The Golden Age of Iron Men
July 6, 2013 9:17 AM   Subscribe

Arthur Saxon, born April 28 1878, was a famous strongman and renowned member of the Saxon Trio. He famously beat Eugene Sandow in the bent press. The Development of Physical Power is his most famous book, some of which has been excerpted here:

The Bugbear of Training: How to Avoid
Carefully adjust your work to your condition at the moment. Ask yourself each time you lift, “Am I in good form today?” If you feel yourself in good form – specially “fit” – then that is the time to try a “limit” lift. Note what you have raised that day – the weight and the date – and at another suitable time see if you can surpass your last record lift by a few points.
What it feels like to lift 150[sic] pounds with one hand
I have often been asked what it feels like to press 350 lbs. with one hand, and perhaps to my readers the different sensations experienced will be interesting. In the first place, immediately I start to press the weight away from the shoulder I become perfectly oblivious to everything except the weight that I am lifting. The spectators are obliterated from my mind by the effort of intense concentration which is necessary to enable me to press the weight. I immediately engage myself in a terrific struggle in which the weight and I are competitors, and only one can win, either the weight must be lifted or else I fail. This concentration is, of course, one of the secrets of success in lifting. It enables me to bring forward the last ounce of pushing power, and for the time being to exert strength beyond that normally possessed.
Arthur Saxon’s The Development of Physical Power: The Healthy Skeptic Book Review
One of the best books written on the subject of physical fitness was written well before anyone ever heard of Joe Weider or “Arnold.” Heck, the book, titled The Development of Physical Power, was written by legendary strongman Arthur Saxon in 1906 before either of these two were even born! This book is the fitness equivalent of an archeological dig.
More books and photos.
THE SAXON TRIO: What they ate & how they trained.
Chaos & Pain: *Baddest Motherfuckers Ever #5- Arthur Saxon [NSFW] - "More of a man than everyone who's been in Flex magazine for the last year, combined."
What about workout shakes? Of course he drank them. The man was the pinnacle of human physical achievement. The forumla, however, was unorthodox enough that we might have to incorporate in in C&P.
"The Saxons did have a "health drink" which I presume they concocted themselves. The ingredients were dark lager beer (or Dublin stout) mixed with Holland gin, the yolk of an egg and plenty of sugar. "It is a very good but strong drink" was the Saxon opinion, "but, if you are not used to it you will get dizzy very quickly." It seems to me that one would have to be a very strong man in the first place, in order to drink it. "

My Friendship With Arthur Saxon, by Thomas Inch.
posted by the man of twists and turns (6 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Man, now I want the strength of an oarsman.
posted by The Whelk at 9:20 AM on July 6, 2013

posted by clavdivs at 9:25 AM on July 6, 2013

Is that not just a gin flip? Shenanigans.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:01 AM on July 6, 2013

Man, we sure have learned a lot since Arthur Saxon's day.

What the hell kind of subsitution for dark lager is Dublin stout?
posted by box at 11:33 AM on July 6, 2013

Our high school had a powerhouse state champion football team and an average swim team. I was big enough to be a good football player but I was on the swim team because my friends were. I also couldn't stand the thought of spending any more time than I had to with the asshole brain-dead jocks that comprised our beloved football team. On Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, both teams would share practice time in the weight room. It was a time for the swimmers to work out while the football players did everything in their power to humiliate us and demonstrate that we were not welcome in "their" weight room.

The asshole brain-dead jock bully that I liked the least was trying to show off on the leg press machine. It had two places to put your feet. On the lower set of pedals, a full stack of weights was 1200 pounds. He had loudly announced that he was going to lift a full stack with the upper pedals, or 1500 pounds. Unfortunately for him, he couldn't lift it. Unfortunately for me, I made a comment along the lines of "What's the matter, Bill? Can't get it up?", which got the Ooooo sound from everyone.

So there I was. Of course I was going to have to attempt the same feat. I had just called out the biggest guy on the football team and probably let my mouth write a check that my ass couldn't cash.

I sat in the sweaty chair. The machine was already set for a full stack. I put my feet against the pedals and pushed. At first the weights did not move. The other football players starting high-fiving Bill but I would not let myself be humiliated so easily. As I pushed harder, the sounds, the lights, the people faded away. I slowly lifted that entire 1500 pound stack until my knees locked, held it there for five seconds and then slowly lowered it back down without dropping it.

Everyone and everything came rushing back. I wondered if I had come close to passing out. Everyone stared at me with mouths agape. No one could believe that I had done it.

I wish I could say that I was a good sport about it. That I had said, "It's OK, I'm sure you'll get it next time", but I didn't. I jumped off the seat of the machine, pointed at him and said, "In your face motherfucker!"
posted by double block and bleed at 11:55 AM on July 6, 2013 [9 favorites]

Arthur Saxon is definitely an interesting guy, but I think the links to the USAWA are equally interesting. Never bothered to put an FPP together on weightlifting, but USAWA would be an excellent resource.

Weightlifting, as opposed to weight lifting, mostly refers to to the Olympic lifts. Many people know about the snatch and the clean & jerk, but these lifts have really only been codified at THE lifts for a relatively short while. There was a time when people didn't really know what they were "supposed" to do with weights. No bench press, no olympic clean, no bosu ball shake weight curls. Even the squat snatch only began to dominate the split snatch in the late 60s.

People just kind of hoisted weights up any way they could. Rest it on your belt, clean with a switch grip, pivot it on your back, etc etc.

The USAWA manual is a great resource for revitalizing some of these old lifts. Some like the zercher squat or the anderson squat are great lifts even today. Some like the Kelly clean, arthur lift and others... not so much.
posted by Telf at 6:57 AM on July 7, 2013

« Older "The Lyf So Short the Craft So Long to Lerne"   |   Hang On, I Turned Into Two Ugly Guys And A Dog Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments