Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Don't go to burlesque shows

I continue to be baffled at the cyberspace confrontations on internet fitness forums, sometimes nasty, about the legendary Charles Atlas and his Dynamic Tension training system. The most disputed topic is whether Mr. Atlas achieved his superior physical fitness and strength solely from his bodyweight-only exercise system called Dynamic Tension, or if he also lifted weights.

Bodyweight-only exercise purists (and sometimes extremists) are convinced that Charles Atlas did not lift weights while other fitness enthusiasts argue that he did. If this is not the fitness world with which you are familiar, I guarantee you’d be shocked reading fitness forum posts of participants fighting like cats and dogs over this topic.

I recently stumbled across a short article published in the September 1996 issue of Iron Game History about the legendary Charles Atlas. Those who are well-read about Charles Atlas will probably find nothing new in this article, but those who know very little about him will find it a good instroductory read. Here it is: The 97-Pound Weakling . . . who became “The World’s Most Perfectly Developed Man

My 82-year young Dad had the wonderful opportunity to meet the legendary Charles Atlas in New York City at the end of World War II and his meeting was the topic of this Pierini Fitness blogflection: A young sailor meets Charles Atlas

In addition to his Dynamic Tension training course that many young boys and men followed, Mr. Atlas was known for the advice he routinely gave; advice that is just as relevant today as it was then, and advice easier to say than do now just as it was then. What was his advice? Charles Atlas' advice was was to live clean think clean and don’t go to burlesque shows.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

1 comment:

Greg Newton said...

The arguments are rather pointless aren't they? There is an early Atlas article on the Sandow website where Atlas talked about how he had started his career and that he had lifted weights to get strong, but overall prefered bodyweight exercises. This was before he published his course in the 1920's. So yes, Atlas got his initial development from weight training and calisthenics.

The debate comes into full flame as to whether he continued to do so after he published his course and claimed not to use weights any longer. This is where it gets a little ridiculous. If you think that bodweight and self-resistance can work as well as weights you are in the Atlas camp. if you think Dynamic Tension is bogus fluff, you are in the anit-Atlas camp.

No one stops to ponder, does it really matter? Resistance on the muscles is reistance whether it is from weights, bodyweight, self-resistance, machines, rubber cables etc. I can think of quite a few people who are currently living who have quite spectacular physiques and strength from Atlas-like training. It is not such an anomolous occurance after all. I can also think of Iron Game greats like Paul Anderson and John Grimek who utilized bodyweight exercises to enhance their weight training.

So what's the point? Don't go to burlesque shows. According to Atlas, all you will catch is germs.