Dynamic weight training.com brings the Evolution of weight training to life, by seeing its people, there unyielding hard work and never ending dedication to its evolution.
From yesterday to today, learn who was who in Power and Olympic lifting and who the men were behind the records they set.
To the strength of the Powerlifters, Olympic lifters and Bodybuilders including today's Strong Man Competitors, who have inspired through the ages with many of their recorded feats of strength captured.
We Hope that you enjoy this inspiring, historical and nostalgic trip down Memory Lane in the evolution of weight training, and learn a few things along the way... Because most of us stand on the backs of these hardworking Athletic Pioneers.
Where would we be in the evolution of weight training without Powerlifting?
Some Powerlifting was seen early on in circus and sideshow exhibitions, but they were often just that, ‘exhibitions’ and were not competitively based.
As Olympic Lifting began to gain in momentum in the 30 s’, not every lifter was interested in this type of lifting. There were however lots of powerful men around the world, either unwilling or incapable of the 3 main Olympic lifts.
Most of Powerliftings' roots came from Great Britain around the mid-1850s’, this was governed by the Amateur Gymnastic and Amateur Athletic Associations.
In 1910 the 'British Amateur Weight lifters Association' was founded, (BAWLA), uniting amateur weightlifters to one association.
Paul Anderson and Bob Peoples: Raising the Powerlifting bar
Paul Anderson: a legendary Powerlifter from Georgia USA, started training in the 40’s, in his back yard in his early years, (considered to be one of the strongest men in the world at the time).
Paul won Olympic golds and was a 2 time National Powerlifting Champion. He also competed in the USSR, in 1955, it was later commentated that, as Paul stepped up to the stage, that contained 402.5 LBS. “for an overhead lift”, which was unheard of in those days, considering the best overhead confirmed lift, was around 330 lbs. at that time.
In an outdoor lift with Blowing wind and rain, 'hardly a powerlifters ideal lifting environment.
The Russian lifters and onlookers snickered as Paul gripped the bar... Paul, staying true to his ruthless way of conjuring–up power when he needed it...
and lifted it! The Russians were amazed and cheered.
Bob competed at a body weight of 181 lbs., he was tall as a weightlifter.
Bob was American from Tennessee and reportedly started training as a young man with his fathers dumbbell set. Bob had an unusual lifting style (in some movements like the dead-lift), mostly because of his shorter trunk and longer legs.
Bob Peoples was most noted for ‘The Dead-lift’, at 40'yrs. of age, he dead lifted 725 lbs. a respectable lift even for today, making him one of the all-time legendary greats.
Bob; routinely trained in his own homemade power lifting basement gym.
Bob was ahead of his time with some of his training methods and homemade innovations, note; the homemade power rack behind his bulk.
These 2 men not only set records and were ahead of their time, but…
they also set the bar for new aspiring competitive lifters, and have earned their place from hard work, in the evolution of weight training.
Establishing an American order to each of the lifts as follows:
#1 the Bench Press
#2 the Squat
#3 the Dead-lift
Powerlifting competitive placement is most often awarded to the highest accumulated LBS. lifted in all 3 lifts.
From the 30’s to the late 50s’ there were international scattered powerlifting events, although not recognized or as organized as they are today, they were recorded and the lifters were fiercely competitive.
Some of the most notable and First time World Record breaking lifts in powerlifting recorded history belong to...
Eddie Kershaw: The first man to Squat 700 lbs.
Bob Peoples: Tennessee USA, the first man to officially Dead lift 700 lbs.
Doug Hepburn: Canada, the first man to Bench Press 500 lbs. in1953.
Powerlifting Popularity Gains Momentum
It was no surprise that one of the biggest weight lifting promoters and equipment manufactures, stepped up to the plate... this was Bob Hoffman. He Financed and Promoted the first unofficial Powerlifting completion in 1971 in New York Pennsylvania.
Great Britain, France, Australia, Canada, Belgium and the USA to mention a few; all competed for different titles in there given weight classes, often the American team dominated these competitions, in numbers and in total completed lifts.
