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Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Key to Might and Muscle (Circa 1926) - Chapter 1 (Part 2) - A Few Chapters from the Story of My Life - By George F. Jowett



Almost as soon as I had entered the forge, I had espied the huge double-horned anvil set upon a large metal resting block, not far from the anvil upon which the smith was working. He noticed the way my eyes were continually being drawn in that direction, and I know he was not surprised when I walked over to look it over. I had never seen such a large anvil, and I told him so. In reply, he told me they only used it for heavy forgings and with a pleasant smile, asked me how much I thought it weighed. My reply was evasive, exclaiming that it was very hard to say but I knew it was monstrously heavy. He looked me over, and perhaps he recognized within me much of my latent strength, and he asked if I thought I could lift the anvil. I told him that I would have to be shown first how any one else could move such an object, before I considered such an attempt. To tell the truth, I was curious to know just how he would go about it, for, heavens, it seemed a terribly unwieldy affair to handle. Laughingly he complied. Stepping forward, he caught each horn in the hollow of his arms, and with one great effort he lifted the mass off the resting block, and replaced it. With pride he said, "I am the only man that has ever lifted it clear off the block, like
that." But I shocked him when I replied, "I believe I can lift it." "You can?" he questioned. "Well, I am going to try if you have no objections." I came back and as I began to take off my coat and collar he was all willingness, and cried out in admiration as he saw my well-muscled arms.

The moment I had seen him lift the anvil, I knew I could lift it, as I had proven myself capable on many occasions to sustain enormous weights in the hollow of my arms. I also knew if I could get the anvil up on my chest I could beat him in the test. Approaching the anvil, I began to apply myself to the task. Placing my feet firmly on the floor, I sought a perfect balance as I circled each horn within the fold of the elbows. I began to lift steadily, but found the anvil a little more awkward than I had anticipated. The floor of the anvil was much wider than the face, and each of the two corners nearest to my body, pressed very uncomfortably in my abdomen. However, I raised the anvil and got it resting partly upon the chest, so that it lay at a slanting angle with the floor. Leaning slightly back, I managed to support the major part of the burden upon the body. Hugging the huge piece of metal to me, I began to walk. It was a very difficult feat, as the base of the anvil was borne low enough on the hips to make any hip movement difficult. It was a terrific test, and every muscle in my body was taxed to its limit. I walked round the forge floor and then replaced the anvil on its support while I almost panted from the test. The smith looked on speechless, but coming out of his stupor with a rush, he grasped my hand and said, "You are only a boy, but you're a marvel." Well, I was only eighteen. However, he was not satisfied, for he told me, "Sonny, I have never been equaled for my strength, and I am not going to say I'm beaten until it is proven in an all-round test." Right there, we pitted our strength against each other. We twisted iron and bent horseshoes. One, which may have been a little more brittle in texture than another, I broke in two. On every test I beat him, but he was a foreman worthy of any man's steel. Finally we turned wrists, in which I proved victor more easily than on any other of our previous tests. As his arm went down for the third time, he broke out into laughter. There was nothing selfish in his soul, he admired me for what I had proven myself to be that morning, and right there commenced a friendship that has endured the test of time.

Before I left that day, I gave him a photo of myself. This he nailed up on the door of a tool case that hung on the wall, and around it he nailed the two parts of the horseshoe, while over the head of the photo he nailed the stiffest piece of iron I had bent. I used to visit him often while I was in England, but fifteen summers have passed since I last saw him. Yet, two or three times a year a letter creeps overseas through the mails to remind me of our pact. His children have long since grown to manhood and womanhood, but their father has taught them to remember with pride the man they can scarcely remember seeing. Last fall I received a letter, and in it the old smith said, "Your photo still hangs upon the door, with the old pieces of horseshoe and the iron you handled. Of course, the picture has faded but not your memory. When any one comes in the shop and talks about strength, the children just point to the wall and tell them that nobody could beat you."

Such faithfulness and admiration I feel keenly, because we seldom find it. The poet knew of what he was talking when he wrote the line, "True friendship is a rare jewel, and as priceless as eternity." You would be surprised if you knew some of the great strongmen I took to lift that anvil and who failed. It was a mighty test of strength.

A very amusing incident happened at one time when I lived in Canada. I happened to be in a new piece of country, where they were erecting telephone poles for wiring. The telephone operatives were a lively bunch of boys, all full of life. On this particular occasion I was lying sprawled out on the grass, watching four men coming toward me, carrying a new post for erection. As they passed the foremen called out jokingly to me that if I had any excess strength that morning I could use it by helping them out, if I wished. I called back a laughing answer that the poles were too light for me, adding that if I could not raise one of them overhead with one arm, I'd eat my shirt. To their amazement I took up the bet. I began the test by centering the pole, and then I got it to the shoulder by a semi-rocking and curling process. From this stage I had no trouble at all, raising it to arms' length
by using the method of the bent press. It went up beautifully. To say they were astounded, would express the situation mildly. From then on I heard the most remarkable accounts of that feat. Some said it weighed 400 pounds, and others said 500 pounds. Others with a more vivid imagination began to calculate the weight on the score that four men could easily carry 250 pounds each, so it must have weighed 1000 pounds. My estimate of the weight was about 200 pounds. I had previously weighed one and found it to weight 185 pounds. I had performed the stunt before, and knew beforehand what I was attempting. For all that, it is a very difficult feat, as the surface is so large that the pole is apt to roll off the hand. I thoroughly enjoyed the situation,and got many a laugh from the terribly exaggerated stories that grew out of that stunt.

I have often wondered to myself if the many who hesitate to take up physical training, ever stop to realize how the various senses of fear and cowardliness give place to fortitude and confidence in the process of reconstructing the body. This was one of the first assets I recognized to spring from my training. Before, I would cringe with fear, and even go around a block rather than pass one of my tormentors, even though he would be on the opposite side of the street. So much pampering in consideration of sickness had created within me that revolting weakness of self pity. As I began to feel my feet on the ground, as it were, I refused to get out of the way for anyone. I grew confident, and with it came a degree of fairness which is so compatible with the true sportsman. I believed in being courteous and frank, and all the time grew stronger. My heart held within it a call that ever urged me, and told me I would never again know fear or be the coward I once was. I threw all those enslaving shackles off, and many have been the times when my confidence, fortitude and mental strength were demanded to a greater extent than any muscular strength. It has saved my life many times and often the lives of others.

I am so earnest in my desire to impress upon you the many values, both seen and unseen, that are obtained from a well trained physically fit body, that I want you to go with me through one of my many adventures, when confidence in oneself decided the issue of life or death.

Now please don't get into your head the idea that I always was an extraordinary brave man. That is not so. I do not esteem bravery, in most cases, as being what hero worshippers try to convey. It is only one of our natural gifts which we all possess, but like our undeveloped muscles, these senses need cultivation and stimulus. In another chapter, I will prove it again when I introduce to you, Albert Shakesby, the great, but not famous, athlete evangelist; the man who was a match for Hackenschmidt, the man who outfitted - now I am digressing in my enthusiasm, so let me get back and take you through the adventure that chills me to the bone whenever I think of it.

Just previous to this little adventure I had made the acquaintance of a husky seaman, who had the same passions as myself to see things. He had heard that eighteen miles from where we had docked, lay the remains of a once prosperous fishing town. It appeared that during the days of the buccaneers this town was an ideal resort for them, on account of its natural harbor, point of prominence, and general inaccessibility. According to history its people had always been engaged in freebooting. I remember on our visit seeing the remains of an old lighthouse, that was a couple of miles inland from where it should have been, and many harrowing stories are told about ships that were lured to destruction by the wreckers. Morgan and the notorious Captain Kidd had used this place of refuge at one time or another; but the place of interest was the natural cavern, which was jealously kept a secret for generations and named after Robin Lythe, a very early freebooter. We set off on foot together, early in the day, arriving at our destination some time about high noon. We were rather dismayed when we saw the great difficulties that faced us, and which had to be overcome if we wanted to see the object of our desire. The harbor was a natural cleft cut into the cliffs like a bight. It was strewn with rocks, and the cave entrance was away out on the face of the cliff that fronted the sea. Nobody would let us have a boat, but after coming so far, we were determined that we were not going back without making some attempt to see this cave. We decided to climb our way out on the side of the cliff, after being informed that the tide was never low enough to allow walking to the site of this notorious place. Taking off our shoes and socks, we tied the laces, and slung them over our shoulders. It was some climb, believe me. One misstep would have plunged us to our death upon the jagged rocks beneath, around which continually swirled the hungry eddies. Climbing thus for almost an hour, we came to the entrance. By walking on the various ledges that gave us foothold, we entered. It was a beautiful sight. The walls seemed to be all colors, constantly changing, and the water was naturally calm but had a swift current. In many places we were obliged to almost double up, and the farther we went in the darker it became. Many were the bumps we sustained against the low roof. We finally traversed the cavern, which I would describe as more of a passage, and with great relief we stepped out upon the sands. Lying down to rest from our laborious, dangerous climb, our eyes began to rove around our surroundings. We had come to a hollow of the cliff that reminded me of an amphitheater. Circular, the cliffs rose high and straight. On observation it was easy to see what an impregnable retreat this had been. We looked around, but were unable to find a point in the cliff that was scalable. The cliffs rose to a height of over 200 feet. We quickly tired of our searching, which disclosed nothing more interesting than the remains of a dead monkey, an old high boot, some old cooking utensils and broken boxes. These were in other caves that were
naturally cut into the cliff and no doubt used by the pirates as eating and sleeping quarters. Our ambitions satisfied, and well pleased with our adventure we started to find our way out. To our consternation, when we approached the passage we found the tide had risen. In our eagerness we had never thought of this condition. It was impossible to negotiate, as it was almost closed with the rising water. Previously we had found the walls unscalable, and we realized that we were trapped. What other method of egress the former occupants had, had been demolished, or naturally closed up by the shifting sands. we had to do some quick thinking before the floor of the amphitheater was covered. I figured that a place so alive with cavities might possible have some that went right through the cliff and penetrated into the harbor.

I explained to my companion that the pirates would never have overlooked such an asset, the only trouble was whether the passage was entirely negotiable or not. For such a place, we looked. In our search we came to a small passage at the foot of the cliff that would just permit the body of a man, lying flat, to enter. I explained that here was our only chance, but my friend could not see it. He argued that it took me all my time to squeeze in when investigating and once we were in we might never get out. I argued that was the chance we had to take, and I was going to make the attempt no matter what he did. I began the passage. Lying flat upon my body I wriggled in, with arms stretched out in front of my head. It was terribly dark, and some parts were so narrow that my body was cut in many places. The air was suffocating, and I was quickly bathed in perspiration. I began to feel that I was choking from the stifling air and tried to back out, but as I did, my pull-over sweater was caught by the jagged rock roof of the passage. I realized I was trapped. Like a flash, the fear of dying like a drowned rat, or of suffocation shot through my mind, and a cold sweat gathered across my brow. It created panicky thoughts, but immediately I suppressed them and began to tell myself that if I had a chance to win, it could only be won by keeping cool. So my only chance lay in going ahead. I began to congratulate myself on not having neglected deep breathing and chest development. I certainly felt the value of good lungs in that congested space.

