New Blog

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.

Keep in mind that what you see on this page only the tip of the iceberg, check our Archive Section for all our back posts. If you are looking for any subject in particular, please try our Search page

If you want to "like" this section of our blog, please use the button above, otherwise, each individual post has it's own unique "like" button located in the upper right. Please share anything you find of interest with anyone you know who might like it!

Nino The Carousel

The Italian strongman "Nino" figured out very early on that making a lift impressive went far beyond mere poundage, "what" was lifted was a big part of it too, and he had a flair for making his feats remarkable productions. Here's a perfect example: Nino as the fulcrum in a carousel consisting of two motor cars. This was the early 1900's so those cars had to weigh a few thousand pounds apiece, and to boot each was also filled with an additional four people. -- I'd certainly pay to see that.

Carl Hempe

Carl Hempe, of Easton, Pennsylvania, won the Medium class of the 1939 "America's Finest Physique" contest. A year later he competed (but did not place) in the 1940 AAU Mr. America contest. This led to a lifelong interest in physical training, here's Carl training in his back yard with a most excellent "log barbell."

Sig Klein's Gym (Exterior)

I've shown plenty of shots of the inside of Sig Klein's Gym but here's a rare shot of the exterior. Klein's Gym was located at 717 Seventh Avenue in New York City and was hard to miss with the huge picture of Sig out front. The building is still there, if you know where to look.

Pierre Gasnier: The French Hercules

Pierre Gasnier was the quintessential Oldtime Strongman: BIlled as the "French Hercules," He performed feats of strength for the Barnum and Bailey circus in the late 1890's: tearing decks of cards, bending horseshoes, breaking chains, and lifting his special "challenge weight" globe dumbbell shown here.

The dumbbell had a handle of 2" in diameter and weighs 236 French Livres (which equals 260 pounds) Gasnier weighed only 138 pounds at a height of 5'3" yet was able to lift the weight with ease, a feat that such other noted strongmen such as Sebastian Miller, Hans Beck, and Franz "Cyclops" Bienkowski could not duplicate.

Victory Goes Over The Bridge!

"Victory Goes Over The Bridge!" - That was a favorite saying of the great wrestler Karl Gotch and the above picture shows why. Mr. Gotch has just caught his opponent in his finishing move, "The German Suplex" which is both devastating and near unstoppable, and the only way you can add this move to your repertoire would be to learn to bridge properly: nose to mat.

And even if you don't have any interest in stepping in the right, a steady diet of bridge work is still a very good idea to build strength in the upper body and neck areas.

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.
Syndicate content