Origins of Body Building/Lifting

I’ve never really read up on this subject but find it to be pretty interesting.
Other than that the Greeks and Roman had something to do with bodybuilding techniques but that’s about it.
Does anyone know about the origins/history of body building and power lifting? From where the techniques originated?
It would make a good book, I’m sure there is one.

Here’s part of the story here:

Follow the link in the article for the other two parts.

I heard Al Gore invented it.

Modern-day bodybuilding began with Eugen Sandow, born Friedrich Wilhelm Mueller. He was born in Konigsberg, East Prussia on April 25, 1867, and staged the first bodybuilding competition in 1901.

He is the model for the Mr. Olympia trophy.

For more info on Sandow here is an interesting link:

Some O-lifters like to claim that bodybuilding as a contest is a sort of offspring of the classic lifts. I guess as the story goes there use to be an award for “best physique” that was given out at some of the more prestigious contests. Legend has it that someone came up with the idea to just have a contest that was physique-oriented only, but even then some sort of athletic background was required, most commonly the O-lifts, but football or wrestling was a popular resume filler also. This might also have contributed to the development of powerlifting. This is all just speculation that I have heard over the years, and it doesn’t surprise me that the elitist pricks in weightlifting take credit for birthing what is modern-day bodybuilding, and even powerlifting, but who knows? Who even cares really.

Off off topic here:
Gore, that prick. He lost his own home state.

Talk about a guy who knows how to have something in the hand, and let it go. Well, Nader didn’t help either. I always thought that Republicans would have a shrine to him.

Bodybuilders are the dumb blondes of weightlifting.

Diesel is the dumb blonde of personal training. hahahhahahahaaha.

Oh my god, like GOldberg, that is like, so kewl!! Like nuh-huuhh!!! Like, I think I’m just like going to shop for a new pair of sneakers and like, a new pair of socks, and like you know…like, oh my gawd!!!

I saw a site once that claimed bodybuilding began in India and it gained popularity in Europe when British colonists came back from India after having learned about bodybuilding. The site has a handful of old-fashioned looking b&W pics of Indian guys lifting antique weights.

I actually wrote a paper about this, so I figured I’d chime in with my 2-in-the-morning version. I’ve left out the citations.

I’m assuming you’re talking about the rise of bodybuilding in Victorian England (where Sandow popularized it).

There were several factors that seemed to intersect at the exact time that allowed for bodybuilding’s rapid rise in popularity. British attitudes towards gender identity, sexuality, and the body itself were changing.

At the time, the masculine ideal was essentially the “dandy”. If you’ve read Oscar Wilde, you know what I’m talking about: the earnest, effeminate man who possessed above all else, self-control. Call this version “Adonisian”. Opposing this version of masculinity was a Herculean one: a man who posed a real threat to society. A man who was dangerous, without a sense of morality, and of course, had no self-control. When Sandow came along, he obliterated this distinction. Sandow was a muscled gentleman. His powerful, Herculean body suggested a physical danger to a safe society. He was, however, a complete gentleman. He was in complete control of his body. Thus, he somewhat combined the Herculean and Adonisian versions of masculinity. He became THE English gentleman. He was the new ideal of masculinity

It seems safe to say that the Victorian sexuality was repressed. Anything sexual was not to be talked about, and anything that publicly smacked of sexuality didn’t last long. However, at the same time, medicine and science were becoming more interested in the human body. Diseases were sweeping the nation, and everybody was afraid of getting sick. Politically, the body was being reconsidered as well. The 3 Reform Bills (which extended voting rights to the working class) suggest a burgeoning consciousness towards the physical body (laboring bodies have rights). Poor working conditions, in addition to widespread fear of disease, set off a health craze that eventually led to reformed labor laws & more leisure time.

The body itself was being studied and considered in incredibly new ways. I mentioned before the pent-up Victorian sexuality. Sandow is especially relevant here. He displayed his naked body publicly for people to look at and sometimes touch. Both men and women were fascinated by Sandow. They would stare at him in what seems like an overt display of sexual energy. How did such ostensibly sexual behavior elude the puritanical Victorians? How could a typical Victorian could unabashedly gaze at a naked man and feel no guilt or social embarrassment? In short, Sandow (and the muscled body in general) could be considered medically or scientifically. This is akin to a college kid going to a strip club and claiming it is research for his sociology paper. In this case, nearly every available channel for the release of sexual energy (pun intended, I suppose) had been cut off by the prudish Victorians. And then came this new way of looking at the body sexually, but claiming another purpose.

19th century English army recruits were in pretty bad shape, and this didn’t sit well with an empire that saw itself as the most powerful nation in the world. The thinking was: if the soldiers of the empire were sick and/or weak, then the empire itself was sick and/or weak.

In short, you could say that the body itself was in the right place at the right time. Widespread fear of disease, extending from the individual to the imperial army, fueled a growing interest in medical and scientific awareness of the body (grave robberies for cadavers became common at this time), offered an appropriate backdrop and “disguise” for Victorians to explore their sexuality.

I should mention that photography played a big part. Sandow was frequently the subject of what were essentially baseball cards. He’d get naked, hit a classical Greek pose, a photographer would snap his picture, and then his naked body would be publicly disseminated. In a time when nobody talked about sex, a lot of people had a picture of a naked Sandow on their dresser. Interestingly, this served a greater ideological purpose. I said earlier that Sandow helped establish a new ideal of masculinity. This was due to his combination of gentlemanly morality and obvious physical fitness. If you read some of his publications, you immediately get the sense that he was into a lot more than a few sets of curls. For him, bodily health implied moral health. Improve your body and health, improve your soul/self/mind. The Victorians thus came to see a healthy body as a sign of healthy morality. And because Sandow had both, he became the measuring stick against which all other Victorians (particularly men) compared themselves. Just think: if you’re a flabby man with chicken legs, how in the world can you call yourself a gentleman when you look nothing like the ideal gentleman of whom you have a picture sitting on your dresser? You couldn’t. So if you wanted to be like Sandow and be a gentleman, you had to act like him. Obviously, this is a very powerful ideological way of controlling behavior. In light of this recognition that bodily health is pretty darn important, the working class (those most susecptible to bodily disease) were given more leisure time, in which they were encouraged to do something “edifying”, such as play a sport of join a spa or something. The workers saw it as a time to not work, but really it served to improve industrial moral and simultaneously benefit the nation.

Sandow himself was terribly popular. He started in a circus, worked his way to vaudeville sideshows, and eventually triggered a physical fitness explosion. He was the theme of popular songs, the focus of a short film by Edison, and in 1901, the British Museum commissioned a plaster cast of his body. He was adopted into the language in the phrase ?as jolly as Sandow?, which referred to ?the optimism and virtue attached ot the perfect, healthy male body?. He was appointed military adviser at the outset of World War I, and was consulted by pianist Ignace Paderewski for finger-strengthening exercises?two examples indicative of the breadth of his fame. His most popular publication, Strength & How to Obtain It, was reprinted three times by 1905, and his performances consistently drew crowds in the hundreds. Everybody knew of his exercise programs and equipment, and even King George V, W.B. Yeats, and James Joyce?s Leopold Bloom applied them, presumably in the hope that, by emulating Sandow, they too could become perfect gentlemen.

Michael Anton Budd wrote a book called “The Sculpture Machine”. I’d check that out if you’re interested, although it might be hard to find.