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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Key to Might and Muscle - (Circa 1926) - Chapter 7 - What is the Bogey in Forearm and Calf Development? - By George F. Jowett

For one man that you will meet who has a fairly well built chest, you will find one hundred who have a poorly shaped pair of calves; and for every ten you find with a good looking biceps, you will find eighty with poor forearms.

The relative difference between biceps and forearm development is not so great as that which exists between the chest and calf. No doubt, this is due to the fact that, when a person strives to improve the size of his upper arm he involves to a certain extent some forearm action, which helps to bring about a little better condition. But still, the average is tremendously below what it should be, for reasons that we will go into further on in our story. Perhaps you will think it an odd comparison to try to strike an average between chest and calf development, but it is not such a bad contrast after all, if you are willing to consider the fact that the craze for chest development is almost equal to the big biceps craze, and that the legs are used continually all day long in the transportation of our body. If the chest had any kind of muscular co-ordination with the calves as the biceps has with the forearm, then we would see better results. Yet, if we had to seek a comparison of other muscles of the body with the calf and forearm, we would reach a worse average. It is the truth that no two parts of the body are concentrated upon so keenly as the chest and biceps, and no two parts are neglected so badly as the calf and forearms. It is natural for all of us to go after an object that provides the possibility of gaining the richest success, no matter what our object may be in either business or in sport. So it is just one of our worldly failings to make the same choice when it comes to muscle building. A big chest and a big biceps are two of the greatest glories of a young man's dreams, while the forearm and calves are forgotten. There is always an awakening, which usually is brought about when the contrast between the fine development of other muscles, in comparison with the lack of development in these two quarters becomes evident. Still, developing in either of these two parts is not such an easy matter. A very few do make unusual progress. Once in a great while, I hear from some exercise fan who tells me that he has no trouble with his calves or his forearms. He usually has troubles that lie elsewhere. I generally find that nature has been very kind to these parties in the first place, but these cases are rare.

Of the two, there is no question but what the muscles of the calf are the more difficult to improve. It really is a shame that this is so. Poor calves spoil the whole build, no matter how good we may be. Somehow I have acquired the habit of always looking at the calves the first, when surveying a physique. The calf of the leg does not have to be extremely large to set off a build; it is the shapeliness that gives distinction to their appearance that counts. Well formed calves are something beautiful to look upon, and the finest examples of calf development, apart from a certain class of bodybuilders who did not overlook the existence of these muscles in the first place, are found to belong to sprinters and cyclists. They both also have fine thighs, but their calves re generally par excellence,, and this is particularly true of the bike racer. Of course, these conditions are perfectly natural, because these men depend more largely upon their leg strength for success than do other athletes. Yet, I am not going to advise everybody who wants good calves to take up sprint racing or bike riding. There are other means just as effective, but these two examples are good to bear in mind during our lesson on muscular operation.

I have listened to various arguments by learned individuals who each had different ideas as to where they thought the difficulty existed in these troubled sectors. Each man had a certain amount of truth behind his convictions, but I believe that it is a collection of many reasons that make the calf and forearm muscles very stubborn from a development standpoint rather than just one reason. For the present, we will consider the calf, since I appear to have first allowed my mind to run in that direction.

In the chapter in which I have discussed the mystery of strength, I have shown how nature from her natural reservoirs supplies the body with the strength to suit the needs of circumstance and how she accumulates muscular size in proportion to the stimulated strength, but here is a place where, at first appearance, nature appears to have fallen down. Take postmen or policemen, men with an occupation that calls for constant use of the legs with very little interruption for rest during the day, you rarely see any of these men with unusual muscular size, unless they have practiced some sports that have involved great calf action. Now I agree that this does not seem right, for we have found that if a man goes into the lumber camps and swings an axe he received bigger and better shoulders, and so on, but here we find nothing out of the ordinary. The only change we can find is that the calf muscles are very hard, and they have a clearer muscular separation. There must be a reason for this peculiarity which apparently has been overlooked, but I think that we can find it. In the first place, ordinarily, the lower legs do not have so much to do with carrying the bodyweight as does the thighs. Most people have the impression that the lower limbs do it all. If they did, then nature would have equipped us with larger lower leg muscles. What actually takes place is that the muscles of the calf control the stride, the leg action from the knee down, in extending the foot. The calf muscles appear to me to be especially endowed with endurance, and they are primarily built for that purpose. In ordinary use they are called upon more for endurance than great muscular contraction. It surely is strange then that their structure should be so much harder than any of the other muscles, that is, if we view the situation in the same manner as the men who believe that hard muscles are a sure sign of being muscle bound. This one fact disproves that hard muscles are bound. It is the quality of their structure that has increased their fibrous texture, and the size they ordinarily acquire is sufficient for ordinary conditions. Under examination, it is found that the tissues of the calf muscles are considerably more dense than the muscles of the biceps or even the thigh. This fact alone is one reason why the structure is so hard to break down in order to provide for greater growth. Then again, the manner in which we walk has a lot to do with it. A very well known track coach and famous walking champion once told me that the longer the stride, the less the actual action of the gastrocnemius muscle, which is the double headed muscle that forms the back of the calf, is called into play. He claimed that the greatest share of the lower leg action was absorbed by the great Achilles tendon, and the muscle that runs up the front of the shin bone. This was the reason he advanced, why walkers and long distance runners, in general, do not have larger calf muscles than they have. In the heel and toe stride, the body weight is "rocked," as walkers term it, and the real movement takes place from the hips and not from the knees. In spring racing it is different; the action comes from the knee, as we will see. Anyone can observe that people with flat feet have poor calves, and a man with a small foot is apt to have a better shaped calf, because his stride is shorter, and he is better balanced upon his toes. This is one reason why women as a rule have better shaped calves than men. It was not so twenty years ago, because they had not then adopted, for general use, the high heeled shoes now worn high heels cause a greater contraction of the calf muscle and also shorten the stride. Wearing such footwear is not a procedure of which I can say, I greatly approve, but it has an effect upon the calf that bolsters my belief.

People who live in the mountains have better calves than the lowlanders. Walking up a steep grade, or climbing crevices, as mountaineers do, compel a shortened stride with a greater contraction of the gastrocnemius muscles.

Nothing but very vigorous play of these muscles will increase their growth, and it has to be vigorous.

The muscles of the leg and foot are divided into three series and are termed as follows: first series, the extensor muscles on the front of the leg and dorsum of the foot. Second series, the muscles on the lateral, or side of the leg. Third series, the flexor muscles on the back of the leg and the sole of the foot.

