T Nation

Stop Using Sandow as a Measuring Stick


well duh, and/or hello. What I should have asked was why? Like, why did the bench come into fashion in the first place? Why did we decide we needed more pectoral mass?


Well, you see, in the 50s women stopped putting out and men needed the comfort of breasts. Next thing you know, the bench press was born.


that explains all those awkward fondlings last time I was at a nursing home


Floor pressing was around since forever (like, Sandow’s time, 1890s/early1900s) as a strength lift. That eventually “evolved”/morphed into pressing from a low box around the 1930s/40s (to make the test of strength more strict, instead using of a kind of bridge/hip thrust assist that got popular [See? Arching the bench has been around a long time too]). Around the same time (1940s), bodybuilding as a sport gained popularity separate from weightlifting, so it was convenient and coincidental timing.

Long story short (too late): The bench press came into fashion almost the exact same time that guys decided to train for muscle size, 70 years ago.

Interestingly, floor flyes were actually written about in the 1920s, saying they built the pecs but didn’t really increase strength, so they weren’t a priority.


I imagine it’s one of those things where new equipment opened up new avenues of progress. First, there were no bench presses, and the only real chest work you got was from rings, and the only real lifting competition was all overhead stuff, so big shoulders matter, big chests didn’t.

Then, people developed bench presses to help with the olympic press as an assistance lift. The early models were flimsy and comical, but as bigger pressers came along, better benches did too, which allowed for more progress on it. I imagine with bigger and better benches, we began to witness bigger and better chests, and soon we began to develop that association of strength/power with a big chest.

Powerlifting coming along would then help, because now we had a sport people could relate to on a lift that required less technical skill than the olympic stuff. Plus, you get to lay down, so that’s cool.

We witnessed something similar with squats. Prior to the squat rack, squats were done with light weight on the toes and it was whatever you could get to your shoulders. Legs were well developed, but not massive. Squat rack comes, more weight can be moved, bigger legs come into play.

This is just my amateur understanding as a fan of the irongame, no real serious studying. Just remember stuff like this from Super Squats, Pavel, and the Complete Keys to Progress.


So there’s that too… History is pretty contradicting on this subject. :stuck_out_tongue:


A Eugene Sandow measuring stick would be a pretty funny Xmas novelty gift


Am I the only one who doesn’t find his physique to be particularly appealing?

Like come on man, how does this

beat any of the modern physiques of today?

Keep in mind that I’m not even into bodybuilding and I can think of literally a ton of other physiques I consider more appealing.


I feel like other than my calves and a couple percent body fat I look super similar to Sandow. I look to those that I feel are extremely far away from me from a development perspective as those to idolize rather than those (at least I think) aren’t too far away.


IGNORING TEST LEVELS I think it is safe to assume that Sandow was a genetic outlier. Which still means you shouldn’t be using him as what a measuring stick.

I really don’t feel this is a crazy theory to think that testosterone levels have been dropping and for 2 reasons.

1st, mating has become significantly less competitive. Millions of years ago we evolved fighting wild animals and each other for the right to both mate and survive. The biggest and strongest are who survived. Testosterone has a very obvious link to strength and size. The more reliant on technology we become the less necessary these traits are both to mating and surviving. Fast forward to now and men are supposed to be understanding compassionate care providers. I am not dogging that, it’s called progress.

The second reason is the chemicals we eat, drink and breath. Female birth control may very well be the biggest hindrance to testosterone levels in recent years.

Google “female birth control in water cause male testosterone”

I just kind of guesses at a google search but several links pop up.

Hardly an accurate picture of the fitness industry today.

Links aren’t allowed to be posted on this site but google “testosterone levels drop every generation”.


The problem is the assertion that 120 years ago people had “closer to enhanced levels than today’s true natty levels.”

I’d imagine you’re probably right that they’ve dropped, as we’re less healthy in general than we used to be.


People use Sandow because he was around before the isolation of Testosterone as a usable hormone (1935, Sandow died 10 years prior). He is someone you can guarantee is natural.

Given that almost everyone who has ever used seems to lie about it, or at the very least there is room to question whether or not they did, or if it is known how much, it makes sense to use people who were around before steroids were around (if comparing yourself to others is your thing, which it probable shouldn’t be)


Personally… the only thing I question is some of the strength feats credited with some of the old timers in Sandows era myself.Not that it really matters


Hey! You know what else pops up? Your facebook profile.

So if I agree with your philosophy about the fitness industry being a sham, will you agree to help me by selling me one of your fitness programs and a diet program for say, maybe 1000 pesos?

You are doing exactly what you are complaining about.


But this is you, correct?

So how do you rectify your own development with the position you have taken here?

BTW: You’re pretty damn strong. Not knocking that at all.


I completely agree with the title of this thread, but for completely different reasons.


Sandows might have been strong but he doesn’t look good.

I like my build better.


And I am natural. Testosterone isn’t even good, but the endo says I must have great receptors, whatever that means.


Btw OP, seeing your youtube videos I think you are not bad if you are natural.


Finally the pyramids are making sense. No barbells so might as well push these enormous bricks uphill.

(edit: that was supposed to be a reply to a post like 30 slots above it, sorry for the loss of context)