Bodybuilding 4 MIN READ 5143 VIEWS July 3, 2015

Strongmen throughout history

Mohammed Ali and Rocky Marciano were exceptionally good fighters who were equally famous. Enough said. There were some badass bodybuilders though, who lost themselves in the pages of history – or should we say they threatened history to throttle it if it remembered them?  Look beyond these puny, glam-loving, swanky bodybuilders; it’s time to face the real ‘manly’ deal. Let’s have a look at what these goliaths used to do and eat which gave them their stature.


Ghulam Mohammed AKA Gama Pahelwan – India

Imagine drinking ten litres of milk every day, couple it up with a pound and half of crushed almond paste mixed with a tonic drink which has fruit juices and other ingredients to promote good digestion. Yeah, that was the every-day diet of Lion of Punjab, Gama Pehelwan. When it comes to the art of picking up a guy and showing him the ceiling, he still remains unparalleled. Born in 1880, Gama started his wrestling at 5 and it became more intense every day. This hulk of a man would do five thousand squats and three-thousand push-ups regularly, holding his mace like the mythological anthropomorphic monkey deity, Hanuman.  He came in lime-light when with a 5’7” structure he uprooted a 7’ tall and 290 pound monster Rahim Sultaniwala who was probably the only one to challenge him. His flawless record of man-gripping strength has been largely ignored by world in general, but his victories nonetheless can’t be subdued, because Gama was boss as all hell.

Georg Hackenschmidt – Russia


From the lion of India to the Russian Lion, has arguably been one of the best wrestlers of all time. You would say because he won over 3000 fights in his life-time, we would give credits to his self-invented finishing moves. This 1878 born wrestler kept lifting heavy weights till they reached the size of a globe and he was motivated to join wrestling.  One after one, he won fair fights with everything on this earth with testicles – to become the world’s first heavyweight champion. As we have said earlier, his finishing moves were iconic, one of the most popular being the ‘bear hug’. The fact is that he was so cocky about winning that he would literally invent his finishing moves.

Hackenschmidt was particular about diet. He once said, ‘Man is born without frying pan. The purest natural food for human beings would, therefore, be fresh, uncooked foods and nuts.’ He always advocated using smaller meals, cutting down on the bigger ones to the point where you don’t eat till you are completely full. Let’s have a look at his prescribed schedule:

“7 a.m. – Rise, short cold rub or bath (this can be changed to tepid in winter if desired), drying preferably by exercise afterwards, but failing this by vigorous application of a rough towel. In any event, fifteen to twenty minutes’ light exercises to follow the path.
8 a.m. – Breakfast, followed by long walk till 11 a.m.
11 till 12 noon. – Vigorous exercises of any kind.
1:30 p.m. – Luncheon, and if needed, one hour’s sleep to follow.
5 to 6 p.m. – Vigorous exercise for all muscles.
7:30 p.m. – Dinner, and after rest or recreation out of doors as far as possible.
11 p.m. – Bed-time.
(Sundays, no exercises, but a good brisk walk.”


Louis Cyr- French Canadian Strongman


You would probably gulp twice even thinking about lifting up two full grown men on your shoulder. Imagine someone lifting a platform holding 18 men for a total of 1976kg on back. We kid you not, that’s Louis Cyr, the French Canadian strongman born in 1863. He also made records by lifting 534 pound weight with one finger, pushing a freight car up an incline and much more which earned him the title of ‘The strongest man in history.’ However, unlike most strongmen he was not hell-bent in a specific diet. Records say that he would eat a lot of food together and some days he would go completely without food. That didn’t stop him from projecting his herculean strength to one and all.


Apollon the mighty – France

The internet today generally swears on making everything French to be unmanly. We thought there was nothing which could break the myth like this guy. Born Louis Uni in 1860, he went on breaking each and every French stereotype and finally became a strongman. He had his famous stunts, one of which was called ‘escaping prisoner’ where he would effortlessly bend the bars and escape. His technique was that to constantly practice the upper hand. That means when someone would struggle with 500 lbs dumbbell in two hands, he would pick it up with one. The closest he went to failing a test was when he challenged to hold to cars apart at arm’s length. It ripped out his muscles and in general cases would have ended anyone’s career. But this tough nut was such a badass that he throttled injury by its throat and continued to work successfully as a strongman till the time he died, 25 years after the incident.


Our point behind mentioning all these powerhouses and discussing their exercise techniques as well as diet was to impress on you the regularity, discipline and fervor with which these legends would stick to their exercise and succeed like gold. Diligence gets you to the boss; it’s your choice to stick to the corner you want to pick.

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