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YouTube’s Buff Dudes, aka brothers Brandon and Hudson White, have tried all kinds of “old-school” workouts before, including classic strongman exercises. In a new video, they program a session using only exercises that were popular among bodybuilders in the 20th century, to varying results.
First up, from 1938, is a kettlebell exercise for “molding a mighty back,” which involves “tearing” the weights off the floor and “hurling” them overhead. The official advice also dictates to “throw your head back as vigorously as possible,” which sounds like an easy wa to incur an injury even if heavy weights aren’t involved.
“That is one of the worst exercises that could possibly ever be done,” says Brandon. “Never do this exercise, it’s horrible, it doesn’t do anything for you, it’s very dangerous, I was only using 10 pounds, it felt bad just doing my own bodyweight.”
The next exercise, from the 1970s, is the barbell wrist twist curl. This is performed by attaching two bands onto a barbell and using them to curl the bar upwards, an extra step which the brothers deem unnecessary. “Stability is definitely a factor here,” says Hudson.
The third move is a unilateral one: the javelin press. This classic strongman exercise will challenge your core strength as well as your shoulder, as you need to keep the bar stable throughout the entire lift. This one gets the Buff Dudes seal of approval.
Next up is the Reeves deadlift, coined by bodybuilder Steve Reeves. Instead of lifting the barbell by the bar, you lift it by the plates, making it a test of grip strength on top of everything else. This is followed by another dumbbell exercise, the monkey row. “It’s combining an upright row and shrug,” says Hudson. “You’re going to have to have a lot of mobility there in the shoulder joint… It does feel really good, and it gets plenty of deltoid and trap activation.”
Other moves covered in the video include the barbell turn, recommended in a bodybuilding manual from the 1940s, and the kettlebell extension, which was first created in 1905 but is still popular to this day.
Philip Ellis is a freelance writer and journalist from the United Kingdom covering pop culture, relationships and LGBTQ+ issues. His work has appeared in GQ, Teen Vogue, Man Repeller and MTV.