It’s interesting to consider the many changes that have taken place in bodybuilding in the last forty years. Actually, its more than interesting – it’s incredible.
Walk into any bodybuilding club in the mid-sixties and you would find mostly barbells and dumbbells strewn all over the place. If there were machines available, they were the standard lat machines, leg extension and leg curl machines. It was only in the more innovative clubs such as Vince’s Gym out in Studio City or Gold’s Gym in Santa Monica that we might find a Smith Machine or a Curling Machine.
It was then that Rheo Blair’s pioneering efforts began to pull a reluctant bodybuilding consciousness into realizing free amino acids could add magic to your growth.
Nutrition has come a long way since then, but I believe exercise apparatus science has nosed ahead just as much as nutrition.
The array of possibilities almost exhausts the imagination. Come with me and let’s go back for a visit to one of the best known Iron Pounder gyms at the time.
The year: 1962. The place: Muscle Beach Gym located in downtown Santa Monica in a basement on Second Avenue. A stairway with cracked stairs leads down into a dark hole. A red on blue background, “Muscle Beach Gym,” sign splashed directly on the concrete is almost enough to pull our eyes away from the litter hiding the stairs.
“Man, no wonder they call this the Pit,” I said to my training buddy Bill McArdle who had come with me from “over the hill” in the Valley. We were looking for Dave Draper to see if we could talk him into going down to the beach with us to catch a few rays.
“Boy, we thought Vince’s was dark. This place is like a dungeon,” Bill agreed.
We picked our way through the clutter of plates and cracks in the concrete. By now our eyes had dilated to discern The Bomber with an Olympic set across his lap while performing seated lat rows.
“Dave, how may more sets you got? Want to hit the beach with us?” I asked.
“Yeah, sure – just let – me – finish – with my lats and I’ll be right with you.” The machine gunned at us between repetitions.
As striking as the difference in today’s gym decor is, compared with the early sixties, the staggering difference is in the equipment itself.
Frankly, I don’t even know who the major equipment manufacturers were then. I know York was big, but they only made Olympic bars and plates. Individual machines were a concoction put out by a group of independent manufactures welding out of their garages. Nobody had even thought of making a machine on which a cam had been designed to provide constant tension.
Just look at what we have today to improve our physiques. First, we have the pioneer Arthur Jones who gave us the Nautilus machines and constant tension. We also have the positioning of the elbow on the Nautilus machine, as well and the Icarian and Eagle machines to work the Brachialis for better peak.
Another “gift” from the field of new machines is the Tricep Machine, manufactured by Paramount which attacks the long head of the tricep. Also, we cannot over look the Rear Deltoid Machines created by Polaris and Flex for the purpose of developing the Posterior Deltoids.
These were created of course because the rear deltoids cannot be worked well with free weights because the biceps give out first. Generally, when this exercise is done with free weights as in the bent over dumbbell raise to the rear, the bicep gets so much work, that exhaustion comes first to the arms and then second to the rear deltoids.
Even the lowly Preacher Bench has been completely dissected and rebuilt to make it one of the most important pieces of exercise equipment for developing “heart stopping” biceps. Indeed many will argue that free weights are best and machines will never replace them. The objective of course is not to replace free weights but to improve on them.
The Lower Abdominal Bench is a perfect example of a piece of equipment that can target your lower abs in an entirely different way. You don’t need special equipment to build low abs, but getting your brain to rock the pelvis is hard as the dickens. If you do it wrong and work the hip flexors rather than the lower abs it actually aggravates the “pot gut” problem and hurts your lower back. Sounds almost too simple, but forty years ago the Lower
abdominal bench didn’t exist.
There are many more examples of machines which have almost revolutionized training. Granted, if you only had one choice it would come down in favor of free weights. But if machines, as well as free weights, are available to provide variety, there is no question as to which system would build the superior physique.
Ideas and new concepts continually drop from the tree of life.
We have to be able to set aside what we already know in order to learn what we don’t know.
Sometimes, the fellows with the greatest training knowledge are the ones most resistant to new training insights. For example, we have
developed the Bio-Phase Feedback training system, which lifts Instinctive Training to much greater heights. We now know that the life span of an
exercise is only about one week before it begins to die. Fortunately the Bio-Phase Feedback Training System offers an infinite number of programs that offer weekly changes in your training. These weekly changes keep your body from stale and keep your mind from getting bored.
Unfortunately, few of the fellows who are “in the know” will open their minds to learn anything new.
They feel “I have been training for years, there is nothing anyone could teach me about training.”
It reminds me of the story of the Oriental Prince who had spent many years of schooling obtaining advanced degrees. Yet, he still hungered to know more about the “meaning of life.” Assured that only a master of Zen could teach him further, he began his studies. The Zen Master asked the Prince to be seated as they were going to first have tea together. The Prince reluctantly agreed, impatient to begin the formal schooling. The Zen Master began to pour tea into the Prince’s cup, until it flowed over the rim and down onto the table.
“Stop,” cried the Prince, “the tea is running over.”
“Yes,” replied the Zen Master. “And just as this cup is so full, nothing more can be put into it until it is emptied, so too is your mind full and nothing more can be put into it until it is emptied.”
We are into the 2000’s, the horizon beckons with new and exciting discoveries. Will you keep your mind open and continue to grow as new ideas are presented to you are are you certain that all you know is reality?
As Thoreau said, “It takes two to speak the truth. One to speak and another to listen.”