I am not going to name all these muscles, as most of the names do not have any special meaning, as do some others in the body. These Latin and Greek names are not the easiest thing in the world to remember, so we will just concentrate on the more important names. The gastrocnemius or "calf muscle" as I explained, lies on the back of the calf, and they are muscles of flexion, which does not exactly mean of contraction. To flex is to bend, a when we say a piece of material is very flexible, meaning bendable. They bend the lower leg on the thigh, operating much as the forearm does on the upper arm. The gastrocnemius have very powerful knee control, and are divided in two sections. Each head has an origin at the knee, but becomes inserted into a broad membranous tendon which we generally term the tendon of Achilles, although it has another name. If a person walks flat-foot, very little contraction of the muscles is caused, as it is the muscle that contracts as the body is raised high upon the toes. The next important muscle is the Peronaeus Tertius, which is really a part of the extensor digitorum longus. It is a long strip of muscle that runs down the outside of the leg. It helps to flex the ankle and raise the foot in a lateral manner as in dancing and skating. Another muscle on the lateral part of the leg is the Peronaeus Longus, which everts the foot and greatly strengthens the arch of the foot by its passage across the sole to its insertion.

Try to keep this clearly in mind as I am explaining the principle will have no interruption in studying the best type of exercises later on. The next is the Soleus, which does not cover the sole of the foot. It is a muscle that operates individually and is a very powerful extensor of the ankle with a triple origin. Our last muscle of importance is the Tibialis Anterior, better known to us as the shin bone muscle. Now these are all with which I am going to deal, because what these muscles do, actually controls and decides what the other muscles, that surround the calf, will do. We all realize that the largest muscle is that twin creation on the back of the calf, and it is the muscle that decides for us on sight whether a person has a good looking leg or not. However, we positively must consider all the muscles when it comes to the right kind of exercises to promote growth. If you want to find out how little a person knows about calf development, ask them to give you the best exercises for the lower limb, and it is a cinch that they will know a greater variety for any other part of the body than for the calf. It is surprising to me how little is really known about exercise of the lower limbs.

To invite a person to go out and walk six miles, jump, spring or bike race, in order to get a better leg, is to ask them to indulge in sports for which everybody has not the time or the inclination. To me, such advice seems poor indeed, or an admission that you are stumped. The real value of exercise lies in its ability to supply the need at a saving of time. Most people are not interested in the idea of taking up dancing, or sprinting to gain good legs. I know the vast majority of bodybuilders are not. There is a lot of difference between games and exercise. Exercise is a thing which everyone can benefit from and excel at, but this is not true of games.

When I was striving for better calves, I had the same problem to face as my calves were poor for the rest of my body, and all anyone could tell me, even the most learned instructors of that time, was to raise upon the toes of both feet, then upon the toes of one foot, while holding some heavy object in my hands. I did that for years it seemed, but got nowhere, simply because the muscles became accustomed to those movements, just as they do to walking, until the movements finally resolved themselves into an endurance exercise. I began to study the muscles and how they functioned, and then I found the answer that brought my fourteen-inch calves up to sixteen and a half inches. I found out long before that muscles grew better under the stimulus of a greater variety of exercises, rather than under the monotony of one or two. I arranged my program and followed the principle explained in the chapter on "How specialization destroys the jinx in stubborn muscles." One week I would do one group of calf exercises, the next week another group, and then mix them up. In other words, I exercised the calves from every conceivable angle. I would place a heavy bar bell on the back of my neck, and raise high on the toes of both feet. Then I walked around the room balanced on the toes, keeping the knees locked all the time. While holding a kettle bell in one hand, I performed the one foot raise, keeping the other foot off the floor. But I had to rest the tips of my fingers on the back of a chair, in order to preserve my balance. However, this is what I had always been doing, and my calf muscles were used to that action. I was stumped. Nobody had anything else to offer me, and much as I realized the value of games, I had not the time at my disposal to practice them. Then again, it was winter and the roads were blocked with snow. I obtained a book on anatomy, and read underneath the explanatory construction of the gastrocnemius, the short line "Flexor of the knee and extensor of the ankle." Not much on which to work, but somehow I puzzled over the way the word "flexor" was used. Even now, the majority of exercise teachers still have the misguided habit of using flexion and contractions of muscles as though they had the same meaning, which is all wrong. The difference began to dawn on me, and I then understood that a flexion is a bending process, not a contraction, although it involves such muscular effort. You can tense and flex your ankle, wrist and other joints, but you can't contract them. Everything came to me with a rush. I understood better why walkers and distance runners had not the calf development of sprinters and bike riders. The flexion of the knee is much more powerful in the latter than in the former, although the sprinter and bike rider use the muscles a trifle differently. A sprinter races on the ball of his foot with his weight carried forward, and as he makes his leg drives, he brings his knee almost up to the chest, thereby bringing into action more forcibly the gastrocnemius muscles. He is actually striving to see how fast he can leap ahead with his weight. A bike rider goes through even more powerful leg movements. He straps his feet to the pedals, so that he is better able to "pull" the big driving wheel around, as well as thrust it forward and drive it downward. It is claimed that the "pull" round is what gives them their terrific speed, hence the remarkable calf display.

I lined up a few new exercises with this knowledge in mind hoping that they would give me the same results without being obliged to indulge in those sports. In place of a dancing school, I adopted the footwork of Kid McCoy, "The Dancing Master" making the play a little more vigorous by using a dumb-bell in each hand. I believe I have explained this practice before in the columns of "Strength." however, there is no harm in telling it again. I arranged a circle, marked off in squares, each square being numbered. I took up my position in the center, balanced upon the toes in a squat position. That is, I was almost sitting on my heels. You can spring faster that way. A friend would call out any number he saw fit, and I would leap to it; from one to the other, backwards, forwards, and sideways, always on the rebound. It was great stuff for the eye, mind and wind as well as muscle. Then I would walk up and down a flight of stairs once, while holding a kettle bell in each hand. The only trouble with this last exercise is that it tires you out too quickly, because there is so much thigh action. But a little of it is good. Now here is something which I learned. The fact that you raise high on one foot with the knee locked is not proof that you bring about a complete contraction of the gastrocnemius. Nearly every muscle culturist believes this is the case, but it is not so. It gives great play to the lateral muscles and will make the calf look deep when viewed sideways, but will not give the width, which is the appearance so desirable to the leg culturist. The outer part of the gastrocnemius secures a greater amount of play than the inner part, and you must remember, this muscle is a powerful flexor of the knee and extensor of the ankle, which means, in order to give the gastrocnemius its fullest contraction, the knee must be bent, and the ankle extended. Try this one. Tie a dumb- bell of about fifteen to twenty-five pounds with a cloth around the ankle, then place the hands on the hips. Gradually draw the knee up to the chest, and as you do so point the toe to the floor. This will give complete contraction to both parts of that twin muscle, besides giving the desired effect upon the inner head to promote width as well as depth. Here is another that will get the inner head by just an ankle extension. Hitch a light kettle bell of about ten pounds to the toes, place one hand on the back of a chair, just to safeguard the balance of the body, then begin by raising the leg forward, keeping the toe pointed as much as possible.

