August 24, 2016
While kettlebells do certainly have a history in Russia and many other Eastern European countries, what many people don't realize is that kettlebells also have a long tradition in the United States as well.Back in 1902, Alan Calvert founded the Milo Barbell Company -- the very first commercial strength equipment company in America. Along with barbells and dumbbells, Calvert also manufactured kettlebells, one version of which is shown on the right.The Milo Kettlebell consisted of an outer "shell," with the inner plates sectioned to allow for easy progression. The lathed free-rotating wood handle made the kettlebell especially useful for presses and kettlebell swings as evident by the instruction shown in Milo Barbell training courses which Calvert distributed to his clients.
August 24, 2016
Arthur Saxon has a legitimate claim for the greatest strength feat of all time with his bent-press of 371 pounds (he was said to have unofficially done 385 pounds.) Either way, it's a tremendous feat, to lift more weight overhead with one hand than most people can squat with! Here's a little bit from the man himself on how he did it: "I have often been asked what it feels like to press 350 lbs. with one hand, and perhaps to my readers the different sensations experienced will be interesting. In the first place, immediately I start to press the weight away from the shoulder I become perfectly oblivious to everything except the weight that I am lifting. The spectators are obliterated from my mind by the effort of intense concentration which is necessary to enable me to press the weight. I immediately engage myself in a terrific struggle in which the weight and I are competitor, and only one can win, either the weight must be lifted or else I fail. This concentration is, of course, one of the secrets of success in lifting, as I have explained in another part of my book. It enables me to bring forward the last ounce of pushing power, and for the time being to exert strength beyond that normally possessed. As the weight steadily rises aloft perhaps half way it wavers, the balance alters, and I have immediately, yet very carefully and quietly, to adjust my position to the altered balance of the bell. Then I must proceed with the press, my body gradually falling lower toward the left knee, my eyes fixed all the time upon the ponderous weight balanced over my head, ready to fall at a moment's notice should I weaken or place myself in a false position, and should at this moment anyone shout out, it might startle me, make me waver, and cause the weight to fall. Therefore, if I am attempting a world's record in this position, I generally ask for complete silence until I have either failed or succeeded, and I might mention here that to think of failure is to fail, and I always tell myself all the time that I am certain to succeed even though I am attempting a weight more than I have hitherto lifted. Eventually, my arm is straight, and before coming to an upright position I engage in another tussle with the enormous barbell, in which I have to exert all my will power to hold together the flagging powers of tired muscles, which have been strained by the tremendous pressure which 350 lbs. brings on to them in the effort of pressing aloft. By supreme effort of the will I fix the bell in a good position and then stand upright. Often the bar will roll on to the fingers instead of being directly over the wrist, in which case severe pain is inflicted and I have to persevere with the lift under doubly hard conditions, or drop the weight and try again." For more information about Arthur Saxon and his training methods, pick up copies of his two great training books: The Development of Physical Power (1906) and The Textbook of Weight-Lifting (1910)
August 23, 2016
Every culture has it's own "meaning" for strength. Here are a few interesting pictures from a stone lifting contest held at the 7th National Ethnic Games in Yinchuan, Northwest China's Ningxia Province which took place in 2003. At the games, which are held every four years like the Olympics, over 3,700 ethnic athletes from 34 delegations competed. The rules of the stone lifting contest are a bit unlike most stone lifting contests you probably have ever heard of... these Tibetan giants lift the stones any way they can, usually to hold in their arms, placed on shoulders or put up on their backs. From there, they walk along in a circular path and the one who walks the most circles wins. The stone pictured was said to weigh 160 kg (352 lbs.).
August 23, 2016
Among the many strength athletes who have trained with kettlebells is the very first Mr. America Bert Goodrich. In the article which accompanied this photograph, Goodrich mentioned that each of these 'bells weighed 56 pounds, and he used them primarily for shoulder work.
August 23, 2016
John Grimek loved to train with just about everything. Here's the man getting in a quick set of deadlifts with one of Professor Schmidt's Automatic Exerciser machines from way, way, way back in the day. Schmidt machines were a pretty nifty idea even back then, someone should see about bringing them back...
August 22, 2016
To the oldtime bodybuilders and strength athletes "Chest Development" used to mean stretching and enlarging the rib cage, not working the pecs (which is what it has become today.) The theory behind this was simple, the deep breathing from intense leg work (i.e. squats combined with light pullovers did so very effectively. Enlarging the rib box meant wider shoulders and a much greater potential for upper-body growth. To make the technique more effective, a half-moon bench was often used. These unusual pieces of equipment used to be commonplace in many gyms although you're more likely to win the lottery than find one these days. To find out more about leg work, pullovers and chest expansion techniques, you'll want to check out: Super Squats by Randall J. Strossen, The Complete Keys to Progress by John McCallum and The New Bodybuilding for Oldschool Results by Ellington Darden.
