Saturday, December 17, 2011

THE TRUTH ABOUT WEIGHTLIFTING - (circa 1911) - CHAPTER 15 - (Last Chapter) - By Alan Calvert

In my long association with heavy-weight lifters, both amateur and professional, I have been a witness of some very funny incidents. I remember one time that a friend of mine was about to write an article describing a certain Herculean “hand-balancer.” My friend wishes to illustrate his article with photographs of this gymnast, so he arranged to have the gymnast meet him at the photographer’s studio, and I was invited to attend. The whole party met at the photographer’s studio, about two blocks distant from the theatre at which the gymnast was exhibiting. In his stage act the gymnast used two or three kettle-bells, which were supposed to weigh 75 pounds apiece. The manager of the theatre promised to send these kettle-bells by a team to the photographer’s studio, but on our arrival we found that the bells had not yet been delivered.

We ‘phoned down to the theatre and told the manager to hurry up the team. In this theatre they employed two or three very young boys who between the acts walked up and down the aisles and handled out ice water. After we had waited 10 or 15 minutes we went to look out of the photographer’s window. Coming up the streeet we saw one of these small boys with two of the gymnast’s kettle-bells in one hand, and one in the other. He was marching gaily along, swinging the bells and whistling a tune. Anybody who saw the boy at once realized that the bells weighed less than 15 pounds apiece, although the figure 75 pounds was painted on the side of each bell. If this gymnast’s muscles are as strong as the language he used on that occasion he must be a wonder.

Several times I have endeavored to get a good phootgraph of harness-lifting, but on each occasion something has happened to spoil the picture. On one occasion, however, I saw an expert photographer work in conjunction with a first-class harness-lifter, and I think if I copied their methods I would be able to get results in the future. At the time I mention the lifter wished to have a photograph taken showing him raising, by the harness lift, two good sized horses. I was among the few invited to witness the taking of the picture. We all repaired to the yard of a livery stable where the athlete’s lifting platforms were already in position. The athlete mounted the upper platform and two fair-sized horses were driven on the lower platform. I do not consider myself a judge of the weight of horses, but the stableman said that the horses weighed 1300 pounds apiece. When they were driven on the lower platform (and stood as quiet as lambs) the photographer got his camera ready, the signal was given, and the lifter made a tremendous effort - but the platform would not budge.

The lifter was very much put out; the audience was surprised, because it was supposed the lifter would have no trouble in raising anything under 3000 pounds. After a few ineffectual efforts to lift the horses, the lifter and the photographer held a consultation. The horses were led to their stalls and the stableman brought two ponies, which were led on the platform. The photographer took the camera from the tripod, laid the tripod to one side, knelt down and rested the camera on the ground, pointing it slightly upwards, so as to get the whole group. The lifter had no trouble in raising the ponies and the photograph was a beauty for advertising purposes. The ponies which were near, and above the camera looked almost as big as elephants, and the lifter who was high in the air looked very small in comparison.

One of the best stories regarding lifters that I ever heard was told me by an Englishman, who claims to be an eye witness of the scene. It appears that in a certain city in England two great weight-lifters were appearing in the same week, at rival theatres. I will not mention their names, but the reader would recognize them at once. One of the lifters had boasted for years that he was the real champion in trhe “Bent Press,” and this man was a popular idol in England. The other man was equally proud of his prowess in the “Bent Press and had long desired to meet lifter No. l.

Lifter No. 2, in order to decoy lifter No. 1, had posters printed announcing that he would give L50 ( $250) to any other lifter, amateur or professional, who could raise a 240-pound bell (belonging to lifter No. 2), by the right arm “Bent Press.”

These posters were scattered broadcast and everybody in town knew it was an indirect challenge to lifter No. 1. The advertised performance finally arrived. Lifter No. 2 produced the 240-pound bell, which had 12-inch globes and a handle-bar nearly three inches thick. The bell was weighed by one of the city officials and it was announced that the advertised weight was correct,

Lifter No. 2 took the bell, stood it on end, “rocked” it into position on his shoulder and then after balancing it very carefully, slowly pressed it to arm’s length overhead and stood erect. At that instant a man sprung out of one of the boxes and with a dramatic gesture tore off a false beard and stood revealed as lifter No. l. Immense applause!

No obstacles were put in the way of lifter No. 1, who, after a short hesitation, took the bar-bell, stood it on end, “rocked” it into position at his shoulder, and then tried to press it. As he started to push the bell aloft, he suddenly lost control of it, and the bell dropped to the stage with a tremendous thud. As challenger he was entitled to five trials, but he was not able to get the bell over his head, although he took advantage of all the trials. Finally he had to leave the stage amidst the jeers of the supporters of lifter No. 2.

Lifter No. 1 was prefectly capable of performing the “Bent Press” with an ordinary 240-pound bar-bell, but this bell was very far from being ordinary. The big handlebar which looked so massive was nothing but a piece of hollow tubing, about 6 feet in length, and this tubing contained about 50 pounds of mercury, which ran freely from one end of the tube to the other, and naturally made the bell extremely difficult to balance. Lifter No. 2 had practiced for weeks before he had mastered the art of holding the bell absolutely horizontal. He knew that lifter No. 1 always tilted a bar-bell slightly in making the “Bent Press,” and he figured that when the bell was so tilted the mercury would do its duty and run to the lower end of the handle and wrench it from lifter No. 1’s hands. I believe the case was afterwards taken into Court, but lifter No. 1 failed to recover and damages.

I remember a little incident I saw on the stage some years ago. A couple of traveling lifters, one of whom was a European celebrity, appeared at a vaudeville house in Philadelphia and offered a substantial money prize to any local lifter who could raise with one arm above the head a certain dumbbell. I saw one attempt made, not to lift the dumbbell but to get a chance to do so. The young Philadelphia lifter to whom I refer on page 140 jumped on the stage and demanded the chance to tackle the big bell. This man looked so strong that the strangers were evidently afraid of him. One of them stepped forward, took two 56-pound ring weights, passed his little fingers through the rings and quickly swinging them to his shoulders, pressed them aloft a dozen times. He then invited the Philadelphian to try the same thing.

For some reason the Philadelphian was unfamiliar with the feat. He did not notice the stranger had the rings between his third and little fingers and really had the weights lying on the back of his forearms. When the Philadelphian tried it he hooked the first joint of little finger in the rings and tried to lift the weights above his head while they were hanging from his little fingers. Naturally he was unsuccessful and because he had failed to see through the trick (which was really a simple one) he was refused the chance to try the big bell. The next day another local lifter “put him wise.” The Philadelphian tried the feat, found he could do it with two 90-pound weights, and you never saw a more disgusted man when he realized how he had been fooled by a competitor in his own line of work.

I believe that I have seen as many “strong acts” as most men, but I have never seen anything to equal the feats performed by the heroes of some novels. Even writers who have the reputation of knowing something about physical training will make absurd statements. I remember reading a story in a magazine which was devoted to bodily exercise. You would have thought that the editor of the magazine would have known better than to publish such a story.

The hero of the tale was a small, slight youth who located in a western town. The youth’s weight was about 130 pounds, and he appeared in the town carrying a gripsack in each hand, and it afterwards appeared that these gripsacks each contained a 100-pound dumbbell, and that the youth had carried them from the nearest railroad station (which was five miles away). The youth astonished the old inhabitants of the village by exercising for an hour every day with these dumbbells. (Personally I do not know any 140-pound man who could use two 100-pound bells for an hour, but to the writer of the story this was evidently a commonplace form of exercise.) Of course as the story proceeded the wonderful youth got into a quarrel with the town bully, who naturally, was a 200-pound giant. The little hero won. He always does in stories. In real life, when a big man and a little man get into a scrap, the big man usually comes out on top, but he is never by any chance allowed to do so in fiction.

To be serious, it is not as hard to push up 100 pounds as most people suppose. Most men and boys who have done apparatus work in the gymnasium have strength enough to push up a 50-pound dumbbell, and if they were instructed how to supplement the strength of their arms with the strength of their back and legs, they would learn to raise 100 pounds in a very few lessons. I have seen a 200-pound bar bell lifted with one arm by a boy of 17 years.

There seems to be a great deal of interest among amatuers regarding the professional lifters’ habits of life, diet, method of training, etc. As I have pointed out before, the man who lifts steadily does not have to worry much about condition. Very few of the lifters whom I know, pay any attention to diet. They eat what they like and when they like. I do not know any “strongmen” who are vegetarians. Meat seems to be an essential part of their diet; beef and pork being the favorite meats. A man who performs feats of strength need the kind of food that will produce a great deal of energy and the lifter seems naturally to incline to meat, eggs, cheese, etc.

Most great lifters are temperate drinkers. An occasional glass of beer or ale helps to keep them from getting overtrained. Any man who wishes to excel in feats of strength should be careful not to train himself into a finely-drawn condition. A few extra pounds of flesh form a good reserve. The very strongest men are naturally inclined to flesh and excel the wire-drawn athlete, both in strength and endurance.

Most of the lifters of my acquaintance are moderate smokers. Some care must be exercised when indulging in tobacco. Too many cigars or cigarettes in a day will affect the heart, and cut the wind.

Most professional lifters train only for a short time every day. Some lifters only train three or four times a week. A total of two hours’ time each week is enough to keep a man in the highest possible condition, and it is also enough to develop a novice from a a totally undeveloped condition into a perfect Hercules.

The reader is probably aware that when a man takes up a sport like running or rowing, he is compelled to train most rigorously. I do not mean that he simply has to practice, but that he has to pay special attention to his diet, regular hours, etc; but a man who is training for jumping, or throwing weights, does not have to train nearly as rigorously as a man who runs or rows. The man who practices weight-lifting scarcely has to train at all. The nature of the exercise promotes a good appetite, good digestion and sound sleep. And these things make for good health.

Most lifters are of phlegmatic temperment. I do not know whether they are lifters because they are phlegmatic or whether heavy dumbbell exercises fosters a calm, even dispostion. There is one thing about heavy dumbbell exercises, and that is they do not impose any strain on the nervous system. The work is thrown entirely on the muscles.

When a man takes up light dumbell exercises or resistance exercises, he cannot get any benefit from them unless he concentrates his mind upon the muscles he is using, and every time he flexes a certain muscle he contracts it as much as he possibly can. All the tension he puts on the muscles results from this intense concentration, and this causes a great drain on the nervous system. I have seen men practice for half and hour at resistance exercises and get their nerves in such a high-strung conditgions that they were unable to sleep for twenty-four hours.

Are great “strong-men” born, or made? As I have assisted in the making of a good many first-class amateur lifters and strong men, I naturally incline somewhat to the latter point of view. I am not so foolish, however, as to make a sweeping statement that any man or boy who practices with heavy dumbbells can develop himself inot a Cyr, a Steinbach or a Saxon. Nature gives us a certain foundation on which to build, and nature also fixes a certain limit to the amount of development any individual can acquire.

