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A Manual of Sensible Physical Culture

This text is copyright Craig Staufenberg (2009) and released under the Creative Commons
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The material within this book is for informational purposes only. The author or anyone else
affiliated with this book may NOT be held liable or otherwise responsible for damages of any
kind allegedly caused by reference to this book. The material in this book is NOT intended to
substitute for seeking a qualified medical professional. It is always recommended to consult
with a qualified medical professional before undertaking any diet or exercise regimen. The
exercises presented within this book are advanced and technical in nature and should not be
attempted by anyone without prior training experience, and should NOT be attempted by
anyone who can not heed common sense regarding safely learning and experimenting with
exercise methods and techniques.

Written By: Craig Staufenberg

Illustrations By: Jonathan Day
Typesetting By: Peter Barlow
Editing and Proofreading By: Sandra Brauner
Indexing By: Teresa B.
Additional Research By: SharonSolutions.

Thank you


Introduction: Why You Need This Book 1

Chapter 1
What is Physical Culture? 5
Sandow’s story– Take 1 5
The Body and the Western World 6
Railraods, Industrialism, Mass Media and the New World 7
A Receptive Mass 9
Sandow’s Story– Take 2 10
The Father of Physical Culture 12

Chapter 2
Physical Culture’s Philosophy 15
Circulation 15
Suspicion 16
Nerve Force 17
Aiding Nature 19
Form and Function 20
Sandow’s System 21
Liederman’s Secrets 22

Chapter 3
The Body and its Anatomy 25
Abdominals 25
Chest 26
Back 26
Shoulder 27
Upper Arm 27
Forearm 27
Upper Legs 27
Calves 28

Chapter 4.
The Lifestyle 29
Proper Sleeping 29
Proper Bathing 32
Proper Clothing 34
Proper Training 35
Proper Breathing 36
The Viking’s Breathing Exercises 37
Proper Relaxation 38
Inch’s Self Massage 39

Chapter 5
The Diet 43
Proper Digestion 43
How Much 45
How to Eat and Drink 46
What to Eat 47
Weight Loss, Weight Gain and Health 51


Chapter 6
Training with Apparatus 54
One–Handed Snatch 67
Two Handed Snatch 58
Two Hands Military Press 59
Double Handed Lift while Lying on Back 60
One Hand Clean and Pull In 61
Two Hands Deadlift 62
One Legged Dead Lift Exercise 63
Straddle Exercise in Lowered Position 64
Leg Exercise Stepping Up 65
Back Roll and Jerk 66
Rectangular Fix 67
Special Grip Exercise 68
The Bent Press 69
Dumbbell Juggling 70
Single Handed Dumbbell Swing 71
Two Dumbbells Simultaneous Overhead Lift 72

One Handed Military Press 73
Holding at Arm’s Length 74
Anterior Shoulder Raise 75
Overhead Dumbbell Swing 76
Standing Chest Fly 77
Slow Punching with Weights 78
Dumbbell Curls 79
Dumbbell Circles 80
Chest and Back Extender 81
One Arm Expander 82
Crucifix 83
Squat Extension 84
String Pull 85
Kettlebell Extension 86
Kettlebell Press 87

Chapter 7
Training without Apparatus 89
The Intestinal Reveille 91
Cat Stretch 92
Internal Squeeze 93
Trunk Circling 94
Sit Up 95
Side Sit Up 96
Reverse Sit Up 97
Leg Raising 98
Single Leg Side Raise 99
Balancing Sit Up 100
The L 101
Side Bend 102
Loin Strengthener 103
The Wrestler’s Bridge 104
Front Neck Bridge 105
Leg Loosener 106
Calf Stretch 107
Ankle Stretch 108
Knee Bend and Squat 109
Advanced Knee Bend 110
One Legged Knee Bend and Squat 111

Leg Curl 112
Toe Raise 113
Ankle Resistance 114
Loosening the Shoulders 115
Floor Dip or Push Up 116
Dipping Between Chairs 117
Hand Stand Push Up 118
Pull Up 119
Neck Exercises 120
Relaxation 121
Contraction 122
Isolation of the Latissimus Dorsi 123
Isolation of the Trapezius Muscle 124
Controlled Isolation of the Trapezius Muscle 125
Isolation of the Pectoralis Major 126
Complete Relaxation of the Abdominal Wall 127
Depression of the Abdominal Wall 128
Isolation of the Latissimus Dorsi with Arms Extended 129
Shoulder Control 130
True Shoulder Control 131
Isolation of the Serratus Magnus Muscle 132
Isolation of the Intercoastal Muscles 133
Loosening of Deltoid, Latissimus Dorsi and Trapezius Muscles 134
Control of the Extensor Muscles of the Arms 135
Control of the Flexor Muscles of the Arm 136
Control of the Extensor Muscles of the Thigh 137
Control of the Calves 138
Control of the Thigh Biceps 139

Conclusion: The Religion of Physical Culture 141

Re–Ligio 141
India and Physical Culture 142
India and the Western World 143
The Body in Indian Lifeways 144
Linking Back 145


Part One

Why You Need This Book
“The body is a perfect machine, and so little care will
keep it from becoming clogged and cloyed that it is the duty
of everyone to carry out the simple practices of physical
common sense.”
– Don Athaldo, Health, Strength and Muscular Power

The most important aspect of Physical Culture does not

lie in training, mechanics, apparatus, or diets; not even the
measurements of your biceps nor the poundage you can
lift are the most crucial component. Rather, in sensible
Physical Culture, education reigns supreme.
Today, accusations regarding steroid usage, synthetic
supplement advertisements, laboratory–created “meal
replacements”, cholesterol fears, cardio booms and Tae–Bo
deluge us daily. Washed away in this tide is a tremendous
amount of sensible knowledge that has been lost regarding
how to live a healthy, competent life.
Dismay comes easily when surveying the current state
of Physical Culture. From bodybuilding to baseball, drugs
dominate. As for the modern “naturals”? Their regimens
may sit better with the law and the conscience than those
practiced by the drug users, but most of those so–called
“naturals” hardly live naturally. Everywhere we turn, the
anything to win attitude dominates, replacing the age–old
wisdom of health first.
A century ago, there was a remarkable group of men and
women who knew how to build muscle, burn fat, and live
a healthy, balanced life without popping pills or obsessing
over their micro and macro nutrient ratios. This manual
aims to shed light on these practitioners by presenting
their collected knowledge.

Sometimes their advice may appear to be contradictory,
when in fact no contradiction exists. A lively and healthy
debate was carried on by the devotees of Physical Culture
in the early years of the 20th century – from the debate
over vegetarianism versus meat eating to training with or
without apparatus – discussions we recognize today that
were already in full swing a century ago.
When possible and apparent, I will emphasize the
majority opinion expressed by these enthusiasts. For
example, drinking non–homogenized, non–pasteurized,
raw dairy products far and away overshadowed any
allowance of processed dairy items. Avoiding white–flour
products and other refined materials also dominated
the discussions. Regardless of the training methodology
favored by the individual Physical Culturist, all agreed that
only persistence builds muscle, and advocated training and
advancing according to your own abilities, not your ego.
Rather than focus on the very few Physical Culturists
who may disagree or simply disregard these issues, this
manual teaches the obvious consensus.
Truly, two people may read this book and come away with
two different approaches. Such different interpretations
mirror the depth and variety you find when reading the
source texts.
In the thousands of pages of source material which
inform this book, I never found even one Physical Culturist
who would recommend a single, uniform, universal path.
Instead, the authors always insist the reader learn his own
body and follow what works for him.
No magic formula, no universal balance exists out there
– only that found within.
In that spirit, this book offers no hollow promises: no
guarantee of “6–pack abs in 6 days” or “Gain 50 lbs. of
MUSCLE in a month!” That being said, you can certainly
gain a tremendous midsection using the principles and
exercises in this book. After all, Physical Culturists often

considered the trunk the most important area to train for
both health and strength. You can also gain considerable
muscle using this book; Physical Culturists saw being
underweight as a health defect on a par with obesity.
You will find a wealth of instruction and accumulated
knowledge regarding health, strength and a balanced life
in these pages. Whatever your goals, we begin with the
foundation for the course: knowledge and understanding.

– The Author

The Birth of Physical Culture
“When the importance of physical culture is recognized,
when men and women realize its true importance, it will enter
into every phase of human life. There is hardly a question in
life which physical culture should not be a part of.”
– Bernarr Macfadden, Physical Culture, 1906


“Health, rather than muscular strength, should be the
object of physical training.”
– Eugene Sandow – Sandow’s System

To answer the question, ‘What is Physical Culture?” it

is instructive to go back to its modern birth; thus, we must
logically begin with its great progenitor, Eugene Sandow.
Commonly, Sandow’s story is told from his early role as
a traveling performer, practicing his muscular displays and
strongman acts to great interest and acclaim throughout
Europe and the United States. Sandow displayed a
well–chiseled physique, his beautiful body purposely
modeled after Greco–Roman statues. Beyond his personal
appearances, the published image of his body and of his
philosophies cemented his celebrity, bringing holistic
fitness to the masses.
The common story is roughly true, but it does not get at
the deep mainspring of why he ignited the modern Physical
Culture movement. More remains beneath the surface.
When examining a person, a phenomenon, a movement,
one must ask: Why? Why Eugene Sandow? Why the late
19th century? Why Europe and America? Why do we find
Physical Culture’s birth where we do, and nowhere else?

An absolutely thorough discussion of the movements and
concepts of the body throughout European and American
history lies beyond the scope of this book. For the moment,
we will briefly examine what made late 19th Century
Europe ripe for this movement to take hold.


“The old notion that physical prowess was inseparable
from a dull intelligence is completely exploded, and happily
so, seeing that it was about the most harmful notion which
has ever been entertained by man.”
– George Hackenschmidt – The Way to Live

The Western world did not completely ignore the body for
the two or so millennia between the Greco–Roman world’s
adoration and the birth of Physical Culture. Interest in
the classical Greco–Roman idealized form reignited during
the Renaissance, and periodically thereafter, right up to
Sandow’s time. Ideals of masculine strength always find
their way into society, and such ideals found an increased
swell with the rise of the nation–state in the 19th century.
Nationalism, with its idea of a united people and character,
blossomed in Europe, and with it a collective ideology of
inferior and superior citizens. One of the most prominent
ways this ideology was expressed was in the virility of the
people’s soldiers. Although these movements and ideas
may be considered as precursors, modern Physical Culture’s
perfect timing began with Sandow’s era.
Modern Physical Culture did not catch on during those
pre–modern eras for two major reasons: It was not a necessity
in the same degree that it became in the late 19th Century,
and the necessary receptive mass audience did not exist.
Physical Culture relies upon a displaced and disassociated
mass audience, and the media to disseminate its seed. Both
of these factors boomed during Sandow’s era.

For a moment, imagine the changes that the mid–
to late–19th century brought to your lifestyle. Before
industrialization and urbanization, you grew up in your
somewhat isolated location – perhaps a town, a village or
nearby farm. You lived in an area as a community very
much adapted to, and in a deep relationship with, your
location and lifestyle. Your immediate environment, both
the human and extra–human environments, taught you
an enormous amount of knowledge regarding the life
you would live. In your pre–industrial milieu, you knew
what to eat because your village ate it. You knew how to
keep healthy and strong because health f lowed from your
lifestyle. Without an ignorant mass audience needing
instruction, Physical Culture could not have become a
mass movement.


“It would be difficult, indeed, to overestimate the
transcendent importance of the part the railroad has
played in making the Nation what it is to-day. Perhaps it
would be within bounds to say that without railroads to
bind the States into one homogeneous whole, the Nation
never could have attained its present size and importance.”
- Charles Frederick Carter

The 19th century arrived, bringing with it an explosion

in technologies: fast travel, industrial production, and new
media and communication technologies. These technologies
transformed the pre–industrial lifestyle by dissolving its
notions of space and time. Where previously travel involved
a risky, long, intimate engagement, the invention and rapid
spread of the railroad imbued in travel a speed and power
that dissolved distance, uniting previously remote regions.
In our current age of convenient travel technology, we may

easily dismiss the early rail (which traveled about 30 miles
an hour). But compared to the previous modes of land
travel, this defined a quantum leap. Imagine our travel
technologies, from cars to airplanes, suddenly tripling in
speed and you can begin to grasp the changes the railroad
brought. Among these was a change in the whole concept
of “locality,” and this reduction in size affected Europe –
with its relatively small and unique nations – even more
dramatically than in other places reached by the railroad
boom. In America, the railroad further united the states
and opened up the continent.
The technologies of the Industrial Revolution similarly
changed life. Industrial production in many ways made
traditional ways of life – along with their traditional
modes of production – obsolete, ushering in an ideology of
newness, progress and freedom. The new industrial modes
were systematic and impersonal, based on a concept of
universal principles and production that would transfer to
the Physical Culturists. Just as anyone can manufacture
any item, anyone can manufacture any body. Much like the
positivists who measured and managed industrial production
down to a precise science of movements and progress,
the Physical Culturists defined their methodologies as
“scientific,” “progressive,” and “universal,” capable of
sculpting a perfect body from any raw material.
While the railroad consolidated once remote communities
into an interconnected network, the industrial shift caused
mass urbanization, which changed matters even more.
Industrialization and its subsequent urbanization displaced a
great many people from their indigenous surroundings. No
longer in their traditional homes or producing according to
traditional methods, this new population found itself in a radical,
fractured, permeable, anonymous and alien landscape.
The new metropolis demanded different skills than did the
farm. Knowing how to live in a fishing village works wonderfully
when you live in a fishing village, but such knowledge offers

little when you move to industrial London. Urbanization brings
many benefits, but simultaneously squashes a tremendous
amount of knowledge through obsolescence.

“Physical culture has become my life’s work, and it is my
ambition to see every person who comes under my care
molded as physically perfect as myself.”
– Don Athaldo – Health, Strength and Muscular Power

Due to these new technologies of travel and industrial

production, in the mid– to late–19th century in Europe and
America we suddenly find a large group of people displaced
into a new environment – an environment that does not
necessarily offer the healthful benefits and wisdom that
their indigenous surroundings had shared. Nations of
farmers quickly became nations of urbanites.
This new population stood ripe for mass movements in many
ways. The railroads, while also dissolving notions of time and
space, surprisingly aided in the surge in literacy and printed
culture. Compared to previous modes of travel (walking,
carriage, horses, etc.) the railroad offered an impersonal
mode of travel. Now, the traveler found himself seated in a
confined space shared with strangers, and the only real thing
to do to occupy the time was to read. Small trade paperbacks,
newspapers, magazines, physiologies (books which aided in
identifying different urban types in the anonymous city ––
from accountants to pickpockets). Literacy, and the publishing
industry, boomed and took on their modern characteristics.
These new, roughly literate city dwellers no longer worked
on the farm, and instead morphed into factory laborers and
office–bound bureaucrats. Physical Culture came to decry
both. The laborer, often overworked, developed his body
specifically, rather than uniformly and holistically. The
bureaucrat, confined to his desk, severely lacked movement

and physical challenge. Looking out in the burgeoning cities,
we find not only an increasingly literate population, but one
physically suffering from its new lifestyles.
This new population also stands open, ready and willing
for the new invention called mass spectacle: vaudeville
and other forms of theater, the rise in professional and
collegiate sports, the previously mentioned rise in mass
publishing and journalism, and perhaps most importantly,
the spread of photography – with photographs, both
moving and still – becoming commonplace.
Through pure spectacle and striking imagery, the bodies of
the men of Physical Culture evoked the imagination and desires
within those who viewed them. Young men, throwing off their
parents’ confining responsibility for a more virile state of urban
bachelorhood, witnessed a wild and rugged individualism (a
philosophy doubly potent in America in the already–nostalgic
final days of the “Wild West,” already immortalized in traveling
shows, and books and widely distributed prints depicting events
such as Custer’s Last Stand).
This affected not only men, but a large female audience
as well. Two new societal roles, office worker and retail
shopper, gave women new roles outside of the home (a
loosely defined “liberation”). With images of attractive and
barely clothed men suddenly accessible in publications and
kinetescope films (conveniently placed in shopping districts
and other arenas), women consumed them in droves.


