T Nation

Did Eugene Sandow Use Supps?

Did Eugene Sandow use supplements, or any other performance enhancer? Or did he just eat and train really well?

[quote]akram.mohamed wrote:
Did Eugene Sandow use supplements, or any other performance enhancer? Or did he just eat and train really well?[/quote]

In Body Building, Sandow wrote about including “Plasmon” (which appears to be either a whey or egg white concentrate) in addition to plenty of meat and vegetables. This was in the early 1900s.

Around the same time, Arthur Saxon wrote in The Development of Physical Power about drinking Bovril (a beef extract) on a regular basis in addition to his usual food.

So yeah, even in the late 19th century, guys were combining hard training, lots of food, and some form of supplemental nutrition.

I don’t think people worried about saturated fat and cholesterol, so I would imagine that they ate a respectable amount of meat.

S

[quote]The Mighty Stu wrote:
I don’t think people worried about saturated fat and cholesterol, so I would imagine that they ate a respectable amount of meat.[/quote]

Not only were whole eggs and fatty cuts of meat (like steak and mutton) standard fare for most, but there were writings from the 1930s that describe Arthur Saxon and his two brothers having a regular tradition of bringing a barrel of beer out into the woods and drinking the whole thing during a weightlifting session. Sound familiar? That must really be a German/Austrian thing. :wink:

And just to touch back on the original topic, I double-checked my copy of Muscle, Smoke, and Mirrors and it talks about how, for a short while, Sandow sold “Sandow’s Health and Strength Cocoa.” The formula sounds similar to Plasmon (low potency whey or egg white protein) mixed with cocoa and it seems like another example, or maybe one of the first, of a bodybuilder specifically endorsing a food supplement.

Note however that Sandow was pathetic compared to lifters today, and pretty average compared to people at the time - labourers that is. The thing with Sandow is he was a showman, he was ripped, he was popular amongst the wealthy and middle class, he promoted exercise in a society that had on one hand, hard bastards with hardly any food working themselves to death, and rich tossers sitting on their ass all day getting fat.

But there are lessons to be learnt from some of the foods they ate … more natural and also, more offal - organs and the like. But none of that does a thing without hard effort.

I wouldn’t say he was pathetic. I read his measurements somewhere, and they were pretty impressive (much better than the majority of people posting advice on here actually -lol). Yes, he was a showman, which is why he was able to make money doing what he did, but I truly believe the guy trained damned hard, without the need to overcomplicated everything (which a lot of people seem to do these days).

S

Nah I would not say he was pathetic neither except to try and put things in perspective. I think he trained like a mad dog! But people really must realise that back then things were hard, and there were some damned hard people around. It must have been really weird times … the rich folk at the time were really discovering the importance of physical exercise. It would be great to go back in time and really see how it was.

Sandow, I think, wasn’t gifted genetically, if anything it was a disadvantage. He worked real hard and tried his best to eat right and discover anything that gave him an edge. There are many lessons to learn from him but I do not think that supplementation is one: supplement companies have no doubt tried EVERYTHING they could from those times to find something really useful and come up with nothing. The lessons from him are hard work and good eating.

SANDOW’S MEASUREMENTS
height: 5’9 1/4"
weight: 202 lbs.
neck: 18"
chest: 48"
biceps: 18 1/2"
waist: 30"
calf: 18"

You’d be pressed to find someone with those measurements today without a little assistance. I think it’s easy to overlook the accomplishments of the past because we’re so used to how far the standards have been pushed.

S

Some stats here in T-Nation thread

However I’d have to call bullshite on pretty much all of them. Not extremely inflated, but a bit of showmans’ flair. Simply because people lie, especially showmen 100+ years ago. They are all small. The only ones remotely impressive are biceps and forearm, no doubt inflated slightly and taken when flexed - if it was flat and straight 1st thing in the morning, nice. His forearm, if accurate, not bad - his wrist - WTF!?!?!

so weird

SANDOW’S MEASUREMENTS
At age 35 (1902)

height: 5’9 1/4"
weight: 202 lbs.
neck: 18"
chest: 48"
biceps: 18 1/2"
forearm: 16 1/2"
wrist: 7 1/2"
waist: 30"
hips: 42"
thigh: 26"
knee: 14"
calf: 18"
ankle: 8 1/2"

I disagree, I think those measurements are very normal and within nearly everyone’s ability to achieve without any drugs and without much work apart from years of training.

height: 5’9 1/4" - very average
weight: 202 lbs. - very light, although staying cut in todays world not so common
neck: 18" - not bad especially if cut but still not huge
chest: 48" - tiny due to lack of bench
biceps: 18 1/2" - good, but prob. not accurate and prob. flexed of course
forearm: 16 1/2" - his best feature perhaps?
wrist: 7 1/2" - good for someone who looks small boned
waist: 30" - not bad at all
hips: 42" - small
thigh: 26" - absurdly small
knee: 14" - he measures his knee??? 14" is a frikking small knee, so like I said, small boned
calf: 18" - I suspect he is just lucky like those with natural big calves, like me, lucky
ankle: 8 1/2" - wtf why he measure this?

