March 29, 2012
The French strongman Noel le Gaulois was the man to beat at certain lifts in the late 19th century. He won the world's championship in Brussels, Belgium in 1897, with a two-arm snatch with 220 pounds, a two-arm jerk of 253-pounds and a one-arm snatch of a 143-pounds... All lifts which would still be respectable a century later. Like many strongmen of the period, he was also a very good wrestler. Later, Le Gaulois owned a café/gymnasium which was the gathering place for the famous strongmen of the day. Also, so you know, "le Gaulois" was not his actual last name but a nickname The Gaul, which referred to his outstanding mustache.
March 29, 2012
A rare look at a shot from the French Weightlifting Championship of 1942. Unfortunately records from the time period are spotty, so we don't know this lifter's name (although it may possibly be Augustin D'Halluin). Like many big athletic competitions, this event was held at the famous Voltaire Gymnasium in Paris. Originally built in 1870, the Voltaire Gymnasium is still around, if you know where to look... it has been preserved and athletic events are still held there to this day. It's pretty amazing to think that you can go lift in the same place that Charles Rigoulot and Louis Hostin set many of their records.
March 28, 2012
Unknown Strongman #3... We'll never know his name... Based on his attire, it looks like he could have been a wrestler as well.
March 27, 2012
Shown here is Richard Thomas of Niagra Falls, New York, and his weights, circa 1931. Mr. Thomas ran a private gym of about thirty members and was also clearly a big fan of kettlebell handles. These were Milo Barbell Co. weights and bars as things had only just barely gotten started down in York, PA at the time...
March 22, 2012
A rare image of the Gobelin Athletic Club in Paris, France, circa 1910. This was a fairly typical training studio at the time, with plenty of globe barbells, globe dumbbells, block weight, Indian Clubs, gymnastic rings and climbing ropes -- pretty much anything a strength athlete could want or need. The extremely long globe barbells leaning up against the wall on left are a pretty interesting concept... The large, open sand pit was to prevent breakage to any globes which may have been dropped during use. This gym is where the great lifter Charles Rigoulot got his start.
March 21, 2012
The Nautilus Pullover, demonstrated here by Three-time Mr. Olympia winner Sergio Oliva, was often called "The Upper Body Squat" because it trained the largest and strongest muscles of the back in a way that is not possible with regular barbells and dumbbells...However, like any tool, the pullover must be used correctly. "Correctly use" entails not just the form of the movement itself but also the volume and intensity in which sets and reps are performed. A lot of people dind't do it right from the outset and wrote it off, which is a shame... Once you "get" how to use the pullover correctly, the results are like night and day. Though this particular machine was originally in production over forty years ago, they are still surprisingly easy to find -- we may actually do a special feature on the pullover at some point.
March 21, 2012
A look at two rare engravings of the front and interior the Myrtle Street Gymnasium in Liverpool, England, which officially opened on November 6th, 1865. This facility was the finest in the world at the time, and offered training in the British, Swedish, German and American gymnastic systems as well as fencing, rowing, swimming, cycling and other athletic pursuits. Look closely and you will see climbing ropes and ladders, wall pulleys, barbell and dumbbell lifting, wall pulleys and a variety of other interesting methods of training (including a live horse!) The "Gymnasiarch" of this facility was Mr. John Hulley, who was one of the co-founders of the Liverpool Athletic Club and who helped organize the first Olympic Festivals. These early athletic contests gave rise to the "Modern" Olympic games.
March 20, 2012
Known as "The Ukranian Hercules," Grigori Novak was the greatest weightlifter of his era. He stood only 5'4" and set 111 Soviet records and 62 World records throughout his career. On October, 19th, 1946 at the World Championships, held at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris, France, Novak totalled 425 kg (935 pounds) in the light-heavyweight class to become the first Soviet weightlifting world champion. Shown above is Novak's winning snatch of 130 kg (286 pounds).
