People have used bodybuilding to improve their physical performance for at least 1,500 years. The first recorded example was the sixth-century wrestler, Milo of Croton, in southern Italy. Milo reportedly carried out his daily exercises with a calf on his back. As the calf grew into a full sized ox, so too did Milo’s legendary strength.
In the 1940s this concept of what has come to be known as progressive resistance exercise was developed more scientifically by US Army physician Thomas DeLorme to assist the recovery of injured service men and polio sufferers. It is a simple idea: lift a weight you can manage for a set routine and when after numerous training sessions it becomes too light, increase the weight. You repeat the process over and over and it leads to substantially improved strength. This is because the muscle adapts by growing to deal with heavier loads. DeLorme applied these principles to his own physical training and is said to have been formidably strong.