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Strength Equipment Nerd

  • Tai Chi Balls Getting Ready For Shipment

    Yes.  We do have two different types of finish on the Tai Chi Balls: Clear Coat and Wax.  This is a

    Tai Chi Balls Ready for Clear Coat
    Tai Chi Balls Ready for Clear Coat Polyurethane at Atomic Athletic.

    run that is going to be clear coated.  I love the clear coat finish.  It is very durable and makes the balls look great!

    Most of the clear coat polyurethaned Tai Chi Balls head off to classrooms.  They are very easy to clean... always a good thing.

  • 1932 Atlanta Police Department Gym

    Caption: “Here we see the barbell section of the Atlanta Police Department gym, under the personal, efficient, directorship of Edward Rosendahl, standing on the extreme right.  No wonder the Atlanta police force are strongly erect and vigorously alert.  They are an example which the police departments of other cities could copy with pride.  Instructor Rosendahl is the enthusiastic, aggressive type that accomplishes great things in body building training.  He also conducts two other schools in the city of Atlanta, Ga.”

    Equipment List: Based on Close Examination of Photo

    Old Time Strongman Gym Atlanta Police Department Gym: Circa 1932

    Adjustable Barbells
    Adjustable Dumbbells
    Adjustable Kettlebell Handles (Milo Bar Bell 1908 Tri-Plex Type): York improved on this design about 10 years later and we sell that type now. They are extremely versatile and are the preferred type to use for the competition type crucifix hold, found here: http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/kettlebell-handles-pair.html

    Globe Kettlebells (Milo Bar Bell Duplex Type)
    “Pro-Style” Barbells: Various Weights
    “Olympic” Plates – In a Rack
    Block Weights (I have some antique Toledo brand for sale here: http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/antique-toledo-block-weight-50-pounds.html

    Parallel Bars
    Wooden Seats/Benches
    Spring Steel “Crushers”
    Strands (Spring Type Chest Expanders)
    Barbells Racks
    Dumbbell Racks
    Plate Racks
    Tons of Plates
    Photos of Boxers, Wrestlers & other Strength Athletes

    Keep checking back, as I am doing an analysis of the equipment with related links, with the actual caption.

    All the best,
    Roger LaPointe
    “Today is a good day to lift.”

  • Brodie's Saloon & the Kennedy Lift

         "Steve Brodie, the man who took a chance, he jumped off the Brooklyn

    Chain Bar Heavy Lift Strongman Hip Lift with Train Wheels

    Bridge(so they say) had a saloon on the Bowery back in 1892 with a gym in the rear. This was not unusual. A lot of barrooms supported gyms. The author (York Barbell's Gord Venables) visited the Turnverein in Union City, New Jersey, in 1960 and it was back of the bar in a Swiss Restaurant.

         Bill Kennedy, a New York carpenter, performed nightly at Brodie's Saloon, lifting 1500 pounds in the straddle deadlift with handle and chain. The lifting feat became popular among strongmen of that era and it now bears his name - The Kennedy Lift." (Strength & Health, “Incredible Feats of Strength”, Venables, Oct-Nov 1974, p. 59

    Atomic Tip: Using the Hand & Thigh Bar with the Chain Lift Bar for a Kennedy Lift will allow you to go much heavier than a Jefferson Lift (barbell Straddle Deadlift), as you can “set” the bar in the partial movement. While you certainly can use bumper plates, cast iron 100's are far more dense. Make sure you use accurate ones, or at least weigh them so you can get the weight right from one end of the bar to the other. Obviously, you want the chain lift bar to have a balanced load, without loose wobbly collars.

  • 25 Pound Chrome Plates are Sold Out

    Yes.  The Special we had on 25 Pound Chrome Standard Size Plates is over.  That is why you cannot find that item on the web site.  When I sent out the Atomic Athletic Bomb Proof Bulletin reader notice, they flew out the door.  That was a discontinued product that needed to be cleared out, which means I can't get more of them.  Pay attention for more Discontinued/One-of-a-Kind/Collectible items...

    If you are reading this BLOG post, and you are NOT on the NEW Atomic Athletic Bomb Proof Bulletin e-mail list, but wish to be, the sign-up is on the front page of the site... here it a link: http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/ Go to the Lower Left of the screen.

  • Super-Heavy Dumbbell Bench Presses by David Shaw

    Some years ago, when I was stuck at a 440 pound Bench Press, I searched for exercises that would boost my power on the Bench Press. I noticed that for some, it was various triceps exercises, however no one had a one size fits all exercise. In my case, I did heavy dips with up to a 150 pound dumbbell attached to my waist, then my elbows began to hurt, skull crushers ended with the same result, so for me I had to look elsewhere for a compound movement that would work more than the triceps, but would engage the chest, shoulders (anterior) front deltoid, and the triceps without placing the elbows in a position that with added weight while performing exercises, caused pain.

