DIY Pinch Bar

by Roger LaPointe

Sig Klein and the Pinch Grip.

Grip strength training is nothing new folks. Check out the photo of Sig Klein using a home made pinch grip bar.

Get yourself a nice 4 x 4 beam of wood, sink in a pair of eye hooks and you use that to lift your barbell. Slice up your beam to other thicknesses to work the grip with other sizes. Personally, I find a little stain and poly on mine makes it a nicer looking tool, but that’s really unnecessary. Here are some exercises for your grip with your new Wooden Pinch Bar.

Try these out for size:
Reverse Curls
One Hand Deadlifts
Two Hand Deadlifts
Bent Over Rows
Pinching From the Ends
Wrist Curls
Hack Lifts

That should give you enough to try out and fry your hands. If you want more ideas, check out these three publications:

Garage Gym Guide
http://www.atomicathletic.com/store/ProductInfo.aspx?productid=BK1000

http://www.atomicathletic.com/store/ProductInfo.aspx?productid=BK072

http://www.atomicathletic.com/store/ProductInfo.aspx?productid=BK90

All the best, Roger LaPointe
“Today is a good day to lift.”

It’s Training Time Again!

by Siegmund Klein

One of Sig Klein's favorite exercises was doing Handstand Presses on a bench. His personal record was 19 consecutive repetitions.

Yes, it’s time again to take my workout. And how often have I said that to myself. It seems like ages because in another couple months it will be 50 years since I first started systematic bodybuilding…and that’s a lifetime!

Of course one of the most frequently asked questions is whether I still look forward to these workouts. To be perfectly honest I don’t, but I workout nevertheless.  Nor do I go through my workouts with the same zest I did when I used to train with a purpose, such as trying to break a record, or when I had some special contest coming up, or when I wanted to accomplish some feat of strength…. so why do I continue to train? It must be a habit I got into but I continue to train three times a week as regularly as clockwork.

Nature, it seems, works on the law of compensation. If there is no demand there is no supply. Without a supply deterioration sets in.  This happens internally as well as externally.  However, once a bodybuilder gets himself into hard, physical shape it doesn’t take much training to keep it, especially if his muscles were developed sensibly and not merely inflated.

This brings to mind an incident of a West Coast muscle champ who was in New York for an exhibition.  I was invited backstage to meet this fellow.  He told me about his training and what he did.  I was surprised how hard he had to train to maintain his condition.  He included many exercises and numerous sets and the time it took him to complete his training, which he did three or four times a week, every week!  No wonder he looked tired.  His face was lined and his looks drained.  I tried to impress upon him that he was working to the point of no return.  I assured him that he did not have to take such long workouts for his musculature had reached the point where it would take less than half of what he was doing to maintain it.  But I doubt if he heeded my advice.

I believe that if a young man starts training at the age of 17 he will reach almost maximum peak condition in about seven years, continue to increase his strength until about 35 and then retain this plateau for several more years.  Of course his endurance may not be the same at 35 as it was in his 20’s.

As for myself I did my last heavy lifting at the age of 35 when I succeeded in bent pressing the 209 pound Rolandow dumbbell, and shortly after that I bent pressed the famous Louis Cyr 202 pound dumbbell at a show in York, PA. From then on I continued to exercise three times a week… and still do.  But now at the age of 66 I do not train nearly as vigorously as formerly but I still manage to maintain my physical shape.

My training routine takes me about an hour to complete and when I’m finished I forget training until the next training day, and that’s when I recall “It’s that time again – time for another workout.” and I go right to. How about you? Do you?

Credit:  Article by Siegmund Klein in the February, 1969 issue of Muscular Development.

The Foot Press

by Al Myers

Dave Glasgow lifting over 1000# in the Foot Press at the Dino Gym Challenge

Recently at the Dino Gym Challenge we performed an “exhibition lift” that was a very popular Old Time Strongman performance feat. I initially termed it the “Plank Support”, but the proper name for the lift we did in the meet should be the “Foot Press”. This lift has never been contested before (in modern times at least) so I had some uncertainty in how the event would go. The difference between a Plank Support and a Foot Press is this – in the Plank Support the legs are already locked as weight is added to the feet while with the Foot Press the weight is pushed up with the legs/hip to lockout. Both of these were favorites of Arthur Saxon, and it is reported that he did 3200# in both. Saxon would lay on his back while a heavy plank was placed on his feet in which weight (often in the form of people) was loaded onto the plank. He did “a little extra” with his act in that once the weight was loaded and supported he would slightly unlock his knees and then leg press it out again. So in a sense he was doing both a Plank Support and Foot Press at the same time! Other strongman didn’t unlock their legs when doing this stunt. He also didn’t use any hand supports, thus maintaining balance with his feet only! The rules for the Foot Press as was done at the Dino Gym Challenge is as follows:

Rules for Foot Press

An apparatus is used in which weight is loaded onto the feet only while the lifter is laying on his/her back on the floor/platform with the legs vertical and perpendicular to the floor. The apparatus used must allow the weight to rise without providing any leverage to the lift, but may be guided in a tract. It is also acceptable to use a plank resting on support platforms. The lift starts at the lifter’s discretion. Hands may be placed on the legs or any part of the apparatus, but must not be used to push directly against the weight being lifted. The weight lifted must clear the supports and be held motionless, at which time an official will give a command to end the lift.

