Otto Arco

Posted on Wednesday, April 18th, 2018 by John Wood
Otto Arco on the cover of the November, 1925 issue of Bernarr MacFadden’s Muscle Builder Magazine. In 1907, Arco became the second man in the world to hoist double bodyweight overhead with a 278-1/2 pound lift at 138 pound of bodyweight. He was also the first to one hand snatch over bodyweight with a 145-pound lift. Arco was a great wrestler, gymnast and hand balancer. He and his brother Pete performed with several different circuses in the US and abroad. Arco achieved his tremendous form through a variety of training methods, traditional weight lifting, gymnastics and Muscle Control.
All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2018 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 © 2005-2018 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.

Fred Winters

Posted on Tuesday, December 26th, 2017 by John Wood
It is fairly well known (at least around these parts) that Fred Winters won the Silver Medal at the 1904 Summer Olympics — the rarely seen shot above is a one-arm lift from that performance. what most people don’t know is that a few weeks before the Olympics, August 8th, 1904, Winters set a new world record in what would today be called the one-arm snatch. Winters successfully lifted a 141 lb. dumbbell from the ground to overhead, beating by three pounds the previous record set by G. W. Stoesset at Madison Square Garden, December 17, 1897.
All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2018 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 © 2005-2018 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.

Odd Object Lifting in Ancient Japan

Posted on Friday, November 10th, 2017 by John Wood
Barrel lifting goes back a little farther than Dnosaur Training… The Japanese painter Hokusai is best-known as author of the woodblock print series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji and his most recognized print The Great Wave of Kanagawa. Among his many drawings was this one, “Sakadaru o sashiageru otoko” showing a man lifting a sake barrel overead with one arm. This drawing was completed sometime around the year 1810 but the one-arm press is certainly still a great exercise.
All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2018 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 © 2005-2018 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.

Ray Van Cleef

Posted on Thursday, October 13th, 2016 by John Wood

Many Iron Game fans will recall the name Ray Van Cleef from the pages of Strength and Health magazine. He was an Associate Editor and his column “Strong Men The World Over” appeared for many years. Before all that though, Van Cleef was a great strongman in his own right. Here’s a rare shot that most people haven’t seen before of Van Cleef performing a heavy one-arm snatch of a wagon wheel axle.

The article where this came from was authored by Van Cleef and the inclusion of this picture was to illustrate how one might be able to still train, or otherwise perform novel feats, without having a barbell on hand — a notion that we are definitely on board with.

It’s probably also worth a mention that Ray was a vegetarian.

All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2018 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 © 2005-2018 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.

Spike Bending with “Bull” Bonvicin

Posted on Monday, February 3rd, 2014 by John Wood
Dave “Bull” Bonvicin, from Oakland, California, was a performing strongman with many different talents. Among them was spike bending — he didn’t just bend these spikes in half but liked to make various designs and shapes out of them. “Bull” also had some pretty sweet equipment. (Is that a kettlebell I see in the background?)
All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2018 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 © 2005-2018 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 One-Arm Deadlift

Posted on Tuesday, July 24th, 2012 by John Wood
The One-Arm Deadlift
There’s no question that if you want to be truly strong you’ve got to have a strong grip. Many people think you need a laundry list of exercises to accomplish this goal but the truth is that focusing on a few simple exercises is all it takes.  One of the very best exercises for doing so is the basic one-arm barbell deadlift, a lift that can be done in any gym in the land.

Above is Mr. L.A. Chappell, the World’s Amateur Heavyweight lifting champion lifting 448-1/2 pounds. A short while later, he improved this lift to 502 pounds! Chappell was a studen of J.C. Tolson, The Young Mighty Apollon.

Note the unusual cambered bar used for the lift. Though it may make the lift a little easier because it does not rotate like a normal Olympic barbell, notice that this bar is also a little thicker. We may possibly have a bar like this available at some point.

If you are interested in learning more about the One-Arm Deadlift, or possibly adding it to your workout, there is a fantastic article about it in The Dellinger Files, Volume I.

All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2018 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 © 2005-2018 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.

Berg-Hantel Weights

Posted on Monday, May 14th, 2012 by John Wood

German Weightlifting

Berg-Hantel barbells and plates were the inspiration for all modern Olympic sets. Here, A. Wiedmer, the Lightweight National Champion of Germany in 1924 and 1925, shows how it’s done in winning this early contest.
All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2018 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 © 2005-2018 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.

Louis Cyr’s Barrel Lifting Feat

Posted on Tuesday, May 8th, 2012 by John Wood

Louis Cyr Barrel Lifting

On May 8th, 1896, the great Canadian strongman Louis Cyr performed several amazing feats of strength, among them lifting and shouldering a 433 lb. barrel with one hand. The barrel was filled with a mixture of water and sand and the feat took place at Saint-Louis Hall in Chicago, Illinois.
All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2018 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 © 2005-2018 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.

Tromp Van Diggelen ~ The South African Hercules

Posted on Thursday, December 29th, 2011 by John Wood
Tromp Van Diggelen survived a sickly childhood to become a traveling performing strongman and one of the true unsung heroes of strength history. His performing feats were certainly impressive (such as the 210 pound “barrel lift” barbell press above) but it was his work behind the scenes which he should be remembered best.

It was Tromp Van Diggelen who discovered “Max Sick” and had him change his name to Maxick. Van Digglen also managed Josef Steinbach and Hermann Goerner and also helped found The British Amateur Weightlifting Association (BAWLA).