The Swingbell

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

The Swingbell is essentially a dumbbell with the weights loaded in the middle instead of either end. This configuration has a great feel for exercises such as curls, wrist curls, abdominal work and, as the name implies, swings.
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 Swedish Bars

Posted on Sunday, August 19th, 2012 by John Wood

The Swedish Bars

You have no doubt seen these along the walls in Classic Gyms but didn’t know what they were – so now you do. The Swedish Bars (also called Stall Bars or Gymnastic Bars) were created by the Swedish physical training pioneer Pehr Henrik Ling back in the 1800’s (a derivation of the climbing ladder).

They soon became a standard piece of gymnastic training equipment in physical culture gymnasiums, YMCAs and especially in the military. The Swedish Bars are used to build flexibility as well as to perform a variety of exercises, most notably abdominal work by hanging from them and performing leg lifts, etc..

Muscle Up and Make Out!

Posted on Thursday, August 16th, 2012 by John Wood

Muscle Up and Make Out!

Muscle Up and Make Out! – Straight outta the back of a thousand comic books comes Dave Draper and the World Famous Samson “007” Twister! One twist is all it took to start adding inches of muscle. The chicks clearly dug it and it certainly worked for Dave Draper, who won the IFBB Mr. America in 1965, Mr. Universe in 1967 and Mr. World in 1970.

The Lind-Hendrickson “Big Giant” Grip Machine

Posted on Monday, April 23rd, 2012 by John Wood

Lind-Hendrickson Big Giant Grip Machine

Even though “working out” was a relatively new concept in the early 1920’s, when the Lind-Hendrickson “Big Giant” Grip Machine first appeared, people still understood the importance of building a strong grip… something which far too many folks neglect in their training these days.
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 Iron Master Dumbbell

Posted on Sunday, February 12th, 2012 by John Wood
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 loaded 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.

Professor Adrian Schmidt’s Automatic Exerciser ~ Life’s Backbone

Posted on Sunday, February 5th, 2012 by John Wood
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!

Peary Rader and The Magic Circle

Posted on Tuesday, October 18th, 2011 by John Wood
THE MAGIC CIRCLE
– FOR MAGIC RESULTS –
The most satisfactory device yet found for doing quarter, half and full squats — for doing Hise Shoulder Shrugs and other heavy poundage exercises where weight is held on shoulders. It has made squatting a pleasure by removing the agonizing and sometimes paralyzing pain and discomfort of a heavy bar across the shoulders cutting into the flesh and putting pressure o the spine.

The “Magic Circle” gives a freedom for deep breathing in the popular and result-producing “Breathing Squats” for the exerciser can stand erect and breathe normally with a high lift of the chest at every breath, and is not compelled to hump over forward and breathes it the abdominal area as with a bar.

In use, the “Magic Circle” is loaded up on the side pegs (unless you go over 700 lbs., in which case you have front and back pegs to load on), step in the circle (which is supported on side horses or boxes), lift shoulder straps onto shoulders, center straps, stand erect and walk away from stand and begin squats in normal manner.

When finished, walk back to stands and lower ring to supporting rack. While squatting it helps to grasp ring in front and pull slightly toward you. If you get stuck at bottom you place hands on legs and push upward to recover. No more getting stuck at bottom, will hold 1200 lbs. or more.

If you read Iron Man Magazine in the 70’s you remember Peary Rader demonstrating the Magic Circle. Peary’s using 425 pounds in this classic shot. and making it look easy.

I actually grew up with one in our basement gym — that’s right a fully functioning Magic Circle, one of the last ones left. I don’t like using it for squats — it changes the center of gravity in the bottom position too much for my taste. Though not necessarily the same concept, (but very much along the same lines), a Gerard Trap Bar will give you a much better leg workout.

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 Big Wheel at Zuver’s Hall of Fame Gym

Posted on Monday, August 29th, 2011 by John Wood
The Big Wheel at Zuver's Hall of Fame Gym
At Zuver’s Hall of Fame Gym, everything is BIG, including the unique piece of equipment seen here: The BIG Wheel. That’s a heck of a way to do pulldowns. Check out the handle, and that’s a pretty good sized anchor chain too. Dr. Ken Leistner, who trained at Zuver’s long ago, actually had a reproduction of the Big Wheel made for his Iron Island Gym (made for him by Jim Sutherland.)
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.

Russian Kettlebell Exercises

Posted on Sunday, August 21st, 2011 by John Wood

Kettlebell Exercises

If you’re going to train with Russian Kettlebells, may as well go back to the source to see how to do it right. Pictures help, but you’ll get a little more out of this post if you can read Cyrillic. “Traditional” kettlebell exercises consist of the snatch (which is more like a “swing” since it travels in an arc) and the clean and jerk (mainly just the jerk) done for maximal high reps.

Block Weights!

Posted on Monday, August 8th, 2011 by John Wood
Strongman Block Weight
Block Weights
The oldtime strongmen lifted just about any weight they could get their hands on. Shown here is a block weight, an obvious precursor to the kettlebell. Block weights (also sometimes referred to as scale weights) were originally used for measurement purposes though eventually many strongmen began to lift them for strength and show.

I suspect that many of the oldtime strongmen noticed these weights sitting backstage at the theaters where they performed (where they were used as ballast to counterweight theatre props etc) and decided to start using them to lift. Block weights are awkward to lift, making movements such as cleans and presses a much bigger challenge, even at comparatively “light” weights. Block weights also make excellent “handles” for pushups and handstands.

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.