Thursday, May 26, 2011

MUSCLE BUILDING (Circa 1924 ) - Chapter 2 - The Ideal Measurements - By Earle E. Liederman


I was down in Florida one winter at a time when quite a bunch of motion picture stars and professional people were vacationing at the winter playground. A little crowd of us were gathered on the beach doing various athletic stunts--and believe me, some of those chaps were mighty clever. After we got tired of our sport, we sat around on the sand talking, and finally the subject came up as to what should be the ideal measurements for a man.

One of the party spoke up and said: "This is a subject that is hard to agree upon. The proportions of the old Greek sculptors for men varied a great deal. For instance, take the Farnese Hercules, the Apollo Belevedere, the Laocoon group--there's such a wide margin of variation that you have to accept measurements based on some given type.

"While all women can aspire, at some given age, to the Venus de Milo, or the Juno type, to classify a man for accurate measurements you have to picture him as one of three or four very distinct types. And naturally, his measurements will correspond with the ideal measurements of some particular type."

I then spoke up and said: "My ideal is not the man with the huge, abnormal muscles of a Hercules; nor is it the lithe, slender form of an Apollo, nor the somewhat better muscled Mercury. I like to see big, firm muscles, combined with speed and flexibility. The question goes even deeper than this. When holding up an ideal for scores of thousands to copy after, we set the following requisites:

"A man should look good from every angle. He should have curves and contour rather than great, disfiguring ridges of muscles. He should have a development which is possible for attainment by almost any average boy or young man, who will apply himself to development and cultivate strength, speed and perfect health."

This made quite an impression on the crowd, and suggested to me the title of this chapter.

The Ideal to Which You Should Aspire

Now, I want to say right here that it is exceedingly difficult to set any standard of measurements which the student can use as a guide for comparison in order to determine to what extent he should develop his muscles. When you take into consideration the different sizes of the bones of different individuals, and combine this with hereditary conditions, it is, in my opinion, practically impossible to set any standard of proportion where each part of the body will bear its proper relation to the others. Even though the student should not obtain these relative proportions, still there is no reason why he cannot possess a beautiful physique by approaching the following, which is my idea of how a man should be proportionately built:

Average Height - 5 feet 8 inches to 5 feet 9 inches Neck - 17 inches Biceps - 16 inches Calf - 15 inches Chest Normal - 44 inches Waist - 32 inches Thigh - 23 1/2 inches

My reason for mentioning the neck, upper arms and calves first is that the common conception of Grecian proportions stipulates the neck, upper arm flexed, and calf to be of the same size, with which I do not agree, If an individual possessed a 17 inch neck, and a 17 inch arm, he would undoubtedly possess a phenomenal development. But if he had a 17 inch calf, it would spoil his proportions, as it would make him look much too heavy in the legs.

I have found by observation and careful study that the athletes who taper down slightly are more pleasing to look upon than those whose legs are of huge dimension, like the Farnese Hercules, for instance. Therefore, in order to taper down, the neck should be a little larger than the arm, and the arm a little larger than the calf.

Now, if a person has a 16 inch neck, his arm should measure 15 inches, and his calf about 14 inches. If the individual has any smaller measurements than these, taking for granted that he is of average height, he would be too slim a type to attract attention in the physical culture world, as far as strength and development are concerned. A man with an 18 inch neck, and a 17 inch arm , and a 16 inch calf would be very gigantic in size and undoubtedly he would be exceptionally strong.

You very seldom see 17 inch arms and 18 inch necks or persons of average height, for athletes possessing these enormous measurements usually are in the neighborhood of a 6 feet tall. There are, of course, many exceptions to this, especially among wrestlers.

For instance, George Hackenschmidt had an enormous neck. I have seen measurements for this part of his body and therse measurements are given by different authorities all the way from 19 1/2 inches to 22 inches. Unfortunately I have not had the pleasure of measuring Mr. Hackenschmidt, consequently I do not care to express my opinion of the actual size of his neck. However, I did have the pleasure of feeling his arm, and although my own hands are of medium size, still I could not span the breadth of his upper arm when I felt it. I have seen measurements of his upper arm given by different authorities as being anywhere from 18 inches to 19 1/2 inches. The reader will, therefore, note that no matter how Hackenschmidt's measurements may vary in accordance with different writers, still everyone mentions the difference between the neck and the upper arms.

