Barrel Lifting Strength Feats

Posted on Tuesday, August 7th, 2018 by John Wood
It has been well written that many so-called “feats of strength” had their roots in manual labor. Back in the beer halls of Bavaria and old, Old, OLD Vienna I’m sure a couple of robust beirmeisters once sat around shooting the breeze when one bet another that he could lift the biggest barrel — and it’s all been down hill from there.

Many of the old timers were well-known for their barrel or keg lifting feats, including Louis Cyr (who was said to have been able to lift a 400 lb. barrel to his shoulders) and George F. Jowett who included a Barrel Lifting Course in his Molding a Mighty Grip training guide. I would imagine the “Cincinnati Strongman” Henry Holtgrewe lifted a few barrels and kegs in his time. He owned a tavern down on 6th street in downtown Cincinnati just after the turn of the century.

Several modern day strongmen have included barrel lifting in their training. Probably the two most well known are Steve Justa and Brooks Kubik who wrote extensively about barrel lifting in Dinosaur Training. Keep in mind that lifting a 200 pound FULL barrel is actually easier than lifting a 150 pound HALF-filled barrel.

Custer’s Dumbbell

Posted on Tuesday, May 29th, 2018 by John Wood
General George Custer first came to Kansas in 1866 as Lieutenant Colonel of the newly formed 7th U.S. Cavalry. He spent late spring of 1867 at Fort Hays, where the 7th camped until they had accumulated adequate supplies and ammunition for a summer campaign. Time in camp was quite boring and to pass the hours, as well as keep physically fit, Custer commissioned the fort’s blacksmith, Thomas Kennedy to make this dumbbell for him sometime in 1867. It is made of bronze and weighs around 25 pounds. Custer’s Dumbbell currently resides in the Kansas Museum of History.

IRON MASTER Dumbells

Posted on Friday, November 10th, 2017 by John Wood
Another look at one of Osmo Kiiha’s great IRON MASTER dumbbells. This one looks well used because of all the deadlifts and shrugs I did with it (and its mate) back in high school.
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.

Barrel Lifting

Posted on Wednesday, November 8th, 2017 by John Wood
Lifting Barrels and Kegs has long been a Oldtime strongman Tradition since it builds a unique kind of strength — especially is the barrel is only partially filled… If water (or beer) is sloshing around inside the barrel, it becomes a “live” weight, and a tremendous test of strength — and it takes a lot less weight than you think. A partially-filled barrel weighing as little as fifty pounds can give you a tremendous workout.

Suggested barrel lifting exercises include:

* Curls
* Overhead Pressing (shown)
* Shouldering
* Bear Hugs
* Carrying for Distance
* Throwing (steel keg only!)

The “Machine Expander”

Posted on Thursday, October 26th, 2017 by John Wood
I was flipping through the November 9, 1928 Issue of Health and Strength (With Thomas Inch on the cover!) and found this pretty cool picture. Over in the UK, chest expanders or “Strand pulling” is much more popular and many of the fitness magazines from over there feature some kind of chest expander workouts, news, contest results, updates, etc in almost every issue.

Obviously this was an attempt to figure out a method of putting a “number” on someone’s chest expander performance with the addition of some sort of tensiometer on the cable. According to the magazine, this is A.W. HOWE, 9 stone amateur Champion of the World, performing a World’s Record Right Hand Military Press using the “Machine Expander.”

P.S. You should be doing this movement in your chest expander workout — it’s one of the best there is.

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.

David Webster – 1954 World’s Strand-Pulling Champion

Posted on Monday, October 9th, 2017 by John Wood
Before he became one of the world’s most well known strength historians and authors, David Webster was quite a “Strongman” himself. In fact, David won the Strand Pulling World’s Title back in 1954. He wrote two books specifically on strand pulling (Modern Strand Pulling (1962) and Strength Lore and Strands (1978)) Here’s a look on something he wrote in another of his excellent titles, The Complete Physique Book (1963):

“Much has been said in favor of the chest expander for the man who trains at home in limited space, for the person who has to travel around the countryside and for the person who just wants to keep fit or develop big muscles and herculean strength. Most certainly strand pulling is ideal for these people but it can be also be adapted to suite all other physical culture purposes. Great progress has been made since the first days of the “Chest Expander” — as it was known. Nowadays, the strands are used for everything from remedial work in hospitals to competitive sport and there is considerable evidence to consider evidence to indicate that strands are sold in greater quantities than weight-lifting equipment.

There are a number of reasons why strands are so popular:

1. They are inexpensive, and are now available in numerous strengths ranging from 5-50 pounds.

2. In use or in storage little space is necessary.

3. They have several resistance properties which are not present in other forms of resistance exercises. Some of these properties are a bit too involved for discussion, kinetic recoils and oscillation having a rather specialized application but one great asset will immediately appeal to the enthusiast who is well-versed in the subject.

4. The tension of the springs or bands increases as they are stretched thus “peak contraction” or heavy inner range muscle work is done in every exercise.

For those who are not particularly interested in championship honours it should be stressed that it is not my intention to claim that you should devote all your time to strand-pulling. I believe by strand-pulling, the average person can cram lots of exercises into a short workout and those who practice weightlifting, hand balancing and so on would profit greatly by adding a few strand pulling exercises for variety and all around work.”

John Mallo

Posted on Saturday, May 12th, 2012 by John Wood

John Mallo - weightlifter

John Mallo, from Akron, Ohio, was the Heavyweight Sr. National Weightlifting Champion in 1933. The Nationals were held at the Chicago Word’s Fair that year. He totaled 760-1/2 lb. and his press of 231-1/2 pounds broke the previous record which had stood for six years, by five pounds. This was even more impressive given the fact that Mallo had only been training for three years. Mallo was a student of Larry Barnholth at the American College of Modern
Weightlifting.

German Kettlebell Club, 1903

Posted on Thursday, April 26th, 2012 by John Wood

German Kettlebell CLub, 1903
A look at a German kettlebell club from the turn of the last century and a selection of their awesome equipment.  German strength athletes were particularly fond of juggling their kettlebells, hence “German” kettlebells had much larger and more pronounced handles.  Also of note is the fact that most of the barbells have thick handles.

The Lind-Hendrickson “Big Giant” Grip Machine

Posted on Monday, April 23rd, 2012 by John Wood

Lind-Hendrickson Big Giant Grip Machine

Even though “working out” was a relatively new concept in the early 1920’s, when the Lind-Hendrickson “Big Giant” Grip Machine first appeared, people still understood the importance of building a strong grip… something which far too many folks neglect in their training these days.
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 Iron Master Dumbbell

Posted on Sunday, February 12th, 2012 by John Wood
From 1989 to 2000, Osmo Kiiha published “THE IRON MASTER” one of the most informative periodicals ever produced on the history of strength training. What made this publication stand out from anything before or since was the focus on training — every issue focused on one or more of the all-time greats but it wasn’t just talk, there was always a number of workouts included so that readers could learn exactly how the champs trained.

At one point, Osmo decided to create a further link to the past by coming out with his own classic equipment. He created a series of globe barbells, dumbbells and kettlebells which were reminiscent of the kind of equipment that the MILO Barbell Company had produced a century before. The “Iron Master” Dumbbell is shown above.

Like the MILO models, these had hollow globes which could be filled either with shot or loaded with smaller plates through the handle. They were cast in either aluminum or steel and were machined, one at a time, by hand ~ true works of art.