John Grimek hybrid bodybuilder strongman

John Grimek – hybrid bodybuilder strongman

Born on June 17, 1910 in Pert Amboy, New Jersey from Slovak immigrants and died on November 20, 1998 in York, Pennsylvania aged 88. 

John Grimek was a bodybuilder, an Olympic-style weightlifter, an all-around strongman, a gymnast, and a complete strength athlete

Mainly known as a bodybuilder, John Grimek entered more weightlifting contests than bodybuilding contests.  In his prime, he was one of the strongest men in the world. John Grimek is the only man in history to ever win the Mr. America contest and represent the USA in weightlifting in the Olympic Games and at the World Championships.

Here some of Grimek’s feats:

– 1939 York Perfect Man
– 2-time Mr. America “America’s Most Muscular Man” winner in 1940 and 1941.  Was so dominant that the “Grimek Rule” was instaured which barred former winners to re-entering the contest.
– Won the 1946 “Most Muscular Man in America” at 36 years old.
– Won the NABBA Mr. Universe Short & Overall in London, England at 38 years old in 1948.  Becoming the first Mr. Universe. 
– Won the AAU Mr. USA title in 1949 after coming out of retirement at nearly 39 years old defeating young sensation Steve Reeves.
– Retired undefeated in amateur and professional bodybuilding competition
– Was and still is featured in countless bodybuilding articles and magazines
– Was inducted into the IFBB Hall of Fame in 1999

– USA Senior National Weightlifting Champion
370 pounds clean and jerk
– Two hands clean and press (military press) American record
– Almost setted the World Record in the military press at several occasion.
– Represented the USA in weightlifting at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany.  He achieved the highest total of any American weightlifter.
– Represented the USA at the 1938 World Weightlifting Championships.
– Defeated the legendary and one of the strongest men of all time John Davis in weightlifting.
– Was the North American Weightlifting Champion.

– Although not a full-time professional he performed in tours and exhibitions throughout the United States.
– Military pressed 285 or 290 pounds at every show.
– Continental pressed 305 or 315 pounds- all of this at a bodyweight around 200 pounds.
– 285 pounds reverse overhead press (with back bend)
pressed simultaneously two dumbells weighing 110 and 125 pounds.
– All-around Strength: Excelled at moving a huge weight in a short movement, weightlifting, deadlifts, squats, leverage, odd  feats, strongman stunts, supports in any position.
Grip Strength: Excelled at bending iron bars and spikes, breaking chains, card tearing, ripping telephone books, grip test, rope climbing, wrist wrestling, hitting a poker over his arm until it bend.
– Continued serious weight training for many years, still able to squat over 400 pounds for reps in his late 60s.

– Despite being the most muscular and strongest man of his era, John Grimek was also a skilled gymnast performing full splits, incredible back bends, hand balancing, and gymnastic maneuvers. 
– His bodybuilding posing routine included classic poses, muscle control, hand balancing, handstand push-ups, and tiger bends.

Muscle Control

John Grimek shows one of the most impressive abdominal vacuums ever seen. He outperformed the famous Ringling Brothers Circus performer “the man without a stomach” back in the 30’s.

Measurements *pre-steroid era*:
The following measurements are from Mr. America 1940/1941:

  • Height: 5’8½”
  • Weight: 195 lbs.
  • Neck: 17 inches
  • Arm: 17.5 inches
  • Forearm: 14 inches
  • Chest: 47 inches
  • Waist: 31 inches
  • Thigh: 25 inches
  • Calf: 17 inches
  • Wrist: 8 inches
  • Ankle: 9.8 inches

Measurements from 1948 Mr. Universe in contest shape:
    . Weight: 203 pounds
    . Biceps: 18.5 inches
    Chest: 50 inches 
    . Waist: 30.5 inches 

Was 210 pounds in 1949 and his weight fluctuated between 176 to 231 lbs.  His best measurements were Chest 50″; Neck 18″; Biceps 18.25″; Waist 29-32; Calf 18″; Thigh 29″.  John Grimek was the World’s best-built and most muscular man of his time, and the physical ideal of many people.  And to this day, he has and still inspires thousands of people over the years.  He was known as a gentleman and a very fine person, a true icon for the sport.

His training
consisted on presses, dumbbell presses, squats, power cleans, snatches, deadlifts, barbell bent over rows, and curls.  He rarely rotated exercises and did anything else.  He stuck with the basic: adding more weight to the bar, only eating food that he needed without overfeeding himself, plus plenty of rest.  He believed that the military press was the best triceps exercise.

Modern Era
In the old days, pre-steroids era, all bodybuilders were complete strength athlete just like the crossfit athletes of today.  But John Grimek was simply the best!

There is no more John Grimek around today, and I don’t think you will see one in the future.   Since everybody specialize in ONE SPORT ONLY – bodybuilding, Olympic lifting, powerlifting, strongman contests.

Gone are the days were a single man could pretends to be the World’s Strongest Man and the Most Perfectly Developed Man in the World.

My two cents
So to all the men and women out there lifting stop depending on useless junk supplements and trying to emulate juiced-up bodybuilders with roid guts.  Instead take John Grimek as your role model.  No supplements needed!  Just heavy training, sufficient eating, and plenty of rest.

Good training!

Is CrossFit a Strength Sport?

Interesting links:
fitFLEX Articles » John Grimek: Insightful Look & Interview with Bodybuilder John Grimek
John Grimek Bulk and Power Routine

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