Strength, Conditioning & Fitness Heritage

Recommended Reading

Kraemer, W. J., Ratamess, N. A., Flanagan, S. D., Shurley, J. P., Todd, J. S., & Todd, T. C. (2017). Understanding the science of resistance training: an evolutionary perspective. Sports Medicine, 47(12), 2415-2435.

Notable Figures

Milo of Crotona – (6th Century BC)

First recorded example of progressive resistance training when he lifted a calf every day for four years. [wikipedia]

Dr Dudley Sargent – (1849-1924)

Pioneer of fitness testing [wikipedia]

Louis Cyr - (1863-1912)

4337lb back lift and a horse pull from the canadian strongman [wikipedia]

Louis Uni (1862-1928)

The Great Apollon, a French circus strongman that regularly used wide grip bars and gives his name to the Apollon Axle. (wikipedia)

George Hackenschmidt (1877-1968)

The Russian Lion, a strongman and wrestler that gave his name to the Hack Squat [wikipedia]

Henry “Milo” Steinbourn (1894-1989)

Devised the prototype for modern revolving olympic bars [profile]

Bernarr Macfadden (1868 - 1955)

Body builder, publisher, the father of physical culture.


Thomas Inch (1881-1963)

“Britains strongest youth” and gave his name to the Thomas Inch Replica Dumbell

Bob Hoffman (1898-1985)

Formed the York Barbell Company and published many books

Pudgy Stockton (1917 - 2006)

One of the original female lifters (girls gone strong)(IFBB Hall of Fame video)(wikipedia)

Bonnie Prudden (1914 - 2011)

More fitness than S&C, an expert rock climber and mountaineer, her report to Eisenhower on the unfitness of American children led to the formation of the President’s Council on Youth Fitness

(wikipedia)(who is Bonnie Prudden video)

Arthur Jones (1926-2007)

Any man that has the motto, "Younger Women, Faster Aeroplanes, Bigger Crocodiles" is bound to have a wealth of stories related to him. Wild-animal enthusiast, filmmaker and entrepreneur, Jones transformed the fitness industry with his Nautilus machines (wikipedia)(article by Clarence Bass)(jumbolair article)(New York Times obituary)

Paul Anderson - (1932-1994)

Weighlifter, powerlifter, strongman (wikipedia)(youtube)

Further Links

The Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports

Black, J. (2013) Making the American Body: The Remarkable Saga of the Men and Women Whose Feats, Feuds, and Passions Shaped Fitness History. University of Nebraska Press. [amazon]

Brewster, M., Connell, J., & Page, S. J. (2009). The Scottish Highland Games: evolution, development and role as a community event. Current Issues in Tourism, 12(3), 271-293.

DeLorme, T.L. (1947) Restoration of muscle power by heavy-resistance exercises. J Bone Joint Surg 27:645 [full text] - The introduction of progressive resistance training, 1RM, 10RM, and the differentiation of aspects of strength development.

DeLorme, T. L., & Watkins, A. L. (1948). Technics of progressive resistance exercise. Arch Phys Med Rehabil, 29(5), 263-273.[full text]

Shurley, J. and Todd, J. (2011) “if anyone Gets slower, you’re fired”: Boyd Epley and the formation of the strength coaching profession [full text]

Sandow, E (1897) Strength and How to Obtain It. [google preview] a book by the man known as "the father of bodybuilding"

Stojiljković, N., Ignjatović, A., Savić, Z., Marković, Ž., & Milanović, S. (2013). History of resistance training. Activities Phys Educ Sport, 3(1), 135-8. [www]

Pumping Iron (1977) starring Arnold Schwarzenegger (click here for link) (full movie on youtube)

Pumping Iron II: The women (1985) (click here for link)(full movie on youtube)

10 amazing Strongman feats of the past. Click here for more - a site that is trying to sell programmes based on "oldtime" workouts but has other content as well.

The Lift Up project - A history of Olympic weightlifting