The IPF or “International Powerlifting Federation” was Founded and established in November 1972 and the first Official (IPF championships were held in Harrisburg, USA. In 1973).
As the 70's give way to the 80's Power lifting sees new lifting feats and records from many lifters some like...
Fred (AKA) Dr. Squat: was an ambitious 'Life Liver', His raw strength demonstrated in competition was jaw dropping. Fred's best lifts were.
The Squat----------1014 pounds
The Bench Press-----532 pounds
The Dead lift--------766 pounds
Fred went on to win 1st in the World Powerlifting Championships in 1983 and 86 and was an accomplished competitive bodybuilder.
He also held a Bachelor's, Master's and PHD in sports sciences, Fred was also co-founder and president of the International Sports Sciences Association.
Fred's life-shoes and legacy would be hard to fill for most; as he also worked with and trained other big superstars in sports like: Lee Haney and Evander Holyfield to mention a few, Fred also served in the US Marines. Dr. Squat undeniably earns his place in the evolution of weight training.
Ed coan, a remarkable American Powerlifter, is still widely regarded as the "greatest Power lifter of all time".
As the 80's begin to give way to the 90s', a new shadow is cast on the Powerlifting Stage. Ed's single competitive lifts are
The Squat------1019 pounds
The Bench Press--584 pounds
The Deadlift-----901 pounds
Totaling an impressive 2504 pounds
Ed Coan enters in and wins 1st place in the USPF. (United States Powerlifting Federation), Senior National Champion ships...
Completely dominating the scene from 1988-1995
And with a wide series of 1st place wins in the IFP - World Champion Ships, from 1984-88-89-93-94 and 95
Although Ed finally lost his right to compete in 1996 in Austria, failing a series of doping tests over the years he was banned from competition. But...
Ed; still, by all accounts has left his legendary mark of strength in Powerlifting and therefore earns his place in the evolution of weight training.
Also in the mid to late seventies women begin testing their strength limitations... which was not seen as popular as it is today: thus the first women’s World powerlifting event was held in 1980 in Lowell, Massachusetts, USA.
Since it's early beginnings, women's Powerlifting has grown immensely internationally, and in there volume of competitors.
The evolution of weight training also has roots in Olympic weightlifting: Edward Lawrence Levy, a British Weightlifter from London England; was crowned the first amateur weightlifting champion, in March, 1891.
He later went on to establish 14 world weightlifting records between 1891 and 1894.
In 1896 at the first modern Olympics held in Athens, Edward was a jury member recruited by the International Weightlifting Federation, for England.
The Olympic sport of weightlifting is controlled and governed by the International Weightlifting Federation, (IWF). Based in Budapest and was founded in 1905.
The earliest historical Olympic lifting event was held as a (field event) in 1896, but as a predecessor to other events.
These events were not divided by weight class of today: this was a one size fits all, divided into 1 and 2 handed competitions.
Launceston Elliot won in the (one handed event) while Viggo Jensen of Denmark won in the (two handed event).
These events were omitted for a time during and after the (First World War), but returned with new vigour in 1920; as an event, held on its own.
In 1928 the one handed lifting class was eliminated. Weight classes became established in 1932, 'the clean and press', 'the snatch', and clean and jerk' remained as the main Olympic lifting events.
Modern Olympic lifting:
The 1972 Olympic games seen the removal of the Clean and press event, circulating rumours in the Olympic committee, reported judging standards were hard to clearly assess lifting form; leaving the Snatch and Clean and Jerk events as the modern lifting events we see today.
As early as the mid 1980’s there has been official world weightlifting championships for women in some of these events.
It was not until the 2000 Olympic games in Sydney, Australia that an official Olympic competition for women was introduced.
Joe Weider: AKA (the father of body building), was a visionary and an opportunist, that helped alter the evolution of weight training. A former Montreal based power lifter in the 30’s, took an interest in weight training and moved to the US.