“Physical culture is to the body what culture is to the
mind. To constantly and persistently cultivate the whole
of the body so that at last it shall be capable of anything
that sound organs and perfectly developed muscles can
accomplish – that is physical culture. The production, in
short, of an absolutely perfect body – that is physical culture.”
– Eugene Sandow – Strength and How to Obtain It

Offering essentially a quick and private film screening,
Edison’s kinetescope provided a common amusement for a
small price. Featuring vaudeville performers, athletes, and
other curios, kinetescopes helped to create the first screen
stars, one of whom was the strongman Eugene Sandow.
Before becoming a screen star, Sandow had already
made a name for himself in Europe and America through
his widely popular shows featuring physical feats and
physique. Utilizing all the media available at the time –
popular theater and vaudeville, magazine and newspaper
stories, published books and articles, film strips and
scandals – he cemented his place as a media star in late
19th century popular culture.
Sandow ushered in a new understanding of health and
strength. Prior to the advent of this new popular hero,
the strongman was more likely found in the beer hall than
the health spa. The old–time strongman is perhaps best
epitomized by the transitional figure of Louis Cyr, a man
of tremendous strength and size. Almost perfectly round,
Louis Cyr represented the overindulgence frowned upon in
Physical Culture. By contrast, Sandow based his development
directly upon the measurements and proportions of classical
statues and the Greco–Roman ideal. While also quite strong
and athletic, Sandow’s finely chiseled and proportioned body
displayed classical beauty, a quality bound to be helpful in
an emerging popular culture that was increasingly visual.
Sandow purposely invited comparison to ancient ideals
and fine art by often posing as a statue come to life.
While aesthetically effective, his comparisons to such
“high culture” notions served a second purpose. Beyond its
aesthetic impact, this emphasis on artistic beauty created
an impression of upper class values and principles. While it
served to distinguish Sandow from the low culture sideshow
freaks and beer hall brutes, this emphasis on class also
created a legitimate context for public male nudity during
a fairly prudish time.

Perhaps most important for the movement he spawned,
Sandow’s proportions and upper class identification allowed
him to morph from strong man to gentleman, reverting
endlessly back and forth. Not particularly large, Sandow
could throw on a suit after his shows and blend in with
the masses. Playing on the new idea of the anonymous
urban crowd (and the prevalent American mythos of the
self–made man), Sandow encouraged the idea that anyone
could become as strong and healthy as he was. The Physical
Culturist became another modern urban archetype, much
like the pickpocket or accountant. With a displaced
populace seeking roles to identify with, as well as guidance
regarding their failing health, Sandow paved the way for a
new industry.


“Weakness is a crime! Don’t be a criminal!”
– Bernarr Macfadden

Through his persona, his act, and his publications,

Sandow inspired many and remained a paragon for the
movement to come. Nearly all who followed throughout the
early 20th century cite the mighty Sandow as a primary
influence and ideal to live up to. Many emulated his popular
and financial success; one such enterprising young man was
Bernarr Macfadden, “The Father of Physical Culture.”
Born sickly and quickly orphaned, Macfadden vowed
from a young age to live a healthy life, and spent his
youth developing his body, his systems for natural health,
his showmanship and flair. In 1893, Macfadden first saw
Sandow live at the Chicago World’s Fair, and the icon’s
theatrical performance so impressed Macfadden that he
quickly emulated Sandow’s staging, lighting, and reference
to classical ideals (all designed to enhance muscular display)
to further his own enterprises.

Macfadden began his activity in health clubs and holistic
doctors’ offices before moving his systems to print, and
from there he built a publishing empire. Spreading his ideas
about natural health, wellness and strength, Macfadden
authored numerous books and articles. Beyond his own
writing, Macfadden began to publish and promote others,
coining the term Physical Culture as the title of an aptly
named new magazine. The success of the magazine allowed
Macfadden to further develop the movement, and he
organized numerous physical exhibitions and competitions,
creating a model for the industry that lasts to this day.
Many more gentleman–athletes emerged, authoring their
own books and methods, their ranks eventually swelling
into the well–developed population we call the Physical
A concern with health, fitness, exercise, proper diets,
holistic wellness and healing, and advocacy of a balanced
life unites these diverse figures. While they often competed
against each other in the arenas of athletics and reputation,
Physical Culturists never primarily concerned themselves
with such ego–driven pursuits. At its core, Physical Culture
understands that without spiritual, physical and mental
strength – that is, without a properly balanced human
being – the flesh means nothing.

The Philosophy of Physical Culture
“Let people at once and forever get rid of the notion
that this exercise is a mere play–spell, or that it is
only good to make athletes or acrobats. It is as much a
branch of education as any taught in our schools today...”
– William Blaikie – How to Get Strong and How to Stay So

Arriving in the late 19th century, Physical Culturists were

very much a product of their intellectual times. Ideological
themes relating to circulation, mechanization and nature
all show their influence in thoughts regarding the body.

“The 19th century’s preoccupation with the conquest
and mastery of space and time had found its most general
expression in the concept of circulation, which was central
to the scientistic social notions of the epoch.”
– Wolfgang Shivelbusch – The Railway Journey

Thinkers and philosophers of the 19th century placed a

great deal of importance on the idea of circulation. While
it is obvious that the advances in biological sciences and
the mapping of the body’s various channels and pathways
played a part in the developing notion of circulation, we
must also recognize the less obvious influence of the growth
of industrial capitalism. The great influx of manufactured
goods necessitated major changes in the infrastructure of
cities. First, the cities were redesigned with wider, better–
lit roads to aid the movement of large deliveries of goods
and raw materials through the city. Previously designed
for human use and lives, the new city was now designed for

the flow of goods and materials. It was likened to a great
body, and in this body the circulation of materials was
considered as important as the circulation of vital fluids
and energy through the human body.
Once the cities adapted properly to the new understanding,
the final destination of this flow of goods was to be found
in the new concept of the retail store, a location radically
different from previous commerce in terms of shopping.
These new stores with their new goods were defined by the
rapidity with which goods could circulate, how fast they could
be sold and replaced, and, on a larger level, the circulation of
one batch of goods and replacement by a new one. Between
the obvious new biological understandings of circulation and
the understanding of the circulation necessary for industrial
capitalism, circulation was a key idea of the 19th century which
manifests itself bluntly in Physical Culture’s preoccupation
with the circulation of the body’s energy systems.

“Experience has shown, and a true philosophy will always
show, that a vast, perhaps the larger portion of the truth
arises from the seemingly irrelevant.”
– Edgar Allan Poe

The idea of the body as circulating energy was further

helped by a sudden surge in the intellectual world regarding
the suspicion that the true locomotive powers were
invisible to the ordinary eye and perception, and must be
brought out. Truly during this time, power and influence
lay in the invisible. Freud defined motivation as an act of
the unconscious influences conflicting with the conscious.
These unconscious influences must always be brought to
light through his new mode of analysis to properly align
the human. In literature, the detective novel was born and
flourished. Sherlock Holmes and Poe rose to the occasion,

ferreting out the hidden motives and concealed villainous
impulses in those otherwise deemed innocent – a concern
leading to a reexamination of the oldtime country folk, as
well as a drive to understand the new anonymous crowd. In
the sciences, Etienne–Jules Marey and Edward Muybridge
developed photographic methods to discover and display
the movements hidden within regular human motions.
Marey’s photography was used by industry to systematize
their employees’ movements. By identifying their best workers
and analyzing their every motion, they were then able to create
systematic descriptions of ideal motion for the rest of their
workers. In many ways, they began to replicate these human
elements – a development which represents a clear shift in
understanding to a new view of the human as a mechanism.
Like their industrial machines, the human can simply be
micromanaged and adjusted until the parts line up right.
This understanding leads directly to Physical Culture’s
philosophy of the scientific progression of their methods,
as opposed to what they described as the “violent methods”
of their predecessors. While Physical Culturists avowed the
unique individual nature of everyone and everyone’s unique
possibilities and capabilities, they also prescribed the same
movements for everyone in a very precise manner: a still
ongoing preoccupation in Physical Culture with proper form.

“Just as the man of sedentary habits and weak body
possesses a correspondingly sluggish mind and lack
of energy, so he who assiduously pursues a physical
development gains not only that desired government of his
organs, but in marked degree obtains a thorough mastery of
his will and, consequently, an easy and contented mind.”
– George Hackenschmidt – The Way to Live

“The muscles of your body are the slaves of your mind.
Whatever the mind dictates that the muscle shall do, so do
the motors of power expert themselves. Consequently, the
better condition your muscles are in and the more power
they have, the better able are they to fulfill the purpose of
your mind.”
– George Jowett – Muscle Building and Physical Culture

In the philosophy of Physical Culture we find a synthesis of

these understandings. The body was considered a mechanism,
whose development and perfection came about through a
precise scientific methodology of universal movements ascribed
to the individual’s feedback and response. The body’s strength,
in turn, came not from its size and overconsumption (the
earlier era’s prevailing philosophy), but rather from the body’s
invisible circulating energy. Physical Culture philosophy holds
that strength comes from the nervous energy the body can
bring to a task. Overindulgence, whether in excessive eating
or drinking, drains the body’s energy and thus weakens the
individual. Strength comes not from adding, but eliminating
the unhelpful, from wise reservation, highlighting the core
philosophy of a balanced moderation.
Considering the nerve force as the key to the body’s
strength, the Physical Culturists naturally focused directly upon
the mind–muscle connection. While a large nervous energy
reserve is vital, a powerful mental connection is required to
tap into that tank. Producing maximum effort requires a well
developed and sharp focus. The muscle, well developed and
thought upon properly, responds wonderfully and powerfully.
The mind–muscle connection was considered second to
none by the Physical Culturists, and this understanding displays
itself in every aspect of Physical Culture –– from muscle control
exercises designed to deepen the connection, to a simple and
thorough understanding of the body’s anatomy and functionality.
Most Physical Culturists were not huge men, yet their strength
was formidable and their aesthetic development peerless.

“Nature decided at the beginning of all life that strength
should be given only to those creatures that use it.”
– Don Athaldo – Health Strength and Muscular Power

This deep and abiding feeling and knowledge of their

bodies brought about a deep and abiding reverence for
nature among Physical Culturalists. The body, though
considered in mechanistic terms, was natural –– and its
splendor was considered a reflection of nature’s splendor.
Throughout every aspect of Physical Culture we find a great
reverence for nature. At first glance, there may appear to
be a contradiction between the Culturists’ understanding of
the value of using scientific methods and their reverence for
nature, yet none exists. Their precise methodologies were
nothing more than attempts to align the body with itself,
rather than impose a man–made construct and ideal.
The forceful scientific method is more accurately
aligned with what Macfadden called the “Medical Trust,”
or the alopathic doctors of the world. Many Physical
Culturists staunchly opposed the “Medical Trust”; rather
than trusting in chemists, pills, potions and medical doctors
to assault the body’s illnesses, they felt that when acting in
accord with nature, the body easily remains in a beautiful,
healthy and strong state. A properly cared for body, like a
well oiled machine, requires very little maintenance.
When a person is sick, alternative healing practices take
the doctor’s place in Physical Culture. From raw milk diets to
fasting, Culturists prescribe methods which collectively are
the precursor to the modern holistic alternative medicine
movement. Rather than attacking the body with concoctions,
the Physical Culturalists did everything in their power to
facilitate the body’s natural healing process and to allow the
body to remain in its natural healthy state. They believed in
using precise and scientific methodology to align with their
bodies, rather than impose anything upon them.

We now have a good understanding of the Physical Culture
philosophy, which advocates treating and understanding
the body in a scientific and progressive manner as a
manifestation of a greater and wiser natural process. The
Physical Culturist wisely and intelligently aligns himself with
his body and with nature, and does not impose or attempt
to force anything; over time, he aims to align further and
further, and in this aligning aims for a physical perfection.


“Apollo, rather than Hercules, stands for the type of
physical manhood that is demanded to–day. Powerful
muscular development there must be in the ideal man,
but there must also be a counterpoise of grace and of
– Bernarr Macfadden – Muscular Power and Beauty

“There is no more beautiful sight than a well–developed man.”

– Don Athaldo – Health Strength and Muscular Power

This perfection manifests itself in both form and function.

The philosophical divide between muscle form and muscle
function already exists so early in the culture. As one
expects by now, Physical Culture understood and reached
a proper balance between the two. Function nearly always
took primacy, but none were shy about promoting and
encouraging the beautiful body that resulted from their
work. Most practitioners posed often, showing off their
development in their photos and advertisements, in their
public displays, side shows, film strips, demonstrations
and competitions. While some, such as Tony Sansone,
lived primarily as models, others firmly eschewed muscle
appearance over function. What purpose is served by a
muscle which cannot act?
Overall, finding pure bodybuilders over accomplished

athletes and weight lifters remains difficult in early
Physical Culture. Even Tony Sansone was an accomplished
athlete, retiring early from modeling to run a gymnasium
to teach the principles of Physical Culture to youth. The
movement showed a general preference for functional
muscle that simultaneously displayed great beauty, a match
epitomized in in its founding father, Sandow. Striving for
a general physical competency, members of the movement
developed their attractive bodies. While contemporary
bodybuilding audiences dwindle due to the involvement
of chemically–induced aesthetics in today’s competitions,
the typical Physical Culturist’s body still appears rather
faultless a hundred years later, in both its development
and individuality.