Inch by inch, I wormed onward. Some places were so narrow I had a terrible time squeezing by. Then other parts lacked depth, and I was obliged to paw the sand away. It was as black as pitch and terribly noisome. The sound of my labored breathing seemed to beat in the drums of my ears. I struggled onward with set lips. Then like a God-send, I felt the current of cool air. It raised my hopes. Then I saw a tiny light. How I struggled toward it, I can never describe. Every inch of the way was a battle until I came to the outlet and felt the salt spray beat against my face. I lay panting for breath, happily allowing the fresh air and salt water to saturate my being.

Then I thought of my friend, I saw no time was to be lost as the incoming tide would soon close this only hope. Again I had to negotiate that awful trip, but I did it with a song in my heart. I found my friend terribly distressed; but even when I showed him the only way out, he flatly refused to make the passage. My clothes were torn and I was bleeding, and my eyes were bloodshot from the sifting sand. Finally I told him that if he would not go with me, I would leave him, as I had no notion of dying unnecessarily. When he saw I was determined to leave him, he began to follow. Well, if my other two passages were trials, this last trip was worse. He almost went crazy. It is all right for some people to laugh when they hear of such a trial, and say what they would do, and all that, but they were never in such a place. Talk is cheap. I have run the gauntlet of steel and bullets more than once, and one time, with a companion, fought for four hours in a boat to break loose from the grip of a dangerous whirlpool. But then, we could see what we were doing, and we had more excitement to spur us on. Here it was like entering blindly a tomb in the bowels of the earth.

I had to keep talking to encourage my friend, and all the time he hung onto one of my feet. Once or twice it slipped from his grasp, and he almost went frantic, screaming for me not to leave him. The sound of his voice in that space was head-splitting, but finally we got out. I don't know how long it took us, but it seemed to be an eternity. The next thing for which we were to be thankful was that we had been seen making our climb out around the cliff side. The fishermen knew the conditions and had become alarmed for our safety and were out looking for us. They were amazed to see us crawl out of the hole in the side of the cliff, bleeding and exhausted, and glad we were to be dragged into the boat and be taken ashore.

My companion was physically a better man than the average. He had proven himself so on various occasions, but he fell down here. Of course, any one might have done the same, but what I am getting at is the fact that he recognized that it meant a lot to know your own capabilities. He recognized that training of mind and of the body was a natural co-ordination, and increased the efficiency of a man.

Some of your who read this may say that you will never have to face such a circumstance. Well, I sincerely hope you will not, yet you never know what you may have to face. It was not long ago that thousands of men were drawn from peaceful walks of life, to be thrown into the maelstrom and horrors of war. It was the man who knew himself who made out the best! and the psychologists, and others who had charge of our national destiny, knew that physical training was the one thing that best equipped the soldier to meet all emergencies.

If a man is capable of meeting the extreme test with fortitude, he certainly will be more efficient to meet minor tests. Most weaklings are cowards, because they lack the material with which to back up their will.

Just sit down a few moments and question yourself honestly. Search your heart thoroughly, and I am sure you will agree with me that there is much to be improved in yourself. Even if you are athletic, you can never keep up the standard of fitness unless you stick to a few minutes of practice. It amply repays you for the time spent.

I never regret for the many hours devoted to this practice. It meant a new lease of life to me, and as I draw this chapter to a close let me say that such splendid specimens of humanity as Sandow, Maxick, and Pullum all traversed the same road to secure what they got. They were not miracles, although it may appear so. Just remember them, and let their lives inspire you, as I was inspired. Everybody has the same chance, and the man who is normally healthy, really, has no obstacles to face.

Perseverance, patience and determination will be repaid in untold wealth, health, strength, self-reliance and fortitude.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Key to Might and Muscle (Circa 1926) - Chapter 1 (Part 1) - A Few Chapters from the Story of My Life - By George F. Jowett

Originally posted on NaturalStrength.com on 17 July 2002 *Illustrations are randomly selected from the book (too numerous to post them all) and are not necessarily from the same chapter.




Founder and President of American Continental Weight Lifters' Association. One of the World's Strongest Athletes

DEDICATION: This book is dedicated to all body builders and fellow athletes, who know me in name or person, with the sincere wish that this volume will help each one to retain Health and Strength throughout a long useful life.

On a boiling hot summer day, rolling in a cloud of dust in the middle of the road, like two angry pups, were two young lads. They were eventually dragged apart, hardly recognizable on account of the mingled dirt, sweat and torn clothing. One was a much smaller chap than the other, and his face was very pale. In fact, he had just resumed school after leaving the hospital a few weeks before. This little chap had been in the hospital for eight years, more or less, through the result of an injury when only a six months old baby. Yet, he cried with mortification at being dragged away from his bigger opponent. He still wanted to lick the other chap even if it was a hopeless looking proposition. Somewhere in his mind was the belief that while the other chap got a belly full, he could at least get a mouthful. He did not think of the handicap of age, weight and strength. The poor little fair haired kid thought no one had the right to lick him, anyway. From that moment he harbored a thirst for revenge, and devoted all his spare time to exercises that would make him bigger and stronger. Somehow it dawned in his youthful mind that the right kind of exercise would provide the means best suited to enable him to lick his tormentor. This settled in his mind, he
pitched into his training with a vengeance, studying the methods and devices that would grow muscle. He played at everything, wrestling with all the other boys he could get interested, and if he could not find enough kids interested, he started a fight. He was determined to practice one way or another.

Well, the old proverb says that all comes to those who wait, and it came to little "curly head." He and his old tormentor met once more in a pitched battle, when curly licked the hide off the bigger boy.

The recital of this little story you have just read, is written here with a definite purpose in mind. As much as it is penned to gain your interest, the actual stimulus I want to create within you is determination, to inspire you to achieve, succeed. You must resolve within your heart and feel with a fixed determination that "what this man has done, so can I do."

This little story you have just read is taken from an article that was written about my life and published in the columns of a sports magazine. I was told by the editor that the story inspired many young fellows with that "do or die" disposition which has never failed to bring success to the aspirant. It made me very happy, for if there is any one thing in which I am sincere, it is the desire to help others secure the fullness of health, strength and manliness.

I have often thought that I never saw anything written about myself in as few words that portrayed my life battle like that true little story. It has a strong appeal to me, because very line, yes, every word throbs with a heartache, a joy, a longing to be, and back of it all, a determination to be some day a stronger man than the average. I want to inspire you with the same message of salvation and physical redemption, so that you will set your lips more tightly and step out with a fearless tread.

My early illness is something upon which I have seldom touched, because I am aware of the fact that such a claim was once a popular method of advertising, and I naturally resented any criticism that might have inferred that I was "just another." Many have asked me if my parents were strong, and truthfully I replied that they were very healthy people. When I was only six months of age, my mother let me fall from her lap in an effort to save my sister from being severely scalded. Unfortunately - or was it fortunately - I was the victim, and when they picked me up, I was bleeding.

In the fall I had injured my abdomen upon one of the iron ornaments that decorate open fireplaces. From then on it was a battle for life. Being so young nothing had matured, and certain internal organs were crippled and continued to remain in that injured condition. Nothing helped me. My life was a perpetual round of visits to physicians who did the best they could. As I grew in bodily size, my condition became more serious. Operation after operation was suggested, and I survived three. To this day, my memory visualizes the agonies of a bed of pain. I laid as though crucified with my hands, head and feet strapped down, and a cage over my body so that no clothing could touch my tortured flesh. I survived my last operation at the age of eight, and I can well remember how the tears filled my mother's eyes, as the doctor told her that nothing more could be done for me, and it was
only a matter of time. Mother must realize that it was impossible for me to ever attain the age of fifteen. How this prediction failed of fulfillment is told in the fact that at the age of fifteen I commenced my professional athletic career, and two years before that I had won gymnastic honors. From then on it was a march over obstacles, even though I knew my path was still
to be beset with many disappointments. I knew the answer. There remained no riddle in the sands for me. I knew that exercise was the great re-builder, and with my feet firmly set on the first step I began the climb. The fact that I knew my very life was at stake was the fundamental reason which led me so deeply into the field of physical research and investigation. Day by day
I accumulated a practical knowledge that laid the foundation for my teachings and that knowledge I have placed before the health-seeking public for years now. In this volume, the reader will find every subject clarified in an earnest endeavor that he may also succeed.

The one great impression I want to create in your mind is the indelible fact that you are reading the results of the investigations of one who commenced life probably in a worse state than many, and therefore had to expend great efforts to win a better built body. This being the case, you will realize that I know what obstacles you have to meet, and how to sympathize with you in your bitter hours. Besides that I want to inject into you some of the inspiration that I had and still retain, the kind that positively refuses to back down. Make your inspiration, and you will then be an inspiration to others.

You know it is all in the way you handle yourself and whether you are game enough to secure the fullness of life.

Continuing with our heart to heart talk, let me explain to you how inspiration works with me. For example I am going to take you back a few years to my early days when I as just launching out as an athlete, and at the same time had been following the trails of the wanderlust for a period of years. I arrived in Rotterdam, Holland, where I starred under that famous Dutch athlete, Dirk Van der Berg, and in my spare moments I made various pilgrimages to the shrines of the great emancipators of liberty and thought. I visited the place where the great Russian leader, Peter that Great, served as a ship apprentice for the benefit of his country, and also the little garret where Erasmus, one of the early stars of the reformation, struggled with poverty and high ideals. The home of the DeWitts, the studio of Rubens, and the places that were haunted once by the Puritan Fathers, who after their journey to England waited and waited and waited around the quays for the ships that were to carry them to the land of promise.

Somehow those great men seemed to have left some of their greatness behind in those hallowed places to inspire hungry souls like mine, which were battling to achieve a life ambition. I would return to my companions saturated with renewed inspiration, and my impressive recitals, or ravings, would hold them enthralled as I retold the story of the great lives whose haunts I had daily visited.They would actually scratch their heads and tell me that they never knew there were such places in Rotterdam and Amsterdam; and they had been around these places for many years.

The moral to this can be told in just a few words. The majority of those people were drones. Heedlessly they allowed inspired lessons that were right within their sight to pass by, like bread upon the waters. Many health seekers are the same. Only far away pastures seem green. To me those sights were sermons of flaming fire, that created within me an absorbing determination to live, to succeed, and not to die young. Back again, I would plunge into my studies of exercise, with a resolution that never recognized the word No.

