Below is a video that includes still images of several strength athletes from past eras.
For those interested, the video creator has listed photo references within the Youtube description. Among the list includes one of my favorite sites (Sandowplus).
The Old School
I often reference material from the Sandow Plus site. As I’ve said before, many of the greatest strength discoveries came long before our time. Contrary to what today’s market would like you to believe, strength isn’t new. In fact, many of the feats performed by past strength athletes are seldom replicated today.
This assertion will surprise certain readers. We live in a fast paced world where technological breakthroughs occur each day. It isn’t uncommon for us to assume that everything we are doing now is better than how it used to be done. The industry then plays into this belief. Everyone wants fast results, so the market attempts to satisfy this demand. It is more profitable to fulfill a need, rather than telling the truth. A quick Google search is all that is necessary to confirm my beliefs. It took a matter of seconds for me to find programs promising rapid strength gains, rapid weight loss, and 30 day miracles.
It isn’t marketable to suggest that you’ll need years to develop impressive results. Who wants to wait years when a supplement or book says that we can do it in weeks?
Unfortunately, so-called breakthroughs are often everything but new. More often than not, we discover that what’s new is old, and what’s old is new, again and again. Take a look through Sandowplus.co.uk and you’ll find almost every exercise from today’s era has been performed for longer than you’ve been alive.
This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t strive to improve on the past, but rather a reminder that the wheel has already been invented. I’m also not suggesting that you can’t make gains in a short period of time. I am however suggesting that impressive gains take time. It is important to approach your training with this understanding. I encourage ambition, but I also encourage realism.
Real strength requires strong ligaments and tendons. The process doesn’t take place in a week or a month. Real time must be invested for real strength. The old time strength athletes were patient. Legends weren’t built in weeks or months. They were developed over years of consistent and focused work.
Furthermore, let’s not forget that the amazing strength feats from the past occurred long before the multimillion dollar supplement industry existed. I’m not suggesting that supplementation cannot be useful, but don’t be fooled to believe that you need certain products to improve. Need is an overused word in today’s industry. All that you need is an intelligent, consistent, dedicated, and patient effort.
The Modern Industry
Today’s industry would like you to think otherwise. Quick results are often promised. If a particular program doesn’t offer quick results, the user abandons it as fast as he found it. This cycle often continues over and over again. Program jumpers hop from program to program, ignorant to the fact that their inability to see something through is the real problem. It isn’t actually their fault however. The industry has brainwashed many to believe that serious results can come overnight.
I receive hundreds of emails each week, so I have a general idea of what many are thinking. Last night, I had 17 year old athlete email me in frustration. He’s been lifting with his team and is upset with his lack of progress. After inquiring about his program, I soon realized that he’s only been lifting for one month. That’s right… just one month!!!
He wanted to know what supplements he could take to speed his gains. I wish I could say that his email was unusual, but I’ve actually grown accustomed to it. He’s one of many victims to the marketing powers that exist among us. He isn’t the first to fall into the trap. In his mind, if he isn’t ripping through new shirts in 30 days, something must be wrong.
The World Has Changed
I’m only in my 30’s and the world has already changed significantly since my time as a child. I didn’t know what the Internet was until I was in college. When we had papers to write, we went to the library. We flipped through old encyclopedias looking for answers. Book reports meant that you actually had to read the book, rather than typing a few search queries on Google.
I still remember when we had rotary phones.
Now I see young kids with cell phones.
Many of the younger readers will be shocked to know that television stations used to go off the air at night. And when the television was on, there weren’t remotes. You’d get a few stations, and you’d manually change the channel by walking to the TV and adjusting the dial. Now, you can sit back and impatiently flip from station to station.
I remember when the Atari 2600 first came out. It’s no wonder why we went outside instead of playing video games.
Yes, the world has changed. We’ve grown used to finding answers while sitting behind the keyboard. We communicate online. We shop online. We perform research online. Almost everything is available through a click of the mouse. We are all used to it. I’m no different. I get irritated when my Internet connection is slow. To think that it’s only been a few years since I was connecting through a slow dial up modem.
Separate The Body From Technology
I welcome the advances in technology, but I realize that the human body must be kept separate from our fast way of thinking. The body isn’t new. We’ve been around for a long time. Real change requires real time. Shortcuts usually turn into dead ends. We can’t gain strength behind the keyboard. You still need to get up and put in the work. The old timers didn’t need any of the fancy gadgets that you’ll find today. Looking back in time is all the proof that you need to determine what you actually do need.
Stay consistent, stay determined, and the results will come. Ironically, slow and steady is often the fastest and most productive route.