The fitness industry, it’s fair to say, is a fairly fickle business.
Every number of years we encounter the next great training innovation or revolution be it Crossfit, PX90 or TRX. So often our quest for the new and unknown results in the abandonment of what worked in the first place.
Today we’ll be looking at Iron Boots, a versatile piece of equipment used from 1900 to 1970. Once the staple of many’s training regimes, the iron boots were used by old school trainers from Sig Klein to Frank Zane with great success in developing their quads, hamstrings and abs.
What the boots lacked in aesthetics, they made up for in results but sadly they have now become the equipment that fitness forgot.
So what were the boots and how did they work?
Iron Boots were heavy metal boots that you strapped to your feet. Simple right?
Well not really. Although typically weighing only 20lb. each, the boots packed a punch. They were the original leg extension and leg curls of their time. Anyone lucky enough to have used the boots will testify that leg curls with the Boots were much more difficult than our modern day machines.
Leg Curls with the Boots
Aside from the obvious leg extensions and leg curls, the boots were also used for leg presses, reverse hyperextensions and a series of abdominal exercises. In later years as more and more people began to use the Iron Boots, manufacturers fashioned it so the boots could be attached to dumbbells or plates, thus increasing the amount of weight that people could use.
Leg Presses with the Iron Boots
A huge proponent of the boots was Bob Hoffman, the owner of York Barbell. ‘How to Build Super Strength, Health and Development with the York Leg Developing Course’, published by Hoffman in 1943, waxed lyrical about the boots. Hoffman also had famous York athletes such as John Grimek advertise the Boots as well with claims that they helped build their impressive legs.
Hoffman wasn’t alone in his love for the boots either. Joe Weider, the muscle mag mogul of the 20th century, made continuous reference to the boots and their usefulness during the ’50s and ’60s.
A Young Frank Zane Advertising the Boots
Sadly with the advent of modern day leg extensions and leg curls, the Iron Boots have been largely confined to the scrap heap of the fitness world. They do however still retain a cult following amongst some fitness fanatics, with some trainers still using boots made in the 1970s!
And who knows, maybe Iron Boots will make a comeback in the near future? Stranger things have happened.