The exercises of Attila and Sandow - forgotten for a reason?

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The exercises of Attila and Sandow - forgotten for a reason?

Postby Patrick on Fri Apr 28, 2017 3:27 am

Hello everybody,

if you are interested, I have written a new post on the exercises about Prof. Attila, Eugine Sandow and Tsurugi ;)


A few days ago I came across a video of someone demonstrating a few classical dumbbell exercises (of Attila and Sandow) and he concluded that these exercises may be forgotten for a reason, because they put too much stress on the joints (in this particular case the elbow joints). I agree that one should not blindly follow some exercise program and that it is always best to research why one should do this or that. In this particular case, the person in question simply looked at the outer form of the exercise and applied the modern mind-set of weight lifting to the exercises. For example, he criticized that these exercises use a very long lever which stresses the joints too much when weights are applied, while at the same time the target muscles are not hit enough. First, it is clear that the old time strongmen are...

http://dhyana-fitness.at/wordpress/en/the-exercises-of-attila-and-sandow-forgotten-for-a-reason/

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Re: The exercises of Attila and Sandow - forgotten for a reason?

Postby greytowhite on Fri Apr 28, 2017 7:26 pm

Thank you.
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Re: The exercises of Attila and Sandow - forgotten for a reason?

Postby Pavel Macek on Sat Apr 29, 2017 2:04 am

Can you please post a link to the video you mention in the blog post?
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Re: The exercises of Attila and Sandow - forgotten for a reason?

Postby Peacedog on Sat Apr 29, 2017 8:07 am

One of the board members wrote a book on the Attila/Sandow exercises, link below, and in the book it stressed the need to keep pressure off of the joints. The method of performing the exercises is very specific and not really the same as traditional weight training. It is more like a loaded jibengung than anything else. Keep in mind the weights used are very light, 3-5 pounds is typical for a normally sized man.

I've used the program on and off as it seems to do a good job of getting rid of those little injuries we all rack up as we age. It is also very time efficient. About 25-30 minutes per day and it can be broken up into a morning and afternoon session of only 15 minutes each.

I can see how failing to heed this warning could cause problems thought, which is why I am not a big fan of high rep bodyweight squats and the like. Higher repetitions of a bodyweight exercise seem to increase the likelihood of losing focus on maintaining proper form.

https://www.amazon.com/Lost-Secret-Grea ... ody+bolton
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Re: The exercises of Attila and Sandow - forgotten for a reason?

Postby Patrick on Sat Apr 29, 2017 8:21 am

@greytowhite, you are welcome!
@pavelmacek, I do not want to discredit the person who made the video. But its really easy to find on youtube with search parameters "Eugen Sandow curls".

https://www.amazon.com/Lost-Secret-Grea ... ody+bolton


Can only recommend the book and it was posted as "further reading"
Last edited by Patrick on Sat Apr 29, 2017 8:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The exercises of Attila and Sandow - forgotten for a reason?

Postby Pavel Macek on Mon May 01, 2017 3:57 am

Peacedog wrote:One of the board members wrote a book on the Attila/Sandow exercises, link below, and in the book it stressed the need to keep pressure off of the joints. The method of performing the exercises is very specific and not really the same as traditional weight training. It is more like a loaded jibengung than anything else. Keep in mind the weights used are very light, 3-5 pounds is typical for a normally sized man.

I've used the program on and off as it seems to do a good job of getting rid of those little injuries we all rack up as we age. It is also very time efficient. About 25-30 minutes per day and it can be broken up into a morning and afternoon session of only 15 minutes each.

I can see how failing to heed this warning could cause problems thought, which is why I am not a big fan of high rep bodyweight squats and the like. Higher repetitions of a bodyweight exercise seem to increase the likelihood of losing focus on maintaining proper form.

https://www.amazon.com/Lost-Secret-Grea ... ody+bolton


From a project I am currently working on:

When you read about the incredible feats of the many old time strongman - and then you study their books - you will certainly notice that they mostly recommend high rep exercises with very light weights, and only in the end occasionally mention lifting the heavy weights.

Did really Sandow achieved his incredible feats of strength by lifting light dumbbells? How about his mentor, prof. Attila? In 1913, Richard K. Fox has published a book called Prof. Attila’s Five Pound Dumb Bell Exercises. Attila’s scrapbook shows many women practicing with big globe dumbbells certainly heavier than five pounds, and altogether different exercises than alternating curls - get-ups and one arm presses.

