Tag: Arthur Saxon

Forgotten Exercises: The Dumbbell Swing

ernest-cadine-dumbbell-swing.jpg

Almost a half-century ago the one and two hand swing lifts were very popular among lifters and bodybuilders alike, especially the one hand lift. Over the years, however, both of these lifts have slumped into oblivion so that today there are very few who ever practice them, either as an exercise or for record-breaking performances. Because of this the world record in both lifts still remains at that poundage that was lifted many years ago. The one hand record is 199 pounds, and the two hand record is 224 pounds, just 25 pounds more than the one hand swing.

John Grimek, The Dumbbell Swing (1959)

This weekend I had the pleasure of dipping once more into Arthur Saxon’s excellent work from the early 1900s, The Development of Physical Power. Notable, for me at least by Saxon’s no nonsense attitude and frankness, the work does not seek to deceive or flatter. Instead, one of the strongest men of his generation sets out his remarkable strength and some of the means used to sustain it. Many of the exercises set out by Saxon are still done today, except for the above mentioned dumbbell swing.

The purpose of today’s post is thus twofold. First, we’re going to examine what this exercise is and how to perform it. From there, we get to delve into it’s fascinating history.

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Eat like a Saxon!

iu

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:

Forgotten Exercises: The Dumbbell Swing

ernest-cadine-dumbbell-swing.jpg

Almost a half-century ago the one and two hand swing lifts were very popular among lifters and bodybuilders alike, especially the one hand lift. Over the years, however, both of these lifts have slumped into oblivion so that today there are very few who ever practice them, either as an exercise or for record-breaking performances. Because of this the world record in both lifts still remains at that poundage that was lifted many years ago. The one hand record is 199 pounds, and the two hand record is 224 pounds, just 25 pounds more than the one hand swing.

John Grimek, The Dumbbell Swing (1959)

This weekend I had the pleasure of dipping once more into Arthur Saxon’s excellent work from the early 1900s, The Development of Physical Power. Notable, for me at least by Saxon’s no nonsense attitude and frankness, the work does not seek to deceive or flatter. Instead, one of the strongest men of his generation sets out his remarkable strength and some of the means used to sustain it. Many of the exercises set out by Saxon are still done today, except for the above mentioned dumbbell swing.

The purpose of today’s post is thus twofold. First, we’re going to examine what this exercise is and how to perform it. From there, we get to delve into it’s fascinating history.

Arthur Saxon, ‘Routine of Training’, The Development of Physical Power (London, 1906)

saxon

WITH regard to the routine of training, I again repeat, my idea is not to develop muscle at the expense of either health or strength. It is really impossible for me to prescribe special exercises with fixed time limits for same, and fixed days for each individual who may ready this book, as we are all possessed of different constitutions and staminal power, but roughly speaking it will be found correct in most instances to practice twice per week, and at such practices I advise that on each lift you commence with fairly light weights, and gradually increase the weight of same. Taking the double-handed lift, if your lift is about 200 pounds commence at 100 pounds, and with this light weight press overhead, then add 20 pounds and press again, and so on, until you are compelled to jerk the weight. Proceed until you reach your limit, then try another lift, say the snatch, commencing low and working up to your highest poundage. Surely this method of prac- tice is better than to attempt, as most English and American weight-lifters do, their heaviest bell right off the reel. As usual, they fail, and then get in reality no practice at all, only making their position worse, instead of better. Of course, to practice this way shot-loading bar bells would be a nuisance. The most up-to-date bells on the market for weight-lifting practice, in my opinion, are disc-loading bells. With these disc-loading bells one may have a weight as low as 20 pounds or as high as 400 pounds, and one bell would be sufficient for any number of lifters. The same plates used on the long bar may also be used on short bars for dumb-bells.

Eat like a Saxon!

iu

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:

Eat like a Saxon!

iu

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:

What is Strength?

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So often in today’s world of World’s Strongest Man, Olympic Weightlifting and Powerlifting, the assumption that strength is defined by maximum weight lifted goes unchallenged. It is as if we accept unquestioningly that the person who can lift 500 pounds once is stronger than the those who can ‘only’ lift 400 pounds for reps.

It’s important to remember that strength was and is, a highly contested issue. Today we are going to look at a 20th century European strongman’s views on what strength really means.