Attn: Bodybuilders & Strongman – Can You Identify this Photo by Prof. E. W. Orlick

Published in Muscle Training Illustrated Mar. 1967
Prof. E. W. Orlick, once Editor of Muscle Training Illustrated magazine, describes the equipment in the photo while raising the question whether anyone could identify the men.  It is believed the photo was taken in a local gym or college in Montreal, PQ. Quebec was the home of LOUIS CYR, French Canadian Strongman known as the “Strongest Man Who Ever Lived”.

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Axemen, Maker of the Iron Men by Laurie Smith

Contributed by Author
HOPC Ed. “The physical work entailed in felling trees and cutting logs has built strong and highly conditioned individuals for centuries. There have probably always been both impromptu and organized contests going back to antiquity. The bulk of such persons would traditionally have been found where logging was a main industry. Chopping wood has also featured in the training of many fighters, both boxers and wrestlers as a terrific way to build the strength and endurance to go many rounds in combat.

As an organized sport wood-chopping dates back to 1891, when the first championship was held in Latrobe, Tasmania, which is the site of the Australian Axeman Museum. Although as previously mentioned contests must have been held unofficially for centuries wherever trees were felled. These days competitions are held around the world, even areas not traditionally known for wood cutting…cont’d.” -Peter Yates, HOPC Ed.

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Strength & Development Home Gym Way by Bob Hoffman

In this follow-up article, the Author reviews the cable exercise program discussed earlier and introduces the benefits of using cable stirrups. Stirrups are adjustable and allow users to develop the major muscles of the body using a variety of exercises. The author carefully explains each exercise and the guiding principles that support them. The convenience of cables allows users to train at home or while travelling.
Originally published in Strength and Health magazine, Jan. 1942.

(c)Strength & Development Home Gym Way by Bob Hoffman

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Pat McShane, Maker of the Iron Men by Andrew Reid

The Author recounts his personal story how he became involved in weight training and the unforgettable impact his mentor, Pat McShane had on his life and in reaching his strength and physique goals.   The author’s journey began with the BULLWORKER system which “whetted his appetite.” One day his journey lead him to the Coatbridge Health and Strength Club in the town where he lived in Scotland.  The owner was Pat McShane, “a stocky powerhouse of a guy”.

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(c)Pat McShane, Maker of the Iron Men by Andrew Reid

An Interview wtih Gil Waldron by Peter Yates

INTRODUCTION

I first met Gil through his Maxalding website and over the years our friendship developed. We always try to meet up whenever I am in the UK. Gil’s passion for physical culture and his desire to make information and access to old books available for all was evident from the start. I know he spent countless hours and personal finance in order for this to occur. I feel he deserves to be more widely known for his efforts in preserving and disseminating the history of physical culture. This is especially relevant regarding the Maxalding system which I feel without his and friend Roger’s efforts may have been all but lost. Now however it is making somewhat of a comeback in some quarters and surviving into the 21st. Century. I appreciate him taking the time to answer my questions with a special thanks to his wife, Christine for donating her time and typing skills.

1. HOW OLD ARE YOU NOW AND WHAT AGE DID YOU BEGIN TRAINING?

I’m 74 at the moment. I started training at about the age of 13, without apparatus.

2. WHAT WAS THE REASON YOU BECAME INTERESTED IN PHYSICAL CULTURE?

If I’m honest I should say Charles Atlas on the back of my comics but I also had an uncle that was interested and had been a weightlifter in his time and had talked at length to him about my interest. I think really also I was very thin and short and I was fired also by Wilson of the Wizard but unless you’re of a certain age and from the UK you probably don’t know who I’m talking about. I’m sure you remember him Peter.

3. WHAT TYPE OF TRAINING DID YOU START WITH?

I started with press-ups as organised physical activity but, really, testing my strength down the local woods lifting logs and doing chin-ups on the branches of the trees was the start of my strength training. I was then given a course by Lionel Stebbings; the course is now featuring on HOPC. If you read it, you’ll see that it was complete rubbish but it kept my enthusiasm going. I was then given part of a Charles Atlas course, which I followed religiously, making one or two gains before moving onto my next phase, joining a local club. The club I joined was the Police Boys Club in Halifax, Yorkshire; there I was introduced to weight training.

4. WHO GUIDED YOU IN YOUR TRAINING?

It was at the Police Boys Club where I met a man called Maurice Reaney, an excellent weightlifter and instructor and a good mentor and guide to an inexperienced young boy. I was 14. And as you know, Peter, there wasn’t the amount of information around then as there is now. Weider magazines were just breaking through into the UK and the Reg Park magazine was another but these magazines were basically adverts for the publishers’ systems although they did give some kind of guide to the beginner. Then more and more Weider magazines started flooding the market along with Hoffman’s magazines Strength and Health and Muscular Development; although the information in them was not wholly for the beginner they fired the enthusiasm and gave a goal for the young trainee to aim at.

