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Charles Atlas Body Builder

Updated on November 14, 2016

Angelo Siciliano - Charles Atlas Body Builder

I came across an article that influenced me to want to know more about the man, Charles Atlas (Angelo Siciliano ). I remember people talking about him when I was a kid. I even remember seeing his ads in comics. My brother would sometimes imitate the man by holding up his arm as if he had muscles. My brother was very short, small in stature and probably resembled the "old" Angelo Siciliano before he became the "Charles Atlas" Angelo. We would just laugh not thinking much of it.

I am sure my folks saw him on the famous TV show, What's My Line. My folks loved that show. I was always fascinated with his story. He immigrated to this country from Italy with his family. He had a very small frame and apparently took a lot of verbal and physical abuse because of it. He was determine to fix the problem and did just that. What I found interesting was the controversy of whether or not he used weights . There is some recorded documentation that states he never used weights. There are family stories, neighbors who know him, a physician who knew him who state that he never used weights or any kind of exercise equipment. However, during my research, other stories indicated that he build his muscle body up by using various forms of exercise initially, using weights, pulley-style resistance, and gymnastic style calisthenics. He may have tried weight but decided against them. As the story goes, he did indicate that this type of exercise wasn't giving him the results he was looking for.

By observation of animals at a zoo, Charles Atlas came to the conclusion that these great cats developed their strength and muscle by pitting muscle against muscle (stretching) (Dynamic Tension).

CHARLES ATLAS "Most Perfectly Developed Man"

Most Perfectly Developed Man

Atlas won a "Most Perfectly Developed Man" contest at Madison Square Garden in 1922, and continued to use the title the rest of his life..

Charles Atlas

By Wikipedia

Charles Atlas, born Angelo Siciliano (October 30, 1892[1], Acri, Italy - December 23, 1972, Long Beach, New York[2]) was the developer of a bodybuilding method and its associated exercise program, most well-known for a landmark advertising campaign featuring his name and likeness, which has been described as one of the most lasting and memorable ad campaigns of all time.[3]

According to Atlas, he trained himself to develop his body from that of a "scrawny weakling", eventually becoming the most popular muscleman of his day. He took the name "Charles Atlas" after a friend told him he resembled the statue of Atlas on top of a hotel in Coney Island,[2] and legally changed his name in 1922. His company, Charles Atlas Ltd., was founded in 1929 and, as of 2009, continues marketing a fitness program for the "97-pound weakling." The company is now owned by Jeffrey C. Hogue.

Born Angelo Siciliano (also called Angelino) in Acri, in Calabria, Italy in 1892, he moved to Brooklyn, New York in 1905, took the name Charles, and became a leather worker. Siciliano worked hard to develop his physique; he tried many forms of exercise initially, using weights, pulley-style resistance, and gymnastic style calisthenics. Atlas claimed they did not build his body but obviously it is unlikely that his body would not respond to external resistance. Atlas was inspired by other fitness and health advocates who preceded him. World-renowned strongman Eugene Sandow, and Bernarr MacFadden, creator of "Physical Culture," both set the stage for Atlas.

After being bullied, the young Siciliano joined the YMCA, and began to do numerous exercise routines. He became obsessed with strength. According to several stories/claims, Siciliano allegedly watched a tiger stretching in the zoo, and asked himself, "How does Mr. Tiger keep in physical condition? Did you ever see a tiger with a barbell?"[citation needed] He concluded that lions and tigers became strong by pitting muscle against muscle.[4]

Charles Atlas

Comics-Enhanced Advertising Strategy

Charles Roman's comics-enhanced advertising strategy caused Atlas' body-building program to become, periodic doldrums aside, one of the most successful long-term mail-order businesses in history.

Charles Roman helped put Charles Atlas on the map.

Charles Atlas Greek God

A friend remarked, "You look like that statue of Atlas on top of the Atlas Hotel at Coney Island.


Iron Works made in the USA

Once again, through my research, I found a very unique and fun site. This is a must for the art lover. Just click on at the photo credit ATLAS.

Photo credit: Atlas

I Challenge You To A Duel

Is the Jury still out? Did Charles Atlas lift weights to develop his physique. Or, did he build his body like many using his own system, Dynamic Tension.

Did Charles Atlas lift weights? I say No!

Isometric Exercises

Isometric exercises is a form of resistance training in which the participant uses the muscles of the body to exert a force either against an immovable object or to hold the muscle in a fixed position for a set duration of time. In this type of exercise, the muscle is contracted but does not change length during the exertion of force. Additionally the joint most closely associated with the effort remains static throughout the exercise.

Note: Check with your doctor before preforming any new exercises.

  • The Plank:

    Start out by lying flat on the floor.

    Slowly raise the body so you are resting on your toes and forearms.

    Keep the back flat and the abdominal muscles taut.

    Hold the position for 10-30 seconds.

    Repeat the exercise 2-3 times.

    Isometric Shoulder Raises - for shoulder improvement:

    Stand with the feet shoulder-width apart and the knees slightly bent.

    Grasp a dumbell in each hand and raise the weight out towards your side until it is at shoulder length and your arm is parallel to the ground.

    Hold the weight in this position for 10-30 seconds.

    Repeat the exercise 2-3 times.


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    • blue22d profile image

      blue22d 5 years ago

      Thank you "notimetoulouse" for stopping by and blessing (I think) my lens. I enjoyed learning about the Charles Atlas and his techniques. I have tried and still occasionally apply his dynamic tension myself. We all should do it more often but most of us are to lazy and need to use gyms or fancy equipment when exercising.

    • jeffersonline profile image

      jeffersonline 5 years ago

      A great lens that keeps the memory of Charles Atlas alive. Thanks for taking the time to research it for us all..must leave some Angel Dust here before I go...

    • jeffersonline profile image

      jeffersonline 5 years ago

      A great lens that keeps the memory of Charles Atlas alive. Thanks for taking the time to research it for us all..must leave some Angel Dust here before I go...

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Hey Sandy

      Great read, Its amazing how far along we came in the area of fitness and bodybuilding. It would be pretty amazing if he built up his frame without the use of weights. Maybe if he had a strong diet and did some form of exercise. Thanks for sharing



      P.S. If you do any weight lifting or exercise yourself check out my website

    • blue22d profile image

      blue22d 7 years ago

      Thanks again for stopping by and taking time to share your thoughts.

    • CliveAnderson LM profile image

      CliveAnderson LM 7 years ago

      A truly great lens, it is amazing how things have moved on, even though 1922 was not really that long ago and although he had what appears to be a good shaped body for a man his age back then, in today's society he would just be a fairly well shaped older man. The bodybuilders and strongmen of today are mountains in comparison... Thanks for sharing this great subject.

      Warm Regards,


    • profile image

      Oosquid 7 years ago

      I fondly remember those ads - you don't want to get sand kicked in your face! :0) Very interesting lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I really enjoyed this lens. Well done!

    • momto4 lm profile image

      momto4 lm 8 years ago

      Wow! What an amazing man! He had a great body!

    • papawu profile image

      papawu 8 years ago

      Charles Atlas was way before my time but I had done a bit of reading about him when I went through my weightlifting/body building phase. I remember the ads in the old magazines in which he was a scrawny kid getting sand kicked in his face by the muscle bound bully and how he built himself up. I'd say he was the first real celebrity of fitness which brought about the likes of Jack Lalane and Joe Weider and the likes.