Tuesday, May 31, 2011

MUSCLE BUILDING (Circa 1924 ) - Chapter 7 - (Part A) - Splendid Arms and How to Have Them - By Earle E. Liederman


From the early schoolboy days, the arms seem to be one part of the body in which everyone takes pride. As a boy we all can recall the enthusiasm with which we rolled up our sleeves to show the lump on our upper arm. When I was a boy, the one who had the biggest biceps was the boy to command the greatest respect. No thought was given to any other muscle of the arm, but the whole attention was centered of the little lump that formed when the fist was brought to the shoulder.

I also recall what interest and admiration was aroused in me when I went to the circus and saw the strong man there break chains that were wrapped around his arms. My admiration was not tampered with, but I discovered in later years, that the chains had been tampered with. How discouraged I felt upon my return home when I beheld my own skinny arms in the mirror. The pair of arms that I then owned, measured but 9 1/2 inches. I remember later how envious I was of a husky chap, while attending high school, whose arm measured, when flexed, 14 inches. My own arm measured about 12 1/2 inches then. I think, however, that by envying as I did, it had considerable effect upon my progress, for it made me work harder to reach my goal. And it wasn't very many years before the arms I had envied were soon much smaller and less developed than my own.

I realized then that the biceps was only one of the muscles of the arm, and that by proper application of exercises, the girth of my arms could be increased rapidly. I learned that the triceps, the muscles behind or underneath the arms, constituted the bigger bulk of the upper arms and, therefore, realized that special attention must be paid to these muscles. The average individual (unless he is a thorough student of anatomy and physical culture) sadly neglects the triceps, which, when properly developed, give a pleasing curve to the back of the arms. These muscles are developed by constantly pushing, when it be downward, sideways, or upwards. You must push against a strong resistance of some kind in order to develop these muscles to their maximum.

The Triceps is Perhaps the Most Important Muscle in the Upper Arm The reason I am beginning this chapter on the arms with the triceps muscles is that this is the strongest and largest and most important muscle of the upper arm. It is called triceps because it has three heads. Its origin is from the border of the scapula or shoulder blade to the posterior or back surface of the humerus bone of the upper arm. Its insertion is in the olecranon process of the ulna, one of the two bones in the forearm.

Although the origin and insertion of the muscles are the same in everyone, still the triceps differ in appearance, just as much as other muscles are differently developed in various individuals.

The variations in appearance of this muscle depend somewhat upon the size of the bones, in the first place, and then again, upon the different exercises that each student uses toward development. Some people have what be termed a "flat" triceps, while others have a "round" triceps. The difference is that a "flat" triceps has the internal head more highly developed than the external head, thereby giving the arms a wide appearance and great fullness in the back, when viewed from the side. When the external head is more highly developed than the internal head, the arm will not look as wide when viewed from the side, but will look thicker when viewed from the front or from the back.

It is very difficult to set a standard as to the proper degrees of development of the internal head and of the external head, but in my opinion, considerable attention should be paid to both heads of this muscle, for when both are highly developed the arm will have a width as well as thickness.

When the hands are placed on the hips, you will undoubtedly notice in many athletes and strong men the curve of the upper arm will vary in appearance. Some athletes have a very pronounced curve, while in others, the arm is smoother. This is caused by the different degrees of the external head of the triceps development.

I have also noticed in a number of cases, the triceps development varies greatly where the internal head breaks or protrudes up on the arm. I have seen remarkably developed athletes whose internal head of the triceps when flexed began slightly above the back of the elbow and gradually slanted outwards, until it reached its bulk about midway on the upper arm. Then I have seen equally well developed athletes whose triceps were practically straight from the back of the elbow until they reached the middle of the upper arm. Then the internal head gave a sudden break, or raise, until the muscle knotted up to its bulk a little above the middle of the upper arm.

Judging from the ability and strength of these two different types of athletes, I have found that when the triceps does not make so abrupt a break, but when the internal head extends downward with a pleasing slant toward the back of the elbow, the man has much more strength and endurance than when the internal head breaks sharply above the middle of the upper arm. Weight lifters, gymnasts, and apparatus workers, as a rule, have the internal head of the triceps longer than those who have developed this muscle by individual arm work.

Therefore, it can readily be seen that it is to the best advantage of the student to work the muscles in groups, if he desires not of coordination, but strength as well. Tensing or resisting exercises are excellent for bringing out the internal heads of the triceps muscle. But if the muscle is developed purely by such methods, it will be good for boxing or display, but for nothing else, and when put to a test in any kind of competition for strength, it will be found wanting.