“Habituation to exercise not only renders hard work
easier to perform, but it economizes the effort necessary
to accomplish it.”
– Eugene Sandow – Sandow’s System

Sandow wrote for the general population, not the

professional athlete, and he stressed health over strength.
In his opinion, most people wish to live a long and healthy
life, wherein they can accomplish daily tasks with the utmost
comfort and ease. Most people neither encounter nor wish
to encounter extraordinarily trying times, and thus do not
require preparation for the utmost difficulties.
Sandow furthermore acknowledged an individual’s
limits in personal potential, whether due to heredity, time,
enthusiasm, desire or circumstance. In his words, “We
cannot all be Atlas, but we can all produce vigorous minds
and healthy bodies.” Sandow considered health a matter
of each cell’s vitality, an actor which relates to the “ever
recurrent motions of waste and renewal.” He saw the

body’s strength as related to the youth of its atoms, which
renew themselves by working (exercising) regularly. The
work kills them and facilitates their rebirth.
Regarding training, Sandow espoused the ever important
mind–muscle connection. As he stated: “The difference
is great, as every learner knows or ought to know,
between going through certain exercises in a perfunctory
and mechanical manner, and putting the muscles to the
strain by concentrating the mind and will power upon
the manipulation of the weights, or whatever muscular
exercise is being attempted.” Sandow stands in strict
opposition to those beer–hall strong men of the day, men
who did everything to excess and believed that strength
came from over–consumption and excessive training.
Sandow espoused early on the moderate lifestyle that
Physical Culture adherents adopt. Rather than advocating
“violent” training methods, Sandow and later Physical
Culturists promoted the concept of training in a simple,
progressive, measured manner. The trainee should neither
embark upon –– nor progress in –– exercise, too heavily,
too fast, nor with recklessness. Most importantly, the
trainee must enter without ego and competition in his
mind, in order to fully avoid foolish over–straining and

“A man can become stronger no matter how much
nature has handicapped him by giving him a lack of inches,
or a small frame. Even those in ill health can be made
strong, because exercise promotes health. In turn, muscle
can be made to grow on the healthy body and with muscle
will come the strength.”
– Earle E. Liederman – Secrets of Strength

Physical Culturist Earl Liederman writes extensively
about the philosophy of the movement in his book Secrets
of Strength. stressing the primary importance of muscle
quality. While developing impressive–looking muscles
can be achieved fairly easily, Liederman argues that such
muscles not only function differently, but look different as
well. He argues that one type of muscle results from training
for “maximum contraction” and the other from training for
“real work.” Muscle quality goes beyond merely working
the muscles, but also involves strengthening the fascia, the
tendons and other connective tissues which aid in lifting
and athletics. Such “real work” develops the sinewy ––
rather than beefy –– muscle type.
Liederman also explores “strength through symmetry.” He
advocates developing the body as a whole, since weak links
snap the entire chain. Symmetrically developed muscles
aid the body by working together properly, evidenced by
Physical Culturists’ preference within weightlifting for
whole body lifts over isolation movements.
Liederman considers “the secret of nervous energy”
the real key to strength. The muscles always contain the
potential power to contract, yet remain motionless, until the
nerve message shoots from brain to muscle. It’s important
to never push beyond the well of nervous energy, to never
sit shaking and spent at the end of the exercise. When
training, you should never expend your energy beyond your
ability to replace it. It is better to retain reserves than to
exhaust yourself completely.
When commencing heavy and strenuous strength
exercises, Liederman recommends you stay on guard; he
feels you should always avoid overwork and/or training
according to an overly rigid and ill–fitting schedule. No
fixed schedule will suit in any and all cases. He identifies
the missing link as the complicated “personal equation.”
Like many Physical Culturists, Liederman considers
internal factors the most important: perfect digestion,

a strong heart, and big lungs. In observing people who
fatigue themselves, he notices that calm men seem to
recover far faster than nervous ones do. Your training and
your life should invigorate, not drain. Liederman sums up
his training philosophy, and in turn that of many Physical
Culturists, in a simple statement: “If after your exercise,
your bath and your rub–down, you feel fit to battle for a
kingdom, then your schedule is right.”

The Body and its Anatomy
“It seems to lend interest to Physical Culture practice if
one goes out of one’s way to learn the correct names of the
various muscles, at any rate, the names of the largest and
known ones. It is much better to be able to give a muscle
its proper name than to speak vaguely of ‘the muscle at the
back of the arm’ or ‘the muscle running down the side of
the neck”’.
– Thomas Inch – A Manual of Physical Training

Many Physical Culturists considered a thorough

understanding of the body and its anatomy essential.
Understanding the body from a biological perspective
allows you to understand the various energy channels and
the different muscles’ proper functions. Having achieved
proper understanding, you may easily move your mind and
direct your nerve force in the most efficient and powerful
way possible. While the ability to name each and every
specific muscle in the body is not essential, understanding
the basics of your various muscle groups and their proper
functioning is a great aid in proper training.

The rectus abdominis and the obliques compose the
main abdominal muscles.
The rectus abdominis form what most people consider
the abdominals: the front chunky section of the stomach.
This muscle group assists in flexing the body forward,
drawing the upper and lower body together.
Located to the sides of the rectus abdominis, the obliques
assist primarily in flexing the sides and rotating the pelvis.

The pectorals, the intercoastals and the serratus
muscles mainly constitute the chest. The pectorals
divide into the major and minor, often referred
to as the upper and lower aspects of the chest.
The pectoralis major covers the upper part of the chest
in a fanlike shape. The pectoral minor lies beneath the
pectoral major. The pectorals draw the arms forward and
across the chest.
The intercostals lie between the ribs and aid in movement
of the ribs.
The serratus magnus is found to the side of the chest,
and also aids in raising the ribs.

The back is composed of a large number of muscles, the
main ones being the trapezius, the latissimus dorsi, the
teres major and minor and the erector spinae.
The trapezius lies near the neck and between the
shoulders, extending down the length of the back along
the spine. It assists in moving the head, shrugging the
shoulders and raising the shoulder girdle.
Located to either side of the trapezius in the mid–back,
the latissimus dorsi assists in drawing the arms backward
and downward, and contributes greatly to the back’s width
between the armpits and hips.
The teres major and teres minor assist in rotating the
arm and pulling the arm backwards.
Located as two muscle columns along the lower spine,
the erector spinae are also known as the “loin’s support,”
as they hold the body up and assist in bending.

Three main muscles compose the shoulder: the anterior
deltoid, the median deltoid and the posterior deltoid.
The anterior deltoid assists in pushing the arm forward,
raising the arm to shoulder level, and in some overhead
movement. Located on the front of the shoulder.
The median deltoid assists in raising the arm to shoulder level,
and in some overhead movement. Located mid–shoulder.
The posterior deltoid assists in raising the arm to
shoulder level and backwards. Located on the back side of
the shoulder.

The biceps and the triceps mainly compose the major upper
arm muscles.
The biceps consist of a two–headed muscle which flexes the
arm upward and inward. Located on the front of the upper arm.
The triceps consist of a three–headed muscle which extends
the arm. Located on the back of the upper arm.

An almost unrivaled complex and dense knot of muscles
compose the forearm. Some of the main muscles include the
radialis longus, the radialis brevis, the extensor digitorum
communis, the flexor carpi radialis the brachioradialis, the
palmaris longus and the flexor capri ulnaris. These muscles
aid mainly in flexing, extending, supinating and pronating
the hand and fingers.

The quadriceps and the leg biceps or hamstring muscles
mainly compose the upper legs.

The quadriceps engages primarily to extend the leg and
adduct the legs. Located on the front of the leg are these
four muscles: the vastus externus, vastus internus, rectus
femoris and the adductor longus.
The leg biceps or hamstrings are located on the back of
the leg, and assist in curling the leg backward and upward.

The gastrocnemius outer and inner heads, and the soleus
mainly compose the calves.
The gastrocnemius outer head and gastrocnemius inner
head extend the foot. Located as the main two–headed
bulk of the upper calf.
The soleus sits as the muscle column below the
gastrocnemius muscles. Assists in extending the foot and
rotating it inward.

The Lifestyle
“An essential point is, that the candidate puts his life
and soul into the study of proper training; enduring will
power is the mightiest factor for good results, and for the
production of men...”
– George Hackenschmidt – The Way to Live

Perhaps the most important concept to take from this

book is the fact that sensible Physical Culture does not
follow fads, and has no desire to be a fad itself. Sensible
Physical Culture does not move momentarily through your
life; rather, it creates a lifestyle. It concerns itself with
creating an ideal lifeway for health, strength, harmony and
balance in every aspect of one’s being. The mind, body and
spirit connect intrinsically, indivisibly. Physical Culture
strives not only for the ideal body, but also the ideal life.
Rather than considering physical exercise as another
regimen to follow for bathing suit season and then drop,
Physical Culture encourages creating positive, healthy,
harmonious habits to build a balanced, healthy, strong,
fulfilling lifestyle.
Physical Culturists argue that great strength flows from
a life lived in moderation, regularity and balance. Avoiding
any overindulgence remains key in many writings. Devotees
take great care to keep the body from unnecessary strain
during daily life, and practice due diligence to keep the vital
reserves high, and merely “dipped into” during training.
Recovery is far easier when ample reserves remain, rather
then when rebuilding from a debt.

“Night and sleep are the hours for recuperation, the
time your organs repair the damage of the day and provide
the body with a reserve for the marrow. The muscles and
the brain become relaxed in order to give the powers
of recuperation the opportunity to perform their vital
– George Jowett – Muscle Building and Physical Culture

The natural invigorating remedy for an exhausted body

is rest, both in the physical as in the mental direction, and
a healthy sleep. To obtain a sound sleep, the regulation
of the proper functions of the intestines and the skin is
necessary above everything. He who takes daily and
thorough exercise in the open will hardly be plagued by
– George Hackenschmidt – The Way to Live

“Sleep is a known necessity for restoring the losses of

energy and the using–up of the body tissues occasioned by
daily activity. For it is during the sleep that the growth,
assimilative and repair processes of the body are most
– Tony Sansone – Progressive Home Physical Training

Sleep, the great healer and replenisher of vital reserves,

was viewed as vitally important to Physical Culture. The body
not only heals and recovers during times of rest and sleep,
but also the mind and spirit refresh themselves, dipping into
the deep wells from which they draw their potency, during
a good night’s sleep. A physically energized person cannot
act properly or passionately without a similarly vital mind
and spirit.
Recognizing that sleep occurs best in regular intervals,
they championed the proposition that the most favorable
sleep pattern is one in which a person goes to bed and

rises at or around the same time every day. Their consensus
stands today, that the hours between 11pm and 7am are
ideal for sleep. Overly late nights cause both detriment and
drain, and irregularity in your sleep patterns robs your
body of the regularity on which its processes thrive.
Regarding the mechanics of sleep, Physical Culturists
recommended you avoid sleeping in twisted and contorted
positions. Rather, your body should lie simply, facilitating
proper and even circulation and easy breathing. Even if you
lie face down, keep your chest extended and your mouth and
nose unobstructed. Prevent limbs from lying underneath each
other, thus avoiding any chance of cutting off circulation and
deadening an arm or leg during sleep – a dangerous habit.
Physical Culture practitioners recommended sleeping in
either light clothing or preferably naked, depending on the
ambient temperature. Macfadden specifically recommended
a thirty minute ‘air bath’ before bed, a period within which
you remain naked and allow your skin to breathe without
blankets or other obstructions.
Blankets in general should be kept to a minimum to
allow the skin to breathe at its utmost during the night, as
a healthy body keeps itself warm under most reasonable
circumstances. Consider eliminating your pillow except if it
is absolutely necessary (and if you lie flat it is unlikely to be
needed). A pillow can hold your neck and spine in awkward
and unnatural positions for the entire night, contributing
to poor posture and alignment. For similar reasons, try
and accustom yourself to a firm mattress, nothing too soft
or squishy. Macfadden himself regularly slept on the hard
floor, if that gives any indication.
As you sleep, you should always leave the window open
when reasonable, and at least cracked even during winter.
An open or cracked window will allow fresh air to enter
the room and assist the body, and a cool breeze aids sleep
considerably. Upon waking, a full stretch aids rising,
followed immediately by exiting the bed.

“Bathing must remain largely a matter of individual
choice and convenience, but the fact is usually overlooked
that both cleanliness and good condition of the skin have a
profound and direct influence on health.”
– Tony Sansone – Progressive Home Physical Training

“A warm bath once or even twice a day is desirable,

although in the morning it may be followed by a cold sponge
– if the system can stand it.”
– Adolph Nordquest – Strength and Health

“Cold baths are nature’s tonic for increasing the nerve

force and making the body immune against sudden changes
of temperature and exposure.”
– Lionel Strongfort – Strongfortism the Complete Course-
Lesson 1

Proper bathing and grooming also got much attention

from Physical Culturists. Besides showing and nurturing a
necessary pride and positive attitude regarding your body,
proper bathing also allows the skin to properly breathe and
expel wastes. Physical Culture considered daily bathing a
necessity, not an option or an opinion.
The optimum temperature of the bath or shower
remained open to debate within the movement. No one
recommended excessively hot water, though some praised
frequent saunas and sweat baths. Yet for daily cleaning,
most recommended bathing in either warm and tepid, or
ice cold, water.
The roots of the ice cold bath run far back into numerous
folk traditions; in its lengthy history it has been recognized
as a real strength builder –– not only of physical strength,
but mental and spiritual strength as well. Japanese mountain
shamans regularly meditated under cold waterfalls, and
used the frigid water to prepare their bodies for their

strenuous rituals, including pouring scalding hot water
over their heads. The effect that a cold bath has on the
body –– raising the body’s intrinsic heat –– truly takes on
both physical and spiritual connotations.
More scientifically speaking, the coldness of the
water stimulates the circulatory system both internally
and externally, strengthening the body’s systems. The
stimulation causes a rapid flushing and movement of the
blood into the body’s internal systems as it first retreats
from the cold, then a gradual return to the skin as the
body adjusts. The icy water is extremely good for both
the skin and for muscle tone, and greatly enhances both
the body’s resistance to cold and its ability to generate
internal heat. Even today, among adherents of the modern
holistic movement, the cold bath remains a standard in
some circles.
Not all Physical Culturists recommended the ice bath,
however. Some felt it was too extreme, too unpleasant to
adjust to. Other opponents felt the cold weakens the body
too much, as the body’s shivering demonstrated. Further,
they argued that the cold’s weakening effect depletes
the body’s energy reserves excessively during the body’s
effort to remain at, and regain, its ideal warmth. This is
especially noticeable when bathing in a drafty room, which
is frowned upon regardless of the water temperature.
Even proponents of the cold bath recognized it is less
than ideal for cleansing purposes. Warm water opens
the pores and lathers soap significantly better. The open
pores and increased effectiveness of soap allow for the
skin to be properly cleaned out. The pore–closing effect
of the ice bath keeps the skin from fully expelling waste
during the bath.
Regardless of the temperature, all baths were ended with
a brisk rubdown with a coarse towel. The towel was used
sparingly, only just enough to remove excess water, and the
rubdown was performed quickly to increase circulation.

Excessive toweling off robs the body of the chance and
ability to warm and dry itself, a useful mini–exercise.
Beyond the bath itself, Physical Culturists recommended
numerous small cleaning and grooming regimens. Rinsing the
mouth with salt water, cleaning out the nostrils with a small
water syringe, regularly massaging the scalp (daily for those
with conditions such as dandruff), facilitating large amounts
of sweat (either through exercise or sauna) to clean out the
pores, and sunbathing for both health and attractiveness ––
all these aid in achieving general well–being.

