Joe Abbenda

Posted on Tuesday, December 4th, 2018 by John Wood
Joe Abbenda from Long Island, New York was a very popular and successful bodybuilder during the late 50’s and early 60’s. He began his bodybuilding career by winning the Teenage Mr. America title in 1959. The next year he finished fifth in the AAU Mr. America contest, followed that up with second place finish in 1961, and finally won the title in 1962. Abbenda also won the NABBA Amateur Mr. Universe that same year and the Pro Mr. Universe in 1963.

Al Christensen

Posted on Thursday, April 19th, 2018 by John Wood
Here’s Al Christensen, of the Bosco weightlifting club performing a pretty amazing feat: he could clean and jerk 230 pounds while on his knees. You won’t be seeing that one again any time soon. Al won the AAU Mr. Florida bodybuilding contest in 1951 and appeared on the cover of Strength and Health Magazine. His wife Vera was also a long-time columnist in Strength and Health.
All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2019 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc., Not to be reproduced without permission, All Rights Reserved
Author: John Wood. All contents, including images and text, copyright © 2005-2019 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc. Not to be reproduced without permission. All rights reserved. We will most likely grant permission but please contact us if you would like to repost. IMPORTANT: Equipment and books, courses etc. pictured in blog posts are generally not available for sale unless specifically noted.

Elwood Holbrook – Master of the Bent Press

Posted on Sunday, April 8th, 2018 by John Wood
Elwood Holbrook took 4th at the 1941 AAU Mr. America Contest AND took home the “Best Arms” award (He had also competed in the afternoon’s weightlifting contest where he finished 6th with a 715-pound total in the 165-pound class.)

While Holbrook was a very talented strength athlete and equally good at bodybuilding as well as weightlifting, his real gift was the bent press — he won the national Bent-Press Championship in a contest held by Sig Klein.

Holbrook was also one of the few men to bent press the famous Rolandow Dumbbell – a feat which he did on his first try and without a warmup. Here’s a shot of a 48-year old Elwood Holbrook bent-pressing 240 pounds — 75 pounds above his bodyweight. That unique dumbbell belonged to Paul Anderson.

Bert Goodrich – The First Mr. America (1938)

Posted on Saturday, February 17th, 2018 by John Wood
The first ever AAU Mr. America was Bert Goodrich, shown here on an early cover of Iron Man Magazine. Bert got his start by training with Earle E. Liederman’s courses and was a tremendous athlete in high school, excelling in hand balancing, swimming, and track and field events. He went on to became a stuntman in several Hollywood Movies and later opened up his own gym.
All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2019 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc., Not to be reproduced without permission, All Rights Reserved
Author: John Wood. All contents, including images and text, copyright © 2005-2019 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc. Not to be reproduced without permission. All rights reserved. We will most likely grant permission but please contact us if you would like to repost. IMPORTANT: Equipment and books, courses etc. pictured in blog posts are generally not available for sale unless specifically noted.

Val Vasilieff

Posted on Monday, December 25th, 2017 by John Wood
Val Vasilieff, 1964 AAU Mr America is shown here performing a weightlifting exhibition in front of 54,000 people during halftime of a 1964 Philadelphia Eagles-San Francisco 49ers football game. Vasilieff jerked 302 pounds for 10 repetitions and also was able to generate $8000 for the Olympic fund. When you consider that this was done on grass, probably without much of a warmup, and that weightlifting was not particularly well known to the general public, this was a world class accomplishment on both fronts.
All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2019 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc., Not to be reproduced without permission, All Rights Reserved
Author: John Wood. All contents, including images and text, copyright © 2005-2019 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc. Not to be reproduced without permission. All rights reserved. We will most likely grant permission but please contact us if you would like to repost. IMPORTANT: Equipment and books, courses etc. pictured in blog posts are generally not available for sale unless specifically noted.

