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Thursday, May 28, 2009


Reprinted with permission of Hardgainer, Vol. 8, No. 5 (March-April 1997)

A few weeks ago, I had a trainee named Tom come by for a consultation and workout. Tom has been lifting for about seven years, is 25 years old 5-8 tall and about 180 lbs. Tom stated that his best bench press (with a regular-diameter bar) was about 305 lbs, but his squat was not much more than that.

We went through our first workout and Tom worked real hard, but I noticed that he had a severe strength imbalance bewteen his upper and lower body. His upper-body pushing and pulling strength was also “out of whack.” He could get 8 reps in the bench press with 215 lbs using a 3-inch diamter bar, but had a hard time handling 140 in the Hammer Iso-Lateral Row. He could get 150 for 8 reps in the military press but could not chin himself more than 3 times. To balance his strength and development, Tom needed to put more emphasis on his lower body, and on his upper-body pulling movements.

It was obvious that Tom had spent a great deal of his training time on his back doing bench presses. He had good development of his chest and front detls, but had far less development in his legs, hips, rear delts, and upper back. It was all a matter of thinking. Tom never put an emphasis on working his legs or upper-body pulling movements. As long as his bench press and military press were going up, Tom was happy. (He always did his curls, too.) Tom’s ego was not attached to working legs or upper-body pulling like it was to upper-body pushing exercises. Pulling exercises had second class status in Tom’s mind, and he would just go through the motions with them and get them in when he could. After our session Tom realized that for the last seven years he had been consistently training only about half of his muscles. He demonstrated that he could train hard when he put his mind to it, but he needed to change his thinking and apply himself to his entire body.

Program Design

When designing training programs, always start with the major lower-body work. This separates the men from the boys. Nothing puts the spotlight on a phony quicker (and makes me laugh harder) than someone with a big upper body and an undeveloped lower body. They are in every gym.

Whenever I meet someone who claims to train hard, I can usually tell by their lower-body development if they are telling the truth. Major lower-body exercises, i.e., the squat, deadlift and leg press, are the most demanding of all exercises. Anyone who does not put a primary importance on them gets no respect from me. Squats, leg presses and deadlifts are the top priority and should set the foundation for your balanced training program. Once this is done, then you can get the upper-body pushing and pulling in balance.

Some advocates of abbreviated training are designing training programs that are not balanced. Of course it is better to do “less” than “too much,” but it is even better to do the right amount of exercise using a balanced program. Most coaches, myself included, put a high value on the three big basic exercises—squat, deadlift and bench press. The proble, is that many people overlook several other equally important exercises. Their program design usually has a poor balance between pushing and pulling—usually not enough pulling. I have read many articles where the authors have gone to great lengths to describe in detail the upper-body pushing part of a program, and then they add something like, “Throw in a rowing motion to round out the program.” That, for many, takes care of the pulling part of a training program.

Some exercises, such as the bench press, are directly connected to the ego of many individuals. This is okay so long as you don’t get carried away. The bench press is an important exercise, but it is no more important than the Hammer Iso-Lateral Row (or your horizontal pulling movement of choice). Pulldowns or chins are no less important than overhead presses. Don’t get hung up on any one particular exercise. You should strive for balanced strength and muscular development. But I am not advocating the de-emphasis of the bench press or any other major movement—they are all equally important.

I recently had a phone conversation about this subject with my friend, Dan Riley, the Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Washington Redskins, and one of the most respected people in the field. Dan is a strong advocate of balanced pushing and pulling. My pushing and pulling philosophy is similar to Dan’s except that he has more planes of movement due to a much larger facility and access to many more machines. I use the following simple guideline for a balanced upper-body program: a horizontal push, a horizontal pull, a vertical push, and a vertical pull. For the lower body I recently began to rotate the squat, Trap Bar deadlift, and Hammer Leg Press so that each of them is trained once during a period of about ten days, i.e., one of the exercises is trained every three or four days. But some people should deadlift only twice per month because they need a long recovery period for the spinal erectors.

Keep in mind that this is only a helpful checklist that I use. There are some exercises that are not easily put into one of the categories I’ve just specified, e.g., the pullover and the parallel bar dip. For movements like these, use common sense and define them as either pushing or pulling movements. Then use them as substitutes for other comparable exercises, not as additions to your program.

For many hard gainers, especially those who use multiple work sets of each exercise, there is a serious risk of overtraining if there is too much training volume. You could alternate the vertical and horizontal push and pull and do them once per week each. For example, perform a horizontal push and pull on Monday, and a vertical push and pull on Thursday.

There ar emany exercises you can use to fill the bill, so you should not go stale. For the vertical push you could use the barbell overhead press, Hammer Behind-Neck Press (which is more like a dumbbell press than a barbell behind-neck press), dumbbell press, or manual resistance. For the vertical pull you could use the chin, pulldown, or Hammer Pulldown. For the horizontal push you could use the bench press, incline press, dumbbell bench press, or Hammer Chest Press. For the horizontal pull you could use the seated cable row, Hammer Iso-Lateral row, dumbbell row while braced against a bench, or virtually any type of machine row that is safe for your lower back.

A balance between pushing and pulling is also important for preventing injuries. Many injuries are caused by muscular imabalance. There is a strong relationship between a joint injury and the development of the musculature that surrounds that joint. Just like a car that pulls to one side when it is out of alignment, your muscles will pull a joint to one side if one side overpowers another. this is at the root of many shoulder, knee and other joint problems.

When designing your training program, always start with the core foundation of your lower body, then move on to balancing your upper-body pushing and pulling. Your body will thank you for it.

Sets From Hell! - By Bob Whelan

Reprinted with permission of Hardgainer, Vol. 8, No. 6 (May-June 1997)

“The mind is its own place and in itself can make
a heaven of hell or a hell of heaven.”

Big Billy Banks arrived a few minutes early for his Saturday afternoon training session. Even before he got to the door he could hear weights banging, my shouting, and Victor Peck screaming bloody murder through the noisy Marine cadence tape that was blasting away. Billy knew that he, too, was in for one hell of a day!

I have been training Victor (on and off) for seven years. His mother hired me as a present to him for his 30th birthday. He was about 40 lbs overweight at the time, and smoked cigarettes. He had trained a decade earlier but was hobbled by a serious knee injury while playing football, and then he got off track.

Victor is one of the most gung-ho determined guys I know. All he needed was some direction and a little shove. He quit smoking and has taken to serious training like a fish to water. He is now a high-intensity training fanatic and has totally changed his life. He is 6-4 tall and 250 lbs, and in the best shape of his life, at age 37. He has a high level of conditioning and mental toughness, and was an ideal candidate for my new half-hour training program. A bonus is that the half-hour program is much cheaper than the hour-long program. But many people are unable to do the half-hour program because they do not have the high-level of mental toughness that is required. Even many who think that they are in good condition could not take the half-hour workout because every work set is to complete failure with very little rest between sets. Anyone’s mental (and physical) toughness would be put to the test by the half-hour workout.

I recently twisted Victor’s arm to try it. At first he had some doubts. He was used to the hour workout and thought that only half an hour of training wasn’t long enough. But now he has no doubts. He is a believer!

Billy joined in with me, screaming at Victor to finish strong. Victor was coming down the home stretch and needed to rally his remaining energy. Victor moved from the Hammer Iso-Lateral Behind Neck Press to the Hammer Iso-Lateral Pulldown—where he went to failure, and then continued to pull in a “static” contraction for an additional 10 seconds. Then it was over to the Hammer Iso-Lateral Leg Press with 350 lbs, and Victor pushed out 20 reps. He collapsed in the machine and was drenched in sweat. Prior to Victor’s workout the rubber floor was dry. Now there were many small puddles of sweat on the floor.
“Great workout, Bob!” Victor gasped.

“Twenty-seven minutes,” I responded, “you worked real hard, as usual.”

I asked Billy if he minded starting his workout about ten minutes late, so Victor could do the sandbag. A big grin came over Billy’s face. He did not mind at all. Victor wasn’t smiling, but he was willing. People love to watch others do the sandbag! Victor already has his name on the bag as he got 200 lbs around a few months ago, but had not done it since. He recently tried 225 lbs for the first time, but failed to get it more than 20 feet. Because he was pretty tired, today he was going to go for the 200 again.

For this high-rep 30-minute workout we only do warmup work for the first upper-body movement, and the first lower-body movement. The reps are high enough (usually over 10 for the first set of each exercise) for warmup work not to be needed for every exercise. But this system only works if the first set has high reps. If low reps, pyramids or singles were to be used, that would be different and we would do specific warmup sets for each exercise (and not be able to fit the workout into a 30-minute session). But Victor was using a very specific routine tailored to fit a 30-minute time limit.

Here is a typical workout that I’ll put Victor through in 30 minutes:

Five-minute cardiovascular warmup and series of 20-second static-hold stretches for the entire body.

1. Squat or deadlift (alternating, once per week for each): 1 warmup set and 1 set to failure, moving up in weight next time if 20 reps are reached in perfect form.