When the internal head of the triceps is well developed, and when the arm is held at the height of the shoulder and stretched sideways, a full, pleasing curve will be seen in underneath the arm. The greater the internal triceps development, the rounder the muscle appears. If the student possesses muscles that are supple, by the slightest quiver of his hand and forearm he can cause the triceps to move back and forth while holding the arm in this position, for when the triceps muscle is relaxed, it should be exceedingly soft.

The external head of the triceps is developed by pushing, especially in performing overhead work, such as lifting a dumb-bell one hand overhead, or pushing the hand overhead, while working against some artificial resistance. It also can be brought out to a marked degree by assisting the deltoid in raising the arm sideways, while working against a strong resistance. Hand balancing also is of great value to his external head.

A highly developed external head of the triceps muscle will show a pronounced cord running from the external head downwards in the middle of the arm, towards the supinator longus muscle of the forearm. This part of the triceps can only be seen in highly developed arms, and arms where all superfluous flesh is lacking.

I am obliged to call the reader's attention to Simon Javierto, who is undoubtedly a remarkable example of development in this muscle. This picture of his arm held straight will give you idea of a perfect triceps development.

George Hackenschmidt's Triceps

One of the largest triceps muscles I have ever seen, or felt, for that matter, was owned by George Hackenschmidt, formerly the world's champion wrestler. The internal head of his triceps was more powerfully developed than the external head, while the break or slant of the internal head of his triceps was over two inches in length. While taking into consideration the size of his upper arm when flexed, over 19 inches, there is little wonder at his remarkable triceps.

Hand balancers almost always have triceps development equaled, that is, both heads of this muscle are harmoniously developed. If you will notice the back of their arms the next time you attend one of their performances, you will have a better conception of this important arm muscle.

The muscle in front of the upper arm is a two-headed muscle, called the biceps. This muscle arises from a tuberosity of the scapula or shoulder blade and is inserted in the upper part of the radius bone of the forearm. The development in this muscle differs in various athletes. Sometimes the muscle has a long appearance, even when flexed, and in other cases, it has an egg-like appearance. Even though the biceps is the best-known muscle in the body, it very seldom attains its maximum development unless the student devotes special attention to its use. The length of the arm and the size of the bones also affect the appearance of this muscle, as they do other parts of the body. Nevertheless, the pupil can attain biceps that are not only huge in appearance, but strong as well.

How to Develop the Biceps

Any sort of curling exercise will develop the biceps, as also will chinning, rope-climbing, etc. The biceps should be exercised not only individually, but in coordination with other parts of the body as well, for if the student devotes individual attention to the biceps, to the exclusion of other muscles throughout the same exercise, his biceps will knot up, but they will not be of a strong character.

Most gymnasts, weight lifters, and apparatus workers have very strong biceps, owing to the nature of the work they do, although the biceps development in many of these cases is not up to the standard. This simply shows that special attention must be devoted to this muscle, if the student desires bulk and height to the muscle.

The biceps muscle varies considerably in formation on different individuals, as you no doubt have noticed when bathing or in gym work with other men, or even among your office or shop mates. Some men have a knotted, egg-shaped muscle, others have a knotted and exceedingly high biceps, which has a pointed effect at the top or belly, while others have biceps that do not know up, but are much longer in appearance.

Long biceps undoubtedly have better contour when the arm is relaxed, but they are not as strong as biceps that know up into a huge pointed lump on the belly of this muscle. There is also another shape to the biceps muscle, which on a large, heavily-muscled arm has the appearance of a baseball, that is, round from the every point of view. This kind of a biceps muscle is much thicker as a rule than the pointed and long biceps, and is generally much stronger. Such a formation can be seen on weight lifters, ring artists, etc. The biceps that knot up in egg-shaped appearance usually are best for posing purposes and for muscular display.

I have often noticed a common fault with the biceps among athletes. In a number of cases the lower head breaks or ends too soon, and does not extend as far downward toward the bend in the elbow as it should. This is caused by developing the belly of the biceps to a higher degree than the upper or lower parts of this muscle. Great care should be taken in exercising the biceps by starting the movement with the arm absolutely straight and stiff. The arm should be brought upward toward the shoulder, as high as it will go. If the student neglects the complete contractions and extensions of this muscle, and stops the movement the arm is straightened, he will develop the belly of the muscle to a greater degree, and also shorten the break in the lower part of the biceps. This, unfortunately, will give him a muscles that is not only inferior in appearance, but which will also be lacking considerably in competitive strength work.

