Tag Archives: Hermann Goerner

Parallel Lift Training

by John McKean

Hermann Goerner

Gomers hate Goernor! Yep, those Grumpy Old Men (GOMers) who these days have little to do other than take delight from obnoxious blogging and crabbing on certain weightlifting websites, just detest the many huge poundage lifts that the legendary all-round strongman established during his prime.Though few living were around during the 1920s, our iron game gomers will loudly proclaim that Hermann’s lifts were done improperly,plates or globe bells were hollow, bars were bent for better leverages, etc., etc.. Being this is Superbowl week as I write, I submit that our highly critical WL goms use the same “absolute evidence” to INVALIDATE a lift ( that perhaps hundreds witnessed or was judged good by highly respected officials of that time) as is used by the instant replays in pro football. OK, no exacting vids for proof during Goernor’s heyday, but can ANYTHING,even an old bar, globe,or dumbbell that was used,be produced to reduce stature of one of our historic all time greats? (by the way, Goms, opinions,speculation, and rumors count for nothing!).

I mention the above ,not only to glorify Goernor’s 430 pound Two Hand Anyhow overhead (with kettlebells!), 330 pound right arm cheat curl (you’ll have to read his book for the exact, bizarre technique), and his mind-blowing 727 1/2 pound right hand deadlift, but,rather, to discuss Hermann’s inventive training system. Many have heard of his “chain” warmup where he would move up a dumbbell or kettlebell rack, starting at the lightest weight and progressing to the heaviest ‘bell in the gym. Ole Herm would perform a swing ,then a press, down to a curl, then a final press-all one arm for a single on each event. He often changed the sequence or even the exercises, yet always did a bunch with the individual weights.Yet most all-rounders of today may have missed the fact that “Mr. Mighty” also did “chains” of sorts with his main, heavier lifts!

One passage in “Goernor The Mighty” shows this hard working man doing a combination of various curls, presses, and holdouts for 2 reps each, then increasing the barbell or db weight, going through the same sequence, then usually going through a third rotation. Indications are that Hermann also did this with various types of deadlifts and presses/jerks.

We modern all-rounders could also “chain” certain similar lifts to intensify our efforts by condensing work within a relatively short time frame. For instance, we can put together a routine of rows, hacks, straddles, and, say, one arm deadlifts , starting at maybe 135# for the first round, then progressing up in weight for a single at each of the four events. When a limit is reached on any of the lifts,we merely drop it from the upcoming sequence, until we reach perhaps just a final single by itself on our particular specialty. Not much fuss overall devoted to time wasting, constantly changing weights up and down during a workout ! I’m sure most of our guys can dream up endless amounts of similar poundage, “PARALLEL” all-round combos to sneak in more lifts than formerly possible within one workout!

Most will discover that this “new,yet old” parallel system of simultaneously working several events will supply just the stimulation needed for exciting training during 2015. Heck, ole Al needs to get a bit busier, constantly adding records to the books! And,gees, 50 years from now, we WANT the old Gomers of that day angry over OUR lifts!!

Goerner Club

by Al Myers

Ben Edwards is now part of the "Goerner Club" with his 310 pound Middle Finger Deadlift at the 2011 USAWA National Grip Championships.

It’s not everyday that a lifter can break a mark done by the famous German Strongman Hermann Goerner.  This past weekend at the USAWA National Grip Championships Ben Edwards joined, as I’ve termed, the “Goerner Club” for exceeding Hermann’s best reported lift in the Middle Fingers Deadlift.  Ben lifted 310 pounds.   David Willoughby in his book The Super Athletes listed Goerner as having done a MF deadlift of 140 kilograms (308.5 pounds) around 1925.  I have always considered this the mark to beat to be outstanding in the middle fingers deadlift.  Now, compared to what Hermann has reported in his other finger lifts, this lift of his seems to be a sub-maximal effort.  None the less, it is a very good lift (and is actually believable compared to some of his other claims).   However, this 308.5# middle finger deadlift is not listed in Hermann’s autobiography by Edgar Mueller’s Goerner the Mighty.  I have read this book several times, and I don’t ever remember seeing this lift listed.  Mueller does talk in one chapter about the wide deviations of grips that Hermann uses for his deadlifts, and mentions a middle finger overhand grip  deadlift (of which he lists Goerner as having worked up to 220 pounds), but nothing about using an alternate grip as we allow in the USAWA for the Finger Deadlifts.

Just how many USAWA members are part of this “Goerner Club” for the Middle Finger Deadlift??

The list is quite small.  Only TWO other USAWA members (besides Ben)  have ever exceeded 309 pounds.  The KING OF the MIDDLE FINGER is none other than Kevin Fulton.  Kevin has the best middle finger deadlift of ALL-TIME in the USAWA with a lift of 400 pounds.  This lift was no fluke, as Kevin has exceeded 309 pounds in the MF deadlift several other times as well in official competition.  He set this HUGE MF deadlift at his own 1999 SuperGrip Challenge (which was the first year this meet was held).   The other lifter that is a member of the “Goerner Club” is USAWA Hall of Famer Bill DiCiccio.  In 1994 at the Gold Cup, Bill matched Hermann’s effort with a 309 pound lift.  Now that’s it!!!  I have spent a few hours looking back at past meet results over the past 20 years and I couldn’t find anyone else!!   Congratulations Ben – you are now part of a very small club in the USAWA.  Hermann would have been proud of you.

