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Tuesday, August 30, 2011


It sounds pretty nice to propound a theory that one particular method of exercising will bring results to everyone. The proponents of every system of exercise, and every physical instructor can be said to be in the position of liking to make such a claim and the majority do give voice publicly to the claim of infallibility. Business reasons coupled with the gullibility of the public make it almost necessary for advertising instructors to make claims of this nature. Advertising competition is so keen that the proprietors of various systems and courses have continually trying to outdo each other in making outlandish and improbable claims. They are not wholly to blame, though, as the readers of physical culture journals are liable to consider a course worthless unless claims are make to change them from a weakling to a Hercules within a few weeks' time. An attitude of this sort is the height of senseless foolishness; a fellow who has never paid any attention to taking care of himself suddenly decides to improve the condition of his health by becoming strong and well developed. Why he should expect within a few weeks or months to equal athletes who have trained for years is entirely beyond reasoning.

The old maxim "anything worth having is worth working for" is a pretty good one when referring to strength and development. Any man who has really achieved a notable possession of these qualities will tell you that he had to work hard. And the truth is there is no other way to reach physical excellency.

As I mentioned a short while back, it is a pretty theory, that of maintaining that one particular method of living will produce like results in the case of any and every individual. But, as humans vary so greatly in the way of inherited tendencies toward slenderness, excess stoutness, extreme height or shortness, sluggish or nervous temperaments, and so on, the practical application of any definite method has numerous drawbacks to success. There are certain rules of health and physical efficiency, which, if followed consistently by the average person, will result in daily good health. However, each individual presents a problem, altogether separate and distinct, calling for intelligent study, if the expected results are to materialize. In prescribing a set of exercises to be followed by the average man of a certain bodyweight, several significant facts must be known and considered by the instructor. The age, present and past general conditions of health, the present strength of the individual, physical experience (including exercise and forms of work in which he has engaged) and the physical proportions; all of these must be given consideration, separately as well as in relation to each other; this general outline would include numerous minor details having a direct bearing upon the amount of exercise suitable to the needs of the pupil. If you were following the advise of an instructor through the medium of the mails, you could expect to get the most out of such instruction, if you regularly advised your instructor of your progress and requested constant revision suited to your aims and ambitions.

As the present book is designed to offer complete assistance to the student of physical culture in arranging a complete and satisfactory course of training, we shall endeavor to present certain basic principles and flexible rules which may be followed in the expectation of maximum results. Each chapter will be found to deal with an important phase of the science of complete physical education. Thorough study with the idea of memorization must be uppermost in your mind; in this way only, can maximum results be expected. Therefore, the reader must bear in mind that while certain routine programs of training and schedules of increasing repetitions and poundage may be recommended as ideal, circumstances may alter any such rules. The conscientious student will find it best to take each step as suggested in the earlier chapters, and t hen according to the progress he is making vary his program as indicated in the more advanced chapters. The student of body culture must vary his routine and schedule of increases from time to time in an attempt to determine the line of action which will most efficiently bring the desired results. We have, for the most part, advocated exercising three times weekly, while following a set schedule. For the first three to six months, a plan of such nature should prove best, but after a length of time the pupil may note a pause in his progress. It may first be wisest to experiment with repetitions and poundage as has been suggested. Failing in this, further plans will depend upon the physique strength, vitality and endurance of the subject. The plan now to be suggested may be referred to as the maximum repetition scheme. Presuming for purposes of example, that our student is interested mainly in arm development.

Having decided upon chinning the bar and dipping on the floor as the two most reliable forms of exercise for this purpose, our enthusiast might proceed in the following manner. He performs thirty floor dips; then practices an exercise for some other part of the body; he goes back to the arms and chins himself about ten more times; then an exercise for some other part of the body; and once again returns to arm exercise by making thirty more dips, some other non-arm exercise, then ten more repetitions of the chinning movement. This is kept up, practicing dipping and chinning each three times, and between times alternating on the legs, torso, etc. A program of this nature would constitute the height of repetition specialization for one part of the body. A like plan could be followed for any other part of the body instead of the arms, depending upon the aims of the culturist.

The bar bell user need not, of course, bother with dipping and chinning, as he has a better means of taking effective exercise. He could alternate curling and pressing movements with a bar bell, kettle bells, and dumb bells, along with heavy exercise for other parts of his physique. I would not recommend a program so strenuous unless the pupil had several months experience along general training lines. To those who are vigorous enough to stand an extra vigorous program, I might suggest a highly specialized program along the lines of the above description, practicing six days every week,

After putting in several weeks on such a program, the pupil should take a rest of from one week to a whole month, and then follow the same routine three or four days each week. Then gradually taper off our severe specialization till all parts of the body are receiving an equal amount of work. We might suggest a severe program for those who wish to give each part of the physique a highly specialized period of training. Begin on any part of the body and follow out the plan as outlined some few paragraphs back.

Let us suppose you start on the arms, spend eight or ten weeks on them, rest for one week, then specialize on the arms another period of eight or ten weeks, take a rest, concentrate on the abdomen, rest, concentrate on the neck, rest, the back or shoulders, rest; etc. Or, you could take the entire upper body at one time, then the entire lower body. The possibilities are unlimited. For instance, you could specialize one month on each part of the body, or just one or two weeks at a time.