5. OVER THE YEARS WHAT TYPES OF PHYSICAL TRAINING HAVE YOU DONE AND WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST EFFECTIVE FOR YOU PERSONALLY?

Oh dear. This is a leading question. It should be what kind of physical training haven’t you tried – it would be easier to answer. I tried at first every method under the sun. Chest expanders, Bullworker, isometrics etc etc but quickly realised there was no perfect method and the only way I was going to get where I wanted to go was hard work. Along with the weight training I then discovered Maxalding, which I still practice today. This taught me one thing, how to put my mind inside the muscle. Training up till then had just been a mechanical action, the brain wasn’t brought into play at all and, as you know; getting that mind inside the muscle is the most important part of any kind of training. I then acquired a booklet of the Weider course without the charts and Weider had gathered together all the different training methods he’d come across and put them into one book. I found that really helpful.

6. HAVE YOU EVER ENTERED ANY COMPETITIONS AND IF SO WHAT KIND AND HOW DID YOU FARE?

Yes. In my early days I practised the Strength Set which was a precursor to powerlifting. The lifts were, if I remember rightly, bench press, dead lift and curl. I fared very well in this lifting fashion as I was quite strong by then, winning titles in West Riding and North Riding of Yorkshire as a junior. As a senior I went into the Yorkshire Championships in which I came second. I was quite proud of this as there were a lot of good weightlifters in the competition. I was even more proud when I found out I’d actually won it as the fellow who won it had been taking Dianobol and virtually cheated his way to the win. I tried Olympic lifting but didn’t fare well, not having the co-ordination to do the snatch and, after falling on my back several times from the squatting position and seeing a barbell dropping towards me, I decided to quit.

7. WHEN DID YOU BEGIN COLLECTING YOUR PHYSICAL CULTURE MATERIAL AND WHAT WERE THE FIRST ITEMS IN YOUR COLLECTION?

I think I really started collecting when I never parted, much to my mother’s disgust, with any magazine that I bought. Some of the magazines I gave you I actually bought as new when I was about 15/16 I think. My first book was called I believe Physical Culture but I cannot remember who the author was, it was given to me by the aforementioned uncle. I believe this book is somewhere on the site. I definitely remember the next book I bought, Muscle Control by Maxick, which became my bible then and I think still is my bible. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read it. From there my collection just started growing and growing. The internet and eBay have put the prices up of the physical culture books. I remember I spent many hours rooting through old bookshops and paying pence for what I considered valuable books.

8. WHAT WERE YOUR FAVORITE AND RAREST ITEMS?

My favourite items were any Maxalding items. The rarest is probably The Construction and Reconstruction of the Human Body by Eugen Sandow. I remember I gave this copy to Kev Collings (Kev the Rev) for his collection. I have many other rare books; too many to really mention. I also have a book collection of Indian physical culture books. I took quite an interest in Eastern methods of physical training and so built up a collection of books and articles. These can be seen on the site.

9. WHICH PHYSICAL CULTURISTS HAVE INSPIRED YOU THE MOST?

This is really hard. I think really Reg Park was a great inspiration to me. I worked as a Saturday boy for a while in his warehouse or shop and was paid in protein tablets, which looking back I think the box was more nutritious than the tablets! Charles Atlas must be fairly high in the inspiration stakes but I think I follow a lot of physical culturists in this choice. Uncle Joe (Weider) was the man I think did more for physical culture and bodybuilding than anybody else. Hoffman was more interested in Olympic weightlifting and the British magazines, with the exception of The Bodybuilder, were very rejecting of any ideas that contradicted the three sets of eight method of training that me and you were brought up with. In the UK I think Oscar Heidenstam did a lot for physical culture whilst running NABBA but I believe made a mistake in joining in and taking sides in the war between Hoffman and Weider. The war was after all just a commercial battle with a lot of name calling and racism on Hoffman’s part.

10. HAVE YOU MET ANY FAMOUS PHYSICAL CULTURISTS AND IF SO WHOM?

Yes, I have. Reg Park is probably the obvious one. I met him quite a few times when he buzzed in and out of his shop in Leeds and always had a friendly word and he could be asked for advice. A man from your side of the Pennines was somebody who I met and who gave me some very good advice in strength training, Jim Halliday. Jim had been trained by Bill Pullum in what he called assistance exercises. For quite a while Jim and I corresponded, with Jim virtually writing me a correspondence course over several months and I followed his advice to the letter. I also met Tom Woodward in Blackpool. A lot of people won’t have heard of him but he was an excellent coach and wrote many courses in balancing, muscle control and strength. He ran a gym in Blackpool which was welcoming to all comers with friendly words of advice. He also published a very good publication, which was Skill Magazine which I’m sure you’ll remember well Peter.

11. YOU RECENTLY AND VERY GENEROUSLY GAVE ME YOUR COLLECTION OF WEIDER MAGS FROM THE 1950s-60s. YOU SAID YOU REALLY LIKED THE WEIDER MAGS OF THAT PERIOD. WHY WAS THIS?

