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Bodybuilders Tried Jean-Claude Van Damme’s Hardest Movie Workouts

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YouTube’s Buff Dudes, also known as bodybuilders Brandon and Hudson White, made it their business to take on the grueling workouts of some of your favorite action movie actors.

You previously did Jackie Chan’s movie workouts, Michael B. Jordan’s Creed workouts, The Rocks Black Adam workout, and Chris Hemsworth’s Thor: Love and Thunder workout. And in their latest YouTube video, they record the training sessions of one of the action movie greats: Jean-Claude Van Damme.

“This guy was different,” says Brandon at the beginning of the video. “He had something that no one else had … the divisions!” Likewise, the boys – along with their father Duke – took over some of JCVD’s best training montages and tried to see if they could manage his infamous splits.

The workouts and movements include:

Behind the Neck Pulls (by Double Team)
Hudson gets up first and hits the bar to see how many neck pulls he can do in a row. He does an impressive 13 reps, followed by Duke. They find that JCVD ​​is 60 years old and Duke is almost 4 years older. In his attempt, he manages 7 repetitions. And finally, Brandon makes his shot and does 10 reps.

“I think I did van damage to my shoulders,” says Brandon. “They don’t usually tell you to do things behind the neck … a little more dangerous than the typical pull-up, but that’s what Van Damme is all about.”

Spring Fist Pushups (from In Hell)
These closed fist pushups require you to jump up and lift your legs after each repetition. With a stack of tires and a dirt floor, the guys get there, with Hudson standing first and doing 10 reps. “That hurt … I’ll say Van-Damn-It,” says Hudson.

Next up is Duke, who rips off his shirt for his incredible 12 reps. Brandon makes his shot and repeats 15 pushups.

Dance break (from kickboxer)
The guys took a break to mimic some of the iconic JCVD ​​dance moves he has done in his films.

“Not only did he do the splits, he also did some tough dance choreography,” says Brandon. “Lots of hip movement in there.”

And so the guys try to put their best dance moves together, with Duke showing his moves first. He dips it and pans out of breath in a side-by-side frame with JCVD ​​for four minutes. But when it comes to Hudson and Brandon, they back off.

“That was actually a joke … we’re not going to do that shit,” laughs Brandon.

Tea Party (from Blood sports)
“Our workout is almost complete, but it wouldn’t be complete without the tea scene,” says Hudson, who is holding a teapot on a tray. “I need to appease my Sensei and his wife, who happens to be my mother too, by pouring tea for them with blindfolded eyes. I can’t see and hope to do my best.

Both Hudson and Brandon attempt and water successfully … with Brandon also deliberately pouring the water on his father Duke’s head and lap. Duke makes both boys the iconic chop movement.

The Splits (from every Van Damme movie of all time)
The guys use a machine to see how far anyone can do a center split. Brandon tries first and is able to spread his legs to 5 feet (60 inches). Hudson is next, beating his brother an inch who measures at 61 inches. “Where’s the ice ?!” says Hudson after his attempt.

After all, Duke is on top and can only make it up to 55 inches.

With that the training session is over and all the boys agree that they feel like they are through the wrestler.

“We’re all a little van-damaged, but we had a lot of fun,” says Brandon. “But thank you Van Damme for entertaining us all these years.”

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Men’s Health

The Most American Flex Is a Fitness Fad

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As exercise equipment maker Peloton Interactive Inc. struggles to reinvent itself, investors must decide whether it’s worth giving the fallen Wall Street star a second chance. Let history be their guide.

Not just the company’s history. Modern humans’ relationship with physical fitness provides a cautionary tale for future investors in the next big exercise craze — and rest assured, there will be another.

Why do Americans go to such extravagant lengths to stay in shape? The rise of the so-called physical culture movement in the late 1800s, along with its close cousin, “Muscular Christianity,” marked a newfound obsession with fitness in Western nations, particularly the United States.

These movements grew out of a strange amalgam of pseudoscience, theology and anxiety about the future of native-born Whites in late 1800s. Enormous numbers of immigrants were flooding into the US and many of these Whites expressed unease that “Anglo-Saxons,” as they referred to themselves, had become “overcivilized” and soft.

Thus native-born Whites increasingly embraced team sports, outdoor activities and mandatory physical education in public schools. Private groups like the Young Men’s Christian Association, or YMCA, also promoted exercise, opening a network of gyms that mixed religion and fitness.

Still, most Americans had little interest in gyms and regimented exercise. After all, they had limited leisure time in those days and got plenty of exercise in their everyday life by walking or doing manual labor.

