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Inch endurance


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Tomas Inch revealed an interesting story about the

172 lb challenge bell. In 1922 (he was age 40 at the

time) he wrote in Health & Strength:

"It is strange that no one has yet moved the bell

off the ground- there is no trick whatever, and the

Editor will tell you that when at Bradford, after some

really good men had tried their hand, I not only

picked the bell up but stood with it in my hand whilst

I addressed the audience. [quite right-Ed.]"

Please, your best guess on how to interpret this. Even

today when the strongest men have only deadlifted the

Inch for as long as it takes to do a deadlift, how do we

explain Inch holding it while speaking to an audience, in

what appears to be an almost casual manner.

Do you interpret that he held the bell for one minute or

several minutes or what? Also, how much weight can

you hold for one minute on an Inch size handle 2.38"?

How much weight on the handle for several minutes,

and finally, do you believe this happened? Thank you.

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doubt he couldve held it while standing and casually talking to an audience, mightve been the 75 pound replica Joe Roark mentioned in Iron History on friday tho

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As the seni 2002 exhibtion is off I might give this a try. I have to say, pre try, that I think it is possible. I say this as elsewhere you'll recall that when training for the Inch I tried timed holds.

As an example both myself and Alan Radley lifted the Inch clear of the floor at least 6-7 times each on the OH dinner night we were successful (2000 I think). This was for various picture takers and shutter bugs :)

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Tells ya what. I'm due to train it in five mins (4pm local time) so I'll load it up to 172 and do it for as long as poss. I wont stand up but will hold it clear of the floor for time.

Be back when my grip gives out :)

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Joe / Steve, in regard to numerous attempts in a short period of time, remember that in the 200-2001 IronMind catalog it said that John Lundstrom lifted it 8 times at a store. In the picture he has it at about knee height.

Steve, can't wait to hear how long you hold it. I think that this test is critical, because you are a thick handle specialist as Inch was (or as Inch supposedly was, whichever the case is).

Joe, in looking at those pictures on Richard Sorin's webpage it looks like Magnus could hold it for some good time too. Maybe the picture is deceptive, but who knows. I would also like to hear what Richard thinks on the subject, he had a good deadlift going with the replica on there too.

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Yes, we await your input!

Imagine what weight you could hold while

standing talking to an audience. IF I could lift it I would

have time only to say 'Cover your ears, there's going

to be a crashing sound!'

Before you post your response I am going to guess

you can hold it clear of the floor for 24 seconds...

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*ucking ####. I just and I mean just managed 24 seconds. It was an all out effort and it did come crashing down!

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Maybe he really did do it. Didn't he say that he trained for 6 years or something to be able to lift the 172 overhead? How could someone else be expected to lift it on their first try?

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The Prophet Joe has spoken.

Wow! 24 seconds! Now imagine the strength needed,

and you are not exactly a runt, to stand calmly holding

that bell by your thigh as you speak to an audience.

Frankly, I don't believe Inch could do that.

Did you mean in your post that you held it for about 21

seconds then tried again and got 24 seconds?

You sir, so far as I am concerned, hold the modern record for

timed hold with the Inch replica. The time to beat is 24 seconds. Congratulations, Steve! Well done!

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Inch claimed it took him five years to get the first

thick handled bell off the floor, and that was not,

as is generally assumed, the 172, but the 140, which

was also his bodyweight at the time. So by the time he

deadlifted the 140 it would have been 1902 or 1903.

The 172 so far as I can determine, was manufactured

circa 1906. The search continues.

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If mobsterone held it for 24 sec, the second time he ever timed himself, I don't think it is unbelievable that Inch could have held it for 1 or 2 minutes.  If Inch did lift his bell almost every day, as well as train with it, then perhaps this is true.  I have to ask, has anyone besides Thomas Inch trained with a similar dumbell as diligently and for as long as Inch did?  I'm guessing the answer is no.  I'd guess that if there was such a thing as the thomas Inch gripper, a lot more people would have shut and held closed replicas of it.  Just my thoughts on the matter.

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MY dumbbell - for the attempt - weighed 173 pounds (1 more than Inch's) and yes I did 21.27 and came down and typed it in. I then looked at another post or three and wnet upstairs and did the 24 - just.

After a 5 minute rest I loaded it up with my target for the day and did a single instead of 4 x 1 with 106 kilos (plus 8 pounds for rod and collar).

I therefore think, as part of an act, that it could be done.

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Okay, I started this mess, and certainly everyone is entitled to

an opinion.

We know that Inch could not lift the 172 circa 1911

because he acknowledged that fact.

So how many contests are you under the impression that

Inch participated in from 1911 until 1922- the time frame

at which I started this thread? How many? How much

heavy training are you under the impression that he did

in that decade or so? In 1911 Inch would have been 30,

in 1922, age 40/41. You think he continued training so

that he not only regained the strength to lift the bell

but actually increased his strength over the very low

(by his own admission) 1911 levels? On what do you base

that belief. If it is just an opinion, then okay; I have a

different view.