I think I’ve mentioned above the Weider mags weren’t very good for advice to new starters but they were very good inspirational magazines and I looked forward to the copies of Muscle Power coming on the stall in Halifax market every month. When he published a further one, I believe it was Mr Universe, which meant that magazines were appearing on the stall every 2 weeks instead of every 4. Mr Universe I believe was first published by Reg Park but I could stand corrected on this. Weider and his magazines I believe fetched bodybuilders of the 50s and early 60s out of the cellars and basements and into gymnasiums. No more training with 2 tracksuits on and gloves. As I mentioned previously Weider had catalogued all the different training systems he came across and called them Weider principles. One principle featured each month in the magazine. I must admit I tried them all, most of them not for the beginner.

12. WHO DO FEEL HAD THE GREATEST IMPACT ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF PHYSICAL CULTURE/ WEIGHTLIFTING/ BODYBUILDING ETC. IN THE 20TH CENTURY? CAN BE MORE THAN ONE OF COURSE.

I know I’ve mentioned this before but Charles Atlas did more to bring bodybuilding to the general population than anybody but not weight training, that was left to Weider. I’ve said all that needs to be said I believe about Weider, I just haven’t mentioned his supplements. Supplements in those days were fairly unknown. I think we had Casilan and Complan and that was it. There were quite a lot of muscle pedlars advertising in popular publications like Titbits and Weekly News which fired the imagination up of many a young man. Weightlifting I’d like to mention Hoffman, I know he did a lot for the American weightlifting team but was very partisan. Bill Pullum trained the British weightlifting team of 1948 to a high standard, these men like Jim Halliday, Norman Holroyd and others had just come back from the war, hadn’t trained and some were broken men. Pullum’s methods rebuilt them in time for the 1948 Olympics in London.

13. WHERE DID THE IDEA COME FROM TO START A SITE DEDICATED TO THE HISTORY OF PHYSICAL CULTURE?

On the old Sandow site there was a dedication to my daughter C E Hunter, she was the real start of the site. Catherine had asked me in 1999 what I wanted for my birthday and as I’d lost my Maxalding exercises I asked her if she could find any Maxalding exercises anywhere, knowing she was internet savvy. Not only did she find a set of Maxalding exercises but also my friend Roger Fillary.

14. HOW DID YOU GET STARTED AND WHO HELPED YOU AND HOW DID YOU GATHER MATERIAL?

Roger and myself, and I honestly can’t remember whose idea it was, decided to put it on the internet and with my Maxalding books we had the start of a site but dedicated to Maxalding. It caught the attention of Maxaldists up and down the country and before long we were getting contributions to go on the site and the site grew. I had a large collection of physical culture books so I suggested to Roger that we should put these on a site running along with the Maxalding site. We didn’t have a title, not even a working title, for the site until I sent Roger scans of all my Sandow books and Roger called it the Sandow Museum. The title we found out belonged to Christian Anderson in America so we had to change our title. By this time other books were getting put on the site by other authors so we renamed it Sandow Plus, which was run until Roger’s death. Thanks to the physical culture community, we started getting books loaned for us to scan and put on the site. We then had to return them to the loaners, which cost a fortune in Registered Post but it was worth it. Looking back now, the one thing that I didn’t enjoy was being up late at night scanning. Somebody emailed me and said scanning sucks, whoever it was was never more right! The more we got known the more contributions came in and people had found out that we could be trusted with their valuable books and courses and they would be returned as soon as we’d got them onto the site. I’d just like to say thank you to all these people for trusting us with their collections. I feel as though I should mention here that scans and other stuff I sent to Roger and Roger put them on the internet. I hadn’t got the technical expertise for this – I was the collector.

15. HOW LONG DID YOU RUN YOUR SITES AND WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO PASS THEM ON?

We ran the site from the year 2000 to Roger’s death in 2014 and as I explained I hadn’t got the technical expertise to continue running it, besides Roger’s passwords had died with him and the people who hosted our site for us would not in any shape or form let me have access to the site, even though my name was jointly on it. They just kept quoting Data Protection. I was then helped out by my daughter’s partner Tom who managed to download the whole site and put it on his server to save it for me until I found somebody that could run it. I had quite a few offers, all of them commercial who wanted to charge for access to the site. We’d set it up free of charge for everyone and I wanted it keeping that way.

16. WHAT WAS YOUR AIM WITH THE SITES?

I felt there were many bodybuilders out there in the wide world that didn’t know the history of their sport and I’m afraid the collections of books, magazines etc were held in the hands of just a few, me included. I felt I would like to share this with the world. I didn’t think that big at first, thinking only people in the UK would read the site but I quickly realised we’d gone international with emails, contributions and support from all over the world from countries as far away as Australia, New Zealand, United States, South America, India etc etc. I was more than surprised; I was shocked but extremely happy that my dream had been put into practice. Sandow Plus had been born.