Unknown even controversial at the time, he had a single goal at first: to design and increase his knowledge base deeper in weight training, Joe engaged with other lifters and did this by watching and helping others prefect lifting skill and form.
From the 30’s – 50’s, men had a tough time adding significant muscle mass, Joe closely scrutinized this problem by changing the dynamic’s of bodybuilding forever.
Joe learned that: Splitting the body parts up to allow adequate rest time between training sessions, makes a huge difference in training progress.
He also learned that a double split routine, coupled with a solid nutritional program, would yield even belter results. From these discoveries, he built a giant bodybuilding/fitness/nutrition and magazine financial empire... Not You’re Average ‘JOE’.
Joe with his brother Ben Weider also founded the IFBB. (International Federation of Bodybuilding), in 1946.
Joe was also a compassionate humanitarian, watching bodybuilding competitions in the middle of the last century left a bad taste in Joe’s mouth. Realizing not all competitions were judged fair, (especially for Black men).
Joe Vowed he would have a contest, it would be fair and for all races. This contest would only be for the Bodybuilding elite, meaning: the professional elite, for Mr. America and Universe winners to aspire to.
And so... the Mister Olympia Contest was born: On September 18, 1965 in New York City Larry Scott AKA (The Legend), won the first Mister Olympia Contest, twice in a row.
Joe Weider has left his finger print on bodybuilding forever and therefore earns his place in the evolution of weight training.
The owner and pioneer of York Barbell was AKA, the “Father of Weight lifting” by the International Weightlifting Federation, Bob Hoffman started York Barbell in 1932, and pioneered many of the modern exercises we see and use today.
Bob Hoffman was another main stream contributor to the evolution of weight training. He was a prolific writer of many books and articles on fitness and (free weight training).
Bob also had some of the first Health and weight lifting Clubs in America in the 20th century. His company designed and innovated free weight and strength training equipment and exercise routines for both retail and commercial applications.
Bobs accomplishments were many to the modern evolution of weight training, he tried tirelessly to promote strength training to the public, even to the military, (at a time when weightlifting was not a main-stream fitness idea).
York Barbell routinely flexed its muscles from the 30’s – 70’s, with their different Olympic lifting teams.
The York Barbell team often dominated the Olympic weightlifting scene, boasting over 40 national championships, and winning numerous Olympic Gold medals.
Bob Hoffman was a visionary; he could see the potential for strength training, not only for strength based sports but also for everyday fitness and recreation. He also promoted nutrition, and was responsible for the production of the first energy bar, earning his place in the evolution of weight training.
The Bronze age
John was an American bodybuilder from New Jersey, he served in WWII, and
was an active bodybuilder and weightlifter throughout the 30's and 40's, John
was AKA, “The Monarch of Muslcedom”.
As mentioned John was also an active weightlifter, He competed and represented the US weightlifting team, in the 1936 Olympics’. As an active bodybuilder of his time John entered and won every bodybuilding competition he ever entered and eventually retired an undefeated Champion, ‘which is an amazing feat in bodybuilding.
John Grimek’s physic was ahead of its time with his overall body symmetry and separated mass he clearly dominated the bodybuilding circuit during this time; beating-out the likes of Steve Reeves, Vince Girronda, Armand Tanny, Clarance Ross and George Eiferman.
It was also reported; John continued his weight lifting well into his later years and could still preform squats with up to 400+ LBS. in his 60's, John was later inducted into the IFBB. hall of fame in 1999.
Vince began his early career in weight training as a personal trainer at Easton Brothers gym and opened his first gym in California 1948. Born in the Bronx, New York, Vince was deeply inspired by John Grimek”s muscularity as a young man.
Vince Gironda was AKA., (The Iron Guru); Vince had strong opinions on the does and don’ts of bodybuilding and nutrition and despised steroid use in bodybuilding.
Vince himself was an active bodybuilding competitor; he also trained other big names in the sport like; Larry Scott, Frank Zane and Lou Ferrigno to mention only a few.
As these mainstream competitors went on to win titles, Vince’s gym memberships and weight training knowledge and fame grew because of it.