Going back to the position, as given in the last exercise, but one, with the knee raised high, from that position allow the toes to travel in a straight line inwards and outwards. A few movements like this will make you feel happily contented that you are on the right road at last.

A real good exercise is in something like an exercise I give for the development of the biceps of the thighs. Lie face downwards on a table and allow a friend to place a kettle bell over each foot. Extend the ankle by bending the heel backwards and pointing the toes. Begin to curl the foot towards the buttock. As the foot is lowered, still keep the toes pointed. Practice this exercise with both feet working together, and then each foot alternately.

To develop the muscle on the shin bone, stand erect and hitch the foot into a kettle bell handle, then raise the leg to right angles with the body, but this time don't point the toe. Instead, bend the foot towards the shin bone. Deep knee bending with the feet flat on the floor is also a good exercise for the shin muscles. I might add that this muscle is one that walkers do have very well developed.

Did you ever try raising on the ball of the foot and every few counts change the angle of the feet, so that one time they will be pointed out, and then work so the toes are turned in considerably?

There is still another exercise that puts pep and muscle in the calf, which I should mention, although it takes quite a bit of practice to be able to perform it correctly. It is the Russian ballet step, where you squat upon the haunches with arms folded and balance on the ball of the foot. Hop backwards, sideways and forward, and when you get accustomed to the step, walk forward, and as each step is taken, straighten out one leg. It is rather difficult, but if you are interested in securing a better calf appearance, you will find it well worth your time and patience.

I dwelt longer on this subject than I intended, but I feel sure you will profit by it. I have had many pupils tell me that these exercises have done for them in a few weeks what years of practice failed to yield. One pupil of mine actually increased his calf measurement from twelve and three-quarter inches to fifteen and a half inches, inside of two months. When I think of how I slaved for mine, I envy the young exercise fan who can start right off and know he is on the right road for results. However, I am glad to know that my experiences have been able to help others succeed. That alone is worth a lot to me. One thing I must impress upon your mind, and that is the value of massage in the building of the calf muscles. Always keep them as loose and as pliable as possible.

The forearm bogey is a pig with another snout, as we used to say. Where the calves become hard from constant use, the forearm muscles do not. With the exception of the mechanic, the average person seldom stirs up much forearm action. In the first place he objects to carrying anything that is heavy, and in the second place anything carried is generally with a bent arm, so that any physical effort is taken care of by the upper arm muscles. The forearms are usually soft and flabby, and it takes a little while before this enervated tissue can reconstruct itself.

However, among mechanics we find very much the same condition of the forearms as we find to be true of the legs of the policeman or postman. They do the same thing all the time, use their muscles in the one routine. The muscles grow sufficiently strong for their work, and there it all ends. Of course, in extremely laborious occupations, such as using a pick and shovel, trundling a loaded wheelbarrow or handling bales, etc., in a shipping house, we find many fine examples of forearm development. But it was the old time blacksmith of Longfellow's day, when forgings were heavy and more often used, and made with no other mechanical help than the heavy hammer and the brawn of the arm, that gave us the finest pattern of the mighty arm. But those days are gone, and anyhow none of us want to slave at such laborious occupations in order to possess a fine pair of arms. Exercise we will do and with pleasure, say all the muscle seekers. Just show us the way. This I can easily do and in a manner that will give you lots of fun while you are striving for profit.

Forearm development was easy for me. It seemed I always had it, and I had to do the reverse of the majority, make my biceps grow in proportion to my forearm. But I attribute all my forearm development to the pleasant exercises I practiced, that always kept me playing, as it were.

Like everybody else, I admire a fine arm, and I would like to see every body culturist with a pair. Legs like John Lemm, Joe Urlacher, Moss, Manger, and Passannant, and arms like Saxon, Nordquest, Aston and Cadine. That's what I like to see. Shape, size, and strength.

There is no bogey in calf or forearm development; it is just certain conditions that have to be overcome, and this can be done with proper exercise. In my next chapter I am going to discuss at length how you really can beautify your body with a real pair of arms, equal to the calves I know you are going to have after you have practiced the exercises in this lesson a short while. Use whatever weight dumb-bells, bar bells and kettle bells you feel comfortably able to handle. Always let your physical condition be your guide in exercise and you will succeed.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Key to Might and Muscle - (Circa 1926) - Chapter 6 - Is There Such a Thing As Bone Strength? - By George F. Jowett

I know that the mere suggestion that bones are capable of demonstrating
strength would be accepted by many people with a doubtful mind. The majority
firmly believe that the bones are simply props and connections by which the
body is held together. Apart from that, their use in our existence is
believed to be minor as compared with the other organs of the body. Of
course, it is partly true that the bones exist for that reason, but there are
many other important uses for this structure, to which my readers may never
have given thought. As a matter of fact, I do not ever remember seeing where
the bones were discussed in the light that our title brings before us. Some
writers who take a joy in decrying strength feats as being all faked, like to
dwell upon feats where terrific poundages are held upon the body as an
illustration of their claims. They call it all fake in their ignorance, and
for comparison they will make a statement something like this: "There was
Saxon. He claimed to be the strongest man in the world, and the best he ever
raised was four hundred forty-eight pounds overhead with two hands. Then,
there is that fellow Strongfort, who claims the same title, because he has
held up an automobile that weighs about two tons. Just look at the
difference in weight, which goes to show neither is right." You know this is
the way they talk, and the very fact that they talk like this is positive
proof of how little they know about what they say. Of course, the difference
in poundage is staggering if you want to look at it that way, but knowledge
of the body undeniably informs us that there can be no comparison between the
two feats. Both are actual feats of strength, but just as widely separated
as the difference between a sprint racer and a five mile run. In the case
under discussion, one is strength of muscle, and the other is strength of

Let us take a little lesson in the structure and find the truth for ourselves
in the wonders of bone formation. Instead of being just props for the mass
of muscles to surround, we find that the bones are the levers of the bodies,
fulfilling their duties as nature required, just as the muscles act as the
motors, and the ligaments as the pulleys. They all work together. Just take
a derrick for example, and you have the analysis pat. The engine is the
power behind the chain that hoists, and the beam is the instrument of

