Rader was born on October 17, 1909. He started lifting weights at age 12, but in 1933, he weighed just 128 pounds at a height of 5'11.5". Then he shifted his emphasis to heavy, high repetition squats, and built his bodyweight up to 210 pounds within about a year (he eventually reached 220 pounds). He was victorious in a number of local and regional weightlifting contests, and also became proficient at a number of other lifts (such as the one-hand clean) and feats of strength. Rader was the Midwestern Heavyweight Champion for seven years, with official lifts of 220 pounds in the one-hand clean and jerk, 280 pounds in the two-hand clean and jerk, and a squat of 450 pounds (without support gear).
Rader married the former Mabel Kirchner in 1936; they had two sons, Jack and Gene. Shortly after being married, Peary and Mabel founded Iron Man magazine, which was initially printed using a ditto machine that Peary had salvaged from the trash. Rader published Iron Man through the September, 1986 issue, which included a number of letters from prominent people in the field to celebrate the magazine's fiftieth anniversary. At its peak, the magazine had a circulation of 70,000. Rader himself published approximately 1300 magazine articles; most were in Iron Man, but some were also published in Strength Athlete (published by George Kirkley) and by Joe Weider (Dellinger, 1994).
In 1986, Rader sold the magazine to John Balik, who repositioned it as a hard-core bodybuilding magazine. Rader also published Lifting News for many years.
He died on November 24, 1991.
- Dellinger, Jan, "Iron Game Heritage, Part II", Hardgainer, September–October, 1994.
- Strossen, Randall J., "Peary Rader (1909-1991)", Hardgainer, March, 1992.
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