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In all my years, I've never seen anything like these barbell plates. No idea who "Cal Gibson" was, and never found any trace of him in any old magazines. And 50 lbs? Not common at all. I do, however, dig his style; that thunderbolt design looks SHARP!
Slim The Hammer Man doing his thing on the streets of New York, circa the early 1970s. During a visit to Slim's place I had a chance to try these same hammers without any weight and couldn't budge them an inch - Slim was (and is) the real deal.
There's more to "Strength" than just sets and reps. As a protege of The Mighty Atom Slim learned how to channel his mental energy into physical strength~ a pretty unique skill to have. No one else has even come close to The Hammer Man's records so it's safe to say this is a skill that few people are in possession of...
Grip developers have always been popular and the "Victor Master Grip" is a good one from way back, about 1926 or so. It's got progressive resistance through a full range of motion and you can adjust resistance by the number of springs. You'll still see this design around today.
There weren't many performing "strongwomen" ...but there were a few, one of the greatest of whom was Athleta Van Huffelen, of Belgium. In the late 1800's, her solo act at the Eden Alhambra Theater in Brussels caused quite a stir in the strength world as she performed feats that, at the time, were thought all but impossible for a woman.
Athleta lifted barrels, bent horseshoes and spikes, and, as shown above, danced a waltz while supporting three men and a loaded barbell on her shoulders. The French strength historian Professor Desbonnet had never seen anything like it, so much so that he listed Athleta among the great strength athletes in his classic book "The Kings of Strength."
Yes, they knew all about "functional" training way back in 1906. There's nothing more "functional" than sawing wood (the best exercise known to man, indeed). Chopping a couple cords before dinner will put some hair on your chest but when you can't always make it out to the wood pile grab one of "Bailey's Rubber Exercisers" instead. Now you can go to town in the comfort of your own living room. Perhaps we can see about coming up with something similar?
A look at John Grunn Marx about to break a chain with the arm that broke three horseshoes in two minutes and 15 seconds. Marx did a lot of training with thick-handled barbells and dumbbells which gave him a grip of steel, in fact, that was the title of a grip course that he wrote: "The Grip of Steel. The Complete Science of Hand and Forearm Training."
If there ever were a "bar belle" it was Abbye "Pudgy" Stockton. (She aquired the nickname "Pudgy" as a child and it stuck.) "Pudgy" was anything but, she weighed 115 pounds at a height of 5'2" and, as you can see, was quite the physical specimen -- especially impressive at a time when weightlifting for either gender was frowned upon.
She and husband Les Stockton were well known at the first "Muscle Beach" at Santa Monica, California where they primarily worked on acrobatics and gymnastic feats
for the crowds.
Aside from being a frequent contributor to Strength and Health Magazine, Pudgy also helped organize the very first weight lifting contect for women through the AAU. In that contest, Stockton pressed 100 pounds, snatched 105 pounds, and clean and jerked 135 pounds.
Here's an unusual handbalancing feat from an old postcard. Unfortunately the names of these gentlemen is lost to the sands of time, but this is a truly excellent feat, one I have actually never seen before. The coordination and intense focus required to pull this one off is tremendous.
In 1912, the Austrian government issued a 4 Heller stamp honoring the great strength champion Karl Swoboda who had just won the world weightlifting championship the year before. It's not hard to see why one of the lifts that won him the title was a right arm military press of 154-1/2 pounds.