Monday, July 11, 2011

THE WAY TO LIVE - (Circa 1908) - Chapter 8 - EXERCISES WITHOUT WEIGHTS - By George Hackenschmidt


I can hear a few of my readers exclaiming, "These instructions are all, no doubt, excellent, but then I am not going to exercise with weights. My doctor doesn't approve of them for one thing and I myself am not particularly keen on them for another. Besides which, I travel about a good deal, attending to my business, and it would be highly inconvenient for me to have to add bar-bells, dumb-bells, etc., to my ordinary luggage."

In response to these objections, I can only say that the last one raised, does certainly possess a certain amount of force, although by purchasing a series of weights, the encumbrance would be reduced to a minimum in the matters of weight, bulk, and cost. As to the others, well, it is my opinion that every one - man, woman and child without exception - will find exercise with a graduated and suitably adapted series of weights of the utmost benefit. Nevertheless, I do not expect every one to be converted to my views, however convinced. I may personally be of their merit.

As to medical views on he matter, well, I have had the pleasure of hearing the opinions of every leading medical authority in the world, who has really studied the matter, and they are, one and all, in agreement with those which I myself entertain and have set forth in these pages. Medical men who are opposed to exercises with weights have never investigated them, and are totally ignorant of their value. No living person is so weak as to be unable to exercise in this fashion, all that is necessary being to graduate the weights. Even a weak heart can be strengthened by exercises with weights. Still, I am aware there are certain people who may entertain a sentimental objection to strength, and who object, in consequence to run any risk of acquiring a powerful muscular development. All these people are, however, anxious to preserve their own health and to avoid any necessity of incurring expense in the shape of medical attendance and drugs. As already pointed out, health cannot be divorced from strength. The body, in order to be healthy, must be strong, so that it will be found that the series of exercises , set forth in this chapter while being free from all inconvenient possibilities of great strength development, will yet, if conscientiously practised, develop a fair average physique, as well as a sound, all-round physical fitness - in other words, a sound and healthy constitution.

There is one other reason for this chapter, or rather for the exercises detailed therein, being deserving of especial attention, and that is that these Exercises without weights should be regarded as being a preliminary course even for those ambitions of athletic renown.

Even where a youth is so naturally strong and fit that he might safely enter straight away on a course of weight-lifting exercises, and of exercises with weights, he will be well advised if devotes at least two or three weeks to these exercises without weights, and further to include a fair selection of them in his programme of daily exercises with weights. I have myself repeated a few in my next chapter, partly as in indication of the method I would like my readers to follow, and while the ones I have repeated must on no account be neglected, I would not wish anyone to think that on this account the others may be passed over altogether.

The exercises themselves will be found to include movements which will strengthen every necessary part of the human frame, and should therefore be patronized in ratio to the actual need for same; i.e., a reader suffering or liable to attacks of indigestion, constipation or other intestinal disorders, should pay particular attention to Exercises 6, 8, 9, 10, and 13; while a reader in need of chest neck and throat development would, on the other hand, rely mainly on Exercises 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 14. Sufficient indications, however, are given with the exercises themselves to enable anyone to make his or her own selection.

I would, however, strongly advise one and all to pay full attention to the advice already given on the subjects of Nutrition, Rest, Breathing Exercises, etc., and to adhere as closely as possible to the lines previously laid down with regard to these points. I would also like to see a fair amount of attention paid to the exercises dealt with in Chapter 1X. They may not care to carry these out with the weights recommended therewith, perhaps, but there are some, notably for neck development chest development, strengthening the abdominal muscles, etc., which should on no account be neglected. The weights utilized for these could be, if necessary, considerably reduced, say to a half, or even less, of the minimum advised. This will, and indeed should, depend almost entirely on the physical powers of the reader himself. I cannot pretend to be acquainted with those of each and every one. In order institute a scale, it is only necessary to remember that the weights prescribed (save in the section for athletes) are well within the normal healthy and active man's powers, and that ladies and children, elderly and invalid readers must, to a large extent, fix the amount most suitable to themselves by an estimate formed on that basis, and, further, in making such decision, that it will be safer to underestimate farther than over estimate their own strength to commence with.