As a general rule, the larger a man’s bones the larger the muscle they will support. Like every other rule this one has its exceptions. Sandow is a small-boned man; so is Thomas Inch of London. Both these men have superb muscles. I think that a man with small bones and large muscles is apt ot have a better figure than a large-boned man, because when the bones are small the joints are small, and everybody knows that a small, trim wrist or ankle helps the appearnce of the arm or leg. But these small-boned men, nothwithstanding the beauty of their figure, are rarely as strong as their large-boned brothers. Some authorities go so far as to judge a man’s natural strength by the girth of his wrists and ankles, but I do not think that this is a gauge of real strength.

The size of a man’s parents, naturally, greatly influences his ultimate development. The son a six-foot father and strongly-built mother, naturally, can make himself a great deal stronger man than the son of a pair of puny parents. Some men inherit physical strength, and other men inherit physical characteristics from one or both parents, that will assist them, or retard them (as the case may be) in their pursuit of great muscular strength and development. The careful observer will have noted that in some cases all the male members of a certain family have extraordinarily broad shoulders. Other men inherit long arms from their father, and in such cases as these, where good physical characteristics are inherited, the acquirement of strength and muscle becomes an easy matter. I know one man who is celebrated for the size and strength of his wrists and forearms, and he once told that his mother had the largest and strongest forearm he had ever seen on a woman.

The general athletic public usually underestimates the improvement they can make by systematic exercise of the right kind. They are apt to judge by the very meagre results which they, or their friends, have gotten from the use of light dumbbells, pulley weights, etc. Go out on the street, take the first hundred men you meet, and I doubt if more than five men out of the hundred have enough physical strength to raise from the ground 400 pounds in a dead-weight lift. After a year of heavy dumbbell exercises any sound man, no matter how weak his previous condition was, should be able to press above his head with one hand, a 125-pound dumbbell, to raise a 200-pound bell with both hands to arm’s length above his head, and lift at least 600 pounds dead weight from the ground. These are not unusual results, but are if anything, a low average.

To illustrate - two or three years ago I helped to form a class of eight young men and put them under the instruction of an expert weight-lifter. They exercised with heavy dumbbells and barbells four times a week during a period of three months. Not one of these boys was above the average in size or strength when he started. I suppose a 34-inch chest, 12-inch upper arm and 20-inch thigh was the most any of them could show in the way of development. Not one of them had seen a heavy dumbbell before starting this course, and not one had strength enough to raise a 100-pound barbell above his head with both arms. The average increase in chest measurement was 4 1/2 inches; the upper arm measurement 1 7/8 inches; the average increase in thigh measurement was 2 1/2 inches. The most wonderful increase was in the bodily weight. From an average weight of 140 at the beginning they went up to an average weight of 162. These boys had the advantage of expert personal instruction, but any intelligent man could do almost as well by training in his own room with heavy bells.

In conclusion, I wish to defend myself from the charge that I lack patriotism because I state that foreign lifters are better than our American professionals. As I have endeavored to show, it is merely a matter of numbers and systems of training. When a nation has 25,000 or 30,000 men training for strength, they are bound to produce more champions than a nation which has only a few hundred men training along the same line. I have seen my fellow-country men, many young men, who, if they took up progressive weight-lifting would give the European champions all they could do. I have a pupil in New England who can raise 295 in the two-arm press. He weighs only 220, and is only 24 years of age. This young man will improve. I know a Philadelphian, a former champion oarsman, who has “snatched” 160 pounds with his right arm. If this man would practice steadily for one winter, at all-around weight lifting, and specialize on the snatch, he could create an American record for that event. Every day I see men who have been favored with great physical advantages, and if I had the chance to train some of these men, I would produce some great lifters.

If this little volume encourages any number of young men to take up this fascinating sport, I will consider that the time and trouble spent in producing it have been well repaid.

Physical Culture

Friday, December 16, 2011

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

THE TRUTH ABOUT WEIGHTLIFTING - (circa 1911) - CHAPTER 14 - By Alan Calvert


For some reason or other, the physical culture public seems to have the idea that my whole buisness consists of training young men to become professional stage performers, and I am constantly being consulted about the advisability of taking up weight-lifting and “strong man” work as a profession. As a matter of fact, I am a manufacturer of heavy-weight dumbbells, but in the course of several years’ experience in selling goods to professional lifters, and in furnishing almost all the goods used by amateurs, I have acquired a great deal of information regarding weight-lifting both as a sport and as a profession.

When a young man asks me whether I advise him to become a professional, I invariably tell him that he would make a great mistake by so doing. Weight lifting as a sport is not only one of the most beneficial forms of exercise, but is also one of the most fascinating of pastimes. On the other hand, as soon as a lifter turns professional he is compelled to give the greater part of his time to stage exhibitions, either in the circus or in the vaudeville theatres. It is an odd fact that no lifter could make even a living wage if he was to introduce on the stage what is known as a straight dumbbell act; that is, if one of the best lifters in the world was to give an act consisting of standard dumbbell lifts and announced exactly the amount of weight handled in the different lifts, he would not get enough applause to justify any manager in letting him appear for a second time, even if his lifts happened to be world’s records and were performed in absolutely perfect style.

The audiences in this country demand something sensational. They do not understand lifting and they would very much rather see sensational supporting feat, which looks dangerous as well as difficult, than to see a man pushing a heavy dumbbell. Naturally the professionals follow the principle of giving the public what it wants. If the public wants to see fakes, the lifter, having his bread and butter in view, is perfectly willing to oblige them. The more apparatus a professional carries about with him and the more absurd his claims, the more apt he is to earn a big salary. There is absolutely no encouragement for a first-class amateur lifter to take up professional work.

What does it matter if he is able to push a 250-pound dumbbell above his head with one hand? The audience would much rather see him lift a man weighing 150 pounds in the same manner. This spirit is not confined entirely to the weight-lifting act, but applies equally well in all acrobatic feats. For instance, if Sweeney, the champion high jumper, was to reproduce on the stage his world’s record leap of 6 feet 5 inches, he would get very little applause; if he would jump over the back of a small horse, or over a wooden fence painted to represent iron spikes, the audience would be delighted.

Another odd fact is that no man can hope to earn good money on the stage unless he is beautifully built and very heavily muscled. There are a number of men who are extremely strong, but who do not show much muscle. Personally I know a number of lifters who can perform some surprising feats but who are so slender that the average person would not believe a truthful stagement regarding these lifters’ performances. The audience demands that a man appears strong, but it does not care whether or not he really is strong. There is one young man on the vaudeville stage today who is gifted by nature with a superb figure, and by doing a moderate amount of heavy dumbbell work he is able to keep his muscles in the finest, clear-cut condition. When you see this man across the footlights you would readily believe that it would be child’s play for him to lift a ton, and, in fact, such is his claim. I happen to know that the man is all “looks.” He possesses very little strength and knows very little about lifting, but he trades on his appearance and when he handles heavy dumbbells or other weights he is very clever in giving the audience the impression that is working very hard. He never has any trouble in obtaining an engagement and earns on the average $100 to $150 a week all year around.

As a contrast to this case I might mention another lifter of an exactly opposite type. This man has been lifting dumbbells for years; he is remarkably clever in his work and lifts so correctly and gracefully that you cannot realize how much strength he is putting forth. He stands six feet in height; weighs less than 150 and his upper arm is only 13 1/2 inches in girth, and yet this man will press above his head with one arm a 200-pound bar-bell, and, moreover, does it so easily that the average observer would probably guess that the bell weighed 50 pounds.

This man cannot possibly get a paying engagement on the stage. If he was to lift 200 and put up a sign to that effect, the audience would laugh at it and consider that was a faker, because he does not look strong enough to handle even 100 pounds. I doubt whether he could earn $20 a week owing to his very slender physique, while the beautifully built man alluded to above earns a big salary simply because he “looks the part.” I have seen this well-built man take a hollow dumbbell weighing 40 pounds, push it up in the air with every appearance of immense muscular effort and fully convince every member of the audience that he had lifted 240 pounds.

The weight lifter who travels “on his shape,” as in the case above mentioned, almost invariably precedes his lifting act with what is known as “cabinet posing,” of which I will give a short description. The lifter will have an iron framework about four feet square and seven feet high. On this framework he will hang curtains of black, or deep red, velvet. At various points on the framework will be fixed small electric lamps, and these lamps are so cunningly placed that when their light falls upon the lifter it greatly accentuates the shadows thrown by his highly developed muscles. The athlete stands on a revolving pedestal in this cabinet, and for the space of four or five minutes he will fall into various positions which throw the different sets of muscles in the highest possible relief. I calculate that a properly lighted cabinet will exaggerate a man’s development anywhere from 100 to 200 per cent.

After the members of an audience have watched an athlete pose in a cabinet for a few minutes, they unconsciously become impressed with the fact that this man in a mass of muscle, and consequently when he comes out to perform his lifting stunts, they are in a frame of mind to believe any claim he makes. Needless to say the clever professional takes advantage of this state of affairs. There are many men whom I could name and whom the reader would recognize at once who earn big money simply “on their shape,” as the vulgar expression is. The acts they give are perfect farces. Several times lately I have seen “strong man” acts which were perfectly absurd to anyone who understood the principle underlying the lifting of heavy objects, and yet the arrant fakes were well received by the audience.

The whole object of the professional lifter is, naturally, to make his feats of strength appear so wonderful that the members of the audience leave the theatre with the impressionl that the “strong man” whom they have just seen is at least ten times stonger than the ordinary individual. I know many professionals who are under the impression that the Creator only made one of their kind and that He broke the mould when He was through.

Now, I do not object to the professional doing this if he can get away with it, and help himself thereby, but I do oppose the practice from one point of view, and that is, that it discourages a great many amateurs from taking up heavy-weight lifting because they are afraid that they would never be able to equal the development and strength of some famous professional. Development is moreor less a gift. Almost any one can develop large muscles, but no one can be sure these muscles will be shapely. Beauty of figure is as far beyond our control as beauty of feature. Any man can reach a high point of muscular development; thousands of men have chests and limbs as large as Sandow’s, but not one man in a million can equal Sandow in shapeliness. If the average amateur realized that the best professionals were no better than the best amateurs, I believe that many more men and boys would go in for heavy-weight work. Amateur runners can run just as fast as professionals and I can assure the reader that good amateur lifters are usually stronger than professional lifters.

