Challenge Barbells

by Al Myers

John Conner, of the Dino Gym, lifts the Dino Gym's Challenge Barbell. This Challenge Barbell weighs 585 pounds and has a 2.5" diameter handle. When John did this - he deadlifted it for three reps!!

Every gym or club should have a Challenge Barbell.  There is nothing as inviting as a heavy, already fix-loaded barbell that just sits in the corner of a gym just daring someone to lift it!  The lifting of a Challenge Barbell becomes an issue of pride among gym members – everyone wants to be part of “the list” of those who have succeeded. It gives great motivation to those who haven’t yet – and inspires their training to keep improving, until the day comes when they are successful in lifting the Challenge Barbell.  The overwhelming sense of accomplishment is felt when a Challenge Barbell is lifted – knowing that you have have overcome the challenge laid out in front of you.

Most Old Time Strongmen had some sort of Challenge Barbell or Challenge Dumbbell that they would use in their show acts. It usually was specifically made to emphasize their strength in a particular lift. They would flaunt this Challenge to other strongmen – and when others would fail with it give themselves a “pat on the back” and proclaim themselves as the strongest!!  Often these Challenge Barbells would be made in a way that made them difficult to lift without practice on them – thus giving the owner a tremendous advantage. Most Challenge Barbells were poorly balanced, or had hand spacings that weren’t optimal for other lifters.

I am going to be doing stories about several Challenge Barbells of famous Old Time Strongmen over the next few weeks. If anyone has a Challenge Barbell in their gym or club, please send me the details and I will run the story of it right here, in the USAWA Daily News.

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