THE TROUBLE with most people, bodybuilders included, is that they remain satisfied with too little. Far too many people are content with insignificant achievements. They get so far and no further. How many bodybuilders are content with just a little better than average physique? What is it that prevents people from carrying on to really outstanding achievement after their first burst of enthusiastic application? The answer is DRIVE…the vital mental compelling factor activated by…
Published in Vigour Magazine January 1952 – Part One
WHO DOES NOT ADMIRE a large, V full sized arm? Who can fail to be impressed by a pair of large, well-shaped muscular arms? Yet how many bodybuilders fail to obtain real impressive arm bulk! They may get to thirteen or fourteen inches but there they are stuck. The fact is that you cannot get your arms to their fullest possible size and fleshy bulk when following all-round training, and that arm specialization training is necessary.
GEORGE HACKENSCHMIDT (Aug 2nd 1878 – Feb 19th 1968), known as “The Russian Lion”, was considered one of the strongest athletes in history.
“He was born of German & Swedish descent in Estonia, once part of the USSR, independent and rightly proud of its famous countryman. A ‘strong-man’ from the age of 18, he became a champion wrestler by 1900. He then continued an unrivaled career as a word-class wrestler, winning many prestigious awards. His career culminated in a match with the renowned Frank Gotch which he lost. He retired in 1911 and went on to write several books on both philosophy and physical culture. He remained in contact with the fight and strength fraternity. Hackenschmidt died at the age of 90, in London, in 1968.”-Roger Fillary Enjoy this fascinating look at Hackenschmidt, the man and his extraordinary career as an athlete.
No list of great British Strongmen would be complete without the name Edward Aston. Born in Yorkshire, England in 1882 he had a normal childhood and was a healthy and energetic boy. While hiking the countryside he would engage in strength contests with his older brothers, lifting and throwing rocks and fallen branches. After seeing a Strongman act in Bradford with his father he started lifting block weights, found in industry, of 28 and 56lbs at the age of 10.
In his teenage years he excelled in gymnastics, running and all-round sports, though it was not until the age of 18 that he joined a weightlifting club in Bradford. It was apparent however from the start that he possessed great potential.
On August 4th, 1910 an historic competition took place between Aston and the Bavarian dynamo, Maxick. This was to decide the middleweight champion of the world, Aston emerged the winner. The following year he engaged in a contest with Thomas Inch for the title ‘Britain’s strongest man,’ once again emerging victorious. This was a title Aston retained until retiring undefeated in 1934.
In 1913 at London’s Chrystal Palace, he became the first Englishman to bent press 300lb at a body weight of 170lb.At his heaviest he weighed no more than 170lb yet easily beat those much heavier than he.
Like many strongmen of the time he also engaged in wrestling. After witnessing him in a bout, the great wrestler George Hackenschmidt congratulated him on his skill in that art. Praise indeed. He was also admired by the Saxon brothers, being that he was one of a very few ever to hoist their challenge bag of flour but not exactly in the manner prescribed. Aston emphasized health first and believed true strength should have its base in good health. He also said if heavy weights are desired to be lifted then one must train with heavy weights. He was well known for his grip strength and wrote many training courses including one on grip.
Probably not known to many but his son was the comedy acrobat/strongman Ted Durante [Edward Aston Jr.] and his granddaughter is Jay Aston of the British pop group Bucks Fizz.
HOPC Ed. Note: While George Jowett is criticized by some for exaggerating some of his strength feat claims, there is no doubt he played a pivotal role in the development of modern weightlifting and bodybuilding. Bob Hoffman and Joe Weider were two who benefited from Jowett’s experience and promotion tactics, and Jowett was a central figure in both their early magazines.
He also was one of those who laid the groundwork for a recognized weightlifting body in the USA. This article features use of the kettlebell handle which was sold with the various barbell kits of the time as well as individually. It is also valuable in that it presents many of the leverage type movements that the old time strongmen utilized that imparted a real ruggedness of the physique, especially arms and shoulders. These exercises may also be performed with just dumbbells if no kettlebell handles are available. -Peter Yates