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The Development of Physical Power

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"The feat of holding up a genuine 300 lb. barbell with two heavy men seated thereon and at the same time supporting upon the feet a long heavy plank with about a dozen men clutching each other for safety upon that insecure seat was most impressive, and everything was done with such ease and lack of effort I felt astounded. I made up my mind to make this superman's acquaintance.

This I was shortly after enabled to do through the editor of a physical culture magazine commissioning me to visit the Brand Music Hall, Clapham, and take with me a scale with which to test Saxon's claim that he was raising 300 lbs. overhead single handed twice nightly.

The Saxons had no inkling of my intended visit but I was pleased to find that they placed no obstacles whatever in my way; they seemed only too glad to believe that at last something was being done to establish their claims. ...This was because at the time it was quite customary for so-called strongmen to outrageously exaggerate their lifts, one 10 stone (140 lb) lifter calmly claiming a Bent Press of 336 lbs. whilst the bell probably weighed only 140 lbs. or so. ...

Once, indeed, at Battersea, the card read 286 lbs., but the bell, of course, was a good 300 as usual. Asked what this meant, Arthur, to my surprise, said, "We have lost the 300 lbs. card and they cost money, but we have a nice 286 lbs. card." Such behavior had never been known in the lifting world before. ... Thus the Saxons had what others at that time lacked - the method of daily hard work which has got the champions of today where they are. But in this system they stood alone, others did as little as possible and the general standard of lifting was low at the time.

I am often asked about Saxon's measurements and his best lifts. They were as follows:

Height, 5ft. 10ins.; Weight, 200 lbs.; Neck, 17; Biceps, 17; Forearm, 14½; Chest 44; Thigh, 24; Calf, 16; Wrist, 8 ½.

His best lift was, of course, the Bent Press, or a Two Hands Anyhow with Barbell and Ringweight, the barbell to be pressed single handed and not jerked and changed to one hand (the style which I introduced for the first time in my match with Aston). Arthur Saxon's British record was 336 lbs. Bent Press and 411 lbs. Barbell and Ringweight. These were performed in strict conditions. He always seemed capable to me of doing substantially more but was never lucky when the attempts were made." - Thomas Inch

The Development of Physical Power

Authored by Arthur Saxon

"I would say that, above all, I look for strength and power in a man, especially an athlete, quite regardless of muscular development. The fact that a man may have full physical development, but disproportionate power and energy has been proven to me so many times, that, in my book, I propose to aim at and instill the value of genuine power, without any attempt to obtain large increase in the dimensions of the different muscles. This means that I look upon as almost worthless the taking of different measurements for purposes of comparison from time to time, as is generally done by young men who train on the different systems which are now before the public. I shall teach you to judge a man by his capabilities as an athlete, whether a weight-lifter, wrestler or not, and not by the measurement of his biceps or chest. In the course of my travels I have met quite a number of physical culturists who have come to me to show their development, and whilst it must be admitted it has been splendid to look upon, yet it has also been evident to me that a number of such men have injured their health in an endeavour to squeeze the last fraction of an inch from out of their muscular development. My idea will be, and always has been, to leave the muscles to look after themselves, but I place a premium upon the possession of untiring energy, great staminal and vital power, and a sound constitution. That I myself possess such, I think my past records will show. Whether I can give you, dear reader, a percentage of my own strength and stamina, time will show, but I can at least place before you a method of training, simple though it be, which has brought me to the pinnacle of fame in the weight- lifting world. It is rather a new role to find myself a teacher, but I will do my best, taking it for granted that the persons likely to buy my book are already possessed of average strength, that they have no particular weaknesses or defects, and that strength and power is the aim, and not useless and artificially- swollen muscles, developed with the mistaken idea of gratifying the somewhat vain desire for personal glorification. I will not delude my readers with the idea, as many do, that anyone can be an abnormally strong man, nor with the statement that I commenced as an invalid and gradually worked up to my present strength. No ! I have always been strong, and I can only guess what it feels like to be weak. My strength is still growing and I glory in it. My methods may be simple, they may even be crude, and if they should not appeal to you, then I can only hope that the photos and other illustrations and matter describing my life and adventures will recompense you as items of interest for your outlay on this, my first book". - ARTHUR SAXON

This is an original version, restored and re-formatted edition of Saxon's 1906 classic. Visit our website and see our many books at

Publication Date:
1466466200 / 9781466466203
Page Count:
Binding Type:
US Trade Paper
Trim Size:
5.5" x 8.5"
Black and White
Related Categories:
Health & Fitness / Exercise

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