When trials were hard to bear, I would think of the great men who had succeeded, and visualize how much harder their lot had been than mine. It was like wine to a drooping man.

It was at this time that the famous building at the Hague was completed; set up by Andrew Carnegie, a highly successful common man, for the diplomats of the world to meet in and establish a broader principle of right ruling rather than might. I journeyed with some comrades on bicycles to view this mass of stone, little thinking that within ten years the world would be deciding the questions asked by the donor of this monument with a sacrifice of many thousands of lives.

Years afterwards, when I stripped in the recruiting office in Ottawa, Canada, to enlist as a soldier to fight for that great principle, the examining physician, a man who had examined thousands upon thousands of specimens of manhood, stood back with an amazed look on his face as I stepped in line before him, and exclaimed, "My God, what a man."

Although I had won many battles years before this incident took place, yet a statement like that was like pinning a medal on a soldier's breast. It kept alive my resolution made years before.

If my battle will be in any way an inspiration to you, especially you who have fallen by the way, I shall be very happy. It is a passion with me to help others secure that wonderful feeling of physical fitness, which I have enjoyed for many years.

I am just as enthusiastic to-day and get the same inspiration out of life as I did twenty-five years ago. I have the same thirst to learn and investigate, which in my boyhood days was so unslacking. You must remember that the many years of sickness had naturally impaired my education, and I worked night and day to develop myself, mentally and physically.

The little story you read at the beginning of this chapter happened not long after I started school. Because I was weak, I was an easy prey to the other boys, who took delight in licking their smaller classmates in order to show their superiority. It must have been the blood of my fathers that had lain dormant within my veins, that revolted against this treatment, and kept me coming back until I finally wiped the slate clean of all the old scores.

My ancestors have all been adventurers one way or another, and no doubt it was their blood that called me to follow the trails of adventure. On my maternal side some were pioneers of the American wilderness. Another fought through the Peninsular campaign under Sir Thomas Moore of Corunna fame, and later under Wellington, until he finally laid down his life on the field at
Waterloo. The Crimea saw another who went through the slaughter of Alma, and the horrors of the night surprise at Inkerman. The Indian Mutiny, the Soudanese campaign under Kitchener, saw others of my people helping to carve history. In the more peaceful capacity of a missionary, a relative in China, with his wife and children, were included in the massacre of the Christians
during the Boxer rebellion. Yet another was to be one of the successful who struggled against the elements of nature, that had conquered so many expeditions, and taken their members' lives, or made maniacs of the survivors, when they sought to lay the wires of communication across the great Australian desert. For myself, the great Northwest claimed me, with its blinding snows and freezing waters, that resounded to the mushing of huskies and the tingle of sleigh bells, the sound of the axe and the song of the saw, and the running of the logs in spring - where man's right arm is his best weapon, and his word his bond of honor.

I have seen many strange places, and have been through many strange experiences. I have known what it is to starve and be athirst, to freeze and sleep without a roof. But maybe Jack London was right when he said, "For all that, it helps to make a man."

I don't regret any of it, but I recognize the fact that if it had not been for the many hours I devoted to exercise, I would not have been alive to-day. It built for me a sturdy body filled with vigorous stamina that overcame all physical trials, where other men fell and died.

Exercise gave me life. If I had followed the lines of least resistance like so many do, I would have died as the doctors predicted, at fifteen years of age or before, eking out each day in physical misery. Personally, I would have no kick if I died to-morrow, because I have lived more than twice the time predicted for me by our doctors and all of it in health and usefulness.

For the first time I have told of my early struggles, which will prove to you that every cloud has a silver lining, and I want to help any one and every one turn their particular cloud inside out, so that each can become all he wants to be physically.

No doubt some of my experiences will be of great interest to you, so I am going to recite a few, not with the desire to make believe that I am some heroic being, or Hercules come back to life, but because so many have requested it. Anyhow, trials of strength are always interesting no matter how, or where, they are performed. I have not the slightest intention to tell you here of any of my athletic achievements on the platform or in the arena, but rather of feats of strength that were performed on the spur of the moment, for I believe that a strongman must be a strongman on all occasions. These stunts will have the effect of proving more conclusively to you that the right kind of exercise creates the right kind of strength, the kind that will enable you to lift the side of an automobile at a moment's notice as easily as you can lift a heavy bar bell or dumb-bell over three or four weeks of special training.

There is one particular incident I love to remember, by reason of the great bond of friendship it established between the other party and myself, friendship that has continued over the years. It happened when I was in England, when my weakness to meet strong men and look upon strange implements (made difficult to handle by reason of their awkward construction) was at its
strongest pitch. Somewhere or somehow, I just cannot recall exactly, I heard some men talking about how strong they were. In the course of the conversation one of them mentioned the fact that he was willing to wager any amount that there was not one among them that could lift the "big anvil." What surprised me was the lack of interest shown. At once, I began to figure that lifting the "big anvil," as they termed it, was some test of strength very familiar to the locality. Not one of them would consider the wager. Instead, they began to razz the man who started the argument, saying that he was no sport, or he would have introduced a feat where a man had a least a sporting chance to win. Naturally I became all ears, and listening in on the talk, it seemed that there was a certain blacksmith who occupied a smithy not very far from there in a small village. His great strength was proverbial. In his possession was a huge anvil that weighed, according to their talk, over thirty stone. This blacksmith stood alone in this particular feat of raising the anvil off the resting block, and no one else had ever duplicated his feat. Now as there are fourteen pounds to a stone, I figured that this anvil must weigh over four hundred and twenty pounds. It certainly had me
guessing, and my anxiety to see this terrific piece of metal was tremendous. I determined that on the first opportunity I would pay the mighty smith a visit. The chance soon presented itself. One bright, beautiful spring morning, I set out to locate this remarkable son of Vulcan. I had to walk a distance of eight miles, automobiles not being so plentiful in those days, but I enjoyed every foot of the way, as the air was filled with the fragrant breath of glorious spring time. At the foot of a hill that ran into a long valley, I espied a quaint little village which I knew was my destination. However, I stopped on the outskirts of this rural hamlet to examine the beautiful structure of an old Norman church that was erected in the reign of King John of Magna Charta fame. Then to my ears came the tuneful ring of a hammer beating iron upon an anvil, which caused my pace to quicken. Arriving at the village forge, I made pretense of lingering at the door to watch the smith forge the gleaming iron upon the anvil. As I did so my eyes rested upon one of the most magnificent specimens of manhood that I have ever seen. In appearance the smith bore a striking resemblance to how our Saxon forefathers must have looked. His head seemed perfectly moulded to wear the winged Viking helmet, which we visualize with our forbears, and he immediately impressed me with such an idea - tall and as straight as an arrow, with his shirt open at the throat, and sleeves rolled up he was a noble sight. He was blithely whistling a merry tune to the time of his hammer, and I thought what a carefree, happy character he was. He was powerfully constructed, and his chest seemed to swell from the throat like the crest of a wave. The neck was columnar, and he carried his head beautifully poised upon the shoulders. Arms like Longfellow's village blacksmith - bands of steel. His light brown hair swept a noble brow, from underneath which gleamed the clearest pair of blue eyes imaginable. The moment they threw their piercing gaze upon me, my soul seemed to throb with admiration. They said their cheerful day greetings to me, before the lips could repeat them. The man appealed to me tremendously, and intuition told me we were going to be friends. His cheerfulness made acquaintance easy and we talked about various things.

Friday, August 27, 2010

SUPER STRENGTH (Circa 1924) - Chapter 26 (Last Chapter) - Effects of Exercise - By Alan Calvert



A man who possesses super-strength also commands a good deal of admiration. The general public worships physical strength. The announcement of a celebrated "Strong Man" to appear at a vaudeville theater insures that there will be "standing room only" during the term of his engagement. Most people rate great physical strength higher than speed or suppleness; although there are a certain number of folk who affect to sneer at what they call the "truck horse" type of development. The pictures on these pages should convince anyone that a man can become wonderfully strong without becoming overly heavy or clumsy in appearance.

It is true that some of the old-time "Strong Men" could justly have been called "truck horses." Louis Cyr, Horace Barre, and one or two of their contemporaries were men who had enormous frames, and those bodies were of the bulky type. Swaboda, of Vienna, is about the only modern "Strong Man" who comes in that class.

Now, I admire strength as much as anyone does, but I do not consider strength to be so important that one should sacrifice speed, agility, or suppleness in becoming strong. Happily, modern training methods seem to produce a combination of all the most desirable physical gifts. In support to this statement, I refer to the accompanying pictures. Outside of the three old-timers referred to above, you will not find a man here who is clumsy in appearance, or who looks as though he would be slow in his movements. Activity depends almost as much on bodily proportions as it does on the nervous organization. It has been claimed that a man of placid, sluggish temperament is never quick in movement. That may or may not be true, although it does seem to be a fact that many intensely nervous and highly strung individuals are very quick both in their mental processes and their bodily movement. There are athletic coaches who will tell you that all weightlifters are slow, and that the practice of weight lifting is bound to make one slow. My answer to this is that those particular gentlemen have never seen any first-class modern lifters. As a rule, the highly developed weight-lifter does not know the meaning of nerves. Such men are of an extremely finely balanced temperament, and a quiet disposition. If you see such a man in his street clothes, and watch him as he moves about, you might get the impression that he was very deliberate in everything he did, and that, in turn, might make you think that he was slow. So far as I can see, all first-class lifters move just that way; but theirs is a calculated deliberation. They are experts in what you might call "physical economy," and rarely make one unnecessary motion. Their constant training with bar-bells has given them an uncanny sense of timing, such as is possessed among other athletes only by high-grade boxers or jugglers. I have never seen a man more quietly deliberate than Arthur Saxon; in everything he did, whether off or on the stage, he was absolutely unhurried. He never made a false motion, but he never failed to accomplish any lift which required speed. Saxon was a big-boned man, but never grew heavy. He seemed to keep his average weight of 210 lbs. no matter how much or how little he ate and drank.

His younger brother, Herman, at right in Fig. 139, though somewhat lighter in build, was no quicker than Arthur, Fig. 140. Herman, who weighed about 168 lbs., was one of the most perfectly built men I have ever seen. I have sometimes thought that, although he was noticeably less strong than Arthur, he was much more admired as an athlete.

