© Vasilis Ververidis | Dreamstime.com – Statue of Aristotle a great greek philosopher
Standing on the shoulders of giants
We stand on the shoulders of giants learning the wisdom of the masters. Since time immemorial some individuals imbued with unique characteristics, abilities and vision have stood taller and seen further than their fellow man. They were generally more insightful, more knowledgeable than their contemporaries, did more and dared more, and so their actions have been examined and emulated by those who followed them. Those who follow and who aspire to greatness usually strive to equal the accomplishments of their predecessors and occasionally a select few who are truly talented exceed them. Some may go as far as to say this quest to excel is the very purpose of life itself, the journey being more important than the destination.
Wisdom of the masters
We learn from the past, from other’s earlier mistakes as well as our own, and do it better. By studying great teachers and mentors we can develop wisdom from what others are willing to share. If you seek knowledge and aspire to learn, grow and become wise then you need to associate with wise and knowledgeable people. You must tap into the well of existing knowledge.
In the modern world however, the pace of change is such that we sometimes lose sight of this ageless wisdom of the masters.Technological innovations and media bombardment makes it easy to overlook the valuable lessons from the past. Although modern technologies have given us increased entertainment and lifestyle modifications they can serve as worthless distractions and we tend to lose sight of what history can teach us. The abundance of new ideas can cause us to overlook the lessons from years past. We tend to view our elders knowledge as either no longer relevant, out of touch or “old hat”.
The sages of strength
Physical pursuits such as bodybuilding also have their sages whose knowledge is easily overlooked. Nevertheless, it’s important to recognise that much of our current training knowledge came from the teachings and experience of the bodybuilders from long ago. That’s why reading books about the old school lifters and bodybuilders can be a great education, and gems of information can be unearthed. These may be no substitute for experience; however they can be valuable assets to help accelerate the learning process. A single book may contain twenty or thirty years plus of condensed wisdom, yet you may be able to read the book in two or three days. If you have assimilated the information contained in the book then you have effectively acquired new ideas, skills, wisdom and knowledge in a fraction of the time originally required to attain them. Our thirst for knowledge also enhances our capability to create new ideas.
In our evolutionary quest for improvements to ourselves and our sport we are sometimes too occupied with looking to the future to realise that the past may hold the answers
In order to acquire wisdom we need to seek out these great teachers and study what they have learned and the wisdom that they share. By taking a close look at the beliefs of many of the iron game’s old timers, we begin to recognise the extent of their wisdom and knowledge, much of which exceeds that of many of today’s so called experts. Many of the following statements and quotes from these old time athletes have stood the test of time and are accepted as truths, at least by those who train as a healthful pursuit. Many stand in stark contrast to modern bodybuilding philosophy – more covertly centred on pharmacology rather than than training.
Take a look at some of these lost gems of insight and see just how well they resonate with our current philosophy and knowledge.
” Weight lifting is about lifting the impossible, overcoming the unachievable. If you don’t lift things that are hard, and only do the things you can do, it’s only going to get boring. Unless you want to lift beyond your limits to get stronger, to achieve new goals, and to be satisfied, you got to lift past these challenges, and still lift the things you think are impossible to really understand how your true strength will show. lift how I lift, see how I lift, watch how I lift, learn how I lift, and your true strength will come forth and be revealed” Chasers Holmes
“Exercise is King. Nutrition is the Queen. Put them together and you have a kingdom.” Jack LaLanne, 1953
“If you want to be a success in bodybuilding or anything else in life, you can’t have lukewarm ambition or an indifferent attitude. You must acquire intensity and a strong desire. That’s the only way you will succeed.” Dr. Frederick Tilney, 1947
“Through the years, I have combined meditation, action, and the Iron into a single strength. I believe that when the body is strong, the mind thinks strong thoughts. Time spent away from the Iron makes my mind degenerate. I wallow in a thick depression. My body shuts down my mind.” Henry Rollins
