Thursday, June 30, 2011


Arthur Saxon at the Newport Empire

Arthur Saxon claims to be the strongest man in the world, and the marvellous feats he performed at the Newport Empire on Monday evening would seem to justify that claim. This modern Hercules is a man of powerful build, of magnificent physique, and with muscles literally as hard as iron. He and his two partners lift and twist and twirl about heavy bar-bells with as much ease as though they were four pound weights. Arthur Saxon demonstrates that he can support with his legs and arms considerably over a ton. Ten men are marched on to the stage and seated on a heavy plank which Saxon balanced on his legs; then he raised his two partners and another man, making thirteen men in all, on a 150 lb. bar-bell, which he held in his hands.

He gave a challenge to meet all comers at 24 hours' notice. The youngest of these Samsons lifted a 119 lb. ring-weight with a man on top of it. Arthur Saxon raised two men over his head on the bar-bell while he held a third in his teeth. The other feats were equally marvellous, as a great a weight as l,420 lbs. being lifted on one occasion. The whole performance was carried through without a hitch, and the Saxons well deserve the hearty applause which they received.


The Football News - Saturday, April 23rd, 1904


Arthur Saxon of the Saxon Trio

It has been conjectured by the late John Huxley, the late Prof. Lecky, and Mr. Daniel Leno, sitting in Grand Council, that there are precisely 273 claimants to the title of the "strongest man on earth."

I am not going to say that Arthur Saxon is the strongest man on earth. Personally, I believe he is, but I cannot prove it. All if can say is that if there is a stronger specimen of the "genus homo" than this magnificent mass of brawn and muscle, I should like to see him.

Interviewed the other day, Arthur Saxon gave some interesting details about himself. At the first glance Saxon does not strike one as being anything beyond an ordinary individual you may meet in the street, but stripped - then is the difference. Just under 14 stone in weight, he carries a 48in. chest, is 24in. round the thigh, 171/2ins. Round the upper arm, the same around the neck, stands 5 ft. l0 ins. In height, and was born as recently as 1878, being consequently just now at his best.

Arthur Saxon hold the world's record for a one-handed lift. This formerly stood to the credit of Louis Cyr (262 lbs.), the next being Sandow's 254 lb. made at the Aquarium and Royal Holborn respectively. Arthur Saxon night lifts a bar-bell weighing 300 lb., but last year went for the record, the weight being 314 lb. There was a number of amateur and professional strong men present to bear witness to the bona fide of the weight, which turned the scale at 314 lb. Resting the bell on end, Arthur Saxon raised it to his shoulder, and, amidst great silence, essayed the arduous task of pressing it aloft with one hand. The strain was terrific, but without wasting any particle of his strength, Arthur held it aloft for the space of about a quarter of a minute. His success was greeted with loud and prolonged cheers.


So says the Sporting Life, so there is no doubt about the genuineness of the performance. Also people will be interested to know that a surprise visit was paid to the hall where the Saxons were performing by the representatives of a health magazine, who had all the bar-bells weighed, and found that, like Caesar's wife, they were above suspicion. Arthur Saxon, indeed, is always most anxious for investigation into his performance.

His brothers, Hermann and Adolf, are little less strong, and between the three the list of records in weight-lifting has had a bad time.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011


THE MAJESTY OF MUSCLE Arthur Saxon, the Strongest Man in the World. (and how others may increase their stamina and strength.) (BY THE BARON)

To the average man the possession of abnormal muscle is a thing to be wondered at greatly. The wrestling boom has called attention to the matter of physical development of late, but prior to that the performances of such men as Sandow and Saxon had caused runs of greater or shorter duration upon the various schools of physical culture.

It is quite evident, however, that quite 90 per cent of those who pay their money to witness the struggles between wrestlers or strong men in various departments, are not exactly models of physical development themselves. Weedy they are in various degrees, cigarette smokers, and more apt to spend their nights in billiard saloons than in getting the full benefit of the open air.

Strength, great and above the average, is, of course, given to but a comparative few. Still, there is no reason why an ordinary man should not under proper tuition, be capable of lifting considerably more than his own weight above his head, or to sustain any physical effort such as running, walking, or cycling for a considerable time.


How best to secure such development, however, is a matter needing careful consideration. In order to elucidate this matter, however, I paid a visit a few nights ago to one of the Oswald Stohl houses, and there was fortunate enough to secure a few minutes chat with Arthur Saxon, undeniably a terrifically strong athlete, who claims to be the strongest man on earth, and who nightly challenges all and sundry to perform the feats he may be doing just as a matter of course.

At the first glance Saxon does not strike one as being anything beyond an ordinary individual you meet in the street. But stripped--then is the difference. Just under 14 stone in weight, he carries a 48 inch chest, is 24 round the thigh, 17-1/2 round the upper arm, the same round the neck, stands 5 ft. 10 ins. in height, and was born as recently as 1878 being consequently just now at his best.

Naturally powerful, Saxon, as a lad, pitted himself against all and sundry. He proved successful in his trials and then, after a careful preparation at Leipzig, he blossomed out into a professional strong man in 1897.

At first he wrestled, and with considerable success.

"Why did you give that up?" I asked him, for judging by his development, he would need a considerable amount of pressure before his shoulders could be placed on the mat.


"Oh," was Saxon's reply, "a wrestler and a weightlifter must be a vastly different man. In the one you need strength and smartness combined. It is fatal to a wrestler to be slow, but in weightlifting you must possess 'stiff' power. That is the difference, and it is quite certain a man cannot be a champion at two different things. That is why I forsook wrestling.

"What are my lifts? Well, with the right hand I am repeatedly raising 328 lbs. from the shoulder, and with a double-handed lift I can put up 300 lbs. from the front and 325 lbs. from the neck behind.

"My training? Simply to keep fit and well, day by day, week by week, month by month, and year by year. Personally, I am continually in practice, and to that alone I ascribe my powers. Any athlete must follow out the regular rules if he wishes to excel, and as for diet, I would recommend just what I do myself. Live regularly and well, and eat what has been proved to suit you. Good plain living cannot be beaten, while stimulants and tobacco must be taken in moderation.

"One or two cigars smoked during the day would not, I think, injure any man, but he must be careful not to overdo things. Moderation must be his watchword, even in work, for in this respect the young athlete must be careful not to overdo matters.

"Anyone training for weightlifting should be careful not to overdo things. He should commence with the smaller weights, and as his power increased, then he could increase the severity of his tasks in ratio. That is the real method of training, for a strain at the commencement of affairs is apt to be a very serious thing.


"Baths and massage, I may add, play important parts in an athlete's programme, and I cannot speak too highly of the former. They draw the stiffness from the muscles, and the massage brings all the little recognised thews and sinews into use and subjection."

Then Saxon proceeded to illustrate what he meant by claiming to be the strongest man in the world. Loaded with weights, totally an aggregate of 1,420 lbs., he tramped up and down the stage, and, not satisfied with this, called out 13 men, who hung on a barbell while he strolled up and down behind the footlights. The weight in this case was considerably over a ton, but it might have been a hundredweight, so easily did he bear it.

"Did you ever meet with accidents," I asked him later. "Yes, sometimes," he admitted, "when the stage is not strong enough to carry the weight I put upon it. With the men things are not to be feared, for they generally fall clear, but with the weights the case is different. They fall in a direct line, and I have before now had a finger smashed when a track in the stage has collapsed with me, but that is all!"

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

THE DEVELOPMENT OF PHYSICAL POWER - (Circa 1906) - Chapter 21 - MORE PRESS NOTICES - By Arthur Saxon

Morecambe Visitor, April 18th, 1900: Devonshire Hall --

Mr. Dempsey is well-known in the variety show world, and on his first visit to Morecambe he has brought with him a company of capable artists. First and foremost there is the Arthur Saxon trio of strong men, a trio who, a year or two back, astonished visitors at Regent Park with their prodigious feats of strength. Since then the Saxons have been touring through South Africa, where they appeared at Kimberley and even Bulawayo, and afterwards paid a visit to India, returning to England about a month ago. Their strength is remarkable--interest he case of Arthur, phenomenal. On Monday evening they commenced their show with some effective posing, in which 56's were handled almost like the average man would handle a lady's handbag, and then followed astounding feats with heavy bar-bells, which elicited much applause from the audience. To test the genuineness of the weight six or seven members of the audience stepped on to the stage--including a couple of members of the Morecambe Football Club--but the efforts of a powerful-looking raw-boned young fellow were unsuccessful to move the big bar-bell which Arthur Saxon, "the strongest man on earth," afterwards raised with his right arm above his head. Resting on his hands and feet, with his face upwards, he sustained a tremendous weight upon his body, but what pleased the audience most was his last performance.

