Were The Muscle Magazines Really That Bad?
Many of us were drawn to weight lifting and bodybuilding from different angles. Maybe it was a super hero’s strength and larger than life physique. Maybe it was Rocky’s high intensity training and underdog mentality. Maybe it was an old rusty weight set in the basement that sparked interest in training. We all have our stories, but one thing that I find consistent across members of our community is an early dive into the muscle magazines. . Looking back, we now know that most of the pages were filled with marketing schemes and misinformation with sexy headlines. In my opinion, magazines and mainstream and social media play a big role in the spread of misinformation and are partly responsible for why old beliefs die so hard. But just like Who-ville was thankful for the Grinch stealing Christmas in the end, I am thankful for the existence of muscle magazines in hindsight. After adopting a more evidence-based and holistic approach to the sport, it’s easy to look back and laugh at the old magazines. While yes, I agree that magazines should not be used as sole learning resources, I am thankful for their existence. Here’s why… . The magazines made me excited to read and learn. They made me excited to apply what I was learning in the gym and assess the results. I quickly found out that not all authors were the same. I gravitated more toward the PhD’s and those who cited research rather than just a pretty face. Reliability and accuracy aside, the magazines gave me a BS detector…it just wasn’t calibrated. I learned that I had an insatiable thirst for knowledge that could be used to change my life. I learned that knowledge truly was power. I learned just how powerful and influential a well-written piece could be. The magazines gave me heroes to look up to…both physically and educationally. Most importantly, they provided grounding and direction at a pivotal time of discovery in my developmental teenage years. . So don’t be too hard on the muscle magazines. Don’t forget that they (along with Pumping Iron, of course!) were foundational to many of the best in the industry today. The August 2008 edition of Muscle and Fitness was my first. What was yours?