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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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1913 Milo Bar-Bell Ad

Check out this ad for the Milo Bar-Bell Company from the December, 1913 issue of Physical Culture Magazine. Back then, strength training was not as popular or understood as it is today, hence advertisements like this one had to be informative as well as compelling. By the way, the demonstrater in the ad is well-known strongman and strength author Ottley Coulter.
A Bar-Bell is simply a long-handled dumbbell; it can be used for either lifting or developing exercises. In the above picture, the athlete is "up-ending" a Bar-Bell, while at his feet lie a Dumb-bell and Kettle-bells.

WHY IS IT that a man who has been trained with heavy bells can perform feats of strength beyond the combined power of two or three ordinary men? Not alone, because his arms are twice as strong--because his back, hips and legs are FOUR OR FIVE TIMES AS STRONG as the average athlete's.

There is only one was to develop this phenomenal back and leg strength: and that is, by the use of a Bar-Bell. You cannot do it by practicing one-arm lifts with a short Dumbbell; you cannot do it by going through the old 5-lb. Dumbbell drill with a pair of 25 or 30-lb. Dumbbells: nor can you do it with a pair of Kettle-bells. Kettle-bells are primarily arm and deltoid developers.

In a combination outfit, the Dumbbell and the Kettle-Bell are subsidiary parts--the Bar-Bell is the great developing instrument. It is because they use Bar-Bells that OUR pupils can develop 45" chests. 16" biceps, 24" thighs, etc.

The back and leg muscles are infinitely bigger, stronger and more important that the arm muscles. After training thousands of cases, it is our conviction that the average man needs a Bar-Bell which can be adjusted up to 100 lbs. if he wants proper ALL-ROUND development.

We will be glad to assist and advise anyone in the selection of a combination bell of proper weight.
We believe we have the greatest course of training in the world--the BEST system. We have described it in some of our recent advertisements; but we want to say here that no system--however perfect--will suit any and everyone. If YOU buy and outfit and enroll as a pupil with use, we have to adopt our system to your PARTICULAR INDIVIDUAL needs.

We can tell you a lot of interesting and instructive facts about body building and strength making; and we can also give you information about the finest line of adjustable combination bells in the world.

Write for our booklets.
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Ray Van Cleef

Many Iron Game fans will recall the name Ray Van Cleef from the pages of Strength and Health magazine. He was an Associate Editor and his column "Strong Men The World Over" appeared for many years. Before all that though, Van Cleef was a great strongman in his own right. Here's a rare shot that most people haven't seen before of Van Cleef performing a heavy one-arm snatch of a wagon wheel axle.

The article where this came from was authored by Van Cleef and the inclusion of this picture was to illustrate how one might be able to still train, or otherwise perform novel feats, without having a barbell on hand -- a notion that we are definitely on board with.

It's probably also worth a mention that Ray was a vegetarian.

Josef Grafl

Josef Grafl, the great strongman from Vienna, Austria, was the man to beat in the weightlifting world in the early 20th century... He won championships in 1908, 1909, twice in 1910, 1911 and his last in 1913.

As you might guess by the image above, Grafl possessed immense pressing power. In Vienna, circa 1912, Grafl pressed 220.5 lbs for 18 repetitions. This was not "military" style but even more strict: with his heels together. It was later estimated by strength historian David P. Willoughby that this was equivalent to a maximum single of 344 lbs.

Hans Kavan: The Austrian Hercules

In March of 1925, Hans Kavan "The Austrian Hercules" noted wrestler and sometimes strongman performed this "human link" feat to win a wager. Kavan was thankfully not torn asunder with two horses on each arm, pulling in opposite directions. Kavan had a brother named Franz who was also a decent wrestler. (That's right, Hans and Franz from Austria was a real thing!)

Light Indian Club Swinging

Swinging the light clubs is a training methods that has been practiced for thousands of years in other cultures but has only been going on in the U.S. relatively recently. Traditionally this method has been used to build upper body strength and promote shoulder stability -- and they work just as well today for the very same reasons. This sequence is from The Encyclopedia of Indian Physical Culture.

The Medart Upper-Body Conditioner

The Fred Medart Manufacturing Company of St. Louis, Missouri, prodused a number of interesting pieces of training equipment. Something that was ahead of its time was this upper-body conditioner, which was originally manufactured around 1920, which strongly resembles the modern upper-body ergometers that you might find today in many gyms.

Oscar Marineau

Oscar Marineau, the great Canadian Strongman is shown here with a unique exhibition feat: that's 850 pounds supported on his back which he took out for a stroll. The two engines weighed 346 pounds each and his son weighed over 150 pounds. In order to get the weights in position in the first place, Marineau had to perform a partial squat. Marineau weighed only 142 pounds himself.

The Vindobona Athletic Club

A look a the Vindobona Athletic club (Vienna) and some of their excellent training equipment, circa 1900. Their most famous member, the great strongman and wrestler Stanislaus Zbyszko, sits front and center.

The Mighty Atom's Performances

We actually know several individuals who saw The Mighty Atom perform back in the day. Here's a few bits of memorabilia from when you could still catch his live show.

The Collins Dynamometer

Many of the oldtime strongmen and physical culture pioneers were big on measurement (or Anthropometry, as it was known) for the sake of better understanding their training techniques as well as measuring their improvement over time. The Collins Dynamometer shown here was used for measuring grip strength.
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