     

    I settled on the Dumbbell Bench Press.  The only mention of these over the years was by Dr. Ken

    Dr. Ken Leistner Pressing Dr. Ken Leistner pressing a custom Shot Loading Globe Barbell from Atomic Athletic.

    Leistner, where he did them also, increasing his Bench Press. The only equipment needed is a good solid bench that will not tip over as you sit on the edge getting the dumbbells in place, and returning them to the floor, and some heavy fixed dumbbells, or bars used for dumbbells, that plates up to 20 or 25 pounds can be used on.

    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/long-dumbbell-bar-collars.html

    When I mentioned Super-Heavy in the title, I worked up to 200 pound dumbbells in each hand for two reps. I trained by myself, so there was no luxury of a partner that handed the dumbbells to me. I would sit on the end of a solid bench, bend over, grab first the right dumbbell, and place it on my inner thigh, and then grab the second dumbbell, and do the same thing on the left side. Then, sit on the bench, tighten the dumbbells to my chest and with control, lay down on the bench. This is not a bodybuilding dumbbell bench press, so the palms of the hands need to face each other, and not out away from each other as in the bodybuilding movement. By holding the dumbbells palms facing each other, there is more of a stretch at the bottom, as the dumbbells come down to the sides of the chest. This converts to a powerful push off of the chest when doing Bench Presses.

    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/limited-edition-brass-thick-dumbbell-handle.html

    I did these twice weekly, heavy on my heavy Bench press day, and moderate on my moderately

    David Shaw Powerlifter David Shaw Powerlifter

    heavy Bench Press day. Repetitions were for example. 90x5, 100x5, 110x5, 120x5,5, this would be on the heavy day. Moderately heavy would be 90x5, 100x5, 110x 5,5,5

     

    The important thing here is to find a rep range that works for you, and push toward heavier and heavier dumbbells. On this routine, my regular Bench Press went to 485 pounds in training, I then substituted Close –Grip Bench presses (able to use more weight) as my assistance movement, and went to 523 pounds in competition. One important fact not to be overlooked is, if you are increasing body-weight, expect some dramatic changes in your upper body. You may go up a size or two in shirt size. By doing this movement heavy, you will not be disappointed.

  • New Masters Lifting Writer

    “Rog, start sending me everything you can find with old guys lifting.” I don't get requests like that. I really don't get that sort of request from genuine icons of strength.

    David Shaw Powerlifter
    David Shaw Powerlifter

    Coming up will be, what I am hoping, is the first of many, many articles by a “new” master writer. No, I have not raised Bob Hoffman from the dead, although I am sure he is still clutching his pen, but this guy has done some great writing and a lot of serious lifting.

    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/books-and-videos/strength-health-magazine-package-special.html

    I know, you are thinking that this will be some Olympic weightlifting guy that I have known for years.

    Wrong.

    This guy is from the world of powerlifting. He has set 5 world records. He has won the Nationals and been in the Guinness Book of World Records. While he did all the amazing things you can read about on the inter-webs, he was training alone in his garage and pushing his education through two Master's Degrees.

    Guess where he lifts today? In his garage.

    While he no longer competes, he still lifts. He could lift in a modern corporate facility, which he happens to manage for a major, large corporation, but he doesn't.

    I know you are wondering who he is. Well, it's David Shaw.

    Let me tell you one of the coolest things about David Shaw. It isn't his past records or tales from meets back in the day. Sure, those are interesting things, but not nearly so cool as the day called me up, with an urgency in his voice and asked for that info on old guys. I asked, “Why? You did more than the old guys.”

    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/books-and-videos/usawa-2000-nationals-dvd.html

    “I'm sorry, you misunderstand me,” he very politely said. “I want to see what guys are actually lifting and breaking records at, who are 60, 70 or a 100 years old. This is what I am going to aim for.” So, Dave is building his list. Some of his information is old, like his reports on what Ed Zercher did. Some is very recent, like the footage and results from my 2012 Atomic Athletic Great Black Swamp Olde Time Strongman Picnic. So, as Dave gets older, he will be looking at what guys did, and are doing, at his current age, even if the guy he's competing against has been dead for 50 years. Dave is constantly adapting, changing and trying to improve on what has worked in the past, with some very definite goals in mind. That's really cool.