March 19, 2012
If you want to look strong (not to mention also be strong) then you had better train your neck. This fellow, a football player at the University of Tennessee Martin, named Hunter Carter had some help from Mother Nature in that department but he also did quite a bit of work with a Neck Helmet shown here. You'll find him featured in the July, 1976 issue of Muscular Development Magazine in an article on neck training by Carl H. Giles. Speaking from experience, a neck helmet trains the head and neck muscles in a unique manner and is an excellent choice though it is not without its disadvantages. To build the strongest possible neck a variety of equipment and techniques can and should be used, including plate-loaded neck machines, manual resistance, neck straps, jaw and teeth lifting, isometrics, and head stands (this list is by no means exhaustive). Keep in mind that building the strength and size of the neck is like developing any other muscle group, incorporate the overload principle, train progressively and recover properly and your collar size will inevitably increase.
March 18, 2012
Estonian born Georg Lurich was a great wrestler and strongman during the early 1900's. He was was a great friend and training partner to George Hackenschmidt (It was actually Lurich who introduced Hackenschmidt to weightlifting.) Lurich's brother-in-law was Alex Aberg, another champion wrestler of the time period. Lurich won the World Greco-Roman Wrestling Championship in 1912 and was the last man to face Frank Gotch before Gotch retired in 1913. As far as strength feats, among others, Lurich is credited with a one-arm jerk of 267 lbs., and a two-arm clean & jerk of 344 lbs -- both of which would still be impressive today.
March 18, 2012
Here's a look at the cover of the incredibly rare "Bruno Course of Bodybuilding" authored by The Living Legend himself, Bruno Sammartino. You can see by Bruno's thick bone structure that he was a man built for some serious horsepower but don't forget that he still had to work for his strength. In The Bruno Course, he covers a dozen or so basic exercises which were his favorites, some "weight" exercises, some bodyweight movements and some conditioning work... simple, but highly effective. You can read more about The Bruno Course in The Dellinger Files Volume I.
March 17, 2012
France was a center of physical training activity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This was due in large part to Professor Edmond Desbonnet who founded his school of physical culture in his home town of Lille, in northern France. Here's a look the members of the Lille Athletic Club, circa 1901, with some of their classic equipment: globe barbells and dumbbells, chest expanders and blockweights etc. Desbonnet himself is pictured at the far right.
March 17, 2012
John C. Grimek, from Perth Amboy, New Jersey, has the unique distinction of being one of "the greatest" in pretty much every aspect of strength training that you can think of... As you can probably tell, Grimek was a champion bodybuilder and won every contest he ever entered. This included the AAU Mr. America contest twice (in 1940 and 1941) and Mr. Universe in 1948. Grimek was a fixture on the cover of Strength and Health magazine and either the subject of, or the author of dozens of training articles. ...but he wasn't just all show, Grimek was a as strong as he looked. Grimek represented the United States at 1936 Olympics in Berlin (where he accomplished the highest American total) and put up impressive numbers in many different lifts. To give you a few good examples, Grimek could easily rip phone books, lift 11-3/4 pounds on the "Weaver Stick" and actually worked up to supporting a thousand pounds in the overhead press position.
March 16, 2012
What we find pretty interesting is that while people tended to keep various strength books and courses, almost no one kept the ads, which are fascinating in their own right. Here's a classic ad from Earle E. Liederman who did more advertising than any of the Mail Order Muscle Barons. Whether you are a fan of oldtime strength training or oldtime copywriting, it's a good idea to pay close attention... we may have several of Liederman's books available in the near future.
March 15, 2012
"Don't have a weight set? ...just lift a cannon!" That's what Steve Justa would have said if he had been born a century earlier... Sensing potential threats invading from the Alpine border, back in the late 1800's, the French Military formed a special brigade devoted specifically to mountain warfare Their cannon were often transported by mules, yet there were many places where the mules were not able to travel so these soldiers did what they had to do in order to be prepared, and that often meant putting their cannons on their backs and carrying them themselves.As these kinds of things often do, it became a sense of pride to see who could lift the heaviest cannon. One of the highest compliments that could be said for a member of these battalions was that "he can do the work of two (or three) mules." The cannon that the gentleman above is shown carrying was listed as weighing 280 kg -- that's over 600 pounds.
