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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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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.

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.

 

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