Recognition as a first class “strong man” is the ambition of many an athlete whose work has never passed the slough of mediocrity, yet almost all of these men will tell you how to train and how much to do to accomplish this end. Well, perhaps it all depends on your interpretation of the term “first class strong man”. From the long experience in physical culture work and in competition and the judging of strength events, I have assembled a series of observations on the form and other qualifications that mark the strong man of front rank caliber.
It seems to be scarcely necessary to observe that one of the first considerations should be well developed and symmetrical body…one that is equally well developed from neck to ankle, for without this well balanced shapeliness the greatest strength loses that beauty of “form” in execution which distinguishes the finest athletic performance.
Possessing strength in a beautiful body the step step is to know how to display it, and this is possible only through your poses, whether you are in competition…that is lifting…or merely displaying the muscles in classical, action or relaxed poses. Have as many good photographs as possible of these poses which show your bodily grace and beauty to the best advantages. There are times when pictures are the only means of establishing these facts.
Another important item in the catalog of the first class strong man is muscle control. A strong man should be able to control his muscles, for the properly developed muscle can be controlled. Among the control stunts that every strong man should be capable of are: contraction of the biceps, triceps, shoulder blade, deltoid, thigh, pectoral and abdominal muscles. After these, there are more intricate muscle control feats which are always interesting and attractive, and if you can do them, so much the better.
Strength and agility are not inconsistent…in fact the all ’round strong man should be able to refute the assertation that big muscles are slow by a few feats requiring speed as well as strength. Three with each of the strong man’s “stock-in-trade” tools – the bar bell, the kettle bell, and the dumb bell – should provide a sufficiently varied repertoire.
Strength does not imply solely an ability to display muscularity by itself or in conjunction with iron weights, hence the finished strength artist should be able to creditably perform some of the simpler hand balancing feats, for there is nothing more attractive than an ability to handle the weight of your own body gracefully. While not, perhaps, a true strength sport, it does require real strength to do many of the more spectacular balancing acts.
Through left to the last in this outline, the lifting of weights is not the least of the strong man’s accomplishments…it is merely left to the last in order that you will not slight the other elements which go to make up the capabilities of the really first class man of strength. The popular lifts should, by all means, be included in your work. In order to establish a standard for comparasion, let us take the athlete of 150 pounds. The weights I give here are by no means the records in the respective lifts…they are merely ideal to aim at and you may be able to exceed them. “One hand snatch,” 135 pounds; “one hand clean and jerk,” 150; “one hand bent press,” 226; “two hands military press,” 175; “two hands dead lift,” 400; “one hand side press,” 135.
“Form” in the execution of these lifts, counts for a great deal…sloppy position, unnecessary foot movement, dropping the weight when lowering, general unsteadiness…all these mark the poor performer. I am aware that many judges consider that if the weight has been lifted it is sufficient, even though it is dropped in the lowering, but I insist that dropping the weight is not good performance.