Statues, muscular and tonic bodies have always been the desire of everyone, but do we really know where and when the bodybuilding cult was born?
Certainly the cult of perfect physical shape can be traced back to ancient Greece, with the first Olympics.
To get, however, to have the right knowledge and the right tools to get real results we have to take a long journey in time and even get to the nineteenth century!
The turning point in the history of bodybuilding
Bodybuilding took a radical turn when it was proven that lifting heavier loads was the only way to really improve physical performance.
Already at the time of Napoleon it was clear that the French suffered defeats for reasons related to their weak physical strength. In Europe, this began to include physical education as a compulsory activity in schools. In those same years, you could watch shows in which the artists on the stage raised very heavy objects to show off. To start talking about bodybuilding and showing off of the physical aspect rather than of force we have to wait until the end of the nineteenth century when Eugen Sandow decided to perform only by posing like a statue and contracting the muscles.
The pioneer Sandow
This show had made Sandow the idol of many women and, on the other hand, aroused the envy of so many men. Body culture soon became a business and Sandow seized the opportunity by deciding to open the first chain of gyms in the world. Sales of dumbbells and barbells increased, as did books and magazines. The culture of fitness had become a real source of income for Sandow, considered the pioneer in the field of bodybuilding.
Among the fans of bodybuilding we also find Angelo Siciliano (better known as Charles Atlas) and the American actor Steve Reeves who played “The Labors of Hercules” (1957). He, just like Sandow, was the example of beauty and perfection of the male body.
In the 1960s, Joe Weider founded the IFBB (International Federation of Body Builders) and Mr. Olympia’s competition, the pinnacle of bodybuilding success. Among the most remembered names of the winners of the competition are: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Frank Zane, Sergio Oliva, Serge Nubret, Lou Ferrigno and Franco Columbu.
Bodybuilding: not just for men
Bodybuilding is not just about men. In 1977 the first female race was held at a competitive level. The lack of proper rules, however, led judges to evaluate women with the same parameters with which men were evaluated. The following year, Doris Barrilleaux established the Superior Physique Association to promote women’s sport while at the same time explaining body culture. He wanted to explain that muscle development does not necessarily have to exclude the concept of femininity. The female bodybuilding was widely disseminated with the release of the book, and subsequently the film, “Pumping iron 2 – the unprecedent” (1984).
Since then, bodybuilding is constantly evolving both in terms of training and nutrition. It is no coincidence that Mr & Mrs Olympia remain the best known bodybuilding competitions in the world and this philosophy of body worship gathers more and more followers every year.