The structure of the bone itself is a dense form of connective tissue,
impregnated with inorganic matter, chiefly calcium phosphate, to which its
hardness and rigidity is due. In other words, the bones are a cartilagus
formation, and the appearance of the life chemical, calcium phosphate, is
what causes the bones to ossify or harden. Not all the bones in the body
acquire the state of ossification as found in the bones in the arms, thighs,
hips and the scapula. Take for instance the ribs, sternum and clavicle.
While they are much smaller than the bones mentioned, yet because they retain
their cartilagus condition in a less concrete form, for natural reasons, they
are capable of bending to a greater degree than other bones before they will
break. Altogether, there are two hundred and six bones in the body, counting
the three parts of the sternum bone as just one. It is in the marrow of our
bones that the tiny red corpuscles are born. These corpuscles are as
important to our existence as the heart itself, as they form the major part
of the blood stream and give this life flowing stream its color. Strange as
it may seem, like the tissue of our muscles, these little corpuscles wear out
after a few weeks, and new corpuscles from the bone marrow take their place
and live their short life, and so on. Of course, you understand without my
explanation how these corpuscles get into the bloodstream, by being injected
through the porous structure of the bone. Now this little fact alone will
give you some idea of bone formation. You cannot help but see right away
that the healthier a person is, the better bone structure he is going to
have. A person who is anemic can put the cause down to the fact that the
supply of red corpuscles are not being manufactured in sufficient quantities
to supply the need which can all be traced to lack of body toning in the
first place. The ultimate resistance of the bones will always depend upon
the general condition of the body. It is a positive fact that healthy bones
are bound to have healthy strong attachments. These fleshy attachments will
cleave to the bones more securely. Perhaps this is best borne out by the
relative condition of the bones in one who has trained his body and he who
has not. Medical statistics prove that the laboring man has constructionally
thicker bones than the clerical worker.

The answer to this is a purely natural one. It works out just the same as
the muscular condition, as explained in the chapter, "Defining the Mystery of
Strength." If the clerical man had to change his occupation for one that
involved manual labor, a bone thickening process would take place, along with
the change in musculature. Of course, the change is not so noticeable and
never so radical as is often seen in the muscular change. Nevertheless, the
bones do not have to increase their thickness very much to be able to
withstand a resistance that altogether is equal to one thousand pounds. Take
a young athlete who has started bar bell training, and test him on his
supporting ability as well as his muscular strength. Inside of a month his
supporting abilities will have gone up tremendously in comparison with his
regular lifting tests. At the same time, the increase in bone size could
hardly be registered, but just the same a great change has taken place. The
bones have acquired a greater resistance from the healthier condition of the

It really is surprising to notice the peculiar conception that the ordinary
individual has about the body, which, of course, includes the bony framework.
I have heard many people who had, at some time in their life, been so
unfortunate as to break a limb, say that they were afraid to make a lift for
fear they would break that member again. They firmly believe that the bone
is weaker where it was broken, and they will shrink from making what was
formerly a very ordinary lift. When you stop to consider the plea, you will
find it is a natural misunderstanding among laymen. Actually, the bone is
stronger after the injury than it was before. That is providing the bone has
been set right at the time. Under X-ray examination, the bone will be found
much thicker at the broken part than elsewhere. The knitting process of the
bone when healing is much like a weld upon iron where the smith generally
leaves it slightly thicker. A smith will tell you that the iron will always
break elsewhere, providing he made a good weld. So it is with the bone. It
is a matter of interest to know that pugilists of the bare fist age were
known to break their arms on purpose, so that shock from hard striking would
be better absorbed. The famous prize fighter, Tom Sayers, was only a light
man, but his great hitting powers enabled him to knock out much bigger
opponents than himself. Both his arms had been frequently broken - mostly in
fights - and many boxing followers of the present time, who do not know of
that former practice, and wonder how that little man could stand up and
batter big men and stand it, as he did in his memorable battle with Hennan,
caused by the breaks. They also used to pickle their hands in brine to
toughen them and make them so hard that the hand was less inclined to be
knocked out of joint or broken.

One of our star wrestlers, with whom I am very familiar, used to complain
about his left wrist being weak. He was always afraid of it. During a
contest he was thrown off the mat and landed with such impact upon his hands
and knees, that his left wrist was broken. About a year or so after the
accident I was talking to him, and he remarked how singular and how he used
it the most in clinching his locks. Nothing singular about it; just nature
showing how well it does a job. Of course I do not want you to go out and
break an arm, or anything like that. I am just bringing these conditions
forward as an example of how the bone structure works, and to explain that
people who have sustained a broken arm or leg should not worry. A broken
hip, or joint, is entirely different. The former control is seldom acquired

Now to get back to the actual strength of bones as supplied to us in feats of
strength, let me say that there is a world of difference in lifting weights,
holding weights, and supporting feats of strength. In lifting a weight
overhead, one just has their muscular power operating. While muscular
strength has greater motive power, yet is has no rigid control over gravity,
or the weight, until it is at the shoulders or at arms' length overhead.
Greater weight can be held at the shoulder and at arms' length overhead than
can be actually lifted, simply because the locking process of the elbows,
shoulders and knees provide greater sustaining power. It is the spine in the
lumbar region, or the small of the back, that gives way first in holding a
weight aloft. Simply because in that region there is no other supporting
bone structure than the spine itself, and the natural curve in the spine does
not provide a perfect perpendicular resistance.

Supporting feats are performed in positions that generally involve the legs,
hips and arms, and in some instances, to a certain extent, the back. But
never is the weight actually lifted. It is always supported; and the
positions in which the athlete places himself are such, that the greatest aid
is given to the bony structure, to enable the performer to support the most
weight and thereby appear more spectacular and astounding. As we go along
explaining this feature you will see that all the weight is borne upon the
bones with a perpendicular pressure. In such a manner, the bones are capable
of greater resistance, than when the resistance is thrown upon them laterally.

A feat of supporting strength that is commonly performed is the one known as
"the tomb of Hercules." The athlete takes up his position with the hands and
feet only upon the floor, and the face looking upwards. The hands are turned
back along a line parallel with the body which gives a better arm lock in the
elbows. The body is held up fairly well, but not so high as to have the body
level with the line of the knees and the shoulders. The arms and legs from
the foot to the knee must be perpendicular so that no lateral pressure is
suggested. Then a platform is placed on the body so that it has four points
of rest, both knees and the shoulders. A number of men are then seated upon
the board, which is supported by the athlete for a few seconds. Some
athletes make this stunt more spectacular by supporting a whole orchestra
while it plays, and other allow and automobile to run over a trestle
supported in this manner. In this latter feat, the machine is only supported
a bare fraction of a second, and the fact that the machine is moving across
distributes the weight so that actually the entire weight of the machine is
not supported all at one time by the body. But enough weight is supported to
make the act very dangerous. If I remember rightly, Monte Saldo, an English
athlete was one of the first to introduce this stunt. Then came Strongfort.
The last man to perform this feat within the last few years was Wilfred
Cabana, of Montreal, but he sustained some serious accidents from it, and has
discarded it since, so I understand. Due to the fact that the machine is
moving all the time, I do not consider this as great a test of bone strength,
as the feat where a man supports an orchestra of ten or twelve men.