Hackenschmidt was a rare exception in muscular development and strength, and I want to make it clear that no matter how diligently a person may work, there is not one athlete in ten thousand who would ever acquire Hackenschmidt's proportions and strength.

The Size of the Head Is an Important Factor

The size of the head is an important factor covering neck measurements. Therefore, if the individual has a long, narrow head, and is of a slender type, it will be a physical impossibility for him ever to attain s neck much over 17 inches, providing, of course, he is of average height. By average height, I mean people ranging from 5 feet 7 inches to 5 feet 9 inches. If the individual is near 6 feet, or even over, naturally he will have larger measurements than the individual of only average height. However, if he is below the average in height, say 5 feet 3 or 4 inches, he must not expect to attain the measurements of an individual of 5 feet 9 inches in height. In other words, the taller you are, the larger your measurements should be, providing, of course, that you adopt scientific progressive training and work faithfully to reach your goal.

Although I mentioned 44 inches normal chest measurement, yet it is exceedingly difficult to standardize any chest measurement to correspond with a 17 inch neck, for, owing to the different formation of everyone's torso, the measurement of the chest varies as much as 4 inches in the normal girth. Greater variation will be found in the expanded chest measurement. All I can say on the subject is that anyone with a 17 inch neck and a 16 inch upper arm when flexed, should have a chest normal of over 43 inches.

The waist also varies in size according to the frame and width of the hips, and also the muscular development of the individual. A student who has devoted considerable attention to his waist muscles, especially those at the sides of his waist and lower back, naturally will have at least an inch larger waist than a person who has neglected this part of his body, taking for granted, of course, that the waist is free of all superfluous flesh.

Again, the height of the individual is an important factor in the size of the waist measurement. A 6-foot man with a waist measuring less than 33 inches would, in my opinion, appear weak, while a man of average height, whose waist measured less than 31 inches, would also appear weak. On the other hand, if the individual was but 5 feet 3 or 4 inches in height, and if he possessed a waist of 27 or 28 inches, he would still be in splendid proportions.

I Failed to Reach My Earlier Ideal

I have often thought how discouraged a student must be who has exercised faithfully month after month, and even for several years, and failed to reach the measurements he had set in mind as his goal. I can only tell you the story of my own experience, which undoubtedly corresponds with thousand of others under similar circumstances. When I first became interested in physical education, I studied photographs and the measurements of all professional strong men whose data I could secure. I noted the enormous chest measurements given by some of these prominent strong men, many of them reaching almost 60 inches around the chest when expanded. I envied those whose normal chests measured anywhere from 47 to over 50 inches. I longed to possess a chest like theirs.

I have worked faithfully for many years; yet I fall far short of these measurements. Today my normal chest measurement is but 44 1/2 inches, and my chest measurements, expanded, reaches 48 1/2 inches. Many times during my period of body building I became discouraged because my measurements were so slow in reaching the goal I had set for them.

I was also always anxious to obtain flexed biceps measuring 17 1/2 or 18 inches, but again I fell short of these proportions. Today my flexed upper arms measures but 16 1/2 inches. If the reader should experience any similar discouragement, let me console him with the fact that 90 percent of the measurements given out by famous strong men are grossly exaggerated. I know personally several athletes prominent in the physical culture world who claim 49 inch normal chests and 17 inch upper arms, when, in reality, their chest normal is many inches less and their upper arms are not as large as my own.

Only a few months ago a crowd of us were gathered in the private gym of a well-known boxing trainer when this shy subject came up. The boxing instructor, one of the finest developed men in his class, and one of prominence as well, was telling us about of the famous athletes of a former generation, when he happened to mention Matsada Sarakichi.

Some of middle-aged readers may recall this Sarakicki, a Japanese wrestler of phenomenal development with the strength of an ox. The boxing master had a framed photo of the athlete hanging on the wall, near his deak. Pointing to the picture, he said, "How much would you boys say Matsada measured around the chest?"