2. Hammer Iso-Lateral Chest Press: 1 warmup set, 2 sets to failure.

3. Hammer Iso-Lateral Row: 2 sets to failure.

4. Hammer Iso-Lateral Behind Neck Press: 2 sets to failure.

5. Hammer Iso-Lateral Pulldown: 2 sets to failure.

6. Hammer Iso-Lateral Leg Press: 1 set to failure, moving up in weight next time if 20 reps are reached in perfect form.

Exercises 2-5 are done one after the other, to failure, in two rotating series. The poundage is increased the following workout once 8 or ore reps is reached on the second set of a given exercise. Note that exercises 2-5 are alternating pushing and pulling movements. This entire program is done in under 30 minutes, with the hardest exercises done first and last. A sandbag carry and/or grip work is/are sometimes added after the regular 30-minute workout.

Like all of my clients, Victor does cardiovascular work, abdominal work, and extra stretching in his own time.

Sandbag Alley

I recently moved my gym (again) to a bigger and better facility, just a block away from the old place. We now do the sandbag carry outside in a fenced-off alleyway behind the gym. My landlord owns the alley and gave it to me as part of the lease. We call it “sandbag alley.” We start and finish at the same place. The actual carry for a single up-and-down trip is about 250 feet. Up and down sandbag alley twice is about the same distance as around the old third floor, so the same 10-minute time limit remains. Victor managed to get the 200-lb bag up and down the alley twice in under 10 minutes before collapsing in a heap. Billy and I were hoarse from screaming encouragement. Victor’s workout, including the sandbag carry, took only 35 minutes.

You Can’t Train Hard and Long

You can train hard, or you can train long. But you can’t do both. One hour is probably the limit for a high-intensity workout. The two- and three-hour marathon workouts in the mega-hype drug-infested bodybuilding mags are greatly exaggerated. Being in a gym for three hours is not the same thing as training for three hours. Those guys spend more time looking in the mirror, gossiping and talking than they do training. The drugs they use enable them to train at a low level of intensity and yet still get good results. But most of those types don’t have a clue of what a hard workout is.

With my one-hour program (seven exercises) only the third (final) set of each exercise is always done to complete muscular failure, and you get some rest between sets—usually no more than one minute and only after squats, deadlifts and leg presses. For the hour-long workout I use the “controlled failure” method for the first two work sets of each exercise. Using this method you stop at the rep goal for the set, if it’s reached. If the goal isn’t reached, and you went all out, then you reached muscular failure. The half-hour program (six exercises) has a maximum of only two work sets per exercise, but both are done to complete muscular failure with very little (or no) rest between sets.

Both workouts are brutal and take some getting used to, but I make all newcomers start with the one-hour program. If they adapt well to the program and show that they have the ability to train hard, and are mentally tough, they have the option of switching to the half-hour program.

Here’s how Drew Israel describes the difference between my half-hour and one-hour programs: “Bob’s hour program is like taking body blows and shots to the head. But the half-hour program is al shots to the head. With both programs you end up on the floor.”

My clients have to prove that they are really ready if they want to switch to the half-hour workout. It’s not the physical factor I’m looking at; it’s mainly the mental factor. To make the half-hour workout productive you must be willing to go all out and hold nothing back. You must be willing “to go down with the ship.” You have to have the right mental state to make it work. Many do not. But it’s a good system because you get rewarded with a cheaper rate for your mental and physical toughness.

The equipment you have available is a big factor in determining which program would work best for you. You need to have all equipment pre-loaded before starting the workout. If, for example, you only have a single barbell that you use for all exercises, the half-hour workout isn’t practical.

Mental Focus

The better your mental focus, the more you are able to get good results from one or two sets to failure per exercise. (To help you increase your mental focus, and effort level, apply what you learn from the excellent article titled “The White Moment,” by John Christy, in Hardgainer issue #40.) There are many trainees who will not get good results from one or two sets to failure. But it’s not because one or two sets to failure doesn’t work. It’s because the individual has failed to understand and apply what true muscular failure is.

I’ve been experimenting in my own training with just one set to failure. I’ve always known that it works, but have never used it. I’ve always felt better doing at least two sets to failure per exercise. My friendship with Drew Israel influenced me to give it a try. When you see how big and strong Drew is, you can’t help but be influenced. Since November 1996 I’ve only done one set to failure per exercise in my own training. I’m stronger than ever and training with weights for less than one hour per week—two training days per week, less than half an hour for each session. In a recent visit to Drew’s place I got 500 lbs for 10 reps in the Hammer Leg Press with a dead stop pause on each rep. It works for me, Drew, and others, because we understand what complete muscular failure is, and what type of mental focus is needed.

Of course, it’s important always to have good mental focus, but the fewer sets that you do (per exercise), the more important that mental focus is. If you do one set to failure, you can’t have a lapse in concentration because you can’t make it up in later sets. You must be “on” throughout each set. There is no room for mistakes. Every one must be a quality, all-out kick-ass, life-and-death set or else you will be wasting your time and doing nothing more than burning calories. It’s not merely thinking positively. You must combine anger and aggression with positive thinking. Get mad at the weights. Growl, scream, and let yourself go! It’s life and death. It’s combat. You must have the attitude that you are going to war. If you can’t (or won’t) do this, you are better off with multiple sets.

Total Muscular Failure

If you can finish the repetition, then you can’t be at positive muscular failure because the weight is still moving in a positive direction. You must try one more rep. Positive muscular failure is not when the weight feels heavy. It’s not when you are shaking and your muscles ache. Positive muscular failure is when the weight ceases to move in a positive direction even though you are pushing or pulling as hard as you can. But this is just the first part of a complete set to failure.

The second part of a quality set to true complete failure is continuing to push or pull in a static contraction for about ten seconds after you have reached positive failure. The third and final part of taking a set to complete failure is lowering the weight slowly.

Many exercise scientists and researchers believe that the static contraction (held after reaching positive failure) is the most beneficial part of the set. Whether or not you do it could make the difference between success and failure while using one set to failure. But most people are not willing to train to complete failure because it’s so brutal. So one set to failure won’t work for these types. These people are not willing to do what it takes to ake one set to failure work, but the rewards are great for those who will.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Bodybuilding — Then and Now - By Bradley J. Steiner

For one thing, a conspicuous fact about bodybuilding “then” (ie roughly, prior to 1975) is that the word itself was not one that caused sane people to repeat their last meal. It did not conjure up images of grotesque, malformed freaks whose drug-induced bloated tissue caused revulsion. It did not trigger images of fanatical, neurotic crackpots who would rather die at age 25 with 20” arms than live until 90 with “mere” 18” arms; genuine, certifiable nutjobs whose only reason for getting out of bed in the morning was to achieve a better pump that day, at the gym. It did not cause the hearer to think of men whose counterparts in the 1920’s, 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s, were known as he-men, proudly(!) flaunting the fact that they were genuine SHE-men, and as proof could point to a same-sex live-in partner (who was also their training partner)!

Bodybuilding, as an activity, was advanced as a health-building, character-building, and strength-as-well-as-muscle-building pursuit. Real athletic/strength & muscle stars like Reg Park, Jim Park, John Grimek, Harry Paschall, Sig Klein, John Farbotnik, Steve Stanko, Louis Abele, Jules Bacon, Chuck Sipes, Jack LaLanne, and dozens of others, brought the gospel of sensible barbell and dumbell training to boys and men everywhere. These heroes pushed sound and sensible routines, diets, and lifestyles. There were no steroids. Size was not everything, and only the odd man out was a “mirror athlete”. Back “then”, bodybuilders were men who not only possessed real muscle and strength, they were men who could do things with their muscle and strength. Jack LaLanne performed feats of endurance “back then” that any Navy SEAL would be hard pressed to duplicate today! The first Mr. America was a tough NYPD Officer (not some preening, gender-challenged kook in a gay pride parade!).

The entrepreneurial greats — Bob Hoffman and Peary Rader — while not necessarily being perfect in all ways, nevertheless gave anyone who read their material truthful, honest, legitimate, and WORKABLE training advice and instruction . . . and they guided countless young people (our self, among them!) to healthful personal development.

We remember as though it was yesterday how we felt after the first couple of weeks of training on Bob Hoffman’s “York Barbell” Course. We knew that we had struck gold! And by the time we had trained for two months we had fallen in love — not merely with “weight training” — but with sensible weight training (with bodybuilding), and we knew that this activity, along with the combat arts, would occupy a central place in our life, forever.

Thanks to the way bodybuilding and weight training was “then” we benefitted enormously, and we continue to benefit from this marvelous activity, 46 years later. We began to write on the subject, and to teach others, personally — and we had the great satisfaction of sharing with those whom we trained the benefits of an activity that we still believe is borderline miraculous!

It saddens us when we look at the modern scene and observe what appears to us to be mentally disturbed narcissists occupying, for the modern generation, those places once occupied by giants such as the men to whom we referred earlier. Young people have almost no guiding lights in the bodybuidling field, any more. And who can blame a father, after looking through a mainstream “muscle magazine” for forbidding his son to become involved in “that insane activity” ?