Lying on his back in the middle of the stage, with his head towards the audience, he raised his legs into a perpendicular position, and a long plank was placed upon his feet much in the same fashion as a see-saw. Eight men, averaging probably from 12 to 15 stone per man, were lifted on to the plank, and when they had got nicely settled with legs dangling in the air, and their bags to the audience, the strong man lifted up a huge barbell with his hands, and held it at arms' length, parallel with the plank. Three men sat upon the barbell, and for a considerable time the weight of the eleven men and the bar was sustained by his arms and legs. On ridding himself of his human burden, and rising to his feet, Arthur Saxon received a great ovation, and he certainly deserved it. The trio do many astounding feats of strength which most people would deem impossible unless they witnessed them.

* * * * *

The Music Hall & Theatre Review September 27th, 1901


The Arthur Saxon trio, while appearing at the Westminster Music Hall, Liverpool, were invited by the Liverpool Weight-lifting Club to lift (if they could) a very heavy and awkward bar-bell, tried by nearly all of the strong men of the day. The first to try was Adolf Saxon, who, without taking his coat off, immediately hoisted the bar-bell three times above his head with two hands. This was very much appreciated, but afterwards came Arthur Saxon, who lifted the barbell with one hand, then juggled it to the other, a marvellous feat of strength. The weight of this bar-bell is 286 lbs. (weighed). It can be tested at any time. After seeing this we thoroughly believe in Arthur Saxon's world's record of 325 lbs. with the right hand and 411 lbs. with two hands. After seeing the phenomenal feats of strength with this bar-bell, the Club decided to see the Saxons' performance the same night. They were "paralysed" by the phenomenal feats accomplished. The concluding feat, in which Arthur Saxon holds fifteen men and weights on his hands and feet, is something to be remembered. We suppose this will be read by nearly all the prominent weight-lifters of England, who, if at any time in Liverpool, we shall be only too pleased to see. Let them try to lift the barbell!


Ted Reece, Instructor; R. Churchill; R. A. Fieldhouse; Oscar Hilginfeldt; John Reuter; Thos. Sale; J. Sale; A. Bibby; F. Petersen Club Headquarters, 41a Prescott Street, Liverpool.

* * * * *

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Monday, June 27, 2011

THE DEVELOPMENT OF PHYSICAL POWER - (Circa 1906) - Chapter 20 - PRESS NOTICES - By Arthur Saxon

My South African Tour

Utenhage Times -- Wirths' Circus, South Africa:

The brothers Wirth, who were in past years so well and favourably known in Utenhage, opened their great Australian Circus to a fair audience last night, and the season will close with the performance tonight. Of the performance generally, we can only say that it is the best show of the kind we have seen in Africa, and, indeed, with regard to the performances of the Brothers Howard (the world's greatest Mystifiers), and the Saxon Brothers (the world's greatest Strong Men), we have never seen anything approaching it in the Old Country. . . .

The exhibition of strength given by the Brothers Saxon is a show of itself, and a good one too. In Arthur Saxon and his brother one sees models of men as described in ancient mythology, such as Achilles, and a few others of the ancient "swells." But to see him in his endeavors to raise a bar-bell weighing over 300 lbs. above his head, reminds one of Atlas, with the world on his shoulders. Bar-bells up to this weight are flung about and held in different positions by these "wonders of men" as if they were walking-sticks; and lifting over 1,000 lbs. with the teeth, and bearing over 2,000 lbs. off the ground, are feats that no other man in the world could perform. Even the great Eugen Sandow cannot compete successfully with Arthur Saxon who has a wager of L1,000 to compete with any man (Sandow included) in trials of strength.

Accident in Cape Town

The youngest of the Saxon Trio, now engaged at the Circus, had his right elbow dislocated during the performance last evening, whilst supporting 2,000 lbs. dead weight on his chest and legs. Saxon is but 17 years of age, and the applause greeting his feat was at its height, when the board on which the weights are placed snapped, throwing him on his side. He showed good pluck, walking out of the ring apparently quite unconcerned. In response to inquiries this morning, it is said he will probably be all right in five or six days.

* * * * * The Diamond Fields Advertiser, Kimberley, Wed., Sept. 20th, 1899 - Wirths' Circus

The opening performance of Wirths' Grand Circus was given last night. The Company is a strong one, and the items, from start to finish, were gone through without a hitch. The Brothers Saxon, billed as the strongest men on earth, brought down the house, literally, and a portion of the gallery actually, by their feats of strength. Nine men and a big bar-bell is a big load to sustain, but his was managed, apparently without effort, by Mr. Arthur Saxon. The total weight lifted is almost beyond belief, and having regard to the character for veracity always borne by the "Advertiser," we hesitate to state it. However, any of the audience are invited to lift the bar-bell and weights, and there can be no doubt about the avoir-dupois of the band who were supported in the air.

* * * * *

I Wrestle for the Championship of South Africa

The Diamond Field Advertiser, Kimberley, Wed., Sept. 20th, 1899

Wirths' Circus - Saxon Versus Hayston

Wirths' circus drew a crowded house last evening. The artists - a really first-class combination - were all in good form, and every turn was greeted with hearty applause. The Brothers Howard speedily convinced the most sceptical, and loud cheers followed their unique entertainment.

The greatest attraction of the evening was a wrestling match, Graeco-Roman style, between Messrs. Arthur Saxon, described as "the strongest man in the world," and Wilson Hayston, the "champion wrestler of South Africa." It was a case of brawn v. muscle, and also of condition v. non-condition, Saxon, of course, being in splendid trim, while Hayston was in anything but proper wrestling fettle. The contest proved a close and exciting one, interest being sustained from start to finish. The first fall went to the strong man, after a protracted struggle. The second nearly fell to Hayston, at the outset his opponent managing to keep his shoulder blades off the ground by the sheer strength of his forearms. Wilson was not to be denied, and soon had his man down again, this time his weight gradually told, and Saxon had to give way, loud cheers greeting the local man's success. The third was another long bout, but Saxon always looked like having the best of it, and two or three unsuccessful attempts, managed to bring and keep his man down, thus winning the match. Considering his lack of condition, and far from intimate knowledge of this particular style, Hayston did very well, and, though beaten, was certainly not disgraced.

* * * * *

The Bulawayo Chronicle, Sat., Oct 7th 1899

Wirths' Circus - The Saxon Brothers

The Saxon Brothers, who are exhibiting feats of strength at Wirths' Circus, which shows here for the last time to-night, are probably the youngest performers in their line who have become famous during the last two or three years. It will have been noticed that their feats of juggling with weights are performed with great dexterity as well as an ease which comes only by practice, and an evidence that the weights are genuine has been afforded by the laughable and egregious failures made by various members of the public who have attended the circus. The strong men look on and smile at the attempts, and that L5 note remains serenely in Mr. Wirth's waistcoat pocket. In fact it seems that a prize in Rodney's Sweep is easier to obtain. It was with an idea of learning something about the weight-lifting business from one of the most successful exponents of the art or science whichever it should be termed, of recent times, that a Chronicle man called on and saw Mr. Arthur Saxon at he Imperial Hotel. His appearance in black trunk hose and flesh-coloured or pink tights in the circus ring is well-known. There you a good-looking young man, neither dark nor fair, but something between, whose figure by its splendid proportions, arrests the eye at once; the grand development of the chest, shoulders, arms and neck are patent to a casual observer. And if you see Mr. Saxon at close quarters and examine him, you will find that the muscles which are in most people quite small, the abdominal ones, for instance, so prominent in the Farnese Hercules, are fully developed. His strength does not lie particularly in any one place, it seems to be evenly distributed.

Mr. Saxon, it must be admitted, does not show to such advantage in his ordinary everyday dress, but he is an unassuming young man, speaks English well for a foreigner, and had no objection to give the pressman a few facts about his career. He was born in Saxony in April, 1878, and first began as an amateur to practice heavy weight-lifting at the age of 17. In a few months he succeeded in going up from handling 100 lbs. to a weight of 224 lbs. He obtained his first important engagement in 1898, making his debut in Oldham. Sampson was present when the challenged all comers at Burnley, but did not essay the trial. The Saxon Brothers performed in England for two years. Mr. Adolf Saxon is also a finely-built man and executes many clever feats, being practically equal to Arthur Saxon in all but the crowning feats. During the two years they were in England they never found anyone who could lift the big bar-bell above his head with one or both hands. Arthur Saxon's greatest feat was done when he lifted 268 lbs. with his right hand above his head and 100 lbs. with his left, a total of 368 lbs. The weights were weighed on scales previously. From this, and the fact that he has an open challenge to all comers, it may be acknowledged he has reason from claiming to be the strongest man in the world.