17. I KNOW YOU WERE LOOKING FOR THE RIGHT PERSON TO PASS ON THE INFORMATION TO, HOW DID YOU GET IN CONTACT WITH DIANE?

I contacted my friend David Gentle who had been a supporter of the site right from the beginning and I told him my problems. David then suggested I should try Diane, who was hosting his material on the David Gentle site to see if she could help. Diane immediately said yes. Then she found there were all sorts of technical difficulties which to this day I don’t understand, being not very technical minded but thanks Diane, you sorted it all out and the History of Physical Culture is the result.

18. HOW DO FEEL ABOUT THE DIRECTION THE HOPC IS GOING IN?

I feel it’s going in the right direction and that Diane has taken it to levels that Roger and I never could have done. Another thank you Diane.

19. THIS IS A MORE PERSONAL QUESTION BUT I KNOW YOU HAD TO DEAL WITH AND OVERCOME A SERIOUS HEALTH CONDITION OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS. HOW DO YOU FEEL YOUR YEARS OF TRAINING HELPED YOU TO GO THROUGH THIS AND REGAIN YOUR HEALTH?

In 2010 I had a shock to my system when I was diagnosed with bowel cancer. Three weeks after the diagnosis I was on the operating table and thanks to my past training and fitness and an excellent surgeon I made a very good recovery, going back to work after only 6 weeks. But the euphoria was short-lived when I was put onto a course of chemo. This did what the operation had failed to do, it knocked the stuffing out of me and whilst on the treatment I felt myself sinking into a depression. I’d stopped training and lost the will to do most things. After the chemo finished, six months later, I started picking up again and training started again. Initially it was just light stretching exercises, some Maxalding and isometrics. This shook me out of feeling sorry for myself and I was definitely back then on the mend.

20. WHAT KIND OF TRAINING ARE YOU DOING NOW?

My daily training consists of Maxalding exercises B, C, E, GG, KK, P and exercise X every other day. All the exercises can be found on the site. These exercises are performed every afternoon along with muscle control. I am fortunate I can take control of most muscles in my body and simulate weight training exercises whilst holding the muscle in contraction. I also have an array of kettle bells, training bands, an ab wheel and a Bullworker; these are brought into play just to relieve the boredom of the same routine and also to challenge my strength. This about sums up my current training. But of course there’s also the little challenges like shifting sacks of garden compost etc etc.

21. ANY ADVICE FOR THOSE STARTING OUT TRAINING OR ANY THING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SAY?

My advice to anybody just starting out training is to get to know their own body. Training is not just lifting a barbell in a repetitious way and performing an exercise mechanically. There is a saying “one man’s meat is another man’s poison” and this is true of training. What’s good for your neighbour is not necessarily good for you. You must put your mind into the muscles, the brain is the most powerful training instrument and by using that to feel the muscles you’re using you’ll make a lot better progress.

I would also like to say, as you know Peter, I absolutely abhor drugs. They’re a poison in every sport as well as in the athlete’s body. Leave them alone and you’ll have a healthy future.

I think that’s it now Peter. I think I’ve said everything that I need to say. I never knew an interview could be so trying and I’d like to thank everybody who tunes into HOPC and keeps the history of physical culture alive.

(c)An Interview wtih Gil Waldron by Peter Yates

Thanks for taking the time to do this Gil.  The body of work you compiled has been a most significant contribution to physical culture history and can certainly be seen as your legacy. All the best, Peter

Inside A Collector’s Den – Featuring David Gentle

Tucked away in Historian David Gentle’s den is his vast Physical Culture collection.  View his inner sanctuary where he creates prolific literature that captivates thousands of readers around the globe. Discover the amazing treasures herein that are sure to delight physical culturists.  We hope you will enjoy this private look “Inside a Collector’s Den”.

The Bodybuilder Monk

Special thanks to Contributing Author l evilcyber.com

“An inspirational interview with the most unusual bodybuilder I have met.”

I made the acquaintance of Prior Aelred when he sent me a friend request on Facebook, stating he was a great admirer of Victorian strongman Eugen Sandow and follows his workout plan.

Seen left – Prior Aelred acting as refectory reader.

“Prior” had me stumble, because it wasn’t a name, but a title I recognized from my hazy knowledge of Catholic monasteries.

His profile picture showed a man somewhere over fifty with a voluminous greyish beard. And sure enough one wearing a monk’s habit.

Intrigued I accepted Aelred’s request and surfed over to read his full profile. It turned out that he was indeed a monk, actually over 60 and lives at St. Gregory’s Abbey located in Three Rivers, Michigan.

A man over 60, living a celibate life in a monastery, but active on Facebook, enjoying worldly fun like Calvin and Hobbes comic strips? And an avid bodybuilder on top? Prior Aelred breaks many preconceptions.

I could never do him justice just writing about him, so I asked for an interview, to which he kindly agreed:

For readers not well-versed in the daily goings of a monastery, can you tell us what your role and duties at St. Gregory’s Abbey are?

