The History of Weightlifting

Ever wondered where it all started? Here’s a tiny bit of background about something most people originally considered a hobby and how it turned out to be a competition amongst ancient people thousands of years ago. It is believed human beings have been around for around 200,000 years. For many, if not all of those years, humans have been doing some sort of weightlifting for sport, exercise, or physical enhancement. Here is a look at how many different ancient cultures approached strength training.

Medieval Scotland
To the Scots, weightlifting wasn’t just a great way to stay in shape, but also a right of passage. As early as the year 1020, Scottish kingdoms had their own large stones meant to be lifted as a show of strength and power. 

Individual clans had their own giant rocks called “Clach cuid fir” or “manhood stones” that acted as the final test a boy in the clan would have to pass before officially being a man. These stones weighed anywhere from 200lbs to 400lbs or more!

Ancient China
Weightlifting is and has been a worldwide practice since its inception. As far back as 3600 B.C. the Chinese military featured intense exercise routines and weightlifting tests to be passed to join their armies. 

Strength was not only valued by the military however, farmers and peasants commonly held weightlifting competitions for entertainment in which competitors would lift heavy cooking vessels called “dings”, hoist deer over their heads, and even attempt to uproot trees.

Ancient Greece
Perhaps the most well-known old world powerlifters due to the Olympic Games, the Greeks have valued strength for centuries. Greece was the birthplace of the gymnasium and was an incredibly valued publicly funded place for athletes and soldiers to workout. 

Ancient Greeks also used a rudimentary form of the dumbbell called a haltere. It was a stone with handles carved into it and was meant to be lifted with the arms or held for increased strain on leg exercises. 

Mesopotamia 
As early as 3500 BC, Sumerians, much like their Chinese counterparts considered their health and wellness to be as mighty as their swords and shields. The healthier and the more muscular they are the better off they are. As early pictographs and petroglyphs suggest these alone can determine their military supremacy thus scaring tribes away even before they plan to attack. 

And last but definitely not the least; 

Ancient Egypt
Around the same period of 3500 BC, weightlifting was considered to be the most popular show of strength by locals. Some also believe the sport was engraved into Egyptian history so much so that one can say the whole sport originated from them. 

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