New Rule 10 Dont judge a system by the physique of the person promoting it

Even if you could find someone with a great build and prove that he indeed had more success with the system he now promotes than with any other, you still don't know anything useful about that system. All you know is that it worked for him.

As a fitness professional, I can't tell you how depressing it is when someone judges your knowledge by the size of your arms. Granted, I'd have my doubts about a fitness expert who clearly wasn't in shape, since there's both an art and a science to training. You'd hope the guy designing your program or dispensing advice genuinely loves to lift, and knows from his own experience how exercises are supposed to feel.

But in a universe in which most of the practitioners are in at least decent shape, it's pointless to pick the guy who's in the best shape and decide he must be the most knowledgeable. It may mean he has the best genetics, or the most discipline, or the most time and energy. But it absolutely does not mean he knows more than the guy with smaller arms or a weaker bench press.

This is yet another way in which modern bodybuilding has polluted the conversation about fitness in general, and about strength training in particular. The original twentieth-century bodybuilders were strength and power athletes. Take John Grimek, one of the real legends of the bodybuilding world: The man not only had the best physique of the 1940s, he was one of the strongest men of his time. He competed on the U.S. Olympic weight-lifting team in 1936, and at one time he held the American and world records for the military press.

He wasn't a natural for Olympic lifting—he was much better at slower lifts—but his strength is astounding at any speed. Here's an anecdote, recorded in John Fair's Muscletown USA: In 1940, in an exhibition in San Francisco, Grimek was challenged by a local strongman, a Norwegian fisherman. The local picked up a 240-pound barbell from the floor with a palms-up grip, curled it to his shoulders, then pressed it overhead. (Nifty thing to know: The reverse-grip shoulder press is called a "continental press.")

Despite the fact he'd never lifted weights that heavy with that grip, Grimek matched him. The contest ended when Grimek curled and continental-pressed 280; the Norwegian tried it but failed.

Grimek was a normal-size man: five-foot-nine, probably between 180 and 185 pounds. (At about that same time, he competed in weight-lifting contests at 181 pounds.)

I don't want to violate New Rule #10 and pretend anyone can look like Grimek or gain that kind of strength by doing his routine. The man may very well have had the best genetic combination for strength, muscle mass, and low body fat in the history of the world.

I just want to make the point that he wasn't a bodybuilder in the modern sense— he didn't spend hours in the gym strapped into muscle-isolating machines (they didn't even exist back then) or make sure he was sitting down with his back braced before he attempted heavy shoulder presses. He lifted the way everyone lifted back then—floor to ceiling. The weights usually started on the floor, and they often ended up overhead. And yet he managed to become the best-built man of his time.

The Bible of Body Building

The Bible of Body Building

Our lives have come a long way from the Stone Age, and we are quite thankful for the various  technological advancements that have brought us so far. We still have a long way to go, but the place we are right now is quite commendable too.

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