To understand what I do in the monastery, one needs to know the monastic schedule. St. Benedict believed that his monks should be kept busy. Our life is oriented around our formal prayer services in church, consisting of hymns, psalms, canticles, scriptures readings and prayers. We are also supposed to have time for private prayer, holy reading and manual labor. Finding the balance is not always easy. The basic daily schedule is:

  • 4:00 am – Matins (about half an hour — the quiet time after this can be used for private prayer or reading, morning ablutions or a light breakfast — cereal, toast & grapefruit are available to those who want them)
  • 6:00 am – Lauds (also about half an hour — quiet time as above except that from about 7:30 breakfast is cleared away and the dishes are done — novices may also have classes at this time) Breakfast (at any time after Matins until 7:30)
  • 8:15 am – Terce and Mass followed by the daily chapter meeting and “pittance” — a sort of coffee break before the Morning Work Period begins at 9:30
  • 11:30 am – Sext (about ten-fifteen minutes, allowing a brief interval for the cook & servers to get the meal on the plates and the plates on the table)
  • 12:00 pm – Main Meal of the Day (taken in silence while one of the monks reads aloud from the book that has been selected)
  • Cleaning up after the meal, washing dishes and the pots and pans, followed by a quiet time called siesta, where one can read or take a brief nap until
  • 2:00 pm – None (about ten to fifteen minutes — followed immediately by a brief work meeting to take care of any questions about the afternoon Work Period)
  • 4:30 pm – Tea (we were founded from England — coffee is also available)
  • 5:00 pm – Vespers (about half an hour, followed by a half hour of meditation)
  • 6:00 pm – Supper (as for lunch, but a lighter meal)
  • 7:00 pm – Community Recreation (informal chatting the in Common Room about various things)
  • 7:45 pm – Compline (Greater Silence begins after Compline until after Mass the next day)

Since I entered in 1975, I have worked on the farm and in the garden and the woods. I have written articles and sermons and published one scholarly paper. I have worked with bees. I have been in charge of keeping the mailing list up to date. I have been archivist. I worked with architects and contractors in the construction of new monastery buildings.

With fellow monks at St. Gregory’s.

For over thirty years I have been Novice Master and in charge of the summer vocation program, teaching classes and having conferences. For nearly thirty years I have been Prior (assistant superior). For over twenty years I have been a priest. And for over a year now, the monastery cook.

When and how did you first become interested in working out and bodybuilding?

When I came here I threw enough hay bales and swung an ax often enough that I never gave a thought to working out. But after my occupations became more sedentary and I started to age, I happened to stumble and fall, landing very badly on my rotator cuff, so that I could not move my shoulder. My doctor thought I would need surgery, but the insurance company insisted on trying physical therapy first. It was a slow, painful process, but eventually I was working that shoulder with light dumbbells and resistance bands.

But I didn’t keep that up. I was scheduled to visit a friend and knew I wasn’t going to take any equipment with me. But my friend had been a runner and had once given me a pair of running shoes that were a little too tight for him. So I put them on and started running. I ran year round, never farther than eight miles, but ran rain or shine or snow — up to thirty miles a week during summer with its long daylight (although I also ran in the dark — Fr. William gave me a reflector vest). Until the time that I slipped on the ice and broke my leg. Suffice it to say that during my recovery, I looked forward to getting back to running. I tried, walking first, then running short distances, but something wasn’t working. The flow was gone.

Performing dips without equipment

About that time the Smithsonian Magazine had an article about Charles Atlas. When I was a child, ads for the Charles Atlas exercise course were on the back of almost every comic book. I read the article with interest and found out that the course was still available and I ordered it. I worked the program hard. I am not supposed to reveal the secrets of the course, but the real beauty of it is the constant encouragement and the emphasis on health and good health as a complete way of life (there are sections on nutrition and rest as well as exercise).

But basically, it is calisthenics and eventually one will plateau. When I was up to 400 push-ups a day and my arms weren’t growing, I wanted more. I researched weights and muscle-building exercises with heavier weights and protein powder and other supplements. I did get a little bigger, but I lost my abs. Too much of the weight I put on wasn’t muscle. And I did some more injury to joints and tendons. The heavier you lift, the more important perfect form becomes. No one ever has perfect form 100% of the time.

So I tried other body weight exercises (for a time I was doing 110 Hindu push-ups and 230 Hindu squats daily), but eventually I discovered Eugen Sandow (the “father of modern bodybuilding”) and some of his books which were just coming into print after an interval of over a century. Sandow claimed that the best way to exercise was light dumbbells (3-6 lbs). I still had light dumbbells from my rotator cuff therapy and decided to give Sandow a try. For a couple of years now that has been my basic exercise and I am very happy with the results.

What is your current workout regime?

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday Eugen Sandow’s exercise routine. In accordance with Sandow’s instructions, 5 lb. dumbbells are used throughout. The important thing is that the dumbbells be squeezed tightly and tension is focused on the muscles being exercised. These exercises take about fifteen minutes.

