Eat like a Saxon!


Those acquainted with the history of Physical Culture will no doubt recall the Saxon brothers, a travelling troupe of German strongmen who performed at the turn of the twentieth century. Blessed with remarkable physiques, the trio’s mighty strength was undoubtedly aided by their healthy appetite for food and drink. In fact, as today’s brief post shows, the trio consumed a gargantuan amount of food even by today’s standards.

According to Kurt Saxon, who acted as the trio’s chef on the road, a normal day’s consumption for each individual man was as follows:


  • 24 eggs
  • 3lbs. (1.4kg) smoked bacon
  • Porridge with cream and honey
  • Tea with plenty of sugar


  • 10lbs. (4.55kg) of meat
  • Vegetables
  • Sweet Fruit (raw or cooked)
  • Sweet Cakes
  • Salad
  • Tea
  • Sweet Puddings
  • Cocoa and whipped cream


  • Cold Meat
  • Smoked Fish
  • Lots of butter and cheese
  • Beer

The trio’s fondness for beer led to some bizarre encounters with other weight trainees. Thomas Inch, the great British strongman, once wrote of his encounter with the trio

After setting out their big plate bell and plenty of discs in the middle of the garden, they knocked the bung out of a barrow of beer, and then set to work, knowing that liquid refreshment was arranged for.

It seems that drinking beer and weightlifting together are quite the common pastime on the continent, or so the brothers claimed!

It was rather funny to see the trio running backwards and forwards with their jugs to the beer barrels between lifts. It was seldom that any beer was left in the barrel. I may say!

They explained to me that this was the proper German custom, and the appeared to regard me as slightly unbalanced because I did not follow their example.

When not consuming copious amounts of beer, the trio were partial to their own style of ‘health tonic’ which consisted of dark lager beer (or Dublin stout) mixed with Holland gin, the yolk of an egg and plenty of sugar. Although this tonic was in great demands amongst the brothers, it was not for everyone, as evidenced by their claim that

It is a very good but strong drink…but, if you are not used to it you will get dizzy very quickly.

Finally it must be stressed that the voluminous eating habits of the trio were tolerated owing to their incredible energy expenditure. For several years the trio spent countless hours either performing for crowds, lifting weights in private or engaging in long walks. Coupled with this was their incredible genetic predisposition towards weight training and correct assimilation of nutrients. Arthur Saxon, the group’s ‘leader’ acknowledged as much when he wrote

I have always been strong and can only guess what it feels like to be weak

In spite of all this, the group’s capacity to eat was nonetheless, breathtaking!


  • Randy Roach, Muscle, Smoke and Mirrors: Volume One (Authorhouse, 2008), 30-31.
  • Leo Gaudrea,’The Saxon Trio: What they ate and how they trained‘, Muscle Power Magainze (available here).

Running by John McCallum (1967)


Known more for his incredible bulking routines than a love of aerobics, the following article comes from John McCallum, one of physical culture’s best known writers in the twentieth-century. Seeking to marry aerobic and anaerobic forms of exercise, the article (first published in 1967) is an interesting reminder that the idea of ‘cardio’ having a place in bodybuilding has a long rooted history.

Vancouver is the third largest city in Canada. It’s nestled on the west coast about 25 miles north of the American border, with the blue Pacific on one side of it and snow capped mountains on the other. “Where else,” the natives say, “can you lie on the beach all morning and ski in the mountains half an hour later?”

The northern tip of the city consists of 1000 square acres of sylvan beauty. It’s called Stanley  Park, and it draws people like a magnet. On a Sunday afternoon you can see everything from a busload of nuns feeding the monkeys to 300 hippies holding a love-in.

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Eating Advice from the Russian Lion


While the name George Hackenschmidt is often associated with wrestling more so than physical culture, there is no doubting the strength and physical prowess of the ‘Russian Lion’. An adept weightlifter and renowned grappler, Hackenschmidt’s career in the early twentieth century saw him become of the most famous athletes throughout the Western speaking world.

Coupled with this, his intelligence and writing ability, saw him spread the message of physical culture and clean living to thousands around the globe. Today’s short post features extracts from Hackenschmidt’s 1908 book, The Way To Live.

Regarding the general dietary guidelines he followed, Hackenschmidt informed readers that

I believe I am right in asserting that our Creator has provided food and nutriment for every being for its own advantage. Man is born without frying-pan or stewpot. The purest natural food for human beings would, therefore, be fresh, uncooked food and nuts. It is not my intention to discuss here the old problem, whether meat is necessary as food for man or whether man was created and should remain a vegetarian.

My experience has taught me that foodstuffs are of secondary importance. There are very strong people who are strict vegetarians, whilst others eat a good deal of meat. A fare which consists of three-quarters of vegetable food and one-quarter meat would appear to be the most satisfactory for the people of central Europe.

