Elwood Holbrook – Master of the Bent Press

Posted on Sunday, April 8th, 2018 by John Wood
Elwood Holbrook took 4th at the 1941 AAU Mr. America Contest AND took home the “Best Arms” award (He had also competed in the afternoon’s weightlifting contest where he finished 6th with a 715-pound total in the 165-pound class.)

While Holbrook was a very talented strength athlete and equally good at bodybuilding as well as weightlifting, his real gift was the bent press — he won the national Bent-Press Championship in a contest held by Sig Klein.

Holbrook was also one of the few men to bent press the famous Rolandow Dumbbell – a feat which he did on his first try and without a warmup. Here’s a shot of a 48-year old Elwood Holbrook bent-pressing 240 pounds — 75 pounds above his bodyweight. That unique dumbbell belonged to Paul Anderson.

The Elephant vs. The Gazelle

Posted on Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018 by John Wood
What would happen if an Elephant raced a Gazelle? Hard to say but it probably wouldn’t be all that different from the time back in ’58 when all 350 pounds of champion weightlifter and strongman Paul Anderson and Jim Lea, the 440 yard dash World record holder at the time, took their marks for a 50-yard sprint contest.

The event was held at San Jose State’s Spartan Field and, as you might have guessed, the smaller man was the eventual winner… but as you might not have expected, Lea’s margin of victory was less than two stride lengths.

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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.

Paul Anderson’s Silver Dollar Squat

Posted on Monday, December 25th, 2017 by John Wood
One of Paul Paul Anderson’s greatest feats was squatting with over 1200 pounds — but it wasn’t with a traditional barbell, it was with $25,000 worth of silver dollars at his strength show in Las Vegas. There was a standing challenge that anyone who could duplicate the feat could keep the money — needless to say the money was safe.
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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 Strength of Paul Anderson

Posted on Friday, December 15th, 2017 by John Wood
Back in the mid-1940’s, Paul Anderson started lifting weights to get bigger for football and just kept growing. He eventually became one of the strongest men of all time while establishing many strength records and winning the Gold Medal at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia.

Paul Anderson was also a Senior World Champion and a 2-time Senior National Champion in Weightlifting. He set nine World Records and Eighteen American records during his career and retired undefeated.

He was also incredibly strong in what would eventually become the three Power Lifts: the squat, bench press and deadlift.

Here’s a look at some of Paul Anderson’s record lifts:

* Squat: 1185 lbs.

* Bench Press: 625 lbs.

* Deadlift Record without Straps: 780 lbs.

* Deadlift Record with “Hooks”: 820 lbs.

* Clean & Press: 485 lbs.

* Clean & Jerk: 485 lbs.

* Snatch: 375 lbs.

* Push Press: 545 lbs.

* Back Lift: 6270 lbs.

* Dumbbell Side Press: 240 lbs. x 40 / 300 lbs. x 11

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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.

Paul Anderson’s Progressive Movement Lifting

Posted on Tuesday, October 31st, 2017 by John Wood
“…Some of the above history will certainly seem strange to some of our younger readers, with all the wonderful instruction they have at their fingertips, but living in a small mountain town and not having a subscription to any physical fitness magazines, I had to work many things out for myself. Today I can see this was not a handicap but an advantage, because it made me think and work out new routines. One new routine that I developed is today called Isotonic. I do not claim to be the discovered of this method but I did work out the forthcoming procedure on my own.

I appropriately called this procedure “progressive movement” lifting. In the squat, I progressed as follows: by putting a 55-gallon oil drum on each side of an eight-foot barbell and loading the drums with weights up to a poundage of about 200 pounds better than my best squat, I made my basic apparatus. This makeshift weight was placed over a hole in which I stood being at a height where I could lift the weights in a quarter-squat position. In this first position, I would perform about 20 repetitions; then every week, I would add about two inches of dirt to the hole, making my lifting movement longer and cutting down on my repetitions. By following this procedure, I was soon lifting the weight from a full squat position for a single repetition.

Let me point out two very important things about the “progressive movement” routine. The first thing to remember is to never get impatient and try to progress too fast. The second is to always start out with a weight you can handle for many repetitions and it will only be natural that you drop the number of reps as you lengthen the movement…”

– Paul Anderson

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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 Complete Keys to Progress by John McCallum

Posted on Tuesday, November 29th, 2016 by John Wood
SOLD OUT!

We recommend >>> Gray Hair and Black Iron

The Heaviest Weight Ever Lifted – June 12th, 1957, Paul Anderson’s Record Backlift

Posted on Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016 by John Wood
The Heaviest Weight Ever Lifted – June 12th, 1957, Paul Anderson’s Record Backlift

It was on June 12th, 1957 when Paul Anderson backlifted 6270 pounds — a well-documented and still-unbroken feat. Paul Anderson, of course was a noted Olympic Gold Medal Winner and Strongman. If you are unfamiliar with the backlift, it is an oldtime lift which was very popular with many of the greatest strongmen,

…likely as a result of being able to lift some truly huge poundages — backlifts are usually measured by the ton. This made for a much more visually effective feet — to lift a ship, or an elephant, or some cannons, or bales of hay, or beer barrels, or a group of people rather than merely a stack of pig iron. Other great backlifters include Doug Hepburn, John Davis, George Levasseur, Jack Walsh and Louis Cyr who was able to backlift “only” 4300 pounds in his prime.

Anyhow, one reason you don’t see the back lift much these days is that it requires a special setup. (The only modern backlifter that I know of is Steve Justa who Discusses his special backlift setup in Rock Iron Steel.) You’ll need a sturdy thick wood or metal platform and a lot of Weight. In many performances, volunteers from the audience were used to stand on the platform since it was a very easy and convenient source of a lot of weight. There is also a small bench or support underneath the platform which the lifter braces his upper body on.

The lifter then positions himself under the ponderous load and straightens his legs moving the platform off the ground. The movement itself is an inch or less and a “good” lift must be held at least for a count of two. While the backlift may not be the best lift for training these days, heavy supports will never go out of style. Load the bar and hold – squats, deadlifts, benchpress, curls, the standing press – pretty much any lift can be done in this manner. Try it, but be sure to add weight very slowly as this type of training is very demanding on your overall system. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at what happens after several weeks of productive training.

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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.

Paul Anderson’s Bench Press Machine

Posted on Thursday, August 4th, 2016 by John Wood

Paul Anderson was ahead of his time in several branches of training. Case in point: in order to specialize on the bench press, he devised this unique machine. Note the many levels of adjustability and the fact that it did not require a spotter, all excellent “reasons” for the machine to exist in the first place.
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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.

Paul Anderson: All in a Day’s Work…

Posted on Monday, January 4th, 2016 by John Wood

Paul Anderson takes a breather after a tough workout. All in a day’s work… Note that looks like a standard 1-inch barbell loaded up with 500+ pounds, you sure don’t see that much these days.
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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 Power Lockout Machine

Posted on Monday, April 27th, 2015 by John Wood
In the early days, what we today call a power rack was referred to as a “Power Lockout Machine.” All semantics aside, it was an apt name since it was used –you guessed it– for strengthening lockouts and heavy partial portions of specific lifts. This idea has a great deal of merit, and few people use it today to the extent that they could especially given that racks are much more common and available. Above, Harvey McCune, middle-heavyweight lifting champion of El Paso, Texas works on improving his arm lock for the jerk. This idea was pioneered by Bob Peoples and also used a great deal by his friend Paul Anderson.
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.