In height, Arthur Saxon is 5ft. 10ins. His weight is about 212 lbs., chest measurement, 47 or 48ins., biceps and neck, each 17 1/2 ins.

* * * * *

I Meet and Defeat --- the Champion Wrestler of Ceylon

Supplement o the Ceylon Independent - January 1900

Wirths' Circus at the Racquet Court

Successful Performance Last Night - Mahbool Khan Beaten

The principal item, however, was reserved the last. This was a much talked-of and looked-for wrestling match between Arthur Saxon - the strongest man in the world - and Mahbool Khan, the champion wrestler of Ceylon. Both men took seats at either end of the ring amid deafening applause, but before the real business commenced Mr. Wirth called for a referee and timekeeper, both of whom were forthcoming, the former being Mr. Money, Drill Instructor.

The audience were then informed of the conditions; namely, that the winner of two falls out of three would be declared the winner, the falls to be on the back only. Soon after the struggle commenced the strong man came to the ground but face downwards, and the almost superhuman efforts with which he raised himself and almost threw his opponent to the ground evoked considerable applause, but very little headway was made, and at the call of time neither man seemed to have won. At this juncture, however, Mahbool Khan left the room, and in spite of repeated calls would not return. He was allowed two minutes grace, failing which Mr. Wirth announced they would declare in favour of Saxon, and as the Afghan did not return, Arthur Saxon, amid loud cheers, was declared the winner. This terminated the most interesting performance. We would advise those who have not done so already to pay Wirth's Circus a visit without delay. As already announced, performances will now take place every night in the Parsee Theatre, while on Saturday there will also be the usual matinee."

* * * * *

At Madras

Madras Times, January 17th, 1900

Wirth's Circus

The Brothers Saxon, "the strongest men on earth," next appeared, and performed some wonderful feats of strength; one of the feats was lifting a 325 lb. bar-bell with one hand above the head. This is said to be a world's record. The brothers, who are quite young, one is not 22 - so young and yet so strong - did many astonishing things. Among other was the balancing of the M.V.G Band on a board, which the young giant supported on his feet, whilst they in evident trepidation played dolefully, and the amateur Atlas juggled with some thousand pounds of bar and other bells. The man who could bear all this, and the music, must be indeed strong. Mr. Arthur Saxon offers to wrestle with anyone. Any takers?

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Sunday, June 26, 2011


Stand with the ball between the feel, the handle of same to be held as shown in photograph, describing body press and ring weight lift, on another page. Place the left hand on the knee and swing to the back, after which swing overhead as in the dumb-bell swing, but when the weight is three parts up suddenly step forward with the right foot and twist the right hand and wrist round so that the globe falls on the fleshy part of the right fore-arm. Of course the bell, if heavy, may be lifted to the shoulder with a similar movement and thence pressed aloft.

In juggling with kettle balls or ring weights, the simplest manner to describe the ordinary turn-over is to say that the way which would occur to your mind is an incorrect one. It is a strange thing, but in weight lifting, in 9 cases out of every l0, if not in 99 cases out of every 100, the position which the man in the street, quite innocent of all knowledge pertaining to weights, would take, if asked to lift a weight in any position, is always the wrong one. This shows what a science there is in weight-lifting when properly understood. If you wish to juggle with the bell, take it in your hand with the handle parallel to your body, and instead of pull the handle over and down towards you, press it down and over away from you, first lifting it as high as the shoulder, and then giving it a vicious turn in the position I have referred to, and as the handle comes up again your hand will readily grasp it, or if not it will fall to the floor without doing damage. With practise it maybe turned over twice or even three times before you endeavour to catch it, and it may be thrown behind you to return over your right shoulder and be caught before it reaches the floor.


To thoroughly fall into the correct positions in each lift, it will at all times be best, as described on another page, to commence practise with weight much lighter than you can really lift, and practise the lift adding discs each time until you reach your limit.

Do not attempt to practise too many lifts at one time. Disc bells are always superior to shot-loading bells, and, in my experience, not only are they more convenient in every way and cheaper, but more can be lifted in discs than in hollow bells. Also have a scale and weigh your weights. To a certain extent the necessity for this is done away with by use of discs, but I have seen many disappointments when a bar-bell has been placed on the scale and found to be 10 lbs. or so lighter than the lifter had judged and believed. It is VERY seldom weights turn out heavier than one hopes. Therefore be certain, and use a scale.

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Saturday, June 25, 2011

THE DEVELOPMENT OF PHYSICAL POWER - (Circa 1906) - Chapter 18 - (Four short topics combined) - By Arthur Saxon

Originally Posted on on 26 August 2003 *Editors Note: The book did not actually have numbered chapters. They were just separated by topic headings. I numbered them as "Chapters" to make it more orderly for the reader. Some were combined as they were very short. This includes four of Saxon's little "blurb topics" here put into one "chapter".


Having raised the bell to the chest, stand with heels together, legs straight, and body erect. Now push steadily overhead, but do not bend backwards. Watch the bell with the eyes as it goes up, and avoid any kind of jerk from the chest. Most lifters believe this is purely a test of triceps power, but they are wrong; the deltoid perhaps comes into more prominent play than the triceps in this position, and it is generally recognised as a sure test of strength.


Stand in position, legs to be straight, heels together and body quite erect. Now press slowly overhead without leaning over to the side. Here again we have a good test of strength, in which the chief muscles called into play are the deltoid and triceps.


The Continental method of holding at arm's length with a ring weight is described by the following test:

Hold the weight in front of the chest, elbow in horizontal line with your shoulder. now hold the bell out sideways so that your left arm shall be almost in a horizontal line with your sholders. You may lean back a little, but not too much.


Elbows to be held from off the ground and the weight to be slowly pulled over the forehead and on to the chest, but do not make the common mistake of turning the head to one side in pulling the bell on to the chest. After you have done this, place yourself in position 2 from which you must suddenly heave up the body, at the same time pulling and pushing with the arms so that you find the weight supported by straight arms overhead. A more genuine test, perhaps, is to lay perfectly flat, and slowly press the bar-bell overhead.

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Friday, June 24, 2011

THE DEVELOPMENT OF PHYSICAL POWER - (Circa 1906) - Chapter 17 - Double Handed Bar-bell Lift Overhead - By Arthur Saxon

Clean Lift:

Having ascertained the centre of the bar, stand with the heels a few inches apart, then stoop down and quickly pull the ell to the chin, stepping forward with one foot and backward with the other, both movements to be performed at the same time, sinking the body and throwing the elbows and wrists underneath the bar as it comes up. I would point out that the stooping position is a very tiring and fatiguing one, therefore do not lose any time in this position, but mark your bar before going down. Another hint is this, that it is possible, after raising the bar to a certain height, to give it another pull just as it is about to commence going down again as you dip beneath it, and this final pull, which is hard to describe, should mean a good 10 lbs. or 15 lbs. to you once you thoroughly master it. Having got the bell to the shoulders, stand in position. Now bend the legs, but not too much, straighten same, and quickly jerk the bell aloft, at the same time placing simultaneously one foot forward and the other backward, sinking beneath the weight, on which you must keep your eyes or you may fall backwards, carrying the weight with you, or rather, the weight will carry you with it. The greatest fault you can make is to stand, when ready to jerk, with the back bent in any way. If you do so you will give beneath the weight when you bend the legs before jerking, and there will be no "snap" in the movement. Take a deep breath just before you jerk the weight, and concentrate your mind strongly on sending same to a straight arm. Do not try to half jerk the weight and finish with a push. This is a common, but fatal error.

Continental Style:

In the continental style a far heavier weight may be raised than in the English. The first position is to bring the barbell up on to the abdomen instead of attempting to bring it right to the chin in one movement; holding it on the abdomen, you give a dip and a jerk, pulling with the arms as strongly as possible, and splitting the feet so that you find the weight in one more movement at the chin, or some men prefer to get it there in several movements, first higher on the abdomen, then on the chest, and then to the chin. You must exercise care at first and practise with a light weight, or you may have an accident and severely sprain your back. It is best at first to have a friend stand behind you in case of accident.

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

THE DEVELOPMENT OF PHYSICAL POWER - (Circa 1906) - Chapter 16 - Two Dumb-Bells, Simultaneous Lift Overhead - By Arthur Saxon

Continental Style:

For position I place both bells parallel to each other between the feet. Now stoop down and raise same up so that the discs or globes rest on the thighs, the bells being held together. By leaning backwards you will be able to pull the bells on to the body, from whence by a jerk you get them partly on the chest, and so to the shoulders, after which you stand in a firm position ready to sink below the weights and to move your feet to enable you to dip beneath your dumb-bells as they go aloft. This is done by a vicious jerk, after which you sink and so get the bells overhead, the eyes to be on them as they go aloft for fear you lose the balance. If you would lift them in the clean English style, then they may be taken from between the feet, or from the sides of the feet, you to lean backwards as you pull them up and split the feet in two opposite directions, one to the back, and one to the front.

