Transformetrics Forums

Transformetrics Forums (
-   Living Strength (
-   -   How did Woody Strode train? (

Greg Newton 11-13-2008 07:10 PM

How did Woody Strode train?
First, I want to invite Superbeast to add to this, because he is the biggest Woody Strode fan on this forum and he has collected several magazine interviews with Strode. Second, I have finished Goal Dust and I am in awe of the man as an athlete, an actor and as a human being.

According to Goal Dust, during his time in high school/junior college Strode began doing pushups, knee squats, and situps daily. He did not go into the training specifics other than to say that the knee squats were like the Great Gama's, so they were done on the toes. Because of the time period, early 1930's, I'd have to guess that the situps were of the straight legged, unsupported variety.

That time period is important in another aspect. Strode worked up to 1000 reps of each exercise. The situps and squats were done continuously and the pushups were done in sets of 100. To some this is mind boggling because a workout like that would take at least 2 hours to perform, and if you did the same thing everyday, that would take an incredible level of concentration. However, we are definitely looking at someone from a different and simpler era. You worked out simple and did it. Strode was focused on becoming a decathelete and a football player and he did what he thought it took.

Strode was also a big fan of Johnny Weissmuller and got a chance years later to tell him his Tarzan movies were what inspired him to train so hard. When Weissmuller asked him how he stayed in shape, Woody told him that he trained everyday because he wanted to be like him. That focus stayed with him throughout his life, because during the time his wife was sick and dying and he was tending to her at home, he began daily running in place, two hours at a stretch.

One of the things about Strode that we've commented on previously is that at 6-4 and 210 pounds, he dwarfed other actors and athletes, even men bigger than him. According to Woody, his training gave him the look of a weightlifter without the bulk. He said he was just as strong as the guys who weighed 250, but he prefered the wiry strong look over the bulky look, and he felt his pushup training was what gave him his look.

Other things he did for exercise over the course of his career were the running he did for the football and track. He often played Indians in the movies, and he said that bareback horse riding strengthened the legs in a spectacular way. Along the way be began roping, and learned to shoot an eighty pound bow. During a rehab period for a broken shoulder, he did flexing and lifted a five pound weight. Because as an athletic actor he did so many of his own stunts Woody was inducted into the Stuntman’s Hall of Fame.

I wish there was more to say, but I get the feeling that Strode did his pushups and situps and took it for granted. That is what he did to stay in shape and you did it every day. He may have tapered back his workouts as he got older, although 500 pushups a day for the most of us is not tapering, but he trained hard until the end of his days.

At the end of Goal Dust, he had this to say,
"If you ever run across Joe (Nameth) ask him about how old Woody caught the stagecoach. I made a 200 yard run, jumped fom my horse to the runaway horses, and reined in that six horse team. Joe sat there watching me and could not believe it. I was fifty-seven years old and it was the first time I had ever done that.

Well, I’m too old to catch any stagecoaches. In my last three pictures I’ve done work that is too hard for me. But I always stay in shape. I don’t go to a job out of shape, because the man looks at me and wonders, “Can he still do the job?” My camoflauge is close fitting tee shirts, and I parade in them like an old racehorse.

Last Sunday I went fishing down on Huntingdon Beach. You don’t hardly see any black people down there. We went into a hamburger stand to get some cold drinks. A bunch of big muscled white kids, surfers, discovered me. They said, Woody Strode, my God, we’ve watched you all our lives. They talked about my Tarzan film with Jock Mahoney.

I said, “That was over twenty-five years ago”

They said, “You were an animal!”

You can imagine the good feeling that gave me. Imagine how that fed my ego. I have done enough films that when I get around a group like that; they admire me because I just stayed in such good shape. I got all my fans based on this look. I can still attract attention stepping off any plane in the world. I can still half-ass fight. I can do all that ballet stuff; the only thing I can’t do is fall off the horses.

I’m an old man, but life will never make an old man out of me. As long as you look like you can run on Santa Anita’s race track, even if you take last, you’ve still made the field. People see that horse and wonder what it is doing out ther. They don’t know its 100 years odl. Well, this is how nature has left me, so it is good."

