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  1. Arthyron is offline
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    Lionheart

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    Posted On:
    1/14/2008 6:17pm

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!

    Oldtime Strongman

    Something I've really gotten into as far as strength training goes within the last few years is Oldtime Strongman, you know, the guys in the 1800's with the giant mustaches and large triangular weights that would lift elephants and bend steel bars, that sort of thing.

    I've always been a pretty big guy, started lifting weights in highschool. I lifted on and off for football practice and the like, even had a stint as a male cheerleader (hey, it was either go to off-season conditioning with a bunch of sweaty guys or pick up girls all winter, can you blame me?) the last few years. I never really got to lift consistently. Because our coaches were morons, we only lifted during the off-season, so most of what we had gained we quickly lost during the season (needless to say our record was never in the positive).

    When I went to college, I was so disillusioned with sports (I was never a fan to begin with) that I had no desire to try out for any sports teams. I still enjoyed lifting, though. I wanted to see just how strong I could get, so I lifted with one goal in mind: brute strength. I didn't care about being a competitive powerlifter or any of that shirted/strapped/supplemented/bionic man nonsense, nor did I care for the metrosexual/speedo-wearing/bloated muscles bodybuilding rubbish. I just wanted to get stronger and stronger.

    By chance I ran across a website about some of the strongmen of yesteryear, the guys from the late 1800's, early 1900's. I began reading about some of their feats, their training, and was very intrigued. Despite modern training methods, dietary supplements, equipment, and performance enhancing drugs, no one has even come close to touching some of the achievements of these men of the past. They possessed a strength unlike anything I had ever seen. So I started doing some research on the matter, found out there are still some people around today that try to carry on their traditions.

    I had finally found a niche for my lifting. I was no longer lifting in general with a vague idea of gaining strength, but now had a particular purpose. I began doing a bunch of the old style lifts (bent press, etc), training through semi-isometric exercises like bending pieces of steel. Instead of isolating muscle groups, I was doing multi-muscle, multi-planar movements, getting my body to work in synergy. Within a few months I was doing things I didn't know were possible (ripping phonebooks, bending horseshoes, snapping chains, etc).

    The neat thing about that style of training is that it's not all about size. For straight up brute strength, some of the strongest guys I've ever seen look like average joes, even slightly scrawny. Consider this guy, considered one of the best in this vein of training, Dennis Rogers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aaCEjxNF9ME He's what, like 170 lbs, but yet look at some of the stuff he can do.

    It's very unconventional, it's very strange, but it produces results (I get a lot of weird looks walking into the gym with a bag full of metal, a few steel bars, and a sledgehammer) I am stronger now than I ever was lifting in the conventional manner, and can do things that I wouldn't have dreamed of before. I've noticed that the strength I've developed (because of the focus on building hand/forearm/grip strenght) is applicable to virtually every situation I encounter. It's not limited to a particular plane of movement or motion. I've had friends who train conventionally, even strong friends who bench/squat/deadlift impressive weights try some of my training and feats, and they can't even budge some things (like bending re-bar or horseshoes, levering hammers, etc), despite all the conventional strength they possess.

    So this thread is to discuss Oldetime Strongman style training, its benefits, its shortcomings, tips, experiments, achievements, etc. If you like training with sledgehammers, steel bars, chains, horseshoes, spikes, nails, odd lifts, kettlebells, grippers, and other odd assorted equipment and methods, this should be a good place to discuss it. So yeah, any other students of the Iron Game out there?

    ***And yes, I have done a search already, so if a thread like this already exists I was unable to find it, and no, this isn't the same as just "grip training" though there is some overlap.***
  2. Rooster is offline

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    Posted On:
    1/14/2008 7:27pm


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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Damn man, this sounds impressive. I'd like to know more about your training schedule. I train functional strength but I didn't ever consider anything like that. I suppose an interesting feat of mine, if it is interesting or even a feat, is that I can flex hand-grips 620 times in a row.
  3. CoffeeFan is offline
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    Posted On:
    1/14/2008 7:28pm

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Q: Have you noticed that this style of lifting has assited in your squats/BP/deadlift? I know you don't care much for the powerlifting style but I'm curious if doing this type of training has aided your poundage with "conventiona"l means of testing strength
  4. Emevas is offline
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    Dysfunctionally Strong

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    Posted On:
    1/14/2008 9:19pm

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Gotta love all the bravado that comes with this ****. The iron game is already divided enough.

    That being said, with the stuff you listed, I like gripper work.
    Last edited by Emevas; 1/14/2008 10:56pm at .
    "Emevas,
    You're a scrapper, I like that."-Ronin69
  5. The Question is offline
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    Octopussy!

