Thursday, July 14, 2011

THE WAY TO LIVE - (Circa 1908) - Chapter 11 - EXERCISES FOR ATHLETES - By George Hackenschmidt


After having trained for three or four months, on the systems dealt with in the last chapter, a great increase of strength will be soon perceived. If it is intended to further increase it, one should begin to train once or twice per week (provided always one does not possess any tendency to rupture) with heavier weights. I recommend the use for six months only such weights as one can handle at least five to ten times for one exercise, and on such days avoid part, if not all, ordinary exercises.

There are a great many weight-lifting exercises, which might be mentioned, but I propose here to confine myself to the principal ones for ordinary feats of strength. The bar-bell for this purpose should be 1 inch thick.

Always take a deep breath before each separate lift. Do not wear a tight belt when practising.

1. Snatch With One Hand (Right or Left)

Rule: The bar-bell is lifted with one hand without stop from floor to full extent above the xhead.

Execution: Place the bar-bell near both feet over the instep, get hold precisely in the middle, bend down, lay the free hand on the respective knee ( left hand on the left knee or right hand on the right knee), take a quick and firm grip, and pull the weight at the same time with a lightning rapidity upwards. The muscles of the hand, forearms, biceps, shoulders, legs, abdomen, and hip should all work together only for a fraction of a second (perhaps hardly one-tenth of a second) to obtain a good result.

Many athletes snatch the bar only up to the eyes, after which they get their body underneath like lightning. This indicates great strength of legs and agility.

Several French and German athletes snatch about 180 lb. with one hand. Formerly, when I trained regularly with weights (the reader is, perhaps, aware that for the last seven or eight years I have given my attention almost entirely to wrestling). I succeeded at St. Petersburg on April 27th, 1898, in snatching 196 with my right hand from the floor to above my head. This was for many years the world's record.

Approved training rules: A practice for the snatch is the lifting of a bar-bell with one hand about three feet from the floor. Snatch the weight thus up to ten times in succession to get the knack of it, for every athlete has his own personal peculiarities in lifting. By constant practice, each will find out which method of snatch is best suited to himself.

When you have managed to lift the weight above the head, make a slight turning movement to learn to hold fix and balance it well. In letting down the weight, use both hands.

After one has trained in this manner for four to six months- that is, having always snatched up to ten times and later increased the weight by 1 lb. - one has attained a certain agility and can try the following: Snatch the weight, which you can generally snatch ten times, thrice, increase the weight by l lb. to 5 lb., and snatch two or three times: then again increase by a few pounds, and snatch once or twice, and you will ascertain your own record for the time being. Between the trials, do not pause longer than one or two minutes, as otherwise the energy vanishes. It is quite sufficient to try records every three or four weeks, and in the meantime practise thoroughly exercises of endurance, and with light weights try to still improve those muscles which you have found to be somewhat flabby. It is easy to find out in what points one is lacking.

As a matter of course, all one-arm exercises are to be made right and left, so as to obtain the same strength and dexterity in both arms.

In carry out all these exercises it is advisable to walk up and down the room continually between feats.

2. One-Arm Swing of Dumb-Bell

This exercise resembles the foregoing. Use a short dumb-bell.

Rule: The dumb-bell lies between the legs lengthways. The inner side of the from ball to be in line with the toes, and the weight to be raised from the floor to above the head with one movement and one arm. Some athletes stipulate that the free hand should not touch the body anywhere, and to touch the floor with the free hand would disqualify.

Execution: Seize the dumb-bell with your hand against the front ball (not in the middle), bend fairly low, and swing the weight upwards. Some athletes first swing forward to get the momentum; this is permitted.

In this performance there are the same advantages as in the snatch. French athletes excel in it.

The one-arm swing is often made with ring weights, which are swung between the legs. The Frenchman, Apollon, make a specialty of it, and can swing four weights tied together of 180 lb. total above the xhead. The German, Belling, is also excellent; he swung 180 lb. three times.

As the swinging of ring weights requires a strong forearm and wrist, it is advisable to fasten a leather strap of two or three inches width round the wrist.

