Friday, October 23, 2020

My Undeniable Truths of Weight Training for Beginners (Part 7)- Learn the history behind the Iron Game - By RJ Hicks, MS CSCS

It is too bad that the old-time strongmen get no respect from the vast majority of people training today. Ask anyone who Alan Calvert is. Ask about Bob Hoffman, Mark Berry, Leo Stern, Tommy Kono or John Grimek and you will get the same puzzled response. Nobody respects the accomplishments of these greats. All the respect goes to the modern-day bodybuilder who are full of steroids who have done nothing, but ruin the Iron Game. It is no wonder why there is so much confusion in the field.

One of the best things I did for my training was learn the history of the Iron Game. Bob Whelan really pushed the importance of learning the history of the Iron Game to me if I was going to be serious about lifting. I was hesitant at first, but slowly began to appreciate this advice the more familiar I became with the history. You quickly learn that the basics do not change very much when it comes to weigh training and building strength and your training is less likely to be thrown off track.

When you read about the history of iron game you learn that the old-timers already figured most of this stuff out. They knew training had to be progressive which is why the adjustable barbell replaced almost all of the previously used equipment. No one trained every day because they already figured out that time off was critical to becoming bigger and stronger. Just look back to the old Iron Man magazines, Peary Rader was talking about training twice a week in the 30s, 40s and 50s, long before anyone in HIT was preaching the same.

The old-timers were able to learn how to train through trial and error. They experimented on themselves, sharing with those willing to learn what worked and what didn’t. There were no drugs to push false narratives or arm chair experts speculating what worked behind a computer monitor. You can see there was a clear advancement of training from the late 1800s until the late 1960s. Almost all of the authorities in the field agreed that heavy progressive weight training was best and to focus on the basic exercises.

When you learn the history, you realize there are no real training secrets. Just about every new idea related to strength training has already been thought of. Most of what you see is an attempt to rebrand a prior idea just to sell. Progressive weights and hard work are what built the size and strength of many lifters long before drugs and will continue to work for you. Even the exercises lifters were doing in the 40s are the same ones that work now.

The real benefit comes from the confidence you gain in your knowledge of strength training. There is so much free mis-information available today that the average person knows less about training than the average person who lifted 80 years ago. When you do know the history, you are less likely to be confused. You get to avoid making the same mistakes many of the old-timers made and avoid getting caught up in many of the fads and gimmicks seen today. Learning the history gives you over 70 years of training information in just a short period of time.

My advice to a beginner is to spend time reading of the old-time strongmen books and magazines. It is important to know this history so you understand why things are the way they are now. You can understand that power lifting, bodybuilding and Olympic lifting now have strong roots and steroid use which caused the radical change in training philosophies. You understand many of the fads aren’t new nor better, that many of the old timers already found this out the hard way so you do not have to. You understand that the basics do not change much and hopefully you can learn to apply the best information from the old with the best of the new.

Editor's note: Great advice RJ!


Does modern bodybuilding make you sick? You should write for Natural Strength! I always need good articles about drug-free weight training. It only has to be at least a page and nothing fancy. Just write it strong and truthful with passion! Send your articles directly to me:

Vintage Bodybuilding Literature

Vintage Bodybuilding Literature
Oldtime Strongman Books

This site does not provide medical advice. We assume no liability for the information provided in NaturalStrength articles. Please consult your physician before beginning any exercise or nutrition program. Copyright © 1999-2024 | All Rights Reserved.