A specialization plan for less experienced students could be arranged by exercising one or more parts of the body rather strenuously at two stages of each exercise period. Say, the neck was the part on which you wished to concentrate. This could be done by practicing a few neck exercises at the beginning of the program, then work out all the rest of the body, and finish up with the neck routine. Although we are never inclined toward advocating daily bar bell exercise for beginners, or in fact any others until they have had plenty of experience along heavy lines of exercise, we know that it is possible to get good results in developing unresponsive parts of the body by doing a certain amount of special work every day. Providing you have been exercising for several months, you may try this on any stubborn part of the anatomy. Exercise in a general way three times weekly, taking a really thorough workout, and on the alternate days practice a few exercises for the part on which you wish to specialize.

The strength enthusiast who is interested in exceptional lifting ability will welcome training schedules which might be followed to improve his ability along this line. The party who is only partly informed may hastily conclude that exceptional lifting ability results from pure science or as it is commonly called, "knack." This, however, is a poor definition and the implication is only partly true. Modern lifting science embraces the proper application of your strength combined with the best known methods of temporarily overcoming the force of gravity.

The science of lifting calls for the highest possible degree of peed and agility, or, as we might appropriately term it, "athletic ability of the highest degree." It is never wise to start at actual lifting until you are certain of having first built the necessary foundation of muscular development. Actual lifting practice with heavy weights will improve your development and bring out the best that is in you, providing you have first acquired a good degree of development. If you can start the actual lifting practice before developing you run the chance of making but slight progress in development through bringing about a toughened condition of the muscles.

When the muscles have been built up to a size and shapeliness corresponding to the structural type of the individual, that is the bony framework, the thoughts may be turned towards improving the quality of the muscles raising their efficiency to the natural limit by specializing in strength building movements. We must likewise differentiate between degrees of exceptional strength. You can train for special strength and high quality muscles without ever testing yourself on feats which require the limit of your abilities. This may be accomplished by performance movements identical to those practiced by the record lifter, though instead of trying yourself on each attempt, several repetitions are performed while keeping well inside the limit of our powers. Though, of course, the record attempting lifter acquires the acme of great strength, it is unwise to constantly try oneself to the limit, and even the record hungry lifter may realize greater success if the routine is split up between repetition work and record attempts.

We insist on our pupils putting in considerable time on repetition work with moderate weights until a satisfactory degree of development is attained. One could continue exercising along such lines indefinitely and acquire a good type of development, but when real strength is desired we must change the method of training. Some enthusiasts note this effect after developing muscles of huge size, as a result of patient effort in practicing the right sort of body building movements with graded weights; and, truthfully, it is possible to accomplish fairly good results by the correct application of various other means of resistance. Huge as such muscles might be, unless the scheme of progression had been followed throughout the advanced stage, wherein scientific principles of strength cultivation were employed, their efficiency would not be commensurate with their size.

The highest class of advanced work in the exercising field consists of movements calling for the combined use of large muscular groups. Indeed, the farther you progress in your developing work, the more muscles you bring into play in the performance of important exercises. All advanced overhead lifting movements work the muscles in this manner, likewise in the performance of high class hand to hand work; Roman apparatus work, and the advanced exercises given throughout this volume.

Varied are the schemes one might employ to specialize on the development of a particular part of the body. The most severe plan would consist of exercising twice on the same day, six or seven days a week; alternating at each period between special exercises for the part body in question and movements of a general nature; that is, supposing you were working on the calves; you would do a calf exercise, then a general exercise or something for another part of the body, then a calf exercise, and so on.

When progress seems slow on one particular lift or exercise, or if you desire to make certain of adding to your ability in the performance of any lift, the best plan to follow is herewith outlined. Drop the poundage considerably, or to a point where the lift or exercise is easily accomplished several times. Then follow a certain rate of increasing repetitions and poundage if an exercise, or poundage if a lift; and do not vary from the set schedule. Arrange the program so it will take several months to pass your present limit, and if you stick religiously to the schedule, results will be forthcoming.

About two years ago, I had occasion to conduct a three months' training program in the columns of the Mat Department of STRENGTH Magazine. The program proved so popular that I have often been tempted to republish it at frequent intervals, and believe I did mention it briefly since first it appeared. Believing many of my readers will welcome a proven program of this nature, I am outlining it herewith. Originally we had two groups; one on body developing exercises, and the other on regular lifts. The purpose of the programs, or rather of both programs, was to prepare interested STRENGTH enthusiasts for real heavy lifting, building, as it were, a good solid foundation of strength. For the first month those in the lifting group were asked to practice the Two Hands Dead Lift, Two Hands Snatch, Two Dumb Bells Clean and Military Press, One Hand Snatch - both right and left. Add 20 pounds per week to the Dead Lift, ten pounds to the Two Hand Snatch, five pounds to each dumb bell in the Military Press, and five pounds to the One Hand Snatch. Practice three days per week, for one month, or twelve practice periods in all.