Physical Culture

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

THE TRUTH ABOUT WEIGHTLIFTING - (circa 1911) - CHAPTER 13 - By Alan Calvert

My hardest work is to try and combat a number of time-worn superstitions which the average person holds regarding heavy dumbbell lifting. If the reader will take the trouble to ask any friend whether it is advisable to take up weight-lifting, ther are ninety-nine chances out of a hundred that the friend will reply:

“Weight-lifting is dangerous because it makes one slow, because it makes one muscle-bound and because it is apt to strain the heart.” I have made careful investigation of all these charges and I have found that the people who repeat them are simply handing dwon what they have heard from their fathers and grandfathers. If you investigate you will generally find that the friend who advises you so earnestly against heavy dumbbell work, has never had a heavy bell in his hands. He does now know hwo a heavy bell should be used; he does not know the nature of the exercises which should be performed with heavy dumbbells, and in most cases he is of the type that simply repeats, parrot-like, what he has learned from some other persons who are equally ignorant regarding all phases of weight-lifting.

For some reason or other the average man on the street is absolutely positive that every successful dumbbell lifter has to be a man of gigantic physique, with enormous muscles, as strong as an ox and just as slow. I have done my very best to trace this belief to its origin and I have come to the conclusion that it has its foundation in the fact that a couple of generations ago all of the men of that time who were famous for their strength happened to be of the Louis Cyr-Sebastian Miller type. Both Cyr and Miller were tremendously strong men and they were also undoubtedly rather slow in their movements because they were men of sluggish temperment. As these two men were held up for years as the best examples of “strong men,” the public has seemingly drawn the conclustion that any one who rivals them in strength, must necessarily resemble them in appearance. The same public is ignorant of the fact that every feat in dumbbell lifting performed by these two men has been far exceeded by the active modern lifter.

It seems that the popular idea of the weight-lifter is, that he is a man who is covered with large, knotty muscles, that he is exceedingly slow and clumsy in his movements, and that he is invariably “muscle-bound.” The average athlete, when speaking of weight-lifters, always produces the words “muscle-bound” with an intonation of horror. It appears that the average athlete would much rather be in his grave than be “muscle-bound,” and yet, to save himself from the grave, the same athlete cannot define the term “muscle bound.” As far as I can gather, the popular idea is that the man who uses heavy dumbbells gets his muscles in such a condition that he is able to move them through only a small arc of the circle. Statements are made to the effect that some lifters cannot fasten their own collars at the back of their necks. I have never seen a man in this condition. The men who really do get stiff and slow in their movements are the men who specialize on harness-lifting and dead-weight lifting.

The man who goes in for heavy dumbbell lifting, especially the quick lifts, such as the snatch and the jerk, will increase his activity almost as much as he increases his strength. If a little bag-punching or Indian club exercise be taken in connection with heavy dumbbell work, the muscles will retain all their flexibility. Any one who has seen a good weight lifter tuin a back somersault while holding a 40-pound dumbbell in each hand, or jump over a table with the same weights, should realize that weight lifters are pretty fast on their feet. Any one who has seen Arthur Saxon toss a 300-pound bar-bell from one hand to the other above his head will marvel at his lightning-like movements. In my own experience I find that when a lifter first takes up the “snatch” and the “jerk” he is unable to master them because he lacks speed in his foot work. After a few weeks’ practice with weights he develops the agility necessary to properly carry out the above lifts.

In regard to the knotted appearance of the strong man’s muscles, I beg to remind the reader that the man’s muscles are knotted only when some on is looking at him, or when he is having his picture taken. Some lfiters make a habit of keeping their arms tensed and their shoulders hunched up every minute they are in view of the audience; and when a lifter has his photograph taken his one idea is to make as many muscles prominent as is possible. If you are fortunate enough to catch one of these strong men in costume, when he thinks he is not observed, you will find that he is not nearly as heavily muscled as he appears when he is on the stage.

If the reader will take the trouble to look at some illustrations, which show the various “strong men,” he will notice that very few of these men are of the extremely muscular type. Lurich probably shows more muscle on the surface than any of the rest, but, then Lurich is famous as an artist’s model. Jean Francois is very muscular and shapely. Steinbach, Cyr, Witzelsberger, and many other great lifters do not show any knotty muscles. Ther chests and limbs are smooth, but that does not prevbent them from being enormously strong. I know that the common idea is that only men who have gnarled and knotty muscles can handle dumbbells, but on investigation we find that it is the smoothly-built men that hold the strength records.

Ninety-nine out of a hundred will solemnly assure you that the use of heavy dumbbells is sure to cause strain. After many years’ search I think I have found the origin of this belief. Suppose there were five men standing on a dock at the edge of a deep river and that none of them knew how to swim. Do you suppose for a minute that any one of them would be so foolish as to jump into 10 feet of water and take their chances of acquiring the art of swimming by inspiration? Or, if these same five men went out and bought a bicycle, do you suppose that any one of them would be so silly as to try and ride 100 miles the first day; that is, supposing that never before had they ridden a wheel. But let us take a third case: Suppose that these five men were sitting in a room smoking and indulging in general conversation and some one of their number would discover in onc corner of the room a heavy dumbbell, weighing, say 75 pounds. It is a ten-to-one bet that every man in the party would at least make an effort to push up that dumbbell.

Now, it is an exceedingly foolish thing for a man who has had on experience in handling heavy balls to attempt to push 75 pounds aloft. It is fairly safe to assume that none of our five men have had any experience in lifting and it is very hard to understand why they should be so foolish to attempt to make the lift. The reason is that the average man is secretly very proud of his strength and very loath to admit than any one of his fellows can outdo him in any feat where strength alone is required. Therefore, if one make of the five makes an attempt with the bell, the other four throw caution to the winds and run a great risk of straining themselves by attempting the lift. In fact, I might as well say that they do strain themselves. To see the average man attempt to push a heavy dumbbell aloft is enough to make an experienced lifter weep. I am quite positive that incidents like the above are the foundation of most of the charges that lifting heavy dumbbells causes strain. The real cause of the strain is not the lifting of the bell, but the conceit which prompts the untrained individual to attempt a feat far beyond his power. The reader may laugh and think that I am making pretty strong statements, but if will make a little test he will find out that what I say is true. The next time the reader is in the company of three or four men who are past middle age, let him perform some feat that requires considerable strength. I am willing to wage a dollar to a dime that three out of four of these elderly men would at once say: “Oh, that is pretty good, but when I was your age I could do so and so.” I distinctly recall one time I was in a photographer’s studio superintending the work of taking a picture of a celebrated athlete who posed, pushing above his head with one hand another man who weighed 180 pounds. There were a number of interested witnesses present and among them was an elderly military man, who certainly id not weigh more than 140 pounds. When the lifter carefully lowered his partner to the ground the colonel, or major, I forget which he was-came to the front and said that was all very fine indeed, but that when he was a young man he lifted above his head a 200-pound man in each hand. Respect for the aged forbade my making any comment at the time.

It is very hard indeed for me to understand why there is such a deep-rooted belief that a man is sure to strain himself if he uses heavy weights. This belief is not confined to the ordinary athletic public, but is shared by a number of athletic trainers and physicians, who certainly should know better.

Let us compare heavy dumbbell lifting with apparatus work in the gymnasium. When a boy or young man starts in an ordinary gymnasium, it is very seldom that he confines himself entirely to “free movements” and “pulley-weight” work. After a few weeks’ experience his natural desire is to try the more difficult work on the horizontal bars, parallel bars, flying rings, etc. Two of the first feats that he lars are to “chin” himself on the horizontal bars, and to “dip” on the parallel bars. The feats are so well known that it is not necessary to describe them here. The point I wish to make is, that in both of these feats the athlete raises and lowers the weight of his body, less the weight of his arms. If a 150-pound man chins himself he is raising at least 120 pounds by the strength of his biceps and back muscles; when he dips he raises the same weight by the strength of his triceps and pectoral and shoulder muscles. The instructor in the gymnasium will not only permit, but will encourage his pupils to attempt such feats; but if one of these pupils should suggest raising a 60-pound bar-bell from his hips to above his head by the strength of both his arms and his back and shoulder muscles, the instructor will at once tell him that he is in danger of straining himself.

If there is any instructor who can explain to me why it is more dangerous to handle 60 pounds of iron than to handle 120 pounds of flesh and blood, I would like him to do so. Now, mind you, I not state that a 150-pound man who can dip once, has strength enough to raise a 120-pound bar-bell above his head in a two-arm press. I readily admit that it is easier to handle an equal amount of dead weight; but any man who has strength enough to make half a dozen repetitions of the chinning movement, and the dipping movement, is plently strong enought to take up heavy dumbbell exercises with dumbbells and bar-bells ranging in weight from 50 to 100 pounds.

Physicians sometimes agree with these trainers, but I think it is merely because they have not considered the situation from my point of view. I am happy to say that I sell a large number of adjustable dumbbells to physicians, who not only use them in their own daily exercise, but also recomment them to their friends and patients. A couple of months ago a New York physician ordered a bar-bell, and when sending his instructions I specified the amount of weight he should use in the various exercises. Of course, I had the doctor’s bodily measuements before me and I knew that he did not wish to train for feats of strength, but intended to use the dumbbells to develop his muscles and to increase his bodily weight; therefore, in his case, I specified a much smaller amount of weight than I would in the case of an ambitious young athlete whose aim was to acquire tremendous strength in a short time. After receiveing his instructions the doctor wrote to me and asked if I did not think I had specified too much weight in certain bar-bell exercises that called into play the biceps and triceps muscles. In replying to the doctor I pointed out the fact that when he submitted his measurements he had also given me his previous gymnastic experience and had stated that he could chin himself eight times and dip twelve times. He weighed 170 pounds and yet was afraid that 60 and 75 pounds in corresponding bar-bell exercises were too heavy for him. When I explained the matter to him the doctor at once acknowledged that I was right and admitted that if he had started in with lighter weights he would have been wasting his time.

This, by the way, is where the great value of expert advice comes in. Any intelligent man can learn in a few days’ or weeks’ practice the correct way in which to perfrom heavy dumbbell exercises, and it is not very much harder to grasp the principles which govern weight-lifting proper. The average man, however, is not able to judge for himself the proper amount of weight necessary to properly exercise a given set of muscles, especially at the start of his course, and this is where the experience of the expert who has handled thousands of such cases is almost invaluble to the novice in heavy dumbbell work or weight-lifting. I personally have sold thousands of heavy-weight dumbbells and, in the majority of cases I have advised the purchasers regarding the proper use of the bells, and I am happy to say I have never had reported to me a single case of serious injury or strain. Of course, when a man takes up weight-lifting proper he is very apt to sustain slight sprains of the wrist or shoulder, but such sprains are generally only temporary and a man who is the habit of handling heavy dumbbells is sure to be in such fine bodily condition that he recovers from strain three or four times as quickly as an untrained man would.