Vince was also an active writer for popular bodybuilding magazines, his opinions books and articles began to catch the on; so his fame and training results preceded him... he therefore earns his place in the evolution of weight training.
As the Bronze Age gives way to the Silver age of bodybuilding, we begin to see the popularity of the sport grow. Venice beach California (Bodybuilding's Mecca) was a great place to show-off muscle, feats of strength, gymnastics and weightlifting in the 50's and 60's.
The Silver Age
Steve was an American professional bodybuilder and movie star, winning Mr. America and eventually won the Mister Universe title in 1950. Steve also enlisted and served in WWII.
Steve brings Bodybuilding to the big screen and starred in many Hercules, Goliath and Samson heroic sword and sandal style movies. Reeves becomes the most popular and well paid bodybuilder on the plant of his day.
With his hard won muscular physic and handsome good looks his movie star status preceded him.
It was said that when he reached stardom: when he went for a walk after his workout on Venice Beach, a crowd of people often young women would follow him around.
Bodybuilding’s popularity is growing noticeably in the late 40s’ and 50s’ as more and more young men are mesmerized by the look of superstars like Reeves and Reg Park in their starring Hercules movie roles, the evolution of weight training is forever inspired, by these two men for future generations.
Bodybuilding Enters The Golden Age:
From the late 60's to the the early 80's the face of competitive Bodybuilding really begins to see new changes in physic size/development, symmetry and separation. This golden age of bodybuilding is getting noticed and begins to turn heads for both men and women.
The landscape of the competitive stage sees more Bodybuilders in top form; with less body part weakness, driving competitors to push the physical boundaries of what the body was traditionally capable of.
The golden age of Bodybuilding sits on a land mine waiting to be detonated.
This land mine was planted by many of bodybuilding's greats, from the mid-to-late fifties, including other entities like Hollywood, Television’s ESPN., the IFBB and Joe Weider with his magazine Empire, was bodybuilding’s’ equivalent of today’s social media of the time... for Arnold to step on.
In 1977 the movie (Pumping Iron) documenting bodybuilding and how these men weight train to get into top physical condition for the Mr. Olympia, in the 70s’ was staggering and Inspiring to say the least.
Arnold Schwarzenegger came from humble beginnings in Austria. AKA (The Austrian Oak), Arnold began weight training at the age of 15. Winning his first Mr. Universe title at the young age of 20 yrs.
Arnold went on to become a seven time Mr. Olympia Champion. He is widely considered to be among the greatest bodybuilders of all time.
Arnold was a man who knew and understood ‘you can have anything from life...you just have to work hard for it’. The bigger the ambition the harder you have to work. He would use the power of imagination to visualize goals then set them up to be accomplished.
Eg. if he wanted to add a ½ inch of muscle to his chest, calves or arms he would command this action from within, visualize it and make it happen.
This physical and mental momentum he could produce at will; trickled down into everything else he took on in life.
Arnold has written many books, worked hard to speak better English and take acting lessons to take on starring lead action rolls in Hollywood; Arnold also was involved in politics and became the Governor of California.
As ever, Arnold made a point of being controversial, This at times helped his stardom in bodybuilding and his many movies. Arnold retires from professional bodybuilding in 1975.
For us as humans we love and are magnetically drawn to inspiration, drama and controversy, Arnold gave them all and forever changed Bodybuilding... John, Vince, Steve and Arnold all deserve there hard-won place in bodybuilding and the evolution of weight training.
The Platinum Era:
The mid 80s’ begin to see more competitors in top form.
Lee Haney: from Atlanta Georgia, begins his Mr. Olympia rain on professional bodybuilding, winning 8 consecutive titles beating Arnold’s previous record.
Lee also went on to build his Gym and Clothing line (Animal Kingdom), Lee was also appointed chairman of the Presidents Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.
Lee was a strong activist of both physical and spiritual well being, he was often, Quoted " train to stimulate not annihilate".
The 80 s' Women’s Bodybuilding: becomes popular even televised.