“When exercising, wear little or no clothing. Such clothes
as are worn should be light, loose and short, and should in
no way interfere with full freedom of movement.”
– Tony Sansone – Progressive Home Physical Training

“In the selection of clothing … keep in mind the skin has

to breathe.”
Lionel Strongfort – Strongfortism-the Complete Course

After the care and attention paid to bathing and grooming,

Physical Culturists considered clothing a small and practical
matter. Wearing clean and attractive clothing displays the
earned body well, and shows and builds the same feeling of
self–respect as the body care practices discussed earlier.
Much as during sleep, during the daytime one should not
wear excessive clothing, but just enough to keep the body
warm and circulating at all times. Wearing too little for the
weather and exposing oneself to intolerable temperatures
slows the circulation and invites weakness and illness;
similar detrimental effects come from too much clothing
during the hot months.
In general, clothing should fit fairly loosely, without any
real tight spots or areas cutting off circulation; tightness is

to be avoided especially around the neck, wrists, ankles and
waist. Clothing worn while training should remain minimal,
merely enough to keep the body warm throughout. Some
recommended training in a sweater during the winter for
this reason, but (weather permitting) many considered
training nearly naked (or fully naked if permitted) ideal.

“As a principal rule, I should stipulate for regularity of
training. It is advisable to exercise at the same hour every
day. I should not advise the practice of physical exercise,
more particularly exercise with weights, in the morning,
immediately after rising. The exercise should not exceed
one quarter of an hour at the commencement.”
– George Hackenschmidt – The Way to Live

Regarding the training lifestyle itself, one idea dominates

Physical Culture thinking: “Make Haste Slowly.” Physical
Culturists understood that perseverance builds success,
and they recommended training as a daily habit, in one
form or another.
Regarding training timing, most recommended against
vigorous training before or after meals. Avoid training
immediately upon rising if one’s body disagrees with it,
as the body often does not wake thoroughly warmed and
circulated. Generally, you should train when your energy
runs highest. This timing often changes as the body ages.
Training should be handled in a gentle manner; excessive
and rapid training easily causes harm. Movements should
generally occur slowly at first, as you build the motion with
smooth performance and full intention, avoiding overly
quick and jerky movements. The speed of performance
may increase to rapid movements as competency increases,
but only when it does not cause a loss in gentle and proper
form. Physical Culturists abstained from training employing

“cheating” methods – those involving overly violent and jerky
motions. Perseverance, and perseverance alone, brings
permanent strength.

“Breathing through the nose is the only proper way of
respiration and is at the same time an important regulator
for the movement of the body. If for any kind of work the
breath through the nose ceases to be sufficient, one ought
to either discontinue the work or restrict the movement
until breathing again becomes normal.”
– George Hackenschmidt – The Way to Live

“Attention must be given to the breathing, – you must

put your will into increasing the depth of your chest and
the strength of your lungs.”
– Thomas Inch – Will and Nerve Force in Relation to
Physical Culture

Most Physical Culturists considered proper breathing

the most important aspect of training. Training should take
place where you have access to plenty of fresh air. Breathe
continuously, never holding your breath (especially during
an exercise movement). Be sure to breathe in comfortable
rhythm with the exercise itself, inhaling deeply during the
hardest aspects.
Most considered breathing through the nose ideal.
George Hackenschmidt specifically states that if at any
point during training you cannot breathe through your
nose and you have to revert to your mouth, then you are
training too hard and need to pause and rest, or even stop
the entire succession.
To breathe properly, one must develop great lung
capacity. Short, choppy breaths and panting for air during
and after exercise simply reveals the individual’s weakness.

Macfadden considered strong lungs so important that he
believed attempting to develop muscle would be impossible
without proper lung capacity and disciplined breathing.
Macfadden describes the lungs as the “great market”
where the body exchanges worthless waste matter for fresh
materials through the oxygen and carbon exchange. He felt
that proper breathing technique, coupled with spending
plenty of time outdoors, was a real strength builder.
Lung capacity may only increase by consciously
attempting to increase it. Taking in a great lungful rather
than short, shallow breaths on a regular basis begins
the process. Whenever you consciously consider your
breathing, slow it down and increase the volume of each
breath. Over time, this practice aids in constantly slower
and deeper breathing.


“Deep breathing is excellent in its place, but I do not
consider it good unless it is gone through with in connection
with some exercise.”
– Adolph Nordquest – Strength and Health

Physical Culturists also recommended specific exercises for

the lungs to increase breath. Adolph (“The Viking”) Nordquest
recommends the following in his book Strength and Health:

“There are four exercises which I can recommend:

No 1– Place the hands on the hips, and draw in a full
breath, at the same time throwing the head upward and
Exhale as the head is brought forward. The hands on the
hips hold the shoulders down. Count four while breathing
in, and four while breathing out.
No 2– Clasp the hands over the abdomen, and take
a full, deep breath, at the same time pressing upon the

abdomen and lifting the chest as high as possible. Count
four while breathing in, and the same in breathing out. Do
not relax the pressure on the abdomen while breathing
out, but continue it all the while.
No 3– The third movement is full breathing with chest
lifting –– almost the same as the last. Raise the chest high
and hold it there, letting the breath go out, and pressing hard
upon the abdomen to prevent the chest from sinking. You
cannot let the chest down while you clasp the hands tight.
No. 4– Empty the lungs completely of air, close the
throat, and raise the chest as high as possible. This makes
a suction that creates a vacuum in the chest. The blood is
then being pumped out of the liver. Open the throat for a
few seconds and let the air in, then repeat the exercise.

The four exercises are easy to remember, and may be

taken in various positions; with the hands on the hips, on
the back of the neck, on the top of the head, and stretched
up above the head.”

“The most important exercise the beginner must learn is
to relax all the muscles.”
– Maxick – Muscle Control

Physical Culturists considered overtraining the great bane

of strongmen. One should train to the point where you feel
good, strong and energized during and soon after the training
session. One should always consider recovery above all else.
It is in the training itself that one becomes weaker, and only
during recovery and sleep that one grows stronger.
A key part of recovery is keeping the mental focus and
emotional enthusiasm for training and health fresh. For
this reason, the Culturists recommended always avoiding
boredom and staleness in your routine. As they say, if your

routine and training becomes stale, then leave the gym, be
social, see a movie, meet with friends instead, then change
your routine for the next day. Boredom and the feeling that
it is an unpleasant chore will kill any good habit.
Such relaxation holds special importance in both training
and recovery. Physical Culture adherents considered stress
a real mind and body killer. A positive and relaxed attitude
not only allows greater mental concentration (essential for
tapping into your energy and producing great strength and
health) but also keeps one from burning up large quantities of
nerve force outside of training. Living in a constant stressful
state equals living within a state of tension, sapping energy
reserves and inhibiting energy replenishment.
In order to keep the body in a relaxed state, frequent
massage was often recommended to aid muscle recovery
and growth. Regular massage helps keep muscles supple,
aids in breaking down fatty tissues, releases stiffness, aids
general body circulation, and removes the overdone feeling
after exertion.


As Thomas Inch notes, a masseur is often unavailable and
costly, and instead he recommends self massage, writing
at length about the process. Kneading, pounding, pulling
and pressing help keep the muscles fresh by assisting their
natural actions and smoothing out whatever small issues
arrive after training. Self massage strengthens resistance
to muscle tears, and keeps the muscles supple. One should
never massage with the muscles tensed. The muscles should
be relaxed to allow a deep kneading.
Inch recommends the following self–massage program
in his book, A Manual of Physical Training:
1– The Neck
Holding the chin up and rotating the head, massage with
finger tips from one side of the back of the neck to the other,

the edge of the thumb pressing upon the side of the neck
in a massaging movement. Reach in front of the chest with
the right hand (finger tips) to massage the left trapezius,
the left hand traveling over to the right trapezius.
2– The Deltoid and Triceps
Hold the left arm, bent in front of the chest, seeing to it
that all muscles are relaxed. Now massage the left deltoid
with the right hand, first rubbing up and down, then with
a circular movement. Change over to the right deltoid.
In the same position massage the triceps, first a circular
movement with the finger tips, then take the triceps muscle
in the hand and squeeze it from near the elbow right up to
near deltoid. Repeat on the other side.
3– Biceps
Hold the right arm out in front, slightly bent, but keep
muscles relaxed. Rub up and down, then squeeze the biceps
with hand and finger tips, first with thumb underneath,
then on top. In the last position the heel of the hand does
useful massage work. Reverse to the other side.
4– Forearm
Hold out the arm, bent and relaxed, but held near to
the body. Pinch and squeeze all forearm muscles using
the thumb freely upon extensors. Roll the muscles from
side to side, rotate the forearm so that all groups receive
attention. Reverse to the other side.
5– Pectorals. Serratus Magnus (Rib Muscles)
Hold the left arm out sideways, then massage the left
pectoral with the right hand. Use a circular motion. Reverse
to the other side.
6– Latissimus Dorsi
Hold the left arm right up overhead. Use the right hand
on the left side beneath the arm pit to rub with upward
and downward movement, also circular. Now reverse.
7– Abdominals
With abdominals relaxed use a circular movement of
the right hand, the heel of the hand occasionally hitting the

external oblique muscle at the right hand side, reaching
over to the left hand side to pull and pinch the external
oblique situated there. Now reverse, using the other hand.
8– Gluteus Maximus
Using the right hand for the right side with an up and
down movement, then a circular action. Now reverse.
9– Erector Spinae
Lean well back to relax the muscles situated in the
small of the back. Use the right hand, palm turned out and
away, and rub the large knuckle of the forefinger, up and
down. Also rub with the knuckles of BOTH hands together,
clenched fists.
10– Right Thigh
Advance your right leg, slightly bent, muscles relaxed,
all the weight placed upon the left leg. Now rub up and
down with both hands, the thumbs meeting in the center
of the thigh at the front. Turn right hand over to get at the
inside of the thigh with the finger tips, include the knee
and use up and down movement for the large muscle at the
back of the thigh, the ‘biceps.’
11– The Calf
Stand on one leg and sit upon a chair. Draw the left leg
up slightly bent, muscles relaxed. Rub up and down with
the right hand, taking the muscles of the calf in the hand
and squeezing them, also rub with both hands, the thumbs
meeting on the shin bone, the finger tips massaging in up
and down movements. Now reverse.”

The Diet
“There is no question I am asked more frequently than.
‘Mr. Liederman, what shall I eat to make me strong?”
– Earl Liederman – Secrets of Strength

“I have never yet met a ‘Strong Man’ whose digestion
was poor. Their powers of digestion and assimilation are
on par with the power of their muscles. Now, whether
their muscular strength comes from the perfect working
of their organs, or whether their perfect digestion comes
from their muscular strength, it would be hard to say; but
undoubtedly there is a connection.”
– Earle E. Liederman – Secrets of Strength

“Do not swallow a morsel of food until it is thoroughly

mixed with saliva and reduced to liquid form.”
– Lionel Strongfort – Strongfortism- the Complete Course

For most Physical Culturists, nothing is of greater

importance for health and strength than proper digestion.
Jowett calls digestion the “rock of internal power.” In his
view of the body as a machine, Jowett considers food
and drink the fuel, as well as the building materials and
lubricants of the machine. Most health problems, not only
being underweight and overweight, result from problems
in diet and digestion.
Many adherents point to constipation as the main cause
of illness. For Physical Culturists, the body’s health relies
upon its ability to circulate nutrients and wastes. When a
person is constipated, a blockage occurs, causing wastes

to remain in the body. From the intestines, the wastes
leech back into the body, filling it with toxins and other
material intended for expulsion.
Despite their understanding of its dangers, Physical
Culturists generally advocated gentle methods to fight
constipation, rather than excessive use of fiber and the
like. Such methods, including colonics, were considered
too harsh for regular use and to be advocated only in dire
medical emergencies. Rather than such blunt methods,
unsurprisingly, the Culturists advocated an attitude and
practice toward diet and digestion that facilitates the body’s
own natural methods for regular, proper digestion.
They understood that ultimately it’s not what you eat,
but what you digest, that imparts strength and health.
Stagnant, undigested material wreaks havoc upon the
body. Because of this understanding, Physical Culturists
consider bowel movement regularity paramount. To
facilitate regularity, they place more emphasis on the
habits and mechanical aspects of diet and digestion than
on the more chemically based aspects we focus on (such
as micro–macro nutrient ratios, stomach acid content,
body ph, etc.)
Physical Culture adherents consider exercise the first
necessary step; not only does exercise promote regularity,
but in generally increasing the body’s strength, regular
exercise will strengthen the digestive system.
More specifically, Physical Culturists stress the
importance of exercises they call internal massage, a term
which generally refers to exercises targeting muscles and
organs of the trunk. This does not mean merely exercising
the rectis abdominis, but all the muscles and organs
involved. The Culturists prescribed some already familiar
abdominal exercises, but did not stop there; they added
a number of twisting and breathing exercises specifically
designed to aid and strengthen the internal organs of the
trunk cavity.

Tony Sansone devotes a great deal of his book Progressive
Home Physical Training to a discussion of the importance of
diet and internal exercises, and considers trunk exercises
the building block for the physique and good health. Perhaps
the most interesting exercise he prescribes is the intestinal
reveille, a movement involving rotating your hips in one
direction while twisting your torso to the other.
Another exercise designed to aid primarily in internal
massage is the abdominal vacuum, a breathing exercise
commonly prescribed to massage the internal muscles and
organs. The vacuum is of primary importance; it is the
core exercise in Muscle Control. and the most common
Muscle Control exercise prescribed in Physical Culture.
The vacuum was often recommended as a movement
to be practiced at intervals throughout the entire day,
but especially after meals to aid digestion and move food
matter along the alimentary canal.
While numerous specific exercises were featured in
Physical Culture, the core tenets of good digestive health
were to be found in the diet. Most importantly, argued the
Physical Culturists, to maintain proper health you must avoid
overeating; indeed, the vast majority of adherents warned
against regularly overeating and stuffing your body.

“It is absolutely a mistake to eat a great deal. Excess is
harmful. The principal food for man is pure air.”
– George Hackenschmidt – The Way to Live

“Sensible nutrition is essential to health and strength.

A properly balanced proportion of wholesome food is
required to nourish the system.”
– Lionel Strongfort – Life’s Energy through Strongfortism

In the view of the Culturists, the over–consumption of
foods causes a massive overload upon the body. Even clean
and quality food, if eaten in an excessive amount, renders
the meal indigestible. The overload causes an energy drain
corresponding to the energy necessary to attempt digestion
and to move the matter through the body –– energy and
strength that could otherwise be properly utilized. Similarly,
overconsumption often leads to constipation and the
consequent accumulation of excess food waste that cannot be
fully moved through the body. Thus, not only does overeating
wreck whatever good might have come from the food itself,
but it also physically tires the body out, creating in the process
an energy deficit that continued overindulgence cannot fill.
On the other hand, Physical Culturists do not recommend
starving yourself, or following calorie restricted diets. While
some recommend fasting (either at regular intervals or as
a remedy), in general most adherents recommend simply
eating enough to fill demand. This, of course, relates to a
standard set by an individual, through his own necessarily
cultivated personal understanding. Demand will increase
as exercise commences, and more strenuous lives naturally
require more nourishment. The individual’s body is the best
guide in determining how much to eat.
Once you are in tune with your body’s principles of how
much to eat, it is recommended that you focus on the
mechanics and habits revolving around each meal. Many
Culturists stress eating slowly and chewing thoroughly.
Digestion begins in the mouth, and thoroughly breaking
down food before swallowing aids assimilation immensely.


