The history of bodybuilding
By Alicja Legierska
The world has changed a lot. From drawing on rocks we now have AI that can write for us. Innovations are made every day, so I wanted to introduce you to the evolution of bodybuilding, as there have been many changes from the bronze- to the modern-eras of bodybuilding. It may not seem like it, but bodybuilding is an ancient sport.
Stone-lifting traditions were practised in ancient Egypt and Greece, our ancestors believed that it is important to have a strong body and mind. This continued to repeat through history with Western weightlifting developing in Europe in 1880 where strongmen displayed feats of strength for the public and challenged each other. The focus then was only on strength and not physique.
Bodybuilding as we know it today was created in the 19th century by Eugen Sandow.
Image: Photo of Hercules’ back, Simone Pelligrin
Image: Eugen Sandow, Wikipedia
Bodybuilding as we know it today was created in the 19th century by Eugen Sandow - also known as the "father of bodybuilding." His love for aesthetic physique began in Italy when he went with his family on a trip and saw ancient Greek statues. He was so impressed by their physique that he took measurements of them and decided to sculpt his own body to look like theirs. At this time it wasn’t believed that it was possible for humans to achieve this body and that it was just artistic, made by the artist's imagination. But Eugen decided to prove them all wrong, and the focus of his training became physique rather than strength. His strength did impress people though, and that was ultimately what he was known for, but later in his career in 1901 he created an actual bodybuilding competition called the ‘Great Competition’ where the contestant would pose in front of Sandow himself. The winner won the statue of Sandow, a prize
given even to this day in Mr. Olympia. Eugen created the ideal physique for the bronze era that inspires a lot of people to this day.
Bodybuilding continued to gain in popularity. According to Wikipedia, in the 1960s and 70s the first bodybuilding organizations were created and anabolic steroids started becoming available for the general public. People like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno became famous for their huge muscles. Unlike ancient or bronze-era men, golden- and silver-era bodybuilders also started to develop their chests and look at their nutrition.
Bodybuilders that took steroids were much bigger, but that doesn't mean that they didn’t train hard enough. Genetically, you can gain only a certain amount of muscle and each year you make less progress in gaining muscle tissue. The thing that separates the use of steroids in the golden-era and modern-day bodybuilding is that back then they still tried to achieve a more natural physique aesthetic and balanced proportions.
Image: Photo of Arnold Schwarzenegger, George Butler
Today, bodybuilding is a popular sport all over the world, and there are many bodybuilders that don't take steroids. People of all ages and backgrounds participate in competitions and work hard to achieve their goals. It is a great way to stay healthy and strong, both physically and mentally.
Archaeological Institute at Athens, “What did it take to be an athlete in the ancient Greek world?” https://aaia.sydney.edu.au/what-did-it-take-to-be-an-athlete-in-the-ancient-greek-world/
Barford, V., Townsend, L. “Eugen Sandow: The man with the perfect body.” BBC.com, https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-19977415
Long, C. “The Picture that introduced the world to Arnold Schwarzenegger” Newyorker.com
Wikipedia.org, “Bodybuilding in the 1960s and 1970s,”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BodybuildingWikipedia.org, “Eugen Sandow” https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugen_Sandow