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Pumping Iron – The Printed Version

This past weekend, I watched the 1977 documentary film Pumping Iron. (I sense quizzical looks and raised eyebrows from my coworkers but anyhow…) The film documents the final stretch leading up to the 1975 Mr. Olympia bodybuilding competition and focuses on the man who is now the Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger and his rivalry with Lou Ferrigno, who gained fame as the Incredible Hulk in the TV series.

During the opening credits I was surprised to see, “Based on the book…” and had to check into this. Sure enough, Pumping Iron: The Art and Sport of Bodybuilding is a 1974 book by Charles Gaines and George Butler who had a keen interest in the “sub-culture” of bodybuilding during the time that has come to be known as the “The Golden Age” of bodybuilding, a time when mass and size were less important than symmetry and definition of the body.

First edition, first printing copies in good condition are now selling for as much as $400 on AbeBooks.

First Edition, First Printing Copy of Pumping Iron by Charles Gaines, George Butler

First Edition, First Printing Copy of Pumping Iron by Charles Gaines, George Butler

My discoveries didn’t end there either. Lo and behold, there is a 1984 sequel called Pumping Iron II: The Unprecedented Woman. And yes, there is also a film documentary to accompany this book.

The film was an interesting behind-the-scenes look at the life of die-hard bodybuilders and offered some interesting insight on Schwarznegger. I’m curious as to what angle the book took as it was released prior to the competition documented on the film. Hmmm…a bookstore here in Victoria has a copy…

The greatest feeling you can get in a gym, or the most satisfying feeling you can get in the gym is… The Pump. Let’s say you train your biceps. Blood is rushing into your muscles and that’s what we call The Pump. You muscles get a really tight feeling, like your skin is going to explode any minute, and it’s really tight – it’s like somebody blowing air into it, into your muscle. It just blows up, and it feels really different. It feels fantastic.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger

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