The evolution of bodybuilding

Strength training has been known since ancient times. But in its present form, it began to take shape from the beginning of the 20th century. How was the evolution of bodybuilding over the past hundred years. In which direction did the appearance of the athletes change. Why extreme muscle mass began to decide everything.


What happened: at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, the Prussian athlete and circus artist Eugen Sandow (real name – Friedrich Wilhelm Müller) presents his methodology for developing strength in America.
Sandow behaves like a true businessman: an exercise book can be ordered by mail, and with it a set of weights, dumbbells and other “fitness accessories” from Sandow .

Sandow is a real star and “modern Hercules,” as the press calls him in New York and London. He attends secular receptions, gives the ladies to touch their muscles. Later, Sandow will be called the “father of modern bodybuilding.” He dies at the age of 58 from a brain hemorrhage. It happened, presumably, due to the fact that the athlete tried to pull out his own car with his hands, which went into the ditch.

What athletes looked like: at the beginning of the 20th century, the ball was ruled by strong men and wrestlers who perform in circuses. Athletes are mostly dry and lean – these are the results of natural training. Another frequent type is fat “powerlifters” (as today, progress in strength and mass required plentiful food).

eugen sandow diet

How to train: the squat rack has not yet been invented.
Athletes put the bar end, sit under it, put it on their shoulders and stand up. Collapsible dumbbells are a rarity. Sandow even offers ordinary people to train with small dumbbells (up to 5 kg) with a large number of repetitions (more than 20). The basis of the diet of most athletes is a rich meat broth.

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What happened: in the late 1920s and early 1930s, the main star of strength training was Charles Atlas, an American with Italian roots. He promotes isotonic training: within its framework weights should be lifted in an explosive manner, as quickly as possible.

30s – the first attempts to synthesize testosterone. Its anabolic effect is proven. Since the late 40s, Mr. America’s and Mr. Universe’s contests for athletes have opened in England.

What athletes looked like: Atlas is replaced by athletes such as John Grimek, Steve Reeves, Reg Park. The muscle mass of athletes is growing. They are more like modern bodybuilders, although by modern standards they look very average. Reeves biceps at the peak of a career – 46-47 centimeters. After 10-15 years, the “normal” size of the bodybuilder’s biceps will step beyond the mark of 50 centimeters.

How to train: emphasis on strength work to failure in the style of full body (whole body in one workout). John Grimek in a bench press works with a weight of more than 100 kg. All perform heavy squats and their varieties – later this training will be dubbed the “dinosaur training”. Bodybuilders begin to experiment with steroids and hormonal drugs. The American company Siba Pharmaceuticals synthesizes methandrostenolone, a new generation steroid that can add 10-12 kg of muscle to an athlete in 5-6 weeks. Initially, “methane” is spreading among Olympic weightlifters, but is quickly becoming popular with bodybuilders.


What was: “the golden era of bodybuilding.” Or, as other sources call it, “the era when steroids took their toll.” Athletes such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Franco Columbu, Frank Zane, Mike Mentzer appear in the arena. The center of world bodybuilding is Caliphronia.

Brothers Joe and Ben Vader found IFBB International Bodybuilding Federation. Until today, it remains one of the most respected in the world of bodybuilding. Since 1965, they have been holding the Mr. Olympia competition. In the period from 67 to 69th year, the holder of this title was Cuban Sergio Oliva. He is a former member of the Cuban Olympic weightlifting team. According to some reports, sailed from Liberty Island to Miami on a makeshift raft. Oliva fixes TVs, works as a policeman, and in the evenings forges a super-athlete.

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What athletes looked like: the main emphasis is on creating the right proportions. Muscle mass is important, but along with it, judges at the competitions evaluate the bodybuilder’s ability to keep a flat stomach. Biceps of 55 centimeters are becoming the norm.

arnold schwarzenegger workout routine
film title: pumping iron, handout

How to train: traditional split-training is formed. Arnold Schwarzenegger teaches you to train 6 times a week, breaking different muscles every day. New simulators and a large number of isolated exercises for the study and pump of individual muscles appear. Steroids? Arnold admits to the “zero” ones: “Yes, we used it, but not on such a scale as now. We perceived this as a means to improve our results. We did it without fanaticism. ”


What was: bodybuilding is becoming massively popular. The 80s are marked by the “pitching hero”: Hollywood punching action movies with Schwarzenegger, Stallone and, a little later, with Jean Claude Van Damme.

Throughout the 80s, the world’s main bodybuilder was Lee Haney. He wins the title of Mr. Olympia eight times. This is one more title than Arnold. Tom Platz – the owner of monstrous hips with a circumference of 77 centimeters, strips on the live TV channel BBC.

Women come to bodybuilding, whose muscles are almost inferior to men. A sad example of female experiences with male hormones is the life of Denise Rutkowski. Bright blonde, 2nd place “Miss Olympia” in 1993, in the “zero” Denis naturally turned into a bearded balding woman.

What athletes looked like: the idea of ​​the right proportions is a thing of the past. In the foreground is the pursuit of the mass, for the sake of which athletes go all the way. In the early 90s, the drug “synthol” appeared on the market – an injection oil that inflates a muscle.

jean claude van damme naked

In an interview with Iron Man magazine in February 1997, an anonymous bodybuilder admits that he makes up to 20 injections per day – among them are steroids and drugs that block their “side effects”.

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Since 1992 and the next six years – on the throne of “Mr. Olympia” Dorian Yates. It shows phenomenal muscle mass not seen before.

How to train: the emphasis of training shifts from strength exercises in favor of isolation and the “pump” – the maximum pumping of blood into the muscles. The frequency of training increases to seven or more times a week.

2000 is our time

What happened: Ronnie Coleman, repeats the record of his predecessor Lee Haney. Coleman conquers Olympia eight times. Following him comes the era of Jay Cutler and Phil Heath.

In 2012, a new branch, Mens Physique or “beach bodybuilding”, was separated from classic bodybuilding. Here are athletes with a smaller mass, whose goal is an aesthetic physique.

What athletes looked like: Arnold Schwarzenegger calls it “pot-bellied bodybuilder time.” From overeating and large dosages of hormonal drugs, athletes on the stage can not draw their stomachs – while the cubes of the press are visible. Schwarzenegger requires Olimpia judges to return to an assessment of proportions, not mass.

ronnie coleman bodybuilder

How they trained: split-training is still popular, but at the same time, at the beginning of the “zero” years, interest in the old school is reviving – the era before steroids with short (3-4 days a week) workouts based on basic exercises. Elements from functional training and cross-training penetrate into the training, a combination of working with weights and aerobic loads, interval work. A significant part of the visitors to the fitness rooms switches to fashionable crossfit, where the goal is not muscles, but the ability to do everything quickly and quickly: crawl, jump, lift weights.