Bodybuilding Articles

The Godfather of Progressive Resistance

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Before you ever pick up barbell, you should know the story of Milo. It should be posted on the door of every gym.

Milo of Croton was a six-time Olympic wresting champion nearly 3,000 years ago. The legend of Milo and his bull is perhaps one of the most famous weight-training stories of all time.

As legend has it…

… young Milo began training by picking up a newborn calf, placing it on his shoulders and carrying it for one mile. Milo would do this every day. And as the newborn calf gained weight and grew larger, Milo grew bigger and stronger.

Eventually, Milo was carrying a full grown bull on his shoulders for a full mile. And as a result, Milo had developed incredible strength and power.

This story demonstrates one of the guiding principles of training: The principle of progressive resistance.

Adhere to this principle and you can build super-human strength. Add just two pounds to the bar every week and after 12 months you’ll have added 104 pounds to your bench press.

Get greedy and try to add 25lbs to your bench press in one jump and your progress will sputter and stall. The key to consistent gains is progressive resistance.

And we have Milo of Croton to thank for that.

Most people have heard the story of Milo and his bull. But here are some more interesting details about the life in Milo. Keep in mind, the facts have been stretched and exaggerated over the years. So we don’t know if any of this is actually true so take it all with a grain of salt.

* Some people believe Milo ate 20 pounds of meat, 20 pounds of bread and drank 18 pints of wine per day.

* Legend has it that Milo carried his own bronze statue to the Olympia.

* Milo often challenged bigger and stronger man to try and forcibly remove a pomegranate from his grip. No one ever succeeded and despite the enormous grip strength it took to maintain his grasp on the fruit, the pomengranate was never damaged.

* Other reports claim that Milo would stand on a greased shield and challenge others to push him off. No one could.

* Still another report claims Milo could burst a band tied around his head simply by inhaling and forcing the veins in his head to swell.

Is it any of it true? Who knows. And to be honest, it doesn’t matter. The lesson here is the amazing thing that happens when you properly apply the progressive resistance to your training.

Just as the magic of compound interest can grow a dollar into a fortune, the magic of progressive resistance can transform a weakling into a strongman.

Matt Marshall
Matt Marshall is the author of the Tried and True Fitness blog - a site that reveals time-tested methods for building muscle, burning fat and achieving optimum health. To sign up for his newsletter and get free training tips, visit

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