Sunday, October 30, 2022

Building Yourself into a Warrior, and a happy one at that - By David Sedunary

“First a warrior, or all else is folly”

I first heard this engrossing quotation from my late friend and mentor, Bradley J Steiner. Bradley Steiner said “No one is born a warrior; they are in the final analysis self-made. Some people are it is true, born with great physical strength and natural athletic sharpness. However great an advantage to a warrior as inherited physical capacities may be, such capacities do not make or guarantee the warriors mindset and the ultimate fighting abilities and spirit of the one so fortunate to be blessed at birth with these advantages.”

Bob Whelan often says to me “David you are a happy warrior! Become a happy warrior, David!" No one is born a warrior. “This to me means as an individual you decide upon your allegiances, and you stand by them, and you remain steadfast even when the worst threat arises to endanger that which you have given your allegiance to. And you will then fight and remain unyielding, no matter the danger, and no matter the cost to yourself.

I have an allegiance to improving my health, strengthening my body, expanding my knowledge, and improving myself spiritually. I remain steadfast and stick to my goals, regardless of whatever threats or negatives come my way. I will then fight and remain unrelenting, no matter the danger, and no matter the cost to myself. Because of the hardships I have had as many have had themselves, this way of being and becoming a Happy Warrior is the answer to health, strength, and wellbeing.

Many mentors my father, Bob Whelan, Bradley Steiner have taught me to be a warrior, which has come about by seeking knowledge from these mentors’ others and applying it and be so damn determined to never give up attaining it. When one becomes strong mentally as well as physically you can manage anything and anyone that comes your way. You have done the work under the iron and strengthened your mind mentally as well as spiritually and have a strong mindset. Even when you repeat it yourself “I AM A HAPPY WARRIOR” you get a sense of strength and well-being.

Audie Murphy, the most decorated combat soldier of World War two, recipient of the medal of honor, failed the physical examination for the US Marine Corps. He enlisted instead in the Army, and would never have been accepted in airborne school, were it not for his appeal to a commanding officer, who agreed to give him a chance. Murphy was "under par".

The legendary William Wallace, Scotland’s great warrior leader and hero, was not a military man. He was a simple, typical young working man, who simply wished to live an uneventful, normal life until he realized that only by defeating an aggressive enemy would he ever have the opportunity to live as he wished. Note with great interest that none of the above real warriors present a tough guy image or aggressive appearance.

A split second’s reflection should reveal to any honest person how and why such a mindset and attitude as the warriors is all but required, to live, and to protect and preserve that and whom one loves and values, in a dangerous feral world. Take some time and think about that which is of great and irreplaceable value to you in your life, your strength, your health mental and spiritual, your freedom your dignity, those you love. 

When you train remember that if you avoid in your efforts or relent in your resolve, you are letting yourself down and those you love. Make yourself into a warrior. Not the kind of mindless warrior who serves a master or a ruler, the kind who lives for and serves that which is of pivotal importance and value to himself.


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Wednesday, October 26, 2022

The Miraculous Strength & Influence Of Louis Cyr - By James Athanasiou

It's hard to comprehend the level of strength and potential Louis Cyr forced the world to witness. Since his strongman debut, he never stopped pushing the boundaries of what was thought impossible. Today, we're diving into the rise, the glory, the unique assets and the unfortunate end of a legend.

1: The Early Life: Standing Out Already

One could argue that his genetic gifts were apparent even before he was born, since his mother was a tremendous 6'1'' 265lbs woman.  Born as Cyprien-Noé Cyr in 1863, in Quebec Canada, he was forced to exploit his strength through a very early labor at both a lumber unit and his family's farm. It was this exposure to manual labor that allowed the world to witness his already outstanding feats.

During that stage, Cyprien had two great influences in his life. He was first inspired to follow the training principles of the ancient Greek athlete Milo, who carried a bull on his back at a young age, discovering for progressive overload as both he and the bull grew up together. 

