Thursday, June 2, 2011
MUSCLE BUILDING (Circa 1924 ) - Chapter 8 - Training Your Abdomen to Make You Healthy - By Earle E. Liederman
I was giving a series of lectures on physical culture some years ago in Chicago when a young doctor, who was some kind of a teacher in a medical college, took exception to a statement I made concerning the influence of exercise on health.
The doctor, who was pretty well married to the idea that the only way you could get relief from sickness was to take something out of a bottle, or else swallow a couple of pills, said:
"Mr. Liederman, do you mean to say that if a person takes exercise that he wont get sick; or if he is sick, that you can help him to get well by having him take exercises?"
I said: "I don't make any foolish claims to the effect that you can prevent all kinds of sickness by putting the body in perfect physical condition. Nor do I mean to say that all forms of sickness can be overcome by having a man take the right kind of exercises, for there are many kinds of sickness that are the result of direct infection.
"I do mean, to say, however, that if a man will put himself into A-1 physical condition by the proper kind of exercise and right living, that he stands a very small chance of ever developing any of the chronic ailments due to disorders of digestion and metabolism and the lack of proper elimination, that constitute nine-tenths of the doctor's business today.
"And I mean further to say, that even if he does contract acute diseases from infection, exposure, or other causes, that he'll be well about five times as fast if he is in fine physical shape as he would if he is all out of condition, from lack of proper physical exercise and failure to observe the essential rules of hygiene which I teach."
The doctor listened to what I had to say, and when I got through, he said, "Mr. Liederman, I take it all back. I see that what you have to say is founded on strict common sense. You win."
And this is now rapidly becoming the attitude of physicians all over the world. The are giving less and less medicine, and paying more attention to diet, hygiene, fresh air and exercise. And they're doing their patients infinitely more good than they ever did before, as a consequence.
The Abdominal Muscles and Their Importance
From the standpoint of health, there is no doubt that the abdominal muscles are the most important of all the muscles in the body - except, of course, the heart muscles. For the condition of the abdominal muscles either makes or mars the function of all the digestive organs, as well as the most important organs of elimination, the bowels.
Strong, well-developed waist muscles, that hold the abdominal organs up in position and that prevent the sagging or prolapse that interferes so disastrously with their function, are absolutely essential to everyone who wants to remain in good health.
Therefore, I urge you to pay particular attention to the development of the muscles of the waist, so that you may enjoy the better health which development of the abdominal muscles brings about.
Now, to the average person the waist consists of two sizes small and large. To the student of anatomy, however, there are as many variations in the waist as there are faces in the street. There are also long waists and short waists. The longer waisted individual usually has more endurance and more flexibility than a person who has a short waistline. In the trained athlete the waist usually presents its best appearance at about twenty-five years of age, for after that, there is a tendency to accumulate flesh, regardless of what physical training an individual may do.
This change may merely be a gain of an inch or two, but, nevertheless, after twenty-five years of age, the waist is never as small. Before the age of twenty, you very seldom see the muscles of the waist as thoroughly developed as they are after a man has reached his full growth, for, as a rule, the youthful waistline has a tendency to go in at the sides, where the external oblique abdominal muscle lies. Later on, when the boy commences training of the trunk region, the waist assumes a square appearance, owing to the pleasing development of the external oblique muscles.
The first muscle to show its appearance when the student performs a few weeks of abdominal work is the rectus addominus. This muscle covers the front of the abdominal region, and when lightly developed has a washboard appearance of eight fleshy digitations. If not fully developed to the maximum there are only six showing.
One of the finest examples of abdominal development I have ever seen is that of Eugene Sandow. His muscles are of unusual quality and contour and he possesses remarkable control of them. The constant contraction of these abdominal muscles helps greatly to bring them out. The most simple contraction is performed by bending slightly forward and pressing downward on the thighs with the hands. The next step is the isolation of the rectus abdominus.
This is performed by emptying the lungs of air, pressing downward and outward on the upper thighs with the hands, and at the same time drawing in the abdominal wall, causing a cavity on each side of these muscles. I have seen some remarkable controls in this region. The single isolation, that is, having one side of the rectus abdominus muscle contracted and the other side drawn in with the abdominal cavity, is undoubtedly the most phenomenal of any muscular control that can be accomplished.
The quickest way to gain flesh around the abdominal region is to make yourself comfortable, and the larger waistline becomes the more the skin is placed upon a stretch, until the weight of the superfluous flesh in front of the waist becomes saggy and lower. It is a simple matter to accumulate extra weight around the waist, but it is a very hard matter to rid oneself of it, as you may possibly have already found out. If a person will be careful of his diet, does not sit too much, and makes a point of standing erect at all times, he need have very little fear of becoming fleshy around the waist, especially if he performs daily sit-ups and trunk movements.
After Thirty Five You May Have to Fight Fat
After thirty or thirty-five years of age, fleshy accumulations not only in the front of the waist, but in the sides and back, as well as the hips, will gradually form rolls of at that are much harder to get rid of than is the superfluous flesh that gathers in front of the waist. A person whose habits are sedentary must pay special attention to the side of his back, the side of the waist and the front of his abdomen, if he expects to retain a small waistline the remainder of his days. He also must be careful of his diet, if he inclined to put on flesh.
