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

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 Continental Press

Posted on Monday, October 9th, 2017 by John Wood
Lift No. 47. — The bar Bell Shall be taken clean to the shoulders after which the starting position shall be assumed. This position must be taken with the feet on the line, about sixteen inches apart. The trunk may be inclined forward as much as desired. A pause of two seconds is made at the starting position. The bell is then pressed to arm’s length overhead. As soon as the press begins, the legs and trunk may be bent to any extent but lowering the body vertically is not permitted. As the conclusion of the lift, the trunk shall be erect, the arms and legs straight and the feet in line.
Method of Performance

Pull the bell to the shoulders in one clean motion — same stye as in preparing to military press or jerk the weight. To fix the bell at the shoulders while leaning forward it is necessary that the elbows be inclined well forward. When the bell is in at the shoulders, place the feet in line, sixteen inches apart, the elbows well up, incline the body. well forward, and hold this position for two seconds. When the referee has given the signal, raise the trunk, bending it backward as far as possible, pushing the bell upward as strongly as you can; the back is bent as far back as possible until the bell is held overhead at arm’s length. When the arms are straight, raise the trunk, stand erect with the feet still on a line for the count.

From Weightlifting, by Bob Hoffman,
Published in 1939

Above: John Grimek continental pressing a 245 lb. globe barbell

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.

Iron and The Soul by Henry Rollins

Posted on Friday, September 30th, 2016 by John Wood
IRON AND THE SOUL
by Henry Rollins

I believe that the definition of definition is reinvention. To not be like your parents. To not be like your friends. To be yourself.

Completely.

When I was young I had no sense of myself. All I was, was a product of all the fear and humiliation I suffered. Fear of my parents. The humiliation of teachers calling me “garbage can” and telling me I’d be mowing lawns for a living. And the very real terror of my fellow students. I was threatened and beaten up for the color of my skin and my size. I was skinny and clumsy, and when others would tease me I didn’t run home crying, wondering why.

I knew all too well. I was there to be antagonized. In sports I was laughed at. A spaz. I was pretty good at boxing but only because the rage that filled my every waking moment made me wild and unpredictable. I fought with some strange fury. The other boys thought I was crazy.

I hated myself all the time.

As stupid at it seems now, I wanted to talk like them, dress like them, carry myself with the ease of knowing that I wasn’t going to get pounded in the hallway between classes. Years passed and I learned to keep it all inside. I only talked to a few boys in my grade. Other losers. Some of them are to this day the greatest people I have ever known. Hang out with a guy who has had his head flushed down a toilet a few times, treat him with respect, and you’ll find a faithful friend forever. But even with friends, school sucked. Teachers gave me hard time.

I didn’t think much of them either.

Then came Mr. Pepperman, my advisor. He was a powerfully built Vietnam veteran, and he was scary. No one ever talked out of turn in his class. Once one kid did and Mr. P. lifted him off the ground and pinned him to the black board. Mr. P. could see that I was in bad shape, and one Friday in October he asked me if I had ever worked out with weights. I told him no.

He told me that I was going to take some
of the money that I had saved and buy a hundred pound set of weights at Sears. As I left his office, I started to think of things I would say to him on Monday when he asked about the weights that I was not going to buy. Still, it made me feel special. My father never really got that close to caring. On Saturday I bought the weights, but I couldn’t even drag them to my mom’s car. An attendant laughed at me as he put them on a dolly.

Monday came and I was called into Mr. P.’s office after school. He said that he was going to show me how to work out. He was going to put me on a program and start hitting me in the solar plexus in the hallway when I wasn’t looking. When I could take the punch we would know that we were getting somewhere. At no time
was I to look at myself in the mirror or tell anyone at school what I was doing. In the gym he showed me ten basic exercises. I paid more attention than I ever did in any of my classes. I didn’t want to blow it. I went home that night and started right in.

Weeks passed, and every once in a while Mr. P. would give me a shot and drop me in the hallway, sending my books flying. The other students didn’t know what to think. More weeks passed, and I was steadily adding new weights to the bar. I could sense the power inside my body growing. I could feel it.

Right before Christmas break I was walking to class, and from out of nowhere Mr. Pepperman appeared and gave me a shot in the chest. I laughed and kept going. He said I could look at myself now. I got home and ran to the bathroom and pulled off my shirt. I saw a body, not just the shell that housed my stomach and my heart. My biceps bulged. My chest had definition. I felt strong. It was the first time I can remember having a sense of myself. I had done something and no one could ever take it away.

You couldn’t say s–t to me.