If you should take up bar-bell exercise with the avowed intention of becoming super-strong, you need not waste any time worrying about the danger of getting a build like Cyr's. He was always big, and always fleshy. I suppose that few of you would object to getting a build like that of Herman Saxon, of Sandow, of Adolph Nordquest, or Steinborn, of Carr, or Matysek. All those just named are big men; but they are big without being bulky; powerfully developed without being slow or clumsy, and withal, noticeably graceful in build. The back-view picture of Adolph Nordquest, Fig. 141, does not look like the portrait of a slow or clumsy man, and the appearance of lightness is due to his proportions. The man has a tremendous frame, and if he had a big waist (like Cyr's) he would look slow and clumsy, but the picture shows that his waist is obviously considerably smaller than his hips, and very much smaller than his chest. Few men are as strong as he. He can make a one-arm "press" with a 250-lb. bar-bell, and he can lift as much weight off the ground as any professional I have ever seen. He is one of the best in the world at the standing broad jump, and at the time this picture was taken could run 100 yards in ten seconds without training. He does not look to be extraordinarily big, because he is so perfectly proportioned, and yet his chest measures about 46 inches, his upper arm over 17 inches, and his thigh about 26 inches; but not one part of his seems to be overdeveloped. I defy you to look at that picture and pick out a weak spot in his anatomy. His build is so similar to Sandow's that for several years he worked under the name of "Young Sandow," and the resemblance between the two men was so startling that many people thought that Nordquest was Sandow's younger brother.

If your bones are the average in size; that is, if you have a 7 1/2-inch wrist, and 9 1/2-inch ankle, bar-bell work will give you a build something like Nordquest's, but there is no danger of giving you a build like Cyr's. I would not advise anyone to exercise with weights if I thought for one moment that such training was likely to produce a body which was bulky without being shapely, or which would create strength at the expense of speed and suppleness. It is true that Cyr's lifting records were better than Nordquest's, but not very much better. I, for one, would much prefer to have the shape and the combined strength and speed of an Adolph Nordquest to the mere bulk and power of a Cyr.

Steinborn is another very big man. He is probably an inch shorter than Adolph Nordquest, and five pounds heavier. His measurements are just as big, but his muscular development is not as pronounced. If anything, he is slightly quicker in his movements than even Nordquest; which may be due to the fact that Nordquest, in his training, specialized on what we call "slow presses" and "dead-weight lifting," whereas Steinborn has practiced almost exclusively at the "quick lifts." Although nearly 100 lbs. lighter than Cyr, Steinborn is capable of breaking most of Cyr's records. The best Cyr ever put up with one arm was 273 lbs., and he used a "slow press"; furthermore, the bell he put up was not as heavy as he was himself. I am positive that Steinborn could put up close to 300 lbs. in a one-arm "jerk," and that is about ten per cent more than any other athlete in history has put up by the same method. Steinborn is a refutation of the theory that the use of bar-bells and continued lifting produces short knotted muscles, and makes one slow. If you will look at Fig. 142, you get the impression of a man of immense power, but you will not see any knotted muscles. Steinborn's development is as smooth as that of a boxer. The man has a tremendous arm, although it does not look very big in this pose, on account of the great spread of the man's shoulders.

You might think that if a man is very heavy to start with, that the effect of the training would be to make him still heavier, or that if he started with a 48-inch chest and a 46-inch waist, his chest might increase to 52 inches and his waist get even bigger than it was before. Just the opposite happens. When a stout man starts to train, the first visible effect is that he becomes smaller instead of bigger. Any tailor will tell you that a 44-inch chest is extraordinarily big for a small-waisted man, but that some of his stout customers - the fellows with the big waists - have chests measuring nearly 50 inches. When your waist gets abnormally large, all the near-by parts are affected; the hips become bulky, the upper part of the thighs get so big that they "interfere"; the arms get fat close to where they join the shoulders, and big folds of flesh make their appearance on the upper part of the chest. If a man started with a 48-inch chest and 46-inch waist, it is probably that his chest measurement would decrease to about 43 inches, while his waist measurement was decreasing to 36 inches. As soon as he commenced to give vigorous work to the muscles of the upper body, the extra fat in those parts would disappear; and in the stout man, such as the one described, that extra fat is responsible for several inches of his chest measurement. After he had gotten rid of this fat, his chest would go back to 46 or maybe to 48 inches, as he increased the size of the rib-box, and the development, and consequent thickness, of the upper-body muscles. In some cases the chest does not grow smaller as the waist decreases. The muscles develop so rapidly that they fill up the space left by the disappearing fatty tissue.

Naturally, there are very few stout men who train for muscular development. With most of them the only idea is to become smaller. In the average fat man, a reduction of 10 inches in waist measurement is accompanied with a decrease in the size of the chest, the upper arms, and the upper part of the thighs. Men like Cyr and Barry were more or less abnormal, whereas men like Adolph Nordquest and Steinborn have an absolute normal development; that is, the shape and size of their muscles is exactly what it should be in proportion to the underlying bones. I have super-intended the training of many fat men, and I never saw one of them grow to be anything like Cyr in shape; although I have seen many first reduce themselves, and then develop a figure of the Nordquest-Steinborn type.

But that is all special work. Seven out of ten men have average sized bones, are of average height, and of average measurements; therefore, if ten men read this chapter, seven of them are concerned with what can be done for the average man. Every week I personally inspect measurement charts of at least one hundred men, and it is safe to say that in the last ten years I have studied over fifty thousand sets of charts. In doing this kind of work you absorb a great deal of information. I have gotten so that if you tell me a man's height and weight, I can come very close to telling you the measurements of his chest, arms, legs, and so on. If you tell me a man's measurements, and his height, I can tell you just about how much he weighs.

I do not know whether these figures would apply in accurate proportion to the male population, but I do know that the average measurements of thousands of physically cultured who start training with bar-bells, - are a 36-inch chest, 12 1/2-inch upper arm, 10 1/2-inch forearm, 6 7/8-inch wrist, 20-inch thigh, and so on. If you have such measurements you can say, "Well, I am as big as the average," and if you are satisfied with average development, that is as far as you go. I have always contended that that average man has much less development, and very much less strength than he should have, and evidently there is a certain proportion of the public that agrees with me. Otherwise, why should so many of these average men be so anxious to start at a training program to make themselves bigger, better developed, and stronger?

It is a mistake to confuse the words "average" and "normal." The "average development" is not necessarily the "normal development." My opinion is that instead of the average development being the normal development, and the development of the weight lifter being abnormal, the exact opposite is the case. The weight lifter's development is absolutely normal, and what every man should have, and can have; the average development is subnormal.

The brain power of a great scientist of a great mathematician is not abnormal in any way, although it is far greater than the brain power of a man whose education was confined to what he got in the elementary schools. The scientist, by reason of his work, is continually cultivating his brain power, because he is continually using his brain. If he goes on a vacation, or stops his work or study, he may forget some special bits of information, but he does not lose any of his reasoning power. If a man deliberately takes up a good training system to develop his muscles, and if he gets results (such as were gotten by the men whose pictures you see here), he does not become abnormal, but simply shows what is possible in the way of cultivated bodily improvements. If he has trained along the right lines, he retains his increased health, strength, and development long after he stops training.

It is generally accepted that Eugene Sandow, as a young man, was as beautifully proportioned and as finely developed as any man of recent times. When he first went to England, he was frequently interviewed by newspaper men. One reporter asked him how he got his development. In reply he said, "When I was a young man, I was a mere stripling, and thought to strengthen my frame by a little light exercise, like the working of a wooden wand, or a light iron bar. This loosened all my muscles and made them pliant, but no great amount of development came from the exercises. This set me thinking, and I gradually found out what exercises were the best to develop certain kinds of muscles. Using my knowledge with the weights I had at my command, I began to gradually increase my weights, and soon found out that I could easily put up a 100-lb. dumbbell." This interview was reprinted in a book which Sandow wrote in 1894. In the same book he said, "The dumbbell and the bar-bell have been my chief means of physical training." When he made those statements he was at the height of his power and development, and it should be specially noted that this was several years before the appearance of the so-called "grip dumbbell," which is so widely associated with his name. In another interview reprinted in his first book, he was asked whether he observed severe rules regarding diet. In reply he said, "I just eat and drink what I want, when I want, and in what quantities I want."

World-famous "Strong Men," like Saxon and Steinborn, ascribe all their strength to the use of bar-bells, and state in the most positive terms that they consider any other kind of exercises to be a mere waste of time. Their testimonials could be supported by equally enthusiastic testimonials from every man whose picture appears in this book. No one of them was anything remarkable to start with. Most of them were of the average size I have already described; - that is, they had 36-inch chests, 12 1/2-inch upper arms, and so on. Some few of them were a little above the average. The Nordquests, Steinborn, Massimo, and one or two others would come in that class; but men like Matysek, Carr, Tauscher, Tampke, Donald, Karasick, and all the others were no stronger and no bigger when they started than nine out of ten of the young men you will find on the floor of the Y.M.C.A. gymnasium. They all did the same kind of work, and they all got the same kind of results.

It is because I have seen so many average men improve themselves to the point where they had 44-inch chests, 16-inch upper arms, 24-inch thighs, a bodily weight of 175 lbs., and three times their former strength, that I have come to believe that such results are possible for practically every normal man of average size and average shape. If only one or two of them had increased their chest measurement from 36 to 44 inches, such a gain would have to be considered as exceptional; and possible only to certain favored individuals. The fact that so many dozens of them have made those gains seems to prove that the acquired size and strength is the normal result, and not the exceptional result. It is impossible to find any other training method which produces such uniform results, in such widely different cases, as does the scientific use of bar-bells.

I have corresponded with thousands of men and boys who are interested in bodily development, and I find that, as a rule, men are much more interested in getting perfect proportions and superb muscular development than in getting great strength. It seems to me that every man has a feeling that if he could only find the right method he could become perfectly developed, no matter how poor he might be to start with. The reason we all admire the ancient Greek statues is because we instinctively feel that here is the kind of body we should have; and which we might have if we only knew how to get it. I, myself, cannot draw a picture of a perfectly built man, but the minute I see a photograph I can tell you whether the subject is, or is not, perfectly built; and, in the second case, what he would have to do to get perfect proportions. Most of you possess the same ability. If you examine the picture of an athlete you will probably say, "I do not like that fellow's build. He is top heavy. His arms and shoulders are grand, but his legs are too thin." On the other hand, you may say, "If that man's arms and chest were only anywhere nearly as fine as his legs he would have a wonderful build." If some one handed you a pencil, and asked you to make a drawing of what you considered to be a perfect build, it is possible that you could not make an accurate sketch, any more than I can; but just the same you know what you like in the way of bodily development.

The easiest way to satisfy yourself is to test your reaction when you do examine a photograph. If you at once exclaim, "My, what a man!" or "My, how splendidly that chap is built!", then you can rest assured that the man is perfectly proportioned from head to foot. But if, when you first see the picture, you say, "What wonderful arms!" or "What wonderful legs!", it is the best possible sign that the subject of the picture is not perfectly proportioned, because you first noticed one part of his body to the exclusion of the other parts. In an absolutely perfectly proportioned body, no part is unduly prominent. If you examine parts in detail you will find that the arms are wonderful, and so on, but it is not until every part is equally wonderful that the build becomes so perfect that when seeing the picture you say, "What a wonderful body that man has!"