If the only “negative” thing about modern bodybuilding was the use of steroids, that would be enough to keep sane people away! However, there is more. There is a complete lack of concern over building useful physical abilities, and of doing so solely for oneself. (One needn’t, after all, compete in or win any kind of contest or event in order to reap full benefit from weight training). There is the sexualization of the activity. It is nauseating to see illnesses that only half a century ago would have been correctly labelled as such, today being touted as “the way to go” — the way to be “cool”, and the way to “really enjoy” one’s physical appearance and prowess.

What repulsive, sickening garbage.

No, bodybuilfing is not completely lost. There are a few real gyms left, and with proper instruction, it certainly would benefit anyone to purchase a good set of weights, a squat rack and a bench, and start training regularly. But do not look to the modern “bodybuilding scene” which is sick and discouraging, and that has given the very word “bodybuilding” a distasteful emotive meaning. Look to the “way it was”. For the way it was is the way it ought to be. Bodybuilding “was” the greatest known means by which a person could build rock-solid internal health, an impressive and powerfully efficienct physique, self-confidence, and the physical ability to do anything else that he wished to do in life a lot better than he was able to do it, before he began using the “iron pills”.

Bodybuilding can be that way again. Make and keep it that way for YOURSELF, and for anyone with whom you can relate about this incredible and wonderful activity.

Bradley J. Steiner

Professor Steiner's American Combato Site

Saturday, May 23, 2009

ENDURANCE by Earle E. Liederman - Author and Publisher, (1926), - Chapter 12

It is interesting to note the general effects produced by similar exercises upon different individuals. When you enter the gymnasium for the first time you see the stout man going through the same movements as his thin neighbor. You may wonder if these movements that the stout individual is performing will be of any benefit to the thin fellow; yet, if you were to return to the gymnasium after an absence of a few months and if these same individuals had continued to work daily, you would find that the stout one had lost weight while the thin one had gained weight. This is because exercising produces two different effects. In the thin person it increases the bodily tissue while in the stout person it decreases the fatty tissue. These apparently different effects may be summed up in one chief effect, however, and that it is the development of more nearly normal metabolism or tissue processes.

There are a certain number of muscles in the human body, and a stout person has practically the same muscular tissue as a thin person of the same general type and original build. You cannot see them developed in the fat man owing to his covering of fat, but you can plainly discern them in the developed thin individual because they stand out owing to lack of fatty tissue on them. The fat man most likely will have somewhat larger (though perhaps softer) muscles hidden under his fat than has the thin man. This is because he weights more and naturally has to carry around a greater weight than the thin one, thus giving his muscles more exercise; his muscles should be larger in proportion to the amount of work they do. But when both the thin man and the fat man, after a sufficient period of training, reach more nearly the point of bodily perfection their muscles will be very little different in size, though they may be considerably different in contour.

From this we can see that the need for exercise is felt just as much by thin people who assimilate too little as by fat people who assimilate too much. The need for exercise, then, depends upon one of two physiological necessities, the intensity of which gives us warning. It comes from an overcharge with reserve materials, and the urgent necessity that these materials should be burned; or it may arise from a general sluggishness of the functions and the need of a stimulus capable of arousing them to a fresh activity.

By this time you will realize the value of being in condition and keeping the muscles fit, for one who has any weak part in his make-up cannot expect to qualify in any test of endurance.

I must admit that my greatest interest is in body building, and I sometimes find it difficult to refrain from branching off to that subject. But as I have covered this in another book I will only touch upon the high spots in your physical make-up.

Let us consider the neck. A strong neck will prove valuable in many instances, but would be of little use in any endurance work. Nevertheless, the trapezius muscles, which run well up into the rear of the neck, are used in most movements of the shoulders and arms, in addition to strictly neck movements. Therefore, the neck will receive considerable work in a great number of endurance exercises. Rowing and swimming, for instance, bring into play to a great extent the trapezius muscles.

The forearm and upper arm muscles must be fit, for they will be used in all climbing exertions.

The value of strong legs need hardly be emphasized. When the muscles of the thighs and calves coordinate properly they not only will pull you through many an emergency, but through the development of a good pair of legs you can be assured of good respiratory power. As I have mentioned, it is impossible to perform vigorous leg movements without calling heavily upon the lungs.

As important as the muscles are in performing endurance work, I consider the lungs of greater importance, for it is in the respiratory organs that the first sign of fatigue is felt. The amount of air entering the lungs is regulated by the capacity of the lungs, and, of course, by the demand for air, by exercises or work. Therefore, it is of great importance that the muscular work you do is such as to increase the size of the cavity in which the lungs are contained and the lungs themselves.

So many people, and I can truthfully say the majority of people, breathe with but a small part of their lungs. Singers and wind-instrument musicians are in a class by themselves when it comes to lung capacity. Their excellent chest cavities are developed unconsciously through their chest and lung exercises incident to their professions. However, the average individual can obtain just as remarkable a lung capacity as any singer or musician who plays the cornet, trombone or other wind instrument, by practicing forced breathing.

The amateur physical culturist lays too little stress upon the importance of deep breathing, and considers the simple arm movements which throw the shoulders back sufficient to increase his lung capacity and the size of his rib-box. But he is sadly in error. Accumulation of work is really the only way to obtain good lungs and staying power. By accumulation of work I mean the combined performance of exercises of strength, speed and endurance. Where the arms alone perform the work you will find very little breathlessness occurring; but where the arms unite with the legs in performing exercises you will find yourself quickly becoming winded.

Leg exercise requires much more work than that which is performed by the arms. The muscles of the upper limbs could not support without extreme fatigue an expenditure of force that could be borne by the lower limbs with small effort. It is an easy matter to walk a mile; but where is there a gymnast or a strong man who could walk a mile along a horizontal rod or ladder while hanging from his hands? The total mechanical work, however, would be the same, displacing the same weight through the same horizontal distance.

When fatigue overtakes you and you are breathless, the act of satisfying your thirst for air naturally will be of wonderful benefit to the lungs, yet it will not expand the chest nor increase its size as much as forced deep breathing under normal conditions. As the legs possess practically three times the strength of the arms they are capable of producing three times the amount of work. But if the lungs are not in perfect working order, that is if the rib-box is not flexible and the lung capacity not great enough, the same performance of leg work will exhaust you in a shorter time than would arm exercise, even though, as I said, the legs are much stronger than the arms. Consideration must be taken of the weight of the body which the legs must carry; and, naturally, greater effort constantly is brought upon them than upon the arms.

A great many teachers of exercise are in error regarding the development of lung power, as so many of them advocate the simple raising of the arms to raise the rib-box and thereby increase the depth of the chest and lung cavity. Such exercise may be good for loosening the rib-box, and perhaps when accompanied by deep inhalations will add an inch or two to the chest; but, as I stated before, real lung power can be developed only by actual endurance practice. Walking along the street and taking one hundred deep inhalations a day, for example, will not benefit you to any great extent in the development of endurance. The best exercise for increasing the size of the chest is that which compels the deepest inhalations—natural inhalations, and not those consciously and intentionally produced by the will.

You can experiment along these lines yourself. You may swing your arms, bend your body from side to side, or perform all manner of twists and calisthenic movements, and yet breathlessness will not come on as quickly as it will by a short vigorous sprint, whether it be in running, swimming, rowing or the like. After such a sprint the lungs are fairly crying for more air, with the consequence that you will be compelled to inhale as much oxygen as possible in order to satisfy the craving.

One cannot expect to excel in any feat of endurance unless first of all he gives attention to his lung capacity and rib-box. All endurance work requires staying power—good wind. It is true that good lung capacity and wind will be developed from the practice of endurance work; but endurance work will come much easier if lung development is gotten before the endurance work begins. The finest-built athlete, whose arms may have reached the strong man’s proportions and whose pectoral or breast muscles may stand out in pleasing contour, likely will possess a comparatively narrow chest in spite of his development if his lungs are weak.

I frequently attend a gymnasium and play handball with the instructor there. This man has practically no muscular development to speak of; but what an enormous chest he has! His rib-box is wide, and the deepest part of his chest seems to be below the breast bone, and when viewed from the side, when he stands erect and has his chest somewhat expanded, it takes on the appearance of a high, fleshy abdomen. This fellow finds no difficulty in playing twelve or fifteen games of handball without stopping. And though his muscles are of a different type entirely from those of the weight lifter or strong man, still they are more pliable and have considerably more endurance. His staying powers seem to be perfect, and all this I ascribe mainly to his wonderful lung capacity and the flexibility of his rib-box.

If you wish to develop the chest, do not try to do so by raising the ribs, but by trying to inflate all the air cells of the lungs. You cannot do this by any mechanical means; and the most voluntary muscular movements would not produce the results obtainable by forced aspirations.

The lungs are increased in size as a result of forced respirations which make them work better. Under the influence of unusual exercise the air cells increase in size and contain more air. Also, more blood is supplied to them. Their capillary network becomes more pronounced, and, in consequence, their nutrition is more active. Accordingly, they take up more room. It is in this manner that the regular working of the great number of air cells that ordinarily are inactive can rapidly increase the size of the lungs.

