Old school weight lifting isn't the wimpy stuff you see most people in the gym doing these days. Curls and tiny lifts between energy drinks, with chrome plated machines reflecting their scrawny bodies... Afraid of putting any real meat on their bones!
Weight training is one of the best methods of strength training! If you want to start weight training safely and effectively, with the best info, diet, and routines, check out the 5 Day Beginner Weight Training Course!
Old school is hard. It takes real work, real sweat, and time. Give it your all and practice alongside the spirits of the masters.
The old-timers, warriors, and lumberjacks from days of yore didn't get strong in a few weeks or months. They got strong over a lifetime of hard work.
Masters like Joe Greenstein, John Grimek, Steve Stanko, Alexander Zass, Arthor Saxon, and John Davis dedicated their lives to becoming stronger. Without all the fancy technology and gadgets people have today.
Brooks D. Kubik is a modern lifter who has spent his life cultivating old school weight lifting techniques. Big lifts like the standing press, squat, deadlift, bench press, and weighted chin-up are his bread and butter, along with grip work, barrel and sandbag lifting, and pretty much picking up anything heavy that can’t move away fast enough.
He calls his approach to old school weight lifting 'Dinosaur Training'. This is because, in his mind, real strength training is only done by old farts who work hard to get as big as dinosaurs.
And they're a relic from an age long past, when working hard was the norm. Not the exception.
Here are the essentials he lays out for Dinosaur Training:
Keep It Simple, Stupid!
Don't get into overly perfect weight training programs, or special timings, or secret techniques. The basics stay the same - keep your workouts simple too.
And building muscle takes time. If you see someone who's horrendously muscular, they didn't just get that way in a few weeks. Starting weight lifting now is important, so you can start building your muscle.
It takes years and years to get really strong. Put in the time, work hard, and you'll build actual strength.
Greenstein (born with the name of Yosselle) was one of the strongmen from the turn of the 19th century. And, unfortunately, he's been largely forgotten.
Greenstein began his training as a weak, asthmatic kid who could barely walk without getting fatigued. But he became strong over many, many years of weight training for beginners, gradually increasing the weight he worked with, and building muscle and connective tissue - for his whole life.
Kubik makes reference to this as well. When you see someone who's incredibly strong, they might have great genetics - but they also have years and years of hard training that you don't. Yet. Hard work created real results.
Greenstein led a very physically hard life. While he developed his own old school weight lifting and strength training methods, he also worked hard - at docks, in factories carrying bags of flour and other goods, and doing all manner of odd jobs.
Now, getting a hard manual labor job isn't for everybody. But old school weight lifting was never just lifting - it complemented the already-grueling regime that these men had in their daily lives.
The wrestler [Volanko] produced his pocket watch and chain… "Inside your body is a machine a million times more fine and more important. What if I was to grind a handful of dirt into this timepiece?" He frowned. "Disgusting, no? Terrible. Like this watch, you don't put in your body what is unclean or bad for it."9
Greenstein didn't go to the gym every day. He traveled and learned and trained with many people - Greco-Roman wrestlers in European circuses, a jujutsu master in Japan in the early 1900s, and he really came in to his strength when he began special grip and hair strength training (yes, hair) for strongman acts.
He lived a physically difficult life, but he lived it fully. He wasn't a gym rat - far from it!
I believe that his strength came in large part from the many and varied physical activities he pursued all his life. And his training was always in addition to supporting his wife and, for much of his life, a constantly increasing number of kids.
If you're more interested in him I suggest you read The Spiritual Journey of Joseph L. Greenstein: The Might Atom: World's Strongest Man. It's inspiring, and can also teach you a lot about what he did to get strong.
Oh, and be sure to sign up for the e-zine Starting Strong to get monthly strength training, exercise, and diet tips e-mailed to you - and access to the free e-book Train Smart, Eat Smart: Exercise Nutrition Hacks!
Old School Weight Lifting: How The Masters Built Their Strength
1. Zass, Alexander. Samson's System And Methods: Explanatory and Instructional - The Great Samson (Alexander Zass) - The World's Strongest Living Man. London, England. 1924.
2. Kubik, Brooks D. 1998. Dinosaur Training: Lost Secrets of Strength and Development. Louisville, KY: Brooks D. Kubik. Pp. 44.
3. Ibid. Pp. 35.
4. Ibid. Pp. 89, 93.
5. Ibid. Pp. 112.
6. Spielman, Ed. 1998. The Spiritual Journey of Joseph L. Greenstein: The Might Atom: World's Strongest Man. Cobb, Calif: First Glance Books. Pp. xii.
7. Ibid. Pp. 9.
8. Ibid. Pp. 154.
9. Ibid. Pp. 8.
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