Still another way is to stand with them at the sides, and whilst in this position give them a swing to the front and then to the back and so up to the shoulders. Take advantage of this swing, and by a movement similar to the one last described regarding the feet, you will find the bells at the shoulder. The latter position is more suitable to tall men than to short men.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

THE DEVELOPMENT OF PHYSICAL POWER - (Circa 1906) - Chapter 15 - One Hand Snatch & Single-handed -- Dumb-bell Swing - By Arthur Saxon

Place yourself in position ... and as you pull strongly with the right hand and shoulder, press as hard as you can with the left hand on the left knee. Then when the weight has reached a fair height, dip beneath same, the eyes to be all the time on the weight. The secret of this lift is to use as many muscles as possible at the same time, that is, you press with your legs, pull with your arm, and push with the disengaged one, also pull with the shoulder and jerk with the back, suddenly when the weight is over your head, dipping beneath same, and throwing it a little to the back. There are two positions possible in snatching the weight, either of which are good, and both of which I will describe.

One is to keep the body perpendicular and dip cleanly beneath the weight, the other is to suddenly fall to one side as in the bent press, when the bar is about the height of your head, and so place a straight arm beneath the weight, after which you recover to an erect position. The benefit and advantage in this latter position being, given a man who is enormously strong and a good side presser, if his arm should not go in the first attempt quite straight, then he many finish up the last inch or two by the body press, that is if no objection be made by referee or opponents in competition. A variation of this is to snatch the bell overhead with two hands instead of one, the hands being held the same distance apart as in the double-handed bar-bell lift. Those anxious to practise the single-handed lift all the way, as in the English Amateur Championship Competition, will find my instructions as to the snatch are, if reversed, directly applicable to the initial pull-in to the shoulder. All that you have to do is to place your hand on the bar with the palm to the front instead of the back, then pull the bell up to the chest, stepping back with the left leg if pulling in with the right hand, and exerting as many muscles as possible as described.

Note - In all these positions where the weight is lifted to the shoulder from off the ground, the arm must not be bent at the first portion of the pull.

Single-handed -- Dumb-bell Swing

The muscles called into play are practically the same here as in the one-handed snatch, but the bell must be placed on end between the feet as shown in illustration. Keep the head down, then, with a perfectly straight arm, pull up, using a combination of muscular efforts and concentration as described in the snatch lift. Lean back and watch the dumb-bell with your eyes, and when it is at suitable height suddenly dip beneath same and twist your wrist violently, so that you may place a straight arm beneath the bell.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

THE DEVELOPMENT OF PHYSICAL POWER - (Circa 1906) - Chapter 14 - The Bent Press - By Arthur Saxon

Constant practice is the only way in which one may succeed in raising a heavy weight in this position. It will, no doubt be useful to read below how the lift is performed, but it will be no use to expect an immediate increase in your present lift simply by reading my instructions as to this position. PRACTICE is the great thing, all the time endeavoring to find a position which will suit yourself. I will describe the bar-bell lift, as in a bar-bell more may be raised than in any other way. The bell may be raised with two hands to the shoulder, as described in the preceding chapter, or it may be raised to the shoulder with a clean pull in, although, of course, when one reaches a very heavy weight, it is impossible to get it to the shoulder except by raising two hands, and this is allowed in all professional contests, unless otherwise stipulated.

If anything like a heavy weight is to be raised, then it is imperative that the centre be accurately marked, so that you will not have to move the weight about whilst it is held at your shoulder, as this is certain to exhaust your strength and spoil the lift. Having got the bell to the shoulder with the elbow firmly placed on the hip, the first thing to do is to get the feet in the proper position. As may be supposed, when one is pressing, say 200 lbs., it is not easy to shift the feet about without destroying the balance, and causing the weight to fall. Therefore, get your feet placed in the correct position before you commence to press.

Another point I will mention here is that the eyes must not, at any portion of the lift, be taken off the weight. Holding the bell at the shoulder, fall away from same, but do not allow the elbow to move from same, but do not allow the elbow to move from off the hip until compelled to do so, as you can support far more in this position, without tiring the muscles, than you could if you allowed the weight to fall on muscles alone, without supporting same rather by bone strength than muscle strength. In allowing the body to fall forward, the speed of the movement must be at all times governed by the balance you feel you have attained.

Of course, it is best to get the lift over as quickly as possible, but a fair speed in pressing may only be obtained when it is felt that a perfect balance has been gained, otherwise to hurry will only be to cause the weight to fall. Another hint is that the bell should not be held any longer than absolutely necessary at the shoulder before commencing to press, as your strength begins to wane immediately the bell reaches the shoulder. Having pressed the weight to a straight arm, then you must not endeavour to rise until you are certain that you have again got thorough control over the weight. Your position at this point should be such that your hand is held over your shoulder, which, in turn, should be over the shoulder belonging to the disengaged arm. This shoulder, in its turn, should over the left knee, so that a straight line could be drawn from the right hand to the left foot, and if this line be broken or thrown out in any way, the weight, if a heavy one, will pass out of your control and fall to the ground.

If you feel that your are holding the weight firmly, then you may bend leg a little to bring yourself well beneath the weight, and, by pushing firmly with the left hand or forearm at the left knee, you will be able to stand erect, when the bar-bell may be changed from one hand into two, and so lowered to the chest, and from thence to the ground.

In the body press, I hold my elbow well to the back and fall forwards. Some weight-lifters hold their elbow more to the front and fall sideways, and such men will, of course, have to be very supple, and a disadvantage, to my mind, in this position is that in falling sideways the right shoulder has to be pulled up close to the right side of the face, and it becomes very difficult to lock the shoulder in its right position at the end of the lift, so that often such a lifter will press a weight to a straight arm, and then be compelled to drop same.

I do not allow the bar-bell to swing any more than can be possibly helped. Some lifters commence with the bar-bell at right angles to the shoulders instead of nearly parallel to same, which latter position is the one I adopt. The men who hold the bell at right angles allow the body to turn and the bar to revolve as they allow the body to sink. One thing I cannot recommend is that the disengaged hand be placed on the floor. I hardly consider this fair, but when this be so or not, it is not a good position, as the balance is apt to be destroyed by the jerk necessary to bring the body erect. Do not bend the body any lower than you are compelled. A good practice for strengthening the muscles used in this lift, and for giving you better control over your bell, is, after pressing same aloft, to bring aloft with the disengaged hand, a ring weight or small dumb-bell.

This is first raised to the shoulder and pressed aloft, your eyes being all the time kept on the bar-bell in the right hand. Still another exercise or practice is to load your bar-bell up to such a weight as can be turned over to the shoulder, as described on page 68 then go with the left hand and twist the body into position for the press, and after holding the bar there for a second or two, return to the ground.

It is reasonable to suppose that if a man can only press 150 lbs. with one hand, and he turns over and holds at the shoulder 224 lbs., when he returns to his 150 lb. bell, he will handle it with greater ease, comfort and assurance than he could do before, and he will eventually in this way reach a higher limit than if he always held in awe such a weight as 2 cwt., and he will further have a better idea of what 224 lbs. really means if he handles the bell, than if he has to rely on his imagination when considering what can, and what cannot be done with a two cwt. bar-bell.

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Monday, June 20, 2011

WST Client Message


It has been less than two months since you started training me, but I just wanted to send you a short note telling you how pleased I am with my progress.

Anyone who thinks that working out twice a week is not enough needs to "attempt" go through just one workout at Whelan Strength Training. The workouts are just as much mental as they are physical. 20 Rep Squats are just one example where you must push your muscles, cardiovascular system and mind beyond what seems even remotely possible. You just push to get one "impossible" rep after another until you get 20 and then you just about collapse from muscular, cardiovascular and mental exhaustion. Then you move on to the rest of your workout that in most ways is similarly grueling. These workouts are simply not for normal people. If someone wants to watch TV while walking on a treadmill in brightly colored gym outfits, or do cable flys and tricep push downs as their "workout" on shiny chrome machines, then they are coming to the wrong place. If someone wants to add 100lbs to their bench in less than two months (I did at 43 years old!) then they need to come to Whelan Strength Training where you will work the whole body as a complete system very hard twice a week. If you push hard, at the end of each workout you will be mentally and physically depleted. You will have nothing left. You will barely have enough energy to just shake hands and say goodbye, but you will get results and will leave WST needing days of proper eating, rest, and sleep to recover for your next workout.

Thanks Bob!

I will see you later today.


