An old poster of the strongman Clevio Massimo during the time he appeared on the stage throughout the country, depicting some of the feats of strength he included in his act: harness lifting, the One Arm get Up, Kettlebell Crucifix, card ripping, hand balancing etc. He included quite a variety; many not illustrated here, and his ability as a showman only enhanced his fine performances. Massimo also played the violin in one portion of his act to prove he was a capable musician as well as a genuine strongman.
George Hackenshmidt drew a crowd while in training to face Frank Gotch for the second time, in Chicago in 1911. Hack is shown here building his neck strength with the the wrestler’s bridge. His training partners Dr. Benjamin Roller and Gus ‘Americus’ Schoenlein, look on.
It is important for football players to increase their neck strength in order to be better prepared to play the game. This was a fact not lot on “Da Bears” as shown by this rare training camp shot. Check out the guys bridging in the background, and yes, that’s Mike Ditka himself doing a headstand. Look closely and you’ll see that his whistle has fallen down around his face. If you have no other equipment available, a simple headstand like this can be an excellent method for building neck strength.
Here’s one you don’t see every day: the man under the barbell is Chuck Davis, doing an impressive neck bridge lift of 350 lbs. This feat happened at a show in March of 1959 and was featured in the Knoxville News Sentinel. This clipping was sent in by Chuck’s good friend Bob Simpson (spotting on the right above.) Bob tells us that Chuck rarely did this lift, perhaps only a dozen times but accomplished 400 lbs. at 200lbs bodyweight. Having done a little of this kind of training, I can tell you that this is IMPRESSIVE. Chuck was also featured in Strength and Health.
A look at George Hackenschmidt demonstrating perfect form in the wrestler’s bridge around 1910. This exercise has obvious merit for wrestlers but can be an awesome method for developing neck and upper-back strength. Bridging will also strengthen the spine and may even make you slightly taller so it’s a good one to have in your bag of tricks.
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.
When you build a little strength, sometimes you want to show off a bit… and that is exactly what’s going on here. Up top you’ll see my good friend Pat “The Human Vise” Povilaitis, bending a spike in his hands while John Wood provides the platform in the form of a nose-to-mat bridge. You won’t find many people that can hold a full bridge, even without a 180 pound man standing on top of him. If you aren’t practicing your “nose-to-mat” bridge, or at least working up to it, in our experience, you aren’t getting as much out of the exercise as you could…