Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Key to Might and Muscle - (Circa 1926) - Chapter 20 - What is Man's Limit in Weight-Lifting? - By George F. Jowett

How quickly that question will make followers of the sport of weight lifting prick up their ears and listen. It is an eternal question and one that is asked in every line of sport. No doubt long before Samson carried away the Gates of Gath, and positively ever since, many have asked this question, "What is the ultimate limit of man's strength?" Everything has its limits, no matter whether it is a machine or a human being running a race, a limit is always reached; but what we are greatly interested in is how far we can go before the limit is reached. When Sandow made his first record in the bent press of two hundred and sixty-five pounds, the world thought the pinnacle was reached. Then along came Saxon and he shattered it by well over a hundred pounds. He did not receive any extra aid from any special lifting apparatus in any of his lifts. He could do as well with the weights of any other lifter. It is sometimes claimed that special apparatus is always used when record performances are made. The actual truth is that the weight lifter will always have to rely upon his speed and strength. His success lies within himself, as explained in the chapter "Where is the Science in Lifting Weights?" I do not deny that there are many types of bars which help him a little, but these are often the undoing of the athletes. The heavier the weight, the greater the rebound in a very springy bar. A cambered bar is useful in bent pressing a weight. It helps to kill the roll of the bar and the tipping in the hand, but neither Sandow nor Saxon used a cambered bar, nor did Gorner, Giroux, Cadine, or Rigoulot in their dead lifts with one and two hands. Not one of these men used any special bars for their snatch, swing, or clean and jerk lifts. Just the regular plate loading bells, and in some of the lifts they used the old type shot loading bell. All of which goes to prove that the weight lifter has not, up to date, received any really valuable aid from the change made in bars. Any records I have made were made with the ordinary plate loading bell, the shot loading bell, or a combination of both, and mostly with thick handle bars, excepting the swing when I employed a "back hang." Still there is no doubt in my mind that the cambered bar is very helpful in one and two hand dead lifting, and in the bent press. Some lifters can use this same bar to a greater advantage in the one hand snatch, and one hand clean and jerk. What I mean is, that the mechanical strides made in weight lifting apparatus are not as great as those made in some other sports. For example, the new ball used in baseball has greater liveliness and is calculated to increase its flight thirty or forty feet over the ball used a few years back, and this has naturally increased the number of home runs. At one time, hammer throwers swung a blacksmith's sledge hammer. Now a ball hammer has a specially constructed handle and revolves on ball-bearings. The weight lifting game is entirely different. The lifter cannot get up a great momentum with a weight and let it go the way a hammer thrower does. He always has to overcome the resistance of the weight, and sustain it in order to make a lift.

Laboratory research has done a lot for other sports, but nothing for weight lifting so far. Nevertheless, I can make a bar that could revolutionize weight lifting; at any rate increase the abilities of the lifter by twenty to twenty-five per cent on all lifts but the military press lift, and it would be more legitimate than the "western roll" used in high jumping and which has caused so much controversy.

However, that has nothing to do with my subject, analyzing the possibilities of the strong man as they exist today. Quite a number of years ago I drew up a tabulated list of records on various lifts, naming certain poundages that I believed would be reached within the period of a few years by lifters in the three classes that I scheduled. Most of my weight lifting friends and followers raised their brows in amazement, for as they expressed themselves, they were not used to hearing me talk outside the realms of possibility. Some were kind enough to say that if they had not known me so well they would have doubted my sobriety when I made the schedule. I will agree that they did appear staggering, as they were way out of sight at that time in comparison with the then existing records. I had many reasons for my prophecy, which I have explained in other chapters. However, the World War broke out and everything was set back, but in the few years of post-war reconstruction most of the records I had named have been equalled and in many cases surpassed.