Now, that is the whole secret of the effect produced by the Greek statue. Every part of the statue is perfect in itself, but never unduly prominent. Some of the pictures in this book will stand comparison with any photographs of the old Greek statues. There are men whose pictures appear in this collection whose bodies seem to me to be without a flaw. At first inspection some of them may not seem to you to be quite as beautiful as the ancient works of art, and that is because the heads are slightly larger in proportion to their bodies. The old Greek sculptors had a trick of making their statues more impressive by making the heads slightly smaller than they actually were.

To go back to the possibilities of the average man I ask you to give a careful study to the various pictures of Anton Matysek, Owen Carr, Alexander Karasick, E.W. Goodman, Melvin Tampke, and Robert Dallas. All of these men have the so-called "statuesque figure." All of them have bones of average size. None of them was any bigger or better developed than the average man when he started to train. The present beauty of their figures is partly due to the readjustment of the bones which form the shoulder girdle and the rib-box, and the perfect development of each and every muscle in the body. Some of these pictures are especial favorites of mine. The picture of Matysek, which appears on the frontispiece, won prizes at several photographic exhibitions by reason of the beauty of the pose and the harmonious development of the athlete himself. The picture of Owen Carr, Fig. 136, is another one of which I am particularly fond. Carr has made no effort to flex his muscles, but he makes a great impression on account of the firm way in which he is standing, plus the beautiful proportions of his figure. I like Fig. 136 very much better than the accompanying picture, Fig. 144, in which Carr has all of his muscles flexed.

Such athletes as Sigmund Klein, Ignatius Neubauer, Robert Snyder, and Ali Kotier, Fig. 145, are men slightly below the average height, although you would never suspect that fact from looking at their photographs. They appear to be just as perfectly proportioned as are the taller men, like Carr and Tampke. Of course, their measurements are not quite as large, although the pictures prove that they are perfectly developed for their height.

I close this chapter with sincere regret. I would like to go ahead an analyze all these muscle-poses. I would like to tell you about each man; how long it took him to get his development, how much he can lift, how much he measures, and so on. Each one of these men is worthy of a chapter to himself. There are pictures here of men who I have not even had a chance to mention, although they are well worthy of special mention. I have hundreds of other pictures, many of which are as good as those which are published here. Every book has a limit in size, and I have reached the limit of this one. If it has interested you, and if you wish more knowledge on the subject, I suggest that you apply to the publishers of this book; who will gladly supply you with pamphlets and booklets containing various magazine articles and special essays which I have written on the subject of bodily development and muscular strength.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Great Endorsement from Ken Mannie!

“In IRON NATION, Bob Whelan and Drew Israel have compiled a masterpiece text on some of the most intriguing and compelling personal stories, iron game history, and gut-wrenching training routines ever put to paper. If you truly love “hard training” without all of the frills or “pomp and circumstance” so common today, you will love IRON NATION!”

-Ken Mannie, Head Strength/Conditioning Coach, Michigan State University

SUPER STRENGTH (Circa 1924) - Chapter 25 (Part 2) - Statuesque Development - By Alan Calvert



It will be interesting for you to go over all these pictures and study the effect of the deltoid on the appearance of the arm. You will not be able to find a single weak-looking deltoid muscle, and in many cases you will find that the deltoid is so splendidly developed that you can follow its outlines almost as clearly as though the skin had been removed. In some of the back-view pictures, where the hands are raised above the head, the deltoid muscles are very prominent, as in the picture of Adolph Nordquest, Fig. 6. The muscles are seen as almost equally clear when the athlete is holding a heavy weight in his hands. Look at the deltoids of Steinborn, Fig. 130, and Donald, Fig. 15. While we are on the subject of shoulders, I suggest that you study the appearance of the trapezius muscles, which lie on the upper back at the base of the neck, and which form the line at the top of the shoulders. Any real strong man has to have the trapezius muscles developed to a high extent, and that is why weight lifters have sloping shoulders. If you see a man whose shoulders apparently go out in straight lines from the base of the neck, that man is weak. In a picture of Paschall, Fig. 132, the shoulders appear to go out in just that way, but that is because Paschall, after folding his arms, slightly shrugged his shoulders and spread them apart. Just the same, you can see the line of the trapezius muscle running from the right side of his neck toward the right deltoid. If Paschall allowed his arms to hang at his sides, his shoulders would be just as sloping as those of Sigmund Klein (in Fig. 133), or of Steinborn (in Fig. 130).

In all the pictures you will see how the body tapers from the line of the armpits to the waist. Without looking up their measurements, I would say offhand that every one of these men has a normal chest measurement 10 inches larger than his waist measurement. In some of the pictures the difference appears even greater. That is because the athlete has spread his shoulders by the method described in the chapter "Muscle Control." In the picture of Matysek, Fig. 134, the tapering effect is caused partly by the twist of the body. Any well-developed man can approximate this effect by standing as Matysek does. (The secret of the pose is to twist the body until the shoulders are practically at right angles with the hips. If you allow your hips to twist, the tapering effect is lost.) This picture is very interesting, because it shows the enormous size of the latissimus muscle on the right side of Matysek's back. The name "latissimus dorsi" means the broad-of-the-back, and in this picture it certainly justifies its name. Unless those muscles are fully developed, the back will not taper, no matter how broad your shoulders are. This can be proved by observing any tall man with broad shoulders. If he is undeveloped, the breadth of his shoulders come entirely from the size of his bony framework, and his sides will be straight up and down. If, however, he has a proper back development, his back will be considerably wider at the line of his arm-pits than at the line of his waist.

In studying the pictures of any well-developed man, you should always try to get an idea of the depth of his chest, and in order to do that you have to see both the front and back lines of the body. It is possible for almost any fairly developed man to make himself look as though he had a deep chest when a picture is being taken. This is done by hollowing the back, and pushing the chest out, and then holding the arms close to the side so that the hollow back is concealed. A man with a really deep chest doesn't have to resort to that trick. In the picture of Karasick, Fig. 135, he is holding the elbows away from his sides so that the line of his back can be seen. His chest is almost as deep as Hackenschmidt's. The picture of Carr shows a chest of wonderful depth, and so does the picture of Mr. Donald (Fig. 63) - the one in which he is finishing a one-arm "swing." You do not always have to see a chest from the side in order to know that it is deep.

One of the most notable things about this set of pictures is the comparative size of the forearms and upper arms. In many cases the upper arm is big and round, but the forearm seems even bigger. A great deal depends on the position from which the arm is viewed. If the palms of the hands are towards the camera, the forearms will look wide and the upper arm comparatively thin. If, on the contrary, the back of the hand is toward the camera, the forearm will look thinner than the upper arm, if the arm is hanging straight. There are two bones in the forearm which makes it thicker one way than another. The more you develop them the rounder they become. The forearms of a bar-bell user look impressive from almost any angle. In Fig. 137 Neubauer manages to make both of his forearms look impressive. If he had placed the palm of his right hand on his hip the forearm would have looked thinner, but by placing the back of the hand on the hip and bending the wrist, he has flexed the forearm muscles in a way that makes them stand out.

The reason these men have such good forearms is because when handling bar-bells the forearm muscles are employed in almost every exercise. About the only exception is when you lay the bar-bell across the shoulders and "squat" to develop the legs. In all the arm exercises, all the shoulder exercises, the back exercises, and in some of the leg exercises the bell is held in the hands and, consequently, the muscles of the forearms and the hands have to contract vigorously. In all the exercises, when the arm is bent (as when developing the biceps), the forearm muscles are subjected to considerable work in helping to bend the arm. (This was discussed in Chapter XIII.)

The size of your upper arm is more or less influenced by the size of your forearm, and both parts of the arm should be developed at the same time. You can get a fair development of the forearms by clinching the fingers; that is, doing gripping exercises, and by twisting the wrist, but those exercises don't produce nearly as big muscles, or nearly as strong muscles, as when you have to grip a heavy object in the hands and then bend the arms at the elbows. Furthermore, merely gripping with the fingers will not produce as strong a grip as lifting heavy objects with the hands. When you do the "Jefferson" lift, Fig. 18, you will develop a far stronger grip than you can get by opening and closing the fingers against no resistance. When you do the two variations of the two-arm "curl" for developing the biceps you will develop the upper part of your forearms in a way that you never will by simply twisting the wrists. The arm should be developed as a unit, and not as separate parts. The reason the arms of these men looks so well-knit is because man of their exercises have required them to use their muscles in the hand, arm, and shoulder at the same time.

The general rule is that the flexed biceps should be twenty per cent larger than the forearm, and most of these men show that proportion. The only great exception is Anton Matysek, who could never get his forearms above 12 1/2 inches, although his upper arms measured 16 1/2 inches. Yet Matysek's forearms and wrists were extraordinarily strong, as was proven when he beat Joe Nordquest in a back-hand "curl" with a thick handled bar-bell. Usually, when a man has small forearms, the calves of his legs are likewise small. This was not so in Matysek's case, because his calves measured 16 inches. The peculiar thing was that they were very deep from front to back, and only moderately wide.

No one can handle bar-bells without developing wonderful deltoid muscles. As you were previously told, the deltoid lifts the arm. The reason a bar-bell user's deltoids are so big and shapely, is because he develops his triceps by pushing the hands downward, as when "dipping" on the parallel bars, and the ordinary physical culturist develops his triceps by pushing the hands forward, as when doing the "floor dip." (This dipping develops the muscles on the front of the chest far more than it does the deltoids on the points of the shoulders.)

Without fine deltoids you will never look impressive, either when you have your pictures taken of when you appear on the floor of the "gym" or on the bathing beach. Properly developed deltoid muscles in some way give a peculiar appearance of manliness by adding to the squareness of the shoulders, and by enhancing the arm development. With poor deltoids you will never look strong, even if your arms are big and your chest muscles big; but fine deltoids are the finishing touch which gives the effect of great strength and athletic ability.

The hips and thighs are just as worthy of study as are the arms and shoulders, and, in fact, are a better indication of bodily strength. Just as the upper-arm muscles should merge into the muscles of the shoulder, so should the muscles of the thighs merge into the hips. In a properly developed leg the thigh should taper from the crotch to the knee. Many gymnasts and physical culturists show some development of the lower part of the thigh, but little development near the hips. In outdoor men just the reverse is the case. There are some men who show no muscle at all on the back of the thigh; others who have so little muscles on the inside of the thighs that when they stand with their knees touching, the thighs fail to touch by an inch; still others have no development on the outside of the thigh.