One-Arm Jerk

Rule: The weight, either bar or dumb-bell, is pushed from the shoulder to above the head with one arm, in one jerk. Whilst in England, France, and Italy it is the rule that the weight should be raised to the shoulder with one hand only, it is usual in my country (Russia) and in Germany to employ both hands. The Russian athlete Lurich, one of the best specialists in this feat, consequently raises his weight with both hands to the shoulder, and I did the same. It is, therefore, advisable to train according to the rule of one's own country or in both styles. If the weight has to lifted to the shoulder with one arm, one may do this by snatching it or by standing the bar-bell straight up, and getting underneath it. The dumb-bell or bar-bell should, at any rate, rest free on one hand without touching the shoulder. The latter method, however, is adopted by the Austrian athletes, and they perform as a specialty the double-arm jerk of two weights in this manner. Josef Steinbach, of Vienna, one of the strongest man living, holds the world's record in the two-arm jerk of 167 1/2 lb., both dumb-bells having touched the shoulders first.

Practical Hints for Jerking

Place the elbow of the arm, holding the weight, firmly against the body near the hip, so that the arm is somewhat relieved of the weight.

Now bend your knee slightly, and, by sudden rising and pushing upward with your shoulder and arm, jerk to full arm's length above your xhead.

Train in the same way as indicated for the one-arm snatch.

One-Arm Press

Rule: The weight, dumb-bell or bar-bell, is to be raised from the shoulder above the head without swing or jerk of the body or legs, but simply by the strength of the arms; the body may be slightly bent.

Here, also, different styles are practised in different countries in lifting the weight to the shoulders. There is a rule observed in Austria and France, but not so much in Germany, for the position of the feet during the performance, namely, the so-called "at attention" position, heels touching in military style, and pressing the weight without the slightest movement of the xbody. It is evident that under this rule an athlete cannot possibly press more than, say, half his own weight.

The holder of the world's record in the "at attention" position, Michael Maier, of Vienna, is especially adapted for this feat, having very short arms, and being very heavy (243 lb.) . His record is 143 lb.

There have been obtained a good many noteworthy records in the ordinary one-arm press (endurance and strength feats), especially in Germany, and also in my own country ( Russia). At the age of nineteen years I myself pressed a bar-bell of 269 lb. with one arm.

Arthur Saxon, the world's record holder, an athlete well known in England, has obtained wonderful results in the one-arm press. He bends himself, as it were, under the weight, and has pressed as much as 37l lb. (bar-bell) with one hand.

I may mention here that some authorities use the expression "screwing" for this kind of performance.

The real difference between 'pressing " and "screwing" is, that in pressing the arm propels the weight upwards, whilst in screwing the weight hardly changes its height, as the body changes its position underneath it until the arm is stretched, after which the athlete simply erects himself. The body performance is exactly the same when you stand against a wall and press yourself away from it with one hand.

The training for the press is done in the same way as indicated for the one-arm snatch.

The so-called "screwing" is, technically, the most difficult kind of weight-lifting, and requires much practice, especially by a young athlete, whose body is still flexible. Its training should, however, be conducted very carefully, and one ought to have a friend to assist in lowering the weight, instead of letting it drop. Screwing requires a good balance of the body, and great calmness and determination. Screw as slowly as possible.

Two-Arm Snatch

Rule: The bar-bell is raised in one movement from floor to above the xhead.

This exercise, like the single-arm snatch, requires a lightning rapidity in the simultaneous working of the leg, hip, abdomen, and arm muscles; the whole body is thereby improved simultaneously, both in strength and agility.

Here also the correct exercise is the slow but gradual increase from one to five times.

Rule: The bar-bell is pushed from the shoulder by a jerk to above the head, the legs seconding, and fixed there at least a few seconds.

