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A look at a few of the strongmen from the Thule Athletic Club, Trelleborg, Sweden, circa 1899. Obviously they were big kettlebell fans. Look closely and you'll also notice that the globe barbell in the foreground has a thicker than average handle -- which, given the forearm development displayed by these athletes, comes as no great surprise. ~ Now THAT is some oustanding training gear.
Ell Darden on the cover of the January, 1973 issue of Muscular Development magazine. Ell made a point to focus on chest expansion techniques and it certainly showed. You can read more about Ell Darden's training right here.
A look at a vintage advertisement for Professor Anthony Barker's Strength -Maker Bar-Bell System. The set was rather ingenious, the handles could be unscrewed from the globes which could then be filled with shot to adjust the weight. From just a few pieces of equipment, one could train with a barbell, a dumbbell or a pair of kettlebells.
It should also be noted that The $15.00 price tag equates to over $400 in today's money.
Leave it up to The Mighty Atom to figure out how to bend steel in unusual ways. This style is not seen very often mostly because it is not particularly comfortable, but steel bending is all about making the mind stronger than the muscle, and when that is the case, the steel will bend. The Atom was not a large man, but the forearm development shown in this rare shot is pretty impressive.
The Man in The Gymnasium... unfortunately his name is lost to the sands of time. We do know two things though: he had excellent taste in equipment AND was a snappy dresser. This picture was taken around 1900.
A classic shot of Ike Berger cleaning and jerking 325 pounds to set the world record and win the Gold Medal in the featherweight class at the 1958 Senior World Weightlifting Championships (held in Stockholm, Sweden.) Berger was known for his flawless technique in all three lifts.
Adrian Chiezel, from Milwaukee, Wisconsin developed the unusual talent of being able to "hop" long distances on his head. He then did what anyone with such an unusual talent would do; he ran off and joined the circus. In his act, "Chiezel: The Man Who Walks On His Head" hopped up and down this platform as shown, which seems like a pretty amazing show of neck strength (and balance) if you ask me.
Now THAT is a show that I'd like to see! The Turkish strongman/wrestler Risa Bey incorporated all manner of exciting elements into his act, including teeth-lifting, knife throwing, rock breaking and firing off a live cannon cradled in his arms.
Gustav Zander was a Swedish physician who created over 70 different exercises "machines" at the turn of the century. Zander's machines were very meticulously designed with a very intricate system of pulleys, pendulums and counter-balances which accounted for the leverages of the human body.
Each machine developed a particular area of the body. The machine shown above was for training forearm extension.
Also, despite their obvious similarities in appearance, Arthur Jones had no prior knowledge of Gustav Zander or his machines when he designed the Nautilus Machines. (Which actually function quite a bit differently.)
Some of the finest strength equipment that the world has ever known was made in the basement of an unassuming three-story house located at 17 Bryant Avenue in Springfield, New Jersey. This was the home of Andy Jackson and the Jackson International Barbell Company.
Jackson did all the work himself in the machine shop in his basement (shown above.) Other companies certainly sold quality equipment but it was Jackson's incredible attention to detail which set him apart. Each barbell was hand- crafted by Andy Jackson himself. In order to make sure his barbell plates were accurate, he weighed each one and if need be, he adjusted the weight accordingly until the weight was true.