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A brief historical account of the development of
modern day weight lifting
Approximately 5000 years ago…
According to USA Weightlifting, a 5000 year old
Chinese drawing depicts soldiers being required to
pass a lifting test.
Throughout human history many historical
documents point out man’s infatuation with strength
and the ability to lift heavy objects.
Strength has always been a necessary part of human
culture. It is woven into the very fabric of our
Ancient Greece…Circa 129AD
Aelius Galenus or Claudius Galenus 129AD – 216AD,
also known as Galen of Pergamon, was well known as a
physician, philosopher and surgeon. In John
Scarborough’s historical revised account of Galenus’
publications, he describes many training techniques of
the ancient gladiators including the practice of lifting
weights that were made of stone also known as
George Barker Windship (3 January 1834—12
September 1876), was a Boston physician most noted
for his promotion of weight lifting.
He was most well known for inventing the first
adjustable dumbbell and the forerunners of several
modern exercise machines.
He believed that exercise transferred to other areas of
his life and he found he had gained the ability to resist
and overcome bad habits as well as ailments of the
body, from which he coined the slogan "Strength is
Harvard College. (1894) Report of the Class of 1854. Boston: Geo. H. Ellis, pp. 55-6
In 1896, the Olympics introduced weightlifting as an
The one-hand snatch and the two-hand clean and jerk
formed the program for six athletes from five different
Alan Calvert forms a company called ‘Milo Barbell
He also created ‘Strength’ magazine in order to
promote and advertise his products
Later in the 1920’s his organization began to sponsor
exhibitions and competitions that lead to the
formation of standards and uniformity within the
sport of weight lifting
Encyclopedia Britannica, article written by John D. Fair
Bob Hoffman transforms his company ‘The York Oil
Burner Corporation’ into ‘The York Barbell
Corporation’ and funds his own magazine called
‘Strength and Health’
Bob Hoffman, an avid weight lifter and cunning
business man capitalized on the ability to sell hope to
the public. He promoted weight lifting as an activity
that created its own benefit- a benefit that produced a
healthier and better life overall.
John D. Fair, "America's Mecca For Muscle Builders," Pennsylvania Heritage 25:2 (Spring, 1999): 24-31.
Boyd Epley, strength and conditioning coach at the University of
Nebraska, forms the National Strength Coaches Association which
would later be called National Strength Conditioning Association.
During this time, Epley invented the following strength training
-The Leg Sled
Weight Training for Strength and Fitness By L. Jay Silvester
1975 Pretoria, South Africa
Arnold Swartzeneggar competes and wins the Mr.
Olympia Bodybuilding competition. He attributes his
success to his training regime which is documented
and released as a motion picture entitled, ‘Pumping
The film, along with Arnolds impressive resume as a 14
time international champion bodybuilder creates
overwhelming popularity for weight lifting world wide.
Schwarzenegger, Arnold (1977). Arnold: Developing a Mr. Universe Physique. Schwarzenegger.
2000 Sydney, Autralia
Women’s weight lifting is debuted as an official event
of the 2000 Olympics.
Research and Reference Service / Olympic Studies Centre / email@example.com
Weightlifting is a staple in modern day fitness and is
prevalent in almost every country in the world.
It has been widely researched and documented as an
effective means of developing strength and athletic
It will be interesting to see what future developments
unravel in the culture of weightlifting.