Saturday, May 28, 2011

MUSCLE BUILDING (Circa 1924 ) - Chapter 4 - The Shoulders and their Development - By Earle E. Liederman


Some time ago a husky-looking chap came to me for physical examination and advice. I had the young fellow strip and put him through a few moderately severe exercises, to determine what condition he was in.

I found he was very well qualified in most of the strength tests, with the exception of the "push up" and certain other exercises that required superior development of the deltoids.

His arms, chest and legs were very well-developed, but it was evident to myself and my assistants that this man hadn't done any really conscientious work on his shoulders.

I pointed out his defect, and he put himself under my care, with the purpose of taking some special exercises for the muscles that were lacking in development. I took careful measurements, and also several photographs - front, back and side views - and filed them away for subsequent comparison.

The young fellow worked faithfully under my direction for several months. At the expiration of that time, he came back to see me and report progress. You wouldn't believe that such a change could be wrought in a chap who was originally a pretty husky, presentable looking individual. For the improvement was simply wonderful. He had muscles that weren't apparent at all when I first examined him. His tests showed about 58 percent increase in deltoid strength and endurance, and he was a perfect picture of manhood.

So, I say that the neglect of his one muscle often shows a lack of condition in an athlete, and this one muscle is the deltoid or shoulder muscle. When the deltoids are full, round , thick and bulging, it signifies the athlete is in splendid shape. But when they become flat and flabby, and the back becomes the broadest part of the body, then it is significant that the athlete is far from being in good condition.

The Deltoid Prime of Life

The deltoid or shoulder muscles are most prominent between the ages of twenty and thirty. It is then that the cords and inner fibers show themselves to best advantage. But as a rule, after thirty years of age, a man's shoulders, providing he keeps in good condition, become somewhat thicker and less prominent. After the age of forty, the shoulders can never again regain the same contour. Of course, if the individual has done but little training he can make wonderful gains after the age of forty, but I am referring in this paragraph to the already trained athlete who values his measurements and muscle contour.

One inch of muscle on the shoulder makes a vast difference in appearance in breadth. I want to make this point very emphatic, as I wish to impress upon young men, particularly, the dangers of delay and procrastination, if they ever want to really build themselves up.

Now, in order to develop the shoulders to a maximum degree, the anterior and the posterior deltoids must be exercised in cooperation with the external or side portion. The action of the deltoid muscle is to lift the arm from the side and bring it upwards until it is parallel with the ground. Beyond this point further action is assisted by the trapezius muscle. It is practically impossible for anyone to exercise the deltoid or shoulder muscle without getting the trapezius, back and arm muscles to work as well.

Well-developed deltoids are very pleasing to look at and set off the athlete off considerably. Boxing, bag-punching or any form of exercise that has a tendency to swing the shoulders, will develop the deltoid muscles. However, direct application can be had by systematic exercising including the raising of the arms forward, sideways or backwards with a resistance to work against. In this manner much heavier shoulder muscles can be developed than the mere swinging of the arms, as in boxing or bag-punching, and this was exactly what I developed in the young man of whom I spoke earlier in this chapter.

When the Tailor Made the Man

Years ago when men's styles featured broad shoulders, the weak individual depended entirely upon the tailor to make him broader. However, present day styles do not contemplate padding the shoulders. Therefore, to possess an athletic appearance, everyone must devote special training to the deltoid muscles, in order to broaden the shoulders and add to his general appearance.

The size of the bones again plays an important part in the general width of anyone's shoulders. The small-framed individual cannot expect to become as broad-shouldered as one who possesses a large framework, but, nevertheless, the small-boned man can broaden his shoulders a few inches by devoting attention to the deltoid muscle.

As a rule, horizontal bar and ring performers have exceptionally developed shoulder muscles. The same can be found in weight lifters. However, anyone can strengthen and develop the deltoid muscle to the maximum by scientifically and systematically applied exercise.

The shoulder muscles, as a rule, become tired quicker than any other part of your body when doing competitive work. This can be clearly illustrated when swimming. If your wind is in excellent condition, you will find the shoulders will usually be first affected by the continual efforts.

There is one other matter of which I wish to speak, and which I consider most important, especially to those wish to possess a really symmetrical development. I urgent recommend a great deal of attention to the posterior deltoid, as well as the external fibers. If too much effort is given to the anterior deltoid, it will have a tendency to make one appear somewhat round-shouldered. I have seen many an otherwise splendid physique marred by the failure to observe this little point.

