5 Old School Ways to Increase Body Strength

Bodybuilding dates back to the late nineteenth century where greats such as Eugen Sandow and Ed Fury promoted the art mainly for aesthetic and competitive purposes and less to increase body strength. While it has certainly evolved over the past decades, there is still a lot of power and efficacy in the strength-building exercises that these old school bodybuilders adopted.

Which is why we at Mean Muscles would like to go back in time to find out what the most effective historical exercises to increase body strength are. Exercises that have stood the test of time this past century and are still respected for their sheer potency to give the human body that much-desired natural, intrinsic power push.

Here are the top 5 old school ways to increase body strength that will never go out of style. These are relevant to all genders, but we still recommend you to consult with your trainer before practicing.

Increase Body Strength: 5 Old School Ways

If you own a pair of dumbbells and deadlifts, you can easily do these 5 old school bodybuilding exercises at home. Otherwise, head to your gym and show your friends what they have probably never seen in their life.

Pinch Grip Dead-lift for Increasing Grip Strength

This one right here is a perfect way to increase grip strength and muscles in your arms.

Pinch Grip Deadlift involves lifting a barbell (on your first time, choose a weight scheme half that of your usual) entirely using your palm grips. Grip the weight discs of the barbell as tightly as you can and lift them up till stomach height.

The tension will aid in strength increase in your traps, upper back, and grips. Since the exercise itself demands more grip strength, repetitions over a period will add to its overall effect.

Pinch Grip Dead-lift can be practiced with less weight also.

Arched Overhead Press for Thoracic Support

Old school bodybuilders (c. 1950s) are known for their extreme bodybuilding sessions. One of the most common variations of dead-lifting during these sessions was the Arched Overhead Press.

Today, it is one of the most effective ways to build thoracic support (rib-cage) through muscle growth in the shoulders and triceps.

In this exercise, you essentially arch your back while lifting the barbell in a standing position. Arch your back and form a curvy position so that you feel the weight on the middle back. If you feel it in your lower back, you are not doing it correctly. Once you have managed to click your arched position, proceed with the dead-lifting but keep the sets to a minimum.

If you feel most of what you are doing is wrong or ineffective, do check out the brilliant Muscle Gaining Secrets program that will bust all the myths and set you up for a perfect bodybuilding session.

Muscle Gaining Secrets ReviewSingle Dumbbell Pullover for Rib-Cage Stretching

This strength-building exercise should already be in the textbooks of aspiring bodybuilders. For there is no other more effective way to open your chest than doing the legendary pullover.

In Single Dumbbell Pullover, there is a slight variation. You grip both your hands on a dumbbell and lay across on your back on a bench. Take the dumbbell and arch back as low as you can while taking a long breath.

Make sure your hips are low (slightly below the bench) and your back as curvy as you can get it to be for maximum impact.

Together with the Arched Overhead Press, this is a powerful exercise to extend your rib-cage and build thoracic support. Experts suggest that it is also a great way to get rid of sternum pain.

Zercher Squat for Core Muscle Growth

Invented by the famous bodybuilder of the 1930s – Ed Zercher – this variation of a squat is a fantastic way to develop your core and leg muscles.

Assume the squat position with your knees fully bent. Hold the barbell between your elbows while keeping your hands in a cross fashion to grip it. Do the squats. Keep your hands folded while performing for maximum grip.

Since the entire weight is centered around your chest, you get a wholesome strength push on the back as well as on your legs and the core.

Forearm Roller

The last one is something that we are personally in love with.

What old school bodybuilders used to do was get a metal pipe and drill a hole at its center. Then they would tie a weighted rope through it. With hands outstretched they would try to roll the bar till the weight rose up to the bar height. An incredible way to end your bodybuilding session.

The Forearm Roller drives a strong tension in your forearms, which is why we also recommend it to people who work on computers all day.


While bodybuilding is selective, its subsets – strength building and muscle endowment – have become an integral part of a healthy lifestyle. A great way to ensure that we are doing the right exercises to help our body grow is to go back and learn some history.

These excellent old school exercises that we talked about are a sure shot way to increase body strength without having to resort to high-end tools or even a gym membership.

Go on and try these at home and come back to share your experience. We promise you will be more beefed up when you return. Follow Mean Muscles for more such tips and tricks on bodybuilding.

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