In this jaded era of heavy anabolic drug usage, many will look at the photos of Marvin Eder shown above and conclude that he must have used massive doses of anabolic steroids. Suggesting such a scenario, however, is beyond foolish for a number of reasons. For one, Eder was most active in bodybuilding in the early 1950s. Although testosterone was isolated in 1935, the full development of anabolic steroid drugs didn't begin until the late 50s and early 60s. While it's possible that Eder could have used testosterone, few if any bodybuilders of his era used it. What accounts for Eder's physical development was his prodigious muscular strength. Most of the powerlifting (bench press, squat, deadlift) records were being set in the 50s by large men, such as Doug Hepburn of Canada. Hepburn weighed nearly 300 pounds in his prime. Yet, Eder, who weighed only about 188 pounds, was lifting weights that were comparable to what the much larger Hepburn lifted. I once witnessed Eder walk into a gym in Brooklyn, New York, after working a full shift as a plumber, and easily lift 315 pounds overheard with no warm-up while still wearing his plumber's uniform. The truly impressive aspect of this was that Eder had not competed or even trained in nearly 20 years. So what was Eder's secret?
Eder used to experiment with various exercises and techniques as was the custom in the 50s. Since he wanted to be not just muscular, but also strong, he tried a new technique whereby he would have a training partner assist him in completing additional repetitions of a set that went past the point of complete muscular fatigue. This was the birth of the Forced Reps training technique. Eder felt that doing forced reps pushed his muscles to the extent that he constantly got stronger, and this seemed to be the case. He would often have his close friend, Art Zeller assist him with forced reps at the end of a set. Art Zeller went on to be one of the most celebrated bodybuilding photographers. Art once told me of witnessing Eder do parallel bar dips with 100 pounds attached to his waist with a belt. While that alone was impressive, Eder also had another training partner hang on him while he did the dips. As such, Eder was doing dips with over 300 pounds plus his own body weight of nearly 200 pounds. Not many bodybuilders could do that back then, and certainly not today. It would not be hyperbolic to say that Marvin Eder was probably the pound-for-pound strongest bodybuilder in history. And he did it drug-free, no steroids, no growth hormone, nothing but his own determination and quest for muscular size and strength. He is more remembered today by those who follow Iron game history for his strength than his physique. He did, however, win a few titles such as Mr . . .