In order to increase the size of the chest and the lung capacity the work must begin from the inside, and not from the outside by the simple working of the muscles. Oxygen must be forced in, and as the lungs expand and become larger they press against the ribs, stretching the cartilages between the ribs and finally spreading the ribs father apart. Exercise, it is true, can be of great assistance in increasing the quality of the lung tissue. For instance, if the arms are held overhead when taking deep inhalations, naturally the ribs are elevated and more in a position to receive the pressure of the lungs from the inside. You would not expect to take very deep breaths while sitting in a crouched position. It is only natural that you throw your shoulders back and raise the rib-box as much as possible while performing deep inhalations. Increasing the size of the chest, then, is done chiefly by the work of the lungs.

It is not a fair measurement to consider the size of the strong man’s chest when passing the tape around the chest under the arm pits, because of his outstanding latissimus dorsi muscles, those beefy yet pleasingly proportioning hills of flesh that cause the slant from the arm pits to the waist line. The thickness of his pectoral, or breast muscles, also adds considerable to his chest measurement. Although many strong men show enormous chests, both in appearance and in measurement, many of them possess weak lungs. If I were to have my choice and could accept only one or the other, I most certainly would select the body which has a big lung capacity rather than the large and muscular body containing weak lungs. With a good chest and lung capacity it is an easy matter to add muscular tissue in proportion. I at least would be assured that the amount of oxygen entering my lungs at each inhalation would purify my blood and keep me immune to sickness and disease and fill me with robust health that everyone should experience.

If you have a good lung capacity to begin with, the practice of endurance movements will come much easier to you than if you endeavor to build up your lung capacity and rib-box by means of endurance exercises. Let us say that we have a thin man and a husky chap who start to exercise at the same time. Neither ever has worked physically before. After each has performed exactly the same exercises for a period of about six months, it will be found that the burly chap quite evidently has made better progress and will be much stronger than his thin competitor. This is because he had a good foundation to begin with. Hence, if you have a good flexible rib-box and a fine lung capacity you have every advantage in your favor when you begin training for endurance work.

Since the muscles play a most important part in endurance work it is essential that we look into the general effects of exercise upon them in order to learn more of their capabilities. Among the most striking effects of muscular exercise are the changes undergone by the muscles themselves under the influence of work. They lose much of the fat between their fibres, it being burned up by the activities; and by persistent daily efforts they gradually increase in size. But loss of fat and increase in size are not the only changes observed in the muscles as the result of work. You can notice also a change in shape, depending upon the movement the muscle performs. This is one of the most interesting of the local effects of work.

A muscle which is more constantly in action than other muscles, or in other words a muscle which contracts more often than its antagonist, undergoes in the end a certain degree of shortening. This is very noticeable in the arms of some indoor physical culture enthusiasts. I have observed young fellows who have exercised with five-pound dumb-bells whose bicep muscle was so shortened that the lower part did not break or slant into the proper place on the upper forearm but seemed to be attached to the humorus or bone of the upper arm. This, of course, was not the case, as all biceps are attached to the radius bone of the forearm. The movement this one man in particular had performed consisted of curling the five-pound dumb-bells from the arms hanging at his sides so that the bells touched his shoulders alternately during the curling movements. Evidently he had been lowering the bells but not fully straightening his arms. Hence, there was always a tension upon the belly of the biceps, which is turn became shortened and naturally lacked the power that it would have had if the break or downward slant of its lower extremity had gone into the proper place. Such a development might be called a deformity of the muscle.

This same thing can occur in any muscle or group of muscles in the body. That is, they can be worked or exercised improperly, with the result that they not only will lack the contour they could have if exercised properly but they will lack the strength, also.

You may wonder how the shape of the muscle could possibly affect endurance. But if the muscle is improperly developed and shortened this most assuredly will have some reducing effect upon the leverage and coordination essential in all endurance tests. Muscles for endurance must be long and pliable. Of course, they also can have bulk and size; but if the development through the exercise performed is merely bulk of muscle, it will require changing of routine and plans of training in order to qualify the muscles for endurance work. If, for example, you persist, in training with heavy dumb-bells you naturally will acquire huge muscles, and they will be strong, as well; but in all probability they will be useless in performing endurance tests.

If you divide your exercises and mix them, so to speak—performing some strength-and muscle-building work and some endurance work—the muscles, while probably not reaching the measurements, bulk and contour that they would have reached if you had trained exclusively for development, yet would be far more useful to you; and you would be able to accomplish a great deal more whenever you felt like it, even though you lacked the half-inch or so of girth that you could have gotten by eliminating all light movements.

The desire to continue exercising lessens as one becomes older. This is simply a law of human nature, or appears to be. Frequently the one ambition of a young man in his teens is to become as big and strong as possible. He thinks only about a chest or upper arm measuring so many inches. If he can but develop certain Herculean proportions he feels that he will be absolutely satisfied with life and that there would not be another thing that he would wish for. But as he becomes a little older and realizes that robust health, sound heart and lungs and more endurance are of more concern and benefit to him than the more showy muscles and entertaining strength, he is more apt to discontinue his heavy training and adopt methods more suitable for his years and his more mature aims.

As a rule, when a man reaches thirty he is through with exercising; and most men in the thirties are pitifully out of shape, muscularly, bodily and functionally. It would be folly for anyone to continue vigorous training with heavy dumb-bells when he reaches the late thirties, and yet there are a few who keep it up. That is why we often read that “another strong man dies young.” It is not only folly, but it is fatal to force oneself to continue year after year with the most strenuous exercise that one performed during his youth. If you are young and a weight-lifting enthusiast or an advocate of heavy exercise, bear in mind that much of the muscle tissue you have acquired from such work positively will be replaced by fat if, when you grow older, you discontinue your training.

The habit of exercise is an essential one to form for the development and preservation of best health; but no matter how well developed the habit my be, it will be against nature’s law to continue well into middle life if the work is of very strenuous variety. It would be far better to perform moderately vigorous movements and exercise that will keep the muscles supple and capable of prolonged movement. A habit of exercising in such a manner will remain much longer as you become older, for you will not have been putting such a drain upon your body as by endeavoring to force yourself to continue with the most violent work. The one who has no desire for muscle or strength but who performs light calisthenic movements in his youth, for the purpose of keeping in good health, will be very apt to continue these movements even after he is in the sixties or seventies.

Of course, light calisthenic work is of no particular value for anything except the maintenance of good circulation and general health. If you desire larger muscles and greater strength you must work much harder and longer and put forth greater effort than in the performance of calisthenic movements. I am an advocate of heavy work, but I do not believe in forcing the body. If you have the energy and foundation brought on by experience in training and have the desire to obtain greater strength and muscle bulk, then the lifting of heavy weights would be the thing for you.

But, I repeat, if you persist in lifting the weights and performing heavy dumb-bell exercise and do not do any light endurance movements in conjunction with such training, your muscles will prove worthless in any endurance test, and so also will every organ concerned with such tests. If, on the other hand, you are interested in all endurance work and do not have that youthful desire for bulk or great strength, you would profit mc more by adopting and continuing such methods of training as would develop endurance, for you would possess muscles and staying power that would last for many years longer, should you at any time become lax in your physical activities or entirely discontinue them.

To a swimmer who is capable of swimming a mile or more (and it is very easy to swim a mile after you have mastered the art of swimming) it would be a very easy matter to swim a quarter of a mile or more even though he had not entered the water for a period of many years. But a sprinter of short distance swimmer, who is sued to one hundred or two hundred and twenty-yard sprints, would find himself all out of condition were he to attempt to swim his accustomed distance or even less, after he had absented himself from the water for a few years.

Take the runner for example, also. Even if one who had had the ability to trot along for a mile or two sat at a desk for several years and did no running at al, he still would find himself capable of running a fair distance; whereas another individual who never had run more than one hundred yards in his life, would find himself greatly fatigued from his exertions were he to attempt to run his accustomed distance after a few years lay-off.

From this it can be seen that prolonged movement or endurance work is of more value in later years than the violent exertions which give the muscles bulk and strength. These statements may seem questionable, but I suggest that you experiment for yourself and find out. If you have specialized in any one form of athletics, even though you have not done any athletic work in that line for a long time, you will find yourself more capable of performing or accomplishing movements in the line you excelled in that you would in any other form of physical activity. But this is particularly true if you have done endurance work of some kind.

I have known a certain insurance man in Brooklyn for a number of years, and many times have seen medals and cups which he won in his youth for high jumping. I think he is now in his fifties; but he possesses the body of a man in the thirties, although he has done practically no physical training at all for several years. A year or so ago, when crossing the street, an automobile was almost upon him before he saw it. With quick presence of mind—more, in reality, an instinctive muscular response—he jumped—not forward but upward, so that his legs straddled the hood of the car. Outside of a few minor bruises he escaped uninjured. But the ability in high jumping that he still possessed undoubtedly saved his life. This also shows an interesting case of unconscious or instinctive muscular reaction or response. Had this man been a broad jumper he undoubtedly would have jumped forward; but because he had excelled in high jumping, the first thought flashed to the muscles of his legs propelled him upward.