Iron Nation
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THE DEVELOPMENT OF PHYSICAL POWER - (Circa 1906) - Chapter 13 - Two-handed Lift to the Shoulder, Bell on End - By Arthur Saxon

The bell having been stood on end, stand with the left foot in front of the right, and a good space between the two. Now place the right hand in the centre of the bar, the left hand immediately below same. Place the right elbow on the hip and to the front, as shown in illustration, then bend forward with the head held down, after which suddenly lean backwards, lifting upwards with both hands, at the same time the right elbow on the body being used as a fulcrum on which to lever over the weight. To perform this lift properly the legs will have to be considerably bent at the time you pull the bell over towards you. If this is done fairly quickly, one ball will, with the aid of your hands, overbalance the other, by falling over and backwards. After adjusting your right elbow more to the back, you are then in a position for the bent press.

Another method is to place the left hand at the bottom of the bar above the discs, your left arm to be straight and your right to be bent and resting across the body. Stand as close to the bar as possible, instead of away from, as in preceding position, and bend the legs to a greater extent, then raise the bar to your chest and lift with both the left arm and the right arm together, suddenly tossing the bottom set of discs away from you and to the left, at the same time quickly bringing the right elbow on to the body. The first method is more suitable for long bars, and the second method for short bars.

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Sunday, June 19, 2011

THE DEVELOPMENT OF PHYSICAL POWER - (Circa 1906) - Chapter 12 - I Appear at the National Sporting Club - By Arthur Saxon

As is well-known, the National Sporting Club is the headquarters for sport and sportsmen in this country. Records established there are., of course, beyond doubt, and on the 29th January, 1906, I was glad to avail myself of the opportunity accorded me to appear at the National Sporting Club to attempt to break my record for a one-handed lift. My bar-bell, weighed in the presence of representatives from the Sportsman, Sporting Life, Daily Telegraph, Chronicle, Health and Strength, and Mr. Bettinson, the Manager, was found to weigh 353 lbs. On this occasion I succeeded in pressing the weight to a straight arm above my head no less than six times, and although the lift could not count as a record owing to my not having brought the body erect, yet I believe everyone was satisfied that, under more favourable circumstances, I could accomplish this particular lift.

On March 15th, 1906, I again appeared before members of this Club, but, owing to a severe strain, had to limit my performance to an exhibition lift of 303 lbs. pressed with one hand. This, of course, was weighed on the National Sporting Club scales, but I do not claim any record, as it is considerably below what I have lifted. I hope at some future date to again appear and press at least 350 lbs, with one hand from the shoulder, when the management have kindly promised to sign an illuminated certificate, certifying that I performed this feat under their presence, and this diploma will establish beyond doubt the authenticity of my one-handed lift, emanating as it would do from such an authoritative source.

On this latter occasion I was presented with a purse amounting to close on 50 pounds in gold, in recognition of my ability as an athlete, and as a mark of esteem from my fellow lifters and admirers. The subscription list was headed by the well-know Health and Strength Magazine, and needless to say I felt very proud and highly gratified to have such a tribute paid to my worth as an athlete. It is very nice to think that one's ability is recognised and appreciated, and although I do not know that I dare promise to do more in the future than I have in the past, yet I shall strain every nerve to maintain my right to the proud title of "The Strongest Man on Earth."

Iron Nation
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Saturday, June 18, 2011

THE DEVELOPMENT OF PHYSICAL POWER - (Circa 1906) - Chapter 11 - What It Feels Like To Lift 350 lbs. With One Hand - By Arthur Saxon

I have often been asked what it feels like to press 350 lbs. with one hand, and perhaps to my readers the different sensations experienced will be interesting. In the first place, immediately I start to press the weight away from the shoulder I become perfectly oblivious to everything except the weight that I am lifting. The spectators are obliterated from my mind by the effort of intense concentration which is necessary to enable me to press the weight. I immediately engage myself in a terrific struggle in which the weight and I are competitor, and only one can win, either the weight must be lifted or else I fail. This concentration is, of course, one of the secrets of success in lifting, as I have explained in another part of my book. It enables me to bring forward the last ounce of pushing power, and for the time being to exert strength beyond that normally possessed.

As the weight steadily rises aloft perhaps half way it wavers, the balance alters, and I have immediately, yet very carefully and quietly, to adjust my position to the altered balance of the ball. Then I must proceed with the press, my body gradually falling lower towards the left knee, my eyes fixed all the time upon the ponderous weight balanced over my head, ready to fall at a moment's notice should I weaken or place myself in a false position, and should at this moment anyone shout out, it might startle me, make me waver, and cause the weight to fall. Therefore, if I am attempting a world's record in this position, I generally ask for complete silence until I have either failed or succeeded, and I might mention here that to think of failure is to fail, and I always tell myself all the time that I am certain to succeed even though I am attempting a weight more than I have hitherto lifted.

Eventually, my arm is straight, and before coming to an upright position I engage in another tussle with the enormous barbell, in which I have to exert all my will power to hold together the flagging powers of tired muscles, which have been strained by the tremendous pressure which 350 lbs. brings on to them in the effort of pressing aloft. By supreme effort of the will I fix the bell in a good position and then stand upright. Often the bar will roll on to the fingers instead of being directly over the wrist, in which case severe pain is inflicted and I have to persevere with the lift under doubly hard conditions, or drop the weight and try again.

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Friday, June 17, 2011

THE DEVELOPMENT OF PHYSICAL POWER - (Circa 1906) - Chapter 10 - General Weight-Lifting - By Arthur Saxon

One of the first things to arrange is a suitable place in which to practise. It must be borne in mind that if you are ill-advised or so awkwardly situated as to have to lift in a bedroom at the top of the house, if the weight falls it will drop on the bedroom floor, but will not stop until it reaches the cellar or kitchen. Also in lifting on a floor which is not particularly firm, or either above the below rooms occupied by people who wish to be quiet, one is bound to cause annoyance. I remember in practising at a Club in Holborn, every time the weight dropped the pen flew from the solicitor's hand who was writing over our heads. I am afraid the strain this gentleman's nerves could not have been beneficial. The best place for lifting is the open air - any ordinary yard or garden, or even shed will do. I suppose the next best place must be a basement, but unfortunately, the air is generally so impure in the underground rooms, that one quickly gets stale through practising therein.

Another item of importance is clothing, which must, above all, be loose, and rubber-soled slippers should be worn. I do not advise the use of wrist straps. For the time being you obtain support and apparently your wrist is strengthened, but the strength is only apparent and not real. Should you be compelled to lift without your wrist straps you would miss them, and your wrist would not be equal to the strain. In another part of this work I advise disc-loading bells in preference to shot-loading. Probably the best all-round bars for your discs would be one about 6 ft. in length by 1 in. or 1 1/2 in. in thickness, and two short bars to turn into dumb-bells. The long bar would be right, not only for double-handed lifting, but for snatching and clean lifts, all the way using one hand only, whilst if you have l 1/2 in. bar, this would be right for double-handed work, but would handicap you in single-handed snatching and pulling in to the shoulder, as such a bar would be found to be too thick.

In practising, do not proceed too quickly from one lift to another. Take a rest between each lift whilst a friend takes a turn with the bell. A lot of strength is lost in the stooping position necessary to adjust the weight of the bell and to "centre" same, therefore have someone to do this for you, if possible. In competition lifting, where you have to use the bent press, it is advisable to get this lift performed first. The bent press is by no means such a certain as the double-handed lift. Balance has a lot to do with the body lift, and if you are tired and shaky you will probably be unsuccessful, whilst the two-handed lift is always certain of accomplishment. Also in competition lifting, do not try your heaviest weight at the first attempt. You will, perhaps, only be allowed three attempts, and if you fail three times in succession you will not have lifted anything at all, whereas if you started 10 lbs. or so below your best lift you might succeed in doing an extra five or ten pounds, at the third attempt, above your previous record.

It is also advisable that, as opportunity occurs, you try other lifters' weights, so that you will get used to handling long bars and short bars, thick bars and thin bars, bars that are bent and bars that are straight, solid bells, disc bells, and shot-loading bells; you may even learn something from the ordinary bar weight weighing 56 lbs. The instructions in this book must be altered to suit your physical peculiarities. Take the bent press - I have given my position, but it may not suit you. Some people can bend better than others.

It suits some to lift with more speed than others, so you will see there is a great science in weight-lifting which it takes years of hard study to properly master. It is not half as simple and uninteresting as some people appear to suppose. There is nothing so splendid as to feel oneself stronger than one's fellows, and this strength may be more quickly acquired by means of weight-lifting than in any other fashion that I am aware of.

