List off the great lifters of the early 20th century and Sig Klein is sure to crop up. As a lighter weightlifter, I love finding out about his records and how he trained. Most of his many records were set as a 148 pounder, in the days before the US took a team to the Olympics, so they tend to be in lifts that we might call odd lifts. As such, he had some innovative training ideas.
Reverse Hypers the Hard Way
Long before the days of Nautilus machines and the Reverse Hyper Machine, smart trainers and lifters realized that you had to train the low back as part of an entire posterior chain movement. While most lifters considered the concept and did things like stiff leg deadlifts, Sig Klein was thinking outside the box.
Exercise No. 11
“Lying on bench with weight tied or firmly held between the feet, raise weight with straight legs, as shown in illustration. Lower weight slowly to floor and repeat; inhale raising, exhale lowering. (For muscles on lower back.)”
The photo above shows Klein holding a dumbbell with his feet to do the movement. This is the otherwise un-named “Exercise 11” from his “Klein Bells” course. This course was published in the days before the Iron Boot, the first patent for which was drawn up in 1939. I'm sure Klein would have used Iron Boots instead instead of a dumbbell, they are simply easier than tying a dumbbell on your feet.
Having tried this, I highly recommend it, without the tying on part, just hold it. You won't be able to do nearly the amount of weight as with the Iron Boots, but that is OK. You will get some very interesting ankle and inner thigh work that you can't get any other way. Additionally, do this with the Iron Boots, both with the short bars in an isolateral movement and connected with the long bar. Look closely at the photo and you will see that Klein is using a bench that is simply covered with a draped cloth, clearly for aesthetic reasons. Make sure you have a good hold on the bench you are using.
All the best,
“Today is a good day to lift.”