A Journal of Strength, Health, and Self Cultivation
The original Harvey Maxime Bar proved to be too expensive for practical use. This drawing shows a modified and more affordable “pipe-based” version of the apparatus. Like the original version, it allows the user to “lock” the lifting bar at a desired height before use. Drawing and conceptual design by Robert Drucker.
During the late 1940s, Harvey Roosevelt developed a unique apparatus that would allow a lifter to perform a variety of heavy barbell exercises in complete safety and without need for a spotter. This device, which became known as the Harvey Maxime Bar, was a precursor to the power rack. And with its advent, many new doors to gaining strength and might were opened.
A few years after its introduction, Charles A. Smith, arguably the most prolific strength writer in the history of physical culture, gave much praise to the Harvey Maxime Bar. In one of his MANY outstanding articles, Smith wrote the following about Roosevelt’s apparatus:
“Few people realized the enormous potentials it contained … they are simply immense and I personally regard the Harvey Maxime Bar as one of the greatest advances ever made in the Science of Weight Training. The terrific scope of this apparatus will one day be marked as historic. It is a great pity that the originator never was given the acclaim that was justly and rightfully his, and Weider Publications is PROUD to do so via the medium of this article.”
The Harvey Maxime Bar, as developed by Roosevelt Harvey, consisted of two solid support bars, each which stood upright and was welded to a steel base plate at the floor end. On each of the two bases, weight plates could be fitted at each end to provide a desired resistance. A cross bar, which functioned as a “lifting” bar, could be moved along the two vertical support bars. And, once the cross bar was brought to a desired height, it could be locked in place. The lifter would then use the cross bar like a barbell, lifting the entire apparatus, along with its weight load, off of the ground. After completion of an exercise, the apparatus was then lowered back to the floor in complete safety.
The main objection to the original Harvey Maxime Bar was its cost of construction. As such, Charles Smith presented a modified design of Harvey’s apparatus, one which could be constructed on a budget by using chains, shackles, collars, and a regular barbell. In 13-Secret Exercises of Physique Champions, author Dennis B. Weis details the construction of the “Chain Modified” Harvey-Maxime Bar apparatus, and he also provides much history about the device. Dennis’ e-Report is both interesting and informative, and it is available for free as a PDF file on the internet. Just do a Google search and you should have no problem finding it.
As an alternative to the “Chain Modified” Harvey Maxime Bar, a pipe-based construction can be considered as a feasible and affordable option. One idea based on this approach is illustrated by the conceptual drawing shown above. In this presented design, four vertical supports are made from schedule 40 3/4-inch nominal pipe (1.05 inch actual outer diameter); the cross-bar is made from schedule 40 1-inch nominal pipe (1.315 inch actual outer diameter) or from a 3/4-inch solid steel bar; the four weight-holding uprights are made from 3/4-inch nominal schedule 40 pipe; and each of the two bases is made from four-by-four lumber (actual size 3.5 inches by 3.5 inches). Two grade eight 5/16-inch-diameter bolts are used to secure the cross bar to the four support pipes, and each of the four weight-holding uprights is held in place with a 5/16-inch-diameter bolt passed through its base. Holes in each of the four vertical supports are spaced two inches apart.
Down the road, we’ll look at how the Harvey Maxime Bar can be used to build enormous strength and power. And when we do, it will be crystal clear why Charles A. Smith, referring to this remarkable apparatus, stated that, “No gymnasium should be without it.”