The Jap was a about 5 feet 11 inches in height and he looked as though he weighed just about a pound less than a horse, so we guessed him - 50 to 54 inches.

"You're all wrong, said the old boxer. "He only measured 47 inches normal, but when he folded those great arms of his over his chest and puffed himself out, he looked as big as a whale."

And that's the answer. It isn't the size, so much as what the size looks like when it's photographed. I shall have something very important to say to you about this subject a little later on that may give you a lot of help in presenting yourself to the public in a more pleasing and convincing form. But I want to tell you something further about this question of measurements.

First and foremost I can't find it in my heart to blame a student for becoming discouraged if he does not obtain the proportions some men claim that they have. I became discouraged myself, and I know just how other conscientious men, who have been working hard on their physical development, would naturally feel about the matter.

Don't Fool Yourself in Your Measuring

I do not know whether the measurements given out by some professional strong men are magnified for the purpose of self-gratification, or whether they measured themselves and actually fooled themselves in taking their measurements.

If the latte should be the case, let me warn the student that when measuring any part of his body, he must the most strict attention to the tape and see that it does not sag in any part. For instance, if you are measuring your chest, it is the simplest thing to fool yourself when passing the tape around and under your armpits, and then taking a deep inhalation, to throw your shoulders back and expand yourself and expand your chest as much as possible. Of course you see the tape measure in front of you, but if could see the tape behind your back, you might observe that it is displaced many inches downward towards your waist.

Always measure yourself in front of a mirror, turning around so that you can see your back as well as your front. If you have the tape fitting snugly, with about two or three pounds pressure, you will obtain your actual measurements. If these measurements fall short of the measurements you see on paper concerning many strong men, do not be discouraged, for if you possess a well-developed physique, you may be almost as large as these strong men are themselves.

The same thing applies to feats of strength. I do not know at the present writing how many claimants there are to the title "Strongest man in the world," but there are more claimants to this title than there are feet in a mile. As soon as an athlete obtains a little publicity and is able to lift somewhere around 250 pounds, another "world's strongest man" is found, and naturally more discouraged would-be strong men.

The Story of the Champion Lifter

It was only recently, at a weight-lifting tournament, that a well-known lifter sent in his best lifts ahead of his appearance. I chanced to see his letter and his phenomenal records actually scared me, for I had contemplated entering the tournament myself, purely for the fun of it. However, I diplomatically kept out of it as I really was afraid of this entrant. I was asked to act as a judge in this contest, as long as I did not enter it.

I expected great things from this wonderful strong man. Therefore, you can imagine my surprise when the best lift make at this open competition was only 220 pounds! In all fairness to the competitors, I am sure they could have done better, but the reader can imagine my consternation when a 220-pound lift secured a championship gold belt, when I myself had many times lifted in practice more than this. I simply mention his occurrence as it is a similar case to what I have to say on measurements.

It is a sad thing for me to tell the reader not to believe all he hears regarding feats of strength and measurements of prominent strong men. Do not misunderstand me, and think that I am including all strong men in this category. Such men as Arthur Saxon, George Hackenschmidt, Joe Nordquest, and many others, did not exaggerate their feats of strength nor the size of their measurements - they did not have to. There are hundreds of others, too, whose records and measurements are absolutely reliable.

Let the student continue diligently with his training and endeavor to secure as well-muscled proportions as possible. Even if he does not obtain measurements any larger than my own, do not let him feel discouraged. Any young man who is from 5 feet 8 inches to 5 feet 10 inches in height should have no difficulty in obtaining at least a 16 inch upper arm and a 17 inch neck, as well as a 46 or 47 inch expanded chest. If the student around 6 feet in height, he should have no difficulty in eventually obtaining a 17 1/2 inch neck, a 49 inch expanded chest and 16 1/2 inch upper arm.

If the student is but 5 feet 3 inches or 4 inches in height, he should have no difficulty in obtaining a 16 inch neck, a 15 inch upper arm and a 44 inch expanded chest. Of the three above-mentioned groups many obtain measurements even beyond the ones I have outlined, for it is not impossible. But hey should not expect to reach the Herculean proportions of a Hackenschmidt.