The following is a story told and written by Sig Klein, “When Arthur Saxon came to this country to fill an engagement with the Ringling Brothers Circus, weightlifters in and around New York thought here was the athlete for Warren Lincoln Travis to meet in competition. For reasons never made clear to me, this match never materialized, although Travis trained for the match that was being talked about. He told me that he could never hope to equal Saxon in the Bent Press or on the Foot Press, but he trained on these lifts nonetheless. Travis spoke to Saxon about the Foot Press and I will tell you what transpired regarding this lift. Travis asked Saxon if a contest was to be arranged and the Foot Press was one of the tests, if he, Saxon, would agree to allow Travis to do his lift with the plank resting on two trestles and iron placed on the plank. Saxon, who had his two brothers trained and a group of men who were placed on this plank in perfect order by the brothers, agreed to allow Travis to do anything that he desired. Travis said that this was the way Saxon acted about most any lift. He was very fair and would agree to most any kind of arrangements for a contest as long as Saxon could get a contest. Travis had the greatest respect for Arthur Saxon and told me that in an overhead weightlifting contest Saxon could beat him but that Travis hoped to defeat Saxon on the Back and Harness and Finger Lifts.”

I was very impressed with this lift and everyone at the meet seemed to enjoy it. It is a lift that can be done in almost any gym. All it takes is a Vertical Leg Press Machine or a Power Rack in which a plank could be placed across the supports. The Foot Press is the Heavy Lift version of the Leg Press. There are a couple of Leg Press Lifts as official USAWA lifts, but they are full range of motion lifts and nothing like the Foot Press. I am going to present this lift to the USAWA Executive Board for new lift approval so hopefully, the next time the Foot Press is done it can be “official” and records can be set in it.

G.W. Rolandow’s Challenge Barbell

by Al Myers

The Rolandow Challenge Barbell now resides in the York Barbell Museum.

G.W. Rolandow was a Swiss born strongman who came to the United States and became an American citizen in 1896. He lived his entire life in New York City. His Challenge Barbell had a thick handle, and weighed 175 pounds empty, but 299 pounds fully loaded. He was able to Bent Press his Challenge Barbell fully loaded – and lifted it in his nightly strongman performances. The Rolandow Barbell was purchased by Professor Attila, and later owned by Sig Klein. Sig Klein often used it when he was demonstrating the Bent Press.

Sig Klein demonstrating a Bent Press with the Rolandow Barbell.

This was written by Sig Klein shortly after lifting the Rolandow Barbell in 1937.

“It was Saturday, April 10th, on my thirty-fifth birthday that I lifted the Rolandow Bell again. It went up on my first attempt. So pleased was I with this accomplishment that I have not up to this present writing lifted this weight since. I have never tried to lift more in the Bent-Press than 209 pounds. It seems that no matter how much weight I would ever lift again in the Bent-Press, I would never again have the pleasure or satisfaction that I derived when I first succeeded with this ponderous weight. This was in 1937. It was about this time that I published “How to Bent-Press”, feeling that such a booklet was needed for the thousands of weight-lifters whose interest I had now aroused in this lift.”

Siegmund Klein, A man of Two Eras

by Dennis Mitchell

Siegmund Klein was a well-rounded strength athlete and early day bodybuilder.

Siegmund Klein was born on April 10, 1902, in Kronisberg Germany, also known as West Prussia. His family moved one year later to Cleveland Ohio. He still has family living in the greater Cleveland area. Siegmund was never a 97 pound weakling and was a sturdy healthy child. His father was a strong and muscular man, and Siegmund said he got his desire to be strong and well built from his father. At age 12, his first set of dumbbells were two discarded iron weights used to counter balance the raising of windows. He got his first set of real weights when he was 17, and trained in his secret attic gym. Siegmund was a true All-Rounder, not only doing the standard lifts but the odd lifts as well. He was a physique man, an excellent poser, and muscle control artist. He was an admirer of Professor Louis Attila, the man who invented the Bent Press. The Professor died before Siegmund could meet him. However he did meet his widow and with her permission took over running the gym which was located in New York City. He also married their daughter Grace. He eventually opened his own gym. His gym was a show place known through out the weightlifting world. It was equipped with the old time globe barbells and dumbbells.