Notice that in a good many of these pictures it is hard to tell where the thighs stop and the hips begin. In a picture of Owen Carr, Fig. 136, the front line of his right thigh seems to run right to his waist. You see such development only in a man who has an equally fine development of the muscles on the front of the abdomen; therefore you never see a fat man with a leg like Carr's. In pictures like those of Nordquest, Matysek and some of the others you see a very pronounced curve on the outside of the thigh. This is partly due to the fact that they turned their toes slightly outward when having their pictures taken, but even when they stand with the toes pointed straight forward, their thighs show almost as great a development in the vastus externus; that is, the outer muscle of the thigh. In every such case you will find above the thighs powerfully developed muscles at the sides of the waist. Most of the men who show this pronounced development got it from practicing the side exercise, Fig. 33, and later on the one-arm "bent press."

A man with a big biceps muscle on the back of the thighs always has big and powerful muscles on the small of the back.

In the three foregoing paragraphs you will find the real explanation of the extraordinary bodily strength of these men. Great thigh strength and great strength in the waist always go together. Of all of these men, hardly one of them shows a thigh measurement of less than 23 inches, and some of them have thighs measuring 26 inches around. None of them has a waist less than 30 inches or more than 34 inches. It is that uniformity of measurements in so many different men which enables me to say so confidently that any man of average size and weight, with average-sized bones, can get the kind of development which these pictures show.

*NOTE. This pamphlet is called, "How Much Should I Measure and How Much Should I Weigh?" and you can obtain a copy by applying to the publishers of this book.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

SUPER STRENGTH (Circa 1924) - Chapter 25 (Part 1) - Statuesque Development - By Alan Calvert



The great popularity which bar-bell exercise has achieved in the last few years is due almost entirely to one feature; and that is the phenomenal physical improvement made by users of bar-bells. In this country, lifting is not a major sport as it is in some of the European countries. In fact, it isn't even a minor sport. You almost never see in the papers any accounts of lifting-matches, and yet there are thousands of men and boys who prefer lifting to any other kind of sport, and who prefer bar-bell exercise to any other means of body-building. This is hardly to be wondered at after you have learned that a bar-bell user increases his muscular development, and alters his figure for the better at such a rate of speed that he can almost see himself grow from one week-end to another. The devotee of light exercise is highly gratified if he increases his chest measurement by 2 inches, his arm measurement by 1 inch, his bodily weight by 5 lbs., and his strength by twenty-five percent. After a man has used a bar-bell three of four times a week over a period of six months, he is justifiably disappointed if his chest has increased less than 6 inches, his arms less than 2 1/2 inches, and his thighs less than 3 inches. If he was very skinny to start with, he will probably have gained anywhere from 25 to 40 lbs. in good solid muscle. If he was fat when he started to train, he is not satisfied unless he has reduced his waist measurement by 8 or 10 inches. Such extraordinary improvement is not made by everyone who practices this form of exercise, but when a man fails to make those improvements, he can depend on it that the fault is with him, and not with the method.

I have become so accustomed to seeing complete physical transformation in a comparatively short space of time, that I am not only surprised, but actually grieved, when an enthusiast fails to make the gains he should have made. When such a thing happens, the investigation shows that the disappointed individual has deliberately hampered his own progress by specializing on arm and shoulder work, instead of adopting the all-round program which results in a bigger chest, broader shoulders, and a general readjustment of the lines of the figure. That, by the way, is one reason why this book is written. The fascination of lifting weights above the head is so great, that it is necessary to remind enthusiasts that by neglecting back, loins, sides, and thighs, they are deliberately hampering their bodily growth; and actually preventing their arms from becoming as strong as they could be.

There was a time when I would get startled if a man wrote me and said that he had increased his chest measurement 6 inches in six months, but I have gotten over that. I have actually seen a slender youth increase his chest measurement from 29 to 36 inches in a little over a month's time. I have seen a tall, slender man, whose chest was no larger than his waist, so alter his proportions that at the end of a year his chest was 12 inches larger than formerly. Mind you, he was thirty years old when he started. I have seen fat men over forty-five years old start at bar-bell work, and inside of six months so improved themselves that their bodily proportions would compare favorably with those of any of the beautifully-built athletes whose pictures illustrate this volume. I have seen puny sixteen-year-old schoolboys increase so rapidly in strength and development that inside of a year they achieved nation-wide fame for the beauty of their proportions and for their immense muscular development. I have seen a long, rangy office worker, of no particular strength, become one of the best amateur lifters in the world, and when he started he was nearly thirty. Like most of the others, he got a 44-inch chest, a 16-inch upper arm, and other measurements in proportion. It would take several books to even briefly mention the startling cases which have come under my observation.

Years ago I started to tabulate the measurements of bar-bell users, so as to get an idea of the bodily proportions which could be attained. I published my conclusions in a magazine, and subsequently they had to be published in the form of a pamphlet,* and I understand that it has been very widely distributed, and has been accepted in many quarters as a standard.

I was familiar with a number of tables of so-called "ideal measurements" which had been compiled by artists, sculptors, physicians, and various authorities on bodily proportions. According to my ideas the measurements given in these tables were less than those possessed by many bar-bell users of my acquaintance. So I sat down and worked out my standard, and found that it was much higher than the standard given by the other writers on the subject. For example, it was claimed that a well-proportioned man of 5 feet 8 inches should have a 40-inch chest; whereas I knew lots of beautifully shaped and not overly big men of that height whose normal chests measured 43 to 44 inches. There are some who have claimed that my standard represent over-development, and that the true beauty of the figure is better represented by the ancient Greek statues. In order to discover the truth in the matter, I had a lot of these statues measured, and found that in most cases the statue came very much closer to equaling my standard than the more slender standards previously published. When we measured the statue of the Apollo Belvedere, we found, for example, that a man six feet tall, built on those lines, would have a chest measuring 38 1/2 inches, waist 31 inches, hips 36 inches, thigh 23 1/2 inches; neck 16 inches, calf 15 1/2 inches, wrist 8 1/8 inches, and upper arm about 15 inches. The Apollo Belvedere is supposed to represent the slender figure, but in this case the effect of slenderness was deliberately created by the sculptor when he made the trunk small, and the arms and legs large in comparison. There are lots of present-day six-footers who have chests measuring 38 1/2 inches, but very few of them have 15-inch upper arms, and 23 1/2-inch thighs, and almost none of them have wrists measuring more than 8 inches.

In measuring some of the other statues of Greek athletes, we found that if the statue showed a man 5 feet 8 inches tall, the chest measurement would be 44 inches, the thigh more than 24 inches, the upper arm 16 inches, and so on. People rave about these ancient Greek athletes, and say how beautifully proportioned they were, and how smooth their muscles were; yet the measurements taken show that these apparently smoothly-built men have the measurements and the proportions of a modern "Strong Man." If you try to make yourself "built like a Greek statue," you will find that you have to make yourself very much bigger and more powerfully developed than you are at present. If a sculptor was to make an absolutely accurate statue of a tennis player or a distance-runner, that statue would look almost scrawny compared with the statues of the ancient Greeks. I commend this idea to the particular consideration of those who apparently think that the build of the tennis-player and distance-runner is the ideal build.

I find that there are many physical culturists who have the mistaken opinion that a "Strong Man" or a weight-lifter has muscles which stand out in knots and ridges even when they are relaxed. Such is not the case. Most of the lifters whom I know have muscles which are smooth and round when relaxed, but very prominent when flexed. Their muscles look equally well in either state, because their bodily proportions are so perfect. Look at Fig. 119, and you will see Anton Matysek standing at ease. Not one muscle is flexed, and consequently his body looks perfectly smooth. His proportions are so perfect that he does not have to flex his muscles in order to look impressive, but just the same the muscles are there. Look at Fig. 120, and you see him displaying his muscles. In this pose he has deliberately flexed as many muscles as possible. The two pictures were taken within ten minutes of each other. In this book there are pictures of several dozen bar-bell users, and it would be interesting to show two pictures of each man, one standing at ease, and the other one with his muscles flexed. You would want no better proof, that when the bar-bell user stands at ease his muscles are just as smooth as those of a boxer, although his bodily proportions are infinitely better. Matysek, whose pictures are shown, was much sought for as an artist's model, and has posed for many of the greatest sculptors.

It would be still more interesting to publish the pictures of the men before and after they had developed their bodies. I have many such pictures, but no room to publish them here. Unfortunately most men never think of having their pictures taken when they start to train, because they have no idea that they will be able to make any great change in their appearance. After they commence to get some development, they do have pictures taken. To give you an idea of what some of these men accomplish, I call your attention to Figs. 122 and 123, showing Mr. Woodrow before and after he used bar-bells; Figs. 124 and 125, showing Mr. Hedlund, and Figs. 126 and 127, showing Mr. Ruckstool. (The first picture of Ruckstool was taken after he had been training for five or six months, and had already made good gains. The second picture shows how he appeared a year after the first picture was taken.)

In my collection I have hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of pictures of finely developed men; a few of which are printed on the following pages. If you take the trouble to study these pictures, you will see that all these men show a certain similarity of figure, and that in some respects their development and proportions are quite different from the development and proportions of the average athlete. The same thing is noticeable about the old Greek statues. Ninety per cent of them show men of the same type; that is to say, the shoulders will be of a certain breadth in proportion to the height, the body will have a certain length in proportion to the legs; and the girth of the arms and the legs show a certain fixed proportion to the girth of the chest and hips. If you were to judge by the statues that still remain, it would be natural to assume that these Greeks represented the finest type of development to which the human race has yet attained. My own belief is that these statues represent only the very best men of their time; just as our own sculptors use only the best developed and shapely men as models. The "Greek type" of body has by no means vanished. There are plenty of athletes today who are just as well proportioned and just as beautifully developed as any Greek statue you or I have ever seen. On one occasion I showed a part of my collection to a noted sculptor, and after he had examined them thoroughly, he said, "This is the finest built lot of men I have ever seen. Apparently by your methods you can turn out men like the ancient Greek athletes. I am interested to know that such a thing is possible."

Unquestionably, the development a man can attain is dependent on the underlying bone structure; which makes it seem as though it were impossible for a small-boned man to acquire as big and powerfully developed body as is possible in the case of a man with bigger and heavier bones. The way it works out is that a man with unusually heavy bones when properly trained, will acquire the figure and development of a Hercules; that a man of average bones will get a development of a Treseus, Perseus, or Mars; and that a small-boned man, when his figure is fully developed, will show the proportions of an Apollo of a Mercury. Most men are "just average" to start with. Not more than five men out of one hundred have 6-inch wrists, and not more than two or three men out of one hundred will have 8-inch wrists. Sixty or seventy men out of one hundred will have wrists measuring somewhere between 6 3/4 inches and 7 1/4 inches. I have found that a 6 3/4-inch wrist is the average size for men who have sedentary occupations, while the laborers, the mechanics, or the outdoor men average a 7-inch wrist measurement.

