Results matching “Old-Time Strength”

Monday, 27 Dec 2010 - Issues

This Week on Straight to the Bar

I'm constantly amazed at just how much my training is influenced by the people on this site. Whether you're looking for a new piece of equipment, an unusual exercise variation or just an idea of how others approach things, you'll enjoy these :

Ready to add your own opinion, workout log or training article? Just head over to the Forums, Training Logs, or swing by the Article Submissions page. They're fantastic ways to share your ideas.

NB : if you enjoy the articles, show the authors your appreciation by voting (using the SU and Twitter icons beneath each post). Cheers.

Video : Double Overhand Axle Power Shrugs

Love a spot of yoke work? Same here.

Twitterchat 98 - Improving Your Client's Success

There are many ways to set your training-related goals - whether they're goals for a particular competition or overall fitness goals for the year. To lift this much, run that far, beat that time and so on.

This week we're taking a look at a spot of goal-setting, and several other elements that make up a client's success. Behaviour change models, motivation etc; from both the athlete's and the trainer's point of view. Helping us explore this fascinating topic is none other than Food and Fitness's Anthony Paradis (@foodnfitness). Fantastic.

Details -

Who : Strength-training fans
Topic : Improving Your Client's Success
When : Wed Dec 29, 9pm EDT (1am UTC)
How : Include #sbgym in your tweets.

To see when it's on in your timezone, head over to the twitterchat calendar.

See you there.

Quick update on last week's twitterchat : Thanks once again to everyone who took part in the discussion on Training for Football : AFL. Some superb ideas in there.

For those who missed out on the conversation, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Ever tried a little Australian Rules football?

Considering : Equipment for the Home Gym

I love the home gym - it's the perfect place to get away from everything for a while, and focus on building a stronger, faster, fitter me. Good fun.

Looking around, I'm certainly not the only one. If you're in the market for a bit of equipment (whether you're just setting up the gym, or adding to the one you've already got), take a look around places such as the Exercise & Fitness area on Amazon. Some very interesting ideas in there.

One item that caught my eye is this neck-training machine. Personally, I'm a fan of the neck harness approach, but I'm curious : has anyone here used a machine such as this?Thoughts?

Monday, 17 August 2009 - Issues

On the Forums

I'm constantly amazed at just how much my training is influenced by the people on this site. Whether you're looking for a new piece of equipment, an unusual exercise variation or just a training routine or two, head over to the forums :

NB : Ready to add your own workout log or training article? Just head over to the Articles & Logs page and log in, and click 'Post to Your Blog'. That's all there is to it.

Video - Explosive bench pushups

Another great variation from the Wild Man - Johnny Grube. Good stuff.

Coming Events

Twitterchat : What do Formula One drivers, rugby players and many combat athletes have in common? Incredible neck strength. To help explain how to get it, Old-Time Strongman Mike 'The Machine' Bruce will be joining us for this week's Twitterchat.

If you're keen to do a little neck work yourself, or you've got a neck-related question for Mike, the twitterchat's the ideal place. See you there.

Kettlebell Juggling Contest : how's your kettlebell juggling? For details, head over here. Good stuff.

Card Tearing Contest : or a spot of card tearing perhaps? Now this one will be fun. Find out why.

Grip Contests : There are also several grip contests coming up shortly, including :

  • USHS Nationals
  • USGS Nationals
  • Finnish Open Grip Strength Championships

For details, swing by the Grip Contest Calendar.

Exercise of the Week

The Hopper Dip. One of several brilliant Dip Variations.

Joe Hashey demonstrates the Hopper Dip (and several other dip varieties) in this clip. It's a plyometric version of the bodyweight standard; and much harder than in looks. Give it a shot.

UPDATE (7 APR 2014) :

I'm currently doing a lot of design work for this site with another illustrator - and one I highly recommend, just take a look at his portfolio - my brother Glenn Bird. You'll find him over at


I'm constantly surrounded by strength-training memorabilia (particularly that of old-time Strongmen/Strongwomen from 1870 - present), so when Rory Hickman offered to design a twitter background (which you can see here), it was logical to display several of them on there.
Here are just a few of the many athletes and strength feats depicted :

Incidentally, if you're looking to have an image created for your own twitter profile page, drop either Rory or Glenn a note. Superb work.

Monday, 23 Feb 2009 - Issues

Video - Chain Yoke

Looking for a simple way to test out some yoke work? Rig up one of these. Great idea.

Greg Matonick

Adam pointed me in the direction of old-time strongman Greg Matonick, who enjoys some pretty astonishing feats. In addition to the usual forms of lifting, bending and tearing; Greg destroys everything from coins (with his teeth) to horseshoes (teeth again). Good stuff.

Got a site, event or product you'd like to recommend? Drop us a line.

Monday, 16 Feb 2009 - Issues

Video - Overhead Squat Progression

This is a great video on the overhead squat progression from this week's Minute of Strength. Nice one.

NB : if you're looking for more info on the Jefferson Squat (part of the progression), head over here.