In any strenous sport there is always a slight element of risk, In football the percentage of participants who get injured is very large. In long distance rowing, and long-distance running, young men and growing boys frequently do themselves serious bodily harm. Even in baseball injuries are frequent. And yet, all of these sports, with the possible exception of football, are considered less dangerous than weight-lifting. In Germany and Austria weight-lifting is the national sport. I suppose in those two countries there are at least 30,000 amateurs who daily practice with heavy dumbbells. Weights running from 50 to 300 pounds are used by these athletes, and yet in Germany you never hear a word about weight-lifting being dangerous.

I trust the reader recalls the difference in the definition of weight-lifting proper and heavy dumbbell exercises. As I stated above, I am willing to admit that in weight-lifting proper there is a slight element of danger of strain, but in heavy dumbbell exercises there should not be the least danger whatever. Most men who take up heavy dumbell exercises do so with the desire and intention to improve their physical condition. When a man is exercising with a heavy bell there is no rule that compels him to continue his exertions after he feels that he is becoming fatigued. As soon as the muscles commence to tire the pupil is at liberty to put the bells on the floor, and a short period of rest will recruit his energies and enable him to resume the exercise

In this respect it is very different from competitive athletics. I would much rather permit a young boy to practice heavy dumbbell exercises, and a moderate amount of weight-lifting, than to allow him to take part in Marathon races, or in four-mile rowing races. The trouble with us in America is, that we make our sports too much of a business. The young athlete especially is liable to allow his desire to win overcome his judgment. In long-distance running races a young man will often continue from sheer pride, when he knows that he is on the verge of utter exhaustion. In rowing it is even worse. Often, at the end of the third mile of a four-mile race, some member of the crew will be at the point of collarpse, but the fear of spoiling his crew’s chances will impel him to stick at the work during the whole of the fourth mile and in almost every race one or more members of the crew will faint or collapse at ehe finish.

The results of such collapse are not simply momentary, but affect the athlete’s health for the rest of his life. In heavy dumbbell exercises, where there is no such stimulus of competition and a man who practices weight-lifting in the company of several other apsiring lifters, progresses much more rapidly than the man who practices in the seclusion of his own room. In the heavy dumbbell exercises, where the whole aim is to increase the muscular power, to develop the body and to improve health, there is absolutely no more danger of strain than there would be in taking a ten-mile walk or taking your best girl for a four-mile row. .

There is no other form of bodily exercise which yield results as quickly as does the use of heavy dumbbells. The reason lies in the quality of the work. When adjustable bells are used, the weight can be gradually increased and the muscles respond by growing in size, strength and shapeliness, and the pupil in training gets the maximus results with the minimum expenditure of his time and energy. When the pupil advances far enough to take up weight-lifting proper, he finds that he has discovered a sport which is infinite in its variety of combinations, and fascinating in its practice. No man can learn all there is to know about weight-lifting. Even a professional, who has specialized for years on dumbbell lifting, will find that every week he can learn something new.

It is most amusing to listen to men who realize that there are many benefits that can be obtained by the practive of progressive weight-lifting, but are afraid that the use of dumbbells is going to make them slow in their movements. Sometimes I think that every man in the United States wants to be the champion boxer in the world. Almost the first question every man asks me, is whether or not he will become slow and clumsy if he takes up the use of heavy dumbbells. Somestimes a stout man of 40 who can hardly get upstairs without the loss of breath, will solemnly assk me whether the use of the weights will make him slow. Other men, whom I know are extremely sluggish in their movements, are worried on the same account.

Now, I don’t attempt to deny that if a man will confine himself entirely to harness-lifting and dead-weight lifting, or even to simply curling and pressing extremely heavy dumbbells, that he would, in the course of time, become a little slow and stiff in his movements. You cannot have everything at the same time. If you want extreme strength you have to sacrifice a little bit of your speed. If you want extreme speed you cannot have enormous strength, but I can assure the reader that the average well-trained lifter is as much quicker as he is stronger, than the average man. Most people, when they take up training of heavy dumbbells, have a definite aim in view. This aim is to encrease the size of the muscles, to increase the strength and improve the health. These aims can be attained most easily by using heavy dumbbells and I do not think that the fact that a man may possibly sacrifice a little bit of his activity should allow this to deter him from taking up heavy weights. Now, understand me when I say a man sacrifices some of his speed, I have in mind a man who earns his living or who has daily necessity for extreme agility. I would not advise a feather-weight boxer to take up weight-lifting if he depended upon his agility to win his bouts. But, on the other hand, the ordinary individual, after he has practiced weight-lifting, will be surprised to find that he can move faster than he could before he started training.

Another extremely deep-rooted belief is that men who use heavy dumbbells are bound to die young. When Sandow came to America in 1893 he created a great sensation. He was the first of his kind, and people marveled at his wonderful physique and his apparent strength. (The reader will now understand what I mean by the word “apparent,” because, if he ever saw Sandow, he will remember that Sandow’s acts were mostly supporting feats.) However, a great many physicians were interviewed by enterprising reporters and were asked to give their opinion about Sandow. Several hundred such opinions were published. The physicians united in praising Sandow’s wonderful figure and his feats of strength, but they most all wound up their statements by saying: “But youmust remember that when a man does terrific feats of strength like Sandow that his heart becomes hypertrophied--that is, it becomes thickened from excessive work. Sandow will be all right for a few years, but the minute he stops lifting weights he will die like a blown out candle.” Sandow is still giving exhibitions. He includes some dumbbell lifts, but none of them are hard. Within the last two or three years Sandow has been accepted by several insurance companies. He carries a great deal of life insurance and the fact that he is successful in passing the rigid physical examinations shows that he must be still on good physical condition; for insurance companies are not anxious to write policies on stage performers. Sandow has been lifting dumbbells, to my knowledge, for the last twenty-three years.

Now, let me give you another case. There is in Philadelphia a man who, away back in the late eighties, toured the country with John L. Sullivan, and the famous Billy Muldoon. This Philadelphian was billed as the “strongest boy in the world,” and he probably was, at that time. He continued as a professional lifter until about 1890 when he retired from the stage, and I doubt he has touch a heavy bell more than once a year since that time, and yet this man is in absolutely perfect physical condition. He has retained his superb figure and almost all of his marvelous strength. He is in his forties today, but he thinks nothing of making a dead-weight lift of over 1400 pounds.

During his last few years on the stage this man worked with a partner who was also a first-class weight lifter. This partner retired at the same time as the first man, and is today a practicing dentist in Philadelphia. He also has retained his strength. I know this for a fact because two or three years ago I induced this dentist to act as a referee in a weight-lifting comptetion. In the last lift in this competition a 140-pound bell was used. After the competition was over the dentist took up this bell and tossed it at arm’s length above his head and threw it easily from one hand to the other. After putting it on the floor he stated it was the first time he had handled a heavy dumbbell in three years.

Most retired weight-lifters are very healthy men. There is no reason in the world why men should break down after giving up heavy dumbbell lifting any more than a man who has been engaged in heavy manual labor should break down.

For instance, there are in this country quite a number of men who have worked in their early youth at the heaviest kind of labor, and have gone from labor into business ventures where thier occupation is entirely sedentary, without loss of health. I know one man in western Pennsylvania who was a roller in an iron mill from the time he was twenty, to the time he was thirty-five. This man’s specialty was rolling 1000-pound steel rails. He used to handle tons of them every day. When he quit as a roller he became foreman and ultimately superintendent of the same mill. He has never broken down in health and yet he formerly did more work and heavy lifting in one day that a professional dumbbell lifter will do in a month.

Weight-lifters should not be confused in this respect with prize fighters. The average weight-lifter trains from 15 to 30 minutes every day and is usually a man of temperate habits, while the prize fighter will subject to a period of the most vigorous training and will then relax into a period of the utmost indulgence. Prize fighters frequently die of consumption. I never heard of a “strong man” dying from that cause.

The one thing in weight-lifting that may cause a weak heart is the unfortunate practice of holding the breath. If you will watch a novice attempt to lift a heavy bell you will see him strain a great deal and become red in the face, and the veins will stick out on his temples and forehead and at the sides of his neck. If he was breathing regularly this would not happen. When a tremendous feat of strength is to be performed (such as a two-arm jerk) it is permissible for the lifter to take a deep breath, holding it during the time the weight is being raised, and then immediately expel it.

A good many years ago there was a writer who advised all his pupils to hold their breath while performing vigorous exercises, and he guaranteed that if they would do so, they would gain strength very rapidly. I am afraid this man is responsible for a great many enlarged hearts. In heavy dumbbell exercises any possible strain on the heart may be avoided by systematic and rythmic breathing. In fact the pupil-in-training should make a rule never to make several repetitions of a movement unless he can breathe regularly while doing so. The adoption of the rule, and the practice of rythmic breathing in conjunction with the heavy dumbbell exercises will greatly increase lung capacity, as well as preventing strain.

Any weight-lifter who is slow and clumsy in his movements would have little chance of making a repetition in dumbbell lifting as it is practiced today. The standard lifts as arranged by the authorities on weight-lifting, put a premium upon skill and activity.

Besides this, if a man allows himself to become too heavy, he spoils himself for such lifts as the “bent press.” We have seen Louis Cyr was unable to take advantage of the bent-press movement owing to the great girth of his waist, consequently his one-hand lift of 273 pounds has been exceeded by three or four men who were not as strong as Cyr but were certainly better athletes and lifters. A quarter of a century ago dead-weight lifting and harness lifting was the stock-in-trade of both the professional and amateur strong men. Since dumbbell lifting has become so popular, harness lifting and dead-weight lifting have gone out of vogue. This is partially due to the fact that dumbbell lifting can be practiced in the privacy one one’s own home, and the expense of buying an outfit of dumbbells is very small, and for these reasons the amateur naturally prefers dumbbell work to harness lifting, because in the last-named style cumbersome and expensive apparatus is a prime necessity.

A man who excels in quick lifts such as the “snatch,” the “swing” and the “jerk,’ is almost always a good jumper. In the “quick lifts” strength of legs and back is all-important and on examining the records we find that the men who are best in the one-arm jerk and snatch oftenb hold fine records in the standing broad jump. Weight-lifting and jumping are similar in the respect that they both call for a sudden and forceful expenditure of energy. Deriaz, one of the best weight lifters in France, is able to clear over 10 feet in a standing broad jump. Hackenschmitt, the celebrated Russian wrestler and weight-lifter, excels at the running high jump. He has cleared a height of 5 feet 10 inches, which is a very creditable jump for a man who stands only 5 feet 8. By the way, Hackenschmitt in addition to his activities in wrestling and weight lifting, was , in his early manhood, champion amateur swimmer and champion amateur bicyclist of all Russia. His case is an answer to those critics who claim that weight lfiting renders a man unfit for any other form of athletics.

