Hard Body


We had the pre-teen gym boys in our cabin with the mid-teen gym boys this weekend, and the talk was all about two things: how to get a ‘hard body’ and how to acquire the assorted acrobatic skills that Leo (and Jaymee) have learned from us over the years. This post focuses on the first thing – the so-called ‘hard body’ – like that guy.

Whatever muscle he needs to do whatever it is he wants to do, he’s got it, and it shows! What it shows is interesting: it is not about BIG muscle – it is about STRONG muscle – and there is a huge difference in the way you train, between the two.

If you want to be acrobatic – and remain athletic to do the tumbling and whatnot – then this next is about as far as you should go with muscle size:


Here’s a fully professional acrobat we all admire – Ed Upcott – holding a straight top planche which is quite a tough move needed shoulder and chest/back musculature of iron – his muscles are certainly not huge, but they are powerful (check him out on YouTube!):


The bottom line for training with weights is ‘little and often’ – modest weights, many repetitions. Coupled with a sensible diet and plenty of ‘normal’ exercise like running, the magic will work!

The ‘human flag’, for example, does not need huge muscles – just power and stamina:


What do you think of these two gym buddies?


Is one somehow ‘better’ than the other? the right-hand guy seems to have more muscle development, but who is stronger? My guess is the guy on the left. Most likely, we find, gym buds lift the same poundages: left is ‘slim and strong’, right is maybe more developed but very likely no stronger than his friend. It all depends on what you want – and, crucially, what you eat and what you do when not in the gym.

Next exhibit:


Power lifter. A huge mass to lift – just once. One massive surge of energy needed, and then you’re done. Is this how the average guy should train? Absolutely not. Modest weights build stamina and resilience – you can keep the effort going for much longer, and this is what most sports demand. Inn fact, there is a loose relationship between muscle mass and duration of activity – marathon runners are skinny but have huge cardiovascular resource to keep going for over 26 miles – you wouldn’t see that power lifter get much further than the first mile, probably!

So, younger lads should aspire to something like this and will keep very active:


This is about right for a more mature lad doing something requiring strength (like acrobatics):


…whereas this next lad is definitely going for body-building as such, which is perfectly fine but definitely starts to limits one’s agility:


…but good luck to him: he’s proud of what he has built – especially those shoulders I should think. And the trickle o sweat between his pectorals is evidence of the hard work he has been willing to commit to to get his result.

We do have this ‘sweat is good’ philosophy when it comes to training:


That’s either been a very intense workout or has been ‘engineered’ for the picture. But sports like boxing or wrestling push out the sweat during the actual performance, of course:



The moral here, perhaps, is that young guys should build the body they need to do the sport they love best, and remember that size isn’t everything! Especially if you want to work as an acrobatic ‘top’:


My neck is really creaking today after spending some hours yesterday with my son balancing on my head! I don’t really need him to get any heavier although, in principle, we (adults) all trained to take each other’s weight anyway so I ought not to be struggling with him. He’s past the ‘growth spurt’ stage and into the ‘filling out’ stage – putting on the muscle to match the extension of his bone structure – so there’ll still be some weight to add. He support Jaymee on his head of course: she’s likely to end up a little lighter than him. But it’s the shoulder strength he needs for arm balancing:


So there we are. End of short lecture on how (or how not) to build up the teen-boy body for sport. I guess that we were successful “in our day”, as told here:

cover1-thumbcover2-thumbLoving the Boy: ISBN 978-1-907732-30-0

The Power of Love: ISBN 978-1-907732-41-6

Against All Odds: ISBN 978-1-908645-35-7


A few more Tone-approved hard young bodies for you, starting with a bit of history! Damn, no year shown…


Where are these magazines today? It’s just huge bodybuilders, apart from Men’s Health which is far too commercial. I used to get a magazine called ‘Exercise for Men Only’ which featured more ‘normal’ guys development (and no hidden connotation about the peculiar title), but it seems to have pretty much disappeared. Oh well. On with the show!





And to finish, perfect proportions!


About tony

Born Northampton UK
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3 Responses to Hard Body

  1. Platinumboy says:

    In reference to your question about the magazine “Jr.”, the answer probably is fear of charges of child pornography. The author of stillrowing7.tumblr.com makes an interesting comment with one of his entries. It is a still of the cover of an old magazine called “Champs” featuring two physically fit, naked young men. He is one of the young men. The cover is apparently from the late sixties or early seventies. He infers he is underage in the photo, though he does not explicitly say he is underage in the photo. Life in the United States was quite different until the 1980’s or so when the Meese Commission report on pornography came out. Prior to the Meese report, underage nudity in photographs and film (to be differentiated from child pornography) was considered perfectly acceptable. In the film “Captains Courageous” from the 1930’s, the main character (an orphan boy) is being taken from the local monastery to be apprenticed to a local man. The child (played by Billy Bartholomew?) is harassed on the walk to his new home by local boys (because he is wearing a monk’s robe and hat). They strip him naked. The camera clearly captures the boy from the rear, naked head to foot, naked rear end clearly visible. He is shown naked from the front holding a hat over his penis, but still clearly naked. Fast forward to the 1960’s and the opening credits for the film “Pollyanna”. This is viewable on Youtube. The opening credits feature boys skinnydipping with full rear views of the boys naked head to foot. “Pollyanna” is a “G”-rated Disney movie. Also, the internet is full of evidence (see boysswimnude.tumblr.com) of high school yearbook photos and newspaper articles featuring naked males posing for their swimteam photos. High Schools were publishing photos of their male swim teams, completely, full frontal naked, in their yearbooks with no legal penalty. The abovementioned tumblr also features contemporary newspaper articles about mothers objecting to proposed requirements that their boys wear swimsuits in swim meets. The mothers actually wanted their sons to compete naked in public. They saw nothing wrong with it, apparently. Public nudity, at least for boys, was considered proper in my childhood. The magazine published by and for the Boy Scouts of America and Life magazine also put naked, underage, non-pornographic photos of boys on their covers. Today, that would be unthinkable.

  2. Pingback: On Wild Swimming – and On Being Happy in Your ‘Skin’ | Tony Cavanagh

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