I really don’t think this is out of the ability of most to achieve. Problem today is everyone expects to achieve a lot more, and quickly, without effort.

I wish he had measured his shoulders, I think most of what he did was shoulders, arms … really shows. Especially with his wrists thickening up.

Or to put it another way: he did not have drugs, supplements, or scientific training methods, or a wealth of the worlds’ experience, and looks to be fine boned and not particularly someone who is naturally big muscled.

And yet he achieved all that, naturally. With hard work and normal food.

Humans haven’t changed genetically in thousands of years let alone 100 years.

So I say, perfectly within the reach of most people. In fact, that is the normal condition of a man who works hard physically and eats well AND doesn’t get fat.

Which sadly excludes most of the world these days - most of the hard workers are starving, those that are rich are lazy and eat a lot of junk.

[quote]Magarhe wrote:
You’d be pressed to find someone with those measurements today without a little assistance. I think it’s easy to overlook the accomplishments of the past because we’re so used to how far the standards have been pushed.

I disagree, I think those measurements are very normal and within nearly everyone’s ability to achieve without any drugs and without much work apart from years of training.

height: 5’9 1/4" - very average
weight: 202 lbs. - very light, although staying cut in todays world not so common
neck: 18" - not bad especially if cut but still not huge
chest: 48" - tiny due to lack of bench
biceps: 18 1/2" - good, but prob. not accurate and prob. flexed of course
forearm: 16 1/2" - his best feature perhaps?
wrist: 7 1/2" - good for someone who looks small boned
waist: 30" - not bad at all
hips: 42" - small
thigh: 26" - absurdly small
knee: 14" - he measures his knee??? 14" is a frikking small knee, so like I said, small boned
calf: 18" - I suspect he is just lucky like those with natural big calves, like me, lucky
ankle: 8 1/2" - wtf why he measure this?

I really don’t think this is out of the ability of most to achieve. Problem today is everyone expects to achieve a lot more, and quickly, without effort.

I wish he had measured his shoulders, I think most of what he did was shoulders, arms … really shows. Especially with his wrists thickening up.

[/quote]

Are you fucking serious? People back then thought those measurements were damn near unachievable. In fact, no one thought a human could even build arms over 19" at all before the 1960’s.

You are forgetting about what era this is in. Until someone does it, everyone thinks it can not be done…just like Olympic running times for track.

He was nowhere near average for that time period as suggested by the telling of how women would literally faint at his shows due to never seeing a body like that before.

Is it that impressive today? No, but how many people on this site alone even have RIPPED 18" arms? 8?

Of course their chest measurements were small since the BENCH PRESS hadn’t fucking been invented yet.

He used ANACONDA!!!

[quote]Professor X wrote:
Magarhe wrote:
You’d be pressed to find someone with those measurements today without a little assistance. I think it’s easy to overlook the accomplishments of the past because we’re so used to how far the standards have been pushed.

I disagree, I think those measurements are very normal and within nearly everyone’s ability to achieve without any drugs and without much work apart from years of training.

height: 5’9 1/4" - very average
weight: 202 lbs. - very light, although staying cut in todays world not so common
neck: 18" - not bad especially if cut but still not huge
chest: 48" - tiny due to lack of bench
biceps: 18 1/2" - good, but prob. not accurate and prob. flexed of course
forearm: 16 1/2" - his best feature perhaps?
wrist: 7 1/2" - good for someone who looks small boned
waist: 30" - not bad at all
hips: 42" - small
thigh: 26" - absurdly small
knee: 14" - he measures his knee??? 14" is a frikking small knee, so like I said, small boned
calf: 18" - I suspect he is just lucky like those with natural big calves, like me, lucky
ankle: 8 1/2" - wtf why he measure this?

I really don’t think this is out of the ability of most to achieve. Problem today is everyone expects to achieve a lot more, and quickly, without effort.

