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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 aint nothin' like it anywhere else! You'll want to check back several times per day, we update often.

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Steve Reeves' Hack Squat Machine

Steve Reeves trained in York, Pennsylvania for the 1950 Mr. Universe contest. While there, they devised this unique "hack squat" machine for Reeves to train on (this was actually an old hip lift /platform lifting apparatus used in decades before at the Milo Barbell Company.) Reeves used this exercise exclusively to work his legs that time (and went on to win the 1950 Mr. Universe contest and beat Reg Park!) (Also note the Strength and Health covers on the wall.)

Irvin "Zabo" Koszewski

Here's Irvin "Zabo" Koszewski (and his famous abs) on the cover of the March, 1966 issue of Mr. America Magazine. Zabo started competing in bodybuilding contests in 1948 and was still going strong when this magazine came out, in fact, he went on to finish second (to Frank Zane) in the Medium class at the 1967 IFBB Mr. America.

The Nautilus Infi-Metric Bench Press

The Infi-Metric was an interesting training concept which was pioneered by Arthur Jones. It involved pitting the strength of two body parts against each other. In the case of the Infi-Metric Bench Press machine shown here, as trainee pressed up one handle, the opposite handle lowered. This allowed one to train in a negative fashion in a very safe and productive manner. Because of the angles involved, it was also possible to get a stronger contraction in the chest muscles. Those who used this style of training correctly got great results, eventually becoming so strong that they bent the steel of the movement arm!

John Grimek's Bodybuilding Contest History

Here's John Grimek showing his winning form and hardware after taking first in the 1948 Mr. Universe contest (defeating Steve Reeves in the process!) Most bodybuilders are lucky to win one contest in their careers but Grimek finished first in EVERY contest he ever entered. Here's a look at the full list:

1939 - York Perfect Man
1940 - AAU Mr. America
1941 - AAU Mr. America
1946 - Most Muscular Man in America
1948 - NABBA - Mr. Universe
1949 - Mr. USA

After winning the AAU Mr. America contest for the second year in a row, they passed a rule that one could not enter it again once they won - the powers that be figured that if they didn't take this step, Grimek would just keep on winning them.

Josef Manger

Josef Manger was a great German heavyweight lifter during the 1930's He burst on the scene with a Silver medal at the 1934 European championships following that up with a Gold medal in that contest a year later. From there, he also won gold at the 1936 Olympic games held in Berlin, Germany and the 1937 and 1938 World Championships. Manger was a six-time lifting champion of Germany and set 20 World records over the course of his career (although only 11 were recognized as official.) At the 1936 Olympics, Manger totalled an Olympic Record 410 kg. (132.5 kg pres, 122.5 kg snatch and 155 kg C&J)

Bert Elliott's Classic Strongman Equipment

Bert Elliott was a bodybuilding champ in the 1950's and 60's who had an interest in real oldtime strength training. He even shaved his head and dressed like a turn of the century strongman to complete the effect. Here's Burt standing in front of some pieces of his famous collection of oldtime equipment: chest expanders, globe barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells and Indian Clubs. (Note the very old Hand Grippers on the wall.)

Tags: Bert Elliott

Nautilus Leverage Machines

When most people think of Nautilus Machines they picture cams and weight stacks, which were certainly the case... But later on, Nautilus came out with a series of leverage pieces with the look of machines yet the feel of free weights. Pictured here is Cincinnati Bengals All-Pro Linebacker Reggie Williams demonstrating the shrug/row combo piece. This photograph was taken in the world famous "Kong Room" and if you were ever there, you sure never forgot it.

Vansittart's Spike

They used to call Charles Vansittart "The Man With The Iron Grip" for good reason -- he could bend an Old English penny, rip a tennis ball in half and bend a spike like the one pictured above.

Bending bars, spikes and nails has always been a traditional Oldtime Strongman feat, not only do many people find it incredibly impressive but merely doing it will build tremedous strength throughout the entire body.

You can tell that rectangular stock (like the spike above) was actually hand bent by the shape. If a piece of steel was truly hand bent, it will bend on the angle, not the flat edge.

Jowett On Finger Strength

A bit on finger lifting from George F. Jowett, circa, 1924:

"So far as lifting weights with the fingers goes, I believe that Warren Lincoln Travis is the best man in the world. He certainly is the best that I ever met, in raising weights off the floor with the aid of his fingers. I have seen him make several big lifts with two fingers, but the best he ever did was the time he celebrated his fiftieth birthday, when he raised the terrific weight of eight hundred and eighty-one and one-half pounds, using just one finger of each hand. I was the referee on that occasion, and was proud to see Travis raise the world's record so high.

On the one finger lift, he has done around five hundred and sixty pounds, while John Pagano has also raised over five hundred pounds with one finger. The lift is not made with the bare finger, as you are no doubt aware. The finger could not grasp the object to lift it. The middle finger is used, and on it the lifter fits an iron eye that has a hook attached, which grabs the object to be lifted. It is necessary that the eye should fit tightly upon the finger up at the first joint, as close to the knuckle of the hand as possible, as the finger is crooked, the eye locks thereon. Just the same it has to be raised off the floor, and that takes power. The ligament of that finger becomes very thick. In some cases, I have seen it become so thick that it made the finger crooked. A few years ago I met an old Swedish lifter who had quit the profession, but in his day was claimed to be a great finger lifter. I remember quite well that the middle finger of his right hand was almost twice as large as any of his other fingers, just from practicing that lift."

Unfortunately we don't know the gent pictured above but he has a pretty sweet setup, and that barrel, if filled completely, must weigh somewhere between 300-400lbs. which makes a very worthy feat.

Cyclops and Sampson: The Strongest Men on Earth

A rare poster advertising the strongman duo of Franz "Cyclops" Bienkowski and Charles A. Sampson. Sampson's Harness Lift is highlighted.

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