Sunday, July 10, 2011

THE WAY TO LIVE - (Circa 1908) - Chapter 7 - TRAINING - By George Hackenschmidt


Before I describe what I consider the best method of training for the acquisition of strength, I should like to make a few remarks with regard to its application.

It stands to reason that the natural bent and abilities for physical development in different people vary with the individual. An old man will have to train differently from a young man, a woman differently from a child, while there are various graduations for age and sex... There are, however, a great many people who seem to be hindered by their vocation or calling from a methodical training on these lines. To these I would say that there is always some time available every day which can be devoted to physical exercises and the care of the body. If you wish to become strong and well, you must attend to this, just as you must find time for eating. And, again, if you do not find time to be become and remain healthy, you will be obliged to find time to be ill. Surely some of the hours wasted on banal and often harmful pleasures might be devoted to physical exercise.

Of course, I am aware that there are people whose occupation is very trying, and others who undergo great mental strain. I should recommend such to study and follow particularly the part of my book dealing with the mastery and concentration of thought while they are training, when their success will be certain. Brain workers must, however, proceed with particular care, following the maxim, "Slowly, but surely." They will require months where others require weeks owing to their more favourable conditions; but the result will be the same.

The Best Method of Training

As a principle rule I should stipulate for regularity of training. Any observant student will have noticed that the mechanism of the body reacts unconsciously, and with an often surprising punctuality, consequent upon certain repeated activity, by reason of its habit and adaptability. For instance, if one follows a regular mode of life, one wakens always at the same hour; hunger and vigour, etc., are also similarly experienced at certain times of the day.. The time will, of course, vary with different people. I should not advise the practice of physical exercise, more particularly exercise with weights, in the morning after rising, as most people are not then particularly vigorous. The best time during the two hours previous or subsequent to a principal meal; if before, one ought to leave off at least a quarter of an hour before eating, so that the nerves may become calm, otherwise, loss of appetite may be entailed.

The exercises should not exceed one quarter of an hour at the commencement, and should only be increased by five minutes in a few months. Afterwards, about thirty minutes are fully sufficient to the acquisition and preservation of strength and endurance.

Another useful point of notice is that it is unadvisable to sit down and rest between the exercises, as not only is one likely to contract a chill by so doing, but the muscles themselves will become stiff and contracted.

You will naturally be wearing a minimum of clothing while exercising, so as soon as you have run through one series, throw a towel or wrap your shoulders and walk briskly up and down the room. This will keep the blood circulating and rebuilding the consumed tissue. It will also assist the process of perspiration or discharge of waste matter and will above all assist in the maintenance of looseness and suppleness in joint, muscle and sinew so highly to be desired by the athlete whose ambition is directed towards the acquisition of health and strength and not merely that development which is intended to display itself solely before a looking-glass or camera.

All exercises should be made slowly, and with full concentration of the mind; observe by all means regular breathing, carefully waiting after every exercise until a calm respiration through the nose has again taken place.

There are certain advantages in going through the exercise with one or two companions, but if these are mere spectators, it is better to exercise alone, for fear of having one's thoughts diverted from the work.

Variations in the Exercises

It is advisable to vary the exercises constantly, so as to avoid too great a strain on single muscle groups, and rather to develop all muscles harmoniously.

I should like to point here to a great mistake which a vast number of thoughtless people make during training. Every human being has a certain part of his body more developed by nature than other parts; say, for instance, that the legs of one or the arms of another are naturally strong. Now, the former will be able to perform the leg exercises with perfect ease and comfort, whereas all his arm exercises require more exertion. It would be foolish if this particular individual were to devote more time and attention to his leg exercises because they are easier to him, and neglect the arm exercises, which to him are harder and more difficult. Nevertheless, this is a bad habit into which many people fall during training. While in this case the legs become stronger, the arms do not develop in the same ratio. It is, therefore, most necessary to train systematically.

Further on I shall give particulars of the various exercises, and I recommend to my readers to map out a certain plan, according to which they exercise all the muscles groups twice on three or four days every week, or on six days if time allows.


Iron Nation
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Bob Whelan

Bob Whelan

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