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Friday, November 4, 2011

THE TRUTH ABOUT WEIGHTLIFTING - (circa 1911) - CHAPTER 9 - By Alan Calvert

We now come to the much-discussed question of the measurements of the various strong-men. It is a very peculiar fact that every professional strong man, no matter how small he is, seems to consider that he is in duty bound to make the announcement that he has a 48-inch chest and 16-inch upper arm.

Shortly after Sandow came to America he published a book on physical culture. Several times in this book he gave his measurements. He generally claimed a 48-inch normal chest, 60-inch expanded chest, 19-inch upper arm, 28-inch thigh, and he gave his weight as 200 lbs. If Sandow had possessed the measurements he claimed he would have weighed at least 240 lbs. Sandow made one fatal oversight in publishing this book, for in the back of the volume he published a table of his measurements, as taken by Dr. Sargeant, of Harvard. Dr. Sargeant's measurements showed that Sandow's normal chest was only 44, his expanded chest 47 inches, upper arm 16 3/4 inches, thigh 24 inches, and that his weight was only 180 lbs. It was certainly very careless of Sandow ( or his publisher) to allow Dr. Sargeant's measurements of Sandow to appear in the same volume with Sandow's own claims regarding the girth of the various parts of the body.

After an amateur lifter has spent six months or a year at handling dumbbells he will realize that quality counts for more than quantity in muscle. It is perfectly possible for a man to develop a 16-inch upper arm by years of application to light exercises, but a 16-inch arm thus developed is rarely very strong, the muscles being "puffy." I have frequently seen men with upper arms measuring 15 or 16 inches, with muscles almost as hard as wood, who were utterly unable to push above t heir head with one arm a 75-lb. dumbbell; a feat which would be easy for any boy with a 12-inch upper arm who had three months' training at lifting.

Returning to the question of a professional's measurements, I would like to point out the fact that a man's measurements always have a certain relation to his bodily weight. For instance, a man standing 5 feet 9 inches and weighing 154 lbs. would hardly be able to show a 15-inch upper arm, 42-inch chest and 24-inch thigh. If he had such measurements he would weight at least 180 lbs. , and yet there are many professionals who stand 5 feet 6 inches and less and weigh under 150 lbs. and still boldly claim a 16-inch biceps and 48-inch chest, etc. I have examined the measurements of several hundred amateur and professional lifters and find that they average about 42-inch chest, 15-inch upper arm and 23-inch thigh. I know one or two professionals who are capable of wonderful feats of strength, whose chests measure less than 40 inches, and whose biceps measure less than 14 inches; and on the other hand there are undoubtedly a couple of dozen professional athletes, both lifters and Greco-Roman wrestlers, who have normal chests larger than 46 inches, upper arms considerably over 16 inches, and other measurements in proportion. Zbyszco, the Polish wrestler (now in this country), has a 50-inch normal chest and 20-inch upper arm, by Zybszco is a man of naturally fleshy build.

There are other men who are decidedly muscular in appearance who show measurements almost as large as Zybszco's. Peter Kryhloff, the Russian wrestler, who hold the record for "muscling out" bells, has a simply magnificent muscular arm measuring 18 1/2 inches. To name a mane more familiar to American readers I will say that George Hackenschmidt's upper arm measures 17 3/4 inches, his normal chest 44 inches, expanded chest 49, his waist 34, his thighs 26 3/4. These measurements were taken when Hackenschmidt was in hard training and did not carry any superfluous flesh. Arthur Saxon states that his chest measures 46 inches normal, his upper arm 17 inches, and anybody who has seen Saxon will readily credit his claims. Saxon looks far bigger than those lifters who say they have 19-inch biceps and 50-inch chests. He seems to be as honest about his measurements as he is about his lifts.

John Marx is a tremendously large man and very muscular in appearance. Marx weighs 235 lbs., stands 5 feet 10 1/2 inches, has an 18 1/2-inch upper arm, 47-inch normal chest, 26-inch thigh, and his neck measurement is 20 inches.

