The Arthur Saxon Collection

Posted on Friday, September 15th, 2017 by John Wood
Arthur Saxon, The Iron Master
Arthur Saxon, The Iron Master
The ONLY Man to lift 371 pounds overhead with one arm… now you too can learn the training Secrets of the IRON MASTER

How many men in the history of the World can say they ever put over 370 Pounds overhead with one arm? I don’t know for sure, but the answer is undoubtedly “not many.” In fact, I know of only one: Arthur Saxon, “The Iron Master” …the man whose records will never be equaled or surpassed…

If you’re into training, I’m sure you have always wonders how such a man as Arthur Saxon became so strong… but what if you had a time machine and could go back and talk to the man himself You could ask him exactly how he trained… what he ate… his views on strength… his favorite exercises… what his routine looked like… and what it felt like to lift 350+ pounds overhead with one hand.

Though time travel isn’t currently an option, you can still find out all that and more directly from Arthur Saxon through his two excellent training books: The Development of Physical Power and The Textbook of Weight-Lifting — and they are every bit as useful today as they were the day they were written, well over a century ago! These two classic courses, penned by one of the strongest men in recorded history, are now available once again in high quality modern reprint format:

The Development of Physical Power
Written in 1906, The Development of Physical Power in the first of Arthur Saxon’s two training books. In it, Saxon covers a variety of topics:

The meaning of the book’s title… What Saxon looks for beyond the muscles… How his early days contributed to his great strength later in life… Saxon’s international matches and challenges against other strongmen… His ideas on real strength… His views on light exercise… Weight-lifting for other sports, wrestling, boxing etc… Weight in relation to lifting… Notes on muscular measurements… How the strength of a man is often indicated by the thickness of his wrists…

Details of Saxon’s typical routine… Which types of lifts you should include in every workout… What an advanced lifter should do when he trains… The value of competition… The best question to ask about over-training… Nutrition information for the would-be strongman… The best place to train… One of the secrets to Saxon’s success…

What it feels like to lift 350 lbs. with one hand… The only thought that should be in your head when going for a record lift… Notes on the performance the bent-press… How to perform the One-Hand Snatch… The Single-Handed Dumb-bell Swing… Two-Dumb-bell lifting… Notes on Ring and ball (kettlebell) lifting… Measurements and record lifts… Measurements of Hermann and Kurt Saxon… Saxon’s open challenge to the world!

An eye witness account by famous physical culture authority Thomas Inch, which substantiates Saxon’s claims, rounds out the book. The photos on the front and back cover plus 45 rare photos and illustrations contained therein are more than worth the price of this beautiful 5-inch x 7-inch trade paperback with 122 pages. This is a unique look into the training and philosophy of one of the strongest men who ever lived whose methods you can incorporate into your own training.

The Textbook of Weight-Lifting
The Textbook of Weight-Lifting was written a few years later as part of a series of “Textbooks” on various sports and athletic events and offers an even deeper look into Arthur Saxon’s training techniques.  Saxon’s second training course is filled with many rare and never-before-published photos of the Iron Master in action – he personally posed for each photograph. Here’s a look at the topics covered:

Why everyone should lift weights… The test of strength… “Skill” in relation to weight-lifting… Real strength vs. possibilities… Choice of exercises… The difference between Continental and “Clean” lifting… The best exercises for competition lifting… One and two-handed Bar-Bell Lifts… The first thing you should do when training the Clean… The Clean Press from the shoulder… How to “Lock” the shoulder… Tips and techniques on the one-handed jerk from the shoulder…

The correct path that the bar should take… The two-dumb-bell clean… The dumb-bell swing… Four things you need to know about performing the snatch… The best “all-around” lift: bent-press…The two-handed bar-bell push… Records set by the German lifter Josef Steinbach… Ring, Ball and Square Weight-lifting… Records set by the French lifting champion Jean Francois LeBreton… Weight-lifting Exercises vs. Exercises with Weights… Several Kettlebell exercises for forearm development… Mental “tricks” to use for lifting more weight… Exhibition and Trick Weight-Lifting Feats…

The Textbook of Weight-Lifting was originally published in 1910… The modern reprint edition is 5-inches x 7-inches in size and 85 pages in length.  There are also 30 rare photographs of Arthur Saxon in action demonstrating the lifts and techniques discussed in the text. “Textbook” makes a worthy sequel to Saxon’s first book and an excellent addition to your training library.

A Blast from the Past… and a Look Toward the Future

Despite having been written over a century ago, Saxon’s writing’s are amazingly relevant to today’s lifters. His descriptions and tips on the oldtime lifts etc are, of course, top notch, but it is his advice on the other factors of lifting success are the real value to these courses. Saxon weighs in on such topics as proper diet, how often to train, “specificity,” the value of lifting for athletes, balanced development, the proper application of lifting and conditioning work for true athletic development, and mental training techniques… all concepts which were amazingly ahead of their time.

