Hocus Pocus Your Way To More Strength And Muscle Gains


Read it to believe it.

1992: Two scientists, Yue and Cole, did a Pinky Finger Mind Over Muscle study with two groups of subjects. Group 1 did pinky finger strength training exercises 5 times a week for a month. Group 2 imagined doing the exercises for the same amount of time.

End results: The group that did the exercises increased their pinky finger strength by 30%. The group that imagined or visualized the exercises increased their pinky finger strength by 20%.

2001: Researchers from the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio, did a 12 month study about strength benefits from imagining exercising a muscle. They divided the subjects into three groups. Group 1 imagined exercising their little finger muscles 5 days a week for 15 minutes. Group 2 imagined exercising their bicep muscles 5 days a week for 15 minutes. Group 3 was a control group who did nothing.

End Results: Group 1 increased their little finger strength by 35%. Group 2 increased their bicep strength by 13.4 percent.

2004: In a study at Bishop University in Quebec, two researchers studied 3 groups in a visualization strength increasing experiment for two weeks. Group 1 visualized hip flexions 5 times a week for 4 sets of 8 reps. Group 2 performed the exercises physically for the same amount of time, sets and reps. Group 3, the control group, did nothing.

End Results: Group 1 who did the visualizations increased their strength by 24%. Group 2 who did the exercises increased their strength by 26%.

Chi Power, Baby! Just kidding. Actually, I am surprised at these results. Had I not seen these studies, I would not have believed visualization could be effective. Over the years I have seen so many claims like this debunked that I am a hardcore skeptic about these hocus pocus methods now.

But, this gets me thinking, that like with the amazing results of Muscle Control, a little visualization might be a good addition to a guy’s workout toolbox.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons


“Can Visualization Increase Muscle Strength?.” Craig Liebenson, DC. www.craigliebenson.com/can-visualization-increase-muscle-strength/ (accessed April 19, 2014)

“Think Yourself Stronger.” ATC Fitness. www.facebook.com/atcfitnesstn/posts/442492435787124 (accessed April 19, 2014)

“How Visualization Can Make You Stronger.” Experience Life. www.experiencelife.com/newsflashes/how-visualization-can-make-you-stronger/ (accessed April 19, 2014)

The Amazing Maxick And His Maxalding Exercise System


Maxick, real name Max Sick, (28 June 1882–10 May 1961) was born a frail infant with congenital weaknesses that led to life-threatening diseases. Before age 5, he suffered from lung trouble and eventually dropsy. Rickets attacked his tender frame, and he was considered too underdevelopment to attend school. He did not walk until age 6.

At age 7, he was allowed to attend school. Still weak and small from his childhood diseases, his schoolmates were bigger and stronger than him; he longed to be more like them. He pleaded with his parents to let him lift weights. They forbid it. His doctor had warned them heavy exercise could harm Max’s delicate health.

By age 10, his health had improved. He felt like a normal child but weaker and undersized compared to other children his age. During that time, he went to a circus and saw a strongman who so impressed him that when Max returned home he made a dumbbell from a slab of stone. He desired to exercise with it and become strong like the circus strongman. His father caught him exercising with the stone and smashed it to pieces, fearing exercising with it would harm his son’s health.

Max felt that event was momentous in his life. It led him to create a way to exercise without the need for weights. He began to contract and rest his muscles attempting to exercise them through what he termed Muscle Control. Eventually the exercises improved his health, his strength and his physique. He began doing feats of strength with his classmates. When he reached age 14, he hauled a sack of flour farther than any man in his town.

He worked out with light dumbbells for awhile but felt tired afterward and saw no appreciable results. He resumed his muscle control exercises. He used less effort and kneaded his muscles. He began to see better results until he reached a sticking point he called Muscle Binding. He believed with strength training exercises the muscles stopped responding after a few years because all the muscles became too tight and tense.

He discovered a way to remove the Muscle Binding block to progress: “….by the exercise of will-power to contract certain muscles while relaxing others antagonistic to them.” He felt the unrelaxed muscles antagonistic to the muscle contracted hindered his progress. According to his method, relaxing muscles was just as important as contracting them. The muscles surrounding the main muscles were just as important to relax for maximum gains.