I wish he had measured his shoulders, I think most of what he did was shoulders, arms … really shows. Especially with his wrists thickening up.

Are you fucking serious? People back then thought those measurements were damn near unachievable. In fact, no one thought a human could even build arms over 19" at all before the 1960’s.

You are forgetting about what era this is in. Until someone does it, everyone thinks it can not be done…just like Olympic running times for track.

He was nowhere near average for that time period as suggested by the telling of how women would literally faint at his shows due to never seeing a body like that before.

Is it that impressive today? No, but how many people on this site alone even have RIPPED 18" arms? 8?

Of course their chest measurements were small since the BENCH PRESS hadn’t fucking been invented yet.
[/quote]

I am perfectly serious. The ignorance of “people” back then tends to be limited to the victorian people, the rich and middle class, as I already explained - of course they swooned - I am sure they would swoon at any man who took their shirt off. Just because it was unusual for the general peoples of wealthy industrial nations to see someone like this does not make it an unusual state for normal people - except that he was well fed, well exercised, and deliberately trying to look his best.

He was not exceptional in any way genetically. He was a normal man with an extremely abnormal lifestyle. His achievements are perfectly achievable for most people of a similar gene pool.

I put it to you that he IS the normal, and what we have today is people expecting that the normal is eating hardly anything, mostly junk and sugar, never working hard labour in their entire life, sitting at a desk, and either being very skinny or very fat. Even the average rich victorian would have had more exercise and better food than the “normal” today.

What he demonstrates is what a normal person can achieve with exceptional lifestyle.

And although they didn’t benchpress, and I mentioned that already, they did do floor pressed, and their lack of chest measurement is also from lack of back development.

Check the video

sorry, he is frikking tiny even by normal standards. And while 18.5" arms sounds impressive, methinks he is lying a tad there …

[quote]FightinIrish26 wrote:
He used ANACONDA!!![/quote]

He might in fact have used a REAL anaconda! Now I’d pay to see that!

Note I am not saying he is normal in the sense that ordinary people will attain that leading ordinary lives, only that ordinary people who work really hard should. Also I am not saying that is the baseline and they go on to far greater size and strength from there.

19" arms not achieved until the 50s … ? you mean when steroid use became the norm? maybe that is an upper limit for most people, even with steroids. Note I am talking about ripped, not people who are just plain fat.

There are plenty of women with 26" arms. Cold, and unflexed. Plenty of fat “bodybuilders” with huge arms too - note I am not in any way attacking bodybuilders here, but overweight, offseason - or eternally offseason - flexed and pumped is a bit of a joke. What happened to first thing in the morning, relaxed and straight arm? I have no doubt Sandow could add 20-30lbs of fat still look great and have bigger arms (maybe the size he quoted).

18.5" arms are pretty good. 16" forearms even more impressive. I am not saying those measurements are easily achieved by normal people, even labourers, I am saying they were not achieved by Sandow. Do they look like 7.5" wrists, SIXTEEN INCH forearms and nearly 19" arms to you!?!? Or perhaps he told a wee fib. Surely he would not under-exaggerate measurements?

All other measurements quoted were also probably exaggerated, and ironically, ARE SMALL. FFS have you ever looked at 26" legs and thought they were huge?

5’9 202 and lean is not tiny by today’s standards or yester year’s standards

[quote]Magarhe wrote:
Check the video[/quote]

It’s funny. I was going to post the exact same video.

The stats you posted earlier (which you got from where, by the way?) are supposedly Sandow in 1902, but that video was shot in 1894. In 1893, when he was much closer to the peak of his performing career, a Doctor in New York measured Sandow’s stats as being:

Height: 67.7 inches (5’7 1/2")
Weight: 180 pounds
Right wrist: 7.3
Left wrist: 7.1
Right forearm: 13.4
Left forearm: 13.0
Right biceps: 16.9
Left biceps: 16.1
Neck: 15.5
Shoulders: 20.3
Chest, normal: 44.1
Chest, expanded: 46.9
Waist: 32.7
Hips: 38.0
Right thigh: 23.2
Left thigh: 22.8
Right calf: 15.4
Left calf: 15.6

If you keep getting hung up on the numbers, I have to think you don’t really know how to appreciate the sport/art of bodybuilding. The measurement numbers are secondary to the physique that’s being presented.

Guys on the site here like Stu and OneMoreRep might, technically, be called “tiny,” but they have damn solid physiques.

Without a doubt, the build that Sandow displayed in that video is, from a bodybuilding standpoint, on par and as impressive as the top 10% of well-built members on this site. Are there some flaws and weaknesses, yes. But it sounds like you’re really underestimating what he accomplished.

What in the world is your issue with the 7.5" wrist measurement (let’s not even bother with the other things) ??

I assure you, 7.5" wrists are nothing remotely remarkable.

Whereas the things you claim were average for this day, were not. But admittedly that is bothering with the other things, so let’s leave that part at that.

EDIT: The above post with the independent 7.3" measurement hadn’t appeared yet when I posted. Is i 0.2" that has you making such a point on the wrist size?

[quote]Magarhe wrote:
FightinIrish26 wrote:
He used ANACONDA!!!

He might in fact have used a REAL anaconda! Now I’d pay to see that!

Note I am not saying he is normal in the sense that ordinary people will attain that leading ordinary lives, only that ordinary people who work really hard should. Also I am not saying that is the baseline and they go on to far greater size and strength from there.

19" arms not achieved until the 50s … ? you mean when steroid use became the norm? maybe that is an upper limit for most people, even with steroids. Note I am talking about ripped, not people who are just plain fat.

There are plenty of women with 26" arms. Cold, and unflexed. Plenty of fat “bodybuilders” with huge arms too - note I am not in any way attacking bodybuilders here, but overweight, offseason - or eternally offseason - flexed and pumped is a bit of a joke. What happened to first thing in the morning, relaxed and straight arm? I have no doubt Sandow could add 20-30lbs of fat still look great and have bigger arms (maybe the size he quoted).

18.5" arms are pretty good. 16" forearms even more impressive. I am not saying those measurements are easily achieved by normal people, even labourers, I am saying they were not achieved by Sandow. Do they look like 7.5" wrists, SIXTEEN INCH forearms and nearly 19" arms to you!?!? Or perhaps he told a wee fib. Surely he would not under-exaggerate measurements?

All other measurements quoted were also probably exaggerated, and ironically, ARE SMALL. FFS have you ever looked at 26" legs and thought they were huge?

[/quote]

If his above measurements are correct,… then we’re talking about a lean, just under 17" bicep, which I will admit is very repectable on most people’s frames (especially Sandow at 5’9). If his wrists were to be considered ‘large’, then it would undermine a bit how impressive his biceps actually appeared (my wrists are on the smaller side, and if anything add to the bodybuilding illusion of bigger arms).

You have to look at the whole picture. Scrolling through the 18" and 19" guns thread, while I repect the effort people put forth, there’s always the few additions were someone’s easily above 15%, if not 20% bodyfat. If that’s the case, you can’t tell me that Sandow’s build isn’t more impressive.

S

[quote]The Mighty Stu wrote:
If his above measurements are correct,… then we’re talking about a lean, just under 17" bicep, which I will admit is very repectable on most people’s frames (especially Sandow at 5’9). If his wrists were to be considered ‘large’, then it would undermine a bit how impressive his biceps actually appeared (my wrists are on the smaller side, and if anything add to the bodybuilding illusion of bigger arms). You have to look at the whole picture. Scrolling through the 18" and 19" guns thread, while I repect the effort people put forth, there’s always the few additions were someone’s easily above 15%, if not 20% bodyfat. If that’s the case, you can’t tell me that Sandow’s build isn’t more impressive.

S[/quote]

Even more than thought though, you can NOT ignore what year this is or the accomplishments of most other athletes in the same period.

Bottom line, if I walked around even in the year 1960 looking like I do right now, people would have a fucking fit upon seeing some guy weighing damn near 300lbs. I mean, today they may look or stare a little, but because there are other big people walking around in everyday life, it isn’t that damn special. In fact, even the clothing from 1960 belies how much smaller the average person was. I don’t even think they had XXXL shirts of regular styles back then in stores right next to the smaller clothes.

In the early 1900’s, you would have to be very naive to think that a muscular ripped arm over 16-17" wouldn’t stand out about as much as a 21" arm does right now.

People looked up to Arnold because no one was much bigger than that back then. Today, most of the guys in NPC as heavy weights look better than he did but don’t get anywhere near the same notoriety for it.

You can not simply look at numbers and compare one of the most developed people of the year 1900 to people today. The standards were different and no one even thought about someone weighing 255lbs in contest shape at 5’9".

They would have laughed at the very idea of it just like people today seem to think you can’t build arms over 18" without steroids.