It took me years to fully appreciate the value of the lessons I have learned from the Iron. I used to think that it was my adversary, that I was trying to lift that which does not want to be lifted. I was wrong. When the Iron doesn’t want to come off the mat, it’s the kindest thing it can do for you. If it flew up and went through the ceiling, it wouldn’t teach you anything. That’s the way the Iron talks to you. It tells you that the material you work with is that which you will come to resemble.

That which you work against will always work against you.

It wasn’t until my late twenties that I learned that by working out I had given myself a great gift. I learned that nothing good comes without work and a certain amount of pain. When I finish a set that leaves me shaking, I know more about myself. When something gets bad, I know it can’t be as bad as that workout.

I used to fight the pain, but recently this became clear to me: pain is not my enemy; it is my call to greatness. But when dealing with the Iron, one must be careful to interpret the pain correctly. Most injuries involving the Iron come from ego. I once spent a few weeks lifting weight that my body wasn’t ready for and spent a few months not picking up anything heavier than a fork. Try to lift what you’re not prepared to and the Iron will teach you a little lesson in restraint and self-control.

I have never met a truly strong person who didn’t have self-respect. I think a lot of inwardly and outwardly directed contempt passes itself off as self-respect: the idea of raising yourself by stepping on someone’s shoulders instead of doing it yourself. When I see guys working out for cosmetic reasons, I see vanity exposing them in the worst way, as cartoon characters, billboards for imbalance and insecurity. Strength reveals itself through character. It is the difference between bouncers who get off strong-arming people and Mr. Pepperman.

Muscle mass does not always equal strength. Strength is kindness and sensitivity. Strength is understanding that your power is both physical and emotional. That it comes from the body and the mind. And the heart.

Yukio Mishima said that he could not entertain the idea of romance if he was not strong. Romance is such a strong and overwhelming passion, a weakened body cannot sustain it for long. I have some of my most romantic thoughts when I am with the Iron. Once I was in love with a woman. I thought about her the most when the pain from a workout was racing through my body.

Everything in me wanted her. So much so that sex was only a fraction of my total desire. It was the single most intense love I have ever felt, but she lived far away and I didn’t see her very often. Working out was a healthy way of dealing with the loneliness. To this day, when I work out I usually listen to ballads.

I prefer to work out alone.

It enables me to concentrate on the lessons that the Iron has for me. Learning about what you’re made of is always time well spent, and I have found no better teacher. The Iron had taught me
how to live. Life is capable of driving you out of your mind. The way it all comes down these days, it’s some kind of miracle if you’re not insane. People have become separated from their bodies. They are no longer whole.

I see them move from their offices to their cars and on to their suburban homes. They stress out constantly, they lose sleep, they eat badly. And they behave badly. Their egos run wild; they become motivated by that which will eventually give them a massive stroke. They need the Iron Mind.

Through the years, I have combined meditation, action, and the Iron into a single strength. I believe that when the body is strong, the mind thinks strong thoughts. Time spent away from the Iron makes my mind degenerate. I wallow in a thick depression. My body shuts down my mind.

The Iron is the best antidepressant I have ever found. There is no better way to fight weakness than with strength. Once the mind and body have been awakened to their true potential, it’s impossible to turn back.

The Iron never lies to you. You can walk outside and listen to all kinds of talk, get told that you’re a god or a total bastard. The Iron will always kick you the real deal. The Iron is the great reference point, the all-knowing perspective giver. Always there like a beacon in the pitch black. I have found the Iron to be my greatest friend. It never freaks out on me, never runs. Friends may come and go. But two hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds.

This article originally appeared in Details Magazine

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.

If I Had My Way by Tommy Kono

Posted on Thursday, September 29th, 2016 by John Wood
IF I HAD MY WAY
by Tommy Kono

If I had my way, the weightlifting area would be treated like a “dojo” as the martial arts students would use their area and equipment for training.

The entire area would be treated with respect from the bar to the barbell plates, from the chalk box to the platform. The barbell bars would never have the soles of a lifter’s shoe get on it to move or spin it, no more than you would place your shoes on the table top. The bumper plates would never be tossed or stepped on.

The barbell will always be loaded with double bumper plates on each side whenever possible to preserve the bar and the platform. The purpose is to distribute the load over two bumper plates instead of one with an assortment of small iron plates.

The barbell lifted would never be “thrown” down or dropped from overhead except for safety reasons. The hands will guide the bar down in a controlled manner as it is in a contest.

Anger from a failed lift will be controlled so no four-lettered words would be used. Instead the energy for the anger will be directed for a positive result.

A good Olympic bar will never be used on a squat rack for squatting purpose. There is no need to use the good bar on the squat rack where it could ruin the knurling or cause the bar to be under undue stress, damaging the integrity of the quality of the bar that makes it straight and springy.

When a lifter finishes using the area for training, it would be left neat and clean with the barbell bars and plates properly stored.