What is more remarkable, many of these records have been knocked off their pedestals by lighter men than I took into consideration at that time. In those days a middleweight was from one hundred and fifty-four pounds to one hundred and sixty-one pounds, and a lightweight scaled from one hundred and forty-seven pounds up to one hundred and fifty-four. Now a lightweight can only scale from one hundred and twenty-six pounds to one hundred and forty pounds, and the middleweight follows up to one hundred and fifty-four pounds. I kept the chart of figures and thinking you will find them interesting, I will lay them before you. But I want you to bear in mind when surveying the records that they were listed according to the bodyweights of that time. Another thing I want to bring before your attention in respect to bodyweight is the difference in the European class weights and ours. All of the European bodyweights are a few pounds heavier than ours in the same class, which according to our figures would throw many of their best men up into the next bodyweight class. So please always remember that when making your comparison. It is really this vexed bodyweight question that has developed the belief that the Europeans are much better than the American strength athletes. When you have concluded reading this chapter, you will be both surprised and proud to see how the American post-war weight lifter has forged to the front, and the favorable comparison he makes with our foreign strong men.

It seems like a hard job for me to get started to give you the promised list, but I feel I have so much to talk about that I believe may interest you, that I fid it hard to include everything in the space of these chapters. Anyway, here goes. Look these figures over, just so that you will not feel the shock of the high marks so badly. I have placed an asterisk alongside of each record that has been either equalled or surpassed.

Heavyweight class. Two Hands Continental Jerk *425 pounds. Two Hands Clean and Jerk *375 pounds. Two Hands Snatch *270 pounds. Two Hands Anyhow 475 pounds. One Hand Clean and Jerk 265 pounds. One Hand Snatch *235 pounds. One Hand Swing *220 pounds. One Hand Anyhow *400 pounds.

Old Middleweight class (161 pounds). Two Hands Continental Jerk *340 pounds. Two Hands Clean and Jerk 300 pounds. Two Hands Snatch *230 pounds. Two Hands Anyhow 375 pounds. One Hand Clean and Jerk 240 pounds. One Hand Snatch *200 pounds. One Hand Swing *180 pounds. One Hand Anyhow 325 pounds.

Old Lightweight class (147 pounds). Two Hand Continental Jerk *275 pounds. Two Hands Clean and Jerk *250 pounds. Two Hands Snatch *200 pounds. Two Hands Anyhow *320 pounds. One Hand Clean and Jerk *200 pounds. One Hand Snatch 175 pounds. One Hand Swing 165 pounds. One Hand Anyhow *265 pounds.

You will see that of the twenty-four records listed, sixteen have been equaled or surpassed. The remaining eight are not so far out of sight as you may imagine. The fact is that by the time you have this book in your hands some of the eight records will have fallen. Already, they are dangerously threatened. The records that are likely to remain untouched longest are the Two Hands Anyhow and the One Hand Anyhow in the middleweight class. The sole reason for this is that the bent press is the principal part of these lifts, especially in the One Hand Anyhow. In the Two Hands Anyhow, quite a few perform the lift by jerking the weight overhead with two hands and then transferring it to one hand; then by reaching down and picking up a dumb-bell or kettle bell and pressing overhead, the lift is concluded.

As I was saying, the principal part of these two lifts is the bent press, and just no we haven't many good middleweight bent press men. If any man at the present time can do either of these lifts, Fournier is the man. He is a master of the bent press and the two hands jerk and can handle a rare poundage in either lift, which makes him quite capable of equaling these marks, if he trained for them. He is much below the old middleweight limit, scaling one hundred and fifty-four pounds, but at that weight he has bent pressed from the shoulder and held at arm's length a living weight of over three hundred pounds. As I said in another chapter, to bent press a man is easier than a weight, but the fact remains he held the weight at arms' length after raising it, which proves that he has the sustaining power, which means a great deal in the Two Hands Anyhow. I have seen him jerk with two hands three hundred pounds three times in succession. We have seen that he can hold over three hundred pounds at arms' length in one hand, and jerk three hundred pounds easily with two hands, therefore there should be no trouble for him to transfer two hundred and eighty pounds to one hand, and raise a hundred pounds with the other hand, with a little training.