Inch was a very busy businessman in those years, and

although I acknowledge that I lack some mags from that

time period, I suspect most of you also lack them, and based

on what I have studied in the mags that I do own from that

period, it is my studied opinion that Inch could not do what he claimed. I personally do not care if he could or not, I care

only to know which it was, yes or no. I lean to no, based

not on prejudice but on a bias drawn from investigating his


Shall we now assume that since Inch could hold the bell

for much longer than Steve that Inch could also lock

out a deadlift with 1001 lbs? Keep in mind Steve didn't just

fall off a cabbage wagon, he's been doing grip work for

some time.

Best regards.

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Ok not too sure re Inch's condition in 1911 but I am 37 years old so that'd put me in the mid ground for Inch. Also IMO I am very, very busy right now. A quick sample of my schedule.

Own 4 websites, 1 makes money and I get inquiries every day, have to deposit cheques etc. A monthly Muscle Mob magazine, envelopes and also cheques etc - this without the daily typing of articles and prepping for publication. Train Mon & Tuesday, coach Wednesday, train Thur and coach again Fri train again Saturday. No wife or partner and so all ironing etc done by me. Etc, etc...

So if I can 'have a go', just the once, it seems possible that he did pull it off the floor - as a feat/trick - for one minute. However, like you and I have some of your info re this, I also don't think he put it overhead.

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Then a question, Steve. How much less weight would

you be able to hold for a minute or two on the Inch handle

while standing upright, and, would you be able to clean

that amount with one hand?

Also, it appears to me, that unlike you, Inch did not

train heavily in the period we are discussing.

I am still missing the June 1925 issue of STRENGTH

magazine where the tale is told of Inch's brother attempting

to deadlift the 172 with one hand. I had brushed this off

as a joke but am now beginning to understand what MAY

have been the key, and it has to do with the hole in the

handle of the 172. George had tried to lift the bell by means

of a hidden wire and hook.

Inch had asserted that the hole in the handle had only

to do with the foundry process- for escaping gases, but

then it dawned on me that the hole would have to lead

via a channel to the rest of the apparatus, and when I

saw the bell the hole appeared to be 1/4" or so deep,

and not to be a vent hole. Remember that on one occasion

word spread about the hole, so several men thought that

if they used a nail in that hole they could get an aid.

Getting wind of this Inch had the hole filled in temporarily.

Why? If the hole had nothing to do with the lift?

If anyone has this issue of STRENGTH I would be grateful if you would contact me.

It is refreshing to have someone at Steve's level of strength

acknowledge doubt that Inch could overhead the bell. It is

not a popular position to take- flying in the face of so much


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After my earlier posting I have been musing over 'wot I wrote' and have reconsidered my point. Here's what I now think.

It is possible, with training I believe to hold 172 on a 2 3/8th handled dumbbell for about 1 minute - all with training.

But knowing a little of what you know and have informed us here, in the article and hinted at whats to come on cyberpump I suspect that it would have been a 50-75 pound bell. I am aware, thanks to you, of Inch's inconsistancys (sp) and therfore would, like you, be very suspect of such claims.

As Joe will prove in his postings on Cyberpump Inch had an awful habit of getting his story wrong from one year to the next and some tales need to be taken with a large pinch of salt.

Now, as I have other ambitions, I will NOT be training to see just how long I can hold a 172 pound bell. I MAY, from time to time, try it out if one of you (verified of course) challenges the 24 seconds :)

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Steve, way to go on the timed holds. I wish someone would have guessed 30 seconds for your first go. :)

Joe / Steve, it interests me about the overhead portion. It still seems almost impossible to put such weight overhead at least twice daily. Kaz did it at least once publicly, but we can see what kind of phenomenal strength he had during that time on WSM re-runs. He was not weak on overhead work.

As for Inch's holding for 1 minute+, the hole with a nail in it sure would help wouldn't it. Even though Steve held it for over 20 seconds twice, I bet he looked pretty strained. Might have been hard to converse with someone like that.

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Though I probably appear to some to come across as

anti-Inch, that is not the case. And in regard to Inch

putting the 172 overhead, he had strength to spare if

the method he used was a bent press having done about

300 lbs (without looking it up) and received tips from

Saxon himself on the movement.

Inch was brutally strong in certain movements, but in

regard to cleaning the monster that we call the 172, with

his admitted non-large hands, or to chatting while dead-

lifting it, well...

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Mr Mob, You are one strong man! I am confused if the weight you held up for the 24 seconds was an Inch replica or a 2 3/8 inch handle loaded up to 173lb.?  I have tried both and the handle is far easier than the Inch bell when loaded at the same weight.I recently saw Mark Henry clean a 360 lb 2 inch non revolving bell using an overhand grip. I have a photo of it at nose level height as he tries to turn his wrists over. He might be the only guy to challenge that power of yours. Way to go!

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As a lifter of the original Inch and an owner of a challenge dumbbell (and as I have stated elsewhere) I agree that the lifting of a solid bell is different to a plate loaded db. I also make sure that none of the plates revolve when I set it up. Last point I use a 2.5 inch handle.

When training to lift the Inch I got to 212 on my set up and feel that (as before) I need to go to 270-300 on my set up before lifting my own 228 pound bell.

Thanks for the comments.

PS when it comes to cleans my mum would challenge me - I haven't done them for ages and doubt I could do 360 on any bar!

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