For the second month, practice the Right Hand Dead Lift, Left Hand Dead Lift, Two Dumb Bells Clean and Jerk, Two Hands Clean and Jerk Behind Neck With Bar Bell, and One Hand Clean and Jerk with each hand. And 20 pounds each week to the dead lifts, 10 pounds to the two hands bar bells lifts, 5 pounds to each of the dumb bells, and 5 pounds to the weight of the bar bell in each of the single handed clean and jerk lifts. This program is likewise to be followed for four weeks, or twelve periods.

Iron Nation

Super Natural Strength

Monday, August 29, 2011


The deep knee bend is one of the old reliables, and needs to be practiced by every strength fan. Many fellows do not use enough weight, as they have too much trouble getting the bell on and off their shoulders. There is a method of rocking a heavy bell on to the shoulders for a deep knee bend, but many fellows do not care to use this method. The hardest part of the exercise is getting up the first time, when the bell is rocked over to the shoulders. Some fellows are afraid of being forced to sit down hard with the weight, after rocking it over. To overcome these obstacles, you may rig up a stand such as we show. The stationary uprights may be about four or four and half feet in height (depending upon the average height of your club members); grooved blocks of varying sizes should be made to accommodate the height of each man who will use the stand; these blocks may be fitted on the tops of the uprights, and held in place by removable pins.

The bar bell is loaded on top of the uprights; the lifter steps under the bar; taking it upon his shoulders; he may then carry the bell clear of the stand and perform his deep knee bend exercises. The stand may also be used to become accustomed to holding heavy weights at the shoulders to strengthen the wrists, arms and shoulders for overhead lifting; as a word of caution, we advise you to be sure of the correct height at which you load the bar bell for deep knee bend practice. If the bell stands too high, you will be unable to lift it either off or on the uprights; but if it is a little low, you may easily lift it by proper use of the legs. An easy rule to follow would be to have the height of the bar, when placed across the uprights, about fifteen inches less than the height of the lifter, for use by real tall men, with a difference of a foot in height for short men. I would suggest making the stationary uprights four feet in height, cutting small grooves in the top of these uprights to hold the bar for a short man. Blocks may then the made of 3, 6, 9, and 12 inches in height, for a full range of adjustments.

A helmet for wrestler bridge practice is needed by the majority of bar bell men. Both as a lift and as an exercise, the wrestler bridge is uncomfortable to many, so a helmet will solve the problem of making neck exercise comfortable. I made one of sweater material, using several layers to insure protection of the scalp. The band which runs over the crown of the head should be thickly padded, while the hand which encircles the head need only be of one thickness. The crown bank should run to the bottom, otherwise you will be annoyed by the ridge were the bands cross. This helmet can be quickly slipped on and off with no trouble. It is worn with the top bank running from front to back.

Reference to the illustrations will give you a few ideas as to how supplementary exercises may be taken with the use of special contrivances. You may add very good ones for every part of the body. It is even possible to work out a complete system, using nothing but the counter-weights and other apparatus we have shown, although our intention was merely to suggest something which would add novelty to the bar bell training program.

Effective as we find the bar bell outfit and associated parts, it likewise has faults, as we might say of any other apparatus or idea, however ideal it may appear. The weakness in the use of the bar bell, dumb bell or kettle bells is a means of exercising the pectoral and latissimus muscles throughout their complete range of contraction in a direct exercise movement. We are convinced the said muscles are completely developed and strengthened during the practice of an all around bar bell training program, including a wide variety of exercises and lifts. However, a direct means of reaching these muscles is both desirable and ideal. Therefore we present the use of pulley exercises among the present collection of training methods. We are not so foolish to claim originality for something that has been commonly practiced by many muscle culturists; still, it is quite likely the majority of my readers have never had the idea introduced to them. This principle is best explained by referring to the Two Arm Pull Over. When practiced in the ordinary way, with a bar bell and a pair of dumb bells, this contractory action of the pectoral and latissimus muscles takes place during the first half of the movement arc only; for instance, you raise the bell from the floor to above the chest, keeping the arms straight; the muscles can contract to a further extent if the resistance can be applied from the half way position while moving the arms all the way down to the body, or in drawing the hand on down to the floor. If a pulley rope is used, the resistance can be applied all the way as shown in Illustration C-C. Likewise, as shown the arm may be moved from in back of the body in an overhead sweep and down in front of the body, much the same as in pitching a baseball overhead; in the drive of an overhead swimming stroke, or in certain tennis strokes.

Roman Column and Roman Chair work is practically identical, the only appreciable difference being in the style of apparatus employed. Among our illustrations we show a few movements on the Roman Board, an idea of Siegmund Klein's, and a couple of poses on the Roman Chair. To the highly advance bar bell man, this type of apparatus offers unlimited possibilities, both as a means of attaining the ultimate in development and in the demonstration of bodily strength. The beginner must use sense and proceed with caution so far as this class of exercise is concerned.