This performance is, like other of which I have spoken, executed in different styles, according to the custom of the country in question. In England, France, and Italy, for instance, the bar-bell has to be raised in one movement from the floor to the shoulder, whilst in Russia, Germany, and Austria, it is permissible to raise it in several movements. Naturally, in the latter countries the results are better as far as the weight pushed is concerned. For instance, in Germany, Russia, and Austria, there are a quite a number of athletes who can jerk 330 lb. and more with both arms. Josef Steinbach, of Vienna, holds the world's record with 380 1/4 lb. I also jerked during my training, over 330 lb.

For the French style of jerk with both arms (lifting the weight in one movement to the chest), Arvid Anderson holds the record with 328 1/2 lb.

Practical Hints

The increase of the weight to lift during training is to be observed in the same gradual manner. Exercise principally in the French style ( one movement to chest), which is more elegant, and is of greater value. With very heavy weights, however, lift first against the body, and then jerk up to the shoulders in one movement.

Support the weight as much as possible on the top part of the chest; do not hesitate long however, but push vigorously upwards, trying to straighten the arms as quickly as possible, and to get underneath the bar-bell. The giants' performances are only possible by the exercise of consummate technique, combined with strength. The best position of the legs is soon found out by the performer himself. Some take a step by putting one leg forward, some backward; some spread their legs much, others less. I have witnessed good results in all the positions; all depends on the individual manner.

Two-Arm Press

Rule: The weight is to be raised from the shoulders above the head by the strength of the arms only, without the help of the body or legs, and fixed for a few seconds.

Here, again, the modus operandi is different in various countries. In Germany and Austria, particularly, there are a great many athletes who are very skilled in the two-arm press. This performance is technically the simplest and easiest kind of weight-lifting, as only the muscles of the shoulders and triceps are brought into play.

Training should be done in the same way as for single-arm press or push.

On the Continent, these eight styles of weight-lifting, viz., one-arm right and left snatch, jerk and press, both-arm jerk and press, are called the "Achtkampt," or the eight-lift competition, and they form, as it were, the classical test of strength.

There have, however, been established records in various other forms of weight-lifting, of which I will only mention the more important ones.

Lifting in the Bridge

I have already recommended this exercise as excellent for the development of the spine, neck, and nape muscles, under the heading of neck muscle exercises.

I will, therefore, only mention the world's record obtained by myself on August 2, 1898, in Vienna, of 311 lb.

Free Lift to Chest in One Movement

This exercise is practised principally in England, France, and Italy, where it is regarded as being the only correct style for all double-arm lifts. It forms a preliminary exercise for the double-arm snatch.

Record:- Pierre Bonnes (Paris) 330 lb.; Eliseyeff (Russia), 330 lb. I have also lifted in this style 308 lb.

The Horizontal Equipoise of Weights (Balancing weights with arms outstretched sideways.)

In France this performance ranks among the classical feats of strength for athletes, and there exist definite rules for its execution: -

l. The arm holding the weight to form exactly a right angle with the body, rather lower than higher.

2. The arm and wrist must be fully stretched.

3. The body must be perfectly straight, and lean in no direction.

There are two ways of performing this feat, namely-

1. The balancing of the weight on the hand, which is the less difficult

In this case the weight is of the oblong shape used for weighing purposes, and is slightly hollowed out at the bottom, so that there is an edge. It is held so that the palm of the hand presses against the edge, while the one part of the weight rests on the wrist, and the finger-tips touch the other end. One may lift the weight with both hands to the shoulder, and press it up and then let it down into the balance, or, which is considered the better style, one may raise it directly sideways into the balance. It has to be fixed for a few seconds in the proper balance before being released. The weights, according to their size and heaviness, have a width from 8 to 12 in. at the bottom.

For the two arm balance, the weights are placed with a side on the hand, so that the bottom and top of the weights are seen. In balancing, the body must not be bent backwards (which would make it easier, but which counts for so many points less).

The records of this difficult performance are held by the French professional athlete, Victorious, who has balanced 82 1/2 lb. on the hand and 66 lb. by the ring.

