GYM LORE: The History of Bodybuilding

Bodybuilding as a sport goes way back to the 12th century in India. The first bodybuilding training techniques and bodybuilding nutrition were invented in the 16th century. By this time, people from various parts of the world had also taken up its concept. They used stone and wood to create the first dumbbells, thus spawning the vital component of bodybuilding, which is weightlifting.

Bodybuilding became a widely popular commercial sport in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The 1900s was also the period when the first national and international bodybuilding competitions took place, mostly around Europe.

Bodybuilding photo of man lifting barbell
Photo by Leon Ardho on

Eugen Sandow was a key figure in pushing bodybuilding into the kind of sport it is today. He was known as “The Father of Modern Bodybuilding.”

He relentlessly promoted his fitness and bodybuilding beliefs. Physical Culture was one of the first bodybuilding magazines published—Eugen’s commitment to promoting bodybuilding paid dividends. Weightlifting competitions were first introduced at the Olympic Games in Athens in 1986. The weightlifting sport was originally featured in the main event of the Olympic Games in Athens. Eugen’s struggle in the weight lifting competition was honored five years later, following the Olympic Games in Athens. The person is responsible for bringing 2,000 people to London’s Royal Albert Hall.

The 1920s saw bodybuilding as an increasingly popular sport and a very profitable industry. New muscular celebrities like Charles Atlas came into the spotlight, adding more fuel to the whole furor over bodybuilding. Dumbbells and barbells were selling like hotcakes all over the world. Every year, there are more new advances in workout gadgets, nutrition regimens, and bodybuilding tactics.

The Golden Age of Bodybuilding happened around the 1940s to the 1970s. Muscle beaches were popular during this time. Bodybuilders-turned-actors are cast in films for the first time. Movie franchises like Hercules and Tarzan featured bodybuilding legends like Joe Gold, Harold Zinkin, and the two-time Mr. America, John Grimek. During this time, bodybuilding separated itself formally from weightlifting. The basic ideology was finally solidified. The goals were set for health, strength, fitness, and aesthetic muscular building.

man doing crossfit
Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko

From 1966 to the present, the latest breed of professional builders, led by the charismatic Arnold Schwarzenegger, promoted the sport to new heights. Using his talent, charisma, and amazing physique, Mr. Universe Arnold Schwarzenegger transformed his body into the materialized version of every bodybuilding fan’s ideal form to achieve.

Anabolic steroids were gradually introduced in 1966 in professional bodybuilding and other competitive sports. Its existence and the role it plays tainted bodybuilding as a sport, but even so, bodybuilding retained its universal appeal because its core values never changed.

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