Physical Culture

Athletes of the first physical culture era knew that, if you couldn’t hold onto something, you were going to have a really hard time lifting it. Bottom line? Grip strength matters! During the late 19th to early 20th century, the physical culture movement in the United States was on fire. More than 8000 athletic clubs opened across the United States between 1900 and 1914 alone. The idea of physical culture benefited from this surge in awareness and, as the population as a whole became more active, its popularity among the mainstream exploded.

Today we are experiencing the same kind of surge, both in the awareness of and people’s participation in a new “modern” physical culture movement. Explosive but fragmented growth is evident in the recent popularity of everything from pilates to suspension training, from cycling to cross-fit, and from metabolic resistance training to high-intensity interval training. At Atlas Bells, we have built our products and training programs on the foundations of what we term the “origin of strength.” We’ve revived the style of both the tools and the techniques that were proven to be effective during that first physical culture movement.

Why did we do this? We did it in order to bring the focus back to full body strength and natural movement. An Atlas Bell workout incorporates the use of no fewer than thirty-five muscles in every lift. Long before the word “core” was the most over-utilized catchphrase in the fitness world, the real strongmen of the day had recognized the value of having a strong midsection. The abdominals, the obliques, and the lower back are literally at the center of a human being’s strength. When you are successful at maximizing these, then you are able to finally achieve full-body strength!

This is “muscle irradiation” as opposed to “muscle isolation.” Think in terms of “muscle software” instead of “muscle hardware.” It’s the strength of the neural signal going to the muscle fibers, rather than the size of the muscle fibers themselves. Atlas Bells equipment continually promotes muscle irradiation due to their thick grip constructions and the dynamic inertia and instability provided by the shot-loaded spherical designs that allow for movement of the media within the sphere.

Our equipment delivers the benefits typified by what’s currently being described as “strongman” training. Call it what you like, but put most simply… it’s about power generation. If someone wants to actually be strong and not just “appear” strong, then they must adopt the principles of developing full-body power and apply them, using full-body movements to build full-body strength. Grip strength is increased when full body tension is incorporated. With Atlas Bells all of the exercises incorporate a solid grip element and inherent dynamic instability by virtue of their design. An athlete using Atlas Bells equipment is forced to concentrate on power generation, not grip work!