Using this method, he surpassed sticking points in his strength and muscular development. His strength became, in his words, uncanny. He took up weightlifting at that time, perhaps to test his new found prowess. He outlifted everyone in a gym he joined. He lifted as much with one hand as the strongest man could with two. He believed his strength and robust health were byproducts of his contracting and relaxing his muscles and soaring past sticking points that would have halted his progress with regular strength training.

He won weightlifting championships in Munich in three weight classes astonishing onlookers with his incredible strength for a man 5’4″ tall and weighing 146 pounds. He did a demonstration of his strength and his physique in London and wowed the audience. In England, he developed a large clientele who studied and practiced his muscle control methods.

In 1909, Max and a partner, the strongman, Monte Saldo, who apprenticed with Eugen Sandow in 1897, published his exercises in instruction leaflets. Books and a postal course followed. The system first called Maxaldo became known as Maxalding. It thrived until the early 1970s when its popularity faded, though it lives on at websites today.

Maxick’s physique in the photo above is a testimony to how effective Maxalding was. Note how developed and defined his muscles are. Note the chiseled intercostal muscles.

His was an inspirational life, beginning as a sickly child, ending as a fitness phenom and inventor of an ingenious, exercise method that helped many build the bodies of their dreams.

Image credit: Wikipedia


“MUSCLE CONTROL by MAXICK.” Maxalding.co. www.maxalding.co.uk/mc-book-english/mc-e-intro.htm#index (accessed April 19, 2014)

“Maxalding.” Wikipedia. www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maxalding (accessed April 9, 2014)

The Did Charles Atlas Lift Weights Controversy


Some people believe Charles Atlas built his outstanding physique using only his dynamic tension exercises. Others believe he built his physique with weights while given the misleading impression he built it with his exercises.

According to Wikipedia:

“Atlas was described as a student of Earle E. Liederman in several editions of a Liederman booklet, until shortly before the Dynamic Tension course was published. The 1918 edition of the booklet states that Atlas had performed a one-arm overhead press with 236 lb.The 1920 edition states a 266 lbs one-arm overhead press.”

However, the Wikipedia article also had this information about Atlas and weightlifting:

“He tried many forms of exercise initially, using weights, pulley-style resistance, and gymnastic-style calisthenics. Atlas claimed they did not build his body.”

As the story goes about how Atlas developed his dynamic tension system, he saw a lion stretching at a zoo one day and had a revelation about a new way to build muscle: “Does this old gentleman have any barbells, any exercisers?…And it came over me….He’s been pitting one muscle against another!”

By the above paragraph, it would seem Atlas abandoned weight training to use dynamic tension exclusively along with the running he did every morning of his life.

But, there’s more to this controversy.

Bob Hoffman, founder of York Barbell Company, called dynamic tension dynamic hooey. He believed Charles Atlas was a fraud who built his body with weights and was deceiving people into thinking he built it with dynamic tension. He sued Atlas. A Federal Trade Commission investigation exonerated Atlas from any false advertising or unfair trading practices. And Hoffman lost. Critics of Hoffman felt he was jealous of Atlas and the fact he was a competitor for the legions of young men interested in building up their bodies.

Another version of this story is when Atlas went before the Federal Trade Commission and was asked if he lifted weights, he said only to test my strength a few times a week.

But, I’ve only seen this on two forums and found nothing anywhere on the net to support this assertion. Plus, if Atlas admitted to using weights, wouldn’t that have given Hoffman the win in court? Thus, that version makes no sense to me.

I think it’s more likely Atlas had world class genetics, did some weight training in his youth and later abandoned it for his dynamic tension exercises.

Here’s how a man who did the Atlas course for decades, as did his father, summoned this controversy up:

“And millions and millions of men around the world – with plenty of muscle on them – are the successful HE-MEN they are today – in Life, Business, and Health – because of the effectiveness of this course.

“So, did Atlas Free Weights?

“No one knows this as a proven fact, but if he did, So What?.”