The reader must not misunderstand me and think I am condemning strength and the means of its development. In one chapter I recommend strength work, and now it may seem that I am somewhat opposing it. But I am not. Muscles that are strong and capable of great exertions will prove just as useful in many cases of emergency as will muscles capable of endurance only; and I want to impress upon you the value of the power of physical self protection. What I am endeavoring to set forth is that muscles should possess endurance qualities just as much as or even more than bulk or strength. The two should be combined. If you combine endurance movements and strength movements you can obtain a harmonious and pleasing development even though you may not secure the maximum girth that you would if you remained exclusively with strength training. But it is not worth while to sacrifice half an inch, let us say, of girth to possess muscles that will prove capable, should the emergency arise, of saving your life or that of another?

If you exercise exclusively with heavy dumb-bells or barbells for purposes of developing strength and muscle bulk, you will obtain the maximum girth and the maximum strength that your frame work and capabilities permit and warrant. But in order to maintain the same bulk year after year you must continue such exertions and stick to progressive exercising. If you do not you will find your muscles decreasing in size half an inch or more. And yet, it will be impossible for you to continue the violent strength-building exercises in later years that you are capable of performing in your youth. Your energies would not permit the continuance, and, as I have said before, if it were possible to continue, it would prove disastrous.

Suppose you performed dumb-bell exercise for a year or two and you developed a sixteen-inch upper arm, a forty-five-inch normal chest, and other pars of your body in proportion. In order to maintain the sixteen-inch arm and forty-five-inch chest you must continue using the same amount of resistance or weight; or, if you want to maintain your maximum measurements or become a little larger if possible, you must increase the resistance or weight. This can go on year after year, but as you leave your twenties and climb up in the thirties your vitality would not be as great as it was in your youth. Your enthusiasm likely would lessen, also; and to continue such vigorous training you would be forced to call upon your reserve powers, nervous energy, and will power. Your body would not recuperate as quickly from the effects of the exertion as it used to. And should you continue such heavy training methods the time would come some day when the weakest link of the chain would snap, and there would be said of you, “another strong man dies young.”

Now let us suppose that you do not devote your entire time to dumb-bell exercise but divide your exercising period into about fifteen minutes of the heavy work and about fifteen or twenty minutes or more of light work. After a year or two, instead of having a sixteen-inch arm and a forty-five-inch chest, suppose you had a fifteen and a half-inch arm and a forty-four inch chest. The contour of your muscles would be just as pleasing even though they lacked this half inch in the arm and inch in the chest, and other parts accordingly. However, your muscles could outlast the muscles of the exclusive heavy weight lifter, and you would be able to accomplish things that would make the dumb-bell artist sit back with envy. As you grew older and entered your thirties you would still possess the fifteen and a half-inch arm and forty-four-inch chest, because these measurements were developed through more natural exertions and were not forced, as are the ones of the heavy weight enthusiast.

If at the older period of life, you were to discontinue endurance work and exercise exclusively with violent work for a shorter period of time than you would in your youth, you might easily increase the girth of your measurements for the time being. But here again, to continue such violent work would be unwise. Muscles developed by the use of heavy weights are never as pliable as those developed by endurance movements. You readily can see, then, that no matter how hard you may work physically in your youth and how much progress you may make with heavy weight exercises, you positively will lose some of the strength and some of the measurements and contour of your muscles and you become older. On the other hand, if you combine endurance movements with muscle- and strength-building movements, you will be more inclined to maintain for a much longer period the proportions that you have gotten from such methods of training, because the stain is not so great upon the organs, and the vitality would not be lessened quicker than it could be replenished, as is the case with exercise that is all muscle-building.

As muscles developed by heavy dumb-bell exercise would be valueless in endurance work, and as muscles developed by endurance movements would be valueless in performing heavy work, why not combine the two and have muscles that are strong as well as pliable and with endurance qualities and fit for all classes of work according to desire and possible need?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

High-tension multiple sets for the upper body - By Ken Mannie

Ken Mannie is the Head Strength/Conditioning Coach at Michigan State University. email:

One of the hotly debated topics in strength training concerns the number of recommended sets for each exercise. We continue to believe that one to three properly performed sets of any strength-training movement will provide the optimal stimulus for increased strength and muscular size.

Variety is a critical ingredient in every recipe and one way to incorporate a new twist is by manipulating the set paradigm. This approach will help keep the workouts fresh and challenging - paramount variables in the year-round activity.

We have been particularly successful with a plan called "descending pyramids." The pyramid involves three sets of an exercise for a particular body area, with each set being properly performed in an all-out manner (i.e., to momentary muscular fatigue).
The three sets descend in target reps (10-8-6) and usually in weight as well. At best, the weight remains the same for all three sets, due to the intensity of effort for each set along with the prescribed recovery between sets (1 1/2 to 2 minutes).

This training alteration allows us to control the volume of the workout and to emphasize designated areas of the body through the course of the training week. With that brief overview in mind, we can dwell on some of the finer coaching points and the implementation of the descending pyramids (DP).


The first step in designing an upper body DP is to determine whether to target the primary pressing muscles (i.e., the anterior shoulder region, chest, and triceps) or the primary pulling muscles (i.e., the posterior shoulder region, upper back, and biceps) of the torso. From that point, it is merely a matter of placing the movements in an orderly sequence.

Normally, we choose three exercises for the DP program, determine the order of execution, and insert one set of an antagonist
movement after each to provide some work for the opposing muscle groups. For example, if we want to target the pressing muscles, the DP could be set up in the following manner: Bench Press (10-8-6), Lat Pulldown (8), Seated Military Press (10-8-6), Seated Row (8), Incline Press (10-8-6), and Dumbbell Row (8). On the next workout, we would probably choose to emphasize the pulling muscles in our DP. It would look like this: Lat Pulldown (10-8-6), Bench Press (8), Seated Row (10-8-6), Seated Military Press (8), Dumbbell Row (10-8-6), and Incline Press (8).

As you can see, if the DP workout has a "press" emphasis we would insert one set of a "pull" exercise between pressing pyramids. If the workout has a "pull" emphasis, we would insert one set of a "press" exercise between pulling pyramids.
This enables us to highlight certain areas and movements without completely abandoning a stimulus to the musculature
on the opposite side of the torso. The specific exercises used are a matter of personal choice - we recommend as much variety in movement selection as the equipment allows.


Anther advantage of this system is that it affords the opportunity to include multiple sets in the program without turning the training sessions into a marathon. Each of these routines involves 12 total upper body sets. Even when performed in conjunction with a lower body routine, the entire workout should take no more than an hour.

Other than the multiple set factor, the basic difference between this and our regular high intensity routines is that we perform fewer total exercises. In other words, we sacrifice a few exercises in order to perform more sets of selected ones.

By changing the press/pull emphasis on a workout to workout basis, we can still balance the work being performed for the anterior and posterior aspects of the torso by the end of the training week.


The frequency of inserting a DP workout is really up to the coach's discretion. For some, it may fit very well with their current system and they may want to use the concept regularly. We choose to use it on an occasional basis, as more of a change-up to our base routines.

One rule we always follow, however, is that if we perform a "press" DP somewhere during the training week, we make sure to perform a "pull" DP before the end of the week. This helps us stay true to the balance concept mentioned earlier.

Movement speed for all of the exercises should be smooth and controlled so that the involved musculature - not momentum - is forced to perform the work.

For the sake of accountability, all workouts should be recorded and a plan for progressive overload should be put in place. Whenever the target reps for these routines are achieved for two consecutive workouts, we add 2.5 to 5 pounds to a set.

As with all strength-training activities, proper spotting and supervision by qualified coaching personnel are mandatory.

We hope this variation of high-tension strength training helps keep your program enjoyable and challenging for your athletes. Let us know if you have any questions on this or any other aspect of our program.

Ken Mannie, Strength/Conditioning Coach, Michigan State University
, Duffy Daugherty
Football Building, East Lansing
, MI 48824 (517) 355-7514.

Q & A - "...a totally different mindset..." - By Bradley J. Steiner

Dear Bob,

Could you ask Mr. Steiner for his input on this?

According to many of the articles and books I have read, the same hand-to-hand techniques taught to SOG members (SEALs, Special Forces, Force Recon, etc) are taught to the general population. What is it about the SOG soldiers that make them so much more dangerous than an ordinary soldier or even a civilian trained in the same manner? I have known a few people in military law enforcement and all have said the thing they dreaded most was having to apprehend one of the SOG members, due to the safety risk it put them in. My thinking is this group of people have been taught a totally different mindset to combat and self-defense. That being a mindset of balls-to-the-wall, survive at any cost way of thinking.



Hi Bob,

I LOVE contributing to your Forum!!

