The secret of my strength explained. Many physical culturists possess large-size muscles, yet they lack something—something- fundamental. Some possess it in a degree more than others, but they have not specialized in its training. Have you seen my performance on the stage? If so, you have probably noticed that my movements, when performing a feat of strength, are short ones. Some of my feats require no movement at all.
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Santa Cruz, California, United States Gymnastics, Strength and Conditioning, Strongman Tweet Alexander Zass was a strongman in the circus, traveling around Russia for many years back around the beginning of the twentieth century.
He was born in Vilnius, Lithuania and lived from to While serving in the Russian army during the First World War, he was captured by opposing forces and escaped from prisoner of war camps not once - but a total of four times. Some of these were easy escapes, but not the last one his captors finally caught on that he wanted to be free.
Here he used his strength to break his shackles and bend the iron bars of his window to climb out of jail. As you can see, his amazing strength proved to be quite useful. Zass was not a weight lifter but performed feats such as bending bars, breaking chains, massive support and carrying lifts, and even several teeth lifts. In this video, the only known footage of the man, you can see him execute several of these feats: During his youth, as weightlifting equipment was not easy to come by, Zass made do with rocks, trees, and other items that were easily found.
He made his first barbells by chipping holes into stones and inserting an iron bar between them. Many things I tried, all helping, some of which I will tell you. I bent thick, green twigs with my hands, these being better than dry wood, which would not bend much before it would snap.
I practised this a good deal until my hands became so strong that I could bend even small boughs of trees till they broke. Also I tried lifting stones off the ground with my thumb and fingers, carrying them in my grip for some distance. According to Zass, if you want to become super-humanly strong you must concentrate on the hands and wrists. Much more of the strength to be gained in the grip is by developing the strength of the tendons and ligaments.
In support feats, even bone strength comes into play. In his writing, Zass shared what he believed to be one of the most important secrets of gaining unbelievable strength. Too many people seek improvement too quickly and actually stunt their gains. Small, gradual progression may seem to take longer but gives better results in the long run.
Zass was also a big proponent of isometric exercises, where you resist against an immovable object. For training these he liked using handles connected by a thick chain. Here he explains the benefits of doing isometrics : The great secret of developing strength is to do so in a way which will store up energy instead of dissipating it, and build up the stamina as well; and the only method I know which really does this is exercise against very strong resistance. Besides being a strongman, Zass was a phenomenal wrestler.
This makes sense, as wrestling, if you stop to look at it, is a match of many isometric and isotonic exercises against your opponent, at many weird angles. Zass was, in fact, one of a great many strongmen with a wrestling background. To sum up, Zass built his strength using what he had available. Without using modern dumbbells and barbells, he became one of the strongest men in history.
He learned from others but also ended up developing his own system using a mixture of dynamic and isometric exercises, content to make small gains in strength over time, which led to amazing feats of strength.
References 1. Drapkin Strongman Books, , South Carolina pg.
View the web version of the email. Alexander Zass and the Prison Workout A recent thread on the Transformetrics Forum discussed how men confined to prison can get in such awesome physical shape. In Isometric Power Revolution , I offer some examples of how individuals, confined against their wills, used Isometric Contraction to get—and stay—strong. One of the most impressive of those examples was Alexander Zass. He became known worldwide for his ability to bend thick iron bars and snap chains with his bare hands.
Alexander Zass and the Prison Workout
A logical question arises — why is this happening? But the fact is that the large muscles do not mean strong muscles, real strength only give you a comprehensive training of muscles, ligaments and tendons. Density of the tendon inferior to the bones, without them man would become just jelly. It is the development of the tendons is the basis of real power, so they must also persevere like muscles. The situation described above occurs quite often when muscular athletes are not able to do what can a man of modest build. From the volume of muscle is no good if they do not complement the strong tendons because there is no basis of power. So the practical benefits alone giant muscles a little.