Remember the fable of the tortoise and the hare and be content to go slowly. Think each lift out before you attempt it, and at all times endeavour to improve you position and become more scientific. Do not rush madly at a difficult lift which puzzles you, and make repeated futile efforts like a mad bull rushing at a gate. One rather delicate point in weight-lifting, difficult to explain on paper, is that if you imagine in your mind the weight in the position you wish it to be, before you attempt to lift it, then your are more likely to succeed than if you allow yourself to doubt success attending your efforts.

Those who have studied mental culture rather than physical culture will readily explain this by saying that you give yourself a suggestion which takes root and enables you to make a better effort, putting forth more strength on account of having placed yourself under more favourable conditions. Also I wish to emphasize the necessity of at all times concentrating in a determined manner your energy at the time that you are lifting, contracting to the to the full the right muscles at the right moment, instead of lifting in a half-hearted mechanical fashion. Another hint is, do not hold your breath whilst lifting. This is extremely dangerous, giving rise to a strain on the heart. Take a deep breath before you jerk a weight aloft, and then, when you have succeeded or failed, you can breathe again.

Conservation of energy is one of the secrets of success, and this means that, to give a simple illustration, should a man, on a certain night, attempt to lift a tremendous weight, he should, during the day, in every way treasure his strength, and avoid dissipating same. You will say, "This is very simple," and "Everyone knows this," but I have seen a man, about to attempt a record lift, jump on his bicycle and ride a matter of 12 or 13 miles up and down hill, and through traffic to the gymnasium where the weight was to be lifted. Now this man must be dissipating, to a certain extent, part of his energy and tiring his leg muscles, so that he may lose just that amount of strength and energy which would have made the difference between failure and success. Further, to conserve energy, it behooves one not to continue practising when fatigued. Desist immediately you feel your strength rapidly leaving you. Then, after rest, you will be stronger for your practice, but if you go on, the next time you lift you will be disgusted to find that instead of growing stronger you are growing weaker, and rest is then the only remedy.

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

THE DEVELOPMENT OF PHYSICAL POWER - (Circa 1906) - Chapter 9 - Diet, Etc. - By Arthur Saxon

Compared with his less fortunate brothers who box and run, the lifter has no restrictions as to diet. The man who boxes requires good wind and staying power, he therefore has to carefully limit his allowance of liquid, and has to exercise great care in his selection of food stuffs, avoiding pastry, all starchy and sugary foods which would be dangerous to his wind. The weight-lifter can eat and drink almost anything, but, of course, if a little care be exercised in selecting the articles of diet it should be possible to replace the broken down tissue with less strain on the digestive organs, inasmuch as provided you get the right food stuffs, then you need no eat so much as if badly selected, which, of course, would be a saving as above indicated, on work for the digestive organs.

Milk is a perfect food, and a splendid drink, after practising, is an egg beaten up in milk, or a glass of hot milk. As a rule, the claims of patent or concentrated foods for the would-be strong should be taken cum grano salis. One preparation, however, which I can conscientiously recommend is that know as "Bovril." It is a fact that most leading athletes recommend Bovril, and nothing can be better either before or immediately after practice than a cup of hot Bovril. It prevents and dispels fatigue. Oatmeal and milk, too, is splendid for building up the muscular system, as well as cheese, beans and peas of all kinds which contain the necessary elements for renewing tissue. I am not a vegetarian, and therefore advise the use of beef, mutton, etc., etc.

Whilst on this subject I would say do not lift within one-and-a-hour of a meal. With regard to alcoholic liquors, I am not teetotal, yet I am aware of the dangers of drinking to excess, and would strongly urge on everyone the importance of moderation in drinking. Spirits I have proved to be disadvantageous to the would-be athlete, and my favourite drink is lager beer. Beer and stout should be amongst the alcoholic liquors the best drink for the weight-lifter, as they are better calculated to build up the physical powers than any spirit drink, such as whisky or brandy. If a man has been all his life teetotal, then my advice is to "stay so." It must be admitted that anyone who commences to take spirituous liquors in moderation, is at any rate running the risk of eventually succumbing, and drinking to excess. With regard to smoking, here too, I must plead guilty, I am not a non-smoker. As is, of course, true in regard to practically everything, excess in smoking is very injurious. Moderation in all things should be the motto.

The man who works hard requires more sleep than the man who wastes his day in idleness. To deny oneself sufficient sleep can only mean in the end a breakdown, so the man who performs feats of strength must see to it that he gets plenty of rest, plenty of fresh air, plenty of good nourishing food, that he avoids all excesses, takes a daily sponge down, is quick to appreciate any slight running off in form, and to apply the remedy - rest.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

THE DEVELOPMENT OF PHYSICAL POWER - (Circa 1906) - Chapter 8 - The Bugbear of Training: How to Avoid - By Arthur Saxon

I take it for granted that no one can enter into training for any sport, including weightlifting, and even practise for physical development only, without encountering monotony in training, which threatens to upset all schemes for daily exercise, throwing one back in one's work, especially as staleness makes its appearance. I, of course, am more directly concerned with weight-lifting exercises than with any other, but, no doubt when I have given my views as to how one may steadily progress, and at all times make some little advance, however slight, and overcome the bugbear of training, then it will be found possible, to adapt my hints to other forms of exercise.

In the first place, when you feel a little stale, yet, perhaps, not stale enough to make a total rest advisable, then when you lift, if you lift all weights, whether in practising feats or weight-lifting exercises, at such a poundage that they can be readily raised with ease and comfort, it will be found that your work is once more a pleasure, and shortly you may return to your usual poundage. The bugbear of training loses half its fearsome aspect to the tired athlete who has a lot at stake, and must continue at his work, if it be done in company with a friend or friends. There is nothing so fatiguing as the raising of iron weights time after time with no one to watch, no one to encourage, no one to advise - to express surprise at your improvement. To surprise and beat your friends is always and encouragement, and in practising with weights you cannot get the right positions unless you have an expert lifter to occasionally offer a hint.

Lifting, too, may become dangerous if practised by oneself, so you see the idea is to endeavour to make your training as much a pleasure as possible. If necessary, enter into little competitions with your friends. I had almost said a small bet would be an incentive to work, but I suppose I must include betting among the list of vices we human beings are apt to give way to, but this will not preclude one from a friendly competition occasionally in which points may be conceded, and lifts performed on handicap and competition lines.

Carefully adjust your work to your condition at the moment. Ask yourself each time you lift, "Am I in good form to-day?" If you feel yourself in good form - specially "fit" - then that is the time to try a "limit" lift. Note what you have raised that day - the weight and the date - and at another suitable time see if you can surpass your last record lift by a few points.

Such pleasant, invigorating and helpful aide to training as massage, towel friction, and sponge-down, are all direct helps in aiding you to continue constantly and persistently with the practice. Without regularity good results cannot be expected, yet immediately your mind, always questioning your condition, and ever ready to appreciate a weakness, tells you that you are stale, an immediate and entire rest is imperative. To go on when stale is to invite an entire breakdown.

I have known even nervous exhaustion to attend the misdirected efforts of the athlete who persists in hard training when he feels himself going to pieces through over-work. To try to work like a machine, knowing that ever at one's side stands the bugbear of training, ready to weaken one's resources through over-work, and bring about a breakdown, is the height of folly. Nature has given one an instinct which will make heard, with warning notes, the danger signal when over-fatigue threatens, and this signal should never be allowed to pass unnoticed.

Whilst on this subject, I would point out that the man of sedentary occupation can never hope to stand the same amount of physical work as regards weight-lifting as his fellow, who is a manual labourer, and whose muscles are daily tuned to mechanical labour, which drains the system least of any, whilst brain work is a constant and steady drain on the whole system, and it will, no doubt, surprise many to learn that the brain-worker is more likely to suffer from over-work than the man who, like myself, daily performs arduous feats which are purely muscular. When the brain-worker changes to physical work, he finds the change helpful, inasmuch as a change of work is as good as a rest, and, therefore, he will not, of course, regard the lifts he practices as work, but a pleasant pastime.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

THE DEVELOPMENT OF PHYSICAL POWER - (Circa 1906) - Chapter 7 - Routine of Training - By Arthur Saxon

With regard to the routine of training, I again repeat, my idea is not to develop muscle at the expense of either health or strength. It is really impossible for me to prescribe special exercises with fixed time limits for same, and fixed days for each individual who may read this book, as we are all possessed of different constitutions and staminal power, but roughly speaking it will be found correct in most instances to practice twice per week, and at such practices I advise that on each lift you commence with fairly light weights, and gradually increase the weight of same.

