Irvin ‘Zabo’ Koszewski

Posted on Wednesday, December 5th, 2018 by John Wood
After winning the “Mr. New Jersey” contest in 1948, “Mr. Middle Atlantic” in 1950 and placing high in a few other regional bodybuilding shows, Irvin ‘Zabo’ Koszewski relocated to California and stepped into history. Like every great bodybuilder on the west coast, he started training at Vic Tanny’s Gym and spent most of his days on the sands of Muscle Beach. He took up right where he left off in the contest department, winning the Mr. Pacific Coast and Mr. Los Angeles contests in 1953 and added the Mr. California title in 1954.

Zabo also did very well in the AAU Mr. America contests placing thirteenth in 1950, fourth in 1952, third in 1953 and third again in 1954. He also competed in the Junior Mr. America contest in 1951, 1952 and 1954, placing fourth, third and second, respectively. It’s not hard to see why Zabo won “Best Abs” in nearly every contest he entered.

George Eiferman

Posted on Tuesday, May 29th, 2018 by John Wood
George Eiferman, ’48 Mr. America and ’62 Mr. Universe is shown here in his natural environment: the sands of Muscle Beach, Santa Monica, California. Needless to say he was famous for his chest development.

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.

Jimmie Payne

Posted on Friday, April 20th, 2018 by John Wood
Jimmie Payne was one of Jack LaLanne’s good friends and training partners at the original Muscle Beach scene in Santa Monica, California. Payne’s background in hand balancing served him well, first as a lifting champion, then as a physique title holder (He competed in the Pro Mr. America four times) and finally as a stage athlete. He and his lovely partner Cindy Layne performed across the country as “Payne and Layne.”

He was no slouch in ‘normal’ lifts either, accomplishing a straight-arm pullover with 160 pounds, deadlifting 500 pounds for 8 reps and a standing press with a pair of 115-pound dumbbells.

Joe Ragusa

Posted on Tuesday, May 30th, 2017 by John Wood

Strongman Joe Ragusa does a… actually I don’t know what you call this one.. a neck lift? … either way it looks pretty extreme. The bar is loaded to 655 pounds and it sure doesn’t look very comfortable. Ragusa was originally from the Bronx but came out to Hollywood and like many strongman-types, got bit parts as a “heavy” in a few movies. As far as strength feats, he was deceptively strong: Joe could do a two-finger deadlift with 515 pounds and backlift an Elephant. This picture was snapped at Muscle Beach (Zabo Koszewski, always looking cool in his dark glasses, peers on at the upper left.)
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.

The New Bodybuilding for Old-School Results by Ellington Darden

Posted on Wednesday, September 28th, 2016 by John Wood
GONE.

The New Bodybuilding for Old-School results is sold out, but we can point you toward this classic Ell Darden title which is available on Amazon Kindle:

Renald and Rudy

Posted on Thursday, August 18th, 2016 by John Wood

“Renald and Rudy” were one of the premier handbalancing acts of the vaudeville age. For almost three decades, they travelled all over the country and later appeared on several television shows performing their incredible handbalancing skills. Here they are showing off a bit at the original Muscle Beach in Santa Monica, CA in the early 1950’s.
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.

“Big Steve” Marjanian’s 460 lb. Incline Press

Posted on Thursday, March 24th, 2016 by John Wood
One of the kings at the old Muscle Beach scene was “Big Steve” Marjanian. Here’s one reason why they called him “Big Steve” … an incline press with 460 pounds (which he made look easy.) Steve’s best incline press was 495 which has to be a record.
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.

Dave Ashman at Muscle Beach

Posted on Monday, March 24th, 2014 by John Wood

Dave Ashman

The great lifter Dave Ashman is shown here getting in a few squats with 565 lbs. at a training session at Muscle Beach about 1960. At the time, Ashman also clean and jerked 444 pounds (and did 460 unofficially). Like many successful lifters, Ashman credited much of his full body power to a heavy squatting. When you can squat 500+ and make it look easy(in sunglasses, no less), you know you’re really doing something.
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.

Chuck Ahrens

Posted on Monday, December 23rd, 2013 by John Wood

Chuck Ahrens was never interested in showing off so no one really knew what he was capable of. Feats like this had a lot of people wondering just exactly what his limits were. I count twelve 10-pound plates and 2 smaller ones, likely 7-1/2 pounders, for each dumbbell — that’s approximately 135 pounds per hand – and Chuck reportedly pressed them with ridiculous ease. Even when dressed in a baggy, flannel shirt, you can tell Chuck Ahrens was built for some serious horse power.
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.

John Davis at Muscle Beach

Posted on Thursday, December 19th, 2013 by John Wood

John Davis was among the many famous visitors to Muscle Beach during its heyday. This picture was probably taken during the period of time when Davis spent some time out on the West Coast training at Yarick’s Gym. Looks like around 300 pounds on the bar. Notice there aren’t any collars on the bar~ you can’t miss a lift if you’re a world champ. Davis is also still wearing his wrist watch, you sure won’t see THAT today.
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.