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    Posted On:
    1/14/2008 9:40pm

    Join us... or die
     Style: Striking/Grappling/Poking

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Nice post, OP.
  6. Arthyron is offline
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    Lionheart

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    Posted On:
    1/15/2008 2:47pm

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Damn man, this sounds impressive. I'd like to know more about your training schedule. I train functional strength but I didn't ever consider anything like that. I suppose an interesting feat of mine, if it is interesting or even a feat, is that I can flex hand-grips 620 times in a row.
    Well, what works best for me is probably going to make most people roll their eyes. Because I'm training in multiple plains of motion using multiple muscle groups at once, there's no point in trying to "focus" on certain parts like bodybuilders typically do. I typically just train everything in one day (it takes quite some time), then allow 2 or 3 days off for recovery. So I'm usually only going to the gym two or three times a week (but for a few hours each time).

    I usually start out with some grip work, trying to cover all the basic kinds of grip (crushing, pinching, and levering). So I'll use say...CoC grippers for crushing grip, a hub for pinching, and maybe sort of levering device or a different kind of plate curl for levering grip. From there I use my Formulator (it's a forearm device, well worth the money if you're serious about any kind of training that demands strong wrists and forearms).

    Then I'll move on to doing a lot of bent pressing (and variations on the bent press that allow me to do reps, since the standard bent press must be done in singles, due to the nature of the lift).

    After that, I'll maybe do some large bar bending (using whatever solid round/square stock or re-bar I can obtain at the time, and usually in 3-4 foot sections, 3 foot obviously being more difficult) and unbending, or some partial benchpress.

    From there I move on to hammer work (swings, levering, twists, etc). I mainly use 8 and 12 lb. hammers. A friend of mine that's a professional strongman uses heavy hammers (30-50 lbs), and I want to start incorporating some of that into my workouts (as it gets the entire upper body, grip, and cardio all in one if you do say a few minutes of swings at a time), but I'll have to have a machinist make me one.

    After that, I'll do a lot of cable/strand/expander (whatever you want to call them) work to get a lot of the weird angles and train for specific feats (like breaking chains and the like). It's usually during this that I start my leg work.

    At the end I'll throw in whatever leg stuff I feel like that day. Since legs aren't used (except as a platform upon which to bend things) for most strength feats, there aren't many oldetime strongman specific leg exercises, so I'll train them with conventional methods. I don't really care about being able to squat a million pounds, so I'll do a lot of things like lunges and occassionally some deadlift, just so I keep my legs proportional and proportionally useful to my arms. I would train for some of the few oldetime feats that encompass the legs, but I'd really just need a whole lot of equipment that my gym just doesn't have (like the back lift). One of the few guys that still does those sorts of lifts is Steve Justa, and he has a really good book on the subject (as well as building the equipment to do the lifts), since he builds all of his own equipment: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=id0j5P9c6MA He's got some impressive feats, he can backlift 4800 lbs (the record belongs to Paul Anderson, who could do over 6000, but Steve's is the highest of any living person that I know of) and can walk around with 1000 lbs. on his shoulders with no problem. Even if you're not into oldetime strongman but like powerlifting and weightlifting in general, his book is definitely worth picking up.

    It's funny you mention hand grips. The first things I bent were the broken barbell collars (the metal spring ones) that people would hand in after dropping a weight on them or something (I used to work at my university's gym). That's what got me started.

    But yeah, "functional training" as it is now (with all the balls and bands and squishy things you stand on and such) has its roots in Oldetime training. They've just watered it down and made it marketable (though there have been a few improvements that make it more useful for the average person that's not interested in bending steel or such like the emphasis on balance and coordination). So you'd probably have a lot of the foundational biology built up to do pretty well at this sort of thing.

    Let me know if you want to know about anything specific.

    Q: Have you noticed that this style of lifting has assited in your squats/BP/deadlift? I know you don't care much for the powerlifting style but I'm curious if doing this type of training has aided your poundage with "conventiona"l means of testing strength
    I seldom do the conventional lifts anymore, but yes, when I have tried them I've noticed that this kind of training has improved the way and the ease I have in doing certain lifts. I swore off gloves/straps a long time ago, and because of this training, I can hold on to heavier weights without needing straps, and on things like benchpress, I'm less shakey, much more stable in the movements. It's certainly useful stuff to kinda add in if you do a lot of standard lifting, helps fill in the gaps and fix the weakpoints, and it can only augment the abilities you already have. And yeah, I was doing some partial bench the other day (started incorporating it in to help me get some more explosive power when I bend, since most bends are done with the arms partially extended), and my partial bench is way past what it was when I was lifting conventionally. There's a strongman known as Stanless Steel, and his partial benchpress is over 1000 lbs.

