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How to Use Bar Bells...

Here's an advertisement for "Professor Anthony Barker's Strength Maker" course featuring Warren Lincoln Travis, circa 1910. ...And does anyone else find it ironic that the headline touts the intelligent use of a barbell though the accompanying picture shows one of the least intelligent ways to do so?

Jacques Montane ~ Amateur Card Tearing Champion of France

Here's a fellow whose name and exploits seems to have slipped through the cracks of Iron History: Jacques Montane was the Amateur Card Tearing Champion of France in the early 1900's. His bests were 90 cards torn in half, 52 torn in quarters, 40 in eighths and 32 cards in sixteenths.

Hepburn The Handbalancer

A shot of a young Doug Hepburn performing what amounts to a "muscle out" with a friend performing a handstand on his outstretched arms. This picture was taken around 1950, then, and for a few years prior, Doug was a lifeguard at Vancouver's famous Kitsilano beach. Doug took take a weight set with him and trained right on the sand -- this was one of the most productive periods of his life.

Sergio Oliva ~ The Ultimate Physique

...But, regardless of their measurement, Sergio's arms are so big that they literally must be seen to be appreciated – and some people, upon first seeing them, are almost unable to believe their eyes; in a recent full-length picture of Sergio, the width of the flexed upper arms exceeded the height of Sergio's head – his arms were literally larger than his head, a size ratio never before approached by anybody else.

Is that, then the "ultimate physique?" For most people, it is far beyond the limits imposed by individual potential; but it is almost certain that somebody will eventually exceed even Sergio's present size and proportions. I recently measured the "cold" upper arm of a 19 year old boy in New York at 19 1/2 inches, and with continued training this boy can almost certainly exceed Sergio's measurements – but he is at least six inches taller than Sergio, so even with Sergio's measurements he would not have Sergio's almost unbelievable proportions, would not give the "impression of size" that Sergio does.

I am reasonably certain that Sergio could attain even more size with continued training – while maintaining or improving his present degree of muscularity (muscular definition), and if so, then his proportions would be almost unreal. But in the meantime, until he does get larger, or until somebody at least matches his present proportions, Sergio certainly does represent the "ultimate physique."

Arthur Jones,
Nautilus Bulletin #2

Robert B. Snyder

There have been more than a few great strongmen who are not giants. A perfect example is Robert B. Snyder of Hagerstown, Maryland. As a boy he was inspired by the strongman from the Forepaugh & Sells circus and began training by lifting barrels and stones. He also taught himself hand balancing - something which he would become exceptionally good at.

At the age of 14 (weighing 116 pounds) Snyder lifted his first barbell -- a MILO barbell owned by a local strongman. Shortly afterward, Snyder began following MILO barbell course #1 and showed tremendous improvement... so much so that he was featured in Bernarr MacFadden's Physical Culture Magazine as well as Alan Calvert's STRENGTH Magazine.

At his heaviest, Snyder weighed only 139 pounds yet was incredibly strong easily performing multiple one-arm chins with each hand as well as lifting poundages well above bodyweight. Above, Snyder performs the one-arm get up lift with a human weight.

Stone Lifting in Ancient Greece

Every ancient culture has evidence of stone lifting as a method of physical preparation. The Ancient Greeks, for example, often portrayed stone lifting and other athletic events on their pottery.

This image adorned a vase and dates to about 450BC and shows a young man lifting a smaller stone in either hand. It is said that this image shows the "weightlifting" event at the very first Olympic games, stones weighing as much as 300 lbs. were said to have been used in the contest.

Bruce White - Rafter Pinch Grip Chin Ups

It would be impressive to be able to hold your bodyweight off the ground by pinch gripping rafters but far beyond that is doing an actual pullup with that kind of grip. Here Australian Grip Master Bruce White does just that -- and this was just a warmup -- White could perform same with additional weight tied to his waist!

John Y. Smith

John Y. Smith was a great strongman in the New England area in the early 1900's. Among his many impressive feats were a right hand bent-press of 275-1/2 pounds (which broke Louis Cyr's mark) and a left hand bent-press of 248 pounds (Which stood as an American record for many years.) It was said that Smith's hands resembled "Iron Claws" due to his extensive training with Thick Bars.

Warren Lincoln Travis' Challenge

If you wanted to win the Richard K. Fox Heavyweight Strongman Champiionship Belt you had to beat Warren Lincoln Travis at his own game in a challenge match.

Here's the list of Travis' ten strength challenges:
1. 100 lb.barbell brought from the floor with both hands, pressed overhead with both hands, while seated(thirty seconds).

2. Pair of ninety pound weights brought from side of body to shoulders, then slowly pressing to arm's lengh over the head.

3. Teeth Lift from floor, hands behind back, 350 lbs.

4. 350 lbs. from floor with one finger, eight times in five seconds.

5. One finger lift from floor, 560 lbs. once.

6. Two-hand grip lift, straddling the weight from floor, 700 lbs. twenty times in ten seconds.

7. Hand and knee lift from floor, 1600 lbs. once.

8. Back lift, 3660 lbs. once.

9. Harness lift, 3580 lbs. once.

10. 2000 lb. back lift, 250 times, seven minutes.
(Did I mention all these lifts must be accomplished in 30 minutes or less if you want to win the belt?)

Roy Hilligenn - 1951 Mr. America

South African Roy Hilligenn, seen above on the cover of the September/October 1951 issue of Iron Man magazine was the AAU Mr. America that same year. Hilligen was a tremendous all-around "iron athlete" -- As a bodybuilder, he won the Mr. South Africa title in 1943, 1944, 1946 and 1976 as well as Mr. Northern California (1949), Mr. Pacific Coast (1949), and The World’s Most Muscular Man (1952). Hilligenn was the shortest man to ever win the AAU Mr. Anerica title (at 5'6").

As an Olympic lifter, Hilligenn was the first South African to Clean and Jerk double body weight.

His lifts in 1946 were Press: 245 pounds, Snatch: 255 Pounds and Clean & Jerk: 321 pounds. In the early 1950's, and weighing just 173 pounds, Hilligen unofficially equaled the world record in the Clean & Jerk with a lift of 375 pounds. He actually finished second in the 1951 National championships to Norbert Schemansky.

Hilligen eventually Clean & Jerked 405 at a slightly heavier body weight, which was an unofficial world record at the time. It was voted as one of the greatest "lifts" of all time. Hilligenn also "cleaned" a pair of 142-pound dumbbells (but did not press them) at Ed Yarick's Gym in Oakland, California in the 50's.

Interestingly, Roy Hilligenn was also a life-long vegetarian and claimed to have never eaten meat ever.
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