First, take a little trouble in properly adjusting yourself to the chair. The feet should be securely under either the wooden cross piece or straps fastened to the chair. The under side of the knees must fit in a comfortably snug manner over the top of the chair back. Wear shoes for the protection of the toes and insteps.

Be content at first to practice a few easy movements to get yourself accustomed to the exertions, then by easy steps you may progress to more difficult feats. We would suggest at first doing only a few repetitions of the preliminary stages for two or three days. After getting properly adjusted on the apparatus, sit back and then practice allowing the knees to bend, the buttocks dropping down as low as possible, still keeping the body upright. Practice several repetitions of this movement and let that suffice for the first few work outs on the Roman apparatus. Then, later accustom yourself to letting the body hang straight down as far as possible; on the column you may hang straight down, the weight of the body suspended from the knees; on the chair, you may hang back to the floor; on the board, lie back as far as possible.

Regain the sitting position by reversing the procedure; double the body up before attempting to raise to the sitting position. Practice that movement several times for the next couple of days. You should soon be ready to practice holding the position when the body is suspended straight out. Practice a couple of weeks at these preliminary exercises before advancing to the use of a weight, and you won't have to get over any feeling of soreness.

To handle a bar bell, place it on the floor where you can reach it. Pull the bell directly under your head, then raise it up close along the body till it rests across the upper part of your thighs. Double up and rise to the sitting position with the bell resting on your thighs. To replace the bell on the floor, hold it on the thighs, drop the buttocks as low as possible and lower the body till your head touches the floor. The weight may then be lowered. As you become stronger, the bell may be held on the chest throughout this movement both ways.

We would advise you to be fairly capable a the deep knee bend with good weights, and also have no trouble at repeating the abdominal raise across a chair several times before attempting Roman apparatus work. Once you have broken into this form of exercise, you may perform a wide variety of stunts and exercises. You will soon notice a decided improvement in thigh and torso development, as few forms of exercise can compare with it for this purpose. Probably the best feat we ever witnessed on the Roman Chair was performed by the vaudeville team of Mang and Snyder. The feat may, or many not have been originated by them, and we believe others have performed variations since. The larger member of the team took his position on a raised platform on the opposite side of the stage. A large paper hoop was midway between the two. The man on the platform dove through the paper hoop and landed on the hands of the man who was hanging from the chair. The big fellow rose to the sitting position, stood up, pushed his partner aloft, stepped off the chair, and walked from the stage carrying him at arm's length overhead.


A valuable addition to physical training apparatus has recently been made by the ingenuity of Siegmund Klein. He has given us the Roman Board, possessing all the developmental qualities of the Roman Chair and Roman Column, but far handier and thus more practical to the general bar bell physical culturist who trains in his home or in a small private gymnasium. Any fellow who is even slightly handy with a few tools can put a Roman Board together in a short time. No plans are required; simply pattern it after the photographs to be found on these pages. Mr. Klein had occasion a short while ago, to change the location of his studios. During the moving operations, the Roman Column lying on the floor happened to draw his attention. An idea entered his mind, to try exercising on the horizontal column. So pleased was he with the idea that the Roman Board was the result, and this apparatus is now used by his advanced pupils. By referring to the illustrations, you will see the proper manner of working on the Roman Board. Practically every Roman Chair and Roman Column exercise may be practiced upon it. When you first try it, assume the sitting position shown and merely perform a few easy squats. A valuable suggestion is to be content to practice leverage movements, using the suspended weight of the body as the resistance. Very light weights may be held in the hands after becoming well accustomed to this different variety of exercise.

Iron Nation

Super Natural Strength

Sunday, August 28, 2011


Realizing the demand for a convenient apparatus with which strength enthusiasts might practice the gross lifts, such as the Back, Harness, and Thigh lifts, we offer the contrivance shown at Figure X. Ordinarily, a tremendous amount of weight is required in order to practice this class of lifts, and outside of the expense of acquiring sufficient weight, a great amount of time and labor is involved in loading and unloading the lifting apparatus. Lifters may be fond of exercise, but the expenditure of energy involved in the task of adjusting a ton or more of weights amounts to a waste of valuable strength which might be better employed in lifting practice. By means of the leverage device illustrated, you are enabled to train on these valuable lifts with no more weight than a regular bar bell outfit. A small investment is necessary in the beginning, to purchase the long beam and attachments, but the benefits derived in development, strength, and personal satisfaction will be well worth the initial trouble and expense of rigging it up. Having made the apparatus, consult the chart which follows: this tells you how to figure out the amount of weight you will be lifting.

To practice a Hand and Thigh lift will be most simple, as you will only need to stand above the lifting point with a "T" bar in your hands. The Harness lift may be practiced by standing in the same position, only it will be necessary to wear either shoulder or waist straps. By rigging up a Back Lift platform as illustrated, that famous lift may also be mastered, and most important of all, without danger of injury as there is nothing to fall on you.

The following scale is made up on the basis of a total length of twelve feet for the lifting beam; the notches spaced one foot apart, and one foot between the point of attachment and first notch.

The Back and Harness lifts should be practiced with the connection at the first notch; you can experiment on the second and third notches for practicing the Hand and Thigh, and the Jefferson and Kennedy lifts.

