Fred Rollon

Posted on Sunday, January 18th, 2015 by John Wood
Many old timers built powerful bodies with Chest Expanders, and of them, Fred Rollon was the greatest. While many strongmen frowned upon Chest Expanders as a means of testing strength, preferring weights instead, Rollon was never beaten at cable pulling. For sheer muscular separation in the upper body, no one has yet surpassed Rollon. In fact, he was often called “The Human Anatomy Chart.” A look at this photo has started many bodybuilders and young trainees into more vigorous training with Chest Expanders and other strength cables.
All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2021 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 © 2005-2021 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.

The One-Arm Expander Press

Posted on Thursday, December 18th, 2014 by John Wood

Earle E. Liederman was a big fan of chest expander training, and featured chest expanders prominently in his courses. This was certainly with good reason. You won’t find a better movement for building shoulder mass and strength than the one-arm expander press shown here.

All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2021 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 © 2005-2021 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.

Lou Thesz & Expander Training

Posted on Friday, September 5th, 2014 by John Wood

Expander work has always been popular with wrestlers since they offer a workout that is both portable and effective. Here is the great champion Lou Thesz, the man who held the NWA Championship belt longer than anyone else is history, doing a couple curls with what looks like one of Roy Noe’s Graduated Xercisors. This is a really fantastic exercise and the tension can be adjusted based on foot placement.
All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2021 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 © 2005-2021 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.

Spenby Exerciser

Posted on Sunday, March 30th, 2014 by John Wood

The Spenby brand, based in Lancashire, England, introduced many a lad to the world of physical culture. This 5-spring expander set, with some truly excellent box art, dates to the 1960’s.
All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2021 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 © 2005-2021 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.

Saxon Brown

Posted on Friday, March 21st, 2014 by John Wood

Saxon Brown

In 1924, at seventeen years of age, Saxon Brown was Britain’s strongest youth. As a professional, he performed many traditional feats of strength such as Nail Driving, Nail Bending, Card Tearing, The Human Chain and Steel Scrolling.

Brown could also lift a car from the side and would let a motorcycle drive over his neck as a part of his act…he is thought to be the first man to pull a bus with his teeth. Brown was also clearly a big fan of chest expanders.

Abe Boshes

Posted on Sunday, December 1st, 2013 by John Wood
To provide additional proof that one can be impressive without being “huge” here is the famous Brooklyn strongman Abe Boshes. Boshes stood 5’3″ at a bodyweight of around 150 pounds and was very well-known for his shoulder development (which was obviously a big contributor to his stature.) Boshes did quite a bit of training with chest expanders.

Boshes could bent-press around 220 lbs for a single and a 100 lb. dumbbell 18 times in succession. In the early 1900’s, he won a contest put on by Bernarr MacFadden and the fame from doing so allowed him to travel the country on the Vaudeville circuit. Like many strongmen of the time he also did some wrestling.

All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2021 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 © 2005-2021 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.

Henry Victor Chest Expanders

Posted on Wednesday, August 28th, 2013 by John Wood

An advertisement for the Henry Victor Chest Expanders, circa 1924 or so. Expanders are a fantastic choice today for the same reasons they were back then: they are portable, effective and offer a tremendous range of exercises, many of which can’t be done with any other type of equipment.
All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2021 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 © 2005-2021 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.

Jack Lewis

Posted on Saturday, July 13th, 2013 by John Wood

Jack Lewis

One of the lesser-known strength authors was Jack Lewis, of London, England. Lewis did most of his training with chest expanders and built a pretty impressive physique. We may reprint one (or more) of Lewis’ courses in the near future.
All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2021 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 © 2005-2021 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. John

Posted on Friday, February 8th, 2013 by John Wood

Mr. John. Vaudeville

Now THAT’S a chest expander! “Mr. John” was a vaudeville performer in the teens who worked feats of strength into a slapstick comedy routine. As you might guess, many of these feats involved prodigious strand pulling feats.
All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2021 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 © 2005-2021 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.

French Weightlifting Club, circa 1906

Posted on Monday, July 16th, 2012 by John Wood

FRench Weightlifting Club, 1906

A rare look at a French weightlifting club, and their awesome training equipment, circa 1906.  One thing is for sure about the French lifters: they certainly had plenty of style.  Their equipment is basic: globe barbells, globe dumbbells, block weights, chest expanders etc, but undoubtedly more than enough to get it done.  Note the Sandow poster on the back wall. The president, Msr. Gustave Dechelpretre sits in the center.