January 24, 2012
In 1911, Edward Aston won the title of "Britain's Strongest Man" by defeating the great Thomas Inch in a challenge match. Aston held the title for the next 23 years and retired undefeated. Aston was the first Englishman to lift 300 lbs. overhead with one hand and could do a one-arm snatch with 180 lbs. as well as a one-arm clean to the shoulder with 250 lbs. Edward Aston lifted 496 pounds on a 2.25 inch thick bar with an overhand grip - a tremendous feat of grip strength. He wrote the grip course 'How to Develop A Powerful Grip' in 1946.
January 24, 2012
The Rasso Trio were a group of performing strongmen started by the German strongman George Stanglemeier. The original trio also included Heinrich Weber and Godfrey Nordmann, though many other members came and went over the years. As shown in this extremely rare poster, the trio's act consisted of lifting, juggling and carrying globe barbells, block weights and each other! The Rasso Trio performed at the Casino de Paris throughout the 1890s and in that time, had a famous run-in with the great French strongman Apollon, which we'll cover at another date.
January 23, 2012
If you got a standard York Barbell set in the mid 1930's through the early 1940's, this is the set of collars that would have come with it. These "Holdtite" collars are made of bronze and certainly live up to their name.
January 21, 2012
A look at one corner of Alan Calvert's MILO Barbell Company showroom circa 1915... Globe barbells, dumbbells, and kettlebells as far as the eye can see. That must have been a great place to train... Many performing strongmen of the era commisioned Calvert to make special stage 'bells for their act.
January 20, 2012
Professor Attila -- real name Louis Durlacher -- was the mentor of Eugen Sandow and the man who invented many of the feats of strength that we know of today: The Roman Column, The Roman Chair, supporting feats in the human bridge position and tearing packs of playing cards. It was Attiila's idea to make globe barbells and dumbbells shot-loadable so that their weight could be adjusted. Attila invented the bent-press and was the first man to perform the lift with over 200 pounds.In 1894, Professor opened his famous Studio of Physical Culture in downtown New York city and it became a hotbed for learning the strongman trade. In addition to Sandow, Professor Attila could list many other famous strongmen among his students: Warren Lincoln Travis, Anthony Barker, Horace Barre, Arthur Dandurand, Lionel Strongfort, George Rolandow, Louis Cyr, Bobby Pandour and Adolph Nordquest. Attila's daughter, Grace, later married Sig Klein.
January 19, 2012
Ernest Cadine was a French Weightlifter who won the Light-Heavyweight Gold medal at the 1920 Olympic Games held in Antwerp, Belgium. His winning total was 295 kg (649 lbs.) though the contested events were very different then: the one-arm snatch, the one-arm clean and jerk and the two arm clean and jerk. His performance in these lifts was 70 kg, 90 kg and 135 kg respectively. He also set six World Records over his competitive career. In 1925, Cadine performed a one-arm swing with 90 kilos which was actually greater than his own bodyweight. Cadine could also right hand snatch 211 pounds and one-hand deadlifted the famous Apollon Wheels. Also of note is the sand-pit floor -- you'll see this feature a lot in old school physical culture gyms as it made it so globe barbells and dumbbells were not damaged if they were ever dropped.
January 18, 2012
If you want to perform amazing strength feats, then having super strong hands is a must... It's impressive to be able to rip a deck of cards in half, but the great Texas strongman Paul Von Boeckmann took it a step further by ripping this quarter-sized chunk out of a 52-card deck. This type of feat is referred to as "card notching." Von Boeckman could also tear a deck of cards into eighths.
January 17, 2012
Joe Price, of Gloucester, England, is one example of many blacksmiths who were also strongmen. Needless to say -- and very obvious in the photo above -- the vigorous muscular development due to smithing came in very handy while performing feats of strength. He was trained by W.A. Pullum and went on to win the British Heavyweight Lifting Championship in 1922 and 1923. In addition to his lifting exploits, Price was also British Champion Farrier in 1928. Price even wrote an excellent "Vulcan" training course on using a sledge hammer to build strength (a copy of which we have been lucky enough to recently come across.) Here, Price nails in a notice with a hammer weighing in at half a hundredweight - not bad!
January 15, 2012
One of the well-known traditional feats of Oldtime Strength is the Human Chain. There's no telling who came up with it first but what we do know is that Strongmen have been performing this feat for well over a century -- and because it is very dangerous, always goes over great with the crowd. Shown here is George "The Great" Levasseur who famously performed this feat for the Ringling Brothers circus in the early 20th century where he was billed as "The Strongest Man that Walks the Earth." Levasseur was also famous for his backlifting ability. We'll highlight other great performances of "The Human Chain" in subsequent posts.
January 14, 2012
John Grimek did every kind of barbell, dumbbell and kettlebell exercise known to man in his training. While his preference was always "weights," he often augmented his workouts with chest expanders to fill in some of the gaps. It should also be noted that training with one of the chest expander handles "anchored," like Mr. Grimek is demonstrating here, offers a tremendous number of possibilities which are not often covered in most chest expander training guides.
January 13, 2012
"The Great Spadoni," aka Paul Krause from Germany, was one of the great masters of lifting, balancing and juggling heavy weights, a discipline known as jongleurs de force. One of his best known feats is pictured at the right: To begin, he was driven upon the stage in a full-sized dog cart. He then dismounted, removed the wheels -- which were then set spinning on pivots fixed to the points of the shafts --- lifted the dog cart in his arms and finally balanced it on his chin. While the balance aspect is certainly impressive (to say the least!), the amount of whole-body strength involved in getting the cart into position in the first place and the level of neck strength necessary to keep it aloft, may be even more so.
January 10, 2012
There's no such thing as "standard" equipment at the Leistner household... Case in point, here Dr. Ken Leistner gives new meaning to "bombing and blitzing" workouts by training with an actual bomb! Though training with this particular impliment certainly can build explosive arm power, it's only a Navy practice dud.
January 8, 2012
In 1902, The Milo Barbell Company, headed by Alan Calvert, opened its doors. Shown here is one of the first advertisements for their wares. Back then the american public had little idea of what a barbell was or how to use one, so Calvert had his work cut out for him. The "system" in question was simply the principle of double progression... which worked great then and works just as effectively a century later. Also of note is the dumbbell pictured in the ad... Various types of Milo Barbell equipment, dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells etc are quite rare these days but they do turn up on occasion. Only one of these particular shot-loaded dumbbells is currently known to exist, however. The lifter of said dumbbell in this ad is Mr. Frank F. Jones, weightlifting champion of Philadelphia. as noted in the ad, Mr. Jones' bodyweight at the time was 140 lbs. yet he could lift this dumbbell loaded to 150 lbs. with ease.