“When you do eat, eat slowly. Your teeth have a certain
work to do, and see that they do it. Chew everything
thoroughly, and then the stomach will not be overworked.
Do not eat when exhausted, nor disturbed, nor worried.”
– Adolph Nordquest – Strength and Health

One should always eat in a pleasant mood, and thoroughly
enjoy the food being taken in. One should avoid reading
or otherwise distracting oneself during meals, and should
relax and focus on the task at hand. If one eats with others,
the conversation should remain light, touching only on
pleasant subjects.
The Culturists also recommend scheduling ample time
between meals; generally 5 hours. Breakfast and dinner
should consist of relatively light meals, balanced by one
larger meal during the day. Some, such as Macfadden,
recommend just two meals a day for those who live
strenuous lives, allowing the digestive apparatus time to
relax and recover from its previous ordeal. Most discourage
eating between meals, especially eating without desire.
Full meals should not be taken immediately before or after
great activity, and certainly not in the time surrounding
training. Liederman noticed that when strong men take
food after training, they often instinctively eat the easy–
to–digest food of an invalid. He notes milk, ice cream and
beef juices: foods that digest quickly and easily, with a
minimum of effort and strain upon the digestive system.
Many generally recommend pure, fresh water between
meals, though never with the meal itself. Water vitally
takes along food particles internally and flushes the various
organ systems. Most recommend enough water to aid
proper circulation, especially to fight constipation.

“Everyone should and can find out which diet best suits his
constitution, and he should avoid all food which disagrees
with it. I would shun altogether all highly seasoned and
sour dishes.”
– George Hackenschmidt – The Way to Live

“Hence it is obvious that the dieting of the Physical
Culturist which spells but the supply of material to
replenish tissue lost through Exercise and tissue to be built
for development must be based on the selection of such
and only such food–stuff as by its ingredients contains all
the elements identical with those that made up the human
muscle–tissue before Exercise broke it down.”
– Professor K. V. Iyer – Muscle Cult

Up to this point, the what of Physical Culture diets

remains unanswered. Perhaps George Hackenschmidt
summed up the attitude best when he said, “Forget
As Hackenschmidt notes, many strong men exist within
every possible diet and nutritional theory. As he states, the
actual matter regarding what foods to eat falls secondary
to proper mechanics: the how of eating.
Physical Culturists generally recommend – unsurprisingly
by now – that you eat what agrees with you and avoid excess
stress over your diet. As modern Physical Culture historian
Randy Roach states in an interview with David Robinson:
“A diet that gives one a long, disease–free life of
happiness, I guess could be considered the perfect diet. You
can have a great looking physique, but without harmony,
there is no happiness; without happiness, there will be
eventual collapse on either or both the physical and mental
Overall, you should avoid that which disagrees with you
and causes a heavy, leaden feeling. Avoid those foods whose
digestion drains your energy. Generally speaking, the foods
that supply the most nutrients in their most available state
will digest easiest, and often your body craves these foods
and nutrients the most. More important than following a
strict plan –– merely avoid those foods which cause you
the most trouble. What NOT to eat is more important than
what to eat.

Ahead of their time, Physical Culturists across the board
opposed overly refined, processed and prepared foods.
Well before the current understanding, they opposed
consuming white flour products, white (‘polished’) rice,
refined salts, fats and sugars. You should avoid excess
condiments, sweets, liquors, excessive coffee and tea,
tobacco and highly seasoned and stimulating foods. Many
considered overly fancy and seasoned foods a waste, both
monetarily and nutritionally.
Best to eat plenty of good, plain, whole foods. Many
preferred and recommended a mixed diet filled with
variety, espoused even by those who personally lived by
stricter dietary rules themselves. As Jowett notes, eating
only milk, only fruit, only vegetables is not good enough,
and does not provide a wide enough nutritional scope.
Of course, on the fringes you will find arguments of
various dietary practices of the time. In his System for
Strength, Sandow recommends eating what you will and
not worrying too much, but makes reference to others who
ate liberally of raw and undercooked meat and eggs.
George Hackenschmidt himself ate raw foods primarily,
though he did not eat meat. A raw food vegetarian,
Hackenschmidt recommends fruits whenever sweets are
desired and as many vegetables as wanted, as one can
hardly eat an excess of raw vegetables. Hackenschmidt also
recommends raw nuts; he himself drank copious amounts
of raw milk –– up to 11 pints a day. In his recommendations
to others, he argues that Europeans do well on three
quarters vegetables and one quarter meat. While later in
life he personally did not eat meat, the abstinence may
relate more to his concerns about the quality of poorly
raised animals than any principle of strict opposition to
meat itself.
While you can find vegetarians amongst the Physical
Culturists, you would be hard pressed to find any who
recommend strict veganism.

Consider Professor K.V. Iyer, as staunch a vegetarian as
you can find in Physical Culture, who states the following
in his manual Muscle Cult:
“...of my muscles which I have worked up and weaned
from their erstwhile stringiness to their present lissome
litheness and bulging bulk, not one fiber of them was at
any time part of the rump of an ox, the shoulder of a
sheep, the breast of a fowl, or the middle–piece of a fish!”
Yet, even Professor Iyer drank milk.
While few rarely or ever prescribed strict diets, the
following come up repeatedly in their books as wholesome
fresh vegetables and fruit (either raw or simply prepared)
reasonable amounts of meat, fish and chicken
eggs (especially raw) are always highly recommended
whole raw milk
whole meal bread
cream and porridge
raisins, dates and figs
beef and beef extract
olive oil
jam and marmalade

“The worst bodily ailments may be traced to errors in
diet. Correct eating helps the vital organs to show greater
activity and energy thereby giving brighter eye and a
healthier tint to the skin.”
– George Jowett – Muscle Building and Physical Culture

“The stomach and brain will not and cannot work together.
One must invariably suffer at the other’s expense.”
– Adolph Nordquest – Strength and Health

Regarding weight gain and weight loss, the general rules

ring familiar today. When attempting to lose weight, eat
more fresh raw fruit and vegetables and cut down on your
starches (bread, rice, oats, etc.) Overall, simply eating
less is a necessary truth. To gain weight, include more
starchy foods, do not overeat (one Physical Culturist
even recommends a juice fasting once a week to calm the
nerves), and weight gain will occur.
No Culturist recommends rapid muscle gain or fat loss,
but rather a more measured and steady movement toward
your ideal, always keeping health first and foremost in
Above all, a healthy body will respond more readily to
intelligent attempts at muscle gain or fat loss, so you must
position overall health as the most important factor in
reaching your ideal body composition.
Overall, eat plenty of good, plain, wholesome food
that agrees with you, digests easily and leaves you
feeling energized. Favor real, whole, natural foods. Avoid
processed and overly prepared dishes. Beyond that, do
not worry excessively about the composition of your diet.
As Hackenschmidt states: “If you eat, sleep and feel well,
then nothing can be said to be wrong.”

Part Two

Training With Apparatus
Physical Culturists employ various kinds of apparatus
to achieve their health and physiques. In the early days
of Physical Culture, we see precursors to much modern
training equipment. Barbells and dumbbells were often
constructed slightly differently in the early days, often
employing spring–grip handles, or hollow bars and bells
loaded with shot. These modifications offered a unique
challenge, working the forearms differently in the case
of the spring–grip handles, and offering extra balance–
developing tools with the loaded bars and bells. The lead
shot not only made a single barbell adjustable in terms of
its weight, but it also added the extra challenge of shifting
the center of weight around the piece of equipment during
the exercise, and thus requiring the user to compensate
for this movement.
Some forms of training apparatus devised by early
Physical Culture enthusiasts mirror our modern weight
machines. One example was a cabinet fitted with weights
and cables that allowed a variety of exercises and sat right
against the wall for home use. Sandow devised his own
machine –– utilizing resistance bands –– for leg workouts;
another Culturist utilized a pair of boots with a barbell
attached, to facilitate weighted leg training.
Regular rubber resistance bands also were a common
apparatus, as were kettlebells and dumbbells. In general, these
were all apparatus designed to facilitate home exercise.
In this chapter, we will discuss lifts for the barbell,
dumbbell, resistance bands and kettlebell. Some of these
lifts are still regularly used, while some are still known
though less common. Others are unique and forgotten, or
offer unique challenges to old lifts.

Overall, you’ll find a few preferences in the Physical
Culture approach to weight training. First, nearly all
the lifts are performed with the weight beginning on the
ground. There is a practical reason: most activity, whether
strenuous athletics or daily exertions, occurs as we’re
standing on our two feet, and lifting from the ground
develops our capabilities in nearly all practical situations.
Such lifts also engage our sense of balance, and provide
greater coordination.
In general, the movements do not isolate a muscle group.
While Physical Culturists did offer guidance in developing
specific muscles, in general they favored whole body
movements that coordinated the body in unison. More
isolated movements were used, though generally to develop
underdeveloped regions and work on body symmetry, rather
than to overemphasize a region. They conceived the body
as a whole, and it must be always considered as one. As
time progressed and bodybuilding as its own faction began
to gain recognition and wisdom in the Physical Culture
community, the emphasis shifted towards isolation. But as
we’ve discussed, these men were generally weight lifters
first and bodybuilders second, and favored the increased
body competency of whole body coordination.

One Handed Snatch

1. Stand over the barbell with your right hand in the center,
your left hand resting on your left thigh.

2. Pull upwards strongly with your right hand and shoulder,

pressing your left hand hard onto your left knee.

3. Watching the weight, dip directly underneath it and stand,

straightening your right arm and pressing the weight up.

Two Handed Snatch

1. Stand with the barbell in front of you on the ground, your

heels a few inches apart.

2. Stoop down and quickly pull the barbell up to your chin

with both hands.

3. Simultaneously step forward with one foot and backwards

with the other.

4. Keeping your back straight, watching the weight; adjust

your elbows and wrists underneath the barbell, then bend
your knees and straighten, jerking
the weight upwards.

–May also be performed in the Continental Style: In Step 2,

pull the weight first up to your abdomen and hold it there.
Then split your legs and jerk the weight up to your chin, and
finish the movement as normal.

Two Hands Military Press

1. Stand with your heels together, your legs straight and

your body erect.Raise the barbell to your chest with your
elbows down and your palms facing upwards.

2. Push the weight steadily overhead without bending

backwards, watching the weight the whole time.

–Do not jerk the weight; smoothly press it upward.

Double–Handed Lift while
Lying on Back

1. Lie down on your back, with the barbell lying on the

ground immediately behind your head.

2. Lift your arms off the ground and behind your head.
Grasp the barbell and pull the weight slowly over your head
and onto your chest.

3. Raise your hips, thrust your body upwards and push and pull
the weight overhead, much like in a standard bench press.

One Hand Clean and Pull In

1. Stand over the barbell with your feet underneath the bar.

2. Grasp the bar with your right hand, and place your left
hand on your left leg.

3. Sink downwards, grip the bar, breathe in, and pull the
bar up with your right hand, pressing your left hand against
your left knee for leverage.

– The movement is one straight pull up to your chin.

Two Hands Dead Lift

1. Stand with your feet widely apart, about 20 inches or so,

with the barbell sitting in front of you.

2. Bend your legs, grip the bar with a mixed grip (one palm
faces toward your body, the other faces outward).

3. Keeping your back flat, rise to an upright position with

your legs performing most of the lifting. Pause, then lower
the weight.

– The arms should remain close to the body.

– May also be done with straight legs, a standard grip,
though mixed grip most popular and allows more weight to
be used.

One Legged Dead Lift

1. Rest the weight on the floor in front of you, with your feet
close together.

2. Lower your body on one leg and lower your body; grasp
the weight with both hands.

3. Straighten and rise up, performing a dead lift while

standing on one leg.

– May be performed with either two dumbbells or a barbell.

– Develops strength and balance.

Straddle Exercise in
Lowered Position

1. Rest the barbell on the floor and straddle it, the bar
remaining perpendicular to your body. One bell should be
in front of you, the other behind.

2. Lower your body and grasp the bar with one hand in front
of your body and the other behind.

3. Rise to an upright position, pause, then lower to squatting

once again and rest the weight on the ground.

– Keep your back flat throughout, lifting mainly with your

leg strength.
– You may perform standing on elevated blocks to increase
the stretch.

Leg Exercise Stepping Up

1. Place an elevated block (about a foot high) in front of you.

2. Using either the Military Press or Back Roll, raise and rest
the barbell behind your head onto your neck and shoulders.

3. Step up and down on the elevated blocks, holding the weight

behind your head.

Back Roll and Jerk

1. Stand close in front of the barbell.

2. Bend your knee and bend your upper body forward over
your knees. From this position reach behind you and grab
the barbell.

3. Pull the barbell up and hold it on the small of your back.

4. Straighten up; as you stand, pull and roll the bar up your
back onto your shoulders, holding it there with your arms
wrapped around the bar.

5. Move your hands underneath the bar and jerk the barbell

Rectangular Fix

1. Stand straight, heels close together. Hold the barbell near

your thighs, your palms facing down.

2. Keeping your elbows pressed hard against your sides,

bring the weight halfway to your shoulders, holding the
weight straight in front of you.

3. Hold the bar rigid for a second or two, straining your

forearms, then lower the bar back to your thighs.

Special Grip Exercise

1. Hold the bell up to your chin, your elbows out, your wrists
and forearms facing down in a horizontal line with your
shoulders, your palms facing down.

2. Quickly lower your elbows to your sides, shifting your

wrists under the bar and face your palms upward, forearms

3. Raise your elbows, wrists and forearms back to the

starting position.

The Bent Press

1. Hold the barbell on your right shoulder with your right

hand, perpendicular to your body, with your feet shoulder–
width apart, and your left hand thrown out for balance.
2. Turn your left side forward and bend your knees, lowering
your body. As you do so, straighten your right hand upward
and twist the barbell horizontal with your body.
3.When your right arm is fully extended and the bar sits
horizontally with your body, slowly stand up until you are
fully erect with the bar held straight overhead.
– Always concentrate on the movement and watch the weight
the whole time.
As always, focus on maintaining proper form. When
beginning, use a weight
in an area where you can toss the weight away if you lose
control of it.
– There are many ways to get to the 1. Position. Most
commonly, the Physical Culturists would stand the barbell
vertically, grab it with two hands then lower their bodies
and angle the bar down onto their shoulder, then stand and
release the opposite hand.
– Not about pushing

Dumbbell Juggling

1. Bend over and allow arms to droop.

2. Grasp a dumbbell and toss it from hand to hand.

Single Handed Dumbbell

1. Begin positioned as in the One Handed Snatch

2. Bend forward with the dumbbell placed between your feet.

3. Keeping your arm straight, pull the weight up, pressing

against your opposite leg with your opposite hand.

4. Watching the dumbbell as it rises, lean backwards, dip

beneath the weight and straighten your arm.

– as the name suggests, you are swinging the weight overhead,

rather than moving it in a straight press.

Two Dumbbells
Simultaneous Overhead Lift

1. Place two dumbbells parallel between your feet.

2. Stoop down and raise them up to sit on your thighs, the

bells touching.

3. Lean back and jerk the weight to your chest, then your

4. Stand up firm and straight when the weight reaches your


5. Lift the weights overhead, bring your feet in and dip

beneath the dumbbells held overhead.

