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Isometric Exercise Training

Alexander Zass Father Of Isometrics

The Amazing Samson

What does isometric exercise training have to do with old-time muscle men?

In order to answer that question let's take a look at the Amazing Samson.

Alexander Zass was born in Vilna, Poland in 1888, but lived most of his early years in Russia and after 1924 in Britain.

alexander zass isometrics

Where he performed many exciting feats of strength such as… lifting a 500 pound girder with his teeth, he carried a small horse, caught a woman fired from a cannon and allowed professional boxers to hit him in the stomach at full power.

His greatest talents and feats of strength were in bending steel bars and breaking chains which were the center piece of his music hall exhibitions.

Tree Climbing

At first Alexander Zass developed himself by climbing trees, running, and with home made dumbbells and barbells.

He also used what were at that time called "Chest Strands" today they would be called chest expanders or resistance bands. Many of the old-time strongman Incorporated the use of chest expanders into their workout routines.

That's probably one of the reasons why they all had very well developed pectoral or chest muscles. Resistance bands have the advantage of providing tension throughout the entire range of motion and they are a great complement to an isometric exerciser like the Bully Xtreme.

Unlike free weights where the resistance is only experienced doing the actual movement but not at the beginning or the end.

Later he trained under some of the great Russian professional strongmen including... Krelov, Anokhin, and Demetrioff who taught their systems in person and through correspondence. Anokhin taught his system to George Lurich who eventually became famous as a world champion strongman and wrestler.

Alexander Zass was very innovative and started bending green branches and twigs to develop his grip strength. Perhaps this was the start of his great belief in the application of isometric exercise and "maximum tension" (a concept that is present in Russian training methods to this day) for the development of strength.

He believed such an approach superior to the use of free weights in developing strength.

Isometric Exercise

Isometric exercise was later validated in the 1920's by scientist studying the effects of inactivity on the muscles. In one experiment, using a frog, with its legs tightly bound together to prevent any movement and kept that way for a long time, scientist discovered that the frogs legs were significantly larger and more muscular than the control group of frogs who’s legs were not bound.

Frog Leg's Prove Isometric Exercise
And Training Works

The frogs that had their legs bound had strained against the bindings struggling to get free. This contracting and tensing against their bindings had resulted in this incredible muscular growth.

But this was all before Alexander Zass had figured out the very same thing while in prison. In fact, while a prisoner of war he continued to develop his strength with the use of isometric exercise by pulling on the bars and chains.

This episode and the knowledge that he obtained from it later became the basis of his mail order course which featured isometric exercise in the form of pulling on chains of various lengths.

Alexander Zass lived a very full and exciting life on many fronts. In addition to being a strongman he was also an accomplished animal trainer. At one time he worked for military intelligence in Russia and later as cover for his manager, Captain Howard, who was a British secret agent.

Zass lived to the age of 74, but what's strange is that his death at this old age did not come from natural causes. Instead he was found murdered in 1962.

An unfitting end to the father of Isometric Exercise 1888 - 1962

isometric exercises using an isometrics equipment

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