August 22, 2016
If you want to practice heavy partial deadlifts or hand-and-thigh lifts, you'll want a setup like Archie Vanderpool here. The strongman (and proud member of the York Barbell Club) from Woodbine, Iowa, specialized on a number of unusual -- and very heavy -- lifts. For example, his record in the lift shown was 1840 pounds. He also liked to do things like shouldering a 1100 pound railroad rail and then going for a walk. He also reported carrying a barbell loaded to 400 pounds for a distance of 80 feet. If this looks and sounds familiar, it's because Archie was good friends with Steve Justa's father.
August 22, 2016
Steve Jeck is fond of saying that "if you want to be a great stone lifter then ya gotta use your head." Here, he shows what he means -- at least in one sense. I don't know the weight of that particular stone but it sure doesn't look light.
August 22, 2016
The York Lifters all used to practice the bent press because the lift built incredible core strength. This, in turn, helped in increasing the Olympic Lifting total. One of the most talented of the bent pressers was Val De Genaro who could lift 215 pounds. Bob Hoffman said that De Genaro had the most perfect bent press technique that he had ever seen. Perhaps due in great part to his bent pressing ability, as a 148 pound lifter, De Genaro could Jerk 290 pounds. He was also an excellent hand balancer who could walk the length of a football field on his hands.
August 22, 2016
Great equipment practically begs to be used and I would say that would definitely be the case here. These classic Globe Barbells, Dumbbells, Kettlebells and Blockweights from a century ago can be found in a Polish Museum.
August 17, 2016
We unfortunately don't know much about this club swingin' gent but this picture was probably taken in the late 1800's. He does have some snappy duds and an excellent mustache though.
August 17, 2016
"Renald and Rudy" were one of the premier handbalancing acts of the vaudeville age. For almost three decades, they traveled all over the country and later appeared on several television shows performing their incredible handbalancing skills. Here they are showing off a bit at the original Muscle Beach in Santa Monica, CA in the early 1950's.
August 17, 2016
The Reg Park Muscle Builder! You got a 10-strand cable outfit ... a wall pulley attachment ... a headstrap ... foot stirrups ... two hand grips ... a mighty chest exercises ... a rowing machine ... and some free courses which gave instructions on how to uses it all. All in all, a pretty sweet deal. Who knows how many youngsters got started on the road to health and strength with this setup? Quite a few, I bet.
August 17, 2016
These days, a lot of folks recommend a big glass of chocolate milk as the best post-workout drink for muscle growth. Perhaps ol' Sandow was on to something a hundred years ago when he came out with his own Health and Strength Cocoa.
August 17, 2016
Here's a spike bent into a loop by the great strongman Milo Barus. Is there anyone today who could do this?
August 17, 2016
As a super-heavyweight, the great German Weightlifter Josef Strassberger won the Gold Medal at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympc Games. He came back four years later to beat his winning total although by the 1932 Los Angeles Games it was only good enough for Bronze. Strassberger set six World Records during his career including his best press of 300 pounds which he accomplished in 1935.
August 17, 2016
The German strongman and weightlifter Paul Trappen's name isn't mentioned very often but it certainly should be. At the 1913 German weightlifting Championships, Trappen defeated both Karl Moerke and Hermann Goerner to win the heavyweight title. Some of Trappen's best lifts were a 320 pound Clean and Jerk, 215 pounds in the one hand clean and jerk and 183 pounds in the one arm press. All impressive marks but the lift which he should be remembered best for is his harness lift of a pair of oxen totaling 5225 pounds - that would make his performance the greatest ever recorded in that particular lift. Trappen also performed for the Barnum and Bailey Circus and did some wrestling in addition to feats of strength.
August 13, 2016
Albert Maes, Belgian weightlifter and strongman shows his stuff with this VERY impressive feat: a combionation of handbalancing and platform lifting. Considering that's got to be close to half a ton, being supported, that's a pretty strong neck.
August 4, 2016
Paul Anderson was ahead of his time in several branches of training. Case in point: in order to specialize on the bench press, he devised this unique machine. Note the many levels of adjustability and the fact that it did not require a spotter, all excellent "reasons" for the machine to exist in the first place.

August, 2016