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.
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
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 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
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
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