the test of time for a reason. Performing a variety of sets and repetition schemes of traditional exercises such as back squats, deadlifts, bench presses and chin-ups has been getting humans insanely strong for hundreds of years.
To gain an understanding of how strong our forefathers were, the most well-known strongman of the late 1800s, Eugene Sandow, would travel the world bending iron bars, bench pressing cows and lifting pianos to show off his amazing physique and strength. His training program centred almost wholly on barbell and dumbbell training.
Fast forward to the golden era of bodybuilding in the late 1960s and early 1970s and a young Austrian by the name of Arnold Schwarzenegger was about to dominate the bodybuilding world for a decade, winning an unprecedented seven Mr Olympia titles. What some people don’t know is he was as strong as he looked, with his personal deadlift record well over 300kg, and his all-conquering physique was built on a diet of large compound movements.
For an army of young bodybuilders who wanted to ‘be like Arnie’, these exercises became the cornerstone of our training programs for years – with many a debate raged about who had the biggest bench settled over an Olympic bar and a post-workout protein shake.
The popularity of strength training
This isn’t just for the boys either. While I am pretty sure most females aren’t aspiring to look like Arnie, the popularity in strength training is rising (as it should be). Strength training for women has numerous benefits, including improving metabolic rate and increasing lean muscle mass and bone density.
There is also something really cool about seeing a woman complete her first chin-up or out-lift the guy next to her. Best of all, this does not have to be at the expense of a woman's femininity. The hormonal profile women have is not favourable for large increases in muscle mass, so the small amount of testosterone is simply not enough to make a woman overtly muscly. Sure, it is possible, but it takes years of dedication and training for this: just ask any male you know how hard it is to put on lean muscle – and we have high levels of testosterone!
To read the full article purchase the latest issue of Fitness Pro 3 on the 9th July 2015
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