Rachel Mclish: from Texas, becomes the first Woman to Win the first Ms. Olympia tital, in 1980 and 82, Rachel became the most photographed woman for sports and fitness magazine covers for 5 years running.
Rachel also went onto a motion picture career seen in Pumping Iron II and others.
Rachel has also written books on Weight Training and even enjoyed success on the New York Times Best Seller List. Her hard work and aesthetics go on to inspire women's bodybuilding, earning her place in the evolution of weight training.
The Mass Monsters:
The Early 90s’ AKA (The Growth Hormone era), see more change in bodybuilding. From this time period the face of the beach body becomes interrupted. The clean, visual, aesthetic lines and separated muscle belies including the wide shoulder to narrow waste ratio and look of athleticism now becomes foggy.
Dorian Yates AKA (The Shadow), wins his first Mr. Olympia in 1992 and is hardy recognized as a traditional bodybuilder. Dorian being a Mass monster and the biggest man on the stage or any stage of that time was his to claim.
Dorian didn’t train in the more traditional way, he trained with super-intensity! And his body showed those results, but... Dorian also suffered many painful and career ending injuries.
Somewhere along the decades of time professional bodybuilding seems to have lost its way. The bodies don’t resemble healthy symmetrical physiques that the younger generation can attain, or aspire to. As a result attendance at some of these competitions is down significantly.
Arnold has quoted: “The professional bodybuilders today have become too big”. Joe Weider the Founder of the IFBB, Mr. Olympia and owner of Flex and Muscle and Fitness... shared a reflected moment in later years in his magazine with a former Olympian, “wondering... what he had created”.
This was not Joe’s original image and direction of the Olympia.
Amateur and Professional sports all over the world add more and more pressure politically and financially to athletes.
The original Olympia purse was around $1000.00 dollars in 1965, todays professional purses are over $400.000.00 that does not include endorsements and other financial advertising opportunities.
Where ever there’s more money and fame, you often get corruption, not just in professional bodybuilding as most people know, this also goes on in many sports including amateur events, and can even be seen in some Olympic events.
Athletic Gyms and Health Clubs have been around for some time. You may laugh in disbelief, but... gymnasiums date as far back to over 3000 years ago in ancient Persia, the Persians strongly encouraged physical strength and fitness.
Ancient Greece also boasted Gymnasiums, although a little different than what is perceived as a western Gym today; these were outfitted for wrestling, swimming, gymnastics with relaxing bath facilities. The ancient Greeks prized physical and intellectual education very highly.
Evolution of Weight Training Enjoys Popularity in The 1850's
Great Britain begins to expand its national interest in sports and physical education around the world and begins physical education in school curriculum's. By 1844 Sir George Williams founded and built the first YMCA in London.
In the US, (The Boston Young Men’s Christian Union), lays claim to Americas first gym in 1851.
Built by the Turners, the Tuners also go
on to build gyms in Cincinnati and St. Louis.
By the mid-1850's, Germany also builds one of its first Gymnastic Gymnasiums in 1852.
The legendary Eugen Sandow:
Eugen Sandow, educator and Strength exhibitionist started his Gym as: “Sandows Institute of Physical Culture”.
In 1899, Eugen’s muscle emporium was open to the public, on St. James St., built on one of the busiest streets of London.
With Sandows’ weight training fame and physic, his business and financial empire thrived.
Bookings from both men and women in London made the Club grow in popularity, much like the popular health clubs of today.
Eugen was popularly known for his muscular physic and strength exhibitions.
Eugen Sandows’ popularity still continues to grow even today; ‘Joe Weider’, formed Eugen’s physical image into the first place trophy of the most coveted and prestigious professional International Bodybuilding Competition...
the ‘Mr. Olympia’; and therefore earns his place in the evolution
of weight training.
The roaring 1920's in America began to see more health clubs; this was a decade of prosperity. Although these didn’t necessarily resemble the weight and fitness centres of today, cities like Chicago were starting to plant some of the earlier seeds of the eventual fitness movement.