The Englishman, Appelton, was very good at this stunt, and claims to have
supported two thousand four hundred and ninety-two pounds, but I am sure,
good though this support is, men like Travis, -- who by the way used to
support a carroussel in this manner, -- Giroux, Steinborn and particularly
Moerke would easily pass that mark.

In all these feats there is a certain amount of muscular force required. If
the arm triceps are not strong, the elbows will unlock under the pressure,
just the same as the feet slip away if the biceps of the thighs are not
strong enough.

Saxon was great at all this stuff, but his specialty supporting stunt lay in
a more difficult performance, in which the major portion of the weight was
supported by the legs. For this feat he would lie on his back and place a
bar bell that weight 267 pounds on the soles of his feet, and over the toes
of each foot he hung a kettle bell that weight 100 pounds each; then his
partners would place six men on the bar bell. This done, Saxon pulled a bar
bell over his face from the back of his head and raised it to arms' length.
On each end of this bell, each of his partners sat. What the total weight
was I do not remember ever hearing, but assuming that the six men on the feet
averaged 150 pounds each, and they would be likely to average more, as Saxon
always got the heaviest men possible, the total weight on the feet alone
would be 1307 pounds. This is a terrific feat when you consider that this
mass of weight had to be balanced as well as supported; and the control
required in itself is a great tax on strength. The slightest bending of the
knees, and the results would be disastrous. One of the most astounding
supporting feats of all times was their stunt billed as the "Brooklands on
Legs." Arthur Saxon and one of his younger brothers would lie on their back
under a huge wooden trestle, and with their feet support the whole affair,
while a loaded automobile ran over the trestle. In this act, they were not
able to hold the legs entirely straight, that is the knees were bent a
little. By pressing with the hands against the knees, a bracing support was
given, which made up, to a certain extent, for the bending of the knees. But
they did it once too often. Something went wrong, and the whole thing came
down on them. They were both badly injured, and the younger brother refused
to have anything to do with it afterwards. It was estimated that the whole
load weighed six thousand five hundred pounds. In our time, those two famous
Germans, Herman Gorner and Karl Moerke, have proven themselves great at
supporting feats, as well as other feats that call for great muscular
strength. Gorner has actually supported the terrific weight of twenty men
sitting on a plank that rested on his feet, with straight legs, a total
weight of four thousand pounds. This is the greatest weight, supported in
that manner, I ever heard of. However, Gorner is an extraordinary being.

I saw a picture of Moerke taken over in Hoboken, New York, where he was lying
upon his back, and with his leg strength, raised and supported the front end
of the Hoboken Fire Engine. In another feat, a-la Saxon, Moerke eclipsed the
great Arthur's poundage by supporting about fifteen hundred pounds on the
feet only. But this squat German, is naturally adapted to these trials. His
legs are short, and carry a thigh measurement of twenty-eight and a half
inches and calf of seventeen and a half inches. Then on the other hand, he
is not a large boned man, which brings to our mind the thought that after
all, there may be the same difference in bone structure as in muscle tissue.
However, I am quite satisfied that bone strength exists. It has a limit to
its possibilities just the same as muscular strength. Take, for instance,
the recent accident to Henry Steinborn. He tried to do the "Brooklands on
Legs," all alone. He found the poundage more than he could handle and broke
a leg. My memory goes back to Rudolph Klar who used to regularly hold
anywhere from eight to ten men supported on his feet. One day he tried
eighteen men and the resistance proved too much, and he broke his legs.

There are various methods of supporting weights, and while we are at it, we
might as well take them all into consideration. One of the other feats, is
to hold a bar bell across the shoulders behind the neck, and allow a number
of men to hand on each side. Saxon, nightly in his act, would hold a bar
bell of 232 pounds across his shoulders and allow four men to swing on at
each side, a total weight of over fourteen hundred pounds. Some athletes try
to walk with this burden, and in so doing they march sideways instead of
forwards, so that no bend in the knees takes place; if it does, the lifter is
not able to sustain the weight.

One of the popular feats of years ago was a hip lift in harness. The lifter
had a leather attachment around his hips, and standing high upon a perch he
would pile a group of people on a platform underneath. This done, he would
hitch his hip harness with a hook, onto the apparatus below, and by pressing
with the hands on a rail that ran at each side of the perch, begin the feat.
The combined hip and arm pressure raises the platform with its human load
just high enough to swing clear of its rest and that was just high enough for
him to lock his knees. Then the rest was easy. Some of them have the weight
lowered down gradually, instead of raising it, and consequently more weight
is handled. It is almost impossible to break the hips from such resistance,
as the pelvis bone forms a natural arch. The only thing that can happen is
for the pressure to unlock the knees.

By lying upon the back, and drawing up the knees until they are at right
angles with the body, and then having the legs, from the knees to the ankle,
held at right angles with the thighs so that the legs and body presents a
letter Z, an athlete places himself in a position where he can support a lot
of weight. All that is required is a board placed across the top of the
knees so that a downward pressure is brought upon the thigh bone into the
hip. A number of men can easily be supported thus, and the feat always looks
better if the athlete pulls over a bar bell with his hands and raises it to
straight arms, and then allows a man to sit on each end.

The reason why so much weight can be lifted in the back and the harness lift,
is because the body is placed in such a position that the muscles are capable
of applying their greatest motive power. The weight is only lifted an inch
or two, and the weight is so distributed upon the legs, back and arms, in a
back lift, and the hips and legs in a harness lift, that the weight is not
hard to control. The athlete is in a very unique position to hold his load.

It is not everybody who can perform these stupendous supporting feats. It
takes a trained athlete, a man who has cultivated his body, and given it the
best of care during his life time. It is wrong to say that a support is not
a feat of strength. A support of a thousand pounds is one of these feats has
its place in the annals of strength, just the same as the raising of a bar
bell of three hundred pounds overhead. The only difference is that one is
bone strength and the other is muscular strength. The only wrong thing about
it, that I can see, is to claim it as a lift, and I think this is mostly a
misunderstanding on the part of the average person. They do not pay
attention to the things a student of lifting weights does, and wherever they
see a man hold up any object by his bodily power, they offhand call it a
lift. Of course, I am not overlooking the point that some unscrupulous
individuals can camouflage their feats by using trickery, but I fail to see
why we have to consider them when there are so many men around who can do the
right thing properly. It is a fact that a person has to be schooled to a
certain extent in anything before they really understand it, and while these
nondescripts get away with some of their stuff, they certainly do not with
those who have the slightest knowledge of what constitutes a feat of
strength. Some sensational writer, every once in a while, burst into print
and tries to disprove lifting in general form the feats of these men, but
they only show their own lack of knowledge of the real feats which are
performed and the real strength which is built by lifting and lifters.

