One of the points that I try to emphasize throughout this blog is that what many consider to be original ideas are everything but new. Man has displayed incredible feats of strength for hundreds of years. Such feats were accomplished long before the development of modern equipment, supplements, and the countless certification programs that have emerged within our industry.
Just last weekend, I received a message through my forum from a man who has been working to improve his grip strength. Since focusing more attention to his grip, he’s noticed that he can snatch a much heavier dumbbell. The timing of his email couldn’t have been better. It essentially verified a quote from Earle Liederman’s book, Secrets of Strength (recently discussed here).
As quoted within (from 1925)
Strong wrists are indispensable to strength. In most ordinary feats of strength the object to be moved or lifted, swung or broken, is gripped by the hands; and those hands must be strongly coupled to the arms, so that there will be no break in the delivery of power. A famous veteran, advising a new-comer in the professional ranks said, “Young man, you will never be any stronger than your hands and wrists.”
Liederman’s words are still as valid as ever. The development of strong hands certainly has carryover towards many other lifts. Perhaps the greatest display of grip strength ever can be found by looking back to Hermann Goerner.
Goerner was born in 1891. His training was everything but outdated however. Many from our era would be completely blown away by his physical accomplishments. I know that I am. The image below shows him deadlifting 595.5 pounds using just 2 fingers in each hand. He is also said to have deadlifted 734.5 pounds with ONE hand. Talk about incredible strength!
Next, you can see him pressing a 330 pound barbell overhead. While certainly an impressive load, it is even more impressive considering that the barbell is 2 and 3/8” thick. Thick handle lifting certainly isn’t new…
As for Goerner’s past, I highly suggest reading through Edgar Mueller’s, Goerner The Mighty (published in 1951). It’s a great read which tells the story of one of the strongest men to ever walk the planet.
Aside from an interesting story, the book also offers a peak into his training. A few notable lines are quoted below.
He trained always as the mood took him – varying his program to suit his energy and condition of the moment and never did he force himself to perform any workout when not feeling just in the mood… He did not have or follow what might be really termed a “set” training program – he always varied his workouts and mixed his work so much that one could truthfully say that he never worked through exactly the same program twice.
I enjoyed reading about this aspect of his training. I too have followed a similar system without restricting myself to a set program. More along these lines can be found within the past Think For Yourself series (Part I and Part II)
What about training with a variety of tools?
Who said odd objects were new?
His inventive mind was always scheming out new and different ways of lifting all kinds of weights – kettlebells, dumbbells, barbells, block weights, barrels, loaded sacks, etc.
Mueller also goes on to discuss activities such as throwing weights, putting the shot, jumping, and swimming. On certain days, Goerner would swim for over an hour, and then continue through a free weight workout. Goerner was clearly fit as well as incredibly strong.
For more info regarding Hermann Goerner, please take a look at the two links below:
Herman Goerner – A Man of Super Power (excellent site)