Sometime later, Jack Lalanne:
Opens one of America’s first modern fitness centers in 1936, at the ripe old age of 21.
Jack Lalanne AKA the (God Father of Fitness and nutrition in America), went on to produce books, articles and an inspiring, motivational TV. Show in the 50s’ “The Jack Lalanne Show”...
Jack was well known for his never ending energy reserves and almost super human strength.
Jack was also a motivational speaker and long-time health and nutritional activist not to mention: a serious weight lifter and Bodybuilder.
Upon Jacks death in 2011, Arnold Schwarzenegger commented that Jack was “an apostle for fitness”. Jacks accomplishments were many, including inspiration For Steve Revees.
Jack also designed and manufactured different cable machines like the leg extension and the smith cable versions, that are popular pieces in north American gyms today.
Becomes re-inspired after seeing Jack Lalanne’s modern health center...
Vic Tanny, opens his fist club in Rochester New York in 1935,
which he later sold and replicated in Santa Monica near Muscle Beach in the early 40s'. Vic was a
pioneer in producing some of the more modern, gym/clubs of the time.
Although some of Vic’s earlier gyms had a reputation for being rough and dingy, they popularly catered to a more serious bodybuilding crowd.
Vic begins to revolutionize weight training and fitness attitudes to the working class, by providing easy manageable membership payment plans.
By 1960 Vic was looking to retire... when he did he had over 80 gyms in the US and Canada.
Jack Lalanne and Vic Tanny both earn their place in the modern evolution of weight training.
The Gym and Fitness Health Club Movement of Today
The Psychedelic, free love hippy era of 60s’ began to see weight training gyms and fitness centers grow in North America.
Joe’s Accomplishments were many; he was a designer, innovator and hardworking businessman.
First being exposed to weight training at the age of 12, by his sister-in-law’s weight set, (2 full pails with handles filed into a broom handle); He was forever drawn into weight training.
In the early years Joe and his brother Robert Gold obtained scrap metal from their metal yard.
Joe ‘being an injured War Vet’ put his
machinist skills to work, together they designed, built and revolutionized many
popular weight and cable machines seen and used in gyms today.
As a professional bodybuilder Joe opened his first Golds Gym in 1965 in Venice California.
The gym began to grow in popularity quickly among the bodybuilding crowd, attracting many of the top bodybuilding names including ‘Arnold’, who became friends with Joe and started training at the gym in 1968.
By 1970 Joe sold his Gold's franchise, and in 1977 opened a new Gym chain- (World Gym), that has also had great success.
As an avid and dedicated supporter of weight training including equipment and gym designer: Joe Gold earns his place in the Evolution of weight training.
Joe passed in 2004 at the age of 82, but... has left a living legacy of equipment and weight gyms for us to use and expand on today.
Who could have known that 100 years ago the evolution of weight training would boast a whopping 18,000 gyms/community rec centers in the US, and 11,450 in Canada, and become a billion dollar business.
Part of the big picture in the fitness craze can be lost or overshadowed from its earlier years, because: from the turn of the last century until the mid-50’s and 60’s life for most, was much different than it is today.
Obesity was not a problem before this, most people worked hard, very hard, this physical drain left a large hole on any extra energy reserves.
The end of World War 2 brought forth new technology and the baby boomers.
Thus... life styles and human behaviour with more modern comforts, the boomers began the need for health centres... and looked deeper into the development of using science and technology to exploit weight training/health and fitness.
As tests and new scientific data was learned, other enterprising opportunists began to see potential.
Drug and supplement companies began to sprout, weight lifting magazines, barbell and equipment manufacturers, amateur and professional physical sports coaches began to see better performance and less injuries in there athletes...
Even Hollywood began to cast weightlifters in staring leads of action movies.
Thus the fineness craze of the later 20th century was borne.
Authors Note: We should try not to forget these amazing, superhuman athletes; after all these were the supermen and women, the strength heroes of yesterday that set the evolution of weight training bar higher for us to aspire to.