We are also talking about a man who routinely lifted more weight with one arm than most lifters — oldtime or modern — could lift with two, and this is a unique opportunity to learn the details of his exact approach. Saxon’s routines are not complicated and his advice is extremely practical which are two lessons that should not be lost on modern trainees. If you are looking to build your strength and power, you certainly can’t go wrong studying the methods and insight of one of the strongest men who ever lived.

Order now!The Arthur Saxon Collection (2 books):
_________ $29.99 plus s/h

Kurt Saxon

Posted on Monday, May 22nd, 2017 by John Wood

Among the members of the Saxon Trio it was Arthur who got most of the spotlight but the other members were quite strong in their own right. Kurt Saxon for example, could bent-press over 300 pounds at a bodyweight of only 170. His exceptional muscularity is evident even in this old photo.
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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.

John Y. Smith

Posted on Sunday, November 27th, 2016 by John Wood
John Y. Smith was a great strongman in the New England area in the early 1900’s. Among his many impressive feats were a right-hand bent-press of 275-1/2 pounds (which broke Louis Cyr’s mark) and a left-hand bent-press of 248 pounds (Which stood as an American record for many years.) It was said that Smith’s hands resembled “Iron Claws” due to his extensive training with Thick Bars. It was only when this vintage photo was colorized when Smith’s rather amazing “Iron Claw” forearm development become obvious.
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.

William Boone’s 1937 Training Program

Posted on Thursday, September 29th, 2016 by John Wood
William Boone’s 1937 Training Program
by Brooks Kubik
William Boone was a tremendously powerful lifter in the 1930’s and 40’s. He first achieved fame when reports were published of his astonishing gains on a program of heavy, high-rep squats, which he was inspired to follow after reading about what a similar schedule did for his Herculean contemporary, Joseph Curtis Hise. If memory serves correctly, Boone gained something like 80-100 pounds on the squat program.

William Boone
William Boone Training in his back yard

Boone eventually built up to a bent-press of close to 300 pounds … a deadlift of 700 or so … a partial dead lift of 900 pounds … and a jerk from the rack of 420 pounds, which certainly ranks him as one of the strongest men in the history of the world.

I believe that he made these lifts in the mid-to-late 40’s, or the very early 50’s. These achievements are all the more remarkable because Boone worked a very hard, hot, heavy job digging water wells in Louisiana and Texas.

According to Boone, one job digging wells on a ranch in Texas was so hot that the men had to drink 4 gallons of water per day just to keep from overheating under the scorching southwestern sun! …And yet, Boone often would work all day and THEN do his training!

Where did Boone train? In his backyard! He didn’t even have a garage or basement in which to train. He lifted huge weights standing on the grass or on a dirt surface.

So don’t let anyone tell you that you need to quit your job and lay around all day in order to make good gains …and don’t let anyone tell you that you need to train at some sort of super-duper training center jammed with all of the latest miracle machines.

Boone’s training was very unique. He always followed what I refer to as “abbreviated training programs.” A 1937 issue of Mark Berry’s little magazine, “Physical Training Notes,” contains a letter from Boone to Berry with the following update on Boone’s training.

The following information is from a period when Boone was building up to the really big lifts mentioned above:

I have been doing only three exercises, namely the Two Arm Press, Two Arm Curl, and the Deep Knee Bend…”

“Here is my last workout. I work only once a week on pressing and twice a week on squatting. Monday and Friday — D.K.B.’s (i.e. squats); Wednesday — pressing. My workouts average about an hour in length …”

“Wednesday: press –240 five times; 240 seven times; 250 four times; 260 three times; 270 twice; 275 once; then reduce the weight to 240 for four repetitions and again with two more presses; 212 pounds six times and then four times; 182 six and then four times. Then reverse curl twelve times with 136 pounds and regular curl 160 ten repetitions and then again twice.”

“My arms measure better than 18 inches now and I have hopes of pressing 250 pounds ten times and 300 pounds once.”

“Here is my last workout on the squat, which is also my best: once each with 405, 435, and 470; three times with 515; short rest; sixteen times with 400; short rest; eight times with 400. On October 21st I did my best, or rather highest, D.K.B. —
525 pounds.”

Yours in strength,

Brooks D. Kubik

John Y. Smith and His Unique Barbell

Posted on Tuesday, September 20th, 2016 by John Wood
Gotta love some of the unique and usual weights that many of the strongmen found to lift. Here’s a rare shot of the great Oldtime strongman John Y. Smith as he shoulders an unusual barbell, in his later years.