Henry Higgins says clearly his excellent Strength and Muscle Course (around 1915 - modern reprint available at Bill Hinbern’s website superstrengthtrainig.com):

Often you will hear people say that it is possible to become very strong and to get good development by practicing light exercises… I never knew a man who built himself up except by very heavy work. Light dumbbell drills never made anyone strong or muscular.

Venables (1942) agrees:

The very light dumbells found in many gymnasiums have little value as strength and muscle builders. Any exercise is better than no exercise, but we obtain from exercise what we put into it, and with very light dumbells only slight gains are made. The old timers did not have the adjustable dumbells we have at present, so graded progress was more difficult. Most gymnasiums would have a pair of 50’s, perhaps a pair of 75’s, 100’s and a single dumbell weighing 150-200 lbs. or more. While a pair of 50’s are very easy in most exercises for men who train at the York Bar Bell gym, for instance, or any other advanced weight men, they are very heavy for others. There is such a variation in the strength of the various muscles of the body that only a full range of weights will accommodate complete training.

So why many of the famous names advocated light dumbbell training? Bill Hinbern explains:

Most correspondence courses put out commercially by the muscle barons of the early 20th century promoted high repetition exercises using light weight dumbbells or apparatus if they included equipment at all. Anyone with an ounce of common sense can understand that the awesome strength demonstrated by the performers of that era was not a product of light weight, high repetition exercise.

The reason that such methods were promoted by the muscle merchants of the day was very simple. Marketing. That is, it was by far easier to convince you, the potential customer, to use “quick, easy, inexpensive” methods than to sell you on the idea that building great strength took time, effort and expensive heavy equipment.

Listen to to the wise words of Arthur Saxon (Saxon, 1906): “… use heavy ones with fewer repetitions rather than light bells with numerous repetitions.”
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Re: The exercises of Attila and Sandow - forgotten for a reason?

Postby Pavel Macek on Mon May 01, 2017 4:00 am

@patrick I found the video. Not dangerous - but imho bordering to completely useless.
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Re: The exercises of Attila and Sandow - forgotten for a reason?

Postby Peacedog on Mon May 01, 2017 6:37 am

Pavel,

If you read Bolton's book he addresses a lot of these issues.

What Attila and Sandow were doing was not what we would consider conventional weightlifting with the dumbbell exercises. It was more of a resistance driven dynamic tension exercise. Very much like some forms of nei gung I've studied over the years.

It is an interesting approach and appears to work.
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Re: The exercises of Attila and Sandow - forgotten for a reason?

Postby Patrick on Mon May 01, 2017 7:52 am

@Pavel, you are entitled to your opinion, but it is highly superficial.

- It is not simply marketing. Please inform yourself about the history of these exercises. Dave Bolton has a good history where these exercises come from and that a lot trained with them. Even those who had no mail order course.

- Think about what "strong" and "built" means. If you are working a lot on strength endurance and motor control exercises, you will look different than someone who trains in Type II Hypertrophy work.

- These exercises can clearly be linked to Type I training (studies show that Type I fibres clearly have hypertrophy, and that they were clearly overlooked in the past!). Furthermore they are a kind of motor control exercise, as you try to learn to control your muscles at will.
--> For example look at the studies of Brad Schonfeld regarding light weights, occlusion training and Type I Hypertrophy.

- If you are interested mainly in Type II hypertrophy, please look at other methods. This is not the method for it.
- If you are interested mainly in Max Strength, please look at other methods. This is not the method for it.
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Re: The exercises of Attila and Sandow - forgotten for a reason?

Postby phil b on Mon May 01, 2017 6:44 pm

Sandow started people off with very light weights of 5lb or less and in some of his books suggested adding 1lb at a time up to a total of 20lb only when you could do 120 biceps curls correctly. That was adding 5 or so a day, which take at least 14 days consecutive training.
If we look at that, we have students who are unfit being encouraged to exercise every day, eating sensibly, and increasing load over time. If you started at 5lbs and didn't falter that would be 3 months of daily exercise. For the average punter that would be significant. Add in a couple of heavy lifting sessions a week as some say Sandow did and you would be in decent shape.
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Re: The exercises of Attila and Sandow - forgotten for a reason?

