Back in the old days of the early 20th century, you had workers in mining towns, quarries and other places where things needed to be dug up, barreled out and transport heavy equipment or rock/stone that weighed more than you can imagine. These men were extremely strong from this back-breaking work and can topple just about any modern strength athlete today. You want to talk about hard times, try being underground for 10-12 hours a day, cutting, toppling and carrying out rock, stone and coal for a living. It’s a point to learn what real strength is like.
In my opinion Blacksmiths are some of the most underrated artists in their profession. There are paintings in Paris that are as beautiful as a smoking hot woman but when you assemble a weapon or a crafting tool by your very own hands, the labor, the grip strength, the mind and precision is just off the charts. Blacksmiths are very rare today because you have machines that cut down the object making to a 1/3 of the time. These guys were very good at what they did and the strength of their hands was second to none. I wouldn't doubt some of those guys would be able to bend tough steel or crush your hand by shaking it or squeezing it. There’s a lot we can learn from them.
If there was the type of athlete we should strive to learn from is that of the ancient athletes of the remote past especially the original Olympic athletes of
Greece and Rome
long before the modern games came into play. You had guys that can most likely
destroy athletes of today. In India,
wrestlers were the best soldiers the old empire had because of the discipline,
the conditioning and the level of strength that came when they were called upon
for war. Milo of Croton would lift and carry a calf everyday, as the calf got
older and bigger, Milo would still pick it up and carry him on his shoulders,
when the calf matured into a full-size bull, Milo
was still at it carrying this massive animal. This was one of the first
documented ways to progress to a heavier weight. In the middle ages, you had to
be tough as a knight because of the armor you wore was pretty damn heavy and
still had to have precise accuracy and strength to fight in battle.
How can we learn and use to create certain methods for old school strength and fitness? For starters, want to get an idea of what it’s like to work in a rock Quarry, get a tire and a sledgehammer and hit that tire for as long as you can. To simulate moving and carry something heavy, lift odd objects and/or sandbags and carry them a certain distance. Learn the ancient traditions of Indian Wrestling by swinging the Clubs and the Mace, when you’re doing them right you’re carrying on a legacy that has lasted for centuries. Don’t have equipment, learn how to handle your body in awkward positions by moving like an animal in the wild, or learn how to use natural movements that the very first men had to learn; sprinting, jumping, crawling, lifting/carrying kind of like moving like Tarzan. Push-ups and Squats are great foundational movements if you’re in a closed-in space or learn how to handle your body similar to a gymnast or wrestler. These modern fads in fitness today really cannot compare to those who actually had to bust their ass back in the day, training can be fun as I've always emphasized but to really get to what you want, it’s training hard and smart that gets you the best results.