However, due to an unprecedented incident with his calf, Cyprien was forced to use a sandback progressively loaded by 2lbs each day. His mother's admiration for his feats led to his association with Samson, the biblical character who possesses superhuman strength through his long hair. Sampson would carry on the legacy of Sampson, alongside his long hair.

Having left school at an early age to work in a lumber camp within the winter and in his father's farm the rest of the year, Louis had all the time to experiment with animals and objects to increase his strength rapidly. For instance, at age 14 he moved 15 bushes of grain for a total of 900lbs for 15ft.

A year later, Cyprien lifted a farmer's heavy loaded wagon, attracting enough publicity to get him a shot at competing with Canada's strongest man, a strongman he ended up beating at just age 17, weighing a full 230lbs. After his family moved to Massachusetts in 1878, the now named Louis had the chance to further develop his talent.

2: The Dawn Of The Strongman Era

5 years after his first strongman encounter, Louis would make his official debut in Boston, lifting a fully grown male horse off the floor. Although he met great success whenever he competed, his main occupations varied over time, since his profits from strongman were very little in the early stages of his lifting.

In 1882, he worked as a logger. Then he switched careers, enrolling as a police officer for 3 years. He landed the job by carrying two knife fight participants to the police station. Even though he was initially turned away for being thought of as too heavy, Louis beat the majority of them in a foot race, despite weighing around 290lbs.

Although many of his lifts became exaggerated over the years, there were witnesses to some incredible feats that stand unbeatable to this day. Some of which include:

  • Lifting a platform with 18 men standing on top on his back for a total weight of over 4,300lbs (his most famous feat)

  • Lifting 534lbs with just one finger

  • Lifting a 514lbs rock off the ground to his shoulder, aged only 19

  • Lifting 273lbs in the Bent Press, beating Eugen Sandow's record by 2lbs

  • Resisting the pull of four draught horses, a feat he would perform publicly many times during his career

3. The Mythical Size Of Louis

There's been great debate on the numbers that are mentioned. However, they are an important testament to Louis's superhuman build. In 1985, he was measured by a Harvard professor, putting up the following numbers:

  • Height: 5ft 8.5inch

  • Weight: 291 lbs

  • Neck: 20 inches

  • Biceps: 20 inches

  • Forearms: 16 inches

  • Wrists: 8 inches

  • Chest: 55 inches (normal), 60 inches (expanded)

  • Waist: 47 inches

  • Hips: 48 inches

  • Thighs: 28.5 inches

  • Knees: 17 inches

  • Calves: 19 inches

These already incredible measurements were said to have increased by up to 20% and his weight by up to 70lbs in his late 40s. He never weighed in lighter than 270, in contrast to his wife who never surpassed 100lbs. 

4. The Rise To Fame

By the time he got married, Louis began arranging tours all over Canada and America. His first tour in the Maritimes ended up producing zero profit for him. During his officer years, he teamed up with a boxer and a wrestler and a weightlifter.

His next competition came in 1886, where he would go on to become the strongest man in Canada. Perhaps his greatest appeal to the public was within Britain, where at one time, during his London debut in the Royal Aquarium, 5,000 people, including many celebrities, gathered to watch his feats. The side wager that night was £1000 ( equivalent to about around $100k as of today ). In Montreal, 10,000 people witnessed him performing the iconic four horse pull.

Like every other strongman of this era, his displays varied, including some wrestling matches to feed the public's interest. He learned the techniques to face Édouard Beaupré in 1901, a giant of a man at a height of 8ft 3inch. Both men weighed in exactly 365lbs, with Louis being the decisive winner.

Throughout his career, he faced off and humbled many great athletes, including Cyclops, Sebastian Miller and Richard Pennell. He never managed to compete with Eugen Sandow, as Sandow became very picky of his opponents after suffering an early loss to McCann. People were so eager to see such a contest that a genuine diamond studded belt was to be offered to the winner.