Moreover, some figures in the physical culture movement seemed, well, weird. Consider Bernard McFadden, a sickly child who renamed himself Bernarr because it evoked the roar of a lion. He made a fortune promoting a regimen of weight-lifting, calisthenics, restrictive diets and brisk walks. He also published a magazine called Physical Culture that became the unofficial voice of the movement. “Weakness Is a Crime,” it declared to would-be readers. “Are you a criminal?”

The eccentric bodybuilder, who courted controversy by promoting exercise for both men and women, was eventually overshadowed by another fanatic with an exclusively male clientele: the Italian immigrant Angelo Siciliano, better known as Charles Atlas. Both men gained fame and fortune hawking their programs, but they would soon be eclipsed by developments in the post-World War II era, when fitness became an abiding obsession of the White middle class.

The new ethos owed much to the suburban ideal of the 1950s. Initially, everything about the suburbs worked against fitness, from the growing dependence on the automobile, the use of buses to shuttle children to centralized schools and the advent of television. Even the single-story ranch houses that defined the era put an end to the exercise provided by going up and down stairs.

In her insightful account of this shift, historian Shelly McKenzie argues that much of the ensuing debate over fitness was framed by a new problem confronting the White middle class: “How could they enjoy the fruits of post-war affluence while also managing their bodies for optimal health?” The solution, McKenzie observed, was “the invention of exercise.”

The movement arguably began with a report by the US National Institutes of Health in 1952 that called attention to obesity as a serious health problem. A year later, a widely read study found an alarming gap between the levels of fitness in American and European children, with 56% of American children failing a standard set of tests versus only 8% of European kids.

The reason, the author concluded, was simple: European children walked a lot, climbed stairs instead of taking the elevator and spent much of their free time playing outside; Americans did not.

This article eventually came to the attention of Dwight Eisenhower, who responded by forming the President’s Council on Youth Fitness. Its leaders, working with advertising executives and other corporate allies, orchestrated an effective public relations campaign that yoked physical fitness to the imperatives of the Cold War, arguing that American boys and men had to get into fighting shape if they were to defeat the Soviets.

But the campaign targeted girls and mothers as well. One spokesman for the program declared that it not only aimed to produce “healthful, vital, masculine men,” but also “active, healthful, vital, feminine women who can mother a vigorous generation.”

All of this marked a sea change in how many Americans viewed exercise and fitness. What had formerly been a subculture associated with eccentric impresarios like Bernarr MacFadden and Charles Atlas was quickly becoming a mainstream preoccupation.

It was also becoming a big business. One of the first to see the potential was the fitness fanatic Jack LaLanne, who opened his first gym in the 1930s. In the 1950s, LaLanne launched several televised programs in which he would perform exercises — he dubbed them “trimnastics” — with the audience following along.

LaLanne, who wore a form-fitting jumpsuit to show off his sculpted body, worked on a set that resembled a suburban living room, much like those occupied by his overwhelmingly suburban, female audience. He preached the virtues of exercise for maintaining “zest” in the “marital bed.” Long before the “Peloton wife” ad stirred controversy, LaLanne’s exhortations openly connected a woman’s physical condition to her sex appeal.

The 1950s also marked the moment when commercial gyms entered the mainstream. A new generation of entrepreneurs like Vic Tanny opened gleaming temples filled with the latest exercise equipment. Tanny, who believed that “good health can be merchandized just like automobiles,” counted half a million men and women as members by decade’s end.

Other fitness chains sought to overturn the age-old adage, “no pain, no gain.” High-end salons like Slenderella, which counted three million clients in 1956, promised women that their machines, which used vibrations or rollers, held out the promise of what McKenzie, the author and historian, has called “effortless exercise.”

A paradox defined these developments. The ease of suburban life left Americans out of shape. But if modern consumer society caused the problem, it could also solve it. For a price, Americans could buy fitness via gyms, exercise programs and other pursuits.

Some of these began modestly. The jogging craze, which required a relatively minimal investment, quickly grew into an entire industry worth half a billion dollars by the end of the 1970s. Other fitness fads, like the workout program founded by Jane Fonda, wedded celebrity culture to new videotape technology to build a mass following.

The fitness business, which encompassed everything from books, tapes, equipment, apparel and gym memberships, kept growing through the 1970s and beyond. Everything from Jazzercise to Nautilus weight-training machines to Pilates gained a following in subsequent years.

In 2022, the fitness business is bigger than it has ever been. In the US, gyms and fitness clubs generate annual revenue of nearly $40 billion; home fitness equipment makers generate nearly $5 billion more.

Set against this backdrop, Peloton is nothing more than the latest entry in a decades-long quest of affluent Americans to stay fit, no matter the price.