To equal a heavier poundage, use a heavier bar bell and multiply; as a 200 pound bell at notch 10 would be equal to 2000, 1000, and 666 2/3 respectively, with the lifting hook in notches 1, 2, or 3. Due to the varying weights of different woods, no attempt is made at accuracy in the figures mentioned for the approximate weight of the beam; assuming that your lifting beam is four inches square, we would suggest computing the weight of the beam as equal to fifteen pounds if the lifting hook is at the first notch, and twelve pounds if the hook is at the third notch. The use of a beam six inches in diameter would more than double the weight of the beam. The beam weight equivalent must be added to your computation of poundage, as shown on the chart; for instance, if you had a two hundred pound bar bell at notch No. 10, and the lifting hook was at the first notch, the two hundred pounds would equal two thousand, plus the beam weight equivalent of 15 pounds, making a total of 2015 pounds as your lift.

Mr. Warren Lincoln Travis trains for the Back lift on an apparatus to that illustrated by Figure Z. A regular platform beam scale is used to stand on, the back is pressed upwards against a stationary platform, thus causing the scale platform to be moved. You may easily compute the poundage by referring to the balance weights belonging to the scale; on some scales a one pound weight is equal to one hundred pounds, on others a two pound weight equals one hundred pounds, and so on; in case you are unfamiliar with the markings, you will find such figures as these on the balance weights:

The upper figure denotes the exact weight of the balance weight and the lower figure denotes the poundage it equals on the end of the scale beam.

Knowing the equality, you may then hang on bar bell plates to equal heavier counter balance poundage. For instance, if one pound was equal to one hundred on the scale beam, that is, if the scale registers a Back Lift of 3000 pounds and you weigh 175 pounds, your lift is really 2825 pounds. To be exact, the 175 pounds in this case, should represent your weight plus the weight of any blocks, stools, or boxes necessary on the platform to assist in the lift. A Harness Lift or a Hand and Thigh Lift may also be practiced on a platform scale, though instead of your back pressing against a framework, you must either grab hold of, or fasten your harness to cross bars which are firmly fastened to the floor. A little ingenuity will make it possible for you to practice these valuable lifts, but of course accurate records cannot be very well computed on such a contrivance.

To many who are accustomed to exercising in a gymnasium, the rowing machine is most valuable and no workout would be complete without several minutes in the rowing seat. We recognize the value of the rowing movement as an exercise, so in order to make our bar bell gymnasium complete, we exhibit a means of converting your weight outfit into a novel rowing machine. You many use two steel bars, or for that matter, a pair of broomsticks should answer the purpose. Your attention is drawn to illustrations A-A and B-B which give you an idea of the possibilities of making an apparatus which will assist in making a rowing machine of your bar bell outfit. The high apparatus makes possible a valuable variation of the rowing motion performed while standing erect. The low apparatus may be used with a stationary seat, placing the greatest amount of muscular work on the arms, shoulders, and torso; while the use of a moving seat, having either rollers or wheels and foot supports will bring the entire body into active play. At first, the use of the leverage principle as oars may seem awkward, however, a little practice and experimenting will prove the adaptability of a bar bell to the rowing exercises. At first, try extremely light weights on the end of your bars and gradually add more weight, also experiment with the plates at different distances from the fulcrum. The trick is to approximate the action of rowing as nearly as possible.

It is true that every requirement of developing and strengthening the human body is satisfied when a complete bar bell outfit is employed; we also recognize a value in certain supplemental exercises. If one goes about his work in the proper way, and takes a little trouble to learnthe fundamentals of muscular mechanics, the highest degree of physical perfection may be acquired and maintained. There is a certain value in adding novelty to your efforts, just as long as you serve the same purpose without a needless waste of either time or energy. The strength enthusiast who has a small space for a private gymnasium and the desire to rig up some apparatus for himself may rather easily build the sort of contraption to be found in Figure C-C.

Positively no claim is made to originality in offering this idea, though it is believed we are the first to present his form of apparatus to the public in connection with bar bells. It may seem a strange coincidence that just after we decided on adding this to the present book we received letters from two bar bell users, accompanied by sketches of apparatus similar to that which we are presenting. Exercising machines of this type were introduced at least forty or fifty years ago, proof of which we have in books in our possession. Of course, bar bells or kindred apparatus were not used for the counterweight. As you will see, our idea has been to offer a form of framework on which a regular long bar bell handle may be used to serve as a pulley. The possibilities of an arrangement of this sort will be limited only by the ingenuity of the enthusiast. However, we advise this class of exercise as nothing more than a supplement in your regular bar bell routine.

