The Beer Garden Weightlifting Championships of 1933

Bob Hoffman described the event in glowing terms: “This great affair, ably presented and managed by Mr. Chas. M. Postl, of Postl’s Health Club, was the finest in the history of A.A.U. weightlifting.”

He was talking about the Senior National Weightlifting Championships of 1933 — an event held in conjunction with the fabulous festivities of the 1933 World’s Fair – and an event where the beer overshadowed the lifting. Hoffman let it slip at page four of his report of the championships – in the October, 1933 issue of Strength and Health:

“Stan Kratkowski was there, prepared and expecting to lift a higher total than ever before. His failure is a good proof of the unpleasant conditions under which the 165 pound class lifted. It rained hard as this class was about to start. Finally, the lifting was taken down to the Rathskeler. Here in the heat, with waiters passing constantly and on a cement floor, Stan failed three times with his 220 pound snatch, thus losing his title…”

The totals of the lifters were far less than usual. The excitement of the important contest may have helped make these poor totals. But the many distractions were the hardest art. The beer garden was crowded, people and waiters passed the platform constantly, all sorts of noise and the lifters could not concentrate…

Picture it – the best lifters in the United States — men who had slaved for long years in their basement or backyard gyms, garage gyms, YMCA’s or lifting clubs – men who had squatted, pulled, pressed and strained – men who had sweated, bled and pushed themselves to unimaginable lengths for lifting glory – the hardest working, most dedicated, strongest athletes in the United States – and they’re forced to lift in a beer cellar!

But lift they did – and they lifted well. And in less than 15 years, the United States stood at the top of the ladder in Olympic weightlifting. And the lessons we learned from the lifters of 1933 – how to train, how to think, how to persevere, how to overcome adversity – are powerful lessons, even today, 75 years later.

We owe those men a debt of gratitude. The next time you train, think of a man lifting his heart out as beer waiters go flying by in front of him – and say “Thank you!” to our unstoppable Pioneers of Iron.

Yours in Strength,
Brooks Kubik


John Davis Speaks

The other day I found an interesting article written by John Davis way back in the early 60’s.

For anyone who doesn’t already know, Davis was one of the greatest Olympic weightlifters the USA ever produced–a many time US national champion, North American Champion, Pan American games Champion, a multi time world champion at 181 and in the heavyweight class, a two time Olympic Games champion, and a multi time world record holder. In his article, Davis wrote:

“There is no secret to training on the press–or any other lift, for that matter. It merely requires a little patience, a little imagination, and a good deal of sweat (above all else) with as heavy a weight as you can handle.”

You can’t put it better than that!

Yours in Strength,
Brooks Kubik


Thought for the Day

“It all boils down to you and the iron.
That’s the most important thing.”

— Brooks Kubik


John Grimek’s No. 1 Exercise!

For some reason, the most common question on Internet strength training forums is this:

“If you could do just ONE exercise, what would it be, and why?”

The most common answers are:

1. Squats — because “they’re the best exercise for all-around strength and muscle mass.”

2. Deadlifts — because “they’re even better than squats and you can do them even if you don’t have squat stands or a power rack.”

3. Trap Bar deadlifts — because “they’re a cross between a deadlift and a squat.”

4. The pec deck — because — sorry, just kidding, no one actually says this.

a. Thank goodness.

b. Although some people probably think it.

5. The clean and press — because “it works all
of the muscles.”

Those are all good answers (other than no. 4).

But what would John Grimek have said?

We actually KNOW what he would have said because he once wrote an article about it.

Grimek was hands-down a fan of the clean and press.

In Grimek’s opinion, if you could only do one exercise, you should do the clean and press.

He believed the clean and press would give you a great total body workout.

Grimek followed his usual pattern of suggesting that you start light, add weight from set to set, and drop the reps as you added weight.

Thus, you might do something like this:

50 x 10 (light warm-up)

100 x 10

120 x 8

130 x 8

140 x 7

150 x 6

160 x 5

170 x 3

180 x 2

190 x 1

200 x 1 (if you’re feeling strong that day)

If you want to focus more on strength and power do lower reps — something like 5/4/3/2/1 or 5 x 3 or 8 x 2 — or singles.

Anyhow, that was John Grimek’s answer — and I tend to agree with him!

What do YOU think? Shoot me an email and let me know.

Yours in strength,

Brooks Kubik


10 Tips to Rev Up Your Workouts!

Workouts are the best part of the day —
and the better the workout, the better
the day. So let’s talk about to maximize your
workouts — and how to make each
workout as result-producing and
effective as possible.

Here are 10 tips to rev up your workouts:

1. Spend 10 minutes a day visualizing
your workouts in full, complete and
vivid detail — to the point where you
see and feel the sweat dripping down
your face as you squat, push and pull.

a. 15 or 20 minutes is better.

2. When you train, concentrate deeply
on each and every rep. “Become” the

a. In other words, shut out the rest of
the world. Go deep inside the rep.

3. After each set, review how you did
and focus on the next set – and how
to make it even better.

a. See Dinosaur Training and Dino-
saur Bodyweight Training for more
details on the all-important mental
aspects of strength training.

4. Wear your power color when you train.
Everyone has a power color (or colors).
You feel stronger when you wear your
power color.

a. For me, power colors are black, navy
blue and gray.

b. We also have colors that make us feel
weak. Don’t wear those! (For example, I
avoid green, brown and tan.)

5. Focus on adding weight to the bar –
BUT always maintain perfect form. If in
doubt, focus on form. Never add weight
at the expense of maintaining perfect

6. The best exercise for any given body-
part or muscle group is the one that
works well for you – that you can do
pain-free – and that you have the
equipment to do in complete safety.

7. Abbreviated training works better than
anything else for the vast majority of
trainees. It’s not how long or how
often you train, it’s what you do
when you train that matters.

7a. Many trainees — perhaps MOST —
and especially older trainees — do best
on ultra-abbreviated training. See Gray
Hair and Black Iron for details and

8. Study the Iron Game and focus on
the old-tme champions who did it
without drugs, supplements or

9. Don’t obsess about your training.
Just do it. The most important thing
is to train regularly and consistently.
It all adds up over time.

10. Have FUN when you train. Fun is
important. Your training days should
be the best days of the week — and
your workouts should be some of the
most enjoyable things you do.

a. Yes, hard work and challenging
workouts are fun!

b. Lots of fun.

c. And yes, it’s a shame that most
people don’t have a clue about
this . . .

d. . . . which is why it’s good to train
hard and heavy and old-school, and
set an example for others.

So there you have it — 10 tips to
rev up your workouts. I hope you
enjoyed them — and I hope you
use them.

As always, thanks for reading and
have a great day. If you train today,
make it a good one!

Yours in strength,

Brooks Kubik