There are a whole lot of trainers who will tell you that once you start to lift heavy dumbbells you might as well give up all ambition or hope to excel in any other sport. Generally speaking, the opposite is the case in most sports. I do not claim that a sprinter or long-distance runner would be materially benefited by a course in weight lifting, but I do believe a jumper, a shot-putter or hammer-thrower would be greatly benefited by imdulging in a moderate amount of weight lifting practice during the winter months. This practice with the heavy bells would not only make his muscles stronger, but it would also teach him how to use his muscles.

Weight lifting is largely a matter of co-ordination, and no one can hope to shine as an athlete unless he is able to train his muscles to act in concert with each other. Occasionally you see some large, powerful young man practice for months in the endeavor to “get the hang” of hammer-throwing or shot-putting. He will apparently have all the necessary physically attributes to enable him to shine at weight-throwing, but for some reason he never becomes able to master the details which are absolutely essential if the hammer is to be thrown, or shot to be “put.,” for anything like a record distance. I think that most athletic coaches will hear me out in the statement that most unsuccessful candidates for the position of hammer-thrower on a track team, fail not because of lack of strength, but beacuse of lack of ability to master the details of the event and to teach their muscles to co-ordinate. In other words they are unable to get the “knack.”

And now we come to that much-abused word, “knack.” How many times I have seen a weight lifter perform, with a heavy dumbbell, some feat which required unusual strength and skill, only to hear some puny bystander remark: “Oh, I could easily lift as much if I only had the knack.” The ordinary person seems to think that no strength whatever is required to lift heavy dumbbells, and that all that is necessary is to possess that mysterious “knack.” It is certainly hard when a lifter has spent months, and perhaps years, in developing his muscles and perfecting his skill in order to be able to accomplish a certain lift, to hear it discredited in the above manner.

The real basis of this mental attitude lies in the fact that it is very hard from one man to acknowledge that another man excels him in the matter of strength. I do not know why it is, but I have noticed it a hundred times. Ther average individual is generally willing to admit that a man who is six inches taller and 50 pounds heavier than he is, may possibly excel him in strength, but it seems to go very much against the grain for any man to acknowledge that another man of his own size can possibly be stronger than he is.

Right here I wish to give the reader a warning in this regard. If the reader (who I assume is more or less interested in this subject) takes up heavy dumbbell lifting, he should, in the course of a years’ practice, increase his physical strength 200 or 300 per cent. Now for the funny part: If your perform your feats of strength for strangers or casual acquaintances they will readily admit that you are unusually strong ; but you will never be able to convince your family and intimate friends that you are two to three times as strong as you formerly were, even if you perform your most wonderful lifts. If, for instance, you raise above your head with one hand a bar-bell that your chum cannot even lift from the ground he will be sure to ascribe your performance to “knack,” and not to increased strength and skill.

Many people think that heavy dumbbell exercises will develop only the arms, chest and shoulders, but such is not the case.

It must be remembered that when a man exercises with heavy bells he is standing on the ground, and even if he perfomrs an exercise intended to develop the arms, his legs are working vigorously to support the extra weight. We have seen in the discussion of supporting feats in Chapter V how great a part is played by the back and lower limbs; and likewise in most standard lifts back and leg strength is absolutely essential. Any man who practices the “snatch” and the “jerk” will develop his liegs just as rapidly as he develops his arms. Weight lifters are noted for their tremendous strength in the waist and back. One-arm lifting from the shoulder above the head develops great strength in the sides of the waist. Two-hand lifting to the shoulders and from the shoulder to above the head develops great strength in the back.

In heavy dumbbell exercises the back and waist muscles are almost continuously in action. For instance, if a man takes a bar-bell in two hands and “curls” it from hips to the shoulders in order to develop his biceps, the small of the comes in for a fair share of the work. You can take a 5-lb. dumbbell in each hand and “curl” them continuously for 10 minutes without noticing that the back muscles are working. Take a bar-bell weighing 60 lbs. in both hands and “curl” slowly, and you will notice that when the bell is half-way up and the arms are at right angles, the muscles of the small of the back are working very vigourously to keep the body in erect posititon. This is even more marked when a man holds a bell straight out in front of him. In all exercises with heavy bells, the muscles of the truck and legs supplement the muscles of the arms an shoulders.

Physical Culture

Sunday, November 20, 2011

THE TRUTH ABOUT WEIGHTLIFTING - (circa 1911) - CHAPTER 12 - By Alan Calvert

Many of my readers were probably surprised, when at the close of Chapter VIII, I referred to the difference between strength and power. This difference is not generally understood. The strength of a muscles lies in its ability to contract against great resistance. A man weighing under 150 lbs. may have magnificently developed muscles and may be able to lift an immense amount of weight straight up from the ground, but such a man could never be considered powerful. Power is the application of strength or force in moving objects. The popular idea regarding power is the correct one. If you hear on man allude to another as being “powerfully built” you would at once understand that the man referred to is a big chap, weighing at least 200 lbs. A man can be large and heavy, and therefore powerful, without being exceeding strong.

To give you an example, we refer to the “backs” in a football game. A half-back weighing 200 lbs. running at an 11 second clip is much harder to stop than a l50-lb. half-back running at the same rate of speed; that is, assuming that both men are equally skillful. You will always notice that a good coach picks out a 200 lb. man to “buck the line.”

Several years ago there was a great fuss man over the Japanese, and we are told that this race of men were very much stronger than Europeans or Americans. As a matter of fact, the Japanese, who are small in stature and light in weight, cannot hold a job in the lumber camps of our Northwestern States. The Japanese are not heavy and powerful enough to be useful in moving heavy logs or timbers, although most of them are very strong, muscularly.

In the vaudeville theatres we frequently see trapeze and flying ring acts. The gymnasts who perform these acts are generally highly developed from the waist upward. Their upper-arm and shoulder muscles are tremendous, the pectoral muscles on the chest and the upper-back muscles are usually of great size; but these men generally have hips and lower limbs which seem puny when compared to their upper bodies. It is easy to see that the less weight a man carries below the waist the easier he can handle himself on overhead apparatus. When one of these men chins himself four or five times in succession with one hand it is plain that his arms are very strong, but somehow or other this class of gymnasts never give the impression of being powerful. Their Herculean development in the upper body does not compensate for their slender legs. One of these men might be a wonder at such feats as rope climbing, but put the same man in a football line opposite a good, husky guard, or centre, and the football player will simply toy with the gymnast. The men who play in the centre of a football line are usually very strong in the waist, hips and lower limbs, and this is just where the gymnast lacks strength.

The reader may remember that in Chapter IV I told of he wonderful feats of the 135-lb. George Lettl, in harness lifting and dead-weight lifting. The case of Lettl will illustrate just what I mean when I say that a man can be strong without being powerful.

Lettl is strong, but I do not think that he could ever be considered powerful. He is evidently able to concentrate an immense amount of will power on his muscles, and this perhaps accounts for his tremendous strength. I do not believe that Lettl would ever “shine” at dumb-bell lifting, especially lifting bar-bells in two-hand lifts, as he is not heavy enough to raise heavy bells. Neither do I believe that Lettl would ever be able to made a respectable record in an event like throwing the 56-lb. weight. In order to lift a heavy bar-bell from the ground to the shoulders and from there to arms’ length above the head with both hands it is necessary for a man to have great bodily weight and activity, in addition to being muscularly strong. The same thing is even more true in throwing the 56-lb. weight from a 7-foot circle. In this last event it is absolutely necessary for a man to have a certain amount of bodily weight in order to nullify the pulling effect exerted by a 56-lb. weight as it leaves the hand.

In dumbbell lifting you will always find that the heavy man excels in two-arm lifting. In the single-arm lifts most of the records are held by men who weigh between 190 and 210 pounds, but the seven best performers in the two-arm lifts weigh over 240 pounds apiece. The reason is as follows: In the single-arm lifts agility and skill play a very important part. The lifter is generally allowed to raise the weight from the floor to the shoulder in any way he pleases and generally adopts the method alluded to in Chapter IV in the description of the “bent-press.” In two-arm lifting the weight has to be lifted from the ground to shoulder in certain prescribed manner and only a very heavy man can bring to his shoulders a bar-bell weighing in excess of 330 pounds.

Good athletic trainers tell us that in all lines of sport a good big man is always better than a good little man, and this holds true in dumbbell lifting. Theodore Siebert, the great German authority on weight-lifting, states that no man can be a world’s champion unless he is between 5 feet 8 inches and 6 feet in height and weighs at least 200 pounds. In the list of records given in another part of this volume, it will be noted that only one of the record holders weights less than 200. This is Lurich, who weighs 190, and the record he holds is for a lift in which skill and agility are the most important factors.

Probably one hundred times a month I receive letters from pupils and correspondents, asking how much should be lifted by men of various weight. For instance, a young man who weighs 140 will write me and want to know the world’s records for a man of that weight, and will also mention his own lifts and want to know whether they are good. The easiest way for men to answer these questions is to state here how much men of different weight should be able to lift. A 200-pound man, who is well trained in lifting, should be able to raise 220 pounds in the two-arm press, 290 pounds in the two-arm jerk, 140 pounds in the one-arm press, 200 pounds in the one-arm jerk and 165 in the snatch. A 180-pound man should be able to press 200 and jerk 275 in the two arm feats, press 130, jerk 185 and snatch 155 in the one-arm feats. A 150-pound man should be able to press 175 pounds, jerk 250 pounds in the two-arm feats, and press 120, jerk 150 and snatch 135 in the one-arm feats.

The above feats should be easy for the average well-trained lifter. Of course, they are a long way below the performances of the champions, but, nevertheless, they are much better than he average American performances.

The average boy of 14 or 15 should, in three or four months’ practice, acquire enough strength to raise 100 pounds above the head by either the one-arm bent press or the one-arm jerk. For years the ability to push 100 pounds above the head has been accepted by magazine writers as a sort of ultimate test of strength. Most writers seem to think that if a man can elevate a 100-pound bell by the strength of one arm, he is a lineal descendant of Hercules. If a novelist wants to create the impression that his hero is unusually strong he makes him lift a hundred-pound bell in each hand. This is a real test of strength, but usually a novelist, instead of having his hero make one or two lifts, he has him exercise for half and hour with 100 pounds in each hand. Some writers make very funny breaks when they attempt to invest their heroes with unusual physical strength.

The reader has probably noticed that the lighter the man, the more he can lift in proportion to his own bodily weight. The explanation is, that smaller men are generally much more agile and have greater amount of nervous energy than large men. Some wonderful records have been made by European lifters in the 140-pound class. For instance, Max Sick, who weighs 145 pounds, actually succeeded in raising 310 pounds, above his head in the two-arm jerk. Emile Von Mogyrossy, the Hungarian champion, who weighs 155, lifted 320 pounds in the same manner. You will notice that in each case that the bar-bell used weighed more than twice as much as the man who lifted it and such a feat is possible only to a comparatively light and very active man. The champion, Steinbach, who weighs 240 pounds, can only raise 390 pounds in the two-arm jerk, which is about 60 per cent more than his own weight. If Steinbach were as strong in proportion to his weight, as the two men above mentioned, he would be able to raise the incredible weight of 500 pounds in the two-arm jerk.