We show one way of making the wall brackets. You may devise any other scheme which will be more suitable to your requirements. This apparatus will prove particularly valuable for exercising the pectorals and the muscles of the broad of the back. If wall brackets are inconvenient, you may rig up a sort of carpenter's horse, as illustrated. Overhead pulleys are valuable, also for pectoral and latissimus development. Be certain to use strong ropes and couplings and there will be no cause for accident. One does not have to be so extra handy with tools to nail together such additions to the exercise equipment. To begin with, we might say that the larger and more complete the assortment of bar bell plates, handle bars, and so on, the better off the small lifting gym will be. That much can be taken for granted, but, although many beneficial exercises, lifts and feats may be performed with the ordinary bar bell outfit, certain other accessories have important uses. High grade advanced work of real value requires the use of certain other apparatus. On of the first essentials of any lifting gym, whether semi-private or for a small club, is to have a lifting platform, or a floor where weights may be dropped when necessary. Among a group working out together, occasion may at times arise when it will be necessary to drop a weight. It is different with the man working alone in his bedroom; he can be careful, an must be careful; furthermore, he is particular to use weights well within his limit at all times, so there is no reason to let go of any bell he is handling. But, in a group, rivalry is bound to exist to some extent, and someone is likely to fail or let a weight slip at times.

The lifting platform should be made of heavy pieces of lumber to withstand any poundage which may be dropped upon it. The rule should be enforced to have all actual lifting attempts performed upon the platform. Easy exercises, or difficult exercises at which the members are fairly well experienced may be performed on any floor. It is advisable to have a Roman Chair, and if any of the members understand a little carpentry, this should be easy to make.

A pair of rings will be found of great use for chinning practice. A bar, or piece of pole may be run through both rings to form a trapeze. Be sure to have a knob of some sort on each end of the bar to prevent the possibility of a fall.

A horizontal bar can be put up between two uprights, or the wall and one upright. Regulation parallel bars are quite expensive, whether bought or home made. But, you don’t need portable, adjustable uprights; run two bars between any form of stationary uprights, or between the wall and uprights. As the principal use for parallel bars in a club of this sort will consist of dipping tests, they need not be very long. For this purpose, we are suggesting the corner of a room as a suitable place to rig up parallel bars. When rigged up in this manner, the bars must be of uneven length, but this need not interfere with dipping tests and valuable exercises which may be practiced on this form of apparatus. Your bars, both horizontal and parallel, must be of very strong material to prevent the possibility of accident. Use either very hard wood or good steel. Wooden bars must be no less than l 1/2 inches in diameter, an it would be best to use a two-inch bar; one-inch or larger of good quality steel can be relied upon. A thin bar is easier to work on, as a thick bar will place a premium on the size of your hands.

I would say that stairs of some sort should be available for leg exercises. You can easily have a set of stairs, made of six wooden boxes nailed together. Be sure your boxes are good and strong. On a set of stairs like these you may practice walking up and down stairs while carrying heavy weights, both on the shoulders and in the hands. If the climbing is done on the toes, you have a wonderful calf exercise.

Iron Nation

Super Natural Strength

Saturday, August 27, 2011


I can recall certain incidents in connection with my own experience with exercise and over work. At a rather early age, I showed considerable interest in rather long walks. For a boy the walks were exceptionally long. I should say that at about eleven or twelve I commenced to walk for considerable stretches, but no attempt was made to make time or to cover any set number of miles. I would simply start for some distant objective, such as a cave in the nearby foothills of mountains, and by spending the greater part of the day on my feet would complete the round trip and incidentally quite a few miles for one so young. As a young boy very seldom walks in a straight line when out in the woods and fields, it is difficult to say how many miles might have been traversed on any of these frequent excursions, but the walking would generally consume the greater part of a day.

As I grew older, a fondness for long hikes seemed to develop and by the time I was fifteen and sixteen it was a common thing for me to walk fifteen to twenty miles on a Saturday afternoon, and from thirty to forty miles on a Sunday. During my sixteenth year, I covered various distances of between fifty and sixty miles in one day. Of course, a start was made very early in the morning and the arrival at home was well after dark. Some of these walks consumed fifteen and sixteen hours, which I now believe to be too much of an endurance test for one of the youthful age of sixteen. My experiences in this would have no place in the present discussion if it were not for the after effects which were noted. Arriving home late in the day after one of the longest walks, and having spent the day on my feet with only a minimum of food, I would eat as much as m appetite dictated, but due to excess fatigue, my appetite was not very ravenous. I simply would feel too tired to eat, in spite of the fact that the day had been started with only a light breakfast at day break or earlier, and at noon the only food had consisted of a few sandwiches (cheese and raisin principally) which had been carried in a coat pocket. Although thirst would demand considerable water during the day, I am now convinced that sufficient liquid was not furnished my system during the day.

Retiring at ten perhaps later, it was nearly impossible to sleep and the entire night was spent under conditions very closely resembling ague; intermittent fever and chills. Strange to say, though, the next day would find me but slightly tired. Judging from this, I must have been in fairly good condition, but the worst part of it probably is that the untoward effects were never realized and properly appreciated. At the ages of fifteen and sixteen, I weighed around ninety to ninety-five pounds stripped, at a height of about five feet, two, to five feet, five (if my memory serves me correctly); for one of years and physique, the walking feats were no doubt commendable as such, but altogether too strenuous and fatiguing. Had the long been the sum of my exercise activities, the possibilities of over-training or overwork would not have been so prominent, but in addition I started to run a couple of miles nearly every morning, and whenever Saturday or Sunday didn't find me out hiking I was out running or walking over hill and dale. On top of all this, I took some part in other sports, swimming very regularly in the summer, skating once in a while during the winter, and occasionally fooling around at boxing, wrestling, and ball playing. Thousands of skinny kids, such as I was, do all of the latter, but few cover the same number of miles on the road in addition. During that time I practiced vegetarianism, to which I shall allude in the proper chapter. It is, indeed, a wonder that upon taking up bar bell exercise during my sixteenth year, a gain of twenty or more pounds in bodyweight took place in a few months' time.