In a less strictly correct style, I balanced on February 15, 1902, with both arms, dumb-bells of 90 lb. in the right hand and 89 lb. in the left hand simultaneously, and have even held out 110 lb. right and 100 lb. left, simultaneously, although my performance could not be claimed as a record, seeing that it did not conform exactly to the regulations.

Balancing with ring weights is simpler in the hold, but more difficult to execute, as the palm is held downwards. The ring can, therefore, only be held against the thumb (which is more or less painful), or against the finger-ends. The weight is generally raised with slightly bent arms to the shoulders, and then held out sideways. Some prominent athletes lift it straight from the floor into the balance, and, as this is especially difficult, it counts higher.

The following are a few further records in weight-lifting and athletic performances: - Both-arm press with two weights;

Wilhelm Turck, Vienna, on August 29, 1899, 140 lb. dumb-bell in the right hand, 139 1/4 dumb-bell in the left hand, together 279 1/4 lb., lifted to shoulder and correctly pressed.

The same on August 29, 1899, at Vienna: 300 lb. bar-bell lifted to the shoulders with both arms, and pressed.

Schneider, Cologne (Germany), 1897: 100 lb. dumb-bell in each hand, twelve times.

Wilhelm Turck, Vienna, on July 30, l901: two so-called "Boli" dumb-bells 286 lb., correct from the shoulder to above the xhead. (The lift to the shoulders was done in each case in several movements).

Press from sitting posture (both arms):

Wilhelm Turck, on September 25,1900: (sitting on a chair) bar-bell of 220 lb. four times, bar-bell of 237 lb. twice, bar-bell of 253 lb. once.

Lying on the floor and pulling bar-bell over the head and press.

Georg Hackenschmidt (record), August 2, 1898, in Vienna, 333 lb.

Pushing bar-bell while lying on the floor.

Georg Hackenschmidt (record) 360 lb. once (the whole body remaining on the floor)

Deep-knee bending without weights:

Max Danthage, Vienna, (amateur), on June 4, 1899, 6,000 times correctly within three hours.

Deep knee bending with weight on the shoulder (bar-bell):

H. Sell, Grossenhain (Saxony), on January 21, 1899, 440 lb. seven times; H. P. Hansen, Copenhagen, on March 19, 1899, 277 lb., sixty-five times.

Deep-knee bending, holding a bar-bell above the head with both hands:

Gustav Wain, at Reval (Russia), on January 13, 1898, 189 lb., four times.

Deep-knee bend, holding a weight in each hand above the xhead:

G. Lurich, at Leipzig, on September 24, 1900, 110 lb. ring weight in each hand, once.

Sitting in Turkish Style, and getting up with bar-bell:

Georg Hackenschmidt, performed at Siebert's Athletic Training School at Alsleben, Germany, in January, 1902: Holding bar-bell of 187 lb. and getting up, once; holding bar-bell of 110 lb. and getting up, five times.

Press with the Feet. (The athlete lies on his back and raises the bar-bell on the soles of feet).

A German amateur, Rudolf Klar, of Leipzig, has pressed in this manner, 352 lb. twenty times.

Arthur Saxon can support a tremendous weight on his feet in this position, probably as much as 2,500 lb.

Holding a weight (bar or dumb-bell) with one hand erect above the head, from standing posture to lying down and getting up again.

This is an exercise which requires great strength and skill. The Swiss professional athlete, Emile Deriaz, at Paris, December, 1903, performed it with a dumb-bell of 189 lb., which he lifted first in one movement to the shoulder and pressed.

Lifting a bar-bell of 1 1/4 in. diameter with one hand from the floor.

This performance indicates large hands and a tremendous gripping power. A Leipzig amateur thus lifted 488 lb.; it is true, only 3 1/4 in. from the ground. But there are athletes in Germany and Austria who can lift 420 to 440 lb. with one arm from bend to erect position of the body (hang). Lift of bar-bell with both hands (top hold) from the floor, about six inches.

This requires great strength of arms and legs, especially strength of hips. When out of training, I lifted in Munich about 550 lb.; now a German is said to have lifted 583 lb.

Use disc weights for preference as these are easiest altered and interchanged.


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