My reply to Keith:-

My personal association with members of the "special warfare community" dates back to the Vietnam era, and to the immediate post-Vietnam era (ie the 1970's). While I have instructed some few members in recent years of the Army' Special Forces and the Navy's SEALs, I am not as intimately familiar with their training as I once was. The feedback that members of the armed services "elite units" have given me, however, suggests that - today - their unarmed and hand-to-hand training is not at all impressive. Unfortunately, a too-great influence from the "groundfighting is everything" crowd has diluted "official" military close combatives to a dangerously inept level. I know of not one single combat veteran who has even a modicum of respect for the "official training" now given in this particular field. I had the pleasure of training two active duty Army Special Forces soldiers (combat vets) a couple of years ago. They refused to participate in "the nonsense" (their words!) that was being "passed off as hand-to-hand combat at Fort Lewis, here in Washington. They are both now in Afghanistan.

Often, special warfare personnel either train (or have trained) extensively on their own and/or they rely upon unofficial training from amongst their fellows who have trained in combat systems in order to acquire viable skills.

The same may be said, incidentally, for members of our intelligence community's "clandestine services". The lay public has a most inaccurate idea of how "formidably trained" the government's action personnel really are in close-in and hand-to-hand battle skills. Those who are really good are those who pursue the subject on their own, and outside the parameters of the courses that are "officially" administered during their preparatory career training.

Now, the question of "What makes these people so formidable, tough, and intimidatingly effective?"

First of all, selection and assessment for elite and action units is (or certainly was, when I had anything to do with them!) stringent and severe in the extreme. "Bodybuilders" are accustomed to the use of the term "easy gainers" to refer to people who put on muscle almost by merely looking at a barbell! Well, the elite and action services focus on selecting only those who have the prerequisite mental and physical capacities to excell in the sometimes impossibly demanding missions that these men are tasked with, once they qualify for acceptance. Such men are chosen for a combination of attributes that are very difficult to find: 1. Independent, autonomous thinking, while at the same time being excellent team members, and able to work effectively in a professionally qualified group, 2. An inventive and resourceful mind, 3. The ability and willingness (let us not mince words here) to kill, when necessary, without a tremor of hesitation, 4. Physical strength, endurance, hardihood, and tenacity FAR in excess of what even many professional athletes possess, 5. Courage: Raw, uncompromising intestinal fortitude to such an extreme that most would regard it as "reckless" - yet while possessing this degree of courage, at the same time having a total LACK of any tendency to be "thrill-seeking", a "showoff", or to be reckless. 6. A high intellect capable of quickly grasping and applying technical skills of all sorts. 7. The ability to function well under great stress, to exercise restraint and self-control, and to keep secrets.

Men in these occupations (ie men who qualify for entry into these occupations) additionally combine youth with natural athleticism and way above-average strength and ruggedness, coupled with mental determination that few possess in any field of endeavor - before they even begin training!

The inculcation of MINDSET is attendant all special warfare training in all services. Mission accomplishment - by any means - under the godawful conditions of combat behind enemy lines and against enormous odds, has always been uppermost in the mind of trainers and trainees for these types of units, and there is not the slightest question that supreme physical fitness and development, coupled with youth and a burning, unrelenting drive to WIN and to ACCOMPLISH THE MISSION contributes to the impressive formidability of these highly self-confident and justifiably proud members of the armed forces.

Training for these units is, please remember, a FULLTIME, total-immersion thing. Their instruction in hand-to-hand may not be extensive, but it is INTENSIVE, and no one in these units fails to appreciate - and to FEEL - what is at stake should he ever confront a lethal enemy during the course of his work. He is hammered quite forthrightly with what he MUST do - and do at once - in any combat situation. These men do not spend all day in an office amd then attend a couple of dojo workouts two evenings a week! They become and remain COMBAT-ORIENTED 24/7.

Another thing: These men do not have a "multitude" of options in combat (as, say, police do). Theirs is not to apply restraint holds, to effect arrests, or to control unruly individuals. They have but a single mandate: KILL OR BE KILLED. That finalizes things rather neatly, and establishes a pretty clear path to take when the rubber meets the road.

I hope that I have shed some light on the subject at hand.


Professor Steiner's American Combato Site

Sunday, May 10, 2009

ENDURANCE by Earle E. Liederman - Author and Publisher, (1926), - Chapter 11

Exercises of endurance are those in which the work must be continued for a considerable length of time. In these exercises the total expenditure of force is determined more by the duration than by the intensity or resistance, and rapidity of succession of the efforts. It is essential that the muscular effort should not be too great and the movements not too rapid, otherwise fatigue in some of its various forms may interrupt the movements too soon. An exercise of endurance is only a moderate exercise if performed for a short time, but it may become forced exercise if it is continued too long. in these exercises the amount of work accomplished after a long time, even at the end of the day, for instance, may be very great; but the expenditure of force is made in such small fractions that there is no painful muscular effort at any movement; neither is there any marked disturbance in the functions of involved organs.

However, you may be able, in performing an exercise of endurance, to work up to the point, without knowing it, of making the exercise equivalent to heavy muscular work. When the limit of your own natural capacity is not exceeded, there is no noticeable disturbance created in the body. For the reason that in endurance work there is perfect balance between the muscular exertion and the power of resistance, you are able to go on working for a long time, allowing the useful effects of your exercising to accumulate, without causing any disturbance to the various organs or to the muscles used in the performance.

It is my opinion that a movement may be classed under endurance work even though it takes but fifteen or twenty minutes to reach the point of fatigue, and a light movement may be considered endurance work if it can be kept up for hours at a time. The two really blend and, of course, depend upon the strength and ability of the athlete. I consider that the one who chins himself forty to fifty times without stopping performs just as distinct an endurance movement as does the one who runs or swims a mile without resting.

Again, the object of this book is to enable everyone to save his own life; and I contend that heavy endurance work will prove just as valuable in this regard as will light endurance movements. If you are capable of climbing hand over hand up a long rope, say for one hundred feet, you can rest assured such a stunt and test of your muscles will be just as valuable to you as if you were able to swim one mile or to run two or three miles. Of course, if it is a specialty that you are interested in, such as becoming a long distance swimmer or a long distance runner or a twenty-five-round boxer, then whether you are able to chin yourself fifteen times or fifty times will make but little difference.

It is not my object to instruct anyone in any special line, nor to select any line of activity for anyone. If your ambition is to become a long distance runner you easily can obtain instructions and advice elsewhere. But, if, for example, you are unable to run more than fifty or one hundred yards without becoming fatigued and breathless, then the information I am endeavoring to impart, and the condition I am trying to interest you to acquire through this medium will prove valuable.

Have you ever noticed an athlete warming up just before a decisive event? This is noticed especially in track work; but if you have been observant in the gymnasium also, you may have noticed some prominent strong man going through a series of light calisthenic movements just before attempting heavier work. He is consciously getting his muscles supple and in condition for the necessary heavier exertions. This also can be done without direct intentional effort, as in long distance running when in endeavoring to cut down the time of the run one takes a trifle longer strides or runs with greater rapidity. The thought of winning acts as a stimulus and increases the speed and stride without any direct forced action of the will on the part of the athlete.

A person whose body is run down and weakened from lack of use, or a person who is recovering from a sickness will be greatly benefitted by endurance work. It is like giving food in fractional amounts to a convalescent. If upon recovering from a serious illness you were to eat a hearty meal, serious complications might arise, for when the digestions has been weakened and the requirements lessened by disease the food must be resumed in exceedingly small amounts and the amount increased very slowly. To give a weak person the amount of exercise at one period (if he were capable of doing it) that he would be doing after faithfully following athletic activities for many months would be fatal; but to start him with light endurance work of slow rhythm would enable him to receive the same value from the lighter exercise that the strong man receives from his heavy weights. In other words, the light endurance work to the feeble man is of just as much benefit as lifting heavy dumb-bells is to the weight lifter.

Therefore, the larger your muscles become and the stronger you become, the harder you must work in order to progress. A physical culturist usually has no difficulty in obtaining from a fourteen-inch to a sixteen-inch upper arm, depending, of course, upon his height; but it would be a most difficult matter for him to add another inch to this arm after he has been exercising for a y ear or two. The beginner, in performing one-tenth or less of the work done by the experienced athlete, derives just as much benefit, so far as girth increase and functional benefits are concerned, from his light endurance exercises as the experienced man receives from his greater work. Of course, as he becomes stronger he would get nowhere were he to continue with the same light endurance exercises. As he becomes stronger, organically and muscularly, he must progress accordingly in his type or degree of exercise or in both.

Endurance work must be divided into fractional quantities sufficiently small to enable the body to support each exercise dose without disturbing its normal functions. Also, the muscular efforts must be at sufficiently long intervals that the effect of the second effort may not be added directly to that of the first. Stated differently, there must be a long enough pause between each two movements to give the muscles and general energy a chance to recuperate. If there is not, the work instead of being endurance work, becomes muscle-building and, perhaps, in feeble cases, forced exercising.

As I have mentioned previously, the best example of endurance and of relaxation is the heart. It pumps all through life, but between beats there is enough pause to enable the heart muscle to recover. When the heart is overworked by being required to pump faster and harder than under normal conditions, it has insufficient time in which to rest between beats. Through such over-exertion the athlete gets what is called “athletic heart,” and sometimes one or more leaking valves.