Ellington Darden

Posted on Monday, November 13th, 2017 by John Wood
Before authoring over 50 books on strength training and meeting Arthur Jones, Ellington Darden was a very successful bodybuilder in the 60’s and 70’s. Interestingly enough, Ellington Darden won the 1969 Mr. Texas Bodybuilding contest, the same contest where a 17 year old Casey Viator finished 4th. This shot was taken a few days after Ellington Darden won the 1972 AAU Collegiate Mr. America Contest.
All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2019 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc., Not to be reproduced without permission, All Rights Reserved
Author: John Wood. All contents, including images and text, copyright © 2005-2019 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc. Not to be reproduced without permission. All rights reserved. We will most likely grant permission but please contact us if you would like to repost. IMPORTANT: Equipment and books, courses etc. pictured in blog posts are generally not available for sale unless specifically noted.

Mr. America Magazine: June, 1968 – Sergio Oliva

Posted on Thursday, November 2nd, 2017 by John Wood
A look at he cover of the June, 1968 issue of Mr. America Magazine, featuring Sergio Oliva and much of the hardware he had won.

As of that publication date, Sergio had won: The “Most Muscular” Sub-Class at the 1965 AAU Mr. America (although he finished fourth overall),the “Most Muscular” Sub-Class at the 1966 AAU Mr. America (this time finishing second), 1966 AAU Jr. Mr. America , 1966 IFBB Mr. World, 1967 IFBB Mr. Olympia, 1967 IFBB Mr. Universe, and the 1968 IFBB Mr. Olympia. He’d compete another decade and a half adding another IFBB Mr. Olympia title (1969), 1972 WBBG Mr. Galazxy, 1974 WBBG Mr. International, 1976, 1976, 1978 WBBG Mr. Olympus, and two more WABBA Pro World Cups championships to his haul – whew!

Notice Sergio is pointedly noted as “a Weider Trained Man” on this cover.

All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2019 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc., Not to be reproduced without permission, All Rights Reserved
Author: John Wood. All contents, including images and text, copyright © 2005-2019 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc. Not to be reproduced without permission. All rights reserved. We will most likely grant permission but please contact us if you would like to repost. IMPORTANT: Equipment and books, courses etc. pictured in blog posts are generally not available for sale unless specifically noted.

Bert Elliott in Action

Posted on Thursday, October 19th, 2017 by John Wood
Another look at Bert Elliott’s excellent bent-pressing ability. This rare shot was at the AAU Southern California Weightlifting Championships, circa early 1960’s. This globe barbell was loaded to 270 lbs. Note how balanced (and therefor stable) Elliott is, you could draw a straight line between the arm holding the barbell and his right foot. — That’s the only kind of form that will allow a successful Bent-Press lift.
All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2019 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc., Not to be reproduced without permission, All Rights Reserved
Author: John Wood. All contents, including images and text, copyright © 2005-2019 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc. Not to be reproduced without permission. All rights reserved. We will most likely grant permission but please contact us if you would like to repost. IMPORTANT: Equipment and books, courses etc. pictured in blog posts are generally not available for sale unless specifically noted.

George Eiferman – Chest Development

Posted on Saturday, April 25th, 2015 by John Wood
Back in the old days, “chest development” meant chest and ribcage expansion, not just bigger pecs.

Here’s a look at George Eiferman, a classic bodybuilder, who was famous for his chest development, on the cover of the February, 1948 Strength and Health Magazine.

Eiferman won the AAU Mr. America, AAU Mr. California and IFBB Mr. Universe titles.

In this picture Eiferman weighed around 190 pounds. You can tell that ribcage and chest expansion contributes greatly to the “look” of strength and power.

Frank Leight – Mr. America 1942

Posted on Wednesday, February 4th, 2015 by John Wood
Frank Leight, AAU Mr. America 1942, is shown here with some classic globe barbells and kettlebells on the cover of the July, 1942 issue of Strength and Health Magazine. Frank Leight finished 2nd in 1940 (losing to John Grimek and 3rd in 1941 (again behind Grimek, and Jules Bacon) before finally winning the Mr. America contest himself in 1942.
All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2019 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc., Not to be reproduced without permission, All Rights Reserved
Author: John Wood. All contents, including images and text, copyright © 2005-2019 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc. Not to be reproduced without permission. All rights reserved. We will most likely grant permission but please contact us if you would like to repost. IMPORTANT: Equipment and books, courses etc. pictured in blog posts are generally not available for sale unless specifically noted.