26 April 2010

Baddest Motherfuckers Ever #13 - Hermann "I Rock A Hitler Mustache" Goerner

How many people do you know a physical giants who easily lift weights unknown outside of the gyms he frequents, who has fought in a brutal war and lost an eye therein, and then rocked the fuck out of the strength world thereafter? I only know of one- the guy who has held the record for the one hand deadlift for 90 years- Hermann Goerner.

Hermann Goerner leapt out his mother's womb, replete with Hitler mustache and an impressive set of guns, in Leipzig, Germany in 1891, a year before newly unified Germany adopted a national flag. I don't know if Goerner was just filled with the "we're going to crush everything in our paths and fuck its sister" nationalistic mindset of Imperial Germany or if he was just the shit all in and of himself, or if he embodied a combination of the two characteristics, but however he did it, he ended up one insanely strong, ripped, and mustachioed motherfucker. [That was the best run-on sentence ever] Many pundits and historians of the field of strength sports consider Goerner to be the single strongest human to have ever lived, when tested across the broad spectrum of strength sports. Certainly, there are people who did and have since outlifted him in a variety of events, but at least one of his lifts has not since been duplicated, in spite of the crazy advances in pharmacology, nutrition, and training science.

Some of his myriad strength feats:
  • Goerner could bust out a two hands power clean & push jerk with a solid globe barbell weighing 330 lbs in street clothes, dead cold, with no warmup, through his 20 year competitive career. Did I mention that the shaft of the non-revolving barbell happened to be 2⅜ inches in diameter?
  • In 1920, two decades before testosterone was isolated, Goerner pulled a one-handed deadlift of 727lbs, with a hook grip- no strap. Fucking sick.
  • That same year, he also rocked a 595.5lb dead using just 2 fingers of each hand.Again, in 1920, he pulled 793.75 using a double overhand hook grip.
  • Leg pressing 24 men, total weight 4123lb, on a plank with the soles of his feet, 1921.His best deadlift was pulled off in a weird manner, but his ripped up 830 using a 441 lb barbell, then had two men stand on either side. He locked it out and held it for a couple of seconds though... when he was 42 years old.
  • 275 lb power clean and strict press
  • 363.5 clean and jerk -> The best part about this is that his form apparently blew shit, and he just forced it up with retard strength and hate. George Jowett insisted that if Goerner had decent form, he could have put up 440 in that lift.
  • an easy one hand swing of 220.5 lbs
  • a CROSSED-HAND snatch with 231.5. Give that a fucking shot sometime.
  • 430 lb two hands anyhow
  • 442.5 continental lift

As you can see from his pics, Goerner wasn't fat about it, either. He walked around in his prime at 6'1 and 264-293 in his prime. That's drug fucking free, bigger than most of the bodybuilders walking around today. Were he alive today, there'd be legions of slack-jawed pussied queued up online jabbering away about how he was juiced to the gills, that the shit he did was impossible for a natural lifter, that he was using fake plates, etc. You know- all of that good-natured, "here's why I suck at lifting and at life" pontification that pervades the interwebs in our era bereft of both testicular fortitude and any discernible sense of pride or honor. The shit-talking would have begun at age 14 for him, by the way, as he was pulling off one arm swings with 110 lbs at that age. In his prime, Goerner had:
  • 20" neck
  • 52.5" expanded chest
  • 18.75" bicep
  • 17" forearm
  • 38" waist
  • 27" thighs
So, how'd get get to this point? Surprisingly, it was from training just once a week, as he felt that training more than that would not leave him sufficient time for recovery.

HAHAHAHA. Just fucking with you. He trained 5 days a week at a gym that actually had a bar attached to it, and every lifter would place his personal beer stein on a shelf over the dumbbells so that he could go drinking after he finished. That's a fucking gym, right there. His workout is as follows (taken from Dezdo Ban's article "Goerner’s Training - Terry Todd/Charles Smith.

"Monday –
1.) Two Hands Snatch: After loosening up with calisthenics he would work up in 8 or 10 sets of between 1 and 3 reps from around 125 to 300 lbs. on a good day.
2.) Two Hands Clean & Jerk: Beginning with 220 lbs. he would work up slowly to near his limit, which was almost 400 lbs. It should be noted that he used a very shallow split style on both the snatch and the clean & jerk, barely dipping under the weight.
3.) Two Hands Continental to the Shoulders: When he felt really well, he would put more weight on the bar after his heaviest clean & jerks and do several single continental lifts. He did them by taking the weight from the floor to his belt, then boosting it from there up to his shoulders. His best was around 450 lbs.
4.) Two Hands Curl: Goerner usually did 4 or 5 sets of this, working up to a maximum super-strict rep or two with 220 lbs.
5.) If the weather permitted, he usually ended his sessions with either some slow running or some swimming.