5. The Exciting Persona Of Louis

As the years went on, Louis embraced the identity of the "Strongest Man On Earth" more than anything. He was fueled by the crowd's astonishment, eager to present the world with more and more unique feats.

Rumors say that during a meeting of his with the Queen of England at the Buckingham Palace, Louis attempted to impress her by digging his heels into a, certainly expensive, red carpet and ripping it in two with ease. 

Like many of the strongmen in his era, Louis was also a charismatic showman. Conducting numerous tours with his family and his brother Pierre around Europe, Canada, USA and Britain from 1888 to 1897. Having already developed his own circus in Canada by 1994, his team would provide spectacular shows for five consecutive years.

He never once backed down from a challenge, oftentimes battling titans of strength with favorable terms for them - still coming out on top. When he didn't lift horses or dozens of men in carts and platforms, he would spend his time quietly working a regular job, either as a tavern owner, a police officer or a laborer. Truly a humble man, Louis let his actions speak louder than any words.

6. The Downfall Of Samson

Sadly, the very thing that enhanced his already surreal abilities ended up causing him irreplaceable damage. His eating habits led to a rapid health decline in 1904. During that era, he had to cut down from 400lbs just to compete at his last ever contest, retaining his title till the very end.

In Montreal 1912, Louis Cyr passed away due to chronic nephritis. Great homage was paid by people all over the world, particularly from his homeland of Canada. In Montreal, Parc Louis Cyr and Place des Homme-Forts are named after him, while statues of his have been scattered throughout Quebec and his parks.

The story of Louis is that of a man who pursued what was natural to him. Never backing down from challenges, always pushing his body's potential. It's truly a miracle when an athlete gets to unleash his potential the way Louis Cyr chose to do.

I urge everyone to push harder on his training in honor of Louis, perhaps the strongest man ever gifted to Earth. Just keep a reminder on how your journey is more like a marathon's runner rather than that of a sprinter. Don't try to rush through things, respect the weight and dedicate time to listening to your body's needs. I wish everyone Strength and fulfillment through your training, thank you for sticking till the end.

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Monday, October 10, 2022

Bill Pearl: A Workout and Memories - By Jim Duggan

     Last month, when I heard the news of the passing of bodybuilding legend Bill Pearl on September 14, my first thought was that the Iron Game has lost another legend.  My second reaction was to look back twenty-seven years ago to the Spring of 1995, when I had the good fortune to have met the legendary Mr. Pearl.

     It was at the Club Industry trade show, which was being held in Manhattan.  I went there with Drew Israel and several other members of Iron Island Gym.  There were several “Iron Celebrities,” including two former World’s Strongest Man winners, a former world champion powerlifter, and a well-known former Mr. Universe.  They were there representing various exercise equipment companies and, in that capacity, they would meet and greet the crowds of people who attended the trade show.  Just about all of them were friendly, approachable, and willing to spend time with the attendees, with one notable exception.  The former Mr. Universe, who had been very popular during the 1979s and early 1980s ( thanks to his popular television show), was a big disappointment.  Instead of being friendly to those who had stopped by his booth, he actually had the nerve to charge people for his autograph.  All while being compensated by the company he was representing!  We all walked away thinking the same thing:  What an incredible jerk!

     Fortunately Bill Pearl was nearby to restore our faith in human nature.  He was there as a representative of a company that produced weight training machines.  Naturally, we knew who he was and wanted to speak to him and ask questions.  He couldn’t have been nicer.  After spending what seemed like a long time speaking to a bodybuilding legend in the flesh, I walked away with two thoughts uppermost in my mind.  One, was that Bill Pearl looked great.  He was nearly sixty-five at the time, but he looked at least twenty years younger.  Lean and still muscular, he was very impressive looking.  The other thing I remember was that his reputation as one of the true gentlemen of the Iron Game was well-founded.  He patiently answered our questions, and as you can probably imagine, we had many questions to ask.  Naturally, we asked him if he was still training in the early hours of the morning, and he answered that he still, indeed, woke up at 3:00 A.M. to lift weights.  Talk about motivation!