    Now of course there's no substitute for the standard/core lifts if you're wanting to be a hardcore athlete/MMA/boxer or whatever, but it's all about what kind of strength you want to build and what you intend to do with it. I don't care about being able to say "I bench such and such" or breaking any weightlifting records, nor do I intend on becoming an athlete. But for the things I do and want to do, I've found this kind of training more beneficial than anything else I've tried, and I enjoy it a lot more. It's nice at the end of the workout to actually feel as though you've accomplished something. After you lift weights, you have to rack it all, and it's as if you didn't do anything (aside from being tired and sweaty and sore), but with this stuff, if you bend something it stays bent until you unbend it. So I find it a lot more fun.

    Gotta love all the bravado that comes with this ****. The iron game is already divided enough.

    That being said, with the stuff you listed, I like gripper work.
    Bravado? Someone's a little touchy...

    What I do IS the Iron Game as it was originally known. I'm just doing what the strongmen of old did. If anyone's "divisive" it's the modern meatheads with their shirts/suits/performance enhancing drugs/supplements/machines/etc and never-ending bickering about which training program will pack on the pounds the fastest. I totally tip my hat to those who just go in and lift, no gloves, no straps, no bollocks, no matter what style of lifting they prefer. I just don't take anything or use anything to augment what God gave me, and I think it's a much more manly way to go about it. For me, it's about man vs. metal (or wood, as the case may be). That's where the real spirit of the Iron Game resides. So I'm not sure why you feel justified in criticizing something that gave birth to what you (judging from your avatar) love.

    As for me, I'll stick with the Oldetime way.

    You do gripper work, which one you on? I'm still stuck on the 2.5 with my right and 2 with my left (assuming you're referring to CoC grippers).
  7. A.D.D is offline
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    Posted On:
    1/15/2008 3:02pm

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    If you could sell steroids to those guys as a magic strength elixir they would probably by all they could get their hands on.
  8. Emevas is offline
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    Posted On:
    1/15/2008 3:40pm

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     Style: Boxing/Wrestling

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    It's not being touchy, I just think all the division/separationist crap is stupid. "Oh, you wear doubly ply, I'm RAW!" and all that other stupid crap. Those old time strongman you speak of didn't just lift oddly, it was also a time of mutual respect and appreciation for the iron. It wasn't about who did what lifts where and when under what conditions, it was about who was a strong ass bastard.

    As for grippers, I'm on the 2.5 for either hand, working towards the 3.
    Last edited by Emevas; 1/15/2008 3:55pm at .
    "Emevas,
    You're a scrapper, I like that."-Ronin69
  9. Arthyron is offline
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    Lionheart

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    Posted On:
    1/15/2008 6:16pm

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by Emevas
    It's not being touchy, I just think all the division/separationist crap is stupid. "Oh, you wear doubly ply, I'm RAW!" and all that other stupid crap. Those old time strongman you speak of didn't just lift oddly, it was also a time of mutual respect and appreciation for the iron. It wasn't about who did what lifts where and when under what conditions, it was about who was a strong ass bastard.

    As for grippers, I'm on the 2.5 for either hand, working towards the 3.
    That mutual respect was possible because everyone was functioning under the same basic tenets. There weren't any special chemicals or equipment that gave anyone a special edge. Everyone just worked hard and experimented with different training methods and people stuck with what worked.

    The objection "raw/shirt" is valid, because people with shirts say "I can do such and such weight," but it's irrelevant because they cannot do it under their own power. They cannot achieve those results without special apparatus.

    I could put on one of those robotic exo-suits they're working on and do twice what anyone shirted or unshirted could do, but that too would be irrelevant because it's not MY power that's accomplishing it. I wouldn't be able to do it without the suit.

    Sure, someone could use a shirt for training purposes, but again, it falls under the same distinction as straps and gloves. Without straps, they might not be able to deadlift as much, etc.

    The Iron Game used to be about working hard under your own power and diligence and will alone, not who has the best gimmick or special equipment that allows them to transcend their natural abilities/capacity. It wasn't just about the iron, but about the bodies that moved them. Using special equipment/chemicals and other unnatural things that augment someone's natural abilities is disingenuous to that tradition. It takes away from Flesh vs. Iron and makes it Flesh + Chemicals + Engineering vs. Iron.
  10. Emevas is offline
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    Posted On:
    1/15/2008 6:24pm

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    You could not put on a shirt and magically bench twice what the highest shirted bench is dude, come off it.

    Like I said, there's way too much division as is for this petty crap. I don't see the big deal. I rarely ever see shirted guys ragging on raw lifters, why do the reverse?

    There were no mechanical advantages to make use of in the old time dudes. To assume that if they were present, no one would use them is absurd.
    "Emevas,
    You're a scrapper, I like that."-Ronin69
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