I happened to read a book not long ago on feats of strength, and really I had
to laugh. In his efforts to prove the difference between feats that are
genuine, and those that are not, the author actually disclaimed genuine feats
and his gullibility was proven by statements he had swallowed from others who
had helped to educate him to their own advantage. Recalling one feat, the
author states that one man who never weighed more than the one hundred forty
pound limit, made a back lift of over six thousand pounds. I happen to know
all the men personally he writes of, and I know what they can do. In the
first place, the great back lifter failed at a little over nineteen hundred
pounds when he was asked to prove his claim. He never did better either. My
friend, Warren Lincoln Travis, promptly got under the load and played with
it. The party who wrote that book was in no condition to do so, as he was
not even a physical culturist, let alone a lifter, and relied upon
information supplied him by others who saw their opportunity.
Unintentionally, perhaps, such writers do more harm than good.

About one thousand years ago, feats of bone strength, as I will call them,
were very popular at the Venetian games. Those athletes were famed for the
wonderful human pyramids they built. The victory went to the team that could
build the highest and hold the tableaux longest without wavering. An ancient
chronicler wrote to the effect that when the order came to disband, the man
on the top did a number of tricks and jumped off, each man following suit and
performing their best stuff, as their turn came. What interested me mostly,
was the way the chronicler finished his story. He said the bottom men, "were
youths of strong bone."

We might say that bone strength is a rigid force resisting gravity, and
muscular strength an active force resisting gravity. It is the
constructional steel rigidity in a two inch steel nail driven in a piece of
wood that is capable of supporting a man of one hundred eighty pounds. For
their size, the bones are capable of great resistance, and as we have
instances where men who performed supporting feats of strength have a limit,
-- as proof -- their broken limbs, and because we know the bones have great
resistance, and resistance is strength, no matter in what form it is, there
actually is such a thing in existence as bone strength.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Key to Might and Muscle - (Circa 1926) - Chapter 5 - Building a Mighty Chest - By George F. Jowett

The first thing about Henry Steinborn that inspired me was his magnificent
chest. Although the rest of his proportions were splendidly formed, yet his
chest appealed to me as one of the most magnificent I had ever seen. The
width, the depth and the unusual prominence, all gave forcible evidence of
terrific concealed power. Unlike many other large chests I have seen, the
chest of Steinborn begins to rise from the throat with a powerful surge that
falls squarely over the entire thorax. It looks like a big square box with
the edges rounded, so massive is its construction. A great many athletes
rely upon the development of the latissimus dorsi for their largest chest
measurement, which does not correctly explain the actual size of the chest.
I suppose most of you know what I mean, but for the benefit of those who are
not so familiar with the influence of the latissimus dorsi muscles upon the
chest, I will explain that many athletes give their expanded chest
measurement as a proof of its size and in order to make it appear larger than
it really is, they flex the latissimus dorsi which causes these muscles to
spread out, giving the upper body a fanlike appearance. Any fairly well
developed body culturist can increase the tape measurement at least two
inches by performing this muscular movement. I have actually known two cases
where the measure showed an eight inch increase by flexing these muscles
after the chest had been expanded to its limit, but you can plainly see that
it is not a true indication of chest size. The normal chest measurement is
the honest indication of what your chest it. If you were to tell me that
your normal chest measured thirty-six inches, but it was forty inches
expanded, it would be the first measurement which would guide me in
estimating the qualifications of your thorax. It is the space that is
naturally allotted to your heart and lungs in the ordinary circumstance that
counts most. What space can be supplied in one single movement of expansion,
is only a minor consideration in chest power.

Actually, the more powerfully constructed the chest, the less expansion it
has. A person who suffers from asthma, bronchitis, and tuberculosis has much
greater chest expansion than the athlete with the best built chest.
Struggling for breath causes the lungs to become abnormal in expansion,
although the reaction from this is that the walls of the chest cave in, and
the muscle deteriorates so that normally the chest is a sorrowful sight. In
this condition, the lungs become elongated by the abnormal relaxation of the
rib box, and the sternum of the chest become hollow. All this means that
ordinarily the breathing space is very limited, and the supply of oxygen
drawn into the respiratory organs is all too insufficient to combat the
amount of carbon dioxide that saturates the life chambers of the lungs.

A great deal of our success in body building relies upon the amount of
success that is reached in developing a powerful chest. There is no doubt
that we all admire a well-built chest, and we all want to possess one with
all its attendant qualities, without which, the chest becomes a sepulchre.
At one time there was an awful fad among young men to appear as though they
had a finely built chest, which brought about the forced chest condition, and
a very lamentable condition at that. A young man was taught to be constantly
conscious of his chest, and walk with it thrust out, and to further aid the
condition, they had their clothes made to suit the occasion. It was very
amusing to see a man of very slim stature wearing a suit cut full at the
chest and the shoulders padded, and from the center was sticking a scrawny
pipe stem neck. This method of walking with the chest forced out was an odd
army habit which developed the "puffed chest" condition, so termed by an army
medical man. It had a very serious effect upon the heart, and when this was
found out, the forced attitude was discouraged. I tried it, like every one
else, but it gave me such pain that I quickly gave it up. I was very young
at that time, but I was fortunate in receiving advice from a very well
informed instructor, who taught me the difference between holding the
shoulders back and thrusting the chest out.

You know you can't go after chest growth like you can that of any other part
of the body - there are too many things to take into consideration, including
the heart, lungs, the structure of the chest and its muscular coating. The
exercises must be such that no organic stress is evinced, and apart from
exercising to increase the chest size, adequate consideration must be given
to the increase of muscular tissue in order to hold the gains, and thus
provide the natural method of retaining the chest size obtained from exercise.

