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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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Strength legends are generally treated differently in other countries than they are here. Case in point, here's a nifty commemorative envelope from Germany, circa 1991, celebrating the great Arthur Saxon. Note that the stamps are also related to lifting.
Here's a new take on the "human anvil" feat from the German strongman Fritz Brust, circa 1928. Usually an anvil or large rock is placed on the chest of the "hitee" which helps absorbthe force of the sledge hammer blows. In Fritz's case, he does have a rock on his chest, but is also suspended in midair between two cars while assistants pound away with hammers ~ now THAT is tough!
Shown here: Steve Reeves performing a "full" lateral raise with a pair of Milo kettlebells... a highly underrated movement for shoulder development made that much more enjoyable with classic iron. The rotating handles of the Milo kettlebells allow for certain exercises that are difficult to do with cast-iron kettlebells. (As a side note, Steve Reeves was well-known for his broad shoulders which were measured by Armand Tanny at an unbelievable 23-1/2 inches.)
A look at a German Sport club, circa 1903. As for their equipment, as was the custom with German-style kettlebells, the handles were large and open to enable juggling... the barbells also appear to have thick handles, which encourage grip and forearm development.
Here's a rare shot from a turn of the century training course of an Indian wrestler getting ready for a sandbag workout. Elsewhere in the course, he is pictured lifting, throwing and carrying the sandbag. As a combat athlete, lifting or carrying heavy, awkward and sometimes off-centered objects can be much more useful than simply "lifting weights." I sure wouldn't want to mess with this guy.
Doug Hepburn was arguably the first bench press superstar. Throughout the early 1950's, he became the the first man to officially bench press 400, 450 and then 500 pounds. Above, he toys with 460 lbs at an exhibition.
The bench press has become a much different lft these days. Note that Doug bench pressed in a singlet, without arch and the bench above didn't even have uprights. Doug's training focused purely on strength development and his results speak volumes even many decades later.
The fact that Sig Klein has been mentioned so many times throughout this blog should tell you that he was a jack of all trades -- and he most certainly was. Name a classic training discipline and ol' Sig was a master: muscle control... kettlebell and barbell juggling... heavy weight lifting... posing ...the list goes on and on.
One of Sig's absolute favorite types of training was hand balancing, and he mentioned it often as the way he trained in the days before he got his weight set. Sig felt that hand balancing was not just for show but was a fantastic way to build size and strength -- a viewpoint that we certainly agree with. Sig also believed that regular hand balancing was a great way to improve the press and the results speak for themselves.
Arthur Santell was just a kid from Los Angeles with an interest in physical training who talented enough to be featured the newspaper every once in a while. What we do know of Arthur Santell is that he could drive a 20 penny nail through two 1-inch boards with his fist, break chains with his bare hands and scroll a 1-1/2" x 1/4" steel band around his arm. This picture was taken on May 6th, 1930. Santell was 18 at the time.
In 1906, the writer A.B. De Guerville wrote a travelogue of Egypt. At one point during his adventures, De Guerville had a chance to observe the members of the Egyptian police academy go through their exercises which involved gymnastics,, shooting, riding and heavy weightlifting. He noted that the development that was obtained by new recruits in only a matter of weeks was striking. This gentleman, unfortunately not named in the text, was listed as the strongest man in the school.