Angelo Siciliano was your typical 90-pound weakling. He was born in Italy in 1892 but moved with his family to Brooklyn, New York when he was 11. One day while Angelo was at the beach in Coney Island, a bully kicked sand in his face. Since the bully was considerably larger than him, the 97-pound Siciliano opted to do nothing in response other than wipe the sand out of his eyes. But this event inspired him to begin an exercise program to pack muscle on his scrawny frame. He tried various forms of exercise, including free weights, pulley exercises, and even calisthenics. But he proved to be the classic hard gainer, in that he showed little or no response to these exercises. However, it isn't recorded as to how he did these varied exercises. For example, if he overtrained with the weights, as is common with overenthusiastic beginners, this would not be amenable to promoting muscle gains. Indeed, overtraining is the only way that beginners won't make gains since any type of exercise produces gains when you first start lifting. An epiphany occurred with Angelo when he visited a local zoo and observed some lions stretching. He noted the great body mass of the lions and reasoned that if the animals could build that much mass just by pitting one muscle against another, why wouldn't it work equally well for humans? Of course, this is faulty science on several levels. For one, lions do not get bigger by pitting one muscle against another. Another problem is still current today: what works for animals won't necessarily work for humans. In any case, the story was said to be the genesis for a specific style of training that Sciilliano adopted, which didn't involve any exercise equipment but rather worked by flexing muscles as intensely as possible. He called this system Dynamic Tension.
Another reason why Angelo developed his equipment-free training system was that he was too poor to join a gym, even a YMCA. But he did go to the gyms and observe how various exercises for different muscle groups were done. When he went home, he mimicked those exercises using his own body as the primary form of resistance. He also avidly read the bodybuilding magazines available at the time, and this, too, provided ideas on how to perfect his training system. He used the system and developed enough muscle mass to win the title of "America's most perfectly developed man" in a contest held at Madison Square Garden in 1922. He defeated 775 other men to win the title, and the promoter announced that he would no longer hold the contest since Angelo would "win every year."The contest was promoted by Bernarr MacFadden, who published the first bodybuilding magazines in the United States and later inspired a young Canadian named Joe Weider to emulate his success. That same year, 1922, Angelo Siciliano . . .