Taking the double-handed lift, if your lift is about 200 lbs., commence at 100 lbs, and with this light weight press overhead, then add 20 lbs., and press again, and so on, until you are compelled to jerk the weight. Proceed until you reach you limit then try another lift, say the snatch, commencing low and working up to your highest poundage. Surely this method of practice is better than to attempt, as most English weight-lifters do, their heaviest bell right off the reel, as possibly they fail, and then get in reality no practice at all, only making their position worse, instead of better. Of course, to practice this way, shot-loading bar-bells would be a nuisance. The most up-to-date bells on the market, in my opinion, are those supplied by Mr. T. Inch, of Broadway, Fulham, London, S. W. I understand a catalogue with full particulars will be sent on application. With the disc-loading bells one may have a weight as low as 20 lbs., or as high as 400 lbs. And one bell would be sufficient for any number of lifters. The same plates used on the long bar may also be used on short bars for dumb-bells.

Do not make the mistake of limiting your practices to any one set of lifts, such as the four know as the Amatuer Championship lifts. Practice everything - single and double-handed press in dumb-bells and bar-bells, snatching and swinging, jerking and pressing, lying down with weights, supporting weights, lifting weights whilst laid on the back, ring weights, human weights, and if possible, double-handed lifts to the knee, and harness lifts, also holding the bell aloft and bringing a weight after with the disengaged hand, and raising bells aloft by what is known as the Continental style of lifting, described in this book. Also anything else that may suggest itself to your mind, such as heavy weights at arm's length, raising bells overhead stood on end on the hand, juggling with weights by throwing them from hand to hand overhead, catching in the hollow of the arms, etc. A method of practice such as the above would not only bring into play every band and strap of muscle you possess, but give you a far better knowledge of all-round weight-lifting, and you could possibly obtain if you practiced three or four lifts only to the exclusion of all others. Also do not forget to use your left hand as well as your right.

On the days when you do not practice with heavy weights you might try a few movements with a heavy pair of dumb-bells from 10 to 30lbs. In weight, according to your strength and development. Add to this your favourite sports, such as cycling, wrestling, swimming, or what not, and the weight-lifting practices, and you should be doing quite sufficient work to not only keep you fit but to bring you to the op the tree if it so be that your naturally possessed of the right constitution and physique to enable you to carry out your ideas on these lines.

As explained elsewhere, in my opinion, if a man feels that he is not strong enough to go in for weight-lifting without previous training, he may first of all practice on a lighter scale, especially if he be very young, or having just undergone an illness, but when weight-lifting proper is commenced, then I contend it will be better to reserve all your strength and energy for your lifting, as to practice innumerable movements daily besides weight-lifting is to place a great strain on your vital and staminal powers, and if there be a collapse weight-lifting will be blamed instead of the more trying and wearing light exercises, which drain the system.

The advanced lifter would make his two practices per week suffice, he need not do even the heavy dumb-bell exercises I have referred to. I have not the facilities for handling correspondence, nor the time to instruct by post, therefore, to those who feel they would be safer in having individual instruction in matters pertaining to development and lifting, I would strongly advise a letter to Mr. Inch, for his book, "A Quick Route to Strength," with particulars as to terms. After long acquaintance with Mr. Inch, I will personally guarantee every satisfaction to all aspiring strong men who place themselves in his hands. He is quite correct in saying that such well-known lifters as Maspole, Bonnes, Deriaz, Wilhelm Turk, Sandow, and Hackenschmidt have all trained on lines he is now teaching ad adapting to the physique and stamina of each pupil who enrolls.

I do not suppose I need to lay emphasis upon the advantage of training in the open air rather than indoors, nor on the beneficial and cleansing effects of a cold sponge down, followed by a good rub, immediately after exercise.

Iron Nation
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Monday, June 13, 2011

THE DEVELOPMENT OF PHYSICAL POWER - (Circa 1906) - Chapter 6 - Weight in Relation to Lifting - By Arthur Saxon

I think the lifts performed by myself and my brothers, Hermann and Kurt, to say nothing of some splendid 10-stone weightlifters, in England, should prove that there is quite an erroneous idea with regard to weight in relation to lifting. The general idea is that the heavier the man the better he will lift, but with regard to this I would point out that everyone may not be a successful lifter any more than everyone may be a successful musician or poet. I have seen men weighing 18 stone who have practised weightlifting for a number of years, and whose best double-handed lift would be about 250 lbs. or 260 lbs. whilst Hermann and Kurt at 168 lbs. (12 stone), raise over 290 lbs. I consider myself quite heavy enough at 200 lbs. to meet any man in the world for the heavy weightlifting championship, all round lifting.

I am quite certain that the ordinary Physical Culturist, even the average weightlifter, does not know the correct places where one should look for power and development which would guarantee strength in lifting. In the ordinary way measurements are a most uncertain guide as to a man's probable powers in weightlifting. It is usual to compare the biceps, chest, thigh and calf measurements with the weight of the man, in an endeavour to find out on paper whether it is possible for him to lift such and such a weight which he claims he has lifted, and if the measurements are not satisfactory, the poor man is immediately put down as a perverter of the truth. If a man claimed to lift, we will say 280 lb. double-handed clean lift overhead, the ordinary Physical Culturist would look for a biceps measurement somewhere about 17 or 18 ins. at the lowest. It is quite wrong to endeavour to fix a man's ability by his measurements, also to gauge a man's strength from muscular photos. To prove this I would say that I have seen a 290 lb. bar-bell raised clean by my brother Kurt, when his biceps measurement was only 14-1/4 ins., and his weight 12 stone only.

I will now proceed to explain how a man should be examined for physical power in relation to weightlifting. In the first place a man may not have a surprisingly large upper arm, but he may have an enormously powerful deltoid muscle. When Kurt only measured 15-1/4 ins., he had tremendous development in the deltoids, and these muscles come strongly into play in raising weights not only overhead, but also to the shoulders, and, in fact, in all lifts. Therefore, examine a man here rather than the upper arm. He was also extremely strong in the back and in the legs, therefore examine the muscle known as the spinus erectae, and also the thigh muscles.

If a man should only measure 22 or 23 inches round the thigh do not condemn him as being light in the leg because you have heard that another strong man measures 27 or 28 ins. Examine the thigh just above the knee. Here some powerful muscles are situated which are not measured in measuring the thigh, and one man with a light thigh on paper may in reality have a much stronger pair of legs than another man with a much larger thigh, but who has not the strength I refer to just above the knee.

Still further a man is handicapped who has small and weak wrists, although he may have a tremendous development elsewhere. Therefore a man with 15 in. biceps and a strong wrist will raise a heavier weight in any position than another man with a 16 in. biceps who has a small and weak wrist. Bone and sinew strength count for much in weightlifting, and all the above points, you will admit, cannot be taken into consideration in considering a man's measurements on paper, nor in studying muscular photographs.

I have gone thoroughly into this question because some lifters have said that I and my brothers are not large enough, or heavy enough, to perform the lifters that we claim. If we were examined along with other strong men, I do not think we should, after all, be found undersized compared with our fellow strong men, especially in bone girth, and in development of certain muscles most useful in lifting, but which many lifters have not properly developed. In photographs we may not appear to such advantage as some professional strong men who make a special business of posing before the camera. One prominent strong man, I have heard, spends nearly two hours each time he has his photo taken, in his dressing room, preparing himself for the ordeal of the camera, and I believe artificial means are often adopted to exaggerate the muscular development. For instance, by use of a burnt cork, abdominal development may be accentuated to a surprising degree. Now, I do not bother with such trickery, yet I know quite well my measurements are at every point larger than the strong man I have in mind.

Then, again, must be considered the important factor of energy and speed. If you saw a photograph and read the measurements of an 18 stone lifter, you would naturally expect him to raise more than another man of only 12 stone, but you cannot tell from a photograph of from measurements what energy and speed the big man is possessed of. A number of heavy men are quite slow in their movements, and too lazy to do the hard work which constant practice leads to. Often they lift in a half-hearted fashion, and although they raise heavy weights, yet there is no reason why, in most positions, a 12 stone man, possessed of terrific energy and great speed and endurance, should not approach and even beat the heavy man.

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

THE DEVELOPMENT OF PHYSICAL POWER - (Circa 1906) - Chapter 5 - What Sports Help Weightlifting and How - By Arthur Saxon

I am not so narrow-minded as to say that if you take up weightlifting you should practise it to the exclusion of all else. There is no reason whatever why you should stop practising your favourite sport or pastime, indeed there are several such which are a distinct aid to the weightlifter. Take cycling--Here we have a pastime which gives strength to the legs, a most important part in weightlifting; especially in double-handed lifting is the need for good development felt. If you take such sports as boxing, tennis, fencing, golf etc., where quickness is necessary, even these help the lifter, provided they are not overdone, as the ability to move quickly is by no means invaluable in weightlifting. All outdoor sports should be beneficial, inasmuch as they get one into the open air, and help one keep generally fit.

