Supporting heavy weights on the knees and shoulders as shown here was known as “The Tomb of Hercules” feat and it was invented by Professor Attila. Practitioners, like Sandow pictured above, increased the drama by acting as the pivot point in a “human bridge.” In Sandow’s era, they used horses but a few decades later, many strongmen upped the ante by having heavy motor cars drive over the “bridge.” Because the weight is supported rather than lifted a tremendous poundage can be used, but that certainly does not mean that this feat is easy.
Heavy supporting feats were popular with many oldtime strongmen and here’s an interesting one performed by British strength athlete Launceston Elliot, around 1908: acting as the support post of a pair or furiously peddling bicycle riders.
A look at the great Estonian strongman/wrestler Georg Lurich giving a few friends “a lift” in the wrestler’s bridge, sometime around 1910. As someone who has a little experience with bridging with additional (human) weight, I can tell you that this feat is as impressive as they come.
“The Amazing Samson,” Alexander Zass was a master of many different types of lifts. Here’s the man making a harness lift of over a ton without even breaking a sweat. Harness lifting was always very popular with performing strongmen since they could be done with very heavy weights, and could use audience members as ballast. Aside from the performance benefits, our research indicates that heavy supporting lifts may be a great contributor to greater overall body strength.
You can add John Grimek’s name to the list of strength stars who had included heavy supports in their training. Even with an extremely reasonable estimate of the bodyweight of the four “hangers on” and you are still looking at well over 700 pounds on his back — no small feat.
A look at the great Hermann Goerner, as “The Human Bridge” supporting around 4000 pounds on his shoulders! If you have received some of our recent emails on “developing bone strength,” feats like this one may explain just why it was that strongmen like Goerner possessed such a level of unusual strength…
Who the heck is Fred W. Mines? Nobody you have probably ever heard of. He was a small-time strongman who performed at county fairs and carnivals in the Florida and Georgia areas in the late 1930’s. Don’t let his amateur status fool you though, this feat is a lot more more impressive than it might seem, balancing this unique barbell (made of an automobile drive shaft and two reinforced concrete globes) in his teeth.
Back in 1890, Anton Riha, of Bohemia, set an unusual record for weight supporting. Using a specially designed harness rig, he was able to support and/or hang 1400 lbs. of globe barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, ring weights and other miscellaneous weights on his body in a standing position. This record was broken shortly afterwards though by a strongman from Vienna who upped the ante to over 2000 lbs.
One of Henry “Milo” Steinborn’s greatest strength feats was to act as a “human bridge” supporting a heavy frame while a automobile drove over it. It is estimated that between the frame and the car, Milo was supporting a combined weight of over 5000 pounds ~ talk about ligament strength!