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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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Hemenway Gymnasium

Hemenway Gymnasium

The original Hemenway Gymnasium was the finest physical education facility ever created. It contained every manner of physical training equipment: climbing ladders, tumbling mats, climbing ropes, flying rings, barbells, dumbbells, indian clubs, medicine balls... even early strength building "machines" (which you may be able to see on the left if you look closely.)

There was a running track, handball courts and rooms for fencing, wrestling, boxing and any other imaginable physical activity. At the head of this fantastic facility was Dudley Allen Sargent, who virtually founded the discipline of physical education.

Super Strength by Alan Calvert

Super Strength by Alan CalvertSuper Strength by Alan Calvert

A rare ad for Super Strength by Alan Calvert from 1924 - which would be the same year the book was originally published. Despite the fact that this book was written nearly nine decades ago, the training information is just as effective today. If you are a serious strength fan, then you should absolutely have a copy of this course in your training library. 

Also of note: the exercises in the ad (and book) were demonstrated by the South Afrrican strongman Walter Donald.

Sig Klein ~ Kettlebells!

Sig Klein - Kettlebells!Sig Klein

Sig Klein was talkin' kettlebell training decades ago. He had kettlebells in his gym... he featured kettlebells in his training courses... he wrote articles about kettlebells in Strength and Health... Yet you don't hear ol' Sig's name pop up much in modern kettlebell literature... Some of the experts need to do a little more homework.

The Nautilus Pullover

The Nautilus Pullover

The Nautilus Pullover Machine was created by Arthur Jones to address one of the shortcomings of conventional training. In this case, the unavoidable situation where the strength of the hands and forearms gives out before the larger, stronger muscles of the torso. The Nautilus pullover circumvents this weak link while also allowing the muscles of the back to be trained throughout a full range of motion - something which can't be done with barbells or dumbbells.

This type of training can be very effective but one when understood and applied correctly. That's Mercury Morris of the Miami Dolphins demonstrating above.
This is  a very early model of the pullover.  This generations of Nautilus Machines are often referref to as "spider cams" for what should be obvious reasons.

Hans Steyrer: The Bavarian Hercules

"The Bavarian Hercules" Hans Steyrer is shown here with his signature lift: a one-finger lift of a heavy stone block, usually 500 pounds or more, combined with a muscle-out of a 50-pound kettlebell. Either one of these feats would be impressive by themselves, but doing them both at the same time put Steyrer in a league by himself.

It should also be noted that Steyrer was the very first strongman photographed using kettlebells (at least to our knowledge.) This was around 1880 or so.

Block Weights!


The oldtime strongmen lifted just about any weight they could get their hands on. Shown here is a block weight, an obvious precursor to the kettlebell. Block weights (also sometimes referred to as scale weights) were originally used for measurement purposes though eventually many strongmen began to lift them for exercise.

I suspect that many of the oldtime strongmen noticed these weights sitting backstage at the theaters where they performed (where they were used as ballast to counterweight theatre props etc) and decided to start using them to lift. Block weights are awkward to lift, making movements such as cleans and presses a much bigger challenge, even at comparatively "light" weights. Block weights also make excellent "handles" for pushups and handstands.

John Davis and the Apollon Wheels


On September 13th, 1949 the American Olympic Weightlifting Champion John Davis succeeded in cleaning and jerking the famous
Apollon Wheels.  In doing so, he became just the third man to put them overhead, joining the French Champion Charles Rigoulot and Apollon himself.   Davis' accomplishment did not come easy, on his first attempt he passed out in mid-lift!

York Olympic Barbell Collars

 

Hard to believe that York Barbell collars like these are collector's items and all but impossible to find these days. Be that as it may, a high-quality set of collars is still integral to every weight room.  Your plates need to stay put on your barbell during heavy squats and presses.

Strength and Health Magazine: September, 1944


Shown here is the cover of the September, 1944 issue of Strength and Health Magazine, featuring Steve Stanko. He had won both the 1944 AAU Mr. America and Junior. Mr. America titles only a. few months before.   This was not the first time Stanko graced the cover of Strength and Health, nor was it the last. 

Just a few years earlier, in 1941, Stanko was the first man to officially break the 1000-pound total in the three Olympic lifts (which, very surprisingly, did not even get him a cover shot or a mention) ...and  just a few  years later, in 1947, Stanko would go on to become the very first Mr. Universe winner.

Tom Burrows: The King of Clubs

On April 18th, 1913, the Club Swinging champion Tom Burrows accomplished an incredible feat: he swung a pair of Indian Clubs for 100 hours straight without a rest. He averaged 80 repetitions a minute through the entire affair, a mind-boggling feat of muscular endurance and toughness. That's a record you sure won't see challenged any time soon.

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