Calf raises on outside stairs.

Wednesdays and Saturdays and when traveling fifteen to twenty minutes of body weight exercises following a modified Gotch Bible for 55 push-ups & 110 squats:

  • Use a regular deck of 52 cards

  • All Diamonds & Face cards: Ignore

  • On Hearts: Hindu push-ups

  • On Black cards: Hindu Squats

Sunday is a day off from exercise (I have plenty of work in the kitchen).

Does life in a monastery impact how you work out?

I think this has been adequately covered by explaining the monastic schedule. I have to have a brief workout to fit it into our daily routine.

How do your fellow monks react to your fitness efforts?

Hardly at all, except asking me to open jars. Once one of the monks saw me without my shirt on and said, “You are built.” On the other hand, other people have commented on my arms or legs or told me I had a great physique. One fellow asked me if I took steroids. My doctor tells me I am in very good shape for a man in his mid-sixties.

You are a fan of old-time strongman Eugen Sandow. What fascinates you about him?

Sandow was the first in many ways — to promote proper exercise as a general aspect of good health for everyone — to open health clubs for the general public (not just weight rooms for boxers and strong men) — to market correspondence courses — to sell exercise equipment not only for athletes but for the ordinary man and even for women and children — to prescribe exercise by repetitive movements with light weights rather than just lifting the heaviest weight you could manage and then waiting a couple of minutes and trying to lift it again — to organize a nationwide “bodybuilding contest” (with trophies topped by a statue of himself — a tradition continued in the Mr. Olympia contest) — to become famous not just for how much weight he could lift but for how his body looked (there were theories that the ancient Greek statues were idealized because it was not possible for a real human being to have a body that looked like they did).

Doing Eugen Sandow’s standing flyes exercise

Do you think that physical fitness has a spiritual component?

Yes — “mens sana in corpore sano” [“a healthy mind in a healthy body”]

is from Juvenal, but I think the body, spirit, mind connection is obvious to anyone who has reflected on it (or experienced it).

Last but not least, what workout advice would you like to tell my readers?

The basics are diet, exercise and rest. The specific factors are your goals (winning the Olympia and winning a Marathon are very different) and what works for you. You need motivation to accomplish your goals. If you have the greatest exercise routine in the world but don’t do it, it will do no good. If you have a basic workout that you like and that you can fit in to your life and that works, that is great. Changing things takes effort and motivation is the key.

Many thanks to Prior Aelred for this interview!

Bible image courtesy of “Robert,” pictures of Prior Aelred courtesy of Prior Aelred and Jack Ohlemiller.

Copyright © 2014 evilcyber.com

Alexander Zass (The Amazing Samson) 1888 – 1962 by Gordon Anderson

Alexander Zass was also known under the stage name of The Amazing Samson. Zass was born in Vilna, Poland in 1888, but lived most of his early years in Russia and after 1924 in Britain. He lifted a 500 pound girder with his teeth, carried a small horse, caught a woman fired from a cannon and allowed professional boxers to hit him in the stomach, but his greatest talents were in bending steel bars and breaking chains which were the center piece of his music hall exhibitions.

Like many other strongmen of his era Zass was initially motivated to develop his strength when he attended a circus and saw the feats done by the circus strongman.

At first he developed himself by climbing trees, running and with home made dumbbells and barbells. Later he trained under some of the great Russian professional strongmen including Krelov, Anokhin, and Demetrioff who taught their systems in person and through correspondence. Anokhin taught his system to George Lurich who eventually became famous as a world champion strongman and wrestler.

Zass was very innovative and started bending green branches and twigs to develop his grip strength. Perhaps this was the start of his great belief in the application of isometrics and “maximum tension” (a concept that is present in Russian training methods to this day) for the development of strength. He believed such an approach superior to the use of weights in developing strength.

Whilst a prisoner of war he continued to develop his strength with the use of isometrics by pulling on the bars and chains. This episode and the knowledge that he obtained from it later became the basis of his mail order course which featured isometrics in the form of pulling on chains of various lengths.

Zass lived a very full and exciting life on many fronts. In addition to being a strongman he was also an accomplished animal trainer. At one time he worked for military intelligence in Russia and later as cover for his manager, Captain Howard, who was a British secret agent.  Zass died in Hockley, Essex in 1962.

Alexander Zass (The Amazing Samson) 1888 – 1962 by Gordon Anderson

The Artistry of Frank Zane by David Gentle

With the massive explosion of interest in bodybuilding that occurred in the 1970’s, and it’s domination by behemoths such as Sergio Olivia and Bill Pearl, and an ever growing neophyte, Arnold Schwarzenegger, it was some relief and certainly an inspiration to those bodybuilders who preferred the more aesthetic physique, that this is when Frank Zane came upon the muscle molding scene and began to topple the giants.  Zane was, and still remains, a one-off. A well-educated, intelligent and articulate man, being a superb spokesman for bodybuilding, a sport always fighting it’s corner for recognition that is all too often let down by it’s image of being just a pursuit for muscle-headed morons, and those with self interest at heart. It’s true that Frank’s esoteric beliefs made some uncomfortable and has left him very misunderstood. But time has proven his theories and ideas of the body/mind link (Mens Sana In Corpore Sano). Training was then, and still is, in the forefront of workable systems for true health and fitness.