Many of our greatest "Strong Men" have wrists measuring only 7 inches, and some of the shorter athletes have smaller wrists than that. Very small bones would seem to be a bar to pronounced muscular development, although I have seen men with very small wrists develop wonderful arms. For example, Robert Snyder, Fig. 128, whose wrist measures only 6 1/2 inches, has a 14 3/4-inch upper arm. As he stands only 5 feet 5 inches in height, his arm looks very large. I have seen taller men, with the same size wrist, get even bigger arms than Snyder's. Thomas Inch, of London, who stands 5 feet 10 inches, who has a small hand and a 7-inch wrist, actually succeeded in developing an 18 1/2-inch upper arm. As a middleweight, his arm measured only 16 1/2 inches, and his arm got to be 19 inches around when he put on 40 lbs. of weight, and moved into the heavy-weight class. There are lots of men with 7-inch wrists whose arms measure more than 16 inches in girth. Inch had to work harder to get his big arm than men like Hackenschmidt, and the Nordquests, whose wrists measured 18 inches, and whose arms are about the same size as Inch's.

In the last part of this book you will find pictures of thirty or forty beautifully proportioned and splendidly developed athletes, and in selecting these pictures I deliberately picked men who were average-sized, and who had average-sized bones when they started to train. In looking over these pictures, you will notice a marked similarity in the shape of the muscles. The 16-inch arms of one of these athletes will look almost exactly like the 16-inch arms of another athlete. In fact, the resemblance in development is so marked, that if you concealed the faces, it would be hard to tell some of the men apart. That is because they are the uniform product of a uniform system of training. The reason their bodies look alike is because their bodies are perfectly developed; and perfectly developed muscles almost assume a certain size, shape, and outline. Therefore, if you have average-sized bones, and take up the same system of training which these men used, you will acquire just the type of physique represented in these pictures. Some of these men, especially the professionals, like Saxon, and Hackenschmidt, were strong and above the average in build to start with; but the rest of the amateurs were no better when they started than you are now; or than nine out of ten men of your acquaintance. That is why I am so strongly impressed with the value of bar-bell exercise as a means of body-building.

You will have to admit that the men, whose pictures appear on these pages, are vastly superior in sheer bodily beauty to men developed by any other form of exercise or athletics. No group of oarsmen, football players, runners, wrestlers, or gymnasts could show proportions or development equal to that possessed by these bar-bell users. The only sport which produces a type of physique anything like this is ground-tumbling. A combination of tumbling and hand-balancing will yield a fine development. It is note-worthy that almost all bar-bell users do a certain amount of hand-balancing and tumbling. It seems that after a man has used bar-bells for a while he acquires such strength and agility that he can take up the other two sports, and by reason of his physical advantages, quickly become a star tumbler, or a star hand-balancer. On the other hand, men who have practiced nothing except tumbling and hand-balancing frequently take up bar-bell work in order to acquire the extra bodily strength which will make them better performers in their own line of work.

But go back to the pictures. In each one of these men you will see that he has a certain shoulder-breadth in proportion to his height; that his chest is not only wide from side to side, but deep from front to back. In the back-view pictures you will see a great display of muscles from one shoulder to another and, more important still, two great cables of muscle along either side of the spine in the lower part of the back. In the front-view pictures you will see that the abdominal muscles, which are never visible in the average man, are here clearly outlined. In some of these pictures you will be able to see the muscles at the sides of the waist. The legs are differently shaped form those of the average man. There is far more muscle on the outside of the thigh, while on the back of the thigh there is a swelling outward curve, which you will find only in strong-backed men like these. If the picture is taken from the side, you will see that the front of the thigh shows a pronounced curve starting right above the knee, and ending at the hip.

You can find pictures of gymnasts with equally big arms; you may find some pictures of outdoor athletes and tumblers who have legs almost as good, but you positively will not find any other class of athlete who can equal the bar-bell user in symmetrical development from head to heel. The development of the lower part of the trunk (that is, the waist, the loins, the hips), and the development of the thighs, which bar-bell users and weight-lifters possess, cannot be found in any other type of athlete; because this kind of development is not produced by any other form of physical activity. Nevertheless, it is just the kind of development and just the kind of outlines you see in the old Greek statues.

There are some authorities on the subject of muscular development who claim that a weight-lifter'' muscles are "short," and those people express their preference for what we call "long, elastic muscles." (This is a question which I have discussed a number of times in various magazine articles.) The length of a muscle is governed by the length of the nearby bones. For instance, the biceps muscle is fastened at its lower end to the bone of the forearm, and one of its upper ends to the bone of the upper arm, and the other end to the bone which forms the shoulder girdle. Therefore, if a man has attained his full growth, which means that the upper arm bone has stopped growing, it is impossible to either shorten or lengthen the biceps muscle. Naturally, muscle becomes shorter and thicker as it contracts, which explains why your biceps rise in a swelling curve when you bend the arm. Similarly, a muscle lengthens as it relaxes or is extended; but you cannot make your muscle longer no matter what you do, unless you make the bone of the upper arm longer. The bigger a muscle is the shorter it looks. A six-footer, with narrow shoulders and thin arms, appears to have very long arms, but if, by exercise, he increases the width of his shoulder by 3 or 4 inches, and adds as many inches to the girth of his arm then his arm will appear to be much shorter than it was before because it is thicker. Any man with undeveloped arms appears to have long arm muscles, and it is perfectly true than a man with a perfect development appears to have short arm muscles. In the undeveloped man the deltoid muscle on the point of the shoulder is so small in size that it fails to make itself apparent. In a well-developed man the deltoid muscles are thick and quite prominent. Look at the pictures of Charles Durner, Fig. 121. In his left arm you can see the deltoid muscle coming down to a point more than one-third down the upper arm. This muscle overlays part of the biceps and the triceps muscles of the upper arm. Therefore, Durner's arm muscles look short because their upper ends are concealed by the fully developed deltoid. Also, his forearms are powerfully developed, and in the left arm the forearm muscle runs up across the bottom of the biceps, and that helps to make the upper arm look shorter. His right arm is so powerfully developed that it looks short in proportion to its length, but if you will bear the foregoing statements in mind, you can see how the right deltoid overlaps the upper end of the biceps, and how the muscle on the inside of the right forearm cuts the line of the biceps at its lower end. If Durner's arms were think, his muscles would appear long, but really they are still just as long as before he got his development, and they are far more elastic than they were when he started to train.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

SUPER STRENGTH (Circa 1924) - Chapter 24 - The Secret of the Bent-Press - By Alan Calvert



No book dealing with "Lifting" is complete without some reference to the feat of strength known as the one-arm "bent-press." Ever since bar-bells and dumbbells came into common use, athletes have been vying with each other with the object of seeing which man could push the most weight aloft with one hand. In the early days of lifting the only known method was the "military press," which has been already described. The men who used heavy dumbbells soon discovered that when pushing up a weight with the right hand, the body always had a tendency to bend to the left; and that the further the body was bent over the more strength could be exerted by the arm. As the rivalry became keener and lifting knowledge increased, there was a growing tendency to supplement the strength of the arm with the strength of the body, or the legs, or both. Probably the first variation was the one-arm "push." Some of the old-time giants managed to lift 200 lbs. in that manner. Cyclops is said to have done nearly 240 lbs., and Michael Maier and Hackenschmidt 220 lbs. in this style. When the strength of the legs is used to help send the bell aloft, the best method is the one-arm "jerk," in which Lurich did 264 lbs. There are two or three lifters who have jerked 240 odd pounds with the right arm, and dozen of lifters who have done over 200 lbs.

In the one-arm "snatch" and the one-arm "swing," the lifter raises the weight as much by the strength of his body (the back and his legs) as by the strength of his arm. The record of 199 lbs. in the swing, and nearly 220 lbs. in the snatch, proved that a much heavier weight could be raised in those styles than in a one-arm military press.

So far as I know, Eugene Sandow was the first man to demonstrate to English and American lifters the possibilities of the "bent-press." On his first visit to London, nearly thirty-five years ago, he made a bent-press with 250 lbs.; thereby beating by over 50 lbs. the best efforts of the British lifters, who at that time were using the one-arm jerk. A controversy arose, and one group claimed that Sandow's supporters replied that the whole object was to raise the most weight above the head, and that it was better to "use the scientific leverage of the body as Sandow did," than to employ what they called the "tricky and vicious use" of the legs in the one-arm jerk.

That is all nonsense, because the jerk is just as legitimate a lift as is the bent-press. In fact, the jerk is more a real lift, because the weight is actually lifted at least part of the way by arm strength; whereas in the bent-press the bell is held at one height until the arm is straight; and then the actual lifting is done by straightening the body and legs.

Sandow created such a furore, and reaped such golden rewards in London, that all the "Strong Men" of the world were attracted to that city. Sandow increased his bent-press record to about 271 and a fraction lbs. Louis Cyr eclipsed this by making a one-arm press of 273 lbs. but Cyr's lift was more in the nature of a one-arm push, because he was too fat to make a real bent-press. Since Sandow's time, the art of using the body in the bent-press has been developed to a high degree, and many lifters, both amateur and professional, have succeeded in eclipsing his record. The best exponent of the lift was the late Arthur Saxon, who did 336 lbs. officially, and 370 lbs. unofficially. Two English lifters, Thomas Inch and Edward Aston, did more than 300 lbs. in a right arm bent-press. Joe Nordquest as an amateur did 277 lbs. with the left arm, and did 300 lbs. in practice. Cabana, of Montreal, is said to have bent-pressed 311 lbs. with his left arm. At a rough guess I would say that there are at least two dozen lifters who have beaten Sandow's mark of 271 lbs.

The "bent-press" is a combination of bodily strength and acquired skill. It is not a lift which a man will do instinctively - he has to be taught. It is possible to lift so much more weight by this method than by any other, so the lift is well worth learning. When you reflect that Arthur Saxon, whose best record in the military press was about 126 lbs., could raise 336 lbs. when he used the bent-press method, and that Sandow, who could military press only 121 lbs., could bent-press 271 lbs., you get an idea of the possibilities of the method. A star at the bent-press will raise two and a half times as much by that method as he can if he stands erect in the military style and pushes the weight up just by the strength of his arm and shoulder. If you can make a military press with a 50-lb. weight you can, by learning the method, make a bent-press with anywhere from 125 to 150 lbs. The Englishman, Pullum, when he weighed less than 126 lbs., raised 86 lbs. with the right arm in the military style, and 216 lbs. in the bent-press style. Another lightweight Englishman, who weight 120 lbs., pressed something like 221 lbs. A number of comparatively small men have succeeded in lifting, by this method, a bar-bell which weighed 100 lbs. more than their own body weight. Since Saxon weighed about 210 lbs. when he bent-pressed 371 lbs., he did 160 lbs. more than his own weight.