Physical Culture

Friday, November 18, 2011

SO MIS-UNDERSTOOD - By Fred Fornicola

Originally posted on on September 1, 1999

Here's one of the conversations I had after a hard workout:

Uninformed Individual: "How many hours a day do you train?"
Me: "Hours? What do you mean? I don't understand the question"

Uniformed Individual: "How do you split up your workouts?"
Me: "I don't, I train my whole body each time."

Uninformed Individual: "So you are in here for a long time"
Me: "Not really, maximum is 45 minutes."

Uniformed Individual: "Do you do a lot of cardio training?"
Me: "No, not really. Thirty minutes at THR three times per week."

And my favorite question of all....

Uninformed Individual: "Do you think it works?"

Let's see, I'm progressively getting stronger, my body weight is 180lbs @ 11% BF (at 5'7") and I'm 38 years old.

Me: "Yeah, I think so"

If I had a dollar for every one of those conversations I'd be writing this article from my vacation home in Maui, by I digress. Too many people, because of popular magazine publications, are misinformed and it's becoming a sad state of affairs. I'm amazed at what a good physique makes people think. "He must do hours of cardio, just look at him". What the hell does that mean, because someone is defined he must be training hard and he obviously knows what he's doing? Not necessarily, I know quite a few people who can eat whatever and train haphazardly and still have a good physique (bastards), but that is in no way an indication that what they are doing is correct. These people obviously have great genetics and because their physiques come naturally, they tend not to train with much intensity. But is this a good thing or bad thing? There are quite a few people who go to the gym and bust their butt with the weights, eat properly and do some cardiovascular training to maintain the old ticker and have an average physique. My hats off to them for going back and persisting, they are the ones who are going to succeed, not just in the weight room, but also in life. Give me the average "Joe" or "Jane" who's going to come in the gym and bust ass through their workout, feel good about themselves and walk out (sometimes crawl) knowing they gave it their all. That person to me is a major WINNER in my book.

Next time you're in the gym or if you're a home trainer (which my wife is one), don't worry about the strange looks you may get when your grunting out your last rep on a leg press or when you're asked how many hours a day you train, just feel comfortable in the fact that what you're doing is putting you on the path to superior fitness. And if you have the patience (and of course after your workout), you may want to help some poor soul who is misunderstood about HIT and talk to them or refer them to or for a little enlightening on the proper way to train.

Physical Culture

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

THE TRUTH ABOUT WEIGHTLIFTING - (circa 1911) - CHAPTER 11 - By Alan Calvert

Physical culture authorities are divided in their views regarding the proper way for a novice to train in order to prepare himself for the strenuous sport of weight-lifting. A great many trainers assert very strongly that before a man attempts to handle heavy dumbbells he should put his muscles in good condition by a long and arduous spell of training with a pair of 5-lb., or a pair of 10-lb. dumbbells.

Other trainers equally famous, state positively that light dumbbell work is only a waste of time, because when a man takes up heavy weight-lifting the muscles are employed in an entirely different way from the manner they are used when light dumbbells are employed. Personally I am inclined to the latter view, and most of the famous lifters agree with me. The proper way to train for weight-lifting is for the pupil to start with a moderately heavy bell, say 40 to 50 lbs., and increase the weight of the bell as rapidly and consistent with perfect safety.

When a young man wishes to excel in Marathon running he does not prepare himself by going to a gymnasium and doing exercises to strengthen the muscles of his legs. Instead he will go out on the road and start in by running three of four miles at an easy pace, and gradually increase the distance and speed until he can cover the full Marathon distance in fair time. Any man who attempted to train for long-distance running by doing calisthenic exercises would be looked upon as a crank. The same principle should govern the athlete who wishes to excel in feats of strength. Light dumbbell exercises are valuable as a means of benefiting the health and keeping the body in good working condition, but they are valueless for the purpose of developing of great muscular strength and energy. People who are unacquainted with weight-lifting often entertain the very peculiar idea that heavy-weight exercises are precisely the same as light-weight exercises. For instance, persons of this sort who exercise daily with a pair of 5-lb. dumbbells will go through a prescribed number of exercises and will make about fifty repetitions of each movement, and therefore they assume that training at weight-lifting would require the use of a pair of dumbbells weighing 75 or 100 lbs. each, and that they would have to go through exactly the same exercises and make exactly the same number of repetitions as with 5-lb. bells.

Now, when a man uses light dumbbells he invariably aims to exercise the muscles singly, but in heavy-weight lifting the muscles are always exercised in groups. The cardinal principle of a correct system of weight-lifting is that a different amount of weight should be used in almost every exercise. All the muscles of the body are of different size and strength. If 15 or 20 lbs. will fully exercise the small muscles of the arm, it would take at least an equal amount of work. For this reason the athlete who takes up weight-lifting must have the use of a large number of heavy dumbbells of different weight, or else he must use a single dumbbell which can be adjusted in weight.

The reader should be very careful not to confuse "weight-lifting" and heavy dumbbell exercises. Weight-lifting proper is he lifting of heavy dumbbells in the standard feats described in Chapter III of this volume, or of the other well-known feats and lifts described in Chapter IV. Heavy dumbbell exercises are practiced with moderately heavy dumbbells, or bar-bells, and are intended to prepare the muscles for the more arduous work of weight-lifting.

There are professors of physical culture who have gained reputations as dumbbell lifters and yet apparently discourage their pupils from attempting heavy dumbbell work. On investigation you will generally find that these professors are perfectly willing to teach any one to use heavy dumbbells, but they insist that the pupil first take their particular course in 5-lb. dumbbell work, or other light exercise. This sounds very plausible, because a professor can assure his pupil that it is necessary to do the light work in order to put his body in condition to take up the heavy work, but as a matter of fact it enables the professor to sell his pupils two courses of instruction and get a double fee. In 99 cases out of 100 preliminary work is not necessary and is a sheer waste of time. Any man who can use a pair of dumbbells for 15 minutes is plenty strong enough to start with a bar-bell or a dumbbell of moderately heavy weight; for instance, and adjustable bell that can be made to weight as low as 30 lbs. as a dumbbell and 35 to 40 lbs. as a bar-bell.

Send a child to a primary school and have him do nothing else but addition. If he spends all his time at this simple process he will, in the course of a few months, become able to add for an hour at a time without tiring his brain, but also without developing his brain power in any marked degree. If the same child worked from addition though subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, decimals, etc., and finally came to sums where he had to employ these different arithmetical processes and to use his reasoning powers in solving the sums he would eventually develop much higher quality of brain than if he had stuck to addition. They are very easy to perform and the industrious pupil can only make the exercises longer instead of harder. His muscles gain a certain amount of endurance, but they do not gain much in real strength. On the other hand if a man takes up heavy dumbbell work and gradually increases the amount of weight handled in the various exercises, his muscles will gain not only in size and strength, but will also acquire the faculty of co-ordination; because heavy dumbbell work always exercises the muscles in groups. When the pupil advances from heavy dumbbell exercises to weight-lifting proper he has the sums which employ the strength, skill and co-ordinative power which have been developed by the heavy dumbbell work.

Nowadays the aspiring lifter generally combines the practice of weight-lifting with heavy dumbbell exercises. Some authorities claim that in order to secure the very best results the athlete should confine himself entirely to weight-lifting. The handling of heavy weights requires a whole lot of energy, and if a man dissipates his energy by performing a lot of arduous exercises with heavy dumbbells he does not have much reserve force left to put into weight-lifting. The best amateur weight lifter I ever knew never took any light exercise or any heavy dumbbell practice. Three or four times a week he would practice the standard lifts and the "bent press," and after a year or two of this kind of work he developed a wonderful figure and tremendous strength. He was a very ambitious young man and was continually trying to increase his records in the various lifts. Starting out with a 50-lb. dumbbell in the bent-press, he was able within two years to raise 230 pounds by that lift. On the other hand, I have known many athletes who got very good results by practicing heavy dumbbell exercises two or three times a week, and practicing weight-lifting once or twice a week, but I have never known a man to make even respectable records at weight-lifting if he wasted his time exercising with 5- and 10-lb. dumbbells.

All the famous "strong men" and weight lifters have followed the same method in building up their remarkable muscular power. In Germany, Austria and France, where weight-lifting is the most popular indoor sport, every gymnasium has a large and complete assortment of heavy bar-bells, dumbbells and kettle-bells. The young men who attend these gymnasiums, instead of playing basketball and using pulley-weights (as is the custom in this country) will confine themselves almost entirely to work with the heavy dumbbells. The average man will start with a 50-lb. bell, and with the advice and encouragement of his comrades, who are pursuing the same line of work, will rapidly master the various standard lifts and at the same time increase the amount of weight he handles in those lifts.

Arthur Saxon, who was naturally very strong, started with a 75-lb. bell when he first joined the Leipzig Athletic Club, and at the end of 18 months he was by far the strongest member of the club. In this country, where weight-lifting is still in its infancy, the enthusiastic amateur generally has to practice alone; unless he is fortunate enough to live in some large city where there is a gymnasium whose proprietor takes an interest in this line of sports.

If the reader has any intentions of excelling in weight-lifting I strongly advise him to try and interest some friend or companion, so that they can both practice together, one man lifting and the other sitting by and criticizing and correcting the lifter's methods. In heavy dumbbell exercises this is not necessary, but in weight-lifting itself it is almost imperative for the lifter to have some one to watch him and tell him whether he is lifting correctly.

When light dumbbells are used and not much concentration is required, it is very easy for the man who is exercising to stand in front of a mirror and see for himself whether he is going through the exercises in the proper manner, but in lifting heavy dumbbells or bar-bells over the head, in weight-lifting proper, where intense concentration is required, it is dangerous for the lifter to take his attention from the bell for the fraction of a second. The gaze of the eyes must always follow the dumbbells, and if the lifter would attempt to watch himself in the mirror he would immediately lose his balance and probably injure himself. For this reason the advice of an interested friend is almost indispensable. As pointed out in Chapter III, if a man wished to lift any great amount he must lift correctly, and in order to lift correctly he must master the proper manner of handling the bells at the beginning of his course; bad habits in lifting are very hard to break, and if a man starts out correctly he is much more apt to develop to a first-class lifter than if he trains by a hit-or-miss method.

