A Journal of Strength, Health, and Self Cultivation
Louis Cyr is regarded as one the strongest men who ever lived. But, merely copying how he trained is not likely to bring forth the muscular gains you are capable of. Only if you become an independent thinker can you reach your full potential as a strength athlete. This is why you will find no two champions who train exactly alike. Public domain photograph.
I once observed a famous bodybuilder become disturbed during a gym workout after a gentleman, who probably weighed no more than 150 pounds, criticized how the champion performed bench presses. Rather than politely listen to what the stranger had to say and possibly learn something, the established physique contender became irate and lashed out, “You have some nerve to question me. My chest is 55 inches; how big is yours? Who the hell are you to question my training methods?”
Although I felt rather bad for the poor soul after he got a tongue lashing from the big muscle man, I admired him for being an independent thinker and for being bold enough to question the champion. All too often a strength enthusiast just accepts things on blind faith simply because some “expert” tells him what must be true or best. And, numerous members of physical culture world fall into this trap. An “authority” of strength writes a book, and his or her disciples immediately accept what the author states as gospel with no questioning or thought analysis whatsoever. This is a sad fact and, to be fair, this problem is not limited to physical culture; it takes place in every field of endeavor.
No one person, whether a strength “authority” or not, knows everything there is to know about effective physical training. And, regardless of what some “expert” may claim or believe, he does not have the final word on effective physical training. This is true whether a person has twenty-inch arms or ten-inch arms. Yet, there are numerous “gurus” out there that will try to convince you that they know best and that their system of training is the only one fit for “serious” strength athletes. This portrayal is both a cut down to your intelligence and an insult to your character.
Truth be told, you have the right and the ability to decide for yourself what training method works best for you. However, this is not to say that you should function in a vacuum. It is almost always helpful to learn from other established thinkers — so long as you analyze what they teach critically and supplement the knowledge you acquire from them with your own thoughts and experiences. Albert Einstein once stated, “If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants.” This is a good quote to keep in mind if you want to advance your knowledge of effective strength training, or of anything else.
To close Part 1 of this new post series, I present below a sampling of bad predictions from leading “experts.” These predictions are laughable in retrospect, but keep in mind that at the time they were made only a handful of people questioned them. And, because of those few people who did so, human progress took a leap forward.
Note: I firmly agree with Jim Murray that weight training does wonders for building strength, fitness, and conditioning, but I don’t agree that there is any one “most effective” way.