Chest Expander have been invented in the 1850s. They’re also called Cables, Strands or Springs. This kind of training is more than 2000 years old and has been used by archers all over the world. But they used their bows instead of strands. Archery that time was limited by the archers physical abilities, just like every art of battle. The people noticed that archers exercising (practicing archery) a lot became stronger and through that they were able to use stronger bows. That brings advantages on the battlefield and when hunting. Short time after this realization they recognized strength and weight training improves the bodies performance in sports.
Some time later somebody got that brilliant idea and attached handles to something stretchable to train with it. This idea is made of the bow, isometric exercises, partner-pull-exercises, rope-pulling and many other. The chest expander was born.
In the golden era of strongmen strands were used by some of the best known Strongmen (Charles Atlas and Arthur Henning [aka Arthur Saxon], Reg Park [Arnold Schwarzeneggers mentor], John Grimek and Fred Rollen) to develop incredible strength. Their bodies were trained so good, some of them were paid to be the model for stone sculptures. But they not only had a great developed body and muscles, they also were good weightlifters and grapplers. Just to give you an idea what is possible when training with a chest expander. This development and strength can be topped: combine chest expanders with heavy barbell work (Clean & Press and Deadlift).
The chest expander has been praised to the women-world in the 1970s and lost its reputation as brutal and effective trainings equipment. That is why it almost disappeared from strongmen training – falsely! But through it nearly nobody knows what to do with chest expanders and the exercises almost disappeared. But there are some strongmen (Dennis Rogers, John Brookfield and “Big” Bog Karhan) left knowing how to use strands and integrate it into the trainings-sessions. In Great Britain has been a competitive form of chest expander training, it was called Strand Pulling.
The oldest exercise that can be done with Strands is the “Archer Pull“.
A typical exercise for Strand Pulling Competitions is the “Squat Back Press“.