Frank Zane is living proof that sensible and scientific bodybuilding works and brings lasting benefits, without the need to resort to artificial aids, or drugs.

More active now than ever before in the world of making money from muscles with his numerous books, courses, CD’s etc., and the Zane Experience, Frank’s bodybuilding odyssey first started way back in the tough coal mining district of Kingston in Pennsylvania, USA, where he was born on June 28th, 1942. It was the war years, when Malta was awarded the George Cross, top of the pops was That Old Black Magic, Enrico Fermi (US) had just split the atom and the first electronic brain or computer was developed. Despite sugar rationing in the USA, Frank was oblivious to the war and spent his childhood days in bliss, loving being outdoors, taking solitary hikes and joining the Scouts (one year he was awarded 50 merit badges and won a trip to Mexico in the bargain). Whilst out there he won a junior’s bodybuilding contest.

Frank attended normal American education programmes, graduating from Wilkes University in 1964 having an active, and healthy sports life, including basketball and baseball. His father, an electrician in radio and TV, encouraged him to take an interest in science and engineering. Frank gave it a try, later switching his efforts to maths and chemistry.

It soon became very obvious to young Frank, that a weight-trained body could help him command respect from his peers, and be useful for urban survival in tough PA. Diverse with his activities, he also developed great skill as an archer (which he later taught to one Arnold Schwarzenegger) including the making of his own bows and arrows. This ancient martial art suited his introverted nature. Along with these varied physical activities, Frank kept up his bodybuilding, with shape being his main aim, and the Steve Reeves look his inspiration. In 1961 he placed 3rd in the Teenage Mr America and in 1962, won the Mr PA contest.

Frank continued to exercise his brain as well as his body, excelling at science, chemistry and maths whilst at school, obtaining a scholarship and gaining a BSc in education, later teaching chemistry and maths. In his spare time circa 1964, he also started up a weight training club, in part financed by the local iron foundries who made, amongst other things, York barbell plates and became the assistant director of a Health Studio.

In his second year, Frank taught in New Jersey, then moved down to Florida, meeting his future wife, Christine, whom he married in 1967. In 1968 after 10 years of dedicated training, Frank won the IFBB Mr America crown. This was soon followed by beating a very young Arnold Schwarzenegger in the NABBA Mr Universe contest in London. Christine and Frank moved again in 1969, this time to sunny California, and Frank, still a teacher, found the physically orientated Californian’s even more respecting and appreciative of bodybuilding and bodybuilders. In 1970, after further NABBA success, he successfully competed for the Mr World title, all the time supported and encouraged by his wife Christine, herself a bodybuilder and fine photographer, taking some of Frank’s best ever muscle shots. They lived in Santa Monica from 1969-85 with Frank taking all the trophies that really counted, including 3 times Mr Universe and triple Mr Olympia.

Keeping it brief, his chequered and highly successful bodybuilding competitive career followed these events. He switched from the AAU to the IFBB during the mid 60’s. He competed in the 1965 and ’66 Mr Olympias, when Larry Scott took the title. Frank won the IFBB Mr America title in 1968 and the IFBB Mr World in 1970 in Brugge, Belgium, and the NABBA Mr Universe in 1970. The IFBB suspended him in 1971 for entering the 1970 NABBA, which he later entered and won again in 1971 and 1972, the pro-title, beating Boyer Coe. Reinstated by the IFBB in 1972, Zane entered the Olympia and kept competing until he won it for three consecutive years, i.e. 1977, ’78 and ’79. A tenacious competitor, he placed 3rd in the 1980 Mr Olympia and 4th in the 1983. Frank considers his best ever shape to be from 1979 to 1982. After his 1972 Mr Olympia win he retired from teaching to devote all of his energies to bodybuilding. Christine, also a school teacher, won the Miss America title in 1967 and Miss Universe Bikini in 1970.

Proportion and Posing

A masterpiece of physique; streamlined, defined and proportionate.  Frank weighed, at his best, in the region of 190-200 lbs., at 5 ft 9 ins.  He prefers the word proportion to symmetry, arguing that no mortals are symmetrical.  Frank always worked for proportionate development, e.g., not over-developing thighs at the expense of poor calves.  Frank once said, “I have always kept an eye on the total picture and have been aware of my weak points.  I ask myself every year, what do I need to work on this year.”

Frank always attempted to make his poses look more interesting and he developed the ability to sustain a pose for a full minute without moving, i.e., hitting a shot and then maintaining it.  A perfectionist, he always demanded first class audio and visual presentation, i.e. optimum staging saying, “If you want bodybuilding to look good to the public, you have to put on a good show, i.e. first class staging and sound.”

