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a system of physical exercises performed using various types of weights—barbells, dumbbells, block units, and other sports equipment—with the aim of developing the muscles of the human body. In the USA, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, and some other countries the term “body-building” has also been adopted.
Exercises with weights in order to develop the body’s strength and beauty were practiced in ancient Greece and Rome and in time spread to many countries. In Great Britain at the end of the 19th century, the German E. Sandow worked out the basic principles of modern physical culture. International body-building contests have been held since 1901, and since the mid-20th century there have been annual world championships in physical culture. In 1946 the International Federation of Physical Culture was organized, which in 1974 included about 80 national federations. The International Olympic Committee does not recognize physical culture as a sport or the contests between physical culturists as sports competitions. During the 1950’s professional physical culture became widespread in a number of countries. It emphasized muscle size and ignored the overall harmony of physical development and health (an excessive increase in muscle size results in deterioration of health, impairment of joint mobility, and loss of coordination).
In the USSR during the 1960’s physical culture sections (athleticism, calisthenics) were organized in a number of sports societies, but physical culture has not become widely popular.