Then there was Kosakwitz, who at only one hundred and forty-five pounds found no difficulty in jerking with two hands over three hundred pounds, and he too was a great bent press man. Even Maxick was a great bent press man. Although it is not so well known, at one time he trained to lift double his bodyweight in that style, and in training succeeded, which means he was able to raise at least two hundred and ninety-four pounds in the bent press. Business in the first place, and the outbreak of the war in the second place prevented him from obtaining an official record. His wonderful two arm jerk of three hundred and twenty-two pounds, at a bodyweight of less that one hundred and fifty pounds shows the wonderful ability he possessed. Had he been trained for those two lifts he would have been able to surpass those marks. Tromp Van Diggelin, who brought out Maxick, believed that his protege could have raised four hundred in the Two Hands Anyhow. Time was when people thought the records made by the famous veterans of the past would never be equaled; but history, in repeating itself, has completely eclipsed nearly all of these marks. The great prodigies of man power do not come often, but they do come, which proves the saying that "where there is one good man, there will be another."

In the Two Hands Continental Jerk, we find the mark of four hundred and twenty-five pounds not only equaled but beaten by the great Austrian butcher, Swoboda, and the South African German, Gorner, even went higher that the crack Vienna iron man. The mark in the Two Hands Clean and Jerk is equaled by no less than four men; Gorner, Alzin, Rigoulot, and Steinborn. Rigoulot is given credit in training with a mark of three hundred and seventy-seven pounds, and the terrific weight of four hundred pounds is predicted in French lifting circles for this great Parisian weight heaver. I have also heard it said that if Gorner could develop the same skill as Rigoulot, four hundred and fifty pounds would not be beyond his limit in this lift. It is a fact that Gorner is not as skillful a lifter as Rigoulot, Cadine, or Steinborn. Like Swoboda and Alzin, he relies solely upon his prodigious strength. The mention of Alzin brings to my mind no reason why he could not make the grade in the first named lift. He is undoubtedly the heaviest man in the game. His bodyweight given to me just recently is in the neighborhood of three hundred and twenty-six pounds. I know some time ago, when I first heard of him, he have his weight at two hundred and eighty-nine pounds stripped. He is tall and seems to unlimited man power, and it would be interesting to know what he could do in a trial on the Two Hands Continental Jerk.