Aaron 'The Mighty Mac' Mckenzie

'The Mighty Mac' is certainly no slouch when it comes to old-time strongman feats. For a solid dose of bending, tearing and other fun things, swing by Mighty Mac's blog. Good stuff.

Got a site, event or product you'd like to recommend? Drop us a line.
Recently I got the chance to find out a little more about Professional Strongman Chris Rider. As you'll soon discover, he's a truly amazing guy.
  1. Firstly, a bit of background. What is your name (and nickname), and where did you grow up?

    My name is Chris Rider. I grew up in a small town located outside of York Pennsylvania, about 45 minutes from the famed York Barbell Company of Bob Hoffman.

  2. How did you get started as a performing Strongman?

    In the fall of 2006 a friend of mine had seen a fellow on television tear a phone book in half. Knowing that I was a lifter and had a high level of general strength, he had asked me if I could do it. I told him I didn't know, I never tried it. With that I grabbed a phone book and tore it in two on the first attempt. Wondering if it was a fluke, I grabbed a second, this time much thicker book, and tore that one as well.

    I continued with tearing phone books, and began to wonder what else I was capable of. The next feat of strength I tried was to tear a full deck of playing cards in half. Again, I was successful on the first attempt. Then came the bending of a 60 penny nail, tearing a license plate, bending a horseshoe, breaking a baseball bat, etc., all successful on the first attempts.

    I began to seriously wonder what I had tapped into. My friends and family were wondering the same thing too. I began to research the great performing strongmen of the past and the feats they demonstrated. I had come across two relatively small fellows on the Internet who were doing things that were just incredible sounding. They are a pair of modern day performing strongmen, A Mentor and his Protege - Dennis Rogers and Pat Povilaitis. This was the stuff I was looking for, instruction offered by a Grand Master in his field. I began to train with the materials offered by Dennis and my list of accomplishments continued to grow.

    I attended the 2007 A.O.B.S. reunion in June of that year, after only seriously training as an oldetime strongman for 3 months. I had completed some very notable feats and thought it would be wise to go show the top guys that I wasn't just a keyboard warrior, that my claims were on the level. I did just that, after the festivities were over I ended up bending, breaking, ripping, and tearing all sorts of things in the hallway out side of the reception room until around 3 AM. It was my first real taste of performing in front of people I didn't know, and it was in front of many of the best in the business. I've been hooked on performing feats of strength since.

  3. Which accomplishment (sporting or otherwise) are you most proud of?

    That is a hard one. I guess the one sporting accomplishment that really puts things in perspective is after being diagnosed with multiple severely herniated and degenerative disks in my spine, and being told I would not be able to lift weights again, I worked my way up to completing a set of four with 315 in the stiff leg, full range good morning exercise. This was done after refusing surgery and pursuing healing through natural means coupled with proper training.

    It just goes to show that things thought impossible can be achieved with the proper mind set and dedicated training.

  4. What are your goals for the next year or so? The next 10 years?

    I just completed the certification process for the IronMind Red Nail. For a short term goal, I am now working towards becoming certified in closing the Captains of Crush # 3 gripper.

    My long term goal is to consistently become stronger than I am. I am also looking forward to a long career as a professional performing strongman.

  5. What changes in the world of Old-Time Strongman have you seen over the
    past couple of years? What would you like to see?

    I am still relatively new, but I have seen more interest arising in the traditional feats. I would like to see interest continue to rise and catch on mainstream.

Over the past four years this site's amassed an enormous amount of content. To help you find the highlights, I'll be taking a wander through the archives each Sunday.
This week - Feats of Strength.

For as long as I can remember, I've been fascinated by the old-time feats of strength. Blowing up a water bottle, holding back runaway horses and lifting enormous weights with a single finger. If you share this passion, take a look at these :

Why Bend Steel? - SttB Articles

Nail or spike bending is a true test of strength. You could bench press or squat a ton, and everyone will Monday morning quarter back your form, accuse you of heaving, cheating, not going low enough, using too much gear, using steroids, whatever. With a spike - the proof is right there. You bent it. End of conversation.
Every PR leaves a trophy. It is a truly manly activity, and it is in danger of being a lost art in today's namby-pamby metrosexual American fitness scene. Rest assured there is nothing soft, weak or manicured about destroying steel. My goal is to stop the madness, and restore this destructive science to its proper place in strength and conditioning. Perhaps you believe this is too hardcore for you, the weekend warrior who just wants to be healthy? I hope after reading this you will see there is a place in the bending world for you.

Short bending is one of the greatest ways to build true power and endurance in the lower arms, but its effects are not just experienced in the arms. You will build your chest, shoulders, lats, traps and abs while bending. You will benefit across the whole spectrum from muscle hypertrophy to power to endurance. I will discuss this in detail.

First benefit is to your neural strength: Steel bending is an exceptional way to build your single unit application of tension. What I mean is this - you have to tense and load every muscle in your body, take out all "leakages", brace everything together and direct it through you hands with a sniper's precise angle. If you get sloppy punching on the nails ends, you will hurt yourself. You could possibly punch yourself in the face, roll your hands out of the groove, stab yourself, or any other combination of less desirable outcomes. This activity will turn your wrist to stone. Your ability to direct power will be significantly increased. This will directly carry over to any other strength-skill you currently have. The way I load up to bend a Huge Stainless Steel Bastard is exactly the same feeling as when I load up to pull a max dead, to press a 48kg bell, or to slam an axe through a log. It adds a critical power appliance to your "strength skill tool box".