One Hand Military Press

1. Stand with your legs straight, your heels together and

your body erect.

2. Hold a dumbbell firmly in hand, lifted to your chin.

3. Slowly press the weight overhead, standing straight

and erect, being careful to NOT lean to the side in

Holding at Arm’s Length

1. Hold the weight straight out in front of your chest with

one arm.

2. Swing the weight backwards so you hold your arm straight

out to the side.

– avoid leaning back and maintain proper posture throughout.

Anterior Shoulder Raise

1. Start with a dumbbell in each hand, resting against front

of thighs.

2. Raise bells alternately to eye level, straight out front,

elbows straight, in a rhythmical pattern.

Overhead Dumbbell Swing

1. Raise dumbbells overhead, arm’s length, straight up, bells


2. With your legs straight, lean your torso forward, swinging

your arms out until they are fully extended to their respective
sides, in crucifix position.

– may also be performed starting from the bent position

Standing Chest Fly

1. Hold dumbbells in crucifix position.

2. Swing the dumbbells forward, touching in front, then

return to crucifix position.

Slow Punching with

1. Stand erect with dumbbells in each hand.

2. Step forward with your right foot and slowly extend your
right hand forward, punching with the weight.

3. Step back and pull the weight to your side.

4. Repeat with your left side.

Dumbbell Curls

1. Stand with your arms hanging relaxed down to your sides,

a dumbbell in each, palms facing away from your body.

2. Alternately curl the dumbbells.

Dumbbell Circles

1. Stand with a dumbbell in each hand, held straight forward.

2. Trace a circle with each dumbbell simultaneously, in opposite


Chest and Back Extender

1. Hold the bands in front of your body.

2. Expand the bands horizontally across your body. Bring

your arms as far back as possible, touching the bands to
your chest to ensure a full extension and working of your
muscles. Expand until you grind your shoulder blades
together to ensure the full movement.

– may also be performed vertically in an up and down motion

as well

One Arm Expander

1. Hold the bands out in front of your body with both hands,
your elbows pointed out to the sides and your arms parallel
to the ground.

2. Holding solid with your left arm, pull out to the side with
your right arm.

3. Return to starting and repeat, pulling with your left arm

this time.


1. Hold band behind your head with both hands. Your arms
are forming right angles, with your upper arms parallel to
the floor and your forearms vertical.

2. Stretch your arms to the crucifix position, pulling the

bands tight and resting them against your neck.

Squat Extension

1. Hold the bands straight overhead.

2. Simultaneously pull the bands outward to the sides

while squatting into a deep knee bend, fully extending and
squatting at the same point.

String Pull

1. Attach a very strong rope, twine, string or cable to the

handle of the kettle bell.

2. Grasp the string and, with your arm fully extended in

front of your chest, pull the string up and attempt to lift the
kettle bell.

– A very difficult exercise. Make sure you keep your arm

locked throughout and your body rigid.

Kettlebell Extension

1. Stand with a kettle bell resting on your right shoulder,

grasped with your left hand; the weight rests between your
shoulder and neck.

2. Straighten your arm, lifting the weight overhead.

Kettlebell Press

1. Grasp the kettlebell off the ground with both hands.

2. Lift the weight up so it rests on your upper chest, similar

to a bowler’s position before throwing their ball.

3. Thrust the kettlebell to arm’s length, in a diagonal

movement up and forward.

Training Without Apparatus
Just as many practitioners advocated training without
apparatus as those who swore by it. Due to their audience
and their emphasis on home–based training, it comes as
no surprise that many concocted methods to develop the
entire body using only bodyweight exercises. The choice
of whether to train with or without apparatus exercises is
largely a personal one, and to a great extent depends upon
the individual’s goals, resources and predilections.
This chapter is divided into two sections. The first deals
with traditional bodyweight exercises, such as squats and
push ups. These are naturally more inclined towards isolating
specific muscle groups than the lifting segments. They still
emphasize the importance of a full body competence, and
were intended to be performed with others to develop a
full body workout. Much of this segment was found in Tony
Sansone’s excellent book Progressive Home Training.
The second section of the chapter is devoted to the
unique practice of Muscle Control. Muscle Control was
advocated in varying degrees by many Physical Culturists,
though a few –– such as Otto Arco and Maxick and Saldo ––
primarily advocated muscle control exercises. However, this
advocacy was not to the exclusion of other bodyweight and
weight training, as Muscle Control is largely a supplemental
series of exercises that train the mind–muscle connection
and allow an efficient and proper use of the body’s energy
during training and daily life.
The core of Muscle Control revolves around the ability
to fully contract and relax a muscle at will, to the exclusion
of all other muscles. During a lift this helps the muscles
keep from fighting each other, such as the bicep and tricep
contracting simultaneously, and allows greater poundage

with more ease to be lifted. In and of themselves, the
exercises bring blood to the muscles and relax them,
similar to proper massage work. These exercises should be
of note to all Physical Culturists, as they aid all movements.
Bodybuilders, in specific, may find the increased ability to
isolate and coordinate their muscles uniquely helpful for
their posing routines.

The Intestinal Reveille

1. Stand with your knees 12 inches apart. Arch and lower

your back to loosen up the muscles. Then twist your hips
from side to side until the waistline loosens.

2. To perform the Reveille, perform both at once. Arch your

back as you twist to the right, then lower the back as you
twist to the left.

– make the circle as large as possible when rotating the

waist. Keep your feet planted during the movement.
– trunk twisting movements are extremely helpful to good health.
They give the intestines and internal organs a proper massage,
aid digestion, fight constipation and give flexibility to the lower
back while stimulating the spine and nervous system.

Cat Stretch

1. Lie face down on the floor with your legs straight and
your arms stretched overhead.

2. Pushing with your arms and legs, raise your hips and
lower back upwards and backwards, keeping your hands
engaged with the ground but placing your weight on your
feet and legs.

3. Push forward with your legs, lowering your hips to the

ground and placing your weight onto your arms, in a push
up position.

– A good, general exercise for energizing the body and

massaging the internal organs and spine.

Internal Squeeze

1. Stand with your feet apart, your heels 16 to 20 inches

apart. Hold your arms stretched straight to the sides at
shoulder level, fists clenched.

2. Twist your trunk fully to the left. Bend your trunk sideways,
bending your right knee as needed, until your fist touches
the floor between your feet.

3. Raise up and reverse the movement, twisting to your right

and bending your left side vigorously.

– focus on twisting with the waistline, and the arms merely

come along for the ride. This develops the rotating muscles,
the oblique, the small of the back and the internal organs.

Trunk Circling

1. Stand with your feet apart 16–20 inches. Stretch your

arms overhead, your hands clasped.

2. Bend your trunk forward, then to your right, then

backwards, then to your left.

– move in a smooth motion, creating a round circling

– this exercise powerfully develops the muscles of the waist
and sides, provided you allow your waist to perform most
of the motions.

Sit Up

1. Lie on your back, hands clasped behind your head, optionally

securing your feet under a heavy piece of furniture or other
weight which plants the feet and legs, your knees raised.

2. Curl up and raise your torso to a full sitting position.

– breathe regularly, exhale before sitting, inhale before lowering.

– hold your abs in tightly to properly engage them and work
the internal muscles and organs

Side Sit Up

1. Lie down on your side.

2. Alternately raise and lower your torso sideways, as high

as possible, vigorously focusing and squeezing the waist and
side muscles.

Reverse Sit Up

1. Lie down on a bench, your front half hanging off the

edge, your hands on the back of your head, your elbows
out. Some benches have supports for your legs to perform
this movement. Otherwise, maintain your hold by wrapping
your legs under the bench and pressing your feet upwards,
locking them into place. Also, it is possible to order straps
to tighten and secure your legs to the top of the bench.

2. Raise and lower your trunk, focusing the strain and

contraction upon your lower back.

Leg Raising

1. Lie on the ground on your back, with your legs straight

and your arms clasped behind your head and your elbows
out near the floor.

2. Keeping your legs straight and your knees locked, raise

your legs as high as you can while keeping your hips and
lower back engaged with the floor.

– you may also perform this movement raising each leg

individually and alternately. The internal, deep seated
muscles in the groin work best when you perform this
movement individually.

Single Leg Side Raise

1. Lie sideways on the floor, alternately raising and lowering

your upper leg.

Balancing Sit Up

1. Lie on the floor as you did for the Sit Up. This time, do
not place your feet under a heavy object.

2. As you rise to a sitting position, bring your arms forward

and your knees to your chest.

3. Balancing on your hips and buttocks, straighten your legs

vigorously forward, elevated a few inches from the floor.
4. Bend and return your legs back to your chest, then
straighten out and lower your whole body back to the floor

– similar to the sit up in breathing; breathe out as your

trunk and thighs touch, and breathe in as you lower yourself
back to the floor.

The L

1. Place your hands palms down on the floor, your fingers

and legs pointing forward.

2. Push with your arms and raise your body off the floor,
balancing on your hands.

3. Keep your legs extended straight forward. From this

position you can either raise and lower your body repeatedly,
or test and practice holding this position for extended
periods of time.

Side Bend

1. Stand straight up, your arms either hanging limp or raised


2. Bend your trunk to your left, contracting greatly on the

side’s muscles.

3. Smoothly, rhythmically alternate the movement from side

to side.

Loin Strengthener

1. Stand with your feet apart, your legs straight, your back
straight, your hands clasped behind your head.

2. Bend forward, about 1/3rd of the way to horizontal with

the floor.

3. Bring your hips down and forward, arching and stretching

your lower back.

4. Return your hips to the normal position, contracting your

lower back.

– be sure the movement is in the lower back and not the thighs.

The Wrestlers’ Bridge

1. Perform a bridge, supporting with your hands at first as

you build strength.

2. When strong enough, fold your arms over your chest and
rest on your head, supporting your bodyweight with your
neck. Rest your head on a solid cushion if needed.

3. Roll forward until your head and lower shoulders touch

the floor, then return to the bridge.

– maintain the arch, do not lower your hips. Keep the effort
on your neck muscles, resting the weight eventually on your

Front Neck Bridge

1. Lie face down on the floor, your forehead on a cushion or

a mat. Raise your body by pushing your forehead against the
mat, using arm strength as little as necessary.

2. Keeping your hands on the floor to regulate the strain

upon your neck, sway back and forth, rolling onto your

– for variety, try moving on the forehead from side to side.

Leg Loosener

1. Stand erect, balance with a hand against a wall or chair.
2. Keeping your legs straight, kick them as high as possible,
swinging your
leg from your hip.
1. Stand erect, your left hand on a wall or chair.
2. Lift your right knee, grasping your right inner foot and
straightening your
right leg.
3. Keep your left leg straight, holding your outstretched leg
as straight and
balanced as possible.
1. Stand erect, with your feet slightly apart, and bend
forward at your hips.
2. Keep your legs and spine straight, raise your body.
3. Each time bend and lower in the hips without bending
your body.

Calf Stretch

1. Face a wall, standing about 3–4 feet from it. Keep your
arms at shoulder height, straighten them out and push
against the wall.

2. Stretch out your legs, together or one at a time, placing

your weight on the balls of your feet.

3. Maintain a good stretch, attempt to stretch your heels

down to the floor, feeling it in your calves.

Ankle Stretch

1. Sit down with your right leg crossed over your left knee,
allowing your right foot freedom of movement.

2. Circle your right foot outward in wide movements. Alternate

feet, then circle inward with each in turn. Alternate again,
and simply move your foot up and down as if on a hinge.

Knee Bend and Squat

1. Lower your body by bending your knees and raising your

heels until you nearly sit on them.

2. As you bend down, swing your arms to shoulder level for

balance, raising and lowering your arms as you raise and
lower your body.

–keep your trunk erect and straight. Pushing the trunk

backwards slightly places more emphasis onto your knees
and thighs.
–the knee bend is performed with your heels off the ground
as you bend down, the squat is performed with your heels
remaining on the ground as you bend down.
–by alternating between knee bends and squats you can affect
your entire leg with this simple exercise. To further develop
your leg, alternate your foot position as well. Bending down
with your heels touching, your feet apart, your feet pointed
outwards or your feet pointed inwards each provides a
different feel and emphasis to the movement.

Advanced Knee Bend

1. Fasten a sturdy rope, chord or piece of cloth to a rafter,

beam or ceiling. Grasp and hold it to maintain balance.
Alternately, hold onto a support beam or wall for balance.

2. Inclining far back, begin to bend your knees down, pushing

your hips forward and leveraging your knees as much as

3. At the end, your buttocks should rest on your heels and

your knees should lightly touch the floor.

–once again, varying the angle of your feet and knees will
allow you to work different aspects of your legs.

One Legged Knee Bend
and Squat

1. If necessary as you build strength and balance, use a hanging

rope, support beam or wall to assist in the movement.

2. Simply perform the knee bend or squat on one knee, your

other knee either raised to your chest, raised behind you, or
extended straight forward.

Leg Curl

1. Lie on the floor, with one foot raised onto a bench or

chair, heel pressing down.

2. Press down hard with your raised foot, engaging your

hamstrings, and lift your hips and body up to a full extension.
Lower slowly, keeping your hamstrings engaged and working
the entire time.

Toe Raise

1. Stand straight, the balls of your feet resting on an elevated

surface, your heels hanging downward.

2. Raise up as high as you can on the balls of your feet at

first, then your toes as you build strength and balance.

– May be performed with one foot at a time for greater

– May use a beam, rafter, handing rope, support, wall, etc.
to help assist with balance.

Ankle Resistance

1. Sit down with your feet firmly on the floor. Place the heel
of your left foot on top of your right foot.

2. Attempt to raise the front of your right foot while resisting

with your left foot.

Loosening the Shoulders

1. Stand erect with a stick or broom held out straight in

front of you.

2. Begin with the stick or broom resting on your thighs.

Bring it up from your thighs to over your head, then down
your back until it touches the back of your thighs.

3. Reverse the motion, maintaining your arms as straight as


Floor Dip or Push Up

1. Lie on the ground, face downward.

2. Rise up on your hands and toes, your hands in line with

your chest.

3. Keeping your body rigid and straight, raise and lower

your body by straightening your arms, pushing your body
up, then lower to the ground.

– Much like squats, floor dips may provide additional variety

and challenge by carrying the placement and angle of your
hands and arms.

Dipping Between Chairs

1. Position two chairs facing each other about two feet apart.
Place a hand, palm down, on each chair and straighten your
body out behind you, resting on your toes, at a diagonal.

2. Dip up and down between the chairs. The closer the

chairs, the more your shoulders and triceps will be worked.
The further apart the chairs, the more your chest will be

Hand Stand Push Up

1. To prepare for this movement you must be comfortable

holding yourself upside down. Begin by doing headstands
with your head on a cushion, your knees on your elbows,
your hands shoulder width apart with a good grip on
the floor. Roll forward if you lose your balance.
2. When accustomed to being upside down, get into the
position, then slowly lift your legs into a fully extended
position. Once balanced, raise and lower your legs to your
knees several times.
3. When comfortable, perform this movement away from
the wall. Practice often and build strength, balance and
comfort for this advanced exercise.
4. When comfortable and sure, perform against a wall and
extend your arms until they’re straight. Raise and lower a
few times. The motion is complete when you can touch your
nose to the floor on the lowered position.
5. For maximum effort, perform with your hands between
two sturdy stools or chairs, or otherwise elevated base
allowing for a greater dip.