Tuesday –
1.) Curl & Press with Kettlebells: Approximately 10 sets, going from 55 lbs. to 110 lbs. in 5½ lb. jumps (2½ kilo) jumps. These were done very strictly – usually only 1 or 2 reps with each arm, working up quickly to the 110 lb. bells.
2.) Clean & Military Press: Approximately 8 sets of 3 to 5 reps, going from 198 to 264 in 22 lb. jumps, doing 2 sets with each weight.
3.) One Hand Swing with Kettlebells: Approximately 8 sets (4 with each arm) beginning with 110 and sometimes going as high as 254 (using two kettlebells grasped in one hand).
4.) Deadlift: Usually 6 to 8 sets, never exceeding 3 reps. He usually began with 440 lbs. (200 kilos) and worked up to almost 800 lbs. Often he would do his lighter sets without a hook, or with only three fingers on each hand, or two, or only one.


1.) Curl & Press with Kettlebells: Same as Tuesday.
2.) One Hand Snatch: Usually, he would work up slowly in this lift, going from 110 to 220 with each hand.
3.) One Hand Clean & Jerk: As in the snatch, he would do quite a few sets, always using low reps (usually just one), working up to a best of 265.
4.) One Hand Deadlift: Alternating hands, Goerner would work up gradually in poundage from around 220 to over 700 lbs. on his good days, doing 10 to 12 sets.
5.) Squats: During this period, he usually squatted once each week, never more, and he would begin with around 220 and work up to approximately 600. He never really concentrated on this lift. Again, he favored low reps, 3 to 5.

1.) Clean & Press: Same as Tuesday.
2.) One Hand Swing: Same as Tuesday.
3.) Muscle-Outs with Kettlebells: He usually did these with “light” (up to 65 lbs. in each hand) weights and higher repetitions as a shoulder developer.
4.) Grip Work: Often, Goerner would practice lifting heavy barbells and dumbells with one, two or three fingers.

1.) Curl & Press with Kettlebells: Same as Tuesday.
2.) Two Hands Snatch: Same as Monday.
3.) Two Hands Clean & Jerk: Same as Monday.
4.) Front Squat: From time to time he did these, going up to a best of over 500 lbs.
5.) Two Hands Curl: Same as Monday.


Even after being kept in a concentration camp during the second world war, and at the age of 58, he weighed 253 lbs and had an 18' upper arm.  That's what happens when you spend your whole life lifting brutal poundages, eating meat, and generally rocking peoples' fucking socks all day long.


  1. Question: If you owned a leopard print, single shoulder-strapped leotard, would you wear it to the gym?

  2. No, but I highly doubt he did either. I think that's just a sort of uniform for early 20th C circus strongmen, haha. I can't imagine the dude finishing up a lift and then hanging out at the adjacent bar in a leotard.

    1. I guess they were only for photo shoots. Apparently old time strongmen did a lot of photo shoots wearing weird outfits, or no clothes at all, as a way to make money.

  3. This dude is a fucking badass, he wrestles elepants for fun

  4. Re: leopard leotard - Let's say you were Hermann and went to a bar after your workout. Who. The Fuck. Is going to say. Shit?

  5. Ha! Thanks Jamie. After the blog on John Grimek I was actually thinking, "So when is Goener going to get on the list?"

  6. You almost had me with the once a week thing.

  7. nice one jamie, was waiting to see if you included the mighty Goerner!

  8. Elephant wrestling is good GPP.

  9. So do you still dislike kettlebells?

  10. I'm probably going to get some flak for this but anyways...
    What's the deal with the old school guys having small legs? I figured it was just that they didn't squat much but after reading about Grimek in your last Baddest motherfuckers and now Goerner its clear that it wasn't for lack of squatting heavy and often. But they still only had 26/27 in thighs which imo is not very impressive, since I'm a weakling who's only been training on and off for a little while but already have 26 inch thighs?
    Hope this message makes sense....

  11. The squat rack wasn't invented until the 40's, I don't think. Prior to that, they either had to clean and press the weight onto their back, or they had to do a Steinborn squat. "Old-time wrestler and strongman Henry Steinborn came over here from Germany and brought the squat with him. He had practiced it a great deal with crude, homemade barbells while in a prison camp in World War I and had reached a very high standard in poundage used and found his other lifts had greatly increased so that he was able to snatch and clean and jerk record poundages. He was a man with a very rugged physique and for many years was a top wrestler."

  12. I wonder why was he held at a concentration camp?

  13. it was probably moustache related

  14. His traps are an awesome size...

  15. Herman Goerner also had pieces of steel embedded in his legs from a hand grenade explosion. So that makes his lifts even more impressive. And most guys complain they can't Bench Press because their knee hurts!!

  16. This guy looks like Alexander Karelin the Greco Roman Wrestler...jesus.