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Sunday, November 20, 2011

THE TRUTH ABOUT WEIGHTLIFTING - (circa 1911) - CHAPTER 12 - By Alan Calvert

Many of my readers were probably surprised, when at the close of Chapter VIII, I referred to the difference between strength and power. This difference is not generally understood. The strength of a muscles lies in its ability to contract against great resistance. A man weighing under 150 lbs. may have magnificently developed muscles and may be able to lift an immense amount of weight straight up from the ground, but such a man could never be considered powerful. Power is the application of strength or force in moving objects. The popular idea regarding power is the correct one. If you hear on man allude to another as being “powerfully built” you would at once understand that the man referred to is a big chap, weighing at least 200 lbs. A man can be large and heavy, and therefore powerful, without being exceeding strong.

To give you an example, we refer to the “backs” in a football game. A half-back weighing 200 lbs. running at an 11 second clip is much harder to stop than a l50-lb. half-back running at the same rate of speed; that is, assuming that both men are equally skillful. You will always notice that a good coach picks out a 200 lb. man to “buck the line.”

Several years ago there was a great fuss man over the Japanese, and we are told that this race of men were very much stronger than Europeans or Americans. As a matter of fact, the Japanese, who are small in stature and light in weight, cannot hold a job in the lumber camps of our Northwestern States. The Japanese are not heavy and powerful enough to be useful in moving heavy logs or timbers, although most of them are very strong, muscularly.

In the vaudeville theatres we frequently see trapeze and flying ring acts. The gymnasts who perform these acts are generally highly developed from the waist upward. Their upper-arm and shoulder muscles are tremendous, the pectoral muscles on the chest and the upper-back muscles are usually of great size; but these men generally have hips and lower limbs which seem puny when compared to their upper bodies. It is easy to see that the less weight a man carries below the waist the easier he can handle himself on overhead apparatus. When one of these men chins himself four or five times in succession with one hand it is plain that his arms are very strong, but somehow or other this class of gymnasts never give the impression of being powerful. Their Herculean development in the upper body does not compensate for their slender legs. One of these men might be a wonder at such feats as rope climbing, but put the same man in a football line opposite a good, husky guard, or centre, and the football player will simply toy with the gymnast. The men who play in the centre of a football line are usually very strong in the waist, hips and lower limbs, and this is just where the gymnast lacks strength.

The reader may remember that in Chapter IV I told of he wonderful feats of the 135-lb. George Lettl, in harness lifting and dead-weight lifting. The case of Lettl will illustrate just what I mean when I say that a man can be strong without being powerful.

Lettl is strong, but I do not think that he could ever be considered powerful. He is evidently able to concentrate an immense amount of will power on his muscles, and this perhaps accounts for his tremendous strength. I do not believe that Lettl would ever “shine” at dumb-bell lifting, especially lifting bar-bells in two-hand lifts, as he is not heavy enough to raise heavy bells. Neither do I believe that Lettl would ever be able to made a respectable record in an event like throwing the 56-lb. weight. In order to lift a heavy bar-bell from the ground to the shoulders and from there to arms’ length above the head with both hands it is necessary for a man to have great bodily weight and activity, in addition to being muscularly strong. The same thing is even more true in throwing the 56-lb. weight from a 7-foot circle. In this last event it is absolutely necessary for a man to have a certain amount of bodily weight in order to nullify the pulling effect exerted by a 56-lb. weight as it leaves the hand.

In dumbbell lifting you will always find that the heavy man excels in two-arm lifting. In the single-arm lifts most of the records are held by men who weigh between 190 and 210 pounds, but the seven best performers in the two-arm lifts weigh over 240 pounds apiece. The reason is as follows: In the single-arm lifts agility and skill play a very important part. The lifter is generally allowed to raise the weight from the floor to the shoulder in any way he pleases and generally adopts the method alluded to in Chapter IV in the description of the “bent-press.” In two-arm lifting the weight has to be lifted from the ground to shoulder in certain prescribed manner and only a very heavy man can bring to his shoulders a bar-bell weighing in excess of 330 pounds.

Good athletic trainers tell us that in all lines of sport a good big man is always better than a good little man, and this holds true in dumbbell lifting. Theodore Siebert, the great German authority on weight-lifting, states that no man can be a world’s champion unless he is between 5 feet 8 inches and 6 feet in height and weighs at least 200 pounds. In the list of records given in another part of this volume, it will be noted that only one of the record holders weights less than 200. This is Lurich, who weighs 190, and the record he holds is for a lift in which skill and agility are the most important factors.

Probably one hundred times a month I receive letters from pupils and correspondents, asking how much should be lifted by men of various weight. For instance, a young man who weighs 140 will write me and want to know the world’s records for a man of that weight, and will also mention his own lifts and want to know whether they are good. The easiest way for men to answer these questions is to state here how much men of different weight should be able to lift. A 200-pound man, who is well trained in lifting, should be able to raise 220 pounds in the two-arm press, 290 pounds in the two-arm jerk, 140 pounds in the one-arm press, 200 pounds in the one-arm jerk and 165 in the snatch. A 180-pound man should be able to press 200 and jerk 275 in the two arm feats, press 130, jerk 185 and snatch 155 in the one-arm feats. A 150-pound man should be able to press 175 pounds, jerk 250 pounds in the two-arm feats, and press 120, jerk 150 and snatch 135 in the one-arm feats.

The above feats should be easy for the average well-trained lifter. Of course, they are a long way below the performances of the champions, but, nevertheless, they are much better than he average American performances.

The average boy of 14 or 15 should, in three or four months’ practice, acquire enough strength to raise 100 pounds above the head by either the one-arm bent press or the one-arm jerk. For years the ability to push 100 pounds above the head has been accepted by magazine writers as a sort of ultimate test of strength. Most writers seem to think that if a man can elevate a 100-pound bell by the strength of one arm, he is a lineal descendant of Hercules. If a novelist wants to create the impression that his hero is unusually strong he makes him lift a hundred-pound bell in each hand. This is a real test of strength, but usually a novelist, instead of having his hero make one or two lifts, he has him exercise for half and hour with 100 pounds in each hand. Some writers make very funny breaks when they attempt to invest their heroes with unusual physical strength.

The reader has probably noticed that the lighter the man, the more he can lift in proportion to his own bodily weight. The explanation is, that smaller men are generally much more agile and have greater amount of nervous energy than large men. Some wonderful records have been made by European lifters in the 140-pound class. For instance, Max Sick, who weighs 145 pounds, actually succeeded in raising 310 pounds, above his head in the two-arm jerk. Emile Von Mogyrossy, the Hungarian champion, who weighs 155, lifted 320 pounds in the same manner. You will notice that in each case that the bar-bell used weighed more than twice as much as the man who lifted it and such a feat is possible only to a comparatively light and very active man. The champion, Steinbach, who weighs 240 pounds, can only raise 390 pounds in the two-arm jerk, which is about 60 per cent more than his own weight. If Steinbach were as strong in proportion to his weight, as the two men above mentioned, he would be able to raise the incredible weight of 500 pounds in the two-arm jerk.

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