More From Other Writers at Bloomberg Opinion:

Peloton’s New Strategy Spins All Over the Place: Andrea Felsted

Peloton’s Real Rival Is Doing Laps of Central Park: Tim Culpan

Will New York’s Fitness Scene Stay Home?: Tara Lachapelle

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Stephen Mihm, a professor of history at the University of Georgia, is coauthor of “Crisis Economics: A Crash Course in the Future of Finance.”

More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com/opinion

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Men’s Health

The MGTOW Movement Explained

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The MGTOW Movement Explained



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Men’s Health

3 Heavy Barbell Back Squat Alternative Exercises for Workouts

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We’ll never say barbell back squats are a terrible exercise—especially since some will argue, convincingly, that the movement is the king of all exercises. But for the average gymgoer wants, this heavyweight staple might not be the best move for their training and needs.

It may sound like leg-day lunacy to even question whether we should be squatting, especially considering the multitude of benefits—from building strength and power, burning fat, improving both core strength and posture to name a few. But unless you’re a pro athlete or a powerlifter whose sole pursuit in the weight room is to lift as heavy as possible (specifically in the back squat!), there may not be as much need for you to rely on the back squat as the backbone of your leg day.

You might even be putting yourself at a disadvantage, especially if your physiology isn’t ideal for the movement, or your goals don’t align with exactly what the back squat will do. According to Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, CSCS, and Mathew Forzaglia, NFPT, CPT, founder of Forzag Fitness, there are plenty of effective lower-body exercise options that can provide the same benefits and possibly even do more for you to increase your leg day gains.

“There’s a very, very good chance that for all your leg goals, whether you’re trying to get more athletic, whether you’re trying to get stronger, whether you just want to burn some calories and just want to move a little bit that there are a bunch of exercises aside from the back squats that will be safer than the back squat and still get you all your goals,” Samuel says.

Why Back Squats Might Not Work for You

You Don’t Need to Back Squat if Athletics Isn’t Your Goal

Sorry to break the news to you, but unless it’s your goal to squat religiously like a powerlifter or you’re a top-level professional or amateur athlete who’s training for a particular sport or activity, the back squat don’t necessarily have to be your go to leg exercise. They do it because it’s part of their job or goals. You on the other hand, can benefit from any other variation without having to get too tied down to squat mechanics.

“Very specific athletes learn the back squat because the back squat itself is a combination of two ideas,” Samuel says. “We have the idea of ​​a squat where we’re driving down, but we also have the idea of ​​a hinge where we’re pushing our butt back slightly and you have to understand completely both of those mechanics before you even think about jumping into the back squat that takes time that is not something you do on your first personal training session.”

Back Squats Might Drag Down the Rest of Your Workout

Back squats are hard. Beginning from the setup and holding the bar on your back can be challenging, especially if you have shoulder mobility issues. Stacking a pile of 45s on your back will not only accelerate the discomfort of your shoulders; the stress will target your lower back as well.

“It opens a window for us to shift as we go down into the squat. And when that happens, we start to overload that lower back and it’s not really needed,” Forzaglia says.

Back Squats Are Limited for Athleticism

You may see NFL athletes loading crazy weight to the squat bar for a few reps, but besides these feats meant to test their max strength, their workouts aren’t strictly dictated by back squats. What you won’t see on social media are the specific leg and core movements that promote athleticism—they’re not as visually appealing as a 500-pound squat, but equally as necessary. That’s why when it comes to athleticism, you need more than just back squats for your training.

Try these 3 back squat alternatives

● Goblet Squat

3 to 4 sets of 8 to 10 reps

Holding a dumbbell or kettlebell in front of you forces you to work from a more upright position while also focusing on keeping your core nice and tight. That makes this variation more spine-friendly than loading a bar with heavy weights on your back. At the same time, you’re also able to blast your legs like a heavy back squat day.

Safety bar squat

3 to 4 sets of 5 to 8 reps

This specialty bar, which provides handles to help manage the load, eliminates the potential discomfort you may get from the back squat. The safety bar squat gives you more freedom to move your shoulders while still forcing you to create tons of core tension. And like the back squat, you can pile on the weight without the shoulder stress.

Rear foot elevated split squat

3 to 4 sets of 8 to 10 reps

You might know this move as the Bulgarian split squat. This single-leg exercise is extremely useful for helping to eliminate muscle imbalances. And although a pro career might not be in your future, rear foot elevated split squats can certainly help to improve your everyday athleticism and functional fitness. You can even go heavy with this move as well.

Jeff Tomko is a freelance fitness writer who has written for Muscle and Fitness, Men’s Fitness, and Men’s Health.

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