The process of strength training has been around since the
days of ancient Greece.
It was employed mainly by bodybuilder types engaged in contests of strength.
What has changed over time is equipment
and that more and more everyday folk have been educated in the benefits of
In the 1930s Charles Atlas came out with his program
directed men and boys. The ads
claimed that he could bring you from a skinny 97 pound weakling to a muscled
strong man. Since then, many
articles and textbooks have been written on the subject, increasing the
available knowledge for those who “just want to get fit.”
Strength training’s popularity increased after the movie
Pumping Iron was released in the 1980s.
In the 1990s, women jumped on board with a push by a book called
Body for Life.
This was a program book that listed steps and instruction to a healthier
body in just 12 weeks. This started
the thought process in women that strength training wasn’t just for men and
didn’t necessarily require a gym membership.
Suddenly the goal across the country was to be “buff” and
look good. The popularity of
strength training brought about changes in the equipment available in gyms.
Gym equipment started out as barbells and dumbbells of varying weights.
Weight plates were then designed that made the equipment far less
cumbersome and much easier to set to an appropriate weight.
Universal Gym Company came out with an exercise machine in the late
1950s. This machine was a single
unit with multiple stations. Weight
plates made it easy to change the weight used.
Then in the 1960s, Arthur Jones entered the scene with his Nautilus
equipment. These machines differed
from the Universal in that they were separate stations not multiple stations on
one machine. They were the start of
the high intensity training program.
These machines greatly increased the popularity of strength training to the
Both companies continued to improve their equipment.
Different grip placement and adjustable distances made the machines
useable for both tall men and shorter women.
Computers added to the machines allowed customizable workouts and
eventually led to the use of pulse monitors.
Continued development has made these machines, and the ones that followed
them, quite comfortable to use, further increasing the trend of strength