Check out the YouTube Video of Ben performing the Middle Fingers Deadlift (located on the upper right side of this website).

Goerner Stroll

by Al Myers

Bob Burtzloff participated in the Goerner Stroll at Kevin Fulton's SuperGrip Challenge several years ago.

This will be the last event in the Oldtime Strongman Competition at the Dino Gym Challenge.  It is based on a unique stage act performed by the Oldtime German Strongman Hermann Goerner.  The name of this Oldtime Strongman Event was not pegged by me – I have heard mention of the Goerner Stroll for many years!  How did it get named?  Maybe it was the stage feat in which Hermann Goerner would carry two large suitcase onto the stage – one in each hand.  Once in the middle of the stage he would sit both cases down and out climbed two young gals in each one!  Or maybe it was that memorable day at the training hall in Leipzig in 1920 where he picked up two bars, one in each hand weighing in at 663 pounds together, and proceeded to walk across the gym!  Either way, Hermann deserves the credit for this feat!!

The Rules for the Goerner Stroll

Two barbells will be used.  The lifter must pick up both barbells at the same time, one in each hand, and walk (or run) a distance of 1 rod (or 16.5 feet).  The starting and finish lines must be marked.  The plates on the bars must be behind the starting line at the start, and finish entirely beyond the finish line at the end.  The weight selected on the bars must not be changed during the attempt.  Both bars must be loaded to the same weight.  A one minute time limit is allowed for the attempt.  If the bars are set down or dropped between the  starting and finish lines during this 1 minute time limit, the lifter may start over, but MUST restart at the starting line.  Strapping the bars to the hands is NOT ALLOWED.

The Mighty Hermann Goerner

by Dennis Mitchell

Hermann Goerner at age 36. This picture was taken around 1927, when Goerner was in his weightlifting prime.

Hermann Goerner was born April 13, 1891, in Haenichen, Germany. At birth he gave no indication that he would grow to be one of the worlds strongest men, and he eventually reached a weight of 245 pounds at 6′ 1′. He had 18.25 inch biceps, 16″ forearms, 27″ thighs, and an expanded chest of 52″.

Hermann Goerner started lifting weights at the age of ten, though never stated what got him interested in lifting. By the age of fourteen he had grown to five feet six inches tall and weighed 185.25 pounds, and could swing with a straight arm a 110.25 pound kettlebell. He participated in running, jumping, swimming, and acrobatics along with boxing and wrestling. He also enjoyed playing the piano and was a good billiards player. He continued swimming throughout his lifting career. At age eighteen he was working as a stove fitter. He had developed a fine physique and supplemented his income by posing for artists and sculptors.

He gained some local recognition, in 1911, by winning both the Middle Germany and the Brandenburg Province weightlifting championships. In 1912, he won a National contest in Berlin. Like many strongmen of that time he formed a trio with his brother Otto Goerner and friend Otto Brauer. They performed throughout the cities of middle Germany. Their act consisted of lifting, supporting feats, and juggling kettlebells. In 1913, at the age of twenty-two, he took third place in the German Weightlifting Championships. At that time five lifts were contested – the one hand snatch, the one hand clean and jerk, the two hands press, the two hands snatch, and the two hands clean and jerk. In 1920 a match was arranged between Hermann and Karl Morke, who was then world heavy weight champion. Hermann was out to redeem himself after his third place in the German National meet. Again the five lifts were used, plus a sixth lift of the lifters choice. Morke chose the squat and Hermann chose the dead lift, the lift that he was most noted for. Hermann totaled 214 pounds more than the champion. In 1922 Hermann turned professional, where he earned far more than he did as a stove fitter. In that year he also married Elsie Jwifel. The two of them performed with the Pagel’s Circus and traveled through South Africa. In the late 1920s, with the help of W. A. Pullum, he performed in England.

Hermann is best known for his one hand dead lift of 727.25 pounds. This lift has never been equaled or surpassed by anyone else since. He also did a 793.75 pound two hands dead lift using an overhand hook grip, not an alternate grip like what is used by most deadlifters today . He was outstanding in many lifts, too numerous to list here. He had a “Challenge ” barbell of 330 pounds that had a thick 2.75 inch diameter bar that he would clean and jerk at every performance. He was exceptionally good at curling, having done 242.5 pounds in strict form. In spite of being badly wounded in the first world war, in which he lost an eye, got shrapnel in his legs, and for a time was a prisoner of war, he did these remarkable lifts.

Hermann Goerner passed away in 1956.

The Challenge Barbell of Hermann Goerner

by Al Myers

Hermann Goerner lifting his famous Challenge Barbell. This photograph was taken in Cape Town, South Africa in 1923.

Hermann Goerner had a Challenge Barbell that only he could lift.   It had solid globe metal ends, connected by a 2-3/8″ diameter shaft, and weighed 330 3/4 pounds (150 Kilos).  It was said the Goerner could lift his Challenge Barbell overhead anytime – day or night – for over 20 years.  He didn’t even need warmups to do it – and often hoisted his Challenge Barbell overhead in street clothes.  This really demonstrated the strength of Hermann Goerner’s hands – as most other challengers could not even pick it off the ground. Goerner would use a power clean to get the barbell to the shoulders, and then put it overhead with a push jerk.

Source:  Goerner the Mighty by Edgar Mueller

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