The affection that our present day iron manipulators have for the fast lifts quickly wrecked the scheduled mark on the Two Hands Snatch, and it looks as though it is in for a real beating. Steinborn was the first man to draw American attention to the one and two hands snatch and prove their great possibilities as I had outlined them, when he made a mark of two hundred and sixty pounds with the two hands. Previously, Josef Steinbach had done two hundred and sixty-four pounds and three quarter pounds, and most lifting authorities had thought the highest mark was then reached in that lift. Indeed, on famous European when speaking to me said, that it taken many centuries to produce a man like Steinbach, and we would never see his lifts equaled, because he had the great combination of speed, size and strength. His press lifts I admitted appeared to be out of sight, but I told him that he would be surprised someday. No doubt he was when he heard a man like Steinborn, who is considerably smaller that the Vienna Cafe proprietor. had put up two hundred and sixty pounds, and Rondi, the German, was given the world's record with two hundred and seventy pounds two years before Steinborn made his record in Philadelphia. It is also a fact that Steinborn snatched the same bar as Rondi, in an impromptu contest in Germany. We find that Hackenschmidt had scored a mark of two hundred and fifty-five pounds, eclipsing the big Vienna butcher, Swoboda, whose best stood at two hundred and forty-three pounds. The great Louis Vasseur, had and official mark of two hundred and sixty pounds. Giroux and Alzin, both stopped at two hundred and fifty-six pounds. Ernest Cadine, when weighing well under two hundred pounds, made a fine mark of two hundred and fifty-nine and a half pounds. Then Rigoulot came forward and eclipsed the former Olympic champion, with a mark of two hundred and seventy-one pounds and finally he hung up two hundred and seventy-seven pounds. This figure beat Gorner's record of two hundred and seventy-five and a half pounds. Just recently Rigoulot made another attempt to break his record on that lift, but just failed at two hundred and eighty-six pounds. There is no doubt that this is marvelous lifting, and they claim that the Parisian wonder has set his heart on reaching three hundred pounds in the Two Hands Snatch, before he says he is through. On the fourth lift, the Two Hands Anyhow, while no one has broken Saxon's record of four hundred and forty-eight pounds, yet I believe it is only a matter of making the attempt. I feel quite sure that any of the following four men, Gorner, Moerke, Steinborn, and Alzin, could beat the mark if they tried. Gorner made four hundred and forty and three-quarter pounds in this lift in an impromptu attempt. Judging by his other lifts, I would not put five hundred pounds past this giant. Arthur Saxon stated years ago, that if Gorner would train on the bent press, he would beat all of Saxons's own records, as he admitted that Gorner--who was a younger member of the same club--was a much stronger man than he. I quite believe that Henry Steinborn could equal that mark, with even employing the bent press. It is a fact that four hundred pounds in the Two Hands Anyhow, is way below his best. The One Hand Clean and Jerk has been closely approached by both Gorner and Gaessler in practice. Gorner has jerked from the shoulder with the right arm, two hundred and sixty-four and a half-pounds, and Gaessler has a clean all the way record of two hundred and fifty-one pounds, although it is claimed that Arthur Saxon lifted two hundred and sixty-seven pounds which beats my figure. When I consider the ability of the snatch and swing lifter of today, it is a wonder to me that the mark of two hundred and sixty-five pounds has not been broken before now. Although the one hand snatch record has not made much progress since Vasseur did his stuff, yet I have head that Steinborn equaled my figure while training in New York. I believe it is quite possible for him. One time he was quite serious in wanting to make a bet that he would give five dollars for every pound he snatched below two hundred and thirty pounds, providing anyone present would give him ten dollars for every pound he snatched over two hundred and thirty pounds. They all seemed quite satisfied that they would be handling the losing end, so the contest never took place. We find that Rigoulot in his match against Cadine, scored two hundred and twenty-three pounds. If he could score a splendid total like that in a match of ten lifts, where a man must of necessity conserve his strength; what would he do on a single attempt? I would say two hundred and forty pounds. On the One Hand Swing, Gorner gets credit for breaking my schedule of two hundred and twenty pounds, by swinging two hundred and twenty and a half pounds. Just by half a pound. Yes, but I would like to impress upon you the fact, that when he created that record, he swung with a lead dumb-bell. Of all the unwieldy objects to handle, the lead weight is the worst. You may think that there is no difference. Well, just try it. Anyhow, a spherical dumb-bell is a very bad implement to swing, as the weight is distributed over too large an area. It is hard to say what he would do employing a back hang style, where the weight is more compact, and one end being heavier than the other enables the dumb-bell to be more easily controlled. Rigoulot is creeping up to the mark too, so we must not be surprised at what follows. On the last named lift, the One Hand Anyhow, I think we can rightfully give Arthur Saxon the honor of equaling the schedule. He actually lifting four hundred pounds in London before witnesses, but just as he was straightening up beneath the weight, some of the miscellaneous weights that had been tied to the bar, fell off. Still, that does not alter the fact that the weight had already been pressed. What he actually attained, was a total of three hundred and eighty-six and three-quarter pounds, as verified by the scales.

This analysis of the heavyweight class, substantially proves their ability to equal the marks that I have prophesized for them, and as we continue with the other two classes, further facts will be advanced that will prove to what really has happened in the world of weights since I made that schedule, and that will give you a more definite idea of what we can expect in the future.