In an exercise of strength there is an accumulation of work, because each muscular effort is very evident, and one follows another before the full effect of the preceding has been entirely overcome. In an exercise of speed there is a multiplication of work, because of the rapid succession of efforts of small intensity. This leads in the end to an accumulation of work. In exercises of endurance the efforts, being repeated at sufficiently spaced intervals, are fractional, if at any time the amount of work performed does not exceed the power of resistance—though the final result is an accumulation of work, also.

An exercise of endurance is characterized by the necessity for perfect balance between the force of the muscular effort and the power of resistance in the body. It is difficult to determine just when an exercise is one of endurance when the work is not carried on in competition and does not become prolonged owing to destination—as in running, walking, swimming, etc. The same exercise may be classed in turn endurance, speed or strength exercise, according to the conditions under which it is performed. For instance if you row in competition the work becomes speed work; whereas, if you row over a long course, mile after mile, it becomes endurance work. Rowing in very heavy seas takes on the form of strength work, just as walking, which is a type of endurance exercise, becomes strength work when you walk up-stairs or up-hill.

In other words, if you bring on fatigue too rapidly, it may be muscle-building, speed, or strength work and not endurance work; but if fatigue does not manifest itself and the work can go on continuously for long periods of time, it then is endurance work. Thus it is the conditions under which you perform the exercise that determine its character.

But individual conditions, of training, strength, wind, and nervous energy, have much to do with determining the type of exercise, also. There is nothing so variable as the power of resistance within different people. What is an exercise of strength or speed for one becomes endurance for another who has had much exercising experience. Taking rowing again for illustration, this is an exercise of strength to the man who is learning, for in a short time he is out of breath; but to the experienced oarsman who spends much of his time on the water it becomes endurance work, for he can keep it up all day without fatiguing.

Generally, the difference in the power of resistance, or the staying power, as it also may be called, of different people is due largely to the difference in their respiratory powers. It might be said that one’s respiratory fitness is the true regulator of all work of endurance. A person whose rib-box is narrow would not stand the same chance in competition as one who rib-box is broad. In the former, the lungs are not as large, nor have they the room to expand; whereas not only is the lung capacity greater in the one whose rib-box is wide but his endurance powers excel in direct proportion.

There are two conditions, then, necessary to form an exercise of endurance. The first is a certain moderation in the force of the exercises. The second is a certain power of resistance on the part of the body. Therefore, stamina or staying power applies rather to the qualities of a man than it concerns the nature of the work he performs. A work of endurance is one in which the method of performance enables one to continue it for a long time; and the man with staying power is one whose body is fit to support prolonged work. Some people are unable to perform the most moderate exercise without showing, after a very short time, the signs of extreme fatigue. There are others who keep up, with astonishing powers of resistance, the most violent work; and, as I said, for them the exercise of strength of speed becomes merely an exercise of endurance.

While at a summer resort one day I noticed from my window a man skipping a rope on a platform which had been placed on the sand. This rope skipping is done by every little girl in her early childhood days; and it also is indulged in by athletes, for it is very beneficial for the wind and the muscles below the knee. It was about ten o’clock in the morning when I first saw this man skipping the rope. I watched him for a few minutes and then went about my daily duties. Around noon-time I again saw him skipping the rope, and learned to my astonishment, upon investigation, that he had been skipping the rope continuously for those two hours. It was remarkable that he could do so practically without a miss, and still more remarkable that his lungs and heart were in such a phenomenal condition as to function properly while withstanding the obvious and necessary exertion. Jumping off the ground, no matter how lightly it is done, affects the heart and respiratory organs considerably, and it must have taken much practice for this man to be able to continue this one form of exercise for so long a time. I know I shouldn’t have the patience to do it. However, it surely was a marvelous display of endurance.

But place a rope in the hands of the beginner and ask him to skip for five minutes; and, even though he possess the technique and can perform without a miss, he will find that his exertions will bring on breathlessness with such rapidity and tiring of the muscles of his calves and shins so quickly that to him the work, for the short time it would be possible, would be muscle-building.

Rope skipping is an excellent exercise for creating endurance, both in the muscles below the knee and in your staying power or wind. For the beginner, rope skipping may prove a violent exercise; but after practice and to the experienced physical culturist it becomes endurance work. If after an exercise you experience neither fatigue nor breathlessness, you have been performing endurance movements, and you may consider yourself fit for that work. If, instead, you are winded and any part of your body is tired, you have been performing violent exertions. This is one way to distinguish violent exercising from endurance work or gentle exercise—for endurance consists of taking exercise as easily as possible. By continuing the movement for a longer time than usual, fatigue and breathlessness will occur in endurance work; but it will come on more slowly and gradually than in the performance of violent exercise.

In order that you may perform an exercise that may be continued for a long time, the first condition is that it does not lead to breathlessness. You can go on walking, for example, in spite of weary legs and sore feet; but you cannot go on running when you are out of breath. Certain parts of the body naturally possess more endurance than others. This, of course, becomes localized. For instance, the fingers and hands naturally have more endurance than have the shoulders or the back. We are continually using the fingers and hands in our everyday life; therefore, they seem almost wholly immune to fatigue. Observing the pianist at the motion picture theatre who continues playing throughout the various continuous performances, you often wonder why he does not become exhausted. True, he has periods of relaxation; but his fingers are capable of continuing their light endurance efforts much longer than would the muscles of his arms and shoulders.

The muscles around the jaw seem to possess tireless endurance qualities, especially in those whom we often observe who are continually chewing gum. Not long ago there was a public speaker who continued talking, without a let-up, for forty-eight hours, while I often have gotten tired after talking ten or fifteen minutes. My experience has taught me to say little and listen more, and I presume that is the reason I notice the effort of speaking more than do the public speakers and many others.

If you attempt any exercise or movement of endurance, it is essential that you eliminate all extra effort from the action. The absence of effort saves you from the violent exertion of the heart and blood vessels which hinders the working of these organs. The object of endurance exercise, therefore, is to spare the organs as much as possible, and it is most essential to give the body the chance to repair even during the work. In this way breathlessness will not occur during exercises of endurance. By such care the quantity of carbonic acid produced by the activity of the muscles never rises to a quantity in excess of that which the lungs can eliminate, but it is removed from the blood as fast as it is formed and passes unnoticed from the body. It is possible to escape breathlessness while performing endurance work only by introducing considerable oxygen into the body by way of the respiratory system.

Proper training, therefore, is the first step towards acquiring endurance. The object of training is to fit you as completely and as quickly as possible for the performance of a given work. In other words, it is preparation. Again, training has other meaning besides muscular activities. A diver may be trained in holding his breath longer. Jockies are trained to make them lighter so as to lighten the work of the horses that carry them. Hence, in order to continue being in the condition in which training puts you, it is necessary to keep up that training, in considerable degree, at least. Otherwise you simply go back to about where you were when you started.

It is well always to keep in good condition, though I do not believe in being “on edge,” so to speak, at all times. By this I mean that if you were training for a contest, such as boxing, wrestling or running, it would be a waste of nervous force to continue day after day the condition that you should be in for the contest. If this condition is kept up one becomes stale, and staleness demands a rest.

Getting and keeping in good condition does not necessarily mean the loss of weight, unless, of course, superfluous flesh exists upon your body. Once you have eliminated excess fatty tissue, you will not lose weight by moderate training. You will further lose, however, if you are over-training and, as I said before, continually keyed up to the highest pitch. An athlete who once becomes muscular, even though he were thin before he indulged in physical culture work, generally will accumulate fat if he discontinues his training and relaxes, just as the fat man who reduces to symmetrical proportions will quickly resume his old-time pudgy figure if he discontinues his exercise. of course, there will be a falling off in the contour and size of the muscles, and fatty tissue will accumulate around the most inactive parts, such as the waistline and hips.

The thin individual reacts somewhat differently. He usually continues to take on more weight as his muscles increase in size, but should he stop training he not only would rapidly lose an inch or more from his thighs and arms, but he would increase an inch or more around his torso and especially around the waist.

I tried an experiment myself a few years ago on the effect of prolonged relaxation. As you know, I am an advocate of daily exercise, and I practice what I preach; but for an experiment on this occasion I suddenly dropped off training and did nothing for three weeks. Now my waist measured thirty inches before ending my training; but upon the completion of the three weeks’ rest it measured thirty-six, and I had the devil’s own time getting it back again to thirty-two inches, where it has remained, refusing to become any smaller; and, of course, I in turn refuse to allow it to become any larger. While in training my upper arm measured sixteen and one-half inches. After the three weeks of relaxation it measured fifteen and three-quarter inches. My thigh measured twenty-three and one-half inches, and after my lay-off, strange to say, it increased to twenty-four inches. The girth of my chest gained one inch during my period of inactivity.