March 15, 2012
Here's another good example of an unknown strongman, whose name and feats are unfortunately lost to the sands of time.This fellow is obviously a big fan of barrel lifting and blockweights or kettlebells.Notice that while his arms are not particularly large his forearm development is exceptional -- no doubt the result of lifting, heavy, awkward objects. UPDATE: Unknown no more! He is Signor Dondretti, Iron Jaw Athlete and contortionist - he performed with the King & Franklin's New Colossal Shows in the late 1800s and lifted a 1000 lb. horse with his teeth!
March 15, 2012
Just in case you ever need to know who was on the cover of the very first issue of Strength and Health magazine, the answer is Walter "Wally" Zagurski. This issue hit the scene in December of 1932. Starting a magazine in the teeth of the Great Depression was quite an ambitious undertaking for Bob Hoffman, something which will be covered in great detail in the second volume of The Dellinger Files. Zagurski was an original member of the "York Gang" who lifted back when it was called the "York Oil Burner Athletic Club." He competed in the 1932 Olympics, won the 1933 Sr. National Weightlifting title at 165 pounds and was a very good all-around strength athlete.
March 13, 2012
Rudolf Ismayr, seen here in mid-clean with what looks like to be about 265 pounds, won the Gold Medal at the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, California where he totaled 345 kg in the Middleweight class. Four years later, Ismayr was chosen to read the Olympic Oath at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany (at which he took the Silver Medal with a 352.5 kg total.)
March 7, 2012
If you are interested in true "Oldtime" feats of strength, then late-19th century France was the place to be. Whether at a night club, concert, or street fair if there was a crowd present, it was an opportunity for a strongman to showcase his talents. This extremely rare poster, dating from 1876 highlights, Bazin, The Cannon Man, whose act must have been a sight to see. Sure he lifted and juggled heavy weights etc... but notice that not only is Msr. Bazin pictured firing a cannon from his shoulder but walking with blockweights strapped to his feet as well!
March 6, 2012
When you walk into an antique store and ask if they have any "York Collars" you never know what you might get... You see, when a young bull's horns begin to grow, they grow straight out from his forehead making a pretty effective weapon... To protect themselves and other cattle, the oldtime farmers used to attach a weight to each horn and, thanks to gravity, the horns grew downward instead. Well come to find out there were, in fact, "York" Cattle Horn Collars, an example of which is shown above. Is this collar some lost relic of The York Barbell Company? Did Bob Hoffman once decide to produce equipment for a whole different market? No one seems to know the answers... yet given the fact that they were cast iron (like many other types of York equipment), that the font is pretty darn close if not identical (a York Barbell Plate is shown at right for comparison), and that this collar is fairly close in function to a York barbell collar, it would not appear to be out of the question... you be the judge.
March 4, 2012
Ghulam Muhammad, The Great Gama, is the greatest Pehlwan, or Indian wrestler, who ever lived. He is the only wrestler to remain undefeated throughout the course of his entire career which spanned over 5000 matches. The Great Gama publicly challenged all comers and easily defeated the likes of the American Champion Dr. Benjamin Roller (who he "threw" 13 times in 15 minutes), Stanislaus Zbyszko of Poland, the European John Lemm of Switzerland, and Maurice Deriaz of France. Interestingly, Gotch and Hackenschmidt refused to face him.Gama's daily training routine consisted of thousands of traditional squats and pushups... and after seeing him train, many would-be challengers wanted no part. The object Gama is seen holding here was not a piece of training equipment but an ornamental scepter known as a Gurz, the Indian Wrestling version of the Championship Belt.
March 1, 2012
In days gone by, bodybuilders used to be as strong as they looked... Here's the 1963 Mr. Germany, Gernulf Garbe, curling what looks to be around 180 pounds. Garbe went on to become a famous physician and authored several books on bodybuilding.