It must be taken into consideration that a weightlifter lifts not only by possession of large muscles, for it is possible with comparatively small muscles to raise a heavy weight by pure energy. Outdoor work helps to develop this energy, and such sports as wrestling, swimming, walking etc., etc. keep the muscles in order, and give enduring strength which stands the lifter in good stead if he has to make a number of attempts at any given lift. At the same time, there are few sports which develop the right kind of muscle for lifting. Therefore, it does not necessarily follow that a man who has obtained good physical development from any sport will excel without training in weightlifting, even when a position for test be chosen where sheer strength alone can avail.

To prove this I may say I have tested many wrestlers of splendid physique, and, for wrestling, possessed of enormous strength, but they could not raise heavy weights. You see, wrestling calls into play rather different muscles from weightlifting. Perhaps it will not give good triceps, therefore I should not expect a man like Madrali to be good at a double-handed press overhead from the shoulder, body erect, the back against the wall, although I should expect him to raise a heavy weight from the floor, where the back and legs come prominently into play.

Weightlifting is better training for wrestling, to my mind, as far as the muscles are concerned, than wrestling is for weightlifting. I may say that some of the best wrestlers in the world were weightlifters before they were wrestlers, and have found their development and strength of great use in wrestling, and this development and strength was gained by weightlifting. The best instance I can point to is Georges Hackenschmidt.

No man can expect to be an all-round champion, and if your favourite sport is weightlifting, then only practise the different sports you are interested in as a means to an end, the end to be weightlifting. Do not make them an end in themselves, as if you did then it would probably be advisable to adopt quite a different system of training with weights. You would have to use light weights and do quite different exercises. Heavy weightlifting is good for wrestling; it would also be good training for throwing the weight, and, perhaps, for putting the shot, also for gymnastic work, but it would not be good for boxing, that is if you wished to be a champion boxer.

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Saturday, June 11, 2011

THE DEVELOPMENT OF PHYSICAL POWER - (Circa 1906) - Chapter 4 - My Views on Light Exercise - By Arthur Saxon

As an expert on matters relating to weightlifting, to which I have devoted a considerable number of years of hard study, I expect my readers to look to me more for instruction as to raising weights and training with weights for weightlifting, than for particulars as to light training with primarily in view the betterment of health of the development of muscle. I think there are already a sufficient number of professors of Physical Culture who have given a sufficiency of information on this point, without my attempting to add to the already numerous systems of Home Training, but no doubt many will be interested to hear my views on the subject of light exercises in relation to weightlifting.

In the first place I would say that if you must use dumb-bells for daily training, use heavy ones with fewer repetitions rather than light bells with numerous repetitions. If you use a chest expander use a goodly number of strands and few movements, as above. There are quite a number of chest expanders and wall-exercisers on the market, but my experience is that work with rubber exercisers does not develop the right kind of muscles for weightlifting. A chest expander should be better for weightlifting than a wall-exerciser, but it seems reasonable to expect that if your main idea is eventually to succeed in weightlifting, that as you have to lift iron weights it will be better to practise with iron weights, and the heavier the weights the better.

Further, a man of 10 stone who has practised weightlifting and is in good hard condition, would perhaps find it beneficial to use about 15 or 17 lbs. in either hand, at least, and to do a series of useful exercises similar to the positions practised in heavy weightlifting properr, say six or seven times each hand. This might be done with advantage perhaps twice per day, except when practising with weights, on which days no other exercises need be taken. From the above it will be gathered that, in my opinion, when a man has got a good development and takes to weightlifting, he will be wise to drop all his light exercises, and reserve the energy and nervous power such exercises would eat up, for weightlifting.

To such as have in view the improvement of health of development of muscle only, I have nothing to say, as any system of light training will improve such, and for health no doubt light dumb-bell work and any rubber appliance is good, especially for the business man to whom weightlifting probably would not appeal, and who would find it dangerous perhaps to start on a course of weightlifting without previous training. Therefore, I admit that in the case of a man who has the least suspicion of internal weakness or a weak constitution, it is absolutely essential that a preliminary course of light exercise be gone through with the object of strengthening the body and preparing all round for the harder work involved in weightlifting. Also, if a man has attained say the age of 35, and wishes to practise with weights, if out of condition, he, too, would be safe-guarded by first practising light dumb-bell work, or even, perhaps, some of the many free movements which are so largely advocated to-day. But at the same time I would say that the man who knows himself to be already constitutionally sound and internally perfect, with good physical development, should not waste time in light exercises of any description, but go right on to weightlifting, of course, practising at first with such weights as could be lifted with ease and comfort.

Club swinging is a form of light exercise which is of no use to the would-be strong man, as it stretches and makes supple the muscles rather than develops them with increased contractile power. Some will say that light exercises are essential if you would retain and improve your speed and quickness, and that weightlifting makes a man slow. I would say in reply that the man who wishes to be a champion weightlifter is not likely to wish to be also a champion runner, tennis player or boxer, any more than the boxer, tennis player, or runner has any desire to be a weightlifter. Beyond this I affirm that weightlifting does not have the deleterious effect on the muscles that certain well-known writer claims. No one has put in more practise with weights than I have, yet I am not considered slow. I am not a boxer, but I am a wrestler, and I believe in a wrestling match with the gentleman in question, I could quickly convince him of the above fact. However this may be, I will say that weightlifting may be practised with benefit not only to the physique and to the health, but that it is an interesting sport which has been the subject of many attacks in the public press from so-called authorities on hygiene and health, which have been quite unwarranted, and to which I am pleased to say the sport of weightlifting has not succumbed.

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Friday, June 10, 2011

THE DEVELOPMENT OF PHYSICAL POWER - (Circa 1906) - Chapter 3 - On Strength - By Arthur Saxon

The usual idea about strength--I mean the idea of the average reader of health magazines--is generally a wrong one. Although a weightlifter (and weightlifters are supposed to be very narrow-minded in their views on this subject), I hope that I, personally, am broad-minded enough to recognise that a man does not prove himself an all-round strong man just because he is able to lift a heavy weight, especially when the weight is lifted once only. The following is my diagnosis of real strength:

Genuine strength should include not only momentary strength, as proved by the ability to lift a heavy weight once, but also the far more valuable kind of strength known as strength for endurance. This means the ability, if you are a cyclist, to jump on your machine and ride 100 miles at any time without undue fatigue; if a wrestler, to wrestle a hard bout for half an hour with a good man without a rest, yet without becoming exhausted and reaching the limit of your strength.

Apart from sports, enduring strength means that the business man shall stand, without a break-down, business cares and worries, that he shall be capable, when necessary, of working morning, afternoon and night with unflagging energy, holding tightly in his grasp the reins of business, retaining all the while a clear mind and untiring energy, both of body and brain.

The man who can miss a night's rest or miss a meal or two without showing any ill effect or without losing any physical power, is better entitled to be considered a strong man than the man who is only apparently strong, being possessed of momentary strength, which is, after all, a muscle test pure and simple.

In the latter case, where a man raises, once only, a heavy weight, all that he proves himself to possess is muscular control and great contractile power, but this does not guarantee sound internal organs, nor does it prove that a man would come out well in an endurance test. The man capable of long feats of endurance should live longest, and such a man will find his powers of more avail in every-day life than the man who has sacrificed vital strength for an extra few eighths of an inch of muscle, and perhaps the ability to raise a few pounds more in a certain position in a weightlifting test.

I think the above will cause some of my critics, perhaps, to admit that after all I have broad-minded views on this important question, i.e., "What is real strength?" therefore, if a weightlifting competition were held, I should like to see quite a number of lifts attempted, as is the method on the Continent, and to see each man go on with the lifting without too many opportunities for rest, so that we should not only ascertain who is possessed of greatest momentary strength but also who is possessed of the enduring strength as well, and it is a combination of these two which makes real strength.

Neither do I consider a man a really strong man if he is in certain parts developed out of proportion to others. If a man has tremendous arms and chest and weak legs then he is only half a strong man. If he should have strong legs and arms and weak lungs or a weak heart, then again he is by no means entitled to be called a strong man, and some day the inevitable breakdown will occur which will cause carping critics, always ready to attack Physical Culture, to point to such a broken-down athlete and say: "Here is a proof of the harm done by Physical Culture and weightlifting," the cause really being that this man has not properly understood Physical Culture, and has developed one part at the expense of another. So you see that if a thorough examination could be made of all so-called "strong men" before the public, we should probably find that only one in twenty is really deserving of the name of "strong man."

Now, dear reader, we come to the question of "How shall real strength be obtained?" and this question, I think, is fully answered in such chapters as "The Bugbear of Training," "Routine of Training," etc. in this book.

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