Sig Klein was also a very accomplished tumbler and hand balancer. Klein owned and ran one of the most popular gyms of all-time in New York City for over 50 years.

He is credited with inventing some new equipment – the “Feet Press Machine, The Iron Boot, and the ‘In-Klein’ Board”. Somehow he managed to be friendly with the two barbell super powers – Bob Hoffman’s York Barbell Club, and Joe Weider’s IFBB organization. He wrote articles for both organizations and was not only written about in their magazines but his photographs were on their magazine covers. He also was on the covers of Iron Man, Vim Magazine, LaCulture Physique, and Macfadden’s Physical Culture Magazine. He even published his own magazine, The Klein’s Bell, from June 1931 to December 1932. After that he wrote for Hoffman’s Strength & Health magazine. He was inducted into Joe Weider’s Bodybuilding Hall of Fame in 2006. At a body weight of between 147 to 150 pounds he did the following lifts: Strict military press 229.25 pounds, strict press behind head 206 pounds, one arm snatch 160 pounds, one arm clean and jerk 190.5 pounds, crucifix 126.75 pounds (total), alternate dumbbell press with two 100 pound dumbbells for ten reps, a bent press of 209 pounds and a side press of 174 pounds. He also did 10 reps with 300 pounds in the deep knee bend. Notice that I did not say squat, as in his day they were done on your toes, not flat footed. The Association of Old Time Barbell and Strongmen began with a birthday celebration for Siegmund. It was so well received that they have been meeting yearly since then. Siegmund Klein passed away May 24,1987. The end of an era.

The Life of a Physical Culturist

by Al Myers

Sig Klein was one of the prominent Physical Culturists in the United States in the early 1900's.

Yesterday’s story of Thom climbing the mountain in Scotland got me thinking. First – Why would Thom do something like that? Thom is a guy with no experience in mountain climbing. He took no gear and items that may be needed for survival. He is obviously not built like a professional hiker. And top of all this – he took on this formidable adventure by himself!!

Well, the answer “crazy” first comes to mind.

But truthfully, I understand why he did this. It is all about seeing the physical challenge in front of you, setting a goal, and then having the mindset to make it happen. You “trust” that your training will carry over and allow your body to be able to “rise to the occasion” and achieve whatever physical obstacle you may encounter. You have confidence in your body that it will not let you down.

I have been doing a lot of reading lately about Old Time Strongmen and one term that is always brought up is the term “Physical Culturist”. Just what does this mean? Physical culture is more than weightlifting, more than running or walking, more than being able to throw a hammer far, and more than being able to pick up a big stone. It is the combination of all of the above – plus living a lifestyle that allows the body and mind to grow and develop both physically, mentally and spiritually. This sums up Thom Van Vleck. Thom living the life of a Physical Culturist prepared him for this challenge.

The Old Time Strongmen knew something about training that modern day weightlifters have forgotten. The Oldtime Strongmen’s training focus was based on not only developing strength, but maintaining good health and fitness. Today, everyone has to specialize in order to excel in any type of lifting – whether that be Olympic Lifting, Powerlifting or Bodybuilding. I understand that. But much is lost and sacrificed in order to achieve a high level of performance in these specific lifting sports. Living the life of a Physical Culturist requires one’s training to be well-rounded. I have been there and made those mistakes myself. When I was heavy into powerlifting and could Bench Press over 500 pounds I thought I was strong. But take me outside of my comfort zone of pressing a weight while lying on a bench, I found that other things suffered. At that point in time I couldn’t even play softball with my daughters because my shoulders were to tight to throw a ball. My cardio fitness was very poor – just walking short distances would tire me out. After all, I didn’t want to do any other training on my legs besides squats because I feared it might adversely affect my recovery time and my squat wouldn’t improve. My flexibility was terrible. I had trouble bending over and tying my shoes. I could deadlift over 750 pounds, but I knew that I couldn’t spend the day picking up rocks in a plowed field all day long like I could when I was a kid. My health was suffering. I was weighing close to 300 pounds (more than my frame could take) and was starting to have problems with high blood pressure. Gaining body weight was always the answer when I would hit lifting plateaus. I had become a prisoner to my own training.

These things are what lead me to All-Round Weightlifting. I want my training to be more than just about strength. I want to live the life of a Physical Culturist, just like the Old Time Strongmen did. Now I go on ten mile bike rides with my wife. I spend time playing catch with my daughters. When I go hunting, I can walk all day long now and not get tired. I have lost about 50 pounds body weight and my blood pressure is under control. My approach to training has changed completely – thanks to All-Round Weightlifting!!