How to Overcome Round Shoulders

Round shoulders may rightly be considered one of the worst handicaps to anyone who aspires to physical perfection. And they are quite inexcusable. Such a man is downright lazy or indifferent about his appearance.

One of the finest exercises for overcoming round shoulders is to bring the arms from a front position parallel with the floor to a position as far back as they are capable of going, keeping them parallel at all times, and working against a powerful resistance. Then, again, the shoulders should be brought back as far as possible after the completion of each exercise period, in order to shorten the muscles of the back. This will offset the tendency of the shoulders to drop forward after you have given them vigorous exercise.

Measuring the Shoulders

A person whose shoulders measure more than 18 inches can be considered quite broad. I have know in some cases, however, of remarkably developed athletes, where the shoulders measured more than 24 inches across. Perhaps you may not know the proper way of measuring the shoulders. I have yet to find many who do.

The simple method of measuring the shoulders is by having someone place two sticks, rods or rulers at the end of each shoulder, parallel with each other. Then the measurement should be taken in between these sticks. If you attempt to measure your shoulders by placing the tape across the front or behind the back, you will not get an accurate measurement. Instead, you may find yourself one or two inches broader than you really are.

How to Obtain Quickest Results

The larger the deltoids become the better they set off the arms. The best way to develop these muscles is to raise the arms forward, sideways, and backwards, to the height of the shoulder, all the while working against a resistance. Whether this resistance be in the form of adjustable dumb-bell, elastic exerciser, or other apparatus, the resistance should be progressive, and increased each week as the shoulders become stronger.

In order to obtain the quickest results, the repetitions should not exceed from ten to fifteen counts. If the student exercises so vigorously as to make it impossible for him to do more than five or six repetitions, he is using up his strength too rapidly and retards his development.

I have found from experience that the best results can be obtained for the shoulders by carrying the repetitions to over ten and less than fifteen counts. However, if the muscles do not begin to ache a little at the fifteenth repetition, the pupil should work against a stronger resistance. If you perform light work, and it takes, for example, thirty-five to fifty repetitions before the deltoids reach their aching point, you can tell the work is too light for you. Of course, some progress can be made, so far as endurance and development is concerned, by performing these lighter movements. But no great degree of deltoid development can be reached unless you work against resistance strong enough to tire the muscles within fifteen repetitions. You must progress each week by adding more resistance to the work, providing , of course, it becomes easier to do fifteen counts in the exercise than it did the previous week.

I am not an advocate of resistance movements, neither am I against them. Resistance movements are all right for bringing the muscles out for posing or photographic purposes, but they are inferior to movements where artificial resistance is used, because of the fact that while performing resistance work, the pupil is apt to resume the resistance with the mind wandering, and also by giving too much attention to his feelings. There is also a tendency to discover easier methods of performing the exercises, and such discoveries are fatal to physical progress.

Some Exercises for Your Shoulders

1. Stand erect; raise the arms with a weight or exerciser forward until they are parallel with the floor and at the height of the shoulder. Now lower and repeat. This will develop the anterior deltoid. If the palm of the hand is kept facing downward, the supinator muscles of the forearm are also benefited considerably.

2. Raise the arm sideways, until the arm is parallel with the floor, and at the height of the shoulders; keep palm down. This movement will develop the external head of the deltoid and broaden the shoulders, at he same time benefiting the external head of the triceps.

3.. Raise the arm backwards as far as possible. This movement is for the posterior deltoid and the upper muscles as well. If the arm is kept rigid while performing this movement, the internal head of the triceps receives considerable work. By paying attention to the anterior and the posterior parts of the deltoid muscle, the should will become thicker and will have more depth.

It is not uncommon to see individuals with wide shoulders whose external deltoids are remarkably developed, but who are sadly lacking in the anterior and posterior sections of this muscle, thus giving them a slim appearance.

When the deltoid is properly developed, there are a series of fibers or digitations faintly showing at the external portion. These fibers give an excellent appearance to the deltoids under proper lighting. With the posterior deltoid properly developed, the fleshy bumps will help greatly to make the back straight an set off the roundness of the back.

If you are really interested in bringing out all the fine points in your physique I strongly urge you to pay a great deal of attention to the development of your deltoids, for they certainly contribute in a great way toward making up the ideal figure of a man. And this is what we all want to do.

Iron Nation
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Bob Whelan

Bob Whelan

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