    Because of his attitude, I had to get him to write for me. This weekend you will have Dave's first article. It's a short piece on dumbbell benching. Don't worry, everyone will get something out it, regardless of your age. Dave writes from a position of ageless truth.

    All the best,
    Roger LaPointe
    “Today is a good day to lift.”

  • Garage Gym Dumbbell Construction

    Every lifter would love to have a full set of dumbbells in their garage. Regardless of what you consider a full set to be, workouts are simply smoother, faster and more efficient when you can pull

    DIY Pro-Style Dumbbells Building your own Pro-Style Dumbbells with SDH Handles & End Caps

    the exact weight dumbbell right off a rack. As an equipment supplier and dealer I have seen every type of dumbbell you can imagine at every price range.

    2 REASONS

    You are one of two types of individual if you are still reading this Bomb Proof Bulletin.

    Back Weighted Dumbbells: You might be the guy who wants to make up dumbbells that really can't be found in the configuration you want. Maybe you want to make pro-style dumbbells that are “Back Weighted” or otherwise built with some other strange configuration, like with 25 Pound Plates. There aren't any manufacturers who will do that for you, but you can build them yourself with a set of Pro-Style or SDH handles.

    Dumbbell Category: http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/dumbbells.html

    The Money Guy: Let's face it, if you are putting together a “set” of dumbbells, it will require

    DIY Pro-Dumbbell Set SDH Pro-Style Dumbbell Handle Set with Steel End Plates

    hundreds, if not thousands of pounds of weight. Heck, a pair of 100s adds up to 200 pounds. Cast iron is generally not free. So, until money starts growing on trees or you cash in that winning lottery ticket, this set of dumbbells is going to represent some greenbacks.

    Building your own set of dumbbells can be a labor of love, but a good way to start is by turning your Standard Size Plates into Pro-Style Dumbbells. To do that, you need to pick up SDH Dumbbell Handles. They come in a variety of styles, but the ones we sell at Atomic Athletic are fully lathe turned in Canada. That means they start off with a single solid chunk of steel and end up with a dumbbell handle. To my knowledge, all the ones you find from China have “press fit” inside collars. That's not good. While you don't ever want to drop your dumbbells, it can happen. A press fit collar will slide.

    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/pro-style-dumbbell-handles-set-sdh-2-pair-with-chrome-steel-end-plates.html

    We also do our sets with a chromed steel counter-sunk end cap, instead of the washer you typically see on the end of many dumbbells. This is much nicer if you want to set your dumbbells on your thighs. You won't have that bolt protruding into your leg. I do not recommend rubberized end caps. The rubberized ones are basically the same size as our steel ones (different manufacturers vary somewhat), the issue most people don't think about is that the rubber surface is not structural, so your hard inner part is very small. That inner part is also frequently made of cast iron, instead of steel. That small piece of cast iron inside the rubber is thin and brittle.

    Basically, a lot of my customers have a variety of standard size (plates that fit a 1 inch diameter bar) plates sitting in the corner rusting away. Use those plates. Turn them into a dumbbell set. Some guys will also buy up plates at garage sales and used sporting goods stores. Believe me, I would like to sell you plates, but there is a cost to ship weight, in addition to the cost of the plates themselves. Don't forget that there are different size SDH Dumbbell Handles. Each size will hold a different number of plates, for example an SDH-1 goes from 5-20 pounds with the York Pro-Style Plates, while the SDH-2 holds from 25-40 pounds and so on. They only go up to SDH-8 size.

    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/dumbbells/gym-dumbbells.html

    These are just some ideas. Enjoy building your dumbbell set!

    All the best,
    Roger LaPointe
    “Today is a good day to lift.”

  • Man in the Arena by Teddy Roosevelt

     

    Heavyweight Boxer Billie Miske 1922
    Heavyweight Boxer Billie Miske lost to Jack Dempsey at Benton Harbor, MI in 1920. For the 3 round fight Dempsey won $55,000 and Miske $25,000.

    It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

    President Theodore Roosevelt

  • Cheap & Easy

    “Cheap and easy” is rarely a good thing.

    “Cheap and easy” are the only two positive descriptive terms for spring collars. Because they are cheap, they seem to be the favorites of most gym owners. Clearly, it is not because they work well. This is how they work. When they actually fit on a barbell end, you merely have to squeeze them

    Standard Size Allen Collar & Short Dumbell Bar Set Standard Allen Collar & Short Dumbell Bars

    and they slide right on. The benefits end there.