Today, I look back upon that period of boyhood years spent in overwork ( or over exercising) with regret. I place the blame on the incompetence of those who wrote articles to inspire physical culturists. Truly, my people frowned upon such activities, but nothing was done to interfere with me. What I believe was really needed was the counsel and advice of physical culturists who knew what was correct and what was incorrect in physical training for the youthful amateur. That is exactly the service I am trying to render, and I wish it understood when advice or suggestions are given that they are offered as the result of considerable experience and observation. As a boy and a youth, I was an avaricious reader of everything pertaining to the health and development of the human body, with an inclination common to all young people, towards the new and sensational. It is presumed that a large number of those who read this book are of the same class. Great confusion attended my early efforts at physical improvement from reading of the ideal plan of training for both strength and endurance at one time. This is one of the most contradictory statements it is possible to make, when speaking of both in the strict sense. Endurance as it is commonly understood, and great strength each call for an entirely different type of physique and training. A great deal depends on your definition of endurance, but in this particular instance reference was made to distance running (or rather middle distance running) as the ideal type of endurance work which should accompany strength developing exercises. The athlete who trains for pure endurance such as the ability to run miles, cannot expect to possess a physique which would be accepted as a model anywhere. The distance runner keeps himself trained down to the minimum of muscular size and bodyweight in other words in a finely drawn condition. The man who wishes to acquire a perfectly developed physique and great strength must train in such a manner as to continually build a reserve of energy and accumulate bodyweight. It is doubly pernicious to proffer advice to the youth of growing age that he should combine distance running with body-developing exercise.

We have duly considered overwork. That is one side of the picture. Some attention must be paid to the other side; this might aptly be referred to as wishing for physical improvement without exerting oneself sufficiently.

From a health standpoint, there is something to be said in favor of under training, providing one exercises consistently at fairly strenuous work in preference to any program of over training. A high state of health efficiency might be maintained by exercising regularly about twice a week and at times only once weekly, providing the man has first put himself in good physical condition. Our remarks at present do not concern the man who finds it convenient to exercise a limited amount of time each week and is satisfied simply to maintain good health and fair muscles. But to the other fellow who under exercises, he who is alarmed at the possibility of over exerting himself, we wish to point out the folly of expecting value for nothing.

If you are troubled by exertions which cause you to breathe harder than normally, or you quall at thoughts of perspiring profusely, satisfactory results from your exercises may be a long way off. Do not become alarmed because your muscles become stiff and sore after the first attempts at exercising; this only denotes that your circulatory and respiratory functions have not been accustomed to the task of repairing tissue waste from exertion; as a result certain chemical products of the tissue repairs remain in the muscles causing a stiffness. Continue your work, and the stiffness will wear off. Likewise do not become scared if you notice one or more prominent veins on your arms or legs. Increased physical activities and higher muscular efficiently demands vascularity or greater size and elasticity of the blood vessels. You may have noticed the large veins on the forearm of the man who works hard with his hands and arms. Athletes who use the legs a great deal have enlarged veins on those limbs; hand balancers have them on the shoulders and upper arms. There is positively no connection between enlarged veins of this nature and varicose veins. True varicose veins appear like a large bunch of angle worms and not just a single protuberance here and there. Varicose veins also cause a certain degree of pain, but not enlarged veins from physical exertion. Varicose veins are generally caused by the lack of a proper degree of activity, especially while standing on the feet for long periods of time; or by the wearing of tight garters or other articles of clothing which constricts the circulation.

Activity should be beneficial rather than harmful for such a condition, thought the person should also endeavor to keep off the feet as much as possible. Varicose veins are sometimes brought about by the flabbiness and weakness of the muscles; therefore, anything which tends to improve the muscular tone will prove beneficial. The tyro physical culturist must understand that it is necessary for the heart to beat faster and harder during and immediately after exertion, thank during the time you are sitting at ease or moving about at any ordinary gait. There would, indeed, be something seriously wrong with you if your heart did not beat faster with greater force. As you have been shown, in a chapter on physiology, the circulation is stirred up to supply the tissues with oxygen, after clearing away the waste matters formed as a result of the exertions. The degree of the exertion determine the extent to which the heart beat is accelerated.

One of the reasons for failure to make satisfactory progress in physical exercise is the fear of some men of causing the heart to beat fast; others sometimes think they experience an irregularity in the heart beat, and when a physician tells some people their heart beat is irregular, they become almost scared to death. We have seen instances of such individuals actually pining away, afraid to move in a hurry. Nothing is so liable to bring on the death of the average person as to scare them about the condition of their heart.