The nervous type of individual who is high-strung need have little fear of ever acquiring a large waist, and should be thankful for that reason. If however, he will devote care and attention to the rest of his body, combined with systematic training, he will find his progress much easier, and will waste less energy in his progress than the person who has constantly to fight the accumulation of flesh around the abdomen. My idea of the type of waist an athlete should possess is clearly shown in the portrait of George Hackenschmidt on page 36. The waist shown in his pose is square, well-developed and yet slim, at the same time long, thus giving him remarkable endurance, flexibility and perfectly functioning organs.
It is very difficult to set a standard of measurements for the waistline, for a great deal depends upon the height and framework of the individual. A person who has a large framework, naturally will have a much wider waist than his small-boned competitor. This width of the waist will naturally increase the size by a couple of inches. The smaller the waist is, the larger the chest appears, and the broader the shoulders look. A person who devotes a lot of attention to abdominal work need never have any fear of constipation, indigestion or other similar ailments so common to the ordinary public.
Exercises for the Waist
As I said before, the waistline to the obese individual is one of the most stubborn parts of the body to reduce, especially if considerable superfluous flesh is carried around the entire waist. The stout individual must work twice as hard as his slim neighbor if he expects to accomplish the same object, namely, a trim, square waist.
The same exercises that reduce the waist will build it up. This applies practically to every part of the body as well. A well-developed waistline is something everyone should strive for, as the prolonged efforts utilized to obtain symmetry will benefit and strengthen the digestive system, and make every organ function efficiently.
Exercise l. One of the finest exercises for the waist is to lie on the floor and come to a sitting posture, while keeping the hands behind the head. The beginner may have to hook his feet under a dresser, couch or some other piece of furniture at first, to hold his feet down, but after a while he will be able to do this exercise without any difficulty,
This exercise should be continued until the muscles in the front part of the abdomen begin to feel uncomfortable. No special rules limiting the number of repetitions can be stipulated, because everyone is constituted differently, and too severe a strain upon the waist may cause hernia and other disagreeable strains; therefore, I do not advise the student to pick up weights while performing these exercises, or sitting up with these weights until he is well advanced in the work.
I suggest that the beginner do not attempt to perform more than ten repetitions for the first week or so, increasing gradually, until about twenty-five counts are reached. When he can do twenty-five repetitions after several months, he may pick up small objects of a few pounds or more, and perform this movement.
Exercise 2. Lie on your right side and raise both legs upward as high as possible., with the knees stiff. Lower the legs to the floor and repeat. This exercise is of special benefit for the sides of the waist, and should be performed until those waist muscles fell uncomfortable and start to ache. Do the same while lying on the opposite side.
Exercise 3. Lie on the back, and with knees stiff bring the legs as far as possible to the left, then upward as far as possible, then over to the right, until they almost touch the floor, then to the original starting position. This is called "leg circling," and is performed until the abdominal muscles feel uncomfortable. If you become tired, rest a minute and reverse the movement until you become tired again.
Exercise 4. Raise the legs with knees stiff, and the arms with arms stiff, and touch the toe in mid-air while lying on your back. Lower to original position and repeat. Care should be taken each time when lowering that the body is completely outstretched on the floor, with the legs stiff and the hands extended overhead, otherwise, you will not get as much benefit out of this movement as you should. Continue until the abdominal muscles feel uncomfortable.
Exercise 5. While lying on your back, raise both legs upward and continue the movement until the toes touch the floor beyond your head. Return to original position and repeat until the abdominal region feels uncomfortable.
Exercise 6. While standing on the floor, raise arms overhead, and interlace the fingers, reaching upward as far as possible. While stretching in this position, bend as far as you can to the right, then as far as you can to the left. Continue until you feel tired at the sides of the waist or in the small of the back.
Exercise 7. Stand erect and reach upward as far as possible and clap one hank with the other. Bend forward, keeping knees stiff, until your hands touch the floor. Raise upward, keeping knees stiff, until your hands touch the floor. Raise upward again and bend backward as far as possible. These forward and backward movements you will find very suitable for warming-up exercises, before beginning heavier work.
If the student will perform the exercises I have mentioned here, he will secure about all the abdominal work necessary for his day's drill. I do not believe in devoting too much time to the abdominal muscles, for if this done, too much energy is used, thereby preventing attention to the muscle-building exercises, which are the subject of this book.
The abdominal muscles are exercised in conjunction with various other muscles in different exercises. However, direct application to abdominal movements is absolutely essential for health's sake, as well as in cases where superfluous flesh is carried around the waist, or where greater abdominal development is desired.
The student should do at one or two abdominal exercises every day, such as sitting up, touching the toes, or sitting up with hands behind head in order to prevent any chance of superfluous flesh gathering around his waistline, and also to stimulate his internal organs.
The lifting of a bar-bell from the floor to the height of the waist and lowering again, which I mention in the development of the latissimus dorsi muscle, is of special benefit as well for the muscles of he lower back, where fat generally accumulates in sedentary individuals.
There is one thing I would like to emphasize before leaving the subject. The abdominal muscle exercises, above all others, are the one form of exercise you should never give up. For the older you get the more need you'll have for doing everything in your power to keep the abdominal organs functioning properly. And these are the exercises that will do the trick.
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