Did it ever occur to you how it is possible for the chest to increase its
size, when ordinarily the average person figures the construction of the
chest is all bone? "How can you stretch none?" has been the unanswerable
question in many minds. Hundreds have asked me that question, and I have
even had people take the other side and ask, "Now, if it is possible to
increase the chest, which is a mass of bones, why can't we stretch our back
bone, our thigh and calf bones, so that a very short person can be made much
taller?" Well, offhand there would seem to be no logical reason why this
could not be done, looking at the question in the light they do. But, we
know that neither is correct. We have to delve into anatomy to understand it
correctly. I hope you do not get tired reading the various anatomical
explanations. I know they sound rather dry, but the only way to understand
whether the explanatory advice is correct, is to analyze the construction of
what we have in mind. Our subjects have to be educational as well as
instructive, so we must tackle the chest in this manner.

The thorax, as a whole, commences at the throat and extends downwards to
where the abdomen commences. It is composed of twelve pair of ribs that
appear to have a barrel in shape formation. All these ribs have a double
connection with the exception of the last two pair, which are known as the
floating ribs and are free in the muscles of the flank. The first seven pair
articulate with the sternum, more commonly known as the breast bone, by means
of their cartilaginous attachment. You must remember that each of the ribs
are attached to the spine with a cartilage, but the first five are directly
fastened to the breast bone, and the sixth and seventh join together and then
divide to be separately attached at the base of the sternum. These seven
pair of ribs are termed the true ribs, and as the other five are not attached
to the sternum in the same manner, they are called the false ribs. The first
three of the last five ribs, that would be the eighth, ninth and tenth, are
united by their cartilage to the cartilage of the seventh rib. The remaining
two are, as I have previously stated, the floating ribs, and have only one
attachment, which is on the spine. These cartilages are all termed costal
cartilages, which means ribs attachments.

Now the sternum, or breast bone, is divided into three sections. The first
rib is fastened to the first section and the second rib is attached at the
joint, midway of the first and second section. The second section of the
frontal bone is the largest, and the one to which all the other costal
cartilages are attached. The third part is very small, being tail-like in
fashion. The word sternum means, "connection with" which explains the true
nature of the breast bone as a part that connects the costal cartilages.
Apart from the rib attachments, the pectoral, or breast muscles have an
origination here, and the sternum helps to support the clavicle.

Now, let us go back and see how it is we can increase the chest size by a
natural process. In order to do this, we must make our exercises co-ordinate
with the natural construction of the chest formation. Nothing must have a
false origination, or influence, so we must commence with an analysis of the
information we have on hand. When we raise up the chest, not necessarily
expand it, the upheaval hinges upon that first dividing place of the sternum
bone, and when we expand the chest, it is the muscular action without and the
volume of air inhaled, that together cause the ribs to be spread apart by
this action. The cartilages stretch in order to make this possible.
Therefore, to make the chest naturally increase, and stay so, the muscles
that surround the chest must be exercised in such a manner that they not only
spread the rib sector, but accumulate the muscular tissue to such proportion
that they will retain the growth. Exercises that simply spread or expand the
chest, as is the case with all free movements, do not mean a thing.
Undoubtedly they give a greater expansion, but that means nothing, as the
heart and lungs do not acquire any greater space for natural inspiration.
The most important muscles of the chest are the pectorals, and the serratus
magnus, and as these muscles acquire growth, so do the cartilages of the ribs
become longer, thicker and more secure in their attachment. As this process
takes place, the chest becomes deeper, higher and more square. The muscular
coating is heavier and more protective. These muscles are the real agencies
of chest growth, and since we have made ourselves fully familiar with the rib
construction and articulation to such an extent, that we know the course
nature takes in promoting chest growth, we will pass on and study the whys
and wherefors of these muscular agencies, so every chest builder can obtain
the results that will overcome all his chest difficulties.

Hollow chests, by reason of their sunken appearance, worry a person the most,
but when a chest has caved in, it is easy to see that the walls of the chest
have fallen in also. But this condition is not quite as noticeable. Yet, in
all such cases, it will be found that the breast muscles are very
undeveloped. The pectorals are so named for they are armour plates, or
covers. Like plates of armour they cover the entire upper part of the chest.
They are divided in two sections on each side, into minor and major muscles.
The origination of the major muscle is upon the sternum bone, and finally
becomes attached in the biceptal groove of the humerus bone, upon which the
biceps of the arm is lodged. The end of this muscle tapers off into a very
strong flat tendon, that seems to disappear under the deltoid muscle on its
way to insertion in the humerus. The minor pectoral lies somewhat
underneath, and is attached upon the breast bone in the region of the third,
fourth and fifth rib, and is also inserted by a flat tendon, but into the
scapula or shoulder blade.

As I explain all this, my mind goes back to the days when all this material
was more or less of a mystery to me.

I used to read anatomical books, but I was completely swamped by those long
technical names that were so devoid of understanding to the layman. Maybe it
is this reason why I take length, and perhaps more than necessary care, to
explain it all to you in an understanding way, free of all technical phrases.
A simple analysis enables you to immediately visualize where these muscles
originate and become inserted, then you are better able to realize how they
operate. The action of the pectoral major is such that it draws the arm
forward and inward, and is termed an accessory muscle of forced inspiration.
By this I mean the muscle is an aid to stimulate the breathing. By bringing
the arms forward the chest is contracted, and by spreading the arms which
include the help of the serratus magnus, the chest becomes expanded and thus
helps the lungs to inhale and exhale. Then we must figure that any movement
that brings the arms forward and inward, is the best to promote the
development of the breast muscles. Some very good exercises come to my mind
immediately, which I know you can practice with profit. The first is an old
exercise of mine that I practiced every since I was a youngster, and which I
always enjoyed. Take your position standing erect. The feet can be placed
any way to suit yourself, as they do not count in this exercise. Hold a
light dumb-bell in each hand, then breathe in gently and at the same time
begin to cross the arms across the chest, just as far as you possibly can.
The arms must be kept straight, and no deflation of the chest take place
before the arms begin to travel back to their original position at the side.
As a form of variation, it is a good idea to allow the left arm to cross
under the right arm, and then on the repeat, allow the right arm to cross
under the left. Keep the chest held high, and do not bend the arms the least
bit, and I will guarantee that your breast muscles will receive vigorous play.

Another fine exercise performed from the erect position with a pair of
dumb-bells, is as follows: From the sides you simply raise one bell until it
is held straight out in front on a level with the shoulder; as the arm
descends, raise the other, but see that the dumb bell is held end ways with
the floor, in each hand. This same movement can be practiced by holding a
very light bar bell, but it must be light. With a heavier poundage, I use
this exercise for a very important forearm muscle developer which I will
explain in its proper place.

