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75 Years of Muscle & Fitness Wisdom

As we wrap our 75th anniversary celebration, we combed our archives for some of our best pieces of advice.

Wisdom From Every Era

1940-1959

75 Years of Muscle & Fitness Wisdom

From the 1940s to the 2000s we’ve kept our readers ahead of the curve. Here, we present the 75 best pieces of advice we’ve ever offered, from Day 1 in 1940 to today.

Before It Was Cool

Natural Energy
In the 1940s, less was known about table sugar’s negative health impact, but we still steered readers toward natural sweeteners like honey, which is also a cough suppressant and today a top pick for endurance racers.

Smoking Kills
Joe Weider wrote “Don’t Be a Cigarette Slave” in August 1944 and “Do Cigarettes Cause Cancer?” in Dec. 1947. This at a time when doctors recommended cigarettes as a stress reliever. Today, tobacco accounts for at least 30% of all cancer deaths in the U.S.

The Bent Press
An oldie but goodie: Between 1948 and 1957 we frequently recommended the bent press: Start with a dumbbell on one shoulder, bend to the opposite side, and press the weight up with one hand. It’s a great way to build shoulder and core strength.

The Original Weider Principle
Your Physique introduced a training technique called supersets for the first time in 1951. Today, you’d be hard-pressed to find an athlete anywhere in the world who hasn’t used them to make workouts more intense and efficient.

SEE ALSO: The Weider Principles>>

Use the Force
Ever have your training partner help you finish a heavy set after you’ve hit failure? The benefits of going just a bit beyond your limits—increased pump and hormone release—were first noted in 1952 in Your Physique.

Isolate
Preacher curls, rope pressdowns, cable crossovers, and other isolation moves owe much of their immense popularity to the introduction of this principle in March 1952.

1941—Olympic Roots

Dating back to the March 1941 issue of Your Physique, we’ve preached the overall strength and aesthetic benefits of Olympic weightlifting. While these lifts fell out of favor, they reemerged with the popularity of CrossFit.

Keep On Pressing
In Jan. 1947, we published an article on the benefits of overhead pressing that holds up today; it’s perfect for building the delts and tri’s and even developing core strength.

Finishers
Weider’s Compound-Set Principle supersetted the same muscle to instigate pump. Today, lifters use this to “finish” a muscle.

Pullup—and Hold
In Sept. 1959, we published “The Prone Chin.” Today, we just call that a pullup, but the article’s advice is sound: to hold the peak position of a pullup for a few seconds to force both your lats and biceps to grow.

Strongman

In every issue in 1954, we published “Strongman Stunts You Can Do.” Strongman training, like Olympic lifting, has enjoyed a resurgence, though you’re now more likely to see it filed under “functional” training. In recent years, we’ve continued to extoll the benefits of Atlas stone lifts, which columnist Rob Orlando considers indispensable for building strength everywhere.

Do Box Squats

The box squat was a staple of this magazine during its early days. By squatting onto a box, you eliminate the rebound effect of the free squat, in which you can “bounce” out of the hole by quickly changing direction. The box squat (using a box or bench, as shown) forces you to come to a complete stop at depth and generate all your own power out of the hole. Powerlifting legend Louie Simmons actually learned the box squat from M&F and spread it to the powerlifting community.

Use The Power of Bell

Based on the three Muscle Builder articles about kettlebell training between 1952 and 1959, one of which was “Try Kettlebells for Supreme Sculptureof the Torso,” old-time lifters knew what bells could do. One 2014 Journal of Strength Conditioning study found two-handed swings coupled with sumo deadlifts provided more of a cardiovascular workout than hitting the treadmill. Widely credited with introducing the West to kettlebells, strength coach Pavel Tsatsouline recently shared his top tip for the KB overhead press: “Contract your abs, clench your glues, and use a crushing grip.”

SEE ALSO: 5 Common Kettlebell Mistakes>>>

Before It Was Cool

Don’t Forget to Flush
Muscle flushing, or doing multiple exercises per body part to trigger maximum hypertrophy, was first reported by Weider in 1953 and remains a staple today.

That’s So Dip
The dip was the “Exercise of the Month” in Jan. 1955. Today, it remains one of the most effective exercises for building the arms, chest, shoulders, and core. For maximum contraction in your pectorals, lean forward as you dip.

Home Sweet Home
At-home workouts have been endorsed since our 1954 issue. Then, it was “deep knee bends.” Today, we offer body-weight workouts you can do anywhere.

Partner Up
If you train with someone else—and especially if you train with someone who’s stronger than you—you’re going to work out much harder. It has evolved today, but the truth of this statement is the basis for all group fitness classes.

Powerbuild
Start heavy, finish light. Josh Bryant wrote about powerbuilding for us in Nov. 2014, echoing a Weider idea from the ’50s. Start your next back workout with four heavy sets for four reps, then lighten up with other accessory moves for 10 to 15 reps.

Squeeze at the Top
The Peak Contraction Principle says to squeeze the muscle being trained at the top of a rep for one to two seconds to apply max tension. Try it on every isolation move you do today.

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