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.
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.
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.
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.
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.