When you read about the incredible feats of the many old time strongman – and then you study their books – you will certainly notice that many of them recommend high rep exercises with very light weights, and only in the end occasionally mention lifting the heavy weights.
Did really Sandow achieved his incredible feats of strength by lifting light dumbbells?
The following exercises are of a strenuous nature and should be performed only by those who are already quite advanced in their training. Where number of repetitions are not given, repeat exercise until you have to strain and at this point stop and rest. Do this three or four times in succession with each exercise. In this way your body will act as its own barometer telling you pretty well what you can and what you cannot do. As the abdominal muscles grow stronger you will naturally be able to do more repetitions and at no time will you be forcing yourself beyond sensible physiological limits.
George Hackenschmidt’s book Way to Live (1908) is one of the best old-time strength manuals out there – and I have to say, “Russian Lion” is one of my favorite old-time strongmen as well: lifter, wrestler, philosopher, true gentleman, man of integrity and honor.
Hack was a huge fan of barbell, kettlebell and dumbbell lifting, and I have use lots of his stuff in my research about the old-time strongman dumbbell training for my Hardstyle Dumbbell Lifting system.
It is worth noting that all… Military Press athletes are exceptionally strong in the legs and back, and although their ability in this lift might draw your attention merely to shoulder and arm strength, once glance at the physique of either will prove they are far from being of top-heavy build.
Using the same dumb-bell (40 to 55 lb. in weight according to your strength and expertness), bring it to the shoulder with the right hand. Give it a slight jerk by first bending (only slightly) the legs, and then suddenly straighten them and push hard. As you do so, lean well over to your left, watching the dumb-bell carefully, the left hand being held out and away.
Place your left hand upon your left knee take hold of the bell with your right hand, and give it a little swing out to the front and slightly upwards. Allow it to return almost to the first position, but through the legs (keep it clear of the ground this time) and then swing the dumb-bell up to the front with a straight arm, right overhead.