    As you may have guessed, this Atomic Athletic Bomb Proof Bulletin is about barbell and dumbbell collars. It's true, I am a little obsessive compulsive about the collars I use. Like many terms in this industry, it is easy to come up with innuendo, but I will try to keep things serious. Barbell and dumbbell collars have a genuine and serious purpose. They are meant to hold the plates on the end of your bar. Because of the ways barbells are used, relative to the ways dumbbells are used, I feel the issue is typically most serious for dumbbells.

    Two Types of Collars
    There are two types of collars: screw type collars and compression collars. Screw collars have what is called a set screw that is pressed into the bar end. Compression collars reduce the inside diameter of collar to hold the bar. There are several ways this can be accomplished.

    Spring Collars are a perfect example of a compression collar. Generally, I highly recommend a compression collar, except when it is a spring. Spring collars do not have a flat face, so your plates are always going to be floppy and loose. More than that, their springiness reduces over time and they eventually become so loose that they simply don't hold. Of course, that plays right into the other reason I hate them. I also dislike them from a business perspective. When I worked for York Barbell, we got them in loose shipments in giant wooden crates. I found that about thirty percent of them were so loose, right from the factory, that they had to be discarded. Someone had to stand there and try out every one, otherwise the customer would get bad collars. I really don't like spring collars.

    Spin-Lock Collars
    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/collars-olympic-2-spin-locks-from-york-barbell-pair.html

    I like Spin-Lock Collars. The spin-lock collars most people are familiar with are used on Olympic bar

    York Barbell Spin-Lock Olympic Collars

    ends, have wing nuts, weigh about 5 pounds each and are easily identified by the large “star” shaped part. I sell the ones made by York Canada. I had one customer pissed off at me because York USA shows a crappy Chinese version on their web site. The photo in this bulletin is of the ones we sell. Anyway, they are lined with leather and the wing nuts compress the collar onto the bar. The spinning star shaped end is threaded on the inside and used for tightening the plates down. In an ideal world, this is the very best type of collar to use. In fact, it is the only type of collar I will use on Olympic Dumbbell Handles, especially for lifts like Dumbbell Cleans, the One Hand Dumbbell Snatch and most importantly on the One Hand Dumbbell Swing. I don't want plates that are loose, flopping around, or worse yet, sliding off. Any of those scenarios smack of danger, if you pardon the pun.

    Allen Collars
    I also have some awesome Stainless Steel Standard Size Allen Type Spin-Lock Collars. These

    Stainless Steel Super Allen Collars Stainless Steel Super Allen Collars

    are over kill and I love them.  Each collar has a double set (that's 4, if you're counting) of allen screws.  So, not only do these spin-lock, but you can anchor the spin-lock with a pair of allen screws.  These are now my favorite for the One Hand Dumbbell Swing.  For that lift, I actually use a proto-type pair of pro-style dumbbell bars, with steel end plates.  The way I set it up is with the end plate on the end that is sitting on the ground, then the other end gets the collar.  I have an old, as in antique, knurled dumbbell handle like you would get with the old York Barbell Aristocrat Set.  This is my spacer for grip.  Then the collar tightens everything down, so there is no slop or rotation.  You can see the lift at this link:

    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/long-dumbbell-bar-collars.html

    Regular Allen Collars
    Our regular Standard Size Allen Collars are significantly cheaper than the ones above, but they are also compression type collars that hold like crazy. I use these all the time. For standard size bars, they have become my “go to” collars when I am making up a dumbbell, odd-ball barbell, leverage/mace set-up, you name it. They are really narrow with a single allen type counter-sunk screw that actually closes the ring size of the collar. The allen screw is very low profile, so it does not seem to catch on your clothes, like wrenchless screws can.

    Little Allen Collar Story
    Our Standard Size Allen Collars are made in the USA out of real spring steel. Back in 2007, the price went up on these, so I tried out a knock-off version that was made in India. My analysis was “total crap”. I know, not very scientific, but they had the size off by a couple thousandths... too small. I figured, I would just pry them open, maybe the spring steel had compressed in shipping. Wrong. They just broke. End of the knock-off test. I went back to my trusted American made steel and good old American machine shop and raised the price. There really is no substitute. Lesson learned.

    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/collars-allen-collar-set-of-4.html

    Set Screw Collars
    We have many more collar types that fit into the set-screw category: Classic Red Wrenchless Screw Collars, Heavy Duty 3/4 Pound Wrenchless Screw Collars, Chrome Standard Barbell Collars, Olympic Allen Collars and many more.

    Once you use the right collars for the right job and then have to go to a buddy's place and use the wrong collars, you will suddenly understand the importance of getting it right. Use the right tool for the right job, or lift, as the case may be. Beware of “Cheap and Easy”.

    All the best,
    Roger LaPointe
    “Today is a good day to lift.”