Any real expert at the bent-press can press aloft more weight with one arm than he can with two arms; and there are some men who can raise almost as much in the one-arm bent-press as in a two-arm jerk. If you can make a one-arm military press with 50 lbs., the chances are that you can make a two-arm press (not military) with 110 or 115 lbs.; and, as I have said before, if you master the method you can make a one-arm bent-press with 125 lbs. or more. The odd thing is that it actually takes less exertion to bent-press 125 lbs. with one arm than to make a two-arm press with 115 lbs.

Whoever it was who said that the bent-press was a matter of scientific body leverage, described the lift exactly. In making a bent-press the lifter supplements the strength of his arm and shoulder by the strength of his back, his sides, and his thighs, as well as utilizing the strength of his bones. When a novice first attempts the bent-press he will almost invariably try to shove the bar-bell upwards by a fierce pressure of the lifting arm. The proper way to start the bent-press is to get into the position shown in Fig. 111. The lifters stands with the heels 18 or 20 inches apart, and the toes turned out, so that the feet are at right angles to each other. After he has lifted the bell to the height of his shoulders he thrust his right hip out to the side, bends his body slightly to the left, and rests his right elbow on the top of the right hip bone. If you take this picture, Fig. 111, and hold a ruler over it, you will see that there is a straight line running downwards from the right hand to the right heel. There is no exertion necessary to hold the bell, because the weight is supported on the vertical bones of the right forearm, and that is in turn supported by the bones of the hip and the bones of the right leg. Some of you may have difficulty in getting your elbow on the hip, because you will try to lean directly sideways, instead of leaning slightly to the left and slightly to the front. (The bar-bell should always be turned as shown in the picture; that is, with the handle almost parallel with the shoulders.) By putting the elbow on the hip, the right arm is pressed against the right side of the body.

Now, the lifter leans to the left and forwards; that is, his body rotates slightly on its own axis as he bends. He places the inside of his left forearm right above the left knee as he bends over, and he has to be particularly careful to keep the right arm from sliding off the right side. (In Fig. 112 you cannot see the inside edge of the right arm, but I can assure you that it is still supported by the right side.) As the lifter bends over he keeps his right forearm straight up and down, since the right upper arm is still resting on the right side, it means that the arm is "opened."

In Fig. 113, which is next in order, the lifter has bent a little further over, and now you can see his right upper arm resting on his right side. Since the forearm has been kept perpendicular to the floor, it is now at right angles to the upper arm. The left forearm has been slid along the left thigh into the position shown. By pressing the left forearm firmly against the left thigh the lifter gets an artificial support. Without that support there would be a great strain on the muscles of the right side of the waist, and on the small of the back.

In the fourth position, Fig. 114, the lifter has leaned so far that the right arm has almost straightened itself. He has shifted his left forearm again so that the left wrist is against the thigh. The left arm is completely doubled, but it still acts as a support. Now, for the first time, the lifter commences to push hard with the right hand, so as to straighten the right arm. At this point of the lift his body is firmly braced by the support afforded by the left leg and the doubled up left arm.

Fig. 115 is the last in the set, and shows that the lifter has finally succeeded in straightening the arm. The problem now is to stand erect and complete the lift. The customary way to accomplish this is to bend the right leg at the knee, which thereby lowers the right hip and brings the lifter into a sort of a crouch beneath the bell. Assisting himself by pressing hard with his left hand, the lifter stands erect, and the lift is completed.

If the bent-press is properly performed there is no great strain felt in any of the muscles, except at the stages between Fig. 114 and 115.

Now, to support my statement that the bell is not actually lifted until after the arm is straightened, I invite a closer inspection of the pictures showing the start of the lift and the end of the lift. Measure Fig. 111 (the start) and make a note of how many inches there is between the right hand and the right heel. Take Fig. 114, when the lifter has his arm almost straight, and measure the distance between the right hand and the left heel. Unless I am greatly mistaken you will find the two measurements identical. This proves that the bell has not been lifted. It is held at one height and the lifter gets his arm straight by bending the body over.

This is as concise a description of the bent-press as I can give. There are many fine points connected with the lift, and to describe them all would take many pages. I can briefly mention, as one of the important details, the swinging of the bar-bell. Between Fig. 111 and Fig. 115 the bell has swung through almost a half circle; that is, the end which was originally in front of lifter in Fig. 111, is now behind him in the last picture. As he stands up the bell will swing back to its original position.

No two men will perform the bent-press in identically the same way. There is always a slight variation in the placing of the feet, in the way the right arm is supported on the right side, in the way the body is bent, etc. Nevertheless, all lifters have to conform to the general laws of position. The Germans call this lift the "screw press," because the left shoulder travels downward in a descending spiral motion, like the thread of a screw, or like a handrail of a spiral staircase. The body is never bent directly to the side, but sideways and forwards. If you will make the experiment of standing with the feet properly placed, and without any bell in the right hand, and then lean over and place the left shoulder right above the left knee, you will see for yourself the way the body has to rotate as it is bent forward.

Some lifters handicap themselves by not using the left arm properly. They start out by placing it just as this lifter does, but they keep on sliding it further and further across the left thigh until the arm-pit rests on the left knee. In such a case, the left arm is either waving in the air between the legs, or else the left hand as to be placed on the right knee. This leaves the lifter in an awkward position, and makes it more difficult for him to use his left hand as an assistance in raising his body to the vertical position after the right arm has been straightened.

All the foregoing seem highly complicated, and I can assure you that it is complicated. Some of you will never be able to master this lift; while other will "get the hang" of it after a couple of days practice, and will soon be able to lift weights that they cannot press aloft with both arms.

Some of the European lifters will not attempt a bent-press. Neither Charles Herold nor Henry Steinborn considered it as a real lift; yet Arthur Saxon, who was developed in the same lifting-club that Herold came from, practiced the bent-press more than any other lift, and made his reputation by it. It certainly is a spectacular feat of strength, and it is sometimes used by professionals to discourage the competition of ambitious amateurs. A good professional makes nothing of a right-arm bent-press with 225 lbs. For such a lift he uses a bar-bell with a rather thick handle. If any man from the audience questions the professional's strength, he is invited to take the bar-bell in both hands, and press it aloft. There are comparatively few amateurs who can make a two-arm press with 225 lbs., (that is, the kind of amateurs who make themselves obnoxious) and since it is hard to lift a thick-handled 225 lb. bar-bell to the shoulder, the amateur rarely gets even that far. After it has been demonstrated to the satisfaction of the audience that the amateur cannot raise the bell aloft by the strength of both arms, the professional then makes a right arm bent-press, showing that he can raise the weight by the strength of one arm.

In this connection, I might say that a first-class amateur lifter very rarely interrupts a professional "Strong Man" who happens to be giving a theatrical performance. The amateur fully understands that the professional is paid to entertain the audience, and that it is necessary to perform lifts which are sensational in character. When an amateur lifter goes to such a performance, it is with the object of learning what he can, by watching the professional perform; and since most of these professionals are highly skilled, in addition to being very strong, there is a lot that can be learned in that way. I have known professionals to give sensational exhibitions every afternoon and evening during a week's engagement, and to spend their morning hours at some local gymnasium or lifting club. When in the "gym," they take part in all sorts of friendly contests, and if some members of the club are skilled amateur lifters, the professional will conduct himself just as one of the group, and together with the other lifters will practice all the recognized standard lifts.

When I found that I needed this set of five pictures, I enlisted the services of a Mr. William Langhorne. He kindly volunteered to pose, in spite of the fact that he had not had a bar-bell in his hand since 1907. He weight but a little over 140 lbs. He is now forty-five years old, and has not gained a pound in weight since he stopped training seventeen years ago. He is a master of the bent-press, and his best lift in that style is 214 lbs. His best record at the two-arm press is 165 lbs., and in the two-arm jerk about 215 lbs. Mr. Langhorne is not entirely satisfied with the pictures, and claimed that the positions were not exactly perfect, because the bell was not heavy enough to force his body and arm into the correct positions. The bell used in the picture weighted only about 85 lbs., and Langhorne said that this was too light a weight to be properly pressed, and that the pictures would have been more accurate if the bell had weighed over 125 lbs. When doing the posing, all the seemed to do was to shift his body from one position to another, and the bar-bell apparently went to arms' length of its own accord. The more correctly you do the lift, the easier it becomes.

Mr. Langhorne is a great hand-balancer. He lived in England twenty years ago, and one winter he took second place in the "open" lifting-championship, (being defeated by a man who weighed 220 lbs.), and in the same season he won the gymnastic championship; while the following summer he took a dozen first prizes in bicycle racing, and several prizes for sprinting. Today he can do a one-hand stand with the utmost ease. He says that the bent-press is largely a matter of balance, and that any expert hand-balancer, who can do a one-hand stand, should have no trouble in mastering the principles of the bent-press.

I am afraid that after to read all the foregoing, you may conclude that the bent-press is simply a trick, and requires no strength whatever. It does require strength in a high degree, and the more bodily strength you possess, the more apt you are to succeed at the lift. Lifters are apt to speak of a 200 lb. bent-press as just an average performance; but you should not forget that before a 200 lb. weight can be pressed aloft, it first has to be lifted as high as the right shoulder, and held there. Very few of the outsiders who read this book are able to lift 200 lbs. more than a few inches off the ground; let alone raising it as high as the shoulder, and then holding it there in one hand. In order to make a big bent-press, you have to be about five times as strong as the average man in the back, and in the waist.

I am printing a few pictures showing other lifters doing the bent-press. There is one of Matysek, Fig. 116, showing that an early stage in his career, he made the bent-press improperly, neglecting to use th4e left arm as he should. When the picture was taken, he was just failing to lift 215 lbs. I had him coached by an expert, who taught him the correct style, and shortly thereafter Matysek made the American amateur record of 241 and a fraction pounds. The picture of Carr, Fig. 117, bent-pressing 230 lbs., shows the absolutely correct position, and so does the picture of Roy Smith, Fig. 118. The bell Smith used weighed only 173 lbs., and he pressed the weight aloft on seven separate occasions before the photographer was satisfied with the pose. Smith's best record in this lift was about 245 lbs.

If you will stand as in Fig. 10, and lift a 245-lb. bell from the floor, you will find that it requires a great deal of strength in the back. If you will try to imagine yourself with your body bent over that far, and the same weight supported on the up-raised right arm, you will commence to realize the enormous amount of strength in the back, the sides, the arms, and the shoulders, which a man must have before he can make a bent-press with that weight. You cannot make a bent-press until you do learn the style; but don't fall into the error of thinking that style alone is necessary. Before a man can make a bent-press with a bar-bell weighing over 200 lbs., he has to so strengthen his back and legs by vigorous exercise, that he can lift 600 lbs. off the ground easier than the average man can lift half that weight.
BODY • MIND • SPIRIT