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Milo Kettlebells

While kettlebells do certainly have a history in Russia and many other Eastern European countries, what many people don't realize is that kettlebells also have a long tradition in the United States as well.

Back in 1902, Alan Calvert founded the Milo Barbell Company -- the very first commercial strength equipment company in America. Along with barbells and dumbbells, Calvert also manufactured kettlebells, one version of which is shown on the right.

The Milo Kettlebell consisted of an outer "shell," with the inner plates sectioned to allow for easy progression. The lathed free-rotating wood handle made the kettlebell especially useful for presses and kettlebell swings as evident by the instruction shown in Milo Barbell training courses which Calvert distributed to his clients.

371 Pounds Overhead with One Hand!

Arthur Saxon has a legitimate claim for the greatest strength feat of all time with his bent-press of 371 pounds (he was said to have unofficially done 385 pounds.) Either way, it's a tremendous feat, to lift more weight overhead with one hand than most people can squat with!

Here's a little bit from the man himself on how he did it:
"I have often been asked what it feels like to press 350 lbs. with one hand, and perhaps to my readers the different sensations experienced will be interesting.

In the first place, immediately I start to press the weight away from the shoulder I become perfectly oblivious to everything except the weight that I am lifting.

The spectators are obliterated from my mind by the effort of intense concentration which is necessary to enable me to press the weight. I immediately engage myself in a terrific struggle in which the weight and I are competitor, and only one can win, either the weight must be lifted or else I fail.

This concentration is, of course, one of the secrets of success in lifting, as I have explained in another part of my book. It enables me to bring forward the last ounce of pushing power, and for the time being to exert strength beyond that normally possessed.

As the weight steadily rises aloft perhaps half way it wavers, the balance alters, and I have immediately, yet very carefully and quietly, to adjust my position to the altered balance of the bell.

Then I must proceed with the press, my body gradually falling lower toward the left knee, my eyes fixed all the time upon the ponderous weight balanced over my head, ready to fall at a moment's notice should I weaken or place myself in a false position, and should at this moment anyone shout out, it might startle me, make me waver, and cause the weight to fall.

Therefore, if I am attempting a world's record in this position, I generally ask for complete silence until I have either failed or succeeded, and I might mention here that to think of failure is to fail, and I always tell myself all the time that I am certain to succeed even though I am attempting a weight more than I have hitherto lifted.

Eventually, my arm is straight, and before coming to an upright position I engage in another tussle with the enormous barbell, in which I have to exert all my will power to hold together the flagging powers of tired muscles, which have been strained by the tremendous pressure which 350 lbs. brings on to them in the effort of pressing aloft.

By supreme effort of the will I fix the bell in a good position and then stand upright. Often the bar will roll on to the fingers instead of being directly over the wrist, in which case severe pain is inflicted and I have to persevere with the lift under doubly hard conditions, or drop the weight and try again."
For more information about Arthur Saxon and his training methods, pick up copies of his two great training books: The Development of Physical Power (1906) and The Textbook of Weight-Lifting (1910)

Stone Lifting in Tibet

Every culture has it's own "meaning" for strength. Here are a few interesting pictures from a stone lifting contest held at the 7th National Ethnic Games in Yinchuan, Northwest China's Ningxia Province which took place in 2003.

At the games, which are held every four years like the Olympics, over 3,700 ethnic athletes from 34 delegations competed.

The rules of the stone lifting contest are a bit unlike most stone lifting contests you probably have ever heard of... these Tibetan giants lift the stones any way they can, usually to hold in their arms, placed on shoulders or put up on their backs.

From there, they walk along in a circular path and the one who walks the most circles wins.

The stone pictured was said to weigh 160 kg (352 lbs.).

Bert Goodrich, The First Mr. America, Trained With Kettlebells

Among the many strength athletes who have trained with kettlebells is the very first Mr. America Bert Goodrich. In the article which accompanied this photograph, Goodrich mentioned that each of these 'bells weighed 56 pounds, and he used them primarily for shoulder work.

Grimek Training With The Automatic Exerciser

John Grimek loved to train with just about everything. Here's the man getting in a quick set of deadlifts with one of Professor Schmidt's Automatic Exerciser machines from way, way, way back in the day. Schmidt machines were a pretty nifty idea even back then, someone should see about bringing them back...
Tags: John Grimek

The Half-Moon Bench

To the oldtime bodybuilders and strength athletes "Chest Development" used to mean stretching and enlarging the rib cage, not working the pecs (which is what it has become today.) The theory behind this was simple, the deep breathing from intense leg work (i.e. squats combined with light pullovers did so very effectively. Enlarging the rib box meant wider shoulders and a much greater potential for upper-body growth.

To make the technique more effective, a half-moon bench was often used. These unusual pieces of equipment used to be commonplace in many gyms although you're more likely to win the lottery than find one these days.

To find out more about leg work, pullovers and chest expansion techniques, you'll want to check out: Super Squats by Randall J. Strossen, The Complete Keys to Progress by John McCallum and The New Bodybuilding for Oldschool Results by Ellington Darden.

Archie Vanderpool

If you want to practice heavy partial deadlifts or hand-and-thigh lifts, you'll want a setup like Archie Vanderpool here. The strongman (and proud member of the York Barbell Club) from Woodbine, Iowa, specialized on a number of unusual -- and very heavy -- lifts. For example, his record in the lift shown was 1840 pounds. He also liked to do things like shouldering a 1100 pound railroad rail and then going for a walk.

He also reported carrying a barbell loaded to 400 pounds for a distance of 80 feet. If this looks and sounds familiar, it's because Archie was good friends with Steve Justa's father.

"Ya Gotta Use Your Head!"

Steve Jeck is fond of saying that "if you want to be a great stone lifter then ya gotta use your head." Here, he shows what he means -- at least in one sense. I don't know the weight of that particular stone but it sure doesn't look light.
Tags: Steve Jeck

Val De Genaro

The York Lifters all used to practice the bent press because the lift built incredible core strength. This, in turn, helped in increasing the Olympic Lifting total. One of the most talented of the bent pressers was Val De Genaro who could lift 215 pounds. Bob Hoffman said that De Genaro had the most perfect bent press technique that he had ever seen. Perhaps due in great part to his bent pressing ability, as a 148 pound lifter, De Genaro could Jerk 290 pounds.

He was also an excellent hand balancer who could walk the length of a football field on his hands.

Classic Polish Globe Weights

Great equipment practically begs to be used and I would say that would definitely be the case here. These classic Globe Barbells, Dumbbells, Kettlebells and Blockweights from a century ago can be found in a Polish Museum.
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