  • East Meets West in Strength Training

    Shaolin Monks
    Roger and Shi Guolin discuss stone padlock training during a recent visit.

    I have been lifting weights for over 20 years and have been involved in one way or another with a number of sports: Olympic weighttlifting, Powerlifting, All-Round Weightlifting, Highland Games, Strongman and a variety of other sports, and I am still finding more new and exciting training methods each time I work out.

    My recent meeting with the Shaolin Monks really got me fired up for stone padlock training. The Monks showed me complex methods of strength training that blew my mind. They even showed me basic, foundation exercises that were super cool. Since then, I have been getting outstanding results in my training with stone locks. Most notably, my upper body and shoulders have never felt stronger and my forearms are reaching new levels of strength and definition with each new workout.

    After working on several of the movements the Monks showed me, suddenly I had an epiphany; something I had always wanted to try but could not previously understand. Several years ago, I read about a special training method of German Strongman Herman Goerner called “Die Kette” (the chain).

    goerner Meet Goerner

    Before I get into exactly what "The Chain" is, here is some background information on Herman Goerner for those of you who may not be familiar with him.

    He was born in Haenichen, Germany and lived from 1891-1956. He stood around 6’ tall and his weight varied from 220 in 1920 all the way up to 260 lbs during the 1930's. Goerner was one of the last great professional strongmen of the 20th century. He was particularly well known for his phenomenal hand strength and his deadlifting ability. Goerner could do a one-arm barbell clean with 297.62 lbs, a strict barbell curl with 220.46 pounds, a one hand snatch with 264.55 lbs. and a two-arm snatch with his arms crossed with 231 lbs. Also among his many outstanding lifts was a one arm deadlift of 727 ½ pounds.

    Goerner was a true physical culturalist and he employed many different training techniques to build and maintain his tremendous power. His gym in South Africa was stocked with all types of weights including globe barbells, block weights, dumbbells and kettlebells. He also had an area to practice boxing, wrestling and gymnastics.

    In his biography “Goerner the Mighty” by Edgar Mueller there was a section on how he trained.

    As I mentioned earlier, one of Goerner's favorite techniques was called “Die Kette”(the chain) and he loved to do it using kettlebells. He could do this since his gym had many different sizes of each. He began with lighter kettlebells. and did a variety of movements then moved onto the next size and performed many of the same movements. As he moved down the rack the exercises changed and adapted as the weights got heavier. Sometimes he only did one circuit, sometimes he did several.

    I thought since I have three different sizes of stone locks to use, that this would be a perfect opportunity to give “Die Kette” a try, but I would modify it with complexes, in the manner of the Shaolin Monks.

    I began with the 10 pound stone padlocks. First, I started out with some callisthenic exercises to warm up a bit. I held the locks and did some arm circles and various types of swings. I varied the speed of these movements and my shoulders were already fried. Then I did a variety of lateral raises. My shoulders were screaming by this time as were my forearms. I finished up with some wrist curls and reverse wrist curls.

    justin10pl_d See a real Kung Fu master at work

    Then I immediately grabbed the pair of the 25 lb. stone locks and began overhead pressing. First as strictly as possible then as many push presses as I could. Keep in mind that I had to “stay tight” and grip the padlock tightly the whole time to be able to complete the presses. I then started what you might call curling. Due to the unique shape and leverages of the stone padlocks, all the
    stress was on my fingers and wrists and forearms. I did horizontal curls and then hammer curls and my forearms felt like they were about to explode, since
    they were so gorged with blood.

    I was huffing like a boiler at this point, but now it was time for the big
    boys. The 45 lb. padlocks were up next. I did cheat hammer curls until I
    couldn’t feel my arms. I ended the workout with a farmers walk with these up
    and down a hill near my house.

    The whole workout took maybe 30 minutes and my body was utterly destroyed. The
    next day I was so sore that I could hardly move but I was happy knowing that my
    training was working.

    Atomic Athletic will be coming out with more detailed stone lock training
    programs in the future, including traditional movements as well as many we have
    come up with on our own. Check back often and don’t miss our workout reports
    and periodic updates in the Bomb Proof Bulletin.

    Here are some other tools to help in getting strong from the East and the West:
    Shaolin Muscle Tendon Change Classic DVD

    The Art of Hojo Undo: Power Training

    Stone Padlock Training DVD - the tools aren't any good if you don't know how to use 'em. This is an Atomic Athletic Exclusive

    30 Pound Stone Ball - East collides with West in this Atomic Athletic exclusive granite ball. Use for strongman training or kung fu... the choice is yours. We include the instructional wall charts for FREE.

    Live Strong!

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