Friday, June 17, 2011

THE DEVELOPMENT OF PHYSICAL POWER - (Circa 1906) - Chapter 10 - General Weight-Lifting - By Arthur Saxon

One of the first things to arrange is a suitable place in which to practise. It must be borne in mind that if you are ill-advised or so awkwardly situated as to have to lift in a bedroom at the top of the house, if the weight falls it will drop on the bedroom floor, but will not stop until it reaches the cellar or kitchen. Also in lifting on a floor which is not particularly firm, or either above the below rooms occupied by people who wish to be quiet, one is bound to cause annoyance. I remember in practising at a Club in Holborn, every time the weight dropped the pen flew from the solicitor's hand who was writing over our heads. I am afraid the strain this gentleman's nerves could not have been beneficial. The best place for lifting is the open air - any ordinary yard or garden, or even shed will do. I suppose the next best place must be a basement, but unfortunately, the air is generally so impure in the underground rooms, that one quickly gets stale through practising therein.

Another item of importance is clothing, which must, above all, be loose, and rubber-soled slippers should be worn. I do not advise the use of wrist straps. For the time being you obtain support and apparently your wrist is strengthened, but the strength is only apparent and not real. Should you be compelled to lift without your wrist straps you would miss them, and your wrist would not be equal to the strain. In another part of this work I advise disc-loading bells in preference to shot-loading. Probably the best all-round bars for your discs would be one about 6 ft. in length by 1 in. or 1 1/2 in. in thickness, and two short bars to turn into dumb-bells. The long bar would be right, not only for double-handed lifting, but for snatching and clean lifts, all the way using one hand only, whilst if you have l 1/2 in. bar, this would be right for double-handed work, but would handicap you in single-handed snatching and pulling in to the shoulder, as such a bar would be found to be too thick.

In practising, do not proceed too quickly from one lift to another. Take a rest between each lift whilst a friend takes a turn with the bell. A lot of strength is lost in the stooping position necessary to adjust the weight of the bell and to "centre" same, therefore have someone to do this for you, if possible. In competition lifting, where you have to use the bent press, it is advisable to get this lift performed first. The bent press is by no means such a certain as the double-handed lift. Balance has a lot to do with the body lift, and if you are tired and shaky you will probably be unsuccessful, whilst the two-handed lift is always certain of accomplishment. Also in competition lifting, do not try your heaviest weight at the first attempt. You will, perhaps, only be allowed three attempts, and if you fail three times in succession you will not have lifted anything at all, whereas if you started 10 lbs. or so below your best lift you might succeed in doing an extra five or ten pounds, at the third attempt, above your previous record.

It is also advisable that, as opportunity occurs, you try other lifters' weights, so that you will get used to handling long bars and short bars, thick bars and thin bars, bars that are bent and bars that are straight, solid bells, disc bells, and shot-loading bells; you may even learn something from the ordinary bar weight weighing 56 lbs. The instructions in this book must be altered to suit your physical peculiarities. Take the bent press - I have given my position, but it may not suit you. Some people can bend better than others.

It suits some to lift with more speed than others, so you will see there is a great science in weight-lifting which it takes years of hard study to properly master. It is not half as simple and uninteresting as some people appear to suppose. There is nothing so splendid as to feel oneself stronger than one's fellows, and this strength may be more quickly acquired by means of weight-lifting than in any other fashion that I am aware of.

Remember the fable of the tortoise and the hare and be content to go slowly. Think each lift out before you attempt it, and at all times endeavour to improve you position and become more scientific. Do not rush madly at a difficult lift which puzzles you, and make repeated futile efforts like a mad bull rushing at a gate. One rather delicate point in weight-lifting, difficult to explain on paper, is that if you imagine in your mind the weight in the position you wish it to be, before you attempt to lift it, then your are more likely to succeed than if you allow yourself to doubt success attending your efforts.

Those who have studied mental culture rather than physical culture will readily explain this by saying that you give yourself a suggestion which takes root and enables you to make a better effort, putting forth more strength on account of having placed yourself under more favourable conditions. Also I wish to emphasize the necessity of at all times concentrating in a determined manner your energy at the time that you are lifting, contracting to the to the full the right muscles at the right moment, instead of lifting in a half-hearted mechanical fashion. Another hint is, do not hold your breath whilst lifting. This is extremely dangerous, giving rise to a strain on the heart. Take a deep breath before you jerk a weight aloft, and then, when you have succeeded or failed, you can breathe again.

Conservation of energy is one of the secrets of success, and this means that, to give a simple illustration, should a man, on a certain night, attempt to lift a tremendous weight, he should, during the day, in every way treasure his strength, and avoid dissipating same. You will say, "This is very simple," and "Everyone knows this," but I have seen a man, about to attempt a record lift, jump on his bicycle and ride a matter of 12 or 13 miles up and down hill, and through traffic to the gymnasium where the weight was to be lifted. Now this man must be dissipating, to a certain extent, part of his energy and tiring his leg muscles, so that he may lose just that amount of strength and energy which would have made the difference between failure and success. Further, to conserve energy, it behooves one not to continue practising when fatigued. Desist immediately you feel your strength rapidly leaving you. Then, after rest, you will be stronger for your practice, but if you go on, the next time you lift you will be disgusted to find that instead of growing stronger you are growing weaker, and rest is then the only remedy.

Iron Nation
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Bob Whelan

Bob Whelan

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