Welcome to the World's Strongest Blog!
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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Paul Pons won what is recognized as the very first wrestling world championship in 1898. Pons would go on to win several more world championships in 1899, 1900, 1902, 1903, 1904 and 1910. Like most wrestlers of the day, Pons was also a strongman, and, as a matter of fact, Apollon's training partner. Though Pons put most of his focus toward his wrestling, he did accomplish several notable strength feats, among them briefly holding the world record in the "Two Hands Anyhow" with a lift of 129 kg. For most of his life, Pons ran a wrestling and physical training gymnasium in Paris where he, Apollon, Batta and many other great French strength athletes trained.
From 1989 to 2000, Osmo Kiiha published "THE IRON MASTER" one of the most informative periodicals ever produced on the history of strength training.
What made this publication stand out from anything before or since was the focus on training -- every issue focused on one or more of the all-time greats but it wasn't just talk, there was always a number of workouts included so that readers could learn exactly how the champs trained.
At one point, Osmo decided to create a further link to the past by coming out with his own classic equipment. He created a series of globe barbells, dumbbells and kettlebells which were reminiscent of the kind of equipment that the MILO Barbell Company had produced a century before. The "Iron Master" Dumbbell is shown above.
Like the MILO models, these had hollow globes which could be filled either with shot or loded with smaller plates through the handle. They were cast in either aluminum or steel and were machined, one at a time, by hand ~ true works of art.
Just another day in the old York gym over on Broad Street, circa 1958. The great featherweight Ike Berger is getting in a few presses with 205 on the platform. The gentleman looking on from the left is Eduardo Adrian, who was the lifting champion from the island of Curacao, and who spent a few weeks training in York at the time.
In the background, 1944 Mr. America and 1947 Mr. Universe Steve Stanko works in on the long cable. while Jack Mills, a local high school student, rests between sets -- that's right, at one point in time you could have just show up at York and worked out right along side world champion lifters and strength athletes.
|A strongman has turned up in Philadelphia. He calls himself Sebastian Miller and a distinguished gathering of physicians and Professors witnessed some of his feats of strength in the Pennsylvania hospital a day ago.
Miller stripped to the waist in order that the physicians might see the workings of his gigantic muscles, and he stepped to a light pine table on which were placed several cobblestones.
A large stone was held in place and Miller, giving three powerful swings with his right arm, brought his fist down on the stone.
The first blow cracked it, the second broke it, and the third shattered it into bits. In doing this, Miller wrapped a piece of cloth around his hand to protect it from being cut.
But Miller's strength is not all in his arms. With a harness he has raised 3500 pounds and with his hands he can lift 1800 pounds. With three successive blows of his fist he has broken a block of Quincy granite 5 feet long, 4 feet broad and 6 inches thick.
-- From The Cambridge (Ohio) Jeffersonian, dated January 3, 1899
|Professor Adrian Schmidt's "Automatic Exerciser" (also called a "Schmidt Machine") was one of the very first commercially made pieces of strength equipment. It was ingenious in its simplicity since it allows for a number of exercises -- especially those which required incredibly heavy weights -- to be performed in a minimum of space. Movements such as hip lifts or deadlift lockouts (i.e. 'The Health Lift) etc which often required hundreds of pounds of weight could now be performed with only a few dozen thanks to the leverage principle.
Schmidt felt, and rightly so, that maintaining a strong healthy life was a matter of maintaining a strong and healthy back. This concept, as well as instructions for the exerciser, were all explained in his booklet "Life's Backbone." Back in 1917, when this ad appeared, you could send away for this booklet for 4 cents!
Now THAT'S a Kettlebell! ...Antonio Clevio Massimo Sabatino, professionally known as Clevio Massimo, was born in Opi Labruza, Italy in 1895. When only a small boy he immigrated into the US and made Buffalo, New York his home. Shortly after finishing high school, Clevio Massimo toured the country performing strongman feats, hand balancing, adagio dancing and muscle control and for a time, even ventured into professional wrestling. You can find out more about Clevio Massimo in The Mark Berry Bar Bell Courses.
"The Scottish Apollo" William Beattie is shown here doing a bent-press with a pair of what are most likely 56-pound block weights. It should be noted that he fist swung them up to that position which is a fantastic feat of grip strength in holding the blocks together. Beatties was also fond of juggling these weights.
Unsurprisingly, Beattie was one of the many students of William Pullum and won the British Amateur Weightlifting Association (BAWLA) 12 stone Championship in 1929. Beattie went on to perform feats of strength and acrobatics with several circuses.
Everyone should train their neck, but neck strength is especially important if you play football. The Hammer Strength neck machine is the best one I have ever used -- and I've tried 'em all. Do it strict with no monkey business and you'll go up a few collar sizes in no time. I recently got one from a local high school who said they were getting rid of it because "they didn't need it any more" ~ oh brother.
The great German strongman Hermann Goerner was known as "Goerner The Mighty" -- and for very good reason. Among his many amazing feats were a one-arm deadilift of 734.5 lbs and a "leg press" of 24 men sitting on a plank, a total weight of 4123 lbs. Above, Goerner lifts his famous challenge barbell, which was 330-3/4 lbs. and had a 2-3/8ths-inch handle. Goerner's challenge was to clean and jerk this unique barbell without moving the feet, something which he could do easily but which no one else was ever able to duplicate.