Another example of how this can be brought about is shown in the common chinning exercise. You hang from the bar with the hands and endeavor to pull yourself upward, until your chin touches the bar. While performing this exercise, if you do not lower yourself until your arms are absolutely straight each time, you will shorten the biceps muscle.

A very common fault among beginners, especially those who start their physical career with light three-or-five pound dumb-bell exercises, is to never make a complete extension while performing biceps work, especially when the dumb-bells are held in front of them. In my opinion, complete extensions and contractions are of more importance than the number of repetitions. However, I will take this up later, in another chapter.

You should attach just as much importance to complete extensions of the triceps muscles as you do the biceps muscles, in order to secure the best results. If the student neglects this, he will fail to develop either the internal or external head of the triceps as thoroughly as he would if he extended his arm to his limit while performing each exercise.

Whether you are dipping on the floor or lifting weights overhead, or pushing an object away from you, you are doing it for exercise and development. Therefore, make sure the arm is straightened to its limit during each count.

You Can't Pay Too Much Attention to the Upper Arm

It is almost impossible for you to pay too much attention to the upper arms, for it is practically impossible to exercise or move the upper arms without working the shoulder, chest, or back muscles. In my idea of standard development, it is hardly possible for an athlete to over-develop his arms. You see so many highly developed athletes whose legs are splendid and whose torso is remarkable, yet they lack the professional finish to their development, owing to the fact that their arms are one or two inches too small, in proportion to their other muscles. This can be clearly shown to the student of anatomy, if you observe carefully the various kinds of physiques on the bathing beaches or in gymnasiums. You very seldom see a professional boxer whose arms are proportionately developed, in harmony with his body; whereas wrestlers, as a rule, possess arms that are fairly well in proportion, although in most cases the arms are not as highly developed as they could be. Weight lifters as a rule, have large arms. I am convinced that anyone can secure arms in proportion to his other muscles if he will only work to develop them.

It is not necessary to become a wrestler. It is not even necessary to become a weight lifter as long as the student will exercise scientifically and work against a strong resistance, whether it be the weight of his body, or some artificial appliance. The main factor about arm development is that the student must do progressive work. He must increase the resistance more and more as his arms become larger and stronger, otherwise he will simply stand still.

How You Can Acquire a Big Arm

It is an easy matter to acquire a 14-inch flexed upper arm. It is quite difficult for the average-sized man to reach 15 inches, and it is even more difficult for him to attain 16 inches. However, inasmuch as small-boned men have exceeded 16-inch upper arms, time and time again, it shows it can be done. The writer has proof of this, not only upon his own person, but upon thousands of others whom he has trained, and who have reached their maximum proportions.

When attempting arm development, it is folly for anyone to perform endless repetitions of movements, if he desires muscular tissue. For continuous light movements, they will give the pupil endurance, will never get him anywhere, as far as bulk and strength are concerned. The arms, in my opinion, should be tired in less than fifteen repetitions. If anyone can perform an exercise more than fifteen times, that exercise is too light for him. He should immediately adopt heavier progressive work.

It is essential, therefore, that the student employ artificial means for further arm development. Even in the ordinary chinning and dipping exercises, if the student can perform these more than fifteen counts, he must tie, or pick up weights with his feet, or else have an adjustable elastic resistance that could be more and more progressive, if he expects to reach the maximum in the muscles he is using.

Vigorous attention to the biceps not only hardens them, but it brings a greater supply of blood to his muscle, thereby causing it to swell upon completion of the exercise. The student will soon learn that by swelling the muscles up to their maximum size within fifteen counts he will accomplish better results than by working against a resistance light enough for a school boy.

It is this constant swelling up of the muscles that increases their size. Therefore, if the pupil will give his triceps and biceps vigorous work, tiring both of them thoroughly, until they are fairly aching, he will discover his arms will be from 1/4 to 1/2 inch larger when flexed than they were before, depending greatly, of course, upon his development.

Would You Like to Gain an Inch Next Month ?

The student who is desirous of gaining around his upper arm during the next month will find that this is not difficult by scientifically applied exercise to his biceps and triceps. All he need do is to exercise these muscles sufficiently every day to swell them to their limit. If the arm swells up 1/2 inch after exercising, it does not stay that way the rest of the day, but diminishes at least 15/32 of an inch, retaining 1/32 of an increase.