John Peterson 11-13-2008 10:24 PM

Hey Greg,

I told you "Goal Dust" was one of my all time favorites. And now you know why. Woody Strode was a fascinating man way, way ahead of his time. Naturally, you discovered that everything I said about him was right on the mark. He had particular people that he connected with like his close friend Jock Mahoney whose life Woody saved when filming Tarzan's Three Challenges. Another thing that fascinated me was his dislike for John Wayne whom Director John Ford had intervened for, and prevented Woody from kicking Wayne's A--. In fact, I found it particularly touching the relationship that Woody had with the great Hollywood Director John Ford that regarded Woody as his son and when he was dieing it was Woody that he wanted to see more than anyone else. All in all, it is one of the best and most fascinating books I have ever read.

---John Peterson

P.S. Years and years ago when Jock Mahoney was on Merv Griffin's show for a Tarzan retrospective, Merv was awed by Jock's physique and asked him."How many hours a day did you spend in the gym to look like that?" Jock just laughed and said,"Merv, I never trained in a gym in my life. I wrote to Charles Atlas in 1934 when I was 15 and that's what I've done since. Only I did more of it when I was Tarzan." Merv then looked amazed and said, "You mean you liked like that from Isometrics?" To which Jock answered,"To the contrary Merv, Isometrics was the least of it." Bottom line: Jock did hundreds of Push-Ups every day just like Woody and just like us.And I'm sure you remember what Woody said about Jock When they started that fim together.

kelbiz 11-13-2008 11:38 PM

Gerg and John;
Some very cool info there. Thanks.


hollyweed88 11-14-2008 01:03 AM

This was a very interesting read. Thank you for posting this, Greg.

MikeNY 11-14-2008 01:26 PM

Woody was the real deal! Fantastic actor, man and thread. Thank you Greg!

Cancer hopefully will be eliminated soon. God bless all those that passed with it and will get it. I have all mas Oyama's books, great man.

Greg Newton 11-14-2008 02:08 PM

Hey All,

Woody Strode by anyone's estimation was a very tough man, and there was a short list of people in the movie business he respected for physical toughness and athletic presence, like James Cagney, Johnny Weismuller, and Kirk Douglas. However, if there was one actor he was in awe of; then that would be stuntman turned actor Jock Mahoney. Strode said Mahoney was Charles Atlas, and lived as if he was Tarzan.

When they were filming Tarzan's Three Challenges, Mahoney refused to listen to Strode and played a scene where he swam across a polluted river. After all, he was playing Tarzan. He contracted dengue fever and dysentery and almost died during the filming. His 6-4, 215 pound frame dropped to 175. During the fight scenes, Mahoney was on life support. Hed get off oxygen long enough to do the scene and then collapse. Strode said that it would have killed anyone but Jock Mahoney.

There is a lesson there for the rest of us. None of us are invincible. And, I think this ties in to what Lone Wattie had to say. No matter how strong or tough we are, there are diseases we can contract that can debilitate and kill us. We can be physically fit, and we can eat organic, and we can live in the most pristine environment we can find, but while we may increase our chances within our individual genetic limits, we are still eventually susceptible to disease and death. As the great John C. Grimek said, We will all have to cash in our chips one day.

ezekial1925 11-14-2008 02:18 PM

Hey everyone,
On the subject of cancer, a great movie is premiering today in selected theatres that chronicles the great and successful work the Gerson organisation does in treating, and in most cases, defeating cancer.
Please go to to check it out. I hope it is okay to post this link. More people should know about treatments that REALLY work against cancer than the idiotic, profit-driven, "cut, slash, chop, poison, radiate" medieval methods employed by most oncologists today.

John Peterson 11-14-2008 02:32 PM

Hey Greg,

Great, great post. And of course you are totally correct. One thing I always remember is that even Charles Atlas died. And I appreciate it when we give each other a reality check and remind each other that everything in this lifetime is fleeting. There are no absolutes in life accept for the fact that we will one day leave it. And that too, is something to seriously consider because one day I believe that we will each give an account for the lives that we have lived when we stand before God Almighty.

---John Peterson

marktb 11-14-2008 10:05 PM

Cancer is not the problem. WE ARE THE PROBLEM. Cancer is simply the result of DIS-EASE in the body. The sooner we as a collective peoople understand that God lives in us and sickness and disease does not exist then we will be FREE of them. Negative emotions are a huge contributor to sickness.

Mark Baldwin

Andy62 11-14-2008 10:51 PM

Stress breaks down the body immune system and that becomes a real consideration as we enter the turbulent economic times that the world is now facing. Many illnesses have a psychological component. According to some theories many people who develop cancer have the psychological mindset of feeling trapped. None of us know when we will be called from this life so enjoy it while your are here and make your stay worthwhile to the greatest extent possible.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 03:27 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.7.3
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.