The pectoral minor operates in a slightly different manner, inasmuch as they
are muscles or depression, as well as being very important in elevating the
chest when the shoulder blades are drawn back. Without inflating the chest
just draw the shoulder blades together, and you will feel the pull from these
muscles and the chest will rise. Also, while the arms are hanging by the
sides, clench the fists and without bending the body, thrust downwards and
you will feel the pectorals contract as you do so. Therefore, you can see if
you hold a fairly heavy dumb-bell in each hand, by pressing downwards, the
weight of the dumb-bells will aid you and give greater contraction to the

Some exercise fans find it difficult to always have their outfit with them,
and feel they would like to keep up the good work. I never like to see them
have to lay off, if it can be prevented in any way, so for their benefit, I
would advise them to practice the following exercises without weights. Clasp
the hands upon the chest, and without allowing the body to be twisted in the
least from the waist, force the left hand across the chest with the right
hand, and at the same time resist with the left hand, until the right arm is
straightened out across the chest. Then force the right arm back with the
left, applying the same form of resistance. However, always bear in mind to
keep the hands close to the chest throughout the exercise. Then, practice
the regular floor dip which is an exercise common to all. I might say that
the first group of exercises can be practiced to an advantage when the use of
weights is not possible.

Some athletes develop beautiful breast muscles, the finest of which I know
are those that adorn the chest of Andrew Passanant. J. Trullio also has fine
breast muscles. However, this training can be overdone. If other parts of
the body are not taken care of equally, the breast muscles will draw the
shoulders forward. Wrestlers usually have very large breast muscles from
constantly hugging their opponents, therefore wrestling can be practiced to
an advantage for pectoral development.

Now let us consider the serratus magnus muscles for a while. I do not
believe my readers are quite as familiar with these muscles as they are with
the pectorals. In fact, I have been surprised at the number of letters I
have received asking me where these muscles are located, and just what they

The prominence of these muscles has given rise to some amusing comments. It
is not unusual to hear a person exclaim, after studying a photo of chest
development, "Look how his ribs show." Well, I must admit that to the
uninitiated, they do give that impression, but what is actually prominent, is
the serratus magnus muscles. These muscles are even more powerful in
inspiration than the pectorals. They have their insertion on the scapula
bone or shoulder blade, and arise from the space of nine ribs. From their
insertion, they separate or become, as their name implies, serrated, which in
another way means to acquire a saw tooth formation. When viewed upon a well
developed chest, they have the appearance of spread fingers. In fact, as you
will later see, the hand and its fingers give a fine interpretation of how
these muscles function. Each of these nine serrated points, are lodged upon
nine of the ribs, all in different lengths. Most of this great muscle covers
the intercostal spaces at the back, and partly on the sides, before they
reach their costal, or rib attachment. (By intercostal, I mean the spaces
between the ribs.) Now here is something I want you to remember, so you will
better understand the threefold action of this muscle. It is because the
insertion of the serratus magnus is threefold upon the scapula, that it is so
powerful in its movements of inspiration. Any movement that gives action in
all positions that are vertical, horizontal and rotary, belongs partly to the
serratus. For instance, raise your arms overhead, then from the shoulder
stretch them out level with the shoulders. After this, slowly rotate the arm
in a circular movement, and in all these movements you will feel "pulls" that
have a varying effect upon the chest. In all such actions the serratus
magnus operates. You will also gather the idea that the back muscles are
going to get a lot of help out of this, which is true. A man with a good
chest invariably has good back muscles. Bar bell users always display the
best developed serratus magnus muscles, and also all they who follow weight
lifting as a sport, by reason of lifting heavy weights overhead. As these
muscles contract, they bring about a pulling and an uplifting action upon the
chest which causes the saw tooth attachments to spread the walls of the
chest, by stretching the costal cartilages. If you close your hand and then
open it, stretching the fingers, and bend the hand upon the wrist you will
get a similar movement of what takes place, as the scapula is moved by the
arm, compelling a serratus movement.

I have a few more exercises in mind, which I believe are the very best for
stimulating the increase in chest size and muscular growth. At the same
time, I want to warm you against certain others which some people will insist
upon doing despite the detrimental effects.

The two arm pull over has been advocated very strongly during the last few
years, although I am not one who insisted on its practice as the best thing,
because I know this exercise is fraught with a condition, after a certain
point is reached, that does more harm than good. I know the exercise is a
good one, but only up to a certain point, then again, I know other exercises
which are much better, and have not the attendant danger of the two arm pull
over. This last named exercise was originally taught in the following
manner. The pupil would lie flat upon the floor with a light bar bell lying
across the thighs, grasped with both hands, the arms of which would be
straight. From this position the weight would be raised in a half circular
movement, until it rested upon the floor at arms' length behind the head.
All the time the arms are kept straight, and the back kept as flat as
possible upon the floor. The bar bell would be brought back to the original
position in the same half circular movement. Later, this exercise was
changed. No doubt because many complained that when they had reached a
certain weight, they were not able to move the bell off their thighs, and yet
the weight appeared to be so light as to have not the sufficient pull upon
the chest. In order to give greater chest action, the movement was made
quarter circular. The starting place for the bell this time, was at arms'
length over the face and lowered to arms' length at the back of the head.
The trouble was that it gave too much chest action. Exercise fans who were
eager to build a big chest began to crowd on the weight; the result was that
a great depression of the diaphragm took place, and the space became too
congested which began to crowd the heart. I strongly disapprove of any
exercise that will cause a protracted isolation of the diaphragm. It is not
natural. Many who have practiced this, complained to me of how their heart
would palpitate after. Such is always the case. They found the amount of
weight easy to handle until the weight was about six inches off the floor,
lowering and raising the weight. When these points were reached, the deltoid
action became similar to a hold out in front. A position where little weight
can be handled. Many of them develop kinks in the deltoid for the same
reason. Remember, it is a good exercise as long as you do not exceed
twenty-five pounds, if you are a light man. Fifty pounds is enough for any
man. Of the two methods of performing this exercise, I prefer the first,
because the exerciser is restricted with weight at a position where no harm
possibly can occur. A much better exercise is to take up the position upon
the floor with the back between the shoulders resting upon the floor with the
back between the shoulders resting upon the seat of a low stool, and the
heels on the floor. Take in each hand a ten pound dumb-bell, and hold at
arms' length over the face. From this position begin to breathe in and lower
the bells down sideways, as low as your shoulders will permit. While keeping
the arms straight return to the original position. About ten counts is
enough to start on and work up to twenty movements as the limit, then use
heavier dumb-bells and start out with ten counts again.

From this same position, on the stool, another exercise can be done that is
good. Instead of lowering the arms outwards as before, lower them in
opposite directions parallel with the body. That is, the left arm would
travel to arms' length behind the head, and the right to arms' length by the
side. Each arm working in this manner with the same amount of weight and
conditions governing it as in the last exercise will help to build for you a
mighty chest of which you can be proud.

Iron Nation