     I’m not going to go into detail about his many accomplishments because any serious fan of the Iron Game should be familiar with Mr. Pearl and all he has done.  And if you’re not then take a moment to research one of the truly remarkable figures in the world of weights.  While you’re at it, if you can get your hands on any of the books he has written, by all means do so.  The most notable of his books is the seminal “Keys to the Inner Universe,” which was written about forty years ago.  You will not find a more detailed, comprehensive book on real bodybuilding anywhere.  What is interesting is that you do not necessarily have to be a bodybuilder to appreciate this remarkable book.  Anyone who has an interest in lifting weights could benefit from Mr. Pearl’s masterpiece.

     Long before “Keys to the Inner Universe” came out, Mr. Pearl published a series of articles in Strength and Health magazine.  In 1953, after winning the Mr. America and Mr. Universe titles, he wrote his first article for Bob Hoffman’s flagship magazine in November of 1953.  He would write several more articles for Strength and Health, and I’m glad to have back issues from that period of time.  As I’ve often stated, quality strength information is timeless, and this a casual glance through his articles would confirm this fact.  

     The March 1954 edition of S &H has an article titled “Conditioning the Body for Wrestling,” by Mr. Pearl.  Among his many other strength training feats, Mr. Pearl was also a champion wrestler in High School and also while serving in the U.S. Navy.  I decided to write about this article because the program he utilized can be easily adopted by any person seeking to get bigger and stronger.  

     The salient point that he makes in describing the program is the fact that the exercises he recommends are “mostly for the large muscle groups with some specialization on the legs and grip.”  Heavy weights are encouraged with good form being maintained.  Do not cheat on the exercises.  Any person who lifts weights would be wise to adhere to this philosophy and encourage others to do the same.  

     The exercises that make up the program are well-known to most readers, but there is one minor exception.  Instead of full squats, half-squats are substituted.  A minor alteration, and if you insist on doing full squats I’m sure there will be no negative repercussions.  

     There is only one exercise in his program that I do not recommend, and that’s the “Wrestler’s Bridge Pullover and Press.”  My personal preference would be to use a HeadStrap or a four-way neck machine if you have access to one.  Most people do not know how to bridge properly, and even if you do, I think it is inherently safer to use one of the other methods to train the neck.  I always think back to Dr. Ken and the fact that he would always advise against the use of bridging movements.  

     So, here is Mr. Pearl’s workout program to strengthen your body for wrestling:


Chins   3 Sets of 7-10 Reps

Half-Squat    3 Sets of 10 Reps


Barbell Rowing    3 Sets of 10

Barbell Curl     3 Sets of 10

Deadlifts    2 Sets of 10

     If I were to make any changes to this program, I would probably perform the Deadlifts either before or right after the squats.  The sets of ten reps will build conditioning as well as strength.  Remember, this program was intended for wrestling, so if you’re after maximal strength then you could lower the reps.  But if you’re a beginner, or if you’re coming back after a layoff, then the higher reps are an excellent way to build basic strength and at the same time allow your body time to recuperate.  Additionally, you may have to limit yourself to one Deadlift session per week so as to prevent your lower back and hips from being overworked.  

     Sometimes it is beneficial to look to the past to rediscover what works.  Unfortunately, for many of us, the only time we look back is upon reflection when a legendary figure passes away.  Men like Norbert Schemansky, Tommy Kono, Marvin Eder, Bruno Sammartino, and Bill Pearl have left us in the last several years.  While they may no longer be with us, their ideas and their inspiration will be with us always.

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Wednesday, October 5, 2022

The Incredible Life And Impact Of Eugen Sandow - By James Athanasiou

It is no miracle that strength training and its impact on body proportions has been greatly altered over the years. We have come to an era where physical fitness and weightlifting  are recognized and pursued by millions worldwide.

It is a miracle, however, how one man could have almost single handedly been responsible for this turn of events. Whether you've heard of him before or not, there is never enough to be said about this generational icon. 

