One of the interesting things that you would find in the old strength magazines was Olympic sets from some of the different countries – and they did a fine job. pictured here is a famous Russian Olympic set brought in by Leo Stern for use in his gym. Oh yeah, that’s also Pat Casey ‘unofficially’ bench pressing 525 pounds.
How about this thing of beauty? Known as Rekordnaia Stanga or ‘World Record Barbell,” these Russian sets were imported by Chester O. Teegarden’s STRONG Barbell Company of Sacramento, California back in the 1960’s and advertised for sale in Iron Man or Lifting News. They were steel with nickel plating and as you might guess, they were not cheap to bring over. Hard to say how many of these sets were ever sold but we know of at least one, Pat Casey did a lot of lifting and set many records on one of these beautiful sets.
Arkady Vorobyev took an interest in weightlifting while serving in the Russian Navy during WWII and it led to a hall of fame career. Vorobyev was one of the most dominant lifters of the 1950’s, taking gold in two Olympic Games (1956, Melbourne, 1960, Rome) five World Championships (1953-1955, 1957-58) and five European championships (1950, 1953-1955, 1958). Vorobyev set 16 World records over the course of his career. He went on to become a noted strength researcher and his “Textbook on Weightlifting,” written in 1978, is thought of as a modern classic in the field.
A look at the great soviet weightlifter Grigori Novak’s World Record standing press of 315 pounds (at 5’3″ and a bodyweight of only 181 pounds!) This would have been in 1949 in a meet in Moscow. Novak’s career was marred by an elbow injury which necessitated an operation – you can tell his left arm is a bit “off” here.
The Russian Champion Vasily Alexeev is one of the greatest weightlifters who ever lived. One of Alexeev’s most unusual training techniques was to practice his cleans in waist-deep water. This famous shot was taken of Alexeev as he trained in the Don River in Mother Russia. Unconventional… but certainly effective: Alexeev set the first of his 80 world records in 1970 and was undefeated for the remainder of his career which also included two Olympic Gold medal winning performances (1972, Munich and 1976, Montreal).
The great Soviet lifter Yuri Vlasov was a Gold Medal winner at the 1960 Rome Olympics, a four-time Senior World Champion (1959, 1961-1963) and won six consecutive Senior European Championships (1959-1964). Vlasov set 34 World records over the course of his career. Also of note is the truly excellent Russian Olympic weight set at his feet… They sure don’t make ’em like that any more (both weight set AND lifter.)