Many of my correspondents have asked me what is the proper age to start training for weight-lifting. A boy of 14 will write me and say that he thinks he is too young to benefit from this form of exercise, while a man over 30 years frequently expresses the opinion that it is too strenuous an exercise for him. As a matter of fact, I do not advise any one to take up weight-lifting proper until they are over 16 years old, although heavy dumbbell exercises can be performed with good results by any one over 14.

Launceston Elliott, former amateur champion lifter of the world, started in to lift weights when he was fifteen. At that time he weighed about 130 lbs. Many trainers will tell that weight-lifting stunts the growth, but his was not so in Elliott's case, for at the age of 21 he stood 6 feet 3 inches, weighed 225 and was considered the strongest man in England.

While American gymnasts are fairly familiar with dumbbells, they seem to be rather ignorant regarding the proper use of the long-handled bar-bell. This is shown by the fact that almost every American writer who has dealt with heavy lifting, or heavy dumbbell exercises, has always assumed that in a two-arm exercise a pair of heavy dumbbells should be used, while the more convenient bar-bell is ignored. Any man who takes up heavy dumbbell exercises will get much better results from his two-arm work if uses a bar-bell rather than a pair of heavy dumbbells, and the convenience of the bar-bell shape is even more marked in weight-lifting proper. In handling heavy bells, frequently the lifter has to concentrate all his attention and will power on making the lifting muscles contract strongly enough to raise the weight; and anything which tends to divert the lifter's attention will interfere with the success of the lift, or exercise.

When a man grasps in both hands the shaft of a bar-bell he is able raise much more than if he used two dumbbells, simply because with the bar-bell he only has to think about raising it from one position to another, while with two dumbbells there is always the necessity of keeping them moving together, and if, as it often happens, the lifter has to make an extra exertion with his weaker arm, the dumbbell in the stronger hand is liable to get out of line. This does make so much difference in lifting from the hips to the shoulders, or from the ground to the shoulders, but in lifting from the shoulders to above the head it is quite an important matter. It is far easier to hold a 200-lb. bar-bell steady when it is above your head than to control two dumbbells of 100 lbs. each, and, furthermore, it is far safer. The lifter who uses the bar-bell has only one object on which to concentrate his attention. The man who is holding the two dumbbells must keep both balanced, and while he is watching one the other may get out of line and cause a shoulder or wrist strain in the endeavor to keep it in position. If you will compare the records of lifts with a bar-bell and the same lifts with a pair of dumbbells you will find that this is proved. Steinbach has "pressed" a 329-lb. bar-bell and has "pressed" two dumbbells whose total weight was 309 lbs. His records in the "jerk" are 392 lbs. with a bar-bell and 334 1/2 lbs. with two dumbbells. The difference is more marked in the "jerk," because in that lift the bells are tossed upward, while in the "press" they are pushed slowly upward, and are, therefore, much easier to control.

While I am on the subject of dumbbells I wish to advise any reader who thinks of taking up heavy-weight lifting that, if possible, he should buy a combination adjustable bell, and by that I mean a bell which can be used as a long-handled bar-bell, as a dumbbell or as a pair of kettle-bells. Without advertising myself, I feel at liberty to state that I was the first manufacturer of heavy bells to introduce this convenient combination. When I made provision for the kettle-bell form it was my intention that the lifter in training should use the kettle-bells one at a time in either hand or else one in each hand, but I never intended that two-arm exercises should be performed with a single kettle-bell. The kettle-bell is a piece of one-hand apparatus and is principally useful as an arm and shoulder developer. It can be adapted to some few other exercises which are useful in developing the back and legs, but the kettle-bell is not intended as a piece of all-around weight-lifting apparatus. I make the above remarks for the following reason:

Other manufacturers who followed my lead in making "three combination" bells have tried to make the public believe that if they could afford but a single bell they should start in with the kettle-bell. The public, acting on the idea that a kettle-bell only weighed half as much as a bar-bell or dumbbell (as it consisted of only one sphere, where the other bells consisted of two) naturally thought it would be safer to start in with a kettle-bell. This is a great mistake. The most valuable weight-lifting exercises are those which are performed with the long-handled bar-bell, and the man who buys only a kettle-bell and thinks that he is going to be able to train all the muscles in his body to the same degree of development, is going to be very badly fooled. I cannot too strongly condemn the practice of those "professors" who thus mislead their customers. If a man can afford to buy only one bell he should buy a bar-bell, because with the bar-bell you can do all the most valuable two-hand exercises and most of the one-hand exercises.

The American public naturally associates a dumbbell with one-hand lifts, whereas, with the exception of the swing, every "one-arm" lifting record has been made with the bar-bell, for the simple reasons that the bar-bell is easier to raise to the shoulder, and easier to balance than a dumbbell of the same weight.

To return to the kettle-bell, the reader who has carefully read the description of the standard lifts will be able to see for himself that it would be impossible to perform a one-hand snatch with a kettle-bell, and that two-arm "presses" or "jerks" would also be out of question. Another thing to be considered is this: Kettle-bells of the ordinary size can only be loaded to 100 lbs., and any man who can handle 50 or 60 lbs. in a "single-arm" dumbbell or kettle-bell exercise should have at least 125 lbs. to give his back and shoulders a corresponding amount of work in the two-arm lifts and exercises.

Authorities on athletic training concur in the opinion that a man should be at his best for heavy work between the age of 30 and 40. In athletic events which require great quickness and elasticity a man commences to go down hill after he is 30. A man can be a champion sprinter, or jumper, at 20 years, but he commences to lose his speed when he gets to be 28 or 29 years old. In any athletic feat which requires strength and power the man in this thirties would always excel his younger opponent. I believe that a man should be at the zenith of his muscular power at the age of 40. A man who goes in for hammer-throwing or the still more exacting sport of throwing a 56-lb. weight will retain the championship for years.

James Flanagan, who I understand, is now about 40 years of age, has held the championship in hammer-throwing for the last dozen years and is apparently a better man today physically than he was when he was under 30.

The most striking example of how a man retains his skill in heavy athletics is that of William Teurk, the famous Vienna lifter. Teurk started in to practice heavy lifting at the age of 32 and was then only a fair performer. He was, however, very fond of the sport, and he persisted in his practice for a number of years, and at the age of 42 he created a world's record in the two-arm jerk, and his record stood until 1903, when it was exceeded by the present champion, Joseph Steinbach. Today Teurk is still well up in his fifties, but even now he can go into a gymnasium and lift much more than the average professional of 30 years.

There are a few men who could afford to give the amount of time to lifting that Teurk did, but any man at the age of 40 can take up heavy dumbbell exercises with perfect safety and derive great benefit from them. When a man uses heavy dumbbells he gets his exercises in a tabloid form. He gets the maximum amount of work in the minimum amount of time, and, although the popular idea is that heavy dumbbell work is exceedingly strenuous, as a matter of fact, a man will expend far less energy in 15 minutes' heavy dumbbell work than in an hour of light dumbbell or pulley-weight practice.

Physical Culture

Thursday, November 10, 2011

THE TRUTH ABOUT WEIGHTLIFTING - (circa 1911) - CHAPTER 10 - By Alan Calvert

Several times in this volume I have alluded to the necessity of trying to standardize the sport of weight-lifting. In Chapter II, I alluded to the European method of regulating the sport. I will now discuss this a little more fully. Here in America, when a track meet is held the officials are generally furnished by the A. A. U., and these officials perform their work according to certain regulations. There are certain rules regarding the timing of running races, and other rules which govern the official who measure the distance, or height, in the jumps and weight-throwing contests. No amateur in this country can claim a record unless his performance is certified to by the officials appointed for the meet.

In Germany somewhat the same system is observed. They have the advantage of possessing among the ranks of the Stemmvereins (lifting clubs) at least 1000 men who are good judges of lifting, and all these men are qualified to act as officials. If a man wishes to establish a record he notifies the governing board, who delegate either three or five officials to go and witness the lift and certify to its correctness. If the athlete succeeds in breaking the existing record the dumbbell used is at once weighed on a Government-tested scale. If the lift has been performed correctly the officials certify to that effect in writing. The clerk of the scales also has to make a written statement and as many other witnesses as possible sign a paper, stating that they have duly witnessed the lift and the weighing of the bell. The only drawback to establishing such a system in this country is that we have so few men who are competent to properly judge a lifting event.

The average sporting editor, while he is generally very well posted regarding other lines of athletics, is densely ignorant regarding lifting and the rules governing it. We would therefore have to fall back upon the lifters themselves, and I regret to state that very few American-born lifters of my acquaintance are qualified to act as officials in any lifting contest. This remark applies particularly to the professional lifters, most of whom specialize on "supporting feats" and know very little about the standard lifts. This is proved by the fact that in different sections of this country different words are used by professionals to describe the same lift. Some lifters confuse the "snatch" and the "jerk,' and very few professional lifters are able to tell you the difference between a "snatch" and a "swing."

Amateur lifters are frequently much better posted than the professional. I have among my personal acquaintances three amateurs who certainly know more about lifting than any American professional who I have ever talked with. At this time there must be, in the cities of New York, Chicago, and St. Louis, hundreds of young Germans, Austrians and Frenchmen, recently arrived in this country, who are fully conversant with the European system of lifting, and judging lifting, and these men could form a nucleus around which to build a National Association. I would be very happy to assist in forming such an association, as I believe it would do more than anything to develop champion lifters in the United States. Until our lifters concentrate their efforts on a few standard lifts we will not be able to produce men who are able to compete on even terms with the European champion.

Under our present system, where every professional and most amateurs feel at liberty to introduce special feats of their own devising, no man can train properly for a contest. In Europe, lifting contests are announced several weeks ahead of time. Every man who enters the contest is informed exactly which lifts will be on the program and he can train accordingly. In this country, where competitions are held on the plan of each contestant performing 3 or 4 of his own lifts and 3 or 4 of his opponent's, he may train properly for his own lifts, but he is never adequately prepared to perform his opponent's lifts, because he never knows what these lifts are until he sees his opponent start them. If the reader can imagine a track meet where the announcement is to the effect that there would be one running, one jumping and one weight-throwing event he will get a parallel to our system of lifting contests. Just think of a man training for a running event and not knowing until the day of the competition whether the race was to be 100 yards or 5 miles.

If an American Board of Control is established I should certainly recommend that it adopt the European system of governing lifting contests. The number of lifts should not be more than twelve in all, and only four or five of these lifts should be included in each tournament. The rules governing the lifts should be closely patterned after the German rule (with possibly one or two exceptions to the American style of lifting ), but these concessions should be drawn up and issued by a board of amateurs, and no professional lifter should have a voice in selecting or interpreting a rule regarding lifting. All lifts should be performed either with bar-bells or dumbbells. Supporting feats, harness lifts, etc., should be rigidly excluded. Any lifter, amateur or professional, should have the privilege of attempting a record under certain specified conditions; of which the chief should be that the official be appointed by the Governing Board, and that the apparatus used and the scales employed for the weighing of the apparatus be of a certain standard make and properly tested.