“The biggest mistake a bodybuilder can make is losing sight of what is aesthetically pleasing. Symmetry should always have precedence over sheer bulk.” Clarence Ross, 1949
“When health is absent, wisdom cannot reveal itself, art cannot become manifest, strength cannot be exerted, wealth is useless, and reason is powerless.” Herophiles
“Unless you’re willing to really sweat, you’re unlikely to achieve any major success in barbell work. Great lifters and physique men are made, not born. They are self made, via their own diligent, gruelling efforts.” Bradley Steiner, 1973
“For me life is continuously being hungry. The meaning of life is not simply to exist, to survive, but to move ahead, to go up, to achieve, to conquer.” Arnold Schwarzenegger
“Train for shape and strength will follow.” Sig Klein, 1937
“I do it as a therapy. I do it as something to keep me alive. We all need a little discipline. Exercise is my discipline.” Jack LaLanne
“Talk all you want about arcane bodybuilding theories. I’ll be in the gym. It’s leg day” Dave Draper, 1999
“To feel strong, to walk amongst humans with a tremendous feeling of confidence and superiority is not at all wrong. The sense of superiority in bodily strength is borne out by the long history of mankind paying homage in folklore, song and poetry to strong men”. Fred Hatfield
“Just because the AMA was wrong about some things regarding steroids doesn’t mean they were wrong about everything.” Dan Duchaine, 1998
” Just imagine if we could solve the mystery of life sufficient to extend man’s life expectancy to reach the century mark. What wonderful progress the human race would make in everything that is worthwhile. I believe the best tool we have of achieving that goal is barbell training and proper eating.” George Jowett, 1947
“Train — don’t strain. Don’t leave everything in the gym. Save some energy for living.” Bill Pearl, 1974
Drink a gallon of Half and Half every day and you’ll grow like a weed! Larry Scott,1967
“I believed Dianabol had great potential, but seeing the way it’s been abused, I’m sorry I ever invented it. All those young lives, destroyed.” John Ziegler, 1972
“Keep your blood clean, your body lean, and your mind sharp.” Henry Rollins
“The best way to never worry about getting into shape is to never get out of shape”. Zabo Koszewski, 1962
“Bodybuilders today over-think too much when it comes to eating when they should be following their instincts. If you feel like eating a steak, eat a steak!” Mickey Hargitay, 1969
“The most universal complaint seems to be that of an aching back, yet almost any back problem can be alleviated through exercise. The good morning is one of the best movements anyone can do to prevent a lifetime of back ailments.” John Grimek, 1950
“Don’t have $100.00 shoes and a 10 cent Squat” Louie Simmons
“If you want bigger arms — squat! Squatting makes everything grow.” Sergio Oliva, 1967
“If you have a lagging bodypart, train it first when you’re fresh, and unless you’re willing to train in a 100 percent positive matter, it’s a waste of time. That’s the secret.” Vince Gironda,1968
“The truest success is but the development of self.” Charles Atlas, 1939
“I could never find a better biceps exercise than dumbell curls on the incline bench, so after a while that was the only one I did.” Steve Reeves, 1966
“Because I suffered a heart murmur I was told never to lift weights, but I didn’t listen. I went on to be a strongman and today I’m still going strong while the doctors who advised me are long dead.” Dan Lurie, 1999
“Although it is presently shunned, I believe someday weight training will be used in all sports to improve performance.” Joe Weider, 1947
” No one knows why, but exercise physiologists have stated for years that it’s the negative portion of an exercise movement which produces more soreness and more growth and I believe this to be true. ” Arthur Jones, 1960
“If you want good training advice, don’t ask the biggest guy in the gym. Ask the guy who’s made the most improvement. ” Don Peters, 1966
“No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.” Socrates, 400 BC
“I don’t believe in bodybuilders using steroids. If a man doesn’t have enough male hormones in his system to create, a nice hard, muscular body, he should take up ping pong” Steve Reeves
“Going to the gym was never about ‘working out’ like it is for most people. To me, It was a matter of life or death. It was either me or the weights–and I was going to win. I’ve always had that competitive streak, whether it was in the gym, on the stage, or In anything else I did.” Rich Gaspari, Arnold Classic Winner, 1989
“In health there is freedom. Health is the first of all liberties.” Henri- Frederic Amiel