Pull Up

1. Hang from a bar, a rafter, or any other sturdy and high object.

2. Pull your body up until your chest touches the bar.

– Like other bodyweight exercises, varying hand position adds

variety and overall development to this movement.

Neck Exercises

1. You can effectively work your neck using your arms and
hands to cause resistance.

2. Stand erect, grasp the back of your head with your fingers

3. Lower your chin touching your chest, then raise your

head, resisting with your arms and hands.

4. Place your palms against your forehead, pressing with

force. Push your forehead against your palms and attempt
to move your head downward and forward.

5. Place your hand against the right side of your head, lower
your head to your left shoulder. Raise your head back to
vertical resisting with your hands. Reverse and repeat with
the opposite muscles.


1. Stand straight. Think about each body part in turn. Start at the
head and work downwards, allowing each muscle to droop as you
focus on it.

2. When moving to the next muscle, maintain relaxation in

all previous muscles. The goal is to have each muscle relaxed

3. When finished, you should feel wobbly, uncertain in your legs.


1. Begin from a relaxed state. Begin working from your feet

upwards, contracting each muscle in turn.

2. Don’t let any muscle relax as you move on to the next.

Isolation of the
Latissimus Dorsi

1. Rest your hands lightly on the front of your hips.

2. Concentrate on your lats and broaden them, spreading

outward without rounding your back. Your back stays flat
throughout the movement.

3. When your back expands fully, drop your shoulders.

– placing pressure on your hips with your hands helps when


Isolation of the
Trapezius Muscle

1. Place your hands in front of your body, upper arms vertical

and forearms parallel with the floor, hands clasped.

2. Raise the traps up and forward. At first you may need to

press your hands together, or against your hips to learn the
feel of the isolation.

3. Isolate one at a time when learning, then move to isolating

both at once.

Controlled Isolation of
the Trapezius Muscle

1. Isolate both traps at once and hold the contraction.

2. Raise your arms out into a crucifix position and bring your
shoulder blades together, while holding the contraction.

– this furthers and deepens the isolation and contraction.

Isolation of the
Pectoralis Major

1. Clasp your hands together in front of your body and,

using your pecs, push your hands together with your press.

2. Some arm contraction is necessary when first learning

the movement. Over time, use less and less pressure with
your arms until you can rely solely on pulling in with your
pecs, without needing your hands clasped and pressed.

3. When you can isolate without clasping your hands, isolate

your pecs then raise your arms straight forward, parallel to
the ground while maintaining contraction.

Complete Relaxation of
the Abdominal Wall

1. While standing, relax your abdominals until the wall feels

fully soft all over.

– it may be necessary to shift your body weight to insure no

pressure or support occurs within the abs.
– the necessary first step for learning all other abdominal

Depression of the
Abdominal Wall

1. Take a deep breath. Thrust your chest forward but not

upward. Relax your abdominals, and deflate your lungs while
maintaining a full chest. If relaxed, the abdominals will push
themselves back when your lungs lie empty and your chest
thrusts forward.

– while it may be necessary when first learning, when

advanced you are not sucking in your gut. The vacuum should
occur solely through atmospheric pressure and not through
any conscious pulling of the muscles.

Isolation of the
Latissimus Dorsi with
Arms Extended

1. Hold your arms horizontally in line with your shoulders.

Narrow your back, drawing your shoulder blades together.

– the body will want to contract the traps as well. Keep

them relaxed, and contract only your lats.

Shoulder Control

1. Clasp your hands in front, your upper arms vertical and placed
against your sides, your forearms parallel with the floor.

2. Relax your body, then push and pull your clasped hands
using only your shoulders.

– your body will want to use your pecs, but focus on your
shoulders only.

True Shoulder Control

1. Lean forward, hanging your arm down. Rotate your arm

in a circle the same as before, using only your shoulder.

Isolation of the Serratus
Magnus Muscle

1. Interlace your fingers and clasp the back of your head.

With your forearms pressed against your head, bend your
neck back, looking up, your elbows pointed upwards.

2. You should be able to get a good feel for your serratus

from this position. Achieve control by placing stress on your
head or neck, either by moving your forehead forward or
backwards and resisting with your neck.

– as with any neck exercise, be careful with the pressure you use.
– more than other muscle groups, the serratus feels like it pops
forward when isolated.

Isolation of the
Intercoastal Muscles

1. The muscles between your ribs. Isolated with a simple

movement tricky to describe.

2. Lean to your left, then raise your hip up without raising

your left leg or foot off the ground. This will give you a feel
for the muscles.

3. Keeping your hip raised and stationary and maintaining

the contraction, slightly twist your upper body away to your
right to deepen the contraction.

Loosening of Deltoid,
Latissimus Dorsi and
Trapezius Muscles

1. Clasp your hands, interlacing your fingers. Stretch your

arms upwards and pull outwards and sideways vigorously.
You are stretching your straightened arms upwards while
pulling your shoulder blades apart.

2. Bring your hands down to your head, pulling outwards

and retaining your shoulder blades’ expansion. Alternate
between these two positions.

Control of the Extensor
Muscles of the Arms

1. One at a time, focus on your triceps and contract them,

your hands held loosely open. Keep your arms straight,
especially at the elbow.

2. Keeping your triceps flexed hard, pull your arm as far

back as possible, then forward, to the front, upward, and
then over your head.

–do not engage your shoulders, especially when moving your

arm forward and upward. Keep pushing with your triceps
and keep your arm locked.

Control of the Flexor
Muscles of the Arm

1. Bend your body forward, your torso almost parallel to

the floor. Allow your arms to hang limp and loose in front
of you.

2. Flex your bicep, as if doing an empty handed bicep curl.

– you may either clench of relax your hand, with your palm
turned either toward or away from you. Each variation will
hit a different aspect of the flexor muscles.

Control of the Extensor
Muscles of the Thigh

1. Keeping your legs and knees straight, push your legs away
from each other to the sides. Strain to separate your legs
while standing.
– the stiffer you can hold your knees and legs, the better the
desired effect.

2. Stand and try to press your quads backwards without

raising your knees. There is a difference you can feel between
simply pushing them back and raising your knees to attain
the contraction.

Control of the Calves

1. Standing relaxed, extend your toes as far forward as

possible, pushing forward without moving your feet, which
remain locked to the ground.

Control of the Thigh

1. Draw your heel toward your ass, concentrating upon your

hamstrings. Standing on one leg, carry your upper leg as far
back as possible.

– your body will want to contract your thigh. Keep your

quad relaxed and focus solely upon your hamstring’s

The Religion of Physical Culture
“In imitating the exemplary acts of a god or of a mythic
hero, or simply by recounting their adventures, the man of
an archaic society detaches himself from profane time and
magically re-enters the Great Time, the sacred time.”
– Mircea Eliade – The Myth of the Eternal Return

Recently, I listened to an episode of the radio show

Superhuman Radio, hosted by Carl Lanore and featuring
the guest Randy Roach. Roach is both a trainer and the
most accomplished Physical Culture historian of our time.
The topic of the show was the idea of Physical Culture as
a religion. In Lanore’s view, the day in–day out habits,
attitudes and lifestyles of the serious physical culturist
can only be described as religious, and he defines Roach’s
historical opus, Muscle Smoke and Mirrors as the bible of
the new religion of physical culture.
He defends this position by defining religion as a method
of going back and understanding where you come from,
and in this sense the most complete historical account of
Physical Culture would constitute a bible.
This exchange interested me for a number of reasons.
Obviously, I have some interest in Physical Culture both as
a historical phenomenon and as a practicing lifestyle. Yet
I am also a historian of religion and found his arguments
interesting, though I would like to expand on them.
If physical culture is a religion then it is a fairly new
religion, just as it is a fairly new historical phenomenon. We
begin our discussion by returning to the earlier discussion
in Chapter 1 regarding the birth of Physical Culture. It is

perhaps most important to note that we are speaking of
this modern phenomenon in a specific time, but also in a
specific place – Europe and America –– in the so called
“Western World.”


“We hear and read many descriptions in the Ramayan
and Mahabarat about mace–fighting. Hanuman, Bhuma,
Duryodhan, Balaram, and others were the champions of
mace fighting in the age of the Puranas. Mace fighting as
such is not now in existence. Mace exercises, however, are
current in Northern India.”
– The Encyclopedia of Indian Physical Culture

One of the most striking things when you look through

early physical culture manuals is the scattered references to
India, and the general understanding of Indian techniques
and practices. Among the early forms of apparatus were
“Indian Clubs”, which referred to the subcontinent and not
the native nations of the Americas. These were clubs found
originally in India and brought to Europe, where they are
used for physical training, especially for wrestling.
Some key early physical culturists, most notably George
Hackenschmidt, were wrestlers by occupation, and along
with boxing and gymnastics, it was one of the main sports
associated and discussed within early physical culture.
Obviously, there are references to Greco–Roman wrestling
associated with their classical allusions, but more indirectly
they are drawn from the millennia–old contiguous wrestling
culture in India.
In fact, looking over certain exercises, you will be struck
by their similarities to yoga exercises. Various leg loosening
positions are yoga asanas; Tony Sansone’s “cat stretch” is
part of the foundational sun salutations of yoga practices.
Once again we find a reference to India.

Certain physical culturists, such as Prof. K. V. Iyer, were
in fact from India, and their books are rife with images of
their pupils, hinting at a perhaps ignored fact that India had
a thriving modern physical culture mirroring (or mirrored
by) European practices.


“To ask for your credentials is like asking the sun to
state its right to shine in the heavens.”
– Harvard Prof. John Henry Wright to Swami Vivekananda

The link between India and Europe is obvious: through

the long years during which India was ruled by the British
Empire. Colonization always brings a great two–way
diffusion, and this was no different. More importantly, in
the 19th century, Indian thinking and spiritual practices
were much in vogue: in America, the transcendentalists
were openly worshipful of what they called Hindu and
Buddhist thinking. They read the sacred texts, they read
the Gita, and they incorporated this thinking into their
daily lives, while also acknowledging its unique character.
At the Chicago World’s Fair, the same location where
Bernarr Macfadden firsthand saw Eugene Sandow painted
as a statue, one of the biggest and most popular acts was
the speech by swami Vivekenanda, heralded as the greatest
religious thinker in the world.
There is more than just a circumstantial connection
between Indian thinking and Europe in the 19th century:
there is a long, diverse and well documented pedigree of
reverence and interest and involvement in Indian culture
and lifeways –– what we often think of as Indian religion,
or Hinduism.
Combined with this, we must consider the long love–hate
relationship of the European nations with their colonies,
especially with the natives. There is a great deal of reverence

not only for their thinking, but for native bodies. Over a
span of hundreds of years, we find writings discussing the
power, the grace, and the beauty and health of the native
peoples, especially compared to the sickly European and
American peoples. Like the intellectual pedigree, there is
an enduring understanding of the powerful native body.
This fixation on the ‘native’ displays itself in one aspect
of Physical Culturists’ imagery. They displayed themselves
as classical statues, as gentlemen, and in leopard print
“native” wear, a practice that continues to this day.
It is in India, though, that we find the most direct links.
While there was a love–hate relationship with the native
peoples of other colonies, who were generally regarded as
nomadic and childlike, simple, etc., in India the picture
was totally different. There we find an understanding and
a consideration, on the colonizer’s part, of the civilization
as a settled and cultivated culture and religion. It is this
understanding that we will explore.


“Know the self to be sitting in the chariot, the body to
be the chariot, the intellect the charioteer, and the mind
the reins.”
– Upanishads

India had a revered lifeway and religion that incorporated

the body –– and cultivation of the body –– into its
practices. This is not found in Europe; more specifically,
not in Christianity, where the body is ignored at best and
denied at worst. Christian understandings of the body,
its processes needs and desires are generally negative,
seeing the true goal as out there. The Christian God and
heaven are outward, separate, other, not of this world and
certainly not of our earthly bodies. Because this world is
considered sinful and a punishment and not heaven, our

body is considered our connection to this world, and in
many ways our cage within the prison of this world. The
body and its impulses are an obstruction to the ultimate
spiritual goal.
In India we easily find the opposite. There are certainly
Indian concepts that place the world as illusionary and
to be transcended, but we also find a real wealth that
understands the body as a spiritual vehicle itself, and
heaven and the gods are here. In fact, because you can
become a god in Indian thought, your body can be a god’s
body. The body is not totally denied in the Indian lifeway;
it is as valid a pathway to ultimate meaning as any other
I believe this is the reason that India developed a full
Physical Culture some millennia prior to the development of
European conceptions and understandings. While Europe
certainly required a ready and willing audience ripe for
mass movements, it also needed the new understandings
outside of Christianity regarding ultimate meaning in
order to crack open the prejudices against the body and
its cultivation.

“As the different streams having their sources in
different places all mingle their water in the sea, so,
O Lord, the different paths which men take, through
different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked
or straight, all lead to Thee!”
– Bhagavad Gita

This is a struggle that has made much ground, though is

still being fought today. Body cultivation and health is still
often considered nutty and narcissistic. Nevertheless, we
have made great strides. Those Physical Culturists who
spoke of religion believed that you should incorporate your

religious understandings into your exercise, and make it a
religious experience. Many continued the transcendentalist
task of the mind over matter conviction, that the spirit
moves the body. And while they defined the locomotive
circulating energy as nerve force, the ideology can be
considered a universal vital energy akin to the Indian idea
of Brahman.
It is in this attitude and understanding that we should
move with our Physical Culture. Physical Culture is a
religious act. It is not our conceptions of Physical Culture
that stand in the way, it is our conceptions of religion.
Religion means to come back. It derives from the root
words “re” “ligio”, or “to link back.”
It is through science, the powerful methodology revered
by Physical Culturists, that we have arrived at our present
confusion –– with science’s understanding of a divide
between the rational and the spiritual, a definition of a
false schism.
Re ligio, to link back. Our lives are religious even if we
don’t recognize it. Our lifeways and guiding ideology all
define an ideal, a past time, a better whole state of order.
Re ligio defines this for us, and offers us a pathway back
to that perfect state. For Sandow, this perfect state was
found in the Greco–Roman art he modeled and measured
his body against. To the Physical Culturists who followed, it
was a combination of Sandow himself and the body’s natural
functioning state, wherein it takes care of its own health
and runs itself properly. For all of them, their physical
culture defined their perfection and allowed a pathway to
that goal. If that isn’t religion, I don’t know what is.
And it is with this that I conclude this manual. This
manual is another humble offering in the religion of Physical
Culture. You can see now where we’ve been, a place of
relevancy for a modern healthy life, of living simply and
moderately and taking care of our bodies, our minds, our
spirits, cultivating ourselves. This book offers hints of

where we’ve been, where we care to be. It also offers hints
toward how to arrive there, the path back to Eden.
Hints only. Bad religion offers absolutes, universals.
The very best religion, like the very best physical culture,
understands that the individual forges and compiles his
own pathway, defines her own Eden and her own path
back to the garden. The best religion merely offers hints to
the path, bread crumbs. And with that in mind I conclude
this manual, and hope that when you finish, you do not
close the matter but rather begin the discussion.