As matters now stand in this country practically any lifter, amateur or professional, can claim a record and "get away with it." I have seen advertisements where a 175-lb. man has asserted that he snatched with one hand a bell weighing 200 lbs., and this I believe to a feat of strength impossible to any 175-lb. man. Professionals on the stage will, in their theatre programs, make absurdly exaggerated claims regarding the weight of the dumbbell and other apparatus used in their act. If we had a Board of Control which would regulate and publish the records made by American lifters, the athletic public would soon become conversant with the records and other best performances in strength feats, and it would be impossible for professional lifters to deceive the public in this regard. Under existing conditions the professional lifter simply takes advantage of the general ignorance on the part of the public regarding lifting records.

For my own part, I would accept the statement of any professional performer regarding his own performance. On this point I am very much "from Missouri." I require any lifter to convince me that he can do what he claims. I do not insist that he equal his very best record, but I certainly expect that he will go within 10% of it. Talk is very cheap. Most professionals are very careful to make their boast about their prowess when they are several miles from a dumbbell.

I would advise the reader to adopt my attitude. If you hear a man making claims about his lifting power you should, if possible, escort the lifter to a gymnasium or other place where heavy dumbbells can be found and then invite him to duplicate the lift he has just claimed. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred the lifter will excuse himself by saying that he is out of training, or he has a sprained wrist, or a weak shoulder, or a sore back, or else he has some other reason for declining to even make an effort to substantiate his claim. It would not be fair to expect any lifter to equal his best record at a moment's notice; but any lifter who has been well trained should be able, at any time and place, to lift within 10% of his record.

A few pounds in a dumbbell lift makes a tremendous difference. Strong men will sometimes train for a couple of years to increase their record ten pounds in one particular lift. As a rule, if a man can lift 100 pounds with difficulty, he will be able to raise 90 pounds very easily. If a professional lifter claims a record of 200 pounds in the snatch lift he should be able, at any time, to snatch 180 pounds with any kind of a bar-bell or dumbbell, providing the handle of same be not more than one and one-eighth inches thick.

Professional lifters would do well to follow Author Saxon's example in this regard. Saxon is almost 75 pounds ahead of any other lifter in the "bent press," but this does not lead him into making foolish claims regarding his other lifts. For instance, if you ask Saxon how much he can snatch he will probably tell you "200 pounds," which is actually nearly 10 pounds under his own unofficial record' and he will make equally modest statements regarding his other lifts.

I believe that the establishing of a Central Board would do more than anything else to encourage he amateur lifter. When the amateur discovered that he could, after a few months' practice, equal the lifts of the average "10-20-30" professional, he would realize that by a few months of steady, consistent training he would have at least a chance to equal the best records in the lifting line.

If we divide all lifters into four classes (as is done abroad), we should keep separate records for each class. This would encourage the small man as well as the 200-pound giant. The weights for the classes should not be governed by the weight limits which apply to boxers, but should be very much heavier. For instance, the heavy-weight class should be from 180 pounds upward. The middle-weight from 160 to 180 pounds; the light-weight from 135 to 160, and the feather-weight below 135 pounds.

Each class should perform exactly the same lifts, and honor should be given to a man who excels in his class. It would be very necessary to emphasize this point strongly, or otherwise we should get he same situation as bicycle racing at the finish of the great bicycle craze in the late '90s. The reader will perhaps remember that bicycle competitions at that time were so numerous, and the variety of races was so great, that it took nearly a full page of the daily newspaper to give the complete list of racing records.

Another point I wish to make is that this so-called endurance lifting be barred out. Such lifting has no place in competition work.

In another part of this book I refer to the fact that up to date many American lifting competitions consisted of but one event, and that was to raise a 50-pound dumbbell the greatest number of times. The mere fact that it is possible for a man to push up a 50-pound dumbbell 75 or 100 times proves that it cannot take much strength to raise that amount of weight. Some authorities are so very foolish as to gauge a man's strength by feats like the above. These authorities argue in the following manner: If a man push up a 10 pound dumbbell 10 times he has therefore raised 100 pounds by the strength of his arm. Apparently, from their point of view, this is a better test of strength than raising a 95-pound dumbbell once. Now, the reader knows perfectly well that any eight-year old boy has strength enough to do the former feat, while not one man out of a hundred can make the latter lift.

Professionals who specialize in endurance back lifting and harness lifting work entirely on this principle. One man, for instance, claimed a record of one million-pound lift because he repeated a thousand-pound back lift one thousand times. Any ordinary laborer could, after a couple of weeks' practice, raise 1000 pounds in a back lift, and it does not take much training and endurance to raise the same weight several hundred times in this manner. The ability to repeat a 100-pound back lift one hundred times does not prove that the athlete could raise 3000 pounds once. The same remark applies to harness lifting and dead-weight lifting. I wish to warn all of my readers not to be deceived by the foolish claims of the endurance lifters.

The reader can test the real worth of these claims by making the experiment for himself. I think you will find that you can push up a 10-pound dumbbell at least 200 times, which according to the endurance lifter's claim, would amount to a 2000-pound lift. Yet you will unhesitatingly admit that to push up a 2000-pound bell in the same manner is impossible. To carry the illustration still further, even the ability to push a 50-pound bell twice does not mean that a 100-pound bell can be raised once in the same manner. I know dozens of men who can make several repetition of the ordinary one-arm press with a 100-pound dumbbell and yet are unable to raise a 125-pound dumbbell a single time. Joseph Steinbach several years ago raised a 380-pound bar-bell twice in succession in the two-arm jerk. The endurance lifter would say this was a 760-pound lift. Yet it took months of training and a number of unsuccessful attempts before Steinbach succeeded in raising 385 pounds once.

The reader may ask why it is, if I approved of the A. A. U.' s ruling, that records in track sports be allowed only when established in competition, that I did not advocate the same ruling for weight-lifting. The reason is as follows: In our American track meets an athlete, as a rule, enters in only one or two events, and he is able to concentrate all his energy in putting forth his best endeavors in these one or two events. In weight-lifting competition it is entirely different. In the competitions I advocate there are generally four or five events, and each competitor is allowed three trials at each event, and it is often necessary for a competitor to save his strength till the very last minute, and in this way he is often prevented from going out after records.

To illustrate what I mean I give herewith a table of the lifts made by the contestants in the European Amateur Championship, held in Malmo, Sweden, in the year 1908:

Snatch Right Arm Snatch Left Arm Press Both Arms Press Both Arms Jerk Both Arms Total Pounds 1. Grafl (Austria)

176 150 222 264 352 1164

2. Danzer (Austria)

176 149 200 231 330 1095

3. Eickeldraht (Germany)

150 121 222 267 330 1090

4. Fredericksen (Denmark)

139 -- 175 231 820 820

5. Rondi (Germany)

186 175 222 218 -- 801

6. Simonitz (Germany

154 143 175 242 -- 714

It will be noticed that this competition was won by Graft, of Vienna, while the man who finished fifth was Heinrich Rondi, of Dusseldorf, Germany. At the time of the competition Rondi was the leading German lifter, and all his fellow countrymen were sure that he would easily defeat Grafl for the European Championship. Rondi was supreme in the one-hand "snatch" lifts, holding the World's Record at that time, while Grafl was conceded to be the best amateur two-arm lifter in Europe. It will be noticed by a glance at the table that after the "snatch" lifts were performed Rondi had a lead of 35 English pounds over Grafl, but in the two-hand press Grafl lifted 46 pounds more than Rondi, which not only wiped out Rondi's lead, but gave Grafl an advantage of 11 lbs. Rondi, evidently realizing that he could not hope to compete with Grafl in the two-hand jerk, dropped out. All the way through the competition Grafl had been saving himself for the two-arm jerk, but when Rondi retired there was no other contestant near enough to worry him, and he finished up his day's work by lifting in the two-arm jerk 352 lbs., which was at least 25 lbs. below his record.

In some competitions it will work out in exactly the opposite way. A man's favorite feats may come first, and, like Rondi, he may work well within his limit at his favorite feats and save himself for the other lifts in which he is not proficient. In the above case Rondi was considerably below his record, both in the right -and left-hand "snatch." It may have been that the dumbbells did not suit him, but the general impression was that he was saving himself for the two-arm work, and if he worked to his limit in the "snatch" lifts he might have gained enough advantage to overcome Grafl's great superiority in the two-arm lifts.

Another phase of competition lifting must be borne in mind. Two pages ahead of this I stated that every lifter had three attempts at each event. In our sports in America each competitor has three trials in the broad jump, or the shot put, or the hammer throw, and is credited with the best of his three trials, but in the high jump, the competitor is given three trials at each height. For instance, if the bar is at 5 feet 6 inches, and the athlete clears it on his third attempt, he has three more trials at 5 feet 7 inches. Now, when an athlete puts the shot he is fairly sure to come within a couple of feet of his best performance, and in the broad jump all his three attempts may be but a few inches apart. In lifting it is different; even the best trained professional cannot feel sure that he is going to be at this very best, especially when he is confronted with strange dumbbells.

We will take the competition before mentioned to illustrate the point, and it must be borne in mind that the first prize is given to the man who has the highest total for all of the five lifts. The events were run in the order given, namely, right-arm "snatch," left-arm "snatch," two-arm "snatch," two-arm "press" and two-arm "jerk." Now, suppose that a lifter had a record of 180 lbs. in the right-arm "snatch." If he started at once and made his first trial at 180 and failed ant then persisted in making his second and third attempts at the same weight there are several chances to one that he would have three complete failures marked against him. He would not be credited with any weight at all for that particular lift, and his chances of winning the competition would be killed, no matter how well he performed the other lifts.

If he failed at 180 lbs. in his first attempt in the right-hand "snatch" the sensible thing to do would be to make his second attempt at 160 lbs., in order to be sure to have some score in the right-arm "snatch," and he could try 170 or 180 lbs. on his third attempt, even if his third attempt was a failure. It is customary, however, for a lifter to make the first attempt well inside his record, simply for the sake of getting a score. This method has other advantages, because when a man who can "snatch" 180 lbs. attempts that weight off the reel, when his muscles are cold, his chances for success are very poor; but if he "warms up" with a 160-lb. lift he is very apt to be able to do at least 175 lbs. on his third attempt. A lifter will pursue the same tactics through all the events in the tournament, and after he has made 14 or 15 lifts which are all close to his best performances, he has not much energy left with which to create world's records. The reader may understand from the foregoing why it is lifting records are rarely made in competition, and why it is advisable to allow a lifter to make a special attempt to create a record outside of competition, if he is willing to comply with all the formalities laid down by the Governing Board.

Physical Culture
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Bob Whelan

Bob Whelan

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