This increase in strength and power naturally will carry over to an increase in your endurance. Anyone who has bent a nail will tell you the first time they bent it was so tiring. I have watched people sweat bullets bending their first respectable nail. As time goes on you gain huge reserves of power. A personal testament to this level of power for me was October 2007 when I bent 150 60D nails in one hour using the double under (DU) grip. That represented a massive improvement from Jan 2007, when bending 10-15 nails left my hands extremely fatigued.

Let's talk about the muscle growth. Bending is a high tension exercise. Forcing a steel bar to yield requires hundreds of pounds of force, applied for several seconds. A big bend often will take much longer than it would take for a dead lift or squat. Your muscle fibers will get much denser. If you have ever met some one who does a lot of bending, you can not help to notice the density of the forearms, chest, arms and back.

Steel bending builds real confidence. You are doing what should not be done. When you trash a piece that takes hundreds of pounds of force to bend, you can not help to feel good about the achievement. I promise you will tackle your other hobbies, sports and challenges with greater confidence and determination after going all out on a steel bar. Bending can become a powerful implement to develop an individual's mental toughness and pain tolerance. I have witnessed this effect on people from both steel bending and kettlebell lifting.

Wrench Bending - SttB Articles

UPDATE 19/02/2018 : The video below was available when this post was written, but has since been removed by the user.

Apologies for that.

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An old-time strongman demonstration that never fails to impress - bending a wrench. Good stuff.

Super Strength Books
Super Strength Books.
This month's collaboration with Run to Win's Blaine Moore - Great sources of training information - continues with a look at the many superb old strength-training books. Love them.

For as long as I can remember I've been surrounded by books and periodicals - shelf after shelf of hardcovers, paperbacks, magazines and newspapers. When it came time to learn a few things about the world of strength training; the starting point was clear.

Before I go any further, there is just one thing I'd like to point out : as important as it is to learn about something, it's always secondary to actually doing it. Spending time under the bar is absolutely critical.

With that in mind, back to books. These can generally be sorted into a few categories, according to both the content and their availability. These are :

Old-time strength

When it comes to the process of getting stronger, very little has changed over the past few centuries. Sure, exercises have come in to and gone out of favour (think of the barbell squat and the overhead press in Olympic Weightlifting); but the underlying mechanics are, of course, the same. After all, we're still talking about people lifting a variety of heavy objects to become bigger, stronger and faster.

Many of the books that have been written over the past century or so (any older than this, and they're a little difficult to find - although often still quite relevant) have been reprinted numerous times, are still available and still make excellent reading. A few personal favourites :

Where do you get them?

Online : the best sources are Amazon and suppliers such as Bill Hinbern's superb Super Strength Books site.

Offline : Although they're a little difficult to find in the offline world, larger bookstores (particularly Borders) occasionally carry them.

The golden era - 1970s

Although some people may dispute my claim that the 1970s encompassed 'the golden era', it certainly did for me. After all, it's when Arnold Schwarzenegger was making a real name for himself. Bruce Lee was fighting athletes such as Chuck Norris. Arthur Jones was creating a stir with his Nautilus machines.

And - most importantly - people the world over began to join gyms. To become big, to become strong; or simply to get into shape. Very little has changed.

One of the greatest by-products of this period can be seen at a glance of my bookshelves. Catering to the throngs of new gymgoers were a number of great books, including :

The magazines of this time - notably those which focussed on bodybuilding - were actually worthwhile reading in many cases (ah, the days when magazines had more content than advertising); containing specific routines, interviews with strength athletes from a variety of sports (not just bodybuilders) and simple nutritional information. The good stuff.

Where do you get them?

Online : Once again, Amazon is a great place to start. For the magazines, eBay is your friend. There are always plenty of them on there.

Offline : As you may have guessed, I love wandering around second-hand book stores. For books such as these - particularly the heavier, hardback varieties - second-hand shops are a great resource. Definitely a good place to start.

1980s - now

Although things have definitely started to settle down in the few decades since the 'golden era', there have been several great books to add to the shelves. Among these are a few which stand out for all the right reasons, including :

Where do you get them?

Online : Many of these books are now available through the websites of their authors or publishers; although Amazon is still a good bet. For slightly older volumes, eBay often comes in handy.

Offline : For some reason, many of the larger bookstores shy away from recent strength-training books. Notable exceptions are stores attached to universities or colleges; and those catering largely to students.

Other recommendations

Of course, I'm not exactly alone in my love of strength-training books. To get an idea of those which other Straight to the Bar writers hold in high regard, take a wander over to Recommended Books & DVDs. There are several excellent volumes there.

Final thoughts

With so many great strength-training books and magazines available, it's almost assured that I've overlooked something along the way. What are your own recommendations for the 'perfect' strength-training book?

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