I would suggest that at least fifteen minutes be daily devoted to the system of exercises adopted, the best period being immediately after rising, subsequent to the matutinal bath. As an alternative to the above to the above, nightly exercise, i.e., just before resting, is almost as good, and in certain cases (when one does not sleep well, for instance) even preferable. Never on any account continue the exercise until exhaustion sets in and always relax your muscles afterwards, in the manner recommended in the last chapter. Further, do not devote your whole attention solely to the easiest movements. The will very probably be calculated to develop those parts in which you are already strong, whereas your chief aim should be to so strengthen your less well developed muscles, that your body may be in perfect harmony and tune.

Look upon this condition as being the goal of your ambitions, concentrate your thoughts thereon and on the muscles which your exercise is developing, thereby assisting your progress, and To Invalids and Leisured Persons I would specially offer the recommendation that they devote several quarters of an hour daily to the practice of the majority of the exercises dealt with in this chapter. By so doing they will (if ill) be hastening their recovery and fortifying their systems against future attacks of illness, and, all such will, in any case, be profitably employing hours which might otherwise hang somewhat heavily on their hands.

Middle - Aged and Elderly People

Are far too apt to imagine that for them the age of physical exercise is past. Herein they are really seriously at fault, for they are often the very people who stand most in need of such. They, for instance, are the ones most liable to suffer from superfluous adipose tissue, defective digestion and irregular circulation. They would indeed benefit considerably by the exercises detailed in Chapter IX, but as (supposing them to be commencing exercise for the first time) they will possibly shrink from the use of dumb-bells and bar-bells. I have perhaps borne them more in mind, while arranging the following series. As far as possible, therefore, should they devote their attention to these, and as soon as their interest has been sufficiently awakened enter upon the advanced course, under, of course, lighter conditions than those recommended for younger readers, with the less strenuous movements, persevering with these until they are able to practically run through the whole series.

Fourteen Simple Exercises Without Apparatus

1. Stand erect with hands clasped behind your neck. Now press the head forcibly down until the chin touches the chest, exerting the full strength of your neck muscles to resist the pressure. When the chin is down force the head back by exertion of the neck muscles against the hand pressure. Repeat this alternate movement, at first for five repetitions, gradually increasing same. Neck muscles specially.

2. Stand erect and roll the head round and round by bending the neck in a circular motion. Continue for, say, ten repetitions, gradually increasing the number up to twenty. Neck muscles specially.

3. Stand erect with elbows at sides, arms bent at right angles, hands clenched. Now roll your shoulders, right round if possible, back, up, forward and down. Continue until tired. Shoulder muscles specially.

4. Stand erect, with arms stretched straight out in front of you, palms turned inwards. Force arms straight back into line with the shoulders. Raise them sideways to full stretch above head, palms to the front, and bring them down in front of you at full stretch, till the palms rest on the front of the thighs. Return to full stretch above head and then to first position. Continue exercise for say a full minute. Chest expansion mainly.

5. Stand with right leg crossed over left, both arms crossed across chest, hands clasping shoulders. Spring out of a full stride of each leg sideways, throwing arms back, hands open to a line with the shoulders. Return sharply and continue for twenty repetitions. All leg muscles, as well as the arms, shoulders, back and chest will be greatly benefited.

6. Stand erect with feet close together, arms and hands fully stretched above the xhead. Now swing the trunk right round in a circular motion (as near as possible) bending over to the right, forward, round to the left, waist circling or swinging from the hips only. Continue for from five to ten, full circles at first, according to the ease with which the movement can be executed and increase gradually. Persevere until tired, but not as far as exhaustion. Keep arms loose. This exercise will be found specially helpful in cases of intestinal disorder, particularly when accompanied by a too extensive waist. The spine will also be considerably strengthened.

