What do ancient Greek athletes, macho Indian wrestlers, trainee English bell-ringers and modern bodybuilders the world over have in common? The answer: Dumbbells!
The Classic Way to Work Out
In ancient Greece, early versions of the Olympic Games featured a version of the long-jump which would not be at home in the modern games: for a start, the athletes would generally compete in the events totally nude, save for a coating of olive oil.
Another peculiarity for a modern audience would be the presence of ‘halteres’: a set of stone free-weights, which the competitors would hold in their hands in order to gain momentum during jumps, with a forward thrust at take-off and rear-thrusts in-flight – these tools would become, arguably, the ancestors of modern dumbbells.
Martial Arts for Macho Men
In the world of Pehlwani wrestling, muscle strength and flexibility training is a vital key to success: in order to achieve the height of physical well-being, practitioners of this extreme discipline often turn to free-weight training, which usually features the use of heavy club-shaped apparatus and stone weights, typically hollowed out and featuring carved handles, which, when used in pairs, could be seen as fore-runners to modern dumbbell designs.
Back in the 1600s, bell-ringing was extremely popular in England, with many trainee bell-ringers looking to improve their strength and technique by practicing with free-weights: this is likely to be where the term ‘dumbbell’ originated, as these bits of kit allowed trainee bell-ringers to practice and train without creating an unholy din!
A Versatile and Convenient Piece of Equipment
Not everyone has room at home for weight machines – Gym membership also costs a pretty penny these days and may not be an option for everyone;
Luckily, dumbbells are the perfect free weights to work-out the entire upper body and even the legs: unlike fancy machines, the fact that the body has to constantly stabilise the equipment means that micro-adjustments are made by muscle groups which would not normally be put to the test by fixed machines.
Small and easy to tuck away at home, this apparatus won’t take up lots of room, which means that ‘my flat is too small’ is no longer an excuse for failing to work out!
A huge range of exercises are possible using this simple equipment: all that you will require is discipline, a set of dumbbells and some free time…go on, follow in the footsteps of the athletes, wrestlers and body-builders of old and get a statuesque physique which would be at home in an ancient Greek temple!
Desmond Wallace is a body-building enthusiast, he makes extensive use of dumbbells in his workout routine; his heroes include Carl Weathers and Arnold Schwarzenegger.