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons


“Charles Atlas.” Wikipedia. www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Atlas#Weightlifting (accessed April 18, 2014)

“Muscular Development by Earle E. Liedermann.” Part II. www.sandowplus.co.uk/Competition/Liederman/musc-dev(7)/m-dev(7)02.htm (accessed April 18, 2014)

“Lessons in Manliness from Charles Atlas.” The Art of Manliness. www.artofmanliness.com/2011/09/29/lessons-in-manliness-from-charles-atlas/ (accessed April 18, 2014)

“I think this kind of thing has been going on forever… .” T-NATION Forum. www.tnation.t-nation.com/free_online_forum/music_movies_girls_life/tony_horton?pageNo=0 (accessed April 18, 2014)

“How effective is Charles Atlas’s Dynamic Tension?.” The Art of Manliness Forum. www.community.artofmanliness.com/forum/topics/how-effective-is-charles?commentId=2357106%3AComment%3A638851 (accessed April 18, 2014)

New Research Claims Working Out Can Make You Look Up To 40 Years Younger

“I don’t want to over-hype the results, but, really, it was pretty remarkable to see.”

- Dr Mark Tarnopolsky

This study started with mice that had used exercise wheels. When the wheels were taken away from them, the mice “quickly become weak, bald and sick.” This encouraged the researches to do an exercise study with humans to see if exercise would make them look younger. Get this, they took sample patches of the buttock skin of 65 year olds before the study and after the study. After the study, they found the inner and outer layers of the skin was comparable to that of 20 and 40 year olds.

So, now at least you know working out will make your butt look younger. Kidding aside, I guess the presumption is the effect will be the same all over the body.

I’m not seeing this. I don’t think working out makes people look up to 40 years younger. All my life people have told me I looked much younger than my age, but now I look like someone over 60. Working out hasn’t made me look like someone 40. Maybe it has my butt, lol.

I do know this. Working out makes older people look more vital. That I have seen and experience.


“Can exercise actually REVERSE aging? Promising new study reveals that working out can make skin appear up to FORTY years younger.” MailOnline. www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2607298/Can-exercise-actually-REVERSE-aging-Promising-new-study-reveals-working-make-skin-appear-FORTY-years-younger.html (accessed April 18, 2014)

“I’m 71 and began the Charles Atlas program when I was 28.”


I saw this at the Charles Atlas forum:

“I’m 71 and I began the Atlas program when I was 28. There have been times, sometimes as long as a couple years, when I’ve not done the course. But I keep coming back to it. I’ve tried weights, bodylastics cables, isometrics, you name it. But nothing has worked for me all around and over the years as the Charles Atlas routine.”

I never expected anyone would prefer the Atlas dynamic tension exercises over all other systems of exercise. That tells me the Atlas exercises are effective. It suggests to me an older man could benefit from just doing that system.

Another guy posting at that forum said he developed his physique well enough to enter a bodybilding contest in Scotland and place 12th. If his assertion is true, 1st would have been more amazing, but to build a physique without any equipment good enough to enter a bodybuilding contest and place 12th is impressive, unless only 12 men entered the contest. I imagine this guy had excellent genetics that gave him better results than someone not as genetically gifted for muscle building.

This reminds of what I once read concerning resistance bands: Resistance is resistance no matter what you use to apply it. I can see if you could motivate yourself to use sufficient will power and discipline and did effective dynamic tension exercises, you could build a decent physique without using any exercise equipment other than your own body.

Here’s a similar quote by another Atlas system user:

“In the past I have use many methods and apparatus (weights, bullworker, expanders etc)but I am always very sceptical about everything you have to mount on doors etc. For the last 3 years I am using Dynamic Tension and it’s by far the best method ever. Not only I am stronger than ever before, I feel healthier and with more energy also. And it feels much more natural than the artificial apparatus training methods. Just, stick with the best!”

It amazes me to read of people who prefer Atlas’s system over all other exercise methods.

As I think about this, men in ancient times might have used similar methods to build those classic physiques replicated in statues.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons


“How Do You Do The Perpetual Lesson?.” Charles Atlas Forum. www.dynamictension.com/bb/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=332&sid=9fcff4bf0c972ddec1328fe9abdd6c3a (accessed April 18, 2014)