7. Stand erect, feet together, arms fully stretched, palms of hands pressed together. Then keeping all muscles taut, bend down gradually, elevating the left leg into such a position as would enable a straight line to be drawn along the back of the hands to the extending heel. Endeavour to approach as closely to this position as it is possible to assume - the knee of the supporting leg may be slightly bent if necessary in order to get as near to the desired result as possible. Go slowly back and repeat forward bend, extending right leg. Continue for five repetitions, increasing one per week to twenty repetitions. This will be found a fairly strenuous exercise, highly developing all the leg muscles. The arms, hip, back and shoulders will also derive great benefit, particularly in the extensor muscles, and is persevered with at a comparatively early age, its influence on the height may readily be observed. Besides all which the practice in the balance and equipoise of the body cannot be overestimated.

8. Stand erect, with feet slightly apart, arms fully stretched, palms facing each other. Bend right toward from the hips, as far down as possible without bending the knees, and then swing right back as far as down as possible without bending the knees, and swing right back, as far as possible. Repeat five times each movement alternately, increasing gradually to twenty repetitions. Abdominal and back muscles.

9. Lie down full length on floor as shown in sketch and raise the legs to right angles with the xbody. Repeat five times and increase gradually, say by one repetition a week. Abdominal, back, and hip muscles.

10. Lie down full length as shown and rise to the sitting position without moving the legs. This may at first necessitate a counterpoise of some sort, such as hooking the feet under a chest of drawers or something of the kind, but persevere until you can rise without any such assistance. Repeat five times and increase gradually as last. Similar muscles affected, but in slightly different manner and proportion.

11. Stand erect, with legs crossed as shown the dotted diagram, the hands resting lightly on hips. Sweep front leg well round to the rear, sinking the body into position of that assumed by a slid in the old-style deep courtsey. Return slowly, change legs and repeat up to five times, increasing once per week to twenty-five repetitions. Endeavour throughout to imitate closely the graceful action of the old minuet. This will be found an extremely trying exercise, especially on the leg muscles, although the abdominals will also benefit considerably.

12. Stand erect, heels together, feet turned out. Extend arms right and left from shoulders and sink down, bending the knees outwards and rising on the toes, until you are almost squatting on your heels. Return to first position and repeat bend with arms stretched out in front. Return and again sink with arms stretched above xhead. Repeat these three performances daily for first week, and then perform two of each and so on. One of the best leg exercises in the world.

13. Take up position as shown in diagram, the arms to be straight, resting on thumbs and fingers, front leg fairly bent, back leg slightly. The weight to be chiefly supported by the arms. Then pushing off smartly with rear foot, raising the body thereby, rapidly alternate position of feet. Spring smartly each time, but not too sharply, as by doing the latter you might strain the muscles of the back of the thigh and calf. For the same reason, this exercise should not be too frequently practised; say three times per week, or rather, on alternate days. The muscles chiefly affected are both the extensors and flexors (the stretching and contracting muscles) of the thighs and calves, the abdominals, the chest, back of the neck, back and arm muscles. It is a very strengthening exercise, but at the same time somewhat exhausting, and should therefore not be repeated more than fifteen times at the first trial, thereafter to be extended to at most thirty or forty repetitions, increasing five per week.

14. The following exercise, which is very popular with Turkish athletes, will be found of the utmost benefit to the arm muscles, the chest and indeed the whole system generally. To obtain the fullest advantages, the movements should be carried out as smartly as possible. Stand about four feet from a wall (the exact distance being governed by one's height and length of reach, but in any case one should be slightly overbalanced). Lean against the wall with the full weight supported by the right hand, which is pressed against the wall, the body being slightly turned to the left. Push off smartly so that the body sways back and turns to the right, falling towards the wall and being stayed there - from the rigid left arm. Push off again smartly with left and meet wall with right. Continue the exercise, as quickly as possible, until tired, gradually increasing the number of repetitions, so capacity to withstand the strain, is developed.


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