Today, we're diving into the incredible life and achievements of Eugen Sandow, the man that shaped a century Bodybuilding and Strongman and continues to pose as a positive role model even to this day. You never know how you may find yourself related to this legend's journey. 

1. The Boy Before Sandow:

He was born in 1867 by the name of Friedrich Wilhelm Müller, in a family of Jewish origin in Prussian Königsberg. His family's plans early on in his life were in favor of him becoming a Lutheran minister, but a trip to Italy would entirely change the trajectory of his life.

The remarkable sculptures portraying the epitome of male development ignited young Friedrich's passion for Bodybuilding at just 10 years of age, a passion that had nothing to do with his parents' influence. It wouldn't take long before his rejection of others' plans on his life would force him into a tough decision.

2. The Birth Of The Legend:

In 1885, the now 18 year old Friedrich knew very well that he would have to respond to the Military's call. Unwilling to settle, he turned off the call by fleeing his country the same year. Despite knowing nothing of what he was going to face afterwards, he didn't look back.

His wandering around Europe eventually landed him a job as a Circus athlete and showman. It was there that his new identity was forged. For the rest of his life, he would be known as Eugen Sandow, a name that was directly altered from his mother's originally Russian name "Sandov".

3. The First Encounter With Weightlifting:

During the early stages of his Strongman career, he visited the gym of a fellow named Ludwig Durlacher, better known as "Professor Attila" in Brussels. It was in this training that Eugen's talent in strength was first recognized. Attila offered to mentor Eugen, an opportunity that would turn out to start an entire era of incredible feats and life changing impact.

And while Eugen's the main character of this article, it would be a disgrace to Professor Attila's incredible impact if his life went unmentioned. Born in 1884 in Karlsruhe Germany, he got a taste of lifting training early in his life thanks to the Italian strongman Felice Napoli.

Ludwig would build up a strongman career, touring all over Europe and performing remarkable feats. His true talent, however, relied on his ability to coach and get the best out of everyone he trained. Attila wisely built on this gift, becoming the equivalent to our modern day "personal coach" for the elite of his era. He would go on to open his series of gyms, one of which landed him the opportunity to train Sandow.

As of 1889, he was ready to officially travel to London and compete in his first strongman competition, a debut that would matk his dominance and spark people's interest.

4. The Remarkable Feats That Marked The Name Sandow:

With little access to modern-style weights, the old school strongmen used feats that included daily activities in order to display strength that captivated ordinary people's attention. Lifting and moving horses, using one's body to bear tremendous amounts of weight or grip tests in various ways were all very common.

One of Eugen's most incredible feats of strength that earned him a great deal of publicity in the early days was him strolling around cities, breaking grip strength machines with the sheer strength of his arm. When he was inducted to the police center for violation of property, rumors say he displayed his incredible grip strength by single handedly lifting an officer overhead.

However, this would be nothing compared to his competition with Charles Sampson and Cyclops in London. The former was a master in grip related strength feats, while the latter specialized in making heavy weights move. One night, the two strongmen challenged people for money, seeking someone who could match their strength. Unfortunately for them, that night Eugen stepped on the stage. 

Dressed up in normal clothing, everyone mocked him. This was until he ripped them off, revealing his outstanding muscular frame in his show suit. To everyone's disbelief, he matched all previous performances, gasping the whole public's sympathy and making the short tempered Sampson jump around shouting.

There are many other remarkable feats of Sandow, both known and unknown. Perhaps the one that displayed his superb strength in the most functional way was his wrestling match with an actual lion during one of his trips to America.

The event was held in public display, where it was agreed that the lion would be unable to use its nails or bite Sandow. Under those conditions, Eugen opted to test in the waters before the show, which ended up in a ferocious battle before the actual battle. Despite being knocked down once or twice, he stood up and eventually established his lead. When it came time for the actual show, the lion backed off from Sandow, shocked by the power it had witnessed.