Smith was a very good bent-presser (with a lift of 275 lbs. at a bodyweight of just 160 lbs.) so that is probably what he is getting ready to do.

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.

371 Pounds Overhead with One Hand!

Posted on Sunday, August 28th, 2016 by John Wood

Arthur Saxon has a legitimate claim for the greatest strength feat of all time with his bent-press of 371 pounds (he was said to have unofficially done 385 pounds.) Either way, it’s a tremendous feat, to lift more weight overhead with one hand than most people can squat with!

Here’s a little bit from the man himself on how he did it:

“I have often been asked what it feels like to press 350 lbs. with one hand, and perhaps to my readers the different sensations experienced will be interesting.

In the first place, immediately I start to press the weight away from the shoulder I become perfectly oblivious to everything except the weight that I am lifting.

The spectators are obliterated from my mind by the effort of intense concentration which is necessary to enable me to press the weight. I immediately engage myself in a terrific struggle in which the weight and I are competitor, and only one can win, either the weight must be lifted or else I fail.

This concentration is, of course, one of the secrets of success in lifting, as I have explained in another part of my book. It enables me to bring forward the last ounce of pushing power, and for the time being to exert strength beyond that normally possessed.

As the weight steadily rises aloft perhaps half way it wavers, the balance alters, and I have immediately, yet very carefully and quietly, to adjust my position to the altered balance of the bell.

Then I must proceed with the press, my body gradually falling lower toward the left knee, my eyes fixed all the time upon the ponderous weight balanced over my head, ready to fall at a moment’s notice should I weaken or place myself in a false position, and should at this moment anyone shout out, it might startle me, make me waver, and cause the weight to fall.

Therefore, if I am attempting a world’s record in this position, I generally ask for complete silence until I have either failed or succeeded, and I might mention here that to think of failure is to fail, and I always tell myself all the time that I am certain to succeed even though I am attempting a weight more than I have hitherto lifted.

Eventually, my arm is straight, and before coming to an upright position I engage in another tussle with the enormous barbell, in which I have to exert all my will power to hold together the flagging powers of tired muscles, which have been strained by the tremendous pressure which 350 lbs. brings on to them in the effort of pressing aloft.

By supreme effort of the will I fix the bell in a good position and then stand upright. Often the bar will roll on to the fingers instead of being directly over the wrist, in which case severe pain is inflicted and I have to persevere with the lift under doubly hard conditions, or drop the weight and try again.”

For more information about Arthur Saxon and his training methods, pick up copies of his two great training books: >The Development of Physical Power (1906) and The Textbook of Weight-Lifting (1910)

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 De Genaro

Posted on Monday, August 22nd, 2016 by John Wood

The old York Lifters all used to practice the bent-press because the lift built incredible core strength. This, in turn, helped in increasing their Olympic Lifting totals.

One of the most talented of the bent-pressers was Val De Genaro who could lift 215 pounds. Bob Hoffman said that De Genaro had the most perfect bent-press technique that he had ever seen. Perhaps due in great part to his bent pressing ability, as a 148-pound lifter, De Genaro could Jerk 290 pounds.

De Genaro was also, unsurprisingly, an excellent hand-balancer who could walk the length of a football field on his hands.

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.

How to Bent Press by Sig Klein

Posted on Saturday, February 20th, 2016 by John Wood

If there ever were someone qualified to teach the bent press it was Sig Klein. He wrote this nifty little training guide in the 30’s. Original copies are pretty hard to come by but our good friend Bill Hinbern has done a modern reprint edition which is available here.
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.

Bob Jones at the York Picnic

Posted on Thursday, February 20th, 2014 by John Wood

Bob Jones Does His Thing at the York Picnic

Bob Jones (who else?) does a one-arm handstand on a (tipped) rocker at the York Barbell picnic some time in the late 1930’s (probably 1937). The early York picnics were held right behind Bob Hoffman’s house on Lightner’s Hill in North York, Pennsylvania. Hoffman can be seen bent-pressing the large globe barbell in the background in another picture taken the same day HERE.

They say that the York picnics were so popular that cars were parked three quarters of a mile in every direction. Hoffman’s house is still there and you can see it if you know where to look.

Tromp Van Diggelen’s Lift

Posted on Tuesday, February 11th, 2014 by John Wood

Tromp Van Diggelen's Lift

Tromp Van Diggelen bent-presses a sack of mealies (a type of coarse corn flour) weighing 203 pounds (which was 20 pounds more than his body weight at the time.) Tromp was 53 years of age when this picture was taken, which makes the approximate date of this picture 1938. Of course, a 200+ pound bent-press would be an impressive lift at any age.
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.