Imagine how it would be if you did not have the gym to work out in and had to go to one of the spas, health clubs or fitness gym to practice Olympic lifting.

Imagine if you did not have a “good” Olympic bar and bumper plates for training.

Imagine if all the equipment was your very own and you had to replace it if you or someone damaged it by abuse – the money coming out of your own pocket.

Treat the Olympic barbell bars, bumper plates, platforms and any items used for training or competition with respect. Development of a strong character begins with
respect even for innate objects.

Character Building begins with Respect and Responsibility.

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.

Schemansky Stalks The Bar…

Posted on Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016 by John Wood

From the late 1940’s to mid-1960’s, Norb Schemansky was America’s most successful Olympic Weightlifter and the first weightlifter to medal in four Olympic Games, (despite missing the 1956 games.)

Do you think he means business in the shot above? That’s from the 1964 Olympic tryouts. Here’s a look at Norb Schemansky’s achievements over the course of his amazing career:

  • Olympic Champion – 1952 Olympic Games, Helsinki
  • Silver Medal – 1948 Olympic Games, London
  • Bronze Medal – 1960, Rome, 1964, Tokyo
  • World Champion (1951, 1953, and 1954)
  • 1955 Pan American Games Heavyweight Champion
  • Silver Medal – Senior World Championships (1947, 1962, 1963)
  • Bronze Medal – Senior World Championships (1964)

And best career marks:

  • Press – 415 lbs.
  • Snatch – 363 3/4 lbs.
  • Clean and Jerk – 445 lbs.
  • Total – 1200 lbs. (400-335-445)

In addition to his weightlifting exploits, Norb also famously cleaned, then thrice jerked the Apollon Wheels.

Iron Teardrops

Posted on Tuesday, September 8th, 2015 by John Wood
People often say there’s nothing new under the sun but I would disagree. Case in point, here’s a unique training idea from a muscle magazine from about 30 years ago that I have never seen before or since. These “Iron Teardrops” slipped on your barbell just like plates and moved around while you lifted, adding a whole new dimension to standard lifts.

A few years back, I called the number listed on the ad just to see what would happen. A woman answered the phone and told me that yes, it was her brother which came up with the idea for the Iron Tear Drops but he was not home at the moment. She took down my address and said she would send some info but I never did hear from them. Anyone out there ever get to train with these?

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.

George Hackenschmidt in 1902

Posted on Wednesday, October 9th, 2013 by John Wood

George Hackenschmidt

1902 was a pretty good year for “The Russian Lion,”George Hackenschmidt. That year he won the European Greco-Roman wrestling championship and took 3rd
place in World weight lifting championships in Vienna, Austria. This rare picture was taken in January, 1902 and Hackenschmidt certainly looks ready to compete for just about anything.
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.

1938 Senior Nationals Program

Posted on Tuesday, February 26th, 2013 by John Wood

1938 Sr. Nationals Weightlifting Program

A look at an extremely rare program from the 1938 Senior National Weightlifting contest. If you had been in attendance, you would have seen quite a show: Firpo Lemma, out of the Bates Barbell Club of Patterson, New Jersey set two records in the 112 lb. class: a press of 205 lb. (which was a World record) and a Clean and jerk of 210 lbs. (An American record).

Anthony Terlazzo set a World record in the 148 lb. class with a Clean and Jerk of 320 lb., John Terpak set an American record in the snatch with a lift of 250 lb. In the 181 lb. class, Stanley Kratkowski set an American record in the Clean and Jerk with 330 and John Grimek set an American record in the press with 250 lb.

In the heavyweights, Bill Good set an American record in the Clean and Jerk with a lift of 340 lb. but Steve Stanko came along and broke it a few minutes later with a lift of 345 lb. It should also be noted that Weldon Bullock, then only 17 years old, shook up the weightlifting world with a Clean and Jerk of 330 lb.

John Grimek

Posted on Saturday, March 17th, 2012 by John Wood

John C. Grimek, from Perth Amboy, New Jersey, has the unique distinction of being one of “the greatest” in pretty much every aspect of strength training that you can think of…

As you can probably tell, Grimek was a champion bodybuilder and won every contest he ever entered. This included the AAU Mr. America contest twice (in 1940 and 1941 – the only man to do so) and Mr. Universe in 1948. Grimek was a fixture on the cover of Strength and Health magazine and either the subject of, or the author of dozens of training articles.

…but he also wasn’t just all show, Grimek was as strong as he looked. Grimek represented the United States at 1936 Olympics in Berlin (where he accomplished the highest American total) and put up impressive numbers in many different lifts.

To give you a few good examples, Grimek could easily rip phone books, lift 11-3/4 pounds on the “Weaver Stick” and actually worked up to supporting a thousand pounds in the overhead press position.