Belly Toss Report: August 1950 Strength & Health - Robert L. Burns: Superhuman Strength

In a remarkable feat of strength, Robert L. Burns, hailing from Los Angeles, California, astounded onlookers by pushing an impressive 555 pounds to arm's length from a supine position. This extraordinary achievement took place on May 3, 1930, at the Physical Services West Los Angeles Gym at 8:30 P.M. The event was witnessed by a crowd of twenty observers and meticulously recorded by Cecil Charles, a staff photographer.

The description of Burns' lift is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Beginning in a supine position on the floor or platform, he rolled the weight over himself until it was level with his pelvis. With his heels pulled up tightly under his buttocks, Burns then sharply arched his back and pressed the bar with his Atlas-like strength until the weight was directly overhead.

Standing at an impressive 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighing around 230 pounds, the twenty-three-year-old ex-Marine showcased not only his raw power but also a physique marked by substantial measurements:

  • Chest: 53 inches
  • Arm: 18.5 inches
  • Thigh: 23 inches
  • Waist: 36 inches
  • Neck: 17 inches
  • Calf: 18 inches

Despite his imposing stature, Burns emphasized fundamental power exercises such as presses, squats, prone exercises, and deadlifts in his training regimen. Remarkably, he performed a prone press on a beach with a pair of 150-pound dumbbells, effortlessly completing ten repetitions with a pair of 120-pound dumbbells.

Burns' training partner, Ed Smith, also made waves in the strength world by continental cleaning an impressive 420 pounds. Their dedication to strength training and impressive feats hint at the competitive environment on the West Coast, where records are continuously challenged and broken.

Robert L. Burns, with his superhuman power and commitment to strength exercises, stands as a testament to the indomitable spirit of strength athletes. The photograph captured by Cecil Charles immortalizes the moment when Burns conquered a 555-pound barbell, showcasing not only his physical prowess but also the incredible potential that exists in the realm of strength and powerlifting.