In the middleweight class, you will notices that the schedule was given at the old bodyweight, therefore let us still continue to consider the marks of men within that limit, and see just what has been done. You will surprised to see what the athlete has accomplished in the lighter bodyweight classes. I think it is only fair that we should consider them this way in order to make a fairer comparison with our own athletes, for as I have previously remarked, the European bodyweight classes are heavier than ours. Just for example, Aeschman, the Swiss crack middleweight, scales around one hundred and sixty pounds, and when he made his attempt at two hundred and ninety-seven and a half pounds in the Two Hands Clean and Jerk, he weighed one hundred and sixty-five pounds Commencing with the first lift, which I have marked at three hundred and forty pounds, Maxick at about one hundred and fifty pounds jerked in the Two Hands Continental style three hundred and twenty-two pounds. I came next a one hundred and fifty-four pounds with three hundred and ten pounds. Both Maxick and myself have beaten our official marks in training. I was informed that Maxick did three hundred and forty pounds, and while I did not have my arms perfectly straight underneath the weight, I managed to sustain three hundred and thirty-eight pounds. Of course this is not a complete lift, but if my time had not been so much occupied with wrestling, I believe I would have broken the mark myself before I had left the middleweight ranks.

However, keeping within the present middleweight limit I believe Fournier could train up to that mark, as I have seen him jerk well over three hundred pounds in ordinary training, without concentrating on that particular lift. In fact, the only time I ever saw him perform the Two Hands Continental Jerk, was when I suggested it to him. Within the European limit, I knew two men who made the grade. Unfortunately these boys were casualties of the late war.

The Two Hands Clean and Jerk is being badly crowded although not yet equaled. It is due for a tumble at any time. At one hundred and fifty-four pounds I cleaned two hundred and seventy-two pounds, and my pupil , Fournier, is crowding the same mark at the same bodyweight, hanging up two hundred and seventy pounds to his credit. At a little heavier bodyweight which put me in our heavy middleweight class, but as a middleweight, according to the Olympic bodyweight scale, I succeeded with two hundred and eighty-two pounds. Kikkas, of Estonia, recently made a fine performance coming close to the scheduled mark with two hundred and eighty and a half pounds. However, his mark did not stand too long. Vibert, of France, jumped into the setting with a scant lead of a half pound. Not long afterwards the fine Swiss middleweight, Aeschman, crowded into the limelight with two hundred and eighty-seven pounds to his credit. Now Holland, a country little heard of in weight lifting, has produced an amateur in Verhyen, who is only three pounds my hypothetical mark; namely, two hundred and ninety-seven pounds. As I said earlier in the chapter, Aeschman just failed with two hundred and ninety-seven and a half pounds, so you see this mark is not going to stay unequaled long.

One record that brought forth quite a debate was the mark I gave for the Two Hands Snatch in the middleweight class. They all calmly told me I was crazy. Two hundred pounds was the limit. Now here is the I figured it out. At one hundred and fifty-four pounds I could two hands snatch two hundred pounds and that lift was one I seldom practiced. I could Military Press any time with two arms two hundred and thirty pounds, and I figured a man in the lighter classes than the heavyweights should be able to snatch with the two hands whatever he could Military Press with both hands. So far most snatchers are poor press lifters, but good press lifters can usually snatch what they press.

Of course, you may say why did I not do so. The only excuse I can offer was that I never cared for the lift. Then again, I do not want to talk about myself, as I would far rather talk about what others have done to prove my prophecies, although I have made mention of myself on two or three occasions. Again, I will have to remark about myself as I did perform that poundage in practice. I believed others could do better than myself, as I never really concentrated on weight lifting training like many of the other men I am recording. Actually my feats were more the result of my strength gained from exercise that the result of constant practice aimed at enabling me to break records. To get back to my subject let me say that the two hundred pound mark was easily beaten. Fournier went past it. Then Neuland, who rates as a lightweight in Europe, sent the record soaring up to two hundred and twenty pounds. Aexhman beat it with a mark of two hundred and twenty-two pounds, which is near enough to prove that what I did in practice will be done by many others.

Previously I explained why neither the One Hand Anyhow or the Two Hands Anyhow marks have not been equaled, so I will pass these lifts over and talk about the One Hand Clean. At the present time on one has come near the mark set by Maxick of two hundred and thirty-eight pounds, which is only two pounds below the schedule on this lift. Bicheel, of Switzerland, holds the present amateur record in both the light and middleweight class, with a mark of two hundred and nine pounds, although I have heard that he has since succeeded with two hundred and sixteen pounds. Maurice De Riaz, as a middleweight, was give credit for doing two hundred and twenty-three pounds. In the One Hand Snatch a former partner of Maxick told me he saw the Bavarian wonder do two hundred pounds which equals my scheduled mark. Others are coming close as is proven by the record made by Neuland, of Estonia, with one hundred and eight-one and a half pounds, which was later pulled down by the Austrian, Treffany, with one hundred and eighty-three pounds only to be superceded by Zinner, of Germany, with a mark of one hundred and eighty-seven pounds.

