Before there were steroids, expensive supplements and a million and one warring fitness philosophies, there were the strongmen. Their talents largely employed by circuses, they were as much stunt performers as they were athletes. They managed to perform incredible feats of strength and build hulking physiques without any of the placebo powders or semi-credible diet plans of the modern bodybuilder. They were a colorful bunch of men, almost entirely forgotten by the cult of physical excellence that they inspired.
Strongman Edward Reece demonstrates his strength by holding up four actresses while draped between chairs. The photo was taken in 1927.