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This is THE PLACE for incredible feats, classic and unique equipment, advertisements, magazine covers, Olympic Champions, gymnastics, myths and legends, oldtime physical culture and everything else you can think of having to do with the history of physical training! -- There ain't nothin' like it anywhere else! You'll want to check back several times per day, we update often.

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Marian Zieliński

Marian Zieliński, the Polish weightlifter who took part in four Olympic games, is shown here in mid-press. Zieliński was the first Polish athlete to win an Olympic weightlifting medal when he took Bronze as a featherweight at the 1956 Games in Melbourne, Australia. At the 1960 Games in Rome he tried moving up to the lightweight class and finished fourth.

As a lightweight, he won two more Bronze medals, in Tokyo, 1964 and Mexico City, in 1968. Zieliński was also a three-time European champion and seven-time Polish Champion.

Bill Pearl Strongman Bodybuilder

Bill Pearl is one of the greatest bodybuilders of all time, having won many different bodybuilding titles over his colorful career.

Something you may not realize though is that Bill also began performing traditional feats of strength such as license plate ripping (pictured), chain breaking, spike bending, card tearing and even Nail Driving because he "felt that he should BE as strong as he looked." I don't think we'll see his ilk again any time soon.

Muscle Control - "The Rope"

The art of muscle control is about training voluntary control of involuntary muscles. Here, the great muscle control master Otto Arco demonstrates one of the most difficult and impressive muscle control feats: "The Rope."

You'll notice the abdominal muscles are tensed while holding an abdominal vacuum, a very striking effect. This feat is much more difficult (and much more impressive) with the arms overhead like this, indicating that Otto Arco was truly in a class by himself.

Thomas Inch and Hints on The Art of Expander Pulling

It took me four years but I finally tracked down a copy of the rare course "The Art of Expander Pulling" by Thomas INch -- and it was worth the wait. There's no date on it but I would guess it was printed in the 1920's and as far as rare training courses, this one is simply impossible to find.

Thomas Inch, who is probably most famous for his incredible grip strength and his "unliftable" dumbbell was actually a very well rounded strongmen who excelled in many different types of feats - and some of his favorites were with chest expanders.

In his strongman act he used to do a standard press out with a 56 lb. kettlebell hanging on each thumb, and the expander generally had 30 strands on it.

Not bad at all...

Here's a few hints from the master:
"The first thing to do is to make sure your expander is of the detachable kind."

"The Secret to great strength is gradual progression, and as there is no doubt whatever that a large majority of physical culturists only use expanders so that they may become stronger than their fellows, it behoves them to practice themselves in a position to practice on the right lines and this means using handles which will take several strands."

"When starting out, enter the number of strands you find comfortable and easy to exercise with, going right through your movements without a pause, if possible, thus developing endurance as well as mere muscle."

"Start with, say, only five or six repetitions each hand of each exercise, and gradually work up to ten each hand. Keep at ten for a week or two, then return to five or six repetitions, and add another strand."

"The weight lifter will be advised to use a strong pull in every day work, and each day, or every other day, try himself out on strength tests I have previously quoted with a view to increasing pushing power for different lifts."
All good info, and all very useful if you happen to be paying attention.

Just goes to show you that sound training info never gets old. Chest Expanders, of course, make a great addition to any training program. We've actually reprinted this course and include it with "All About Strand Pulling" by Syd Devis if you would like to check out you own copy.

Earle E. Liederman - "Why Anyone Can Become Strong"

"...So I say that a man can become strong no matter how much nature has handicapped him by giving him a lack of inches, or a small frame. Even those in ill-health can be made strong, because exercise promotes health. In turn muscle can be made to grow on the healthy body, and with muscle will come strength.

Some of the strongest men I know are little fellows; that is, little so far as height goes, for in every other way they are miniature giants. And most of them are strong today because they got tired of being snubbed and imposed on for their lack of inches and their dearth of strength.

Almost anyone who earnestly desires to, can make himself strong; not just ordinarily strong, but very much stronger than the average man, little or big. And to become strong -- to add size and strength to your body, or in other words to develop it -- takes much less time than to cultivate the mind."

Arthur Jones & Friends

Arthur Jones and a few of his "friends" are shown here during one of Arthur's many trips to Africa. Arthur had a keen understanding of animal behavior and the natural world which allowed him to come to a better understanding of the factors that make strength training "work".
Tags: Arthur Jones

The Whitely Giant Power Grip!

My friend Sarah found this cool old-time hand gripper in an antique shop somewhere in Michigan and snapped it up for a few bucks. – What a steal! There's no date on this gripper but I’ve seen the design before in a lot of old magazines going back at least as far as the 1920's. The one above is in mint condition (including the box) and still a pretty good challenge with all six springs. The Whitely Giant Power Grip was made by Moosehead-Whitely, Inc., in Hackensack, New Jersey.

Steve Jeck - The Stonelifter

"There is strength and permanence to stone. And because stones last, the stories of the men who lift them as well. When one embraces an ancient testing stone, he also embraces the history of that stone. He must exert that same Herculean effort and his body will suffer the same toll as all those hearty lads who dared to hoist the same load. He will also know, if victorious, the same exhilaration and pride felt by his worthy predecessors."

Here's One Guy With GUTS!

Here's one guy with GUTS! Cannonball Richards sets himself to stand the combined power of nine men who rammed this wooden beam into his mid-section a moment after this photo was taken. Cannonball took the blow with ease (of course!)

Ed Yarick

In addition to running one of the most popular gyms in the land, the 6'4" Yarick won the tall class in the "Mr. Pacific Coast" bodybuilding contest and was also the coach of the 1952 National Jr. Weightlifting Team.

Yarick's Gym was located at 3355 Foothill Blvd. in Oakland, California and was one of the centers of the strength world on the West coast. It was also where Steve reeves got his start and the training headquarters at various times of Roy Hilligenn, John Davis, Clancy Ross, Jack Delinger, Tommy Kono and Doug Hepburn (among others).
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