The one hand swing brings the British lifter into prominence, and I am give to understand that the fine English swing lifter, C. V. Wheeler, equaled in a practice swing my named record of one hundred and eighty pounds. Aston, another British swing lifter at a bodyweight that would qualify him for the class where the mark was set up, came only two pounds short of the mark, using the old style swing.

The lightweight division has come to the front strongly in vindicating my schedule. Kosakwitz, at one hundred and forty-five pounds. performed three hundred and eight pounds in the Two Hands Continental Jerk. Of course, he is five pounds heavier than our present lightweight scale allows, yet his is about right for the European limit and is two pounds under the old lightweight limit. This great little Russian went thirty-three pounds over my selection and Marineau has equaled two hundred and seventy-five pounds at a bodyweight of less than one hundred and forty pounds. We find the mark of two hundred nd fifty pounds for the two hands Clean and Jerk almost as badly shattered as the first named lift. Marineau has done two hundred and sixty-six pounds in my presence. Reenfrank, of France, did two hundred and fifty-two pounds, then his countryman, Arnout, did two hundred and fifty-three pounds. The final coup was supplied De Haas, the Belgian, with two hundred and sixty-nine and a half pounds. Nineteen and a half pounds in excess of my mark. Sigmund Klein, who would have come within the old lightweight limit, goes over two hundred and fifty pounds, and I expect to see him do quite a lot more. The Two Hands Snatch Mark has taken a good beating. Neuland, of Estonia, and Arnout, of France, are tie at two hundred and twenty pounds. We must not forget that when Maxick was within the lightweight limit he could wreck some of the scheduled marks. In the Two Hands Anyhow, for instance, three hundred and twenty pounds would not stop him. A year ago, Marineau claimed to have performed three hundred and eighteen pounds by employing the Bent Press as part of the lift. Being such a master lifter I know quite well that he could equal three hundred and twenty pounds. The one lift I thought I had made a little high was the One hand Clean and Jerk. I fully believed that the mark would be reached, but I figured it would be some time before this was accomplished. However, the great little Swiss, Bicheel, backed up my belief with a real lift of two hundred and nine pounds some time ago, and just to prove that wonders will never cease, Hans Haas came forward with an astounding lift of two hundred and twenty pounds.

The One Hand Snatch record lacks ten pounds of my record, but it will be reached. Neuland has performed with one hundred and sixty-five pounds and promises to lift much more. The One Hand Swing is not so good. Colby, an English lifter, has done one hundred and forty-five pounds, but I believe that Monte Saldo with the old limit did somewhere around one hundred and fifty-four pounds. Incidentally he was the first man in the world to ever swing more than his own weight. The last two lifts show the slowest progress, but the fast lifters are invading the ranks of the lighter class and like the One Hand Clean and Jerk, the selected marks will be equaled. The One Hand Anyhow of two hundred and sixty-five pounds has been equaled by Marineau not long ago, and Fournier also made the same poundage before he stepped into the heavier ranks of the middleweights.

Not a great many years ago, all the records that compose this schedule were considered impossible, but as you see, most of them have already been shelved, and the rest are scheduled to go at any time now. This goes to show that the limitations of man are governed by the times. Within the last few years we have marched fast, and the records have kept pace. Undoubtedly they will go higher yet in every class as new apparatus is introduced and perfected in the game as it has been in others sports. The sport of weight lifting is just in its infancy, and much can be predicted for its future. What the actual limits will be, time alone can tell. I one set a standard that was deemed impossible, but within a short time my marks have been proven beatable, and I will say that whatever the marks of today may be, the records of tomorrow will eclipse them all.
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