The first two weeks the student will undoubtedly gain 5/8 of an inch, whereas the next two weeks he should expect to gain more than 3/8 of an inch. The pupil will find that he will make more progress the first six months of the year than he will for the last six months. For as the muscles become hardened and more developed, the will find it more difficult to increase their size. This simply verifies what I said before; that it is not so easy to attain a 16-inch arm. It means patience and hard work. In weight lifting, a pupil can very easily in a very short space of time and without any previous experience, lift 100 pounds overhead with two hands, but he cannot expect to lift 200 pounds with two hands during the next equal period. If he lifts 125 pounds he will be very fortunate. The same thing applies to muscles.

A beginner who has never had any experience with training at all, and whose arm measures, for example, 12 inches when flexed, can attain, within three months, a 13 1/2 inch arm. During the next three month his arm will measure 14 to 14 1/2 inches. But during the next six months he will be very fortunate if his arm increases to 15 inches in size. The larger the upper arm becomes, the shorter it appears. Therefore, an athlete whose upper arm measures 15 1/2 to 16 1/2 inches, providing he is of average height, generally gives the impression that his arms are short, when, in reality, his reach is just as long as it was when he started. This, as a rule, equals the height.

Don't Expect to Develop Large Biceps from Ordinary Calisthenics Work

A student of average height who endeavors to develop his arms by light calisthenics work, can never expect to attain more that a 14 1/2-inch upper arm when flexed. Whereas the student who adopts progressive work, making the resistance stronger and stronger as he progresses, will not only save considerable time and energy, but he will develop muscles that are both huge in appearance and will be equal to any test of strength.

The individual with large bones again has the advantage over his small-boned competitor. A large-boned man develops his upper arms, that are not only stronger than his small-boned competitor, but arms that are more massive in appearance. On the other hand, the small-boned man may develop much finer looking arms; arms more suitable for photographing, owing to his small joints, than a large-boned man.

The small-boned individual, however, should not feel discouraged, for a 16-inch upper arm on a small-boned man looks much larger than a 17-inch arm on a big-boned individual, assuming, of course, that the individual has reached his maximum development.

Size of the arm counts little if the development is not there, and many fleshy people who have large arms do not present the appearance of a thinner type individual whose arms are well-trained. I have noticed in a number of cases that a well-developed 14-inch or 14 1/12 inch upper arm looks a great deal larger than a 15 1/2 inch upper arm, if the larger arm is not fully developed, even though both individuals are of the same height.

The forearm has considerable to do with the appearance of the upper arm, especially if the supinator longus muscle is thoroughly developed. The supinator longus muscles covering the upper and outer part of the forearm, pleasingly blend with the biceps, and if the pronator muscles on the inside of the forearm are roundly developed, it will set off the upper arm considerably.

Don't Neglect Your Forearm If You Want Symmetry

It is a difficult thing to develop the upper arm without developing the forearm, although if the student desires exceptionally developed forearms, he must devote special attention to them. I have seen athletes who are an exception to this rule. One strong man, in particular, whom I know, has remarkable upper arms, measuring over 16 inches, whereas his forearm measured less than 12 inches. There is a reverse to this. I have seen athletes with remarkable forearms whose upper arms seemed small in comparison, although they were above average measurement. This is commonly noticed on individuals whose bones are unusually large. The small-boned man, as a rule, has small forearms, thereby exaggerating his upper arms and making them look even larger than they really are.

It is exceedingly difficult to set a standard for the forearm and the upper arm development as to ideal measurements, but my idea as to pleasing proportions is a 16 inch upper arm and a 12 1/2 forearm; the forearm measurement, of course, being taken with arms straight. In order to find out the largest measurement of the forearm, the arm should be almost fully bent at the elbow, the fist clenched and the wrist turned down, and the tape passed around the largest part.

A well-developed forearm will show a difference of from two to three inches from a relaxed state in this manner. A well-developed forearm looks even more developed when the muscles of the wrist are pronounced. The student will find that the muscles above the wrist will increase the measurement of the wrist slightly when thoroughly developed, especially the extensor muscle which covers it.

Bending and turning the wrist, either with a weight or against a strong resistance is undoubtedly the best possible means for the development of the forearm. The repetitions of this group of muscles should not exceed fifteen or twenty counts. If the student can perform a greater number than this, he should increase the weight or resistance, so as to bring about maximum development in the shortest possible time.

Iron Nation
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