Coupled with his fondness for vegetarian foods, something which should displace any doubts about how vegetarianism affects athleticism, Hackenschmidt preferred to eat his meals as is, without the need for seasonings.

Every one should and can find out which diet best suits his constitution, and he should avoid all food which disagrees with it. I would shun altogether all highly seasoned and sour dishes. Much has been said lately in praise of sugar as food, but as artificial sugar is an acid-forming substance, I should not recommend it.

Natural sugar, such as is contained in dates, figs, and other fruit, is certainly preferable. Highly flavoured or seasoned food produces thirst and therefore acts harmfully.

Finally, regarding teas, alcohol and spirits, Hackenschmidt went on to say that he avoided such toxic substances entirely. Instead he much preferred to drink milk, which is some sources are to be believed, is an understatement. According to some of his contemporaries, Hackenschmidt often drank the equivalent of 11 pints of milk a day! Something which undoubtedly accounted for his impressive physique.

Surveying the above we can say that Hackenschmidt advocated for:

  • A diet primarily composed of nuts, vegetables and fruits in their raw form.
  • Some meat, if necessary, depending on one’s constitution.
  • The avoidance of seasonings or processed sugar
  • Abstinence from teas, spirits and alcohols.
  • Finally and most importantly, Hackenschmidt was a proponent of listening to one’s body and adjusting the diet justly. A timeless lesson we often need to remember!

If you’re interested in learning how the Russian Lion worked out, feel free to check out our previous post here.

Dan Duchaine’s Bodyopus diet


Known as the Steroid Guru during the 1990s, Dan Duchaine was one of bodybuilding’s most outspoken commentators during the birth of mass monster. Controversial to the highest degree, Duchaine’s career spanned prison sentences, coaching and television appearances with an impressive regularity.

While much has been written about Duchaine, not all of it true mind you, two things are clear. He was sincere about bodybuilding and he knew an awful lot.

Today’s post highlights the general diet advice given in Duchaine’s seminal 1996 book Underground Bodyopus: Militant Weight Loss & Recomposition.

Most famous for its cyclical Keto approach, the book included a beginner and intermediate diet. All of which will be covered today.  Continue reading

Forgotten Exercises: The Roman Column

While many exercises, such as the squat, appear to be timeless in the lore of exercise history, there are many movements and machines that fall away with the sands of time.

Today’s post looks at the Roman Column, an inverted strongman exercise created in the mid-eighteenth century and used by famous performers such as Eugen Sandow and his mentor, Professor Atilla.

What is the Roman Column?

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Bodybuilding Pioneers: Launceston Elliot


Born in Scotland in 1874, Launceston Elliot is perhaps more famous for his contributions to the world of weightlifting than bodybuilding. His fame in the weightlifting community, as readers of this blog will be aware, came from his gold weightlifting medal at the 1896 Athens Olympics. Similarly the course of his athletic career saw the powerful Scotsman set and break, a number of weightlifting records.

Nevertheless, Elliot’s achievements were far reaching as he appears to have been the first man to win a physique contest in Great Britain. While much has been made of Sandow’s Great Competition (1901) and its role in furthering bodybuilding’s status amongst the general public, it is arguable that without Elliot’s precedent, Sandow’s idea may never have come to the fore.

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Dave Draper’s Bulk Routine


Known in bodybuilding circles as ‘The Blond Bomber’, Draper was one of the most iconic lifters in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Still pumping iron well into his seventies, Draper is a testament to the bodybuilding lifestyle.

The following bulking routine comes from an interview with the Bomber in the early 1970s.

Monday- Wednesday-Friday Routine


  • Bench Press – 5 sets x 6 reps
  • Incline Flies (Bent Arm) – 5 sets x 6 reps


  • Press Behind the Neck – 5 sets x 6 reps
  • Lateral Raise (Side Arm) – 5 sets x 6 reps


  • Lying French Press – 5 sets x 6 reps
  • Dips on Parallel Bars – 5 sets x 10 reps


  • Incline DB Curls – 5 sets x 6 reps
  • Barbell Curls – 5 sets x 6 reps


  • Reverse Barbell Curl – 4 sets x 8 reps
  • Barbell Wrist Curl – 4 sets x 15 reps




  • Wide Grip Bent over Rowing – 5 sets x 8 reps
  • Wide Grip Pull Ups (Palms Facing Away) – 5 sets x 8-10 reps


  • Parallel Squats – 5 sets x 10 reps
  • Thigh Curls – 5 sets x 10 reps


  • Heel Raises – 10 sets x 15 reps

Additional Notes

  • Work the Abs every day for twenty minutes or so.
  • Handle Moderate Weights – train quickly on your routine. Try to do 15 sets in a half hour period.

Dave mentioned that for best all round results, one should stick to 6 reps per set and 10 sets per body part. Some schools of thought will not agree with this statement but one should try to be open minded in the study of exercise patterns.