Training Notes

In a virtual lifetime of training Frank Zane has obviously used almost every exercise, set and system known, keeping a diary throughout his life so that he knows just what does work for him personally. Then and now, he relied a lot on instinct; rarely limiting himself to certain sets or reps. Frank doesn’t believe in constantly changing exercises just for the sake of it. He has discovered, through a lifetime of experience, that drawing from about 70 exercises or so, has provided him with the best workouts. He still uses an average of 10 reps with only brief rests in between sets. All exercises receive full concentration, often via slow movements, without any cheating.

Frank, in his fine book, Fabulously Fit Forever, advises newcomers to bodybuilding as follows, “It is important to begin at the beginning. Too many people of all ages who want to get into top condition begin their training by doing too much, too soon. Reading through the pages of the top muscle mags, they devour the training programmes of the bodybuilding champions. Reasoning this is the programme that did it for the champs, they’ll save time by following it too. Before long they are tired, sore, overtrained, injured, frustrated and confused. Because they are impatient and not willing to spend time as a beginner, they attempt to complete their penthouse before they erect the basement in the building of their body.” Frank trained literally for years before bodybuilding success.

Routines For The Universe

Training for the NABBA Universe Pro title in 1972, and remember he already had done his basement training before all of this, Frank aimed for size, later to trim down for the contest, i.e. defined and muscular. His first requisite was to avoid any possible injuries by switching some exercises to safer varieties. He also had a chiropractor, Dr Dick Tyler, also a bodybuilder, on hand. Secondly gradual progression of intensity was increased, training on average of 2-3 hours.

Frank’s training programme was as follows:

  • Monday and Wednesday morning: Deltoids, chest, triceps,
  • Monday and Wednesday evening: Calves, abs.
  • Tuesday and Thursday mornings: Lats, biceps, forearms.
  • Tuesday and Friday evenings: Calves, thighs, abs.
  • Saturday and Sunday: Total rest and relaxation.

Frank was then performing approximately 20 sets per bodypart, i.e. 4 exercises x 5 sets. He rested just enough between sets to have the energy for the next set. Usually 1-3 minutes, the longer time taken for squats. Every set would be heavier than the previous one, e.g. (at that period) incline dumbbell presses:

  • 1 set of 10 repetitions at 50lbs
  • 1 set of 10 repetitions at 60lbs
  • 1 set of 10 repetitions at 70lbs
  • 1 set of 10 repetitions at 80lbs

He finished off by doing a set of 8 repetitions using a pair of 90lb dumbbells. Muscle with power for such a small boned man.

Closer to the contest, Frank would step up his pace, i.e. less resting time between sets, intensifying everything possible to achieve greater muscularity.  Zane did not believe in socializing whilst exercising, his concentration was legendary and awesome. The nearer the show, the more time he spent on posing and pure muscle tensing or isometric contractions to bring out the cuts and striations, with of course emphasis on his diet, cutting down on dairy products and fats, but not on milk, which is a great provider of calcium and can also help to prevent shakes and tremors.

Prior to the actual event Frank stayed in Belfast, at Ivan Dunbarr’s gym, Health Studio, compressing his routine into a 45 minute workout that still managed to impress all of the locals, stressing once again the importance of optimum nutrition, saying” It is impossible to get anywhere near your true potential without proper nutrition.”

Olympia Amendments

By the Olympia, Zane was working out even harder on a 3 day on, 1 day off system, i.e.,

  • Day 1: Thighs, calves and abs.
  • Day 2: Chest, shoulders, triceps and abs.
  • Day 3: Back, biceps, forearms and abs.
  • Day 4: Rest.

Always using the heaviest of weight, squats and bench were then around the 350lb and 300lbs mark. Mainly standard exercises were used, including dead lifts, for back power and vitality. As always adding poundage even if it meant dropping reps. Always an eye on his diet, his calorie intake rarely exceeded 3000.

The Zane Experience

In between taking all the top trophies, Frank spent his time establishing his muscle by mail business and his Zane Haven and later the Zane Experience. A select Shangri-la for one to one clients, offering a range of treatments from detoxing to relaxation techniques and stress management. Frank is noted for his almost detached calmness and quiet peace of mind, complementing in harmony with his muscular physique. A great believer in stilling the mind with meditation, Frank says the mind plays an important role in bodybuilding and believes that, “You cannot fulfill your true potential until you have a positive state of mind” adding that his own career in bodybuilding did not really get started until he began thinking positively.

Today, he still keeps a balanced life, loves movies and playing the harmonica, recording his own music and playing a mean blues on CD.  Active with his business, he says “I am still motivated and I will do anything it takes to remain in top shape, short of taking drugs and risking my health.”  In fact he looks as though he may well remain Fabulously Fit Forever.

© The Artistry of Frank Zane by David Gentle All Rights Reserved