How to Measure Your Muscles

When measuring your muscles, the tape should be passed around the largest part. Let us begin with the neck. To obtain the proper measurement of the neck, the head should be held erect, chin to the front and the tape passed around the lower part of the neck, just above the point where the trapezius muscle begins to slope towards the shoulder. Place about two pounds pressure on the tape in taking these measurements.

If you bend the head back and throw out he muscles of the neck, the neck will increase about one to two inches in size. However, you will not be obtaining your actual neck measurements, but will be obtaining a measurement of your expanded neck. You should never consider the expanded back measurement, for in all measurement tables given of athletes, the normal neck measurement is always taken for granted. If you consider your expanded back measurement and develop your other muscles in proportion to this, your neck will never be properly developed, for you are utilizing your expanded measurements in your table of proportions.

In measuring the chest, the tape should always be passed under the armpits, in a straight line around the chest, about one inch above the nipples. By exhaling all the air from your lungs and relaxing your muscles, you obtain your contracted chest measurement. Now adjust the tape again to the previous position and stand perfectly normal, head erect, muscles relaxed and chest corresponding with your erect standing or walking posture. This will be your normal chest girth.

By inhaling as much air as you possibly can, and at the same time expanding your latissimus dorsi muscles and swelling your chest to its utmost, you will obtain your expanded chest measurement. These measurements, of course, will not be measurements of your actual lung expansion, because they are assisted by your muscles.

To obtain the actual measurement of your lung expansion, you should pass the tape around your lower chest at the ninth rib, which is a few inches below the nipples. The difference between your normal and expanded chest measurements at this point will be very slight. In fact, if you expand three or more inches, you have wonderful expansion. However, these lower chest measurements are rarely utilized in any table of measurements of athletes.

How to Measure the Index of Strength

Your upper arm may rightly be regarded as your index of strength. If a chap has any development worth talking about, it usually shows in the upper arm.

In measuring your upper arm, first pass the tape around the largest part of your upper arm when the arm is straight and held relaxed horizontally. Next, flex your arm by vigorously contracting the triceps and biceps, bring the fist as near the shoulder as possible, and turning the palm of your hand towards shoulder. By doing this, you will obtain the largest girth of your flexed upper arm, providing, of course, you pass the tape around your largest part.

In measuring your upper arm, in this case, do it before a mirror, so that you can see both the back and front, and note whether the tape is passed straight around the arm, or whether the tape is passed straight around the arm, or whether it is on a slant. By having the tape slanting, you only fool yourself. I am convinced that it is undoubtedly just such a slanting tape that produces the magnified measurements of a great many professional strong men.

The forearm should be measured also around the largest part with the arms straight and fist clenched. To obtain the contracted forearm measurement, bend your arm and pass the tape around the largest part as near the elbow as possible.

The waist should be measured when standing in an erect posture, not drawing in too much, neither should you allow your abdomen to protrude. By holding the chest up in a military carriage, you will obtain your normal waist measurement. The tape should be passed around the waist at about the height of the navel.

In measuring the hips, pass the tape around the largest part and apply about four pounds pressure, thus allowing for irregularities of this part of the body.

The measurement of the thighs should be taken around the largest part of the thigh, which in most cases is directly below the crotch. If your legs are exceptionally developed, with pronounced curves to the extensor muscles, perhaps your largest girth may be a little lower than this. However, this can be taken in a complete state of contraction; that is, when you stiffen the knee and tighten the muscles.

The calf should be measured around the largest part. By raising your toes off the floor and simply standing on your heels, you will obtain a slightly larger girth than if you stood flat footed, because you can get a slightly greater expansion of the muscles in this position.

The measurement of the wrist and ankle should be taken around the smallest girth.

You should, when you begin your development, take a complete set of these measurements, keeping them carefully, so as to see what progress you are making. In this way you'll be able to get a mental picture of yourself, at any time, just the way you were before you commenced your training, and surprise all your friends with the progress you are making.

Iron Nation
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