One of Sig’s absolute favorite types of training was hand balancing, and he mentioned it often as the way he trained in the days before he got his weight set. Sig felt that hand balancing was not just for show but was a fantastic way to build size and strength — a viewpoint that we certainly agree with. Sig also believed that regular hand balancing was a great way to improve the press …and the results speak for themselves.
After setting over 60 world records over his career, Grigori Novak did what any great former weightlifter would do: he ran off to the circus to become a genuine performing strongman. Eventually, Novak’s two sons Arkady and Roman also joined the act, you can see them above doing a little kettlebell juggling during their act. Kettlebell juggling is pretty impressive on its own, but seeing several lifters doing it at once in tandem is amazing.
We’ve covered Grigori Novak’s weightlifting career previously. Novak got a handful of Olympic medals and set over a hundred lifting records but once his competitive career came to an end, he did what any great strength athlete would do: he ran off to the circus! For the next 25 years, Novak was a genuine performing strongman, lifting barbells, juggling kettlebells, supporting heavy weights and the like. Eventually his sons Roman and Arkady even joined the act. Above, you’ll see a rare poster of Novak’s circus days.
Here’s a rare look at a German weightlifting team circa 1904, and below, a closer look at their outstanding equipment. As was standard for the time period, the kettlebells had large, open handles as they were frequently used for juggling.
A Russian Strongman Circus Poster from 1899 – heavy one arm supports… horse lifting… stone breaking (by sledge hammer AND fist)… kettlebell juggling… where do I get my tickets?
>Gustav Wain was a German strongman who performed in several circuses in the early 1900’s. As you can see by this rare poster, one of the signature portions of his act involved juggling a kettlebell whilst blindfolded.
A look at a German Sport club, circa 1903. As for their equipment, as was the custom with German-style kettlebells, the handles were large and open to enable juggling… the barbells also appear to have thick handles, which encourage grip and forearm development.
The fact that Sig Klein has been mentioned so many times throughout this blog should tell you that he was a jack of all trades — and he most certainly was. Name a classic training discipline and ol’ Sig was a master: muscle control… kettlebell and barbell juggling… heavy weight lifting… posing … the bent press … the list goes on and on.
A look at a German weightlifting club, circa 1915 and a rather large selection of their truly excellent training equipment. This club was clearly a big fan of kettlebell training. The large, squared handles would indicate that they did a lot of kettlebell juggling. Look close and you’ll see at least one, possibly two rotating barbell sets – a rarity for the time.
A rare shot of a German weightlifting club and their classic equipment, taken around 1919. Also notice the particularly large and wide handles on their kettlebells. This style of handle served a specific purpose as the German strength athletes were particularly fond of juggling and throwing and catching their kettlebells.