Steinbach, the recognized champion lifter, is another very large and powerful man, but is not muscular in appearance. His arms and legs are apparently smooth and the muscles do not stand out in knots. Steinbach stands about 5 feet 10 1/2 inches, weighs 245 lbs., has a 46-inch chest, 17 1/2-inch upper arm, 15-inch forearm, 27 1/2-inch thigh. It does not follow because a man can show the biggest measurements that he can lift more than a man who shows less development. For instance, Steinbach's records are very much better than the records of William Tuerk, who during the 10 years from 1890 to 1900 was considered the strongest man in the world. Tuerk has a chest 1 inch larger, upper arm 1 1/2 inches larger than Steinbach, and yet Steinbach beat Tuerk's best lifts by over 20 lbs. Apollon, the famous French lifter, had a chest of 52 inches, and upper arm 21 inches. His lifts do not compare with Steinbach's.

There are a number of lifters who are first class in one-arm lifting, and are noticeable for the fact that their arm and leg measurements are much better than their chest measurements. For instance, Schneidereidt, the former record-holder in the one-arm snatch ( 199 lbs.) has an upper arm measuring 17 inches, thigh almost 26 inches, and yet his chest measures only 41 inches. Schneidereidt could hold his own with almost any lifter in the world in the "snatch" and "swing" lifts, but has not the bodily weight to make records in two-hand lifting. In one of the years he competed for the championship of Germany he raised only 220 lbs. in the two-arm press (a pure strength test), which is almost 100 lbs. under the World's Record.

George Lurich, who is a lifter and wrestler renowned for his agility, presents just the opposite characteristic from Schneidereidt. Lurich has a very large chest, but there is nothing remarkable about his arm and leg measurements. Lurich's normal chest is 46 inches, while his upper arm is less that 16, and his thigh only 23 1/4 inches. Yet Lurich has raised more in the one-arm jerk from the shoulder to above the head than any other man, and at the same time he is good at two-hand lifting, having raised over 330 lbs. in the two-arm jerk; which is fine for a 190-lb. man.

Witzelsberger, of Vienna, who holds the record for the one-arm press in military position (another pure strength lift), weighs 225 lbs., has a 45-inch chest and a 16 1/2 inch upper arm. Witzelsberger's arm is not as large as Schneidereidt's, and yet he can raise far more than Schneidereidt in those lifts in which strength is the greatest factor.

You will often notice that when a newspaper reporter gives an account of the "act" of some new strong man he generally winds up by giving the strong man's measurements. He usually lays particular stress on the fact that the strong man's chest measures 15 or 18 inches more than his waist. There are a number of writers on athletics who seem to think that it is an example of admirable proportions in a well-built man if there is a great difference in the chest and waist measurements. In the strongest men the difference between the normal chest and waist measurements is rarely more than 8 or 9 inches.

Sandow used to state (in his theatre programs) that his normal chest was 48 and his waist was 30, but as a matter of fact his chest was 44 inches and his waist was 32 inches, which is really a remarkable difference. It is an established fact that if a man's waist is more than 12 inches smaller than his chest he is improperly developed in the waist region. No man can perform any considerable feats of strength unless he has a very square-built, powerful waist. It is not a sign of strength, or even of beauty to have a chest very much larger than the waist. In a man who stands 5 feet 6 inches, or less, in height a difference of 7 inches is about correct, while in a 6-footer the difference can be as great as 9 inches without his seeming out of proportion. There are plenty of professional strong men and lifters who have waists that are only a trifle smaller than their chest. Louis Cyr was probably much larger at the waist than he was in the chest region. Cyr was an extremely fleshy man, and yet Cyr could perform feats of genuine strength which would make the average "cabinet poser" faint with despair if he was called upon to equal them.

In this chapter it is perhaps appropriate to remark that a man's bony structure has considerable influence upon his measurements and upon his strength. A man who has large bones will, as a general rule, be able to support a much heavier muscular development than a man who has small bones, although the man with large bonds will never appear to be as beautifully developed as the small-boned man, as the latter gains in appearance owing to the small size of his joints, especially at the wrists and ankles. A man whose bones in the forearm and calf of the leg show a marked curve is always able to attain a wonderful development in those parts of the body, and a man with these characteristics generally has a large wrist and ankle measurements.

A man who has a well-developed back generally can show a large chest measurement. In fact, the easiest way to increase the measurement of the chest is to specialize on exercises and lifts that will develop and broaden the upper back. Most men who have rowed to any extent are able to show good chest measurements. William Blaikie, the author of "How to Get Strong," devoted almost a chapter of his book to telling how rowing made a man round-shouldered and tended to cramp his chest. I believe that Blaikie was entirely wrong in his opinion. I know a number of first-class amateur oarsmen, and they are all remarkably straight and "well-set-up" men. Most of them have broad shoulders and fine chests. The many hours they have spent at "sculling" or sweep-rowing have developed these muscles, when well-developed, have a tendency to hold the shoulders in the proper position and to distend the ribs.