5. The Rise And Life Of The Superstar

His full of exciting and innovative exposure to the public transcended him beyond the spectrum of any other celebrity of the Victorian and Edwardian times. His house in London is living proof of his status, a marvelous piece of construction attainable to the elites of society, far out of reach for most celebrities. 

He married Blanche Brooks, daughter of the well known photographer Warwick Brooks in 1896. Around most places of the world, he was held as an idol, the embodiment of peak human potential and aesthetics. Unfortunately, many circumstances that were to follow would not allow Sandow to remain happily ever after.

6. The Impact On Bodybuilding:

What really separated Sandow from all other strongmen of this era was his incorporation of muscle displays, where he would publicly pose and let people witness his advanced physique. This all started with the suggestion of Flo Ziegfeld, where they developed a pioneering exploitation of light, much like modern day bodybuilders.

The worldwide attention of these stage appearances, alongside Eugen's charisma and personality really inspired people to take better care of their bodies. He also proved that there was room for entrepreneurship to take place in the field of strength and muscle building.

These muscle displays became engraved in many cultures, so much so that a film of his by the Edison Studios in 1894 stands as one of the oldest films ever recorded. To further expose the natural aesthetics he acquired, Eugen would often pose off stage, recreating famous artwork from ancient times or even his own sculpture and paintings.

Had it not been for Sandow's efforts to make muscle building and displaying a universally acceptable and highly desirable pursuit, our modern culture of strength training and overall physical improvement might have never existed.

7. The Transition To Eugen's Career:

Through his world fame, Eugen proved that there was room for entrepreneurship to take place in the field of strength and muscle building. Occasionally, he would capitalize on the opportunity to make money from his influence. This resulted in the fine invention of the Sandow Dumbbells, a grip strengthening and muscle building tool that quickly rose into fame.

While his inventor days were short lived, his writing work was truly impactful. Sandow's magazine forums that illustrated practical workouts and tips really raised awareness on the matter of personal fitness. His book "Strength and How to Obtain It" was a five edition breakthrough that belonged in everyone's bookshelf.

Later on, he followed up by opening the institute of Physical Culture, a place where he helped everyone willing to train to acquire a physique like his. This would scale up to a franchise of schools and thousands of training programs sent to people with mails all around the world.

Eventually, however, this pursuit of making himself into a brand led to his demise. Him getting involved in the food industry by managing his own cocoa manufacturing brand required an enormous capital. The war broke out and his persecution followed right after.

8. The End Of The Journey

At just 58 years old, a terrible incident would mark the end of a Champion and the beginning of his legacy. One day, one of his cars fell into a ditch. In an attempt to get it back to the road, Eugen returned home with a sharp headache. This was the only warning he ever received, as he inexplicably passed away after quite some time in 1925. The cause still remains unknown.

Despite the fact that he lifted weights and remained in great condition for his entire life, father time and the plethora of disappointing events during the last few years took their toll on Sandow. Perhaps it was this rupture with his family, becoming estranged with his wife and daughters that led to this disgrace. It was thanks to some friends of his erecting a small monument that allowed for his memory to be preserved

9. Why The Name Eugen Sandow Stands Tall To This Day

A man is both honored by his deeds and the character he portrays. Without both, one cannot become great. Eugen showed tremendous physical prowess throughout all stages of his life, but so did many others.

It was his well rounded approach to strength and weight training, alongside the good use of his international fame to affect the lives of millions. Such is the generational power of the gift Eugen Sandow offered to this world.

The man was just about 5'9, weighing at around 185 pounds. Dressed up in casual clothes, he would look just like any other person passing by. He had to work his entire life to change people's perceptions in the matter of fitness and beauty, a pursuit that even resulted in him sacrificing the growth and fulfillment of many pillars in his life.

Such is the way of Strongman. It's not about the number of weight lifted, but more so about the weight you can bear during the journey to your destination. I hope that everyone reading this can see his own hopes and values being shaped by the marvelous figure of Eugen Sandow, a genuine All Time Great.

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