On this page you will find a comprehensive list of old-time strongmen and strongwomen, most of who lived hundred or more years ago. They were some of the strongest people on the planet without steroids and barely any supplements, but still managed to set numerous records which still stand today.

In the 19th century there was no division between power-lifting, weightlifting and similar disciplines as we have them today. Most of old-time strongmen performed various feats of strength on a stage or in a circus. Some of the most popular feats are listed below.

Oldtime Strongmen Training

Most oldtime strongmen excelled in compound lifts. Despite the fact that no one really trained squats or bench press back in the late 19th century, they made up for it with deadlifts, barbell & kettlebell snatches, different types of presses, jerks, rows and similar movements which engage the entire body. They also almost exclusively trained with heavy weights and (mostly) low repetitions, even though the majority of them avoided training to failure.

Another aspect of their training involved heavy grip work. Unlike today, strongmen trained and performed on a stage using thick-handled barbells and dumbbells. Not only did this improve their grip strength immensely, but it also allowed them to challenge almost anyone in the audience during shows, as “regular” people couldn’t even lift such weights off the ground, let alone perform bent press or similar feat of strength. And it’s all because of the thick handles.

Support lifts and partials were used on the stage to impress crowds, but it also helped them to develop extraordinary strength and power. Old-time strongmen weren’t as muscular as today’s performers, but they had incredible bone, tendon and ligament strength – which are just as important, if not more in some situations. Below is the list of the most popular strongmen of that era.

Abbye “Pudgy” Stockton
Adrian Peter Schmidt
Alexander Zass
Antone Matysek
Angus MacAskill
Arthur Saxon
Bernarr Macfadden
Bert Assirati
Bill St. John
Bob Hoffman
Bob Peoples
Bruce Randall
Charles Atlas
Clevio Massimo
Charles Rigoulot
Chuck Sipes
Dan Lurie
David Blazer
David Macklin
Don Athaldo
Don Dorans
Donald Dinnie
Doug Hepburn
Earle E. Liederman
Ed Jubinville
Edmond Desbonnet
Edward Aston
Eugen Sandow
Freddy Ortiz
Galen Gough
George Barker Windship
George Hackenschmidt
George Jowett
Georg Lurich
George Zottman
Gus Hill
Harry Griffin
Harry L. Good
Harry Paschall
Henry Steiborn
Hermann Goerner
Ian Mac Batchelor
J.C. Tolson
Joe Bonomo
Joe Rollino
Joe Weider
John Grimek
John Grun Marx
John Massis
John Holtum
John Y. Smith
Louis Attila
Louis Cyr
Louis Uni
Luigi Borra
Karl Morke
Martin Farmer Burns
Maurice Deriaz
Max Unger
Max Sick
Milo Barus
Monte Saldo
Ottley Coulter
Otto Acron
Otto Arco
Oscar Marineau
Pat Casey
Paul Anderson
Paul Anderson, The Mighty Young Apollo
Pierre Gasnier
Pyotr Kryloff
Reg Park
Ronald Walker
Siegmund Breitbart
Sig Klein
Signor Lawanda
Steve Reeves
The Great Antonio
The Great Gama
The Great Sandwina
The Mighty Atom
Thomas Inch
Thomas Topham
Tromp Van Diggelen
Vasily Alekseyev
Victor DeLamarre
W.A. Pullum
Warren Lincoln Travis
Wayne Smith
William Bankier
William Pagel
Wilbur Miller


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  3. Many yrs I’ve loved weightlifting, gives me improved lifestyle and health. Now I also study nutrition. Still work out 3days peer wk at 81 yrs of age.

  4. Great list logan! I hold old time strongmen in high regard. However, I’m surprised not to see Herman Goerner “the mighty” on this list. Do you intend to add him later?

  5. What about stanley radwan who was stronger than most of them and never lost fight including in wrestling when it was real not like now fake.

  6. I wonder if you have ever come across an old time strong man who performed in Vaudeville under the stage name of “Professor Atlas.” My great grandfather, Frank Pascal, performed feats of strength on the stage and outdoors, probably around 1900 to 1915. I have a picture or two of him, one from a broadside advertisement.
    Any information you have would be most appreciated.
    Thank you for your great website.

  7. i have been trying to located information on a strong man from the 1950’s – 1960’s. He billed him self as the world’s strongest man. (avoiding Paul Anderson). I saw him on a segment of the Danger is My Business television series some time in the late 50’s or early 60’s (I have not been able to locate the segment on YouTube). He also appeared as him self on a drama about a Mission Impossible type team (I don’t remember the name ) at about the same time. I believe that his first name was Lou. although I can’t be sure after 60 years. If anyone can tell me more about this man I would appreciate it.

    1. That depends on how you qualify it. In other words there is no definitive answer.

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