T Nation

How Times Have Changed!


I usually just read the posts and but I have a few observations. I am 42 years old and have been lifting since I was about 12 (like most of you). The way we use to lift back in the day was; monday, wednesday, and friday, this was a total body workout. When you first started to lift we did even more but when you're a teen you have enough natural test that it didn't matter.

Over the years the work load shifted to resting more and working one body part every couple days a week. Now most say to only exercise one body part per week.

Supplements were unheard of or were just roids. There were some really bad protein powders but for the most part no one knew the right way to eat. If you lifted then you would eat alot of meat and potatoes and that was your nutrition 101.

Magazines were still mostly black and white.. remember York Barbell or Muscle Builder? There were very few adds for anthing other than the "tiger gripper" or some Weider gimmick. It was more of a fraternity back then, now it is so much more commercialized.

I don't know about any of the other over 35 crowd but the only supps that i think that really work are; protein, creatin, and vitamins. I did have some luck with prohormones before they were banned but most of this stuff out there is over priced and pretty much goes straight into the toilet (Biotest did have the best prohormones..before i get flamed).

Any way I just wanted to put my 2 cents in and was curious about what any of the older crowd remembers about the early days. Things have really changed and I feel like my dad talking about the old days.


I'm 31 so my good old days might be different than yours....but I do remember the ol' 3sets of 10reps for EVERYTHING, Mon Wed and Fri. And if you did drink protein shakes they all tasted horrible.

Ah, good times, good times.


My first years lifting were in my budd's cellar benching with our heads grazing the boiler. Fun in the winter but like a coal stove in Hell come mid-summer.

My friend only benched and curled so I'd go home and squat in my bedroom and chin from a pipe I hung from the rafters.

We listened to AC/DC from a boom box and ate Weider chewable amino tabs while we worked out (chocolate? Yeah, that's what the bottle said!).

About this time, I found Ironmind and New York Barbells catalog (no internet then) I ordered a dip station, and the book Super Squats by Randall Strossen.

I found my interest in training never waned but only got more intense. Most of my early influence came from Milo, Super Squats, Bill Starr and finally this here website!


I think we all started with the plastic weights filled with concrete and did crazy workouts because we didn't know any better. Back then there really wasn't the workouts listed in mags to try and we definately had no computers. I worked out in my friends basemente when we squated and military pressed and i benched at home..( couldn't stand up in my basement )


I remember using the plastic/cement filled weights. I benched in my bedroom and after a while had to use shoestrings and tie on extra weights. The weights would hang dangling on the end of the bar. good times.


I would train in my buddies basement with a mix of weights and yes the mon,wed,fri was the sh#t. Protein at the time was the worst, I still can't drink any kind of strawberry protein powder. Funny thing, my buddis girlfriend took pictures of us training when I we were 16, well 15 years later he and I were working at the same company. He had one pic put on t-shirts for people to wear. There I am, I go to work one day and 10 people have a pic of me doing hammer curls with what? A MULLET! I still can't stop laughing when I think about it.


I remember too. We trained in each others basements with the old plasic weights. Then we got strong enough that we couldn't load enough weights on the bar so I went and got a 7 foot 1" diameter bar. Yea it bent eventually. Finally I got an Olympic set, then we were in paradise. All the equipment, benches, etc. my dad and I made. One of my friends made some huge cement weights for doing calf raises. They weighed 250 lbs. each and he mounted them on a bar and hung it from the rafters in his basement. His dad made him take it down because the rafters started to sag. Protein powders were like chalk. There wasn't anything like creatine or prohormones.We had desicated liver, brewers yeast, amino acid horsepills. Usually couldn't afford anything anyway. We trained hard though, didn't worry about how long the workout took. Got stronger, grew, and when we weren't lifting we kept active playing football or whatever. Never thought about overtraining, or burning muscle with too much activity. The first time we saw Pumping Iron we were we so pumped we went right to the basement and trained for 2 hours, even though it was 10 at night. We had, and I still have the main thing, passion. Good times though.


I had a gizmo called a "Bullworker" when I first started. I just did a search and they still sell the damn things. THEN I "moved up"to the plastic weights...


Eh, I dont think thats changed a whole lot.


Well my point is that nutrition has changed alot from then to now. There were no recovery drinks or creatine chews or other things that can replace food.


Damn. You guys are bringing tears to my eyes. Sniff sniff. I loved those old plastic weights in my basement. Me and Jerry used to load up the bar with those 10's and 5's. We used to think we were the shit. Curling for 3 sets of 8 and seated behind the neck presses cause the basement was too low to do them standing.
Do you remember how narrow the uprights were on the bench? I remember when working out by myself at times racking the weight and having it go bouncing around on the hooks. And the bench wobbling around on the little screws like a drunk old man. They tightened with a screwdriver...


when i was 18 i worked across the street from reading barbell they were about to close up for good in a few months and the owner told us we could have whatever we wanted out back..it was iregulars ,,letters missing etc..so i still have about 1000 pounds and a couple different bars and we used to lift in my dirt basement on a cheap weider bench that kept tipping over when u got up ... that was fun..


