Inspired by the Greek and Roman statues, the frail and sickly Sandow was determined to become strong like the heroes cast in marble. No one in the modern age had come close to possessing the Greek-ideal, yet Sandow believed it was possible. Because he is the first person to build their body to pre-determined measurements, he is considered the father of modern body-building. Keep in mind that he accomplished all of this without any special diet considerations, except not eating to satiation. Below are a number of exercises Sandow developed to become strong. The goal is not to push yourself to the max, tearing muscles and taking every supplement under the sun to repair them, but to gain practical strength over a long period of time by mastering an exercise and slowly increasing the weight.
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July 27, Eugen Sandow on Heavy Weightlifting A point previously discussed on this website was the regularity with which early physical culturists promoted light weight training as opposed to heavy lifting.
The reasons for this are numerous. In the first instance, light weightlifting is easier to promote to the general public than heavy weightlifting. It was for this reason that individuals like Eugen Sandow, Professor Attila and a host of other physical culturists promoted light weightlifting for their followers. A few, like Arthur Saxon , bucked the trend and argued that heavy lifting was needed to build a strong physique.
It came at the height of his popularity, sold widely and was more accessible than some of his later works which were far more medical in composition.
Sandow did not expand greatly on how to lift heavy but nevertheless provided an insight into the progressive training practices of the late s and early s.
It is not my purpose in this book to give anything beyond general directions for lifting heavy weights. You can become thoroughly strong and enjoy perfect health by means of the series of exercises already described. That instruction will be given to those who may desire it at my school of training.
Under qualified instructors it may be pursued without the risk of danger. Generally, however, it may be observed that to lift heavy weights it is desirable first to see what weight can be used without undue strain. Slowly raise this weight from your shoulder over your head ; or, if from the ground, raise it somewhat more quickly.
Continue this increase day by day, remembering always to bring the left hand into play as well as the right. Each pupil must be personally instructed. Here we can see the care Sandow took to present heavy weightlifting as something unnecessary. To lift heavy people needed access to a gymnasium and a personal instructor. As more and more strongmen began publishing biographies and training monographs, Sandow did, begrudgingly, modify his comments on heavy lifting.
Although the change was rather small, he did highlight a clear progressive training programme. It is not my purpose in this book to give anything beyond general directions for lifting heavy objects.
Heavy weight-lifting requires personal instruction ; that instruction will be given to those who may desire it at my schools. Generally, however, it may be observed that to lift heavy weights it is desirable at first to see what weight can be used without undue strain.
Slowly raise this weight from your shoulder over your head, or if from the ground, raise it somewhat more quickly. See how many times you are able to raise the weight first selected, and when you can perform the exercise with comparative ease, raising it, say ten times up to 40 lbs. The great thing to remember is to go slowly. Avoid anything like spasmodic efforts, and endeavour before trying to lift to thoroughly think out the different movements.
Weight-lifting should never be practised in a confined space or where the weight cannot be readily dropped. To attempt to hold on to a weight after the balance has been lost may result in serious strains and other injuries ; the pupil should practise dropping the weight from any position safely and gracefully.
If the pupil bear these few hints in mind he will come to no harm, but, as I have said, weight-lifting is best left alone until it can be practised under the personal supervision of an experienced instructor. The next question of course, is why does any of this matter?
Despite the numerous writings and articles produced by Sandow, we have very little idea of how exactly he built his body. Given his strength, muscularity and agility, it is unlikely, indeed very unlikely, that Sandow solely concentrated on lightweight dumbbells and an intense mind-muscle connection. That Sandow trained exclusively under Professor Attila in his Brussels gymnasium in the s, it is likely that he, like many other physical culturists, lifted heavy weights.
Unfortunately we will never know his exact system, hence my interest in the above comments. We see that Sandow was aware, and I would argue, most likely used, a system of progressive training whereby heavier and heavier weights were lifted for less weights. What lessons can modern lifters take from the above passages? First that we need to be vigilant against fitness promoters who may endorse one system or diet while using another themselves.
Sandow almost disavowed heavy lifting, presenting it as a strange practice. This was despite the fact that he himself most likely used it.
One of them was Eugen Sandow , a German-born bodybuilder who appeared to be carved from marble. While not all the advice was salient, Sandow did have a grasp of fitness principles that magazines and coaches have gone on to repeat for decades. The prevalent idea is that muscular exercise of any active kind, for a young girl, coarsens and makes a boy of her. The idea is a delusion; mischievous, indeed, when we realize the value to a growing girl of gymnastics, in their milder form of calisthenics; and its evil results are seen not only in the ailments, among many others, to which we have just referred; but also in the absence of comeliness, grace, and that beauty and shapeliness of physical contour which we associate with a perfectly-formed and finely-conditioned woman.
Eugen Sandow on Heavy Weightlifting
Eugen Sandow: Part 4 – Sandow’s Exercise Routine