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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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The Composition Barbell Company

The Composition Barbell Company
What do we know about the Composition Barbell Company?  Pretty much nothing other than this advertisement from a 1914 Physical Culture magazine.  In fact, I've never seen or heard of this company or their equipment otherwise.  Also, before getting in a tizzy about the 6 cents per pound price tag on their weights, it should be understood that this equals $1.38 in today's dollars when adjusting for inflation.  I'm not at all surprised to hear this, given the time and effort that goes into producing quality equipment. 

The Nautilus Double Chest Machine

It's a real shame that machines get such a bad rap these days. The fact of the matter is that the whole 'point' of a machine is to gain a training advantage which can't be had any other way.

Here's a great example: the Nautilus Double Chest Machine. The upper "fly" portion of the machine thoroughly pre-exhausts the chest muscles and then the trainee can immediately switch right into the decline press movement. Both exercises allow the upper arms to be in a position where the pectorals are fully contracted.

If you have access to this machine, count yourself lucky, there aren't many around. (Photo courtesy of Michael Petrella)

Rocket Richard Hand Gripper

Rocket Richard Hand GripperMaurice "Rocket" Richard was one of the all time great hockey players.  With the Montreal Canadiens, he was the first to score 50 goals in 50 games, the first to score 500 goals in a career and likely the first hockey player with a signature hand gripper.  Whether this gripper helped his hockey prowess is anyone's guess, but there's no doubt that extra hand and grip strength certainly does help out on the ice. 

Arthur Saxon Envelope

Arthur Saxon EnvelopeStrength legends are generally treated differently in other countries than they are here.  Case in point, here's a nifty commemorative envelope from Germany, circa 1991, celebrating the great Arthur Saxon.  Note that the stamps are also related to lifting.

Fritz Brust

Fritz Brust
Here's a new take on the "human anvil" feat from the German strongman Fritz Brust, circa 1928.  Usually an anvil or large rock is placed on the chest of the "hitee" which helps absorbthe force of the sledge hammer blows.  In Fritz's case, he does have a rock on his chest, but is also suspended in midair between two cars while assistants pound away with hammers ~ now THAT is tough!   

Steve Reeves: Kettlebell Training

Steve Reeves: Kettlebell TrainingShown here: Steve Reeves performing a "full" lateral raise with a pair of Milo kettlebells... a highly underrated movement for shoulder development made that much more enjoyable with classic iron. The rotating handles of the Milo kettlebells allow for certain exercises that are difficult to do with cast-iron kettlebells. (As a side note, Steve Reeves was well-known for his broad shoulders which were measured by Armand Tanny at an unbelievable 23-1/2 inches.)

1903 German Sport Club

1903 German Sport Club

A look at a German Sport club, circa 1903.  As for their equipment, as was the custom with German-style kettlebells, the handles were large and open to enable juggling... the barbells also appear to have thick handles, which encourage grip and forearm development.

Indian Wrestler Sandbag Training

Indian Wrestler Sandbag Training

Chances are, you were probably introduced to sandbag training in Dinosaur Training by Brooks Kubik but sandbag training goes back a lot farther than that.

Here's a rare shot from a turn of the century training course of an Indian wrestler getting ready for a sandbag workout.   Elsewhere in the course, he is pictured lifting, throwing and carrying the sandbag. As a combat athlete, lifting or carrying heavy, awkward and sometimes off-centered objects can be much more useful than simply "lifting weights."  I sure wouldn't want to mess with this guy.

Doug Hepburn Benchpresses 460 Lbs.

Doug Hepburn's Bench PressDoug Hepburn was arguably the first bench press superstar.  Throughout the early 1950's, he became the the first man to officially bench press 400, 450 and then 500 pounds.   Above, he toys with 460 lbs at an exhibition.

The bench press has become a much different lft these days.  Note that Doug bench pressed in a singlet, without arch and the bench above didn't even have uprights.  Doug's training focused purely on strength development and his results speak volumes even many decades later. 

Sig Klein's Hand Balancing

Sig Klein's Hand Balancing

The fact that Sig Klein has been mentioned so many times throughout this blog should tell you that he was a jack of all trades -- and he most certainly was. Name a classic training discipline and ol' Sig was a master: muscle control... kettlebell and barbell juggling... heavy weight lifting... posing ...the list goes on and on.

One of Sig's absolute favorite types of training was hand balancing, and he mentioned it often as the way he trained in the days before he got his weight set. Sig felt that hand balancing was not just for show but was a fantastic way to build size and strength -- a viewpoint that we certainly agree with.  Sig also believed that regular hand balancing was a great way to improve the press and the results speak for themselves. 

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