Craig Philip Staufenberg

19th Century Europe and America, 5–10

A Manual of Physical Training, 49

abdominal exercises
Abdominal Vacuum, 45
Complete Relaxation of the Abdominal Wall, 127
Depression of the Abdominal Wall, 128
abdominal muscles, 25
massage of, 40–41
Abdominal Vacuum, 45
Advanced Knee Bend, 110
allopathic doctors, 19
alternative medicine, 19–20
benefits of knowledge, 18, 25
muscles of the body, 25–28
Ankle Resistance, 114
Ankle Stretch, 108
Anterior Shoulder Raise, 75
debates over use of, 2
early models of, 55
exercise without, 89
see also barbell; dumbbell; kettlebell; resistance band
Arco, Otto, 89
Athaldo, Don, 1, 19, 20

exercises for, 93, 97, 103
muscles of, 26
Back Roll and Jerk, 66
Balancing Sit Up, 100
barbell exercises, 55
Back Roll and Jerk, 66
The Bent Press, 69
Double-Handed Lift While Lying on Back, 60
Leg Exercise Stepping Up, 65
One Hand Clean and Pull In, 61
One Handed Snatch, 57
One Legged Dead Lift Exercise, 63
Rectangular Fix, 67
Special Grip Exercise, 68

Straddle Exercise in Lowered Position, 64
Two Handed Snatch, 58
Two Hands Dead Lift, 62
Two Hands Military Lift, 59
barbells, 55
bathing, 32–33
beauty in Physical Culture, 11, 20–21
beer-hall strongmen, 11, 22
Bhagavad Gita, 145
“bible” of Physical Culture, 141
biceps, 27
Blaikie, William, 15
body. see anatomy
body, reverence for in Physical Culture, 19–20
drug use, 21
Muscle Control to aid posing, 90
shift toward isolated muscle development, 56
bodyweight exercise, 89
boredom, avoidance of, 38–39
Brahman, 146
breathing, proper technique for, 36–38
Buddhist spirituality, 143

calf muscles, 28
Calf Stretch, 138
Control of the Calves, 138
massage of, 41
Calf Stretch, 107
Carter, Charles Frederick, 7
Cat Stretch, 92, 142
cell vitality, 22
“cheating” methods of training, 36
Chest and Back Extender, 81
chest muscles, 24
Chicago World’s Fair, 12, 143
Christianity, denial of the physical body in, 144–145
in the body, 15–16
in industrial capitalism, 17
promotion through appropriate clothing, 34–35
promotion through bathing, 33
class awareness, 11–12
classical allusions, 144
clothing, 34–35

cold baths, 32–33
colonialism, 143–144
respect for Indian civilization, 144
reverence for native bodies, 144
Complete Relaxation of the Abdominal Wall, 127
as a cause of illness, 43–44
exercises to combat, 91
natural remedies for, 44
as a result of overeating, 46
Continental Style, the, 58
contraction, 122
Control of the Calves, 138
Control of the Extensor Muscles of the Arms, 135
Control of the Extensor Muscles of the Thigh, 137
Control of the Flexor Muscles of the Arm, 136
Control of the Thigh Biceps, 139
Controlled Isolation of the Trapezius Muscle, 125
Crucifix, 83
Custer’s Last Stand, 10
Cyr, Louis, 11

dandruff, remedy for, 34

deltoid muscles, 27
Loosening of Deltoid, Latissimus Dorsi and Trapezius Muscles, 134
massage of, 40
Depression of the Abdominal Wall, 128
detective novels, 16–17
avoidance of overeating, 18, 45–46
avoidance of processed foods, 2, 49
fasting, 19, 46
in pre-industrial lifestyles, 7
raw food diets, 49
raw milk diets, 2, 19
regulation by the body, 46
timing of meals, 47
vegetarianism, 2, 49–50
wholesome food, 50, 51
digestion, 45
exercises to aid, 44, 91
importance of, 43
proper mechanics of, 46–47, 48
water, 47
see also diet

Dipping Between Chairs, 117
doctors, allopathic, 19
Double-Handed Lift While Lying on Back, 60
drug use, 1
Dumbbell Circles, 80
Dumbbell Curls, 79
dumbbell exercises, 55
Anterior Shoulder Raise, 75
Dumbbell Circles, 80
Dumbbell Curls, 79
Dumbbell Juggling, 70
Holding at Arms Length, 74
One Hand Military Press, 73
Overhead Dumbbell Swing, 76
Single Handed Dumbbell Swing, 71
Slow Punching with Weights, 78
Standing Chest Fly, 77
Two Dumbbells Simultaneous Overhead Lift, 72
Dumbbell Juggling, 72
dumbbells, early models of, 55

Edison, Thomas, 11
education, importance in Physical Culture, 1
Eliade, Mircea, 141
erector spinae, 26
massage of, 41
extensor muscles
Control of the Extensor Muscles of the Arms, 135
Control of the Extensor Muscles of the Thigh, 137

fads, avoidance of, 29

fasting, 19, 46, 51
fiber, 44
flexor muscles
Control of the Flexor Muscles of the Arm, 136
Floor Dip or Push Up, 116
food. see diet
forearm muscles, 27
massage of, 40
form and function in Physical Culture, 20–21
Freud, Sigmund, 16
Front Neck Bridge, 105

gastrocnemius outer and inner, 28

gentlemen-athletes, 12–13

gluteus maximus, massage of, 451
Greco-Roman idealized form, 6, 11
Greco-Roman influences, 5

Hackenschmidt, George, 6, 17, 31, 32, 34, 36, 45, 47

on diet, 48, 47, 51
wrestling career of, 142
hamstrings, 27–28
Hand Stand Push Up, 118
health, pursuit of, 21
Health, Strength and Muscular Power, 1, 19, 20
health clubs, 13
“high culture” notions in Physical Culture, 11
Hindu spirituality, 143
historical accounts of Physical Culture, 141
Holding at Arms Length, 74
holistic medicine, 13, 19–20
How to Get Strong and How to Stay So, 15

ice baths, 34–35

imagery of Physical Culture, 143
Inch, Thomas, 36, 39, 51
self massage techniques, 39–41
Indian civilization
colonial respect for, 144
“Indian Clubs”, 142
Indian Physical Culture, 143, 145
Indian religion
influence in America, 143
influence in Europe, 143
respect for the physical body, 144, 145
individual approaches to Physical Culture, 2, 17, 23, 147
individualism, 10
industrial capitalism, circulation in, 15–16
Industrial Revolution, affect on lifestyles, 8–10
industrialization, 8–10
intercostal muscles, 26
Isolation of the Intercostal Muscles, 134
internal massage, 44–45
internal organs
exercises for, 93, 95
massage of, 44–45
Internal Squeeze, 93
Intestinal Reveille, 45, 91
isolated muscle development, 21, 56, 89

Isolation of Pectoralis Major, 126
Isolation of the Intercostal Muscles, 133
Isolation of the Latisimus Dorsi, 123
Isolation of the Latisimus Dorsi with Arms Extended, 129
Isolation of the Seratus Magnus Muscle, 132
Isolation of Trapezius Muscle, 124
Iyer, Professor K. V., 48, 50, 143

Japanese shamans, 32–33

Jowett, George, 18, 32, 49, 51

kettlebell exercises, 55
Kettlebell Extension, 86
Kettlebell Press, 87
String Pull, 85
Kettlebell Extension, 86
Kettlebell Press, 87
kinetescope films, 10, 11
Knee Bend and Squat, 109

L, The, 101
Lanore, Carl, 141
latissimus dorsi, 26
Isolation of the Latisimus Dorsi, 123
Isolation of the Latisimus Dorsi with Arms Extended, 129
Loosening of Deltoid, Latissimus Dorsi and Trapezius Muscles, 134
massage of, 40
Leg Curl, 112
Leg Exercise Stepping Up, 65
Leg Loosener, 106
Leg Raising, 98
Liederman, Earle E., 22–24, 43
Life’s Energy through Strongfortism, 44
literacy, rise of, 9
Loin Strengthener, 103
“loin’s support”. see erector spinae
Loosening of Deltoid, Latissimus Dorsi and Trapezius Muscles, 134
Loosening the Shoulders, 115
lung capacity, development of, 36–38

mace exercises, 142

mace-fighting, 142
Macfadden, Bernarr, 5, 12, 20, 33, 143
publishing empire, 13
Marey, Etienne-Jules, 17

mass spectacle, rise of, 10
of internal organs, 44–45, 91, 92
of the scalp, 34
self massage, 39–41
Maxick, 38, 89
“Medical Trust”, 19
mind-muscle connection, 18, 22
moderation, 18, 29
Muscle, Smoke and Mirrors, 141
Muscle Building and Physical Culture, 18, 32, 51
Muscle Control, 18
Muscle Control, 38
Muscle Control, 45, 89–90
Muscle Cult, 48, 50
muscle development, 3
importance of quality, 23
importance of symmetry, 23
Muscular Power and Beauty, 20
Muybridge, Edward, 17

narcissistic view of Physical Culture, 145

nationalism, 6
“native” displays, 144
native peoples, physiques of, 144
“naturals”, 1
nature, reverence for in Physical Culture, 19
exercises for, 120
massage of, 39–40
nerve force, 17–18, 25
relationship to the concept of Brahman, 146
role of bathing, 34
role of relaxation, 39
nervous energy, 21
Nordquest, Adolph, 32, 46, 51
breathing exercises, 37–38
nose breathing, 36
public, 11
for sleeping, 31
for training, 31

obliques, 25
exercises to develop, 93

One Arm Expander, 84
One Hand Clean and Pull In, 61
One Hand Military Press, 73
One Handed Snatch, 57
One Legged Dead Lift Exercise, 63
One Legged Knee Bend and Squat, 111
Overhead Dumbbell Swing, 76
overindulgence, avoidance of, 11, 18, 20, 31
over-training, avoidance of, 20, 21–22, 37, 38

Isolation of Pectoralis Major, 126
massage of, 40
pectoralis major, 26
pectoralis minor, 26
of human movement, 17
rise of, 10
Physical Culturalists, 13
of India, 143
Physical Culture, 13
Physical Culture
birth of, 5–6
the body as a mechanism, 17–18
conditions for the rise of, 6–10, 9–12
current dominance of drugs, 1
debate between devotees, 2
“high culture” notions, 11
importance of education, 1
as a lifestyle, 31
“naturals”, 1
nerve force, 17–18
opposition to the “Medical Trust”, 19
preference for whole body exercise, 56
reverence for nature, 19, 20
reverence for the body, 19–20
role of form and function, 20–21
scientific method in, 8, 17, 17–18, 19–20
Physical Culture, 1906, 5
Poe, Edgar Allan, 16
positivism, 8
pre-industrial lifestyles, 7
processed food, avoidance of, 2, 49
Progressive Home Physical Training, 32, 34, 36, 45, 89
publishing industry, rise of, 9, 10
Pull Up, 119

quadriceps, 29–30

railroads, 7–10
raw food diets, 49
raw milk diets, 2, 19
recovery from training, 31, 38–39
Rectangular Fix, 67
rectus abdominis, 25
importance of exercising, 44
relaxation, 36–37, 121
re-ligio, 146–147
religion, Physical Culture as, 141, 145–137
Renaissance, The, 6
resistance band exercises, 55
Chest and Back Extender, 81
Crucifix, 83
One Arm Expander, 82
Squat Extension, 84
Reverse Sit Up, 97
Roach, Randy, 48, 141
Robinson, David, 48
rotating muscles, exercises to develop, 93
rubdowns, 33–34

Saldo, 89
Sandow, Eugene, 5–6, 21, 22, 49, 143
class awareness of, 11–12
early career, 5
form and function, 21
Greco-Roman ideals, 5, 11, 12, 146
as a inspiration to Physical Culture, 12
invention of early weight machine, 54
as a media star, 11
philosophy of, 10
Sandow’s System, 5–6, 21
Sansone, Tony, 20–21, 32, 34, 36, 45, 87
saunas, 34, 34
schedules for training, 21–22, 35
scientific method in Physical Culture, 8, 17, 18, 19–20, 146
Secrets of Strength, 20–22, 43
self massage, 39–41
serratus magnus muscle, 26
Isolation of the Serratus Magnus Muscle, 132
massage of, 40
Sherlock Holmes, 16–17
Shivelbusch, Wolfgang, 15

Shoulder Control, 130
shoulder muscles, 27
Shoulder Control, 130
True Shoulder Control, 131
Side Bend, 102
Side Sit Up, 96
Single Leg Side Raise, 99
Sit Up, 95
sleep, 32–33
Slow Punching with Weights, 78
soleus, 28
Special Grip Exercise, 68
associated with Physical Culture, 142
professional and collegiate, 10
Squat Extension, 84
Standing Chest Fly, 77
statues, posing as, 11
Straddle Exercise in Lowered Position, 64
Strength and Health, 34, 37, 46, 51
Strength and How to Obtain It, 10
String Pull, 89
Strongfort, Lionel, 34, 36, 43, 45
Strongfortism - the Complete Course, 32, 38, 43
strongmen, 11
sun salutations, 142
sunbathing, 36
Superhuman Radio, 141
sweat baths, 34
symmetrical muscle development, 21
System for Strength, 49

technology, advances in, 7–10

teres major, 26
teres minor, 26
The Bent Press, 69
The Encyclopedia of Indian Physical Culture, 142
“The Father of Physical Culture”, 12–13
see also Macfadden, Bernarr
The Myth of the Eternal Return, 141
The Railway Journey, 15
The Way to Live, 6, 17, 31, 32, 35, 36, 45, 47
The Wrestler’s Bridge, 104
theatre, 10

Control of the Thigh Biceps, 139
massage of, 41
Toe Raise, 113
avoidance of overtraining, 35
“cheating” methods, 36
regularity of, 35
smooth performance of, 35
transcendentalism, 143, 156
trapezius muscle, 26
Controlled Isolation of the Trapezius Muscle, 125
Isolation of the Trapezius Muscle, 124
Loosening of Deltoid, Latissimus Dorsi and Trapezius Muscles, 134
travelling shows, 10
triceps, 29
massage of, 40
True Shoulder Control, 131
importance of, 2–3
twisting exercises, 44–45, 91, 93, 94
Trunk Circling, 94
Two Dumbbells Simultaneous Overhead Lift, 72
Two Handed Snatch, 58
Two Hands Dead Lift, 62
Two Hands Military Press, 59

unconscious influences, 16–17

Upanishads, 144
upper arm muscles, 27
upper leg muscles, 27–28
urbanization, affect on lifestyles, 8–10

vaudeville, 10
veganism, 49–50
vegetarianism, 2, 49–50
Vivekananda, Swami, 143

waist, exercises to develop, 96, 96

water, 47
weight gain, 51
weight loss, 51
weight machines, early models of, 55
weight training techniques, 56

weightlifters, 56
Western World, the, 141–142
whole body exercises, 21, 56
Will and Nerve Force in Relation to Physical Culture, 36
women and the appeal of Physical Culture, 10
Greco-Roman, 142
Indian, 142
Wright, Professor John Henry, 143

yoga exercises, 142