A man's appearance when stripped is greatly influenced by the shape and size of his head. A man who possesses a large head never appears as muscular as a man who has a small, shapely, well-set head. Sandow had a beautifully-shaped head and appeared tremendously muscular, when as a matter of fact, his measurements were much smaller than many men who had larger heads than his. I once saw a little sketch which is frequently used by artists in teaching their pupils the rules of bodily proportion. It was an outline of a figure with one body and two heads, and if you covered the outline of the smaller head with your thumb you saw a dimpled baby, but if you covered the outline of the larger head, so that only the smaller head was seen, you had a perfect Hercules.

Not long ago I was walking past a certain variety theatre in Philadelphia and noticed the pictures of a man who was doing a "strong-man" act. His muscular development appeared wonderful in this photographs. He looked as though he had a 45-inch chest and 17-inch upper arm, but when seeing the man personally I found that he had a very small head, which exaggerated the size of his chest and shoulders; and as a matter of fact his chest was only about 40 inches, while his upper arm was certainly not more than 14 1/2 inches. The reader should carefully read the remarks at the beginning of Chapter XIV regarding the effect of man's appearance on his ability as a salary-earner in the strong-man line.

Aspiring young athletes will often be discouraged when they hear that some famous lifter or strong man can show a chest expansion of 10 to 15 inches, and it may be some comfort to them to note that very few of the greatest lifters show a genuine chest expansion of more than 5 inches. The genuine chest expansion is the difference between the measurement of a man's chest when held in a perfectly natural position and the measurement when the chest is distended by filling the lungs with air. Those professional strong men and "cabinet posers" who rely mostly on their appearance to create an impression on the audience will always give the difference between their contracted chest measurement and the measurement of the chest when expanded, both by lifting the lungs and by spreading the back muscles. When the first measurements are taken the strong man will flatten his chest, round his shoulders and let his muscles be perfectly flaccid, and of course, he expels as much air as possible from his lungs. In this way he is able to show a measurement of possibly 3 or 4 inches less than the normal chest measurement. When he has the second measurement taken he will inhale as much air as possible, and at the same time raise the shoulders, spread them as far apart as he can, and then flex and harden the immense muscles which lie on the upper back just below the shoulders.

I have known men to be able to show an increase of 6 or 8 inches over their normal chest expansion when they assume this position, but the reader should fully understand that this is a muscular expansion and not lung expansion. I admit that there are men who could show a difference of 10 to 12 inches between their contracted chest and muscularly expanded chest measurements, but the same men cannot show a genuine chest expansion of more than 3 or 4 inches. So much has been written lately about chest expansion and the lung power that there are many men who believe they cannot be strong unless they can show an expansion of 6 to 8 inches, and I can perhaps comfort such men by telling them that if they have a genuine expansion of 3 to 4 inches they can rest assured that they are about the average in this respect.

PHOTOGRAPHS OF STRONG MEN. Now that I have explained the way in which the average professional will exaggerate his measurements, it is appropriate to make a few remarks about the photographs which are published by some of the leading strong men. In Chapter XIV, I describe "cabinet posing" and state that the effect of the lighting of the cabinet is to exaggerated a man's development to a great extent. Some professionals have their pictures taken while in the "cabinet." This gives them the appearance of having a wonderful development.

I have been informed that one or two very famous "living statues," so some of these lifters call themselves, do not take the trouble of posing in a cabinet, but before they have their photographs taken they artfully exaggerate their development by the use of burnt cork in the hollows which are formed when the muscles are powerfully flexed. The burnt cork apparently deepens the shadows and consequently makes the muscles stand out prominently in the finished photograph. A still easier method is for the athlete to depend entirely on the photographer for his development. After the picture is taken the photographer will simply go over the negative and deepen all the shadows, and in the finished photograph the result is much the same as though the athlete had posed in a cabinet, or used burnt cork. When this last method is resorted to it is wise to be careful and pick out a photographer who has some idea of human anatomy. I have seen photographs of "strong men" which have been retouched by the photographer in such a way as to give the strong man muscles of a shape not generally met within a normal human being, and the result was truly fearful and wonderful.

Physical Culture