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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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Aaron Molyneaux Hewlett

Aaron Molyneaux Hewlett

Aaron Molyneaux Hewlett was the first African American on the Harvard University staff and the director and curator of the Harvard Gymnasium from 1859 to 1871. He also taught gymnastics, boxing and the use of dumbbells.

He is pictured here with the tools of his craft: boxing gloves, Indian Clubs, Dumbbells, medicine balls and the wooden wand. It should also be known that this picture represents the very first time a medicine ball was photographed in the US (taken around 1860). Interestingly, at the time most physical culture figures generally recommended very light apparatus work but Hewlett appeared to favor much heavier clubs and dumbbells. Also of note are those pretty nifty "dumbbell clubs" on the left.

Two other items of interest about Mr. Molyneaux:

His daughter, Virginia married Frederick Douglass.

In 1900, his son, E.M. Hewlett, became the first African American lawyer to win a case before the Supreme Court of the United States (Carter vs. Texas).

Les Willoughby

Les Willoughby

Les Willoughby, the great light-heavyweight British weightlifter, is shown here about to perform the 2-dumbbell press, one of the seven best power-building exercises. His best performance in this lift was a press of 230 pounds for two reps. He could also barbell press 245 lbs., snatch 242-1/2 lbs. clean & jerk 330 pounds and just may have done some squatting in his day.

German Weightlifting Club ~ 1919

A rare shot of a German weightlifting club and their classic equipment, taken around 1919.  Also notice the particularly large and wide handles on their kettlebells.  This style of handle served a specific purpose as the German strength athletes were particularly fond of juggling and throwing and catching their kettlebells. 


I couldn't find anything in our files about Mr. Barletti but the one thing we do know is that he liked to lift horses as a part of his act. He most likely copied this feat from Sandow, and I'd be willing to bet it wasn't exactly done on stage like it is pictured here.

Charles Rigoulot

Charles Rigoulot

Charles Rigoulot was the last great lifter to forgo shot-loaded equipment in international competition. In fact, he won the light-heavyweight Gold Medal  at the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris, France using a shot-loaded barbell -- and was actually the only lifter to use shot-loaded equipment in the contest.

Rigoulot was also the first man to clean and jerk over 400 pounds, lifted Apollon's Wheels. and broke 57 weightlifting records over the course of his career.  One of these records was a one-arm snatch of 261 pounds, which will likely never be broken. Rigoulot was also a very successful professional wrestler and his greatest match was against fellow strongman Milo Steinborn.

Kettlebell Exercises

Kettlebell Exercises

Kettlebell Exercises

If you're going to train with Russian Kettlebells, may as well go back to the source to see how to do it right. Pictures help, but you'll get a little more out of this post if you can read Cyrillic. "Traditional" kettlebell exercises consist of the snatch (which is more like a "swing" since it travels in an arc) and the clean and jerk (mainly just the jerk) done for maximal high reps.

Bob Hoffman's Hi-Proteen Bread Mix

Hi-Proteen BreadBob Hoffman's Hi-Proteen Bread Mix

Now here's something you don't see every day: a "mint" unopened can of Bob Hoffman's "Hi-Proteen" Bread Mix, circa 1965.  If only we could replicate that magic formula today...  

Not to be confused with "Hi-Protein" products, Bob had a variety of "Hi-Proteen" foods available to Strength and Health Magazine readers.  Throughout the years, you could also get Hi-Proteen Cookies... Fudge... Honey, Breakfast Food... Vegetable Broth... 10-in-1 Hi-Proteen... Hi-Proteen Reducing Formula... Standard Hi-Proteen... Multi-Purpose Hi-Proteen... Super Hi-Proteen... and Special Hi-Proteen Weight Gainer... and all of them delicious!

Gust Lessis: A Smashing Feat

Gust LessisGust Lessis: A Smashing Feat

Around 1925 or so, the Greek Strongman and wrestler Gust Lessis, wanted a shot at the lightweight boxing crown (which was held by Paul "The Astoria Assassin" Berlenbach at the time.)

In order to show that he was worthy of such an opportunity he gave a demonstration of strength before his grappling matches: while supporting an 500-pound slab of concrete on his chest his manager smashed it to bits with a sledge hammer. Say what you will about supporting feats, but this one is still no walk in the park!

Gennady Ivanchenko

Gennady Ivanchenko

Gennady Ivanchenko, the great Russian weightlifter, was the first light-heavyweight lifter ever to surpass the 500 kg total. This famous shot, taken by Tommy Kono, shows Ivanchenko doing snatch pulls at a training session prior to the 1971 Sr. European Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria (where he, unsurprisingly, took gold).  You can probably see why Ivanchenko's nickname was "The Robot."



He began his life named "Max Sick" and it was certainly fitting as he suffered with a variety of ailments. As a young man he was introduced to physical training as a method for improving his condition. Using isometrics, hand balancing and weightlifting he built himself back to health and later became reborn as "Maxick" champion Strength athlete.

One day, while working as an artists model he noticed that he was able to isolate his abdominals in a certain way while he held a specific pose for periods of time. As time passed, he began to experiment with isolating other muscle groups and the unique art of "Muscle Control" was born.

The audiences of the time had never seen anything like it. It was not only quite a sight but Maxick himself used primarily Muscle Control to build an incredible physique. Though he rarely lifted weights, Maxick was incredibly strong, At a body weight of around 150 pounds, he could perform the following:

  • Two hands military press with barbell: 230 lbs.
  • Right hand military press: 112 lbs.
  • Right hand snatch with barbell: 165 lbs. 
  • Right hand swing with dumbbell: 150 lbs. 
  • Two hands clean and jerk with barbell: 272 lbs.

Due to the unique benefits and training effects of practicing muscle control, many physique stars and physical culturists practiced it including: Otto Arco, Alan P. Mead, John Grimek and Ed Jubinville. 

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