During this period of rest I was not my normal self organically and mentally. I felt sluggish and lost considerable physical ambition, and it was very hard to start into exercising again. This is the only time I have experimented in this way, and I can assure you that I have no desire to do it again; for I have found that there is nothing equal to keeping fit at all times and in such a condition that it requires but a day or two of extra training to fit you for any contest.

Professional boxing offers an interesting example of training methods. Usually it takes about six weeks of preparation for a fighter to fit himself for a contest, and upon the evening of the contest his muscles and nerves are keyed up to the highest point of responsiveness. If after the bout he were asked to continue his active training, he soon would find himself stale, both mentally and physically—mentally, perhaps, because there would be no incentive for him to keep it up, and physically, because of the drain upon his body. Fighters, you know, perform considerable endurance work and often spend from two to three hours a day at their work-out. Therefore, relaxation after a contest is necessary, and in most cases fighters add considerable weight during their periods of inactivity.

I believe in carrying from three to five pounds of extra weight on my body at all times, as it gives me something to work off—something to feed on, so to speak. If a boxer continued his daily endurance training right up to the day of the contest, he would be apt to find himself stale during the encounter. That is why fighters usually relax on the day the bout is to take place. This gives the muscles the relaxation necessary before their final exertion. It would be well for anyone who train for a contest, whether it be boxing, wrestling, rowing, running or what not, to follow the fighter’s program by relaxing and avoiding all physical activities on the day of the event. The object of training is to develop your muscular and nervous energy and to increase your power of resisting fatigue. If you have no secured these effects by training before the last day it is occur frequently and regularly at all times; the muscles quite certain that you cannot develop it on the last day.

As I have mentioned so many times, relaxation should be given brief periods of rest after each movement in order to recuperate properly for another exertion. How would you expect to run a mile or more if you ran the first hundred yards at top speed? And how would you expect to box twenty rounds if at the sound of the gong in the opening round you exerted yourself by boxing at top speed? You may be able to go at top speed during part of any contest; but the time for this is well along in the contest after slower work allowing some degree of relaxation, which permits the vital organs and muscles to reach their highest degree of harmonious action.

In violent exercising, fatigue and breathlessness come on quite suddenly, yet they leave you more quickly than do the fatigue and breathlessness produced by the performance of endurance work. I have seen swimmers come out of the water, after swimming a couple of miles, and although they were breathing somewhat above normal they were not as winded as sprinters I have seen who have gone but one hundred yards through the waters. As a rule, sprinting swimmers upon completion of their destination are quite winded, yet after a short period of rest they would be able to make another sprint. But an endurance swimmer would not have any inclination to get into the water soon for another long swim after the completion of one endurance test. This is because his fatigue has come on gradually, and is more general and more lasting than the fatigue of the sprinter. You can experience these reactions yourself; and, after all, you will find experience the best teacher.

I have watched the performances of Joe and Adolph Nordquest, the two brothers from Ashtabula, Ohio, who are noted for their strength performances. I have had the pleasure of seeing Joe put up with the left hand overhead, three hundred and one pounds, creating a new world’s record for the left arm bent press. It was interesting to note how he walked around the long bar-bell about a dozen times before he attempted to touch it. He was working himself up to physical and mental pitch in order to successfully perform the lift. After raising the bell overhead with one arm and dropping it to the floor the exhalation of his breath sounded like a bellows, so forcibly did it come out of his lungs. He was quite winded from the exertion; yet after only a minute or two he was fully capable of attempting other lifts.

I watched his brother Adolph lift a huge bar-bell, two hands overhead, about ten or twelve times. This was done in a public performance, and the weight was announced as two hundred and fifty pounds. Knowing him personally, I inquisitively asked him, after the performance, what the actual weight of the bell was. Adolph in a whisper confided to me, at the same time asking me not to tell anyone, that the weight actually was only two hundred and forty-five pounds. It doesn’t seem very much to relate or to read; but anyone who cares to attempt to lift even a two hundred-pound bar-bell over his head ten times will appreciate the marvelous strength Adolph Nordquest possesses. But I am rambling from my subject. After completing the lifts his part in the performance was ended and he was quite winded; but I am sure he could have duplicated the whole thing after a minute or two of relaxation.

It will be of interest and value for you to have a little knowledge in the effects of exercises of strength. All exercises are in the same category. Strength work really blends with endurance work; because, as I have stated previously, what is endurance work for one is strength work for another. To the beginner, the lifting of a fifty-pound dumb-bell from the floor to arms’ length overhead would mean performing a feat of strength, while an athlete who did this movement before me three hundred and fifty times without stopping really performed an endurance test.

As related previously, I give a great many of my pupils in their first lesson the common push-up or floor dip exercise. This is quite a stunt for some of them to do, especially if they have never exercised before. But if I were to give this exercise to those who have had six or eight months or more of training they would consider it as simply a warming-up movement. I feel that everyone should perform strength work and continue with the strength movements until they become endurance repetitions. There is really no distinct line of separation between strength work and endurance work. They blend into each other; and it depends wholly on the individual whether the exercise or movement undertaken is one of strength or one of endurance.

The state of mind is an important factor in the performance of endurance work. During all training for endurance work your mind must be free from all mental disturbances and all depressing emotions. You must avoid all nervous excitement and all keen sensations, and, as I have previously stated, peace and harmony should prevail. One who train for endurance should not perform any violent exercise. Violent exercise need not necessarily mean a feat of strength or a different stunt; it may be a violent exertions that would bring on fatigue too rapidly; and fatigue should be avoided in training for endurance.

In the performance of heavy work, which may be classed as strength exercising, there are two important factors necessary—the straining of the muscles and the forcing of your will power. It is important, therefore, that you understand the value of nervous energy throughout these performances, as it plays a more important part than you may think.

I recall the great English weight lifter, Edward Aston, whose weight is around one hundred and sixty pounds; yet he has successfully lifted, one arm overhead, three hundred and one pounds in the bent press. I also recall the last time I met Anton Matysek, the phenomenal lifter of Baltimore, whose weight at the time was about one hundred and sixty-five pounds and yet he successfully lifted almost three hundred pounds in the bent press method, one hand overhead; and his other feats with the dumb-bells also have been remarkable. Each of these men weighed less than I do and a great many of their muscles are smaller in measurement than mine; and yet they are capable of lifting considerably more poundage than I have ever been able to lift. For me to bent press two hundred or two hundred and twenty-five pounds was quite a feat of strength; but to lift the same weight would have been merely play for Aston or Matysek. Undoubtedly, they possessed more nervous energy than I did when lifting the weights, and, of course, they have had considerable more practice with dumb-bells and bar-bells than I have had, for I very seldom use them. If I had practiced as faithfully with the weights as they had, perhaps I might have been in the same class with them; yet, I may not have been.

Variations in nervous energy may be manifested in a physical manner by a more or less evident stimulation of the muscles, which produces more or less powerful muscular contractions. Doubtless, this difference in nervous energy largely explains why two men of the same size and weight differ greatly in their feats of strength. But the exertion of a weight lifter endeavoring to lift an enormous weight from the ground overhead with two arms is no greater in proportion to strength possessed than it would be for the beginner to lift light weights or to chin himself for the first time.

To one who is accustomed to lifting weights it is an easy matter to pull himself up a rope hand over hand. While lifting weights may constitute violent exercises and feats of strength, it produces such strength that it makes rope climbing a mere test of endurance for the muscles involved. To one who is accustomed to curling a heavy bar-bell it is an easy matter to perform a great number of chins on a horizontal bar. Such rope climbing and chinning should be indulged in by everyone, for it may prove necessary sometime for saving your own life, though I hope not. The beginner who cannot chin himself once or dip between parallel bars more than two or three times is really in a regrettable state regarding his personal safety in the event of some dangers. The mere act of chinning himself once or dipping once or twice is, to him, really a feat of strength. Therefore, he should continue at such strength work until he is able to perform a number of repetitions, and after the repetitions become prolonged the work can be classed as endurance movements.

If an experienced athlete for the first time were to take a spade and dig a deep hole in the ground he would be performing strength movements, even though such labor would be endurance work for the working man. The athlete, whose muscles are used in certain ways and who is accustomed to fifteen or twenty minutes of exercising daily, would be working his muscles in a different manner in throwing over his shoulder spadefuls of dirt, and he would soon tire, just as the experienced weight lifter, who is sued to lifting enormous weights, would become tired very quickly while wielding the axe for chopping down a tree.

It depends on how the muscles are used whether the work is a movement of strength or a movement of endurance. The lumberjack who can swing the axe in cutting down tree after tree without fatigue and with scarcely a show of perspiration on his forehead, undoubtedly would make a poor showing at lifting dumb-bells or in running at top speed for any short distance. Also, he most likely would find himself breathless were he to cross-country trot for a mile or more. On the other hand, the sprinter or the cross-country runner soon would tire wielding the axe.

Therefore, strength movements and endurance movements are so closely associated that their type can be determined only by the condition and ability of the person performing them. Thus it can be seen that it is best for everyone to indulge in all forms of exercise, light and heavy; for the light work always can be accomplished with practice and with the development of the wind, while the heavy strength movements will develop into those of endurance, which light exercises cannot do.