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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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Eugen Sandow


Eugen Sandow
was the prototypical strongman, the first true strength Superstar and can rightfully be called "The Man who Started it All." Strength and How to Obtain It by Eugen Sandow

Sandow thrilled audiences all over the world with his classical physique as well as his amazing feats of strength.  In fact, many of the most famous Iron Game luminaries such as George Jowett  and Alan Calvert (among others) were inspired to begin training after seeing Sandow in action.

Once he tired of the performing life, Sandow established the very first "Health Studios," mail order training courses, mail order training equipment and physical culture magazine -- all "firsts" for things which are now commonplace in the modern age.

John Grunn Marx: The Luxembourg Hercules

At an exhibition in Paris, in the year 1905, 'The Luxembourg Hercules' John Grunn Marx bent and broke three horseshoes in the span of 2 minutes and 15 seconds. One of these horseshoes is shown above. Marx was descended from a long line of blacksmiths and was famed for his grip and forearm strength. More of Marx's strength feats will be covered in subsequent posts.

The Hammer Strength H-Squat Machine

If you're a "free-weight" guy, don't be affraid of machines - there are several that can benefit your routine greatly when used correctly. Here's one of them, and one of the best leg workouts you'll ever get: The Hammer Strength H-Squat Machine. Use one if you can find it, or get one for your home gym, but only if you happen to have a lot of room -- this one's over 10 feet tall!

The Russian Lion George Hackenschmidt

George Hackenschmidt - The Russian LionGeorge Hackenschmidt, The Russian Lion, has the unique distinction of being a Champion wrestler, a Champion Strongman, a strength author, and and early physique star.

His matches with Frank Gotch are widely regarded at the most famous wrestling matches of all time.

As far as strength feats go, many of Hackenschmidt's best marks are just as impressive today, even a hundred years after they were originally set!

These include a pullover and press (in the wrestler's bridge position) of 311 pounds for two reps, a 279 pound overhead press and a crucifix lift of two 90 pound dumbbells.  You sure won't find many people who can even get close to those numbers today.

 

Earle E. Liederman

Earle E. Liederman began his career as a strongman on the vaudeville circuit and traveled the country performing feats of strength and acrobatics.  Liederman eventually grew tired of the traveling life and settled down to write a series of books and training courses which became incredibly successful, making him one of the first of the Mail Order Muscle Barons.

His first training course showcased a number of exercises that could be done with chest expanders and bodyweight exercises. Theses courses were very popular since they did not require a lot of equipment and could be done at home.

Sig Klein's Dumbbell Challenge

Sig Klein liked to call the two-dumbbell clean and press "THE ONE BEST EXERCISE" because it was so simple but also incredibly effective for building upper-body strength and power. Klein suggested to begin this exercise with 20 pounds less than your two-arm press and build from there.

Back in the 40's,  he questioned whether there were a dozen athletes in the country who could do 10 clean and presses with a pair of 75 pound dumbbells. This was body weight for Sig. This was a worthy challenge back then and still is today.

Any takers?

Big Paul's Wheels

Big Paul and his famous wheels

Big Paul and His Famous Wheels

What do you do when you need to squat over 600 pounds but a normal barbell just won't hold enough weight? -- Keep in mind that they didn't have 100 lb. plates back then either. This was Paul Anderson's solution, a set of wheels he found in a junk yard in his native town of Toccoa, Georgia.

At first, everybody thought he was crazy but they changed their tune when he came home from the 1956 Olympics with a shiny new Gold Medal. I don't know of anyone who looked as relaxed as Big Paul while handling big weights.

That's also another pretty good lesson: if you don't have what you need you'll have to improvise...

York Deep-Dish 45-Pound Barbell Plates

This is what 45-pound barbell plates looked like way back in the day. If you have some, count yourself lucky, they started disappearing in the 1960's when The York Barbell Company came out with a more streamlined plate (they could only fit so many of these on a bar with guys like Wilbur Miller around). Two great grip strength challenges either to lift one of these plates by the hub or pinch grip a pair of them.  You've got a pretty strong pair of mitts if you can do both...

British Champion T.W. Clarke

T.W. Clarke, February, 1933 Strength and Health
T.W. Clarke

The 11 stone British Amateur Weightlifting Champion of 1913, T.W. Clarke is shown here on the cover of the February, 1933 issue of Strength and Health Magazine (Making this is the third issue ever.) Clarke was famed for his arm development - 15-1/4 inches - which was quite impressive for a man of his size and weight class.

Clarke trained at the Camberwell Weightlifting Club and was coached by "The Wizard of Weightlifting" W.A. Pullum.

The Hammer Strength Wrist Curl

The Hammer Strength Wrist Curl
The Hammer Strength Wrist Curl

There's no question that the barbell wrist curl has been and can be a very effective method for building wrist strength -- but that doesn't mean it can't be improved upon. This nifty piece of training equipment from Hammer Strength offers the ability to do something that no barbell can match: negative accentuated training capability i.e. lift with two hands then lower with one... a technique very much worth experimenting with, if you happen to be lucky enough to have access to one of these devices.
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