Postby Pavel Macek on Tue May 02, 2017 2:29 am

Peacedog: Both Attila and Sandow practiced conventional weightlifting, like those in the Heavy-Weight Exercise chapter of G. Mercer Adam's book Sandow's System of Physical Training: heavy dumbbell/barbell/kettlebell cleans, presses, bent presses, swings, etc.

Patrick: I am not interested in hypertrophy - I am interested in functional strength. And it is not developed with light weight/low rep isolation exercises. As for the old-time strongmen books, I read them all, plus I have education in modern sport science and strength training methodology.

phil b - 120 biceps curls? Really? Why? Although I agree that light weight work is beneficial (e.g. light get-ups- 101 variations, or indian clubs exercises), most of them are simply absolute waste of time. Low rep, moderately heavy, lots of rest is the way to go.
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Re: The exercises of Attila and Sandow - forgotten for a reason?

Postby phil b on Tue May 02, 2017 3:26 am

Pavel Macek wrote:
phil b - 120 biceps curls? Really? Why? Although I agree that light weight work is beneficial (e.g. light get-ups- 101 variations, or indian clubs exercises), most of them are simply absolute waste of time. Low rep, moderately heavy, lots of rest is the way to go.


Hi Pavel,

I'm not suggesting that following that protocol is going to get anybody big or strong by modern standards. I'm saying that for those out of shape, it is a way to get people into shape with measurable results in a relatively short period of time. Of course, Sandow himself emphasised the need for correct technique, part of which is the contraction of the muscle targeted by the exercise. Guys I know that lift say the contraction can be beneficial and I've seen videos that support the idea. I think it depends on your goals. As with everything in life, opinions are like assholes, everyone has one.

Ultimately the only way to know for sure is to follow Sandow's approach to the letter for 3 months or so and see what happens.

All the best with your training.

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Re: The exercises of Attila and Sandow - forgotten for a reason?

Postby Patrick on Tue May 02, 2017 4:32 am

Patrick: I am not interested in hypertrophy - I am interested in functional strength. And it is not developed with light weight/low rep isolation exercises. As for the old-time strongmen books, I read them all, plus I have education in modern sport science and strength training methodology.


Good for you. Me too, in both instances.
"functional strength" is such an ambiguous term. It is used by so many people, even with completely contrary ideas about what constitutes "functional strength". I am not convincing you to take up this form of training to increase your weight and reps with deadlifts (or other compound exercises) or to be able to train funky bar moves. I would not do such thing.

If you want more strength endurance for martial arts, better mind-muscle connection, improve your movement quality (learning to relax specific muscles), and an easy way to to a general fitness practice it that is relativity low impact then try this method. If you do not like it, no worries.

In either way, I will continue to shine some light on this method as it helped my Yi Quan practice (to consciously relax not needed muscles), my general well being and motor coordination skills etc. I like to move a lot (in multiple forms) and I cannot stand methods that leave my a bit stiff and require breaks.
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Re: The exercises of Attila and Sandow - forgotten for a reason?

Postby Pavel Macek on Tue May 02, 2017 11:30 am

phil b - "big" is not the aim. As it is said, bodybuilding is the worst thing that happened to strength training. It is one of the worst choices for martial arts as well. Strength training - different thing. There are much better, much better ways how to get people in shape fast. Contraction of the muscles - sure thing, but: you still need to lift heavy, period. I do follow Sandow's methods - but his real stuff, the way he really trained, not the way he marketed to public.

Patrick - I guess "functional strength for martial arts, if we are discussing it on this forum. They might be very different opinions - and still correct. There might be superficially similar opinions - and completely wrong. Again, for strength endurance, mind-muscle connection, movement quality etc. it is a wrong choice - it is isolation light bodybuilding protocol.

Gentlemen, apart from practicing CMA, I take care of strength & conditioning of the highest level Czech MMA fighters in multiple organisations, trust me, I know the real thing a bit. No theories, no romantic fantasies, no maybes. Please check out e.g. this article: http://www.strongfirst.com/preparing-a-mma-fighter/
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Re: The exercises of Attila and Sandow - forgotten for a reason?

Postby Patrick on Tue May 02, 2017 12:29 pm

Please post your article in your own thread. Thanks.
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