Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Forgotten Lift

Before anyone said “How much can you bench?” Before there were cardio machines reigning gymnasiums and long before the testing powers of Power lifting, there was one lift that gave you the most praises for your test of strength and that was the overhead press. This was the lift that told you how you belonged in the Physical Culture world and the two variations that became the stuff of legends were the Bent Press and the Two Hands Anyhow which means lifting 2 objects any way you can.

 In this day in age it’s very difficult to find almost anyone doing these lifts. The closest would be doing them with a kettlebell, rarely a dumbbell and almost never with a barbell. Why have these lifts fallen off the radar? Good question. Olympic Weightlifting has dominated the strength world and so has Power lifting and the Strongman competitions and have other tested feats of strength. However, these two lifts alone are one of the very pinnacles of what true lifting strength is and it’s also one of the most difficult to train. Yeah I can understand there are safety rules and injuries that can accrue but really, there are more dangerous lifts then these two bloodhounds.

 The man that not only made these two lifts famous but owns records that haven’t been broken in over 100 years was none other then quite possibly the greatest one-handed lifter of all-time Arthur Saxon. Saxon was a lifting god among the average man back in the old days of vaudeville and stage lifting. He and his brothers Kurt and Herman was the trio of strongmen acts that were unlike anything then and now. Their feats of strength were the talk of the world at that time and trained in very unusual ways. They drank beer, lifted, ate enormous amounts of food and trained day in and out for many, many years. In Germany, weight lifting and beer were the biggest draws and no one team of individuals did it better then the Saxon Brothers (aka Henning Family).

 When you talk about records you might think 762 career homeruns, 33,000+ career points in the NBA, 56 straight baseball games hitting 1 ball a game, Bret Favre’s consecutive games played in a NFL career, 100 points by Wilt Chamberlain in 1962 and even Wayne Gretzky’s most goals in a season, Saxon’s Bent Press should be right up there with them. His record of pressing 370 lbs. with one-arm stands the test of time and is a record that could never be broken. Think about that for a second, 370 lbs. with one arm. The majority of men can’t pick that much weight with two arms and yet one man defied the odds. His record of Two Hands Anyhow is 448 lbs, also an unbroken record.

 Those that have attempted to break these records have been on the receiving end of a failure. No one has come close and if it does get broken, I want to see it happen and I can probably see one guy I know do it and he’s determined to do it hell or high water in the coming years. It really is one of the ultimate challenges in the world of strength. Majority of men can lift something with two arms but to lift something with one-arm is a test of power, grit, world-class ability and the strength of a lion.

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