My mother bought me two 8 pound dumbells when she heard me say I was interested in training. She didn't know better. They were plastic and filled with sand. I used them for a couple of months until someone told me that at 15 or 16 perhaps 8 pounds wasn't going to cut it! I had no idea.

For my next b'day or Christmas, I can't remember which, I begged for some real weights, so my parents bought me some of the plastic cement-filled Weider weights, a second-hand bar and bench, and an ancient exercise bike, which was totally unnecessary as my ribs were visible through my skin anyway. I benched, militaried, curled and rowed away in the garage without any real guidance and probably with horrendous form. Eventually one of the bigger guys at school told me about his program. For squats I was limited to what I could clean and press over my shoulders. Then at the end of the set I had to push-press it off.

I remember training in the middle of the night sometimes, even after coming home from some teenage party, with a dozen beers in the tank or a head full of pot. Silly. I didn't know anything about PWO nutrition and the first protein powder I got my mum to buy for me was disgusting- and made from soy. I started reading the Weider magazines and, as bad as I now know they are, and as cheesy I realized they were even then, they helped my knowledge a lot.

At university I met some big guys and made much better progress. But I still didn't know really how to train and eat properly until discovering this site less than five years ago. Nearly 15 years of less than optimal progress. I wonder where I could be today if I had had a source of information like this, back in the 80's.


Damn, I was in high school, with the same crappy vinyl and cement weights. I rearranged my room so I could use the bar without hitting anything.

When I was lucky, I'd have the house to myself and I'd truck the bench and everything out to the living room for a "real workout".

Generally I'd have a few bucks for pizza and I'd drink some awful protein shake with milk after the workout. At least I had the vestiges of PWO nutrition going.


Ohh the old times . . .

The first set of weights that I ever saw in my life were the plastic weider bench and cement type plates that my next-door neighbor father had gotten him for christmas.

At that time my family was having economic problems so the idea of any christmas purchases was a luxury. Nevertheless I remember the 3x10 for bench. Funny thing is that was the only work we would do. Bench and curls. Still the same nowadays? . . .guess the more things change the more it stays the same.

Off I wento to America for College and there I met some pretty big and cut guys. I learned about squats, routine design and other stuff. Did a lot of bad things and even though I got my shit kicked in a couple of times managed to graduate with a decent GPA and some good memories.

After that life got a hold of me and spend the next 10 years traveling around the world from wort to work, having really bad food choices, too much alchohol and having sex as often as possible. Result . . .motorcycle accident with 2 cracked back vertebrae and a fused L5S1 disk.

That was my wake up call . . . after that I mended my ways and went back to lifting, running and just 3 years ago learned about nutrition and the complete package.

Its been 7 years since the accident, but now I can squat, deadlift and do good mornings with decent weight. Nothing outstanding yet, but I keep pushing it.

I do not know what is it about youth that makes for being able to hear without listening. Had I listened to that training advice 17 years ago and kept with it who knows where I would have been. Then again I could just have died in the motorcycle accident.

I don't thing the old times were better than know, but at the same time don't think that kids now have good information than before. Supplements are just that to supplement a sound nutrition, Training programs are fine but you still need to develop a sound foundation in the legs and back and recovery drinks are important, but you still need to get your 8 to 10 hours of sleep to make the most of it.



My grandfather bought me a weider 110 lb iron set for Christmas when I was 12. It came with a little intro to weight training and had 3 different programs. One for athletics, featuring Randy White of the Cowboys. One for Mass, featuring Bill Grant (former Mr. Universe) and one for women, featuring some broad in a body suit and headband. I wish I could find the book because it had some decent stuff in it.

I too ate the Weider amino tabs after lifting. LOL.



Here's a throwback for you:

How many of you remember the old Flex TV show on ESPN with Shawn Ray and Boyer Coe? I also remember the days of watching Cory Everson on Bodyshaping.


My first experience was a weider sand filled set for christmas when I was a sophmore. It sat around my room for about a month before I decided to bust it out. From that moment though I was hooked. Me and two of my buddies started working out in my uncles basement. He had a cheap weider bench, a leg curl device, and various dumbbells, and a olympic bar (eventhough there was hardly any room to use it). We mostly listened to Naughty By Nature (OPP, I have no idea why).

I also remember the those huge Amino Acid pills. My friends use to suck down those Ultimate Orange Shakes. I think this was mentioned in another thread, but those were some great times working together. It definitely had that Pumping Iron/Golds Gym camaraderie.


This is a great thread! Before my time. But I love these stories.


hahahaha! thats was the bomb! I HAD MAJOR HARD ON for cory and kiana tom.

old school indeed.