We quote the opinion of Dr. Milton J. Raisbeck, of New York city, as given in an address before the Eastern Homeopathic Medical Association. According to this doctor, extra heart beats should be no cause for alarm, as it is a provision of nature to insure continued beating of the heart. The heart is made up of a great many cells, as he explained it; each cell is capable of starting the contraction which we know as the heart beat. Generally certain of the cells set the pace or the rate of the heart beat. Sometimes these governing cells change their pace, especially when a person rests after exercise. If the pacemakers change very quickly, a few of the other cells may not be able to keep the pace; then you conscious of an extra or irregular beat. Fear should not be felt at the occasion of such irregularities as an irregular heart beat is perfectly normal in many areas. Dr. Raisbeck also cautioned his brother physicians about frightening patients by telling them they have an irregular heart beat.

It is possible for the ambitious physical culturist to be at one time careful of his living habits and sensible in regards to extremes. I can easily appreciate the confusion which greets the enthusiast on every hand. Searching for the truth on matters pertaining to healthful living he reads every magazine and book available and the pity of it all is that opinions are rife and convictions clash as the protagonists of one cult deride the faddists of another "ism." The confused enthusiast has no way of discerning the truth, so he is apt to choose the fad which meets his fancy for the moment. For a while he may follow one diet, then failing to note the wonderful results promised, he switches to another. In the end, he is most likely to become disgusted with the entire movement which claims exercise as the backbone of its preachings but relegates actual physical exertions to a position of unimportance, in favor of practices of dieting and abstinence which call for a minimum of exertion.

To understand the entire physical culture movement, I need only look back over my own life. Having passed through the period of hero worship of an individual, which had such a strong hold on me as to make me a willing follower of any idea advocated by the individual; having experimented on one diet scheme after another, and tested the value of various foods, I likewise experimented with exercise and systems of training. Now wonder I have little faith in some of the teachings that once held me in a spell.

Iron Nation

Super Natural Strength

Friday, August 26, 2011


Overwork must be guarded against by the ambitious seeker after superb physical condition. Overzealousness is quite certain to spell defeat, if it leads you to continually over exert yourself.

The ambitious beginner, especially the beginner of youthful age, may try to follow the training pattern of some well-known professional pugilist or other athlete. What he does not understand is that the pugilist is training to reduce his bodyweight, by removing all traces of surplus flesh, drying as much water as possible out of his system, and making himself as lean as possible and still hold enough strength and endurance to give a good account of himself in the ring. The man or boy who takes up physical culture with the idea of building muscles all over his body and adding to his bodyweight must follow an entirely different procedure. If such a beginner practices endurance work involving countless repetitions of exercise movements and covers miles on the road and track, he will be draining any reserve he happens to possess and will only succeed in making his muscles scrawny. The published bodyweight of the pugilist is very deceiving when compared with averages citizens. The pugilist of ability who weighs l45 pounds may have the framework and muscular structure of a pretty husky ordinary man of 160 or 165 pounds; and the pugilist of the latter bodyweight, if out of hard training and living the life of the ordinary man, would probably weigh around 180 pounds and possibly more.

The beginner is following the wrong track if he expects to build up to the fighting weight of a pugilist, and expects to enter the ring at that weight. For instance, if a young man of 135 pounds bodyweight aspires to fame as a boxer and desires to enter the lightweight class. The average young man of 135 pounds bodyweight would first of all need to build himself up to 145 or 150 pounds by means of body-building exercise. Then when he was in fairly good condition at that weight he could begin the necessary training to get in condition for boxing as a lightweight. It is a mistake for the average young fellow to imagine he only needs to build up to the boxer's fighting weight. Of course, if it were possible to follow the boxer's training stunts and build up a certain bodyweight, that would be fine. But it is not possible for the average fellow to train as hard as the pugilist and at the same time gain weight. If the training routine of the pugilist brought about an increase in bodyweight, it would not serve the purpose of reducing him for a bout. Some forms of exercise will have the effect of bringing the body to a normal state whether you are overweight or underweight, but his is not true of endurance exercise. Some boxers do grow while following active training, for which a sound explanation can be given. The majority of boxers enter the game before reaching maturity, hence there is a natural tendency toward additional growth. The continued exercise also influences the development of harder and larger muscles, plus a thickening of tendons and ligaments throughout the body. The internal organs should also accumulate a certain amount of weight as the athlete reaches full maturity which may be as late as thirty.

Many athletes, amateur as well as professional, are continually carrying on a battle with nature in an attempt to keep their bodyweight down to a minimum. When nature is opposed, such opposition can only be temporary or there is only one result. Weakness, and possible disease or death. It is nothing short of slow suicide to interfere with the natural rate of growth when a youth or young man has not stopped growing. In the majority of cases where boxers grow into a heavier class, it simply means that he was unable to further resist the efforts of nature towards full growth.

Recently a pupil wrote me of his failure to realize results in developing muscles. He had read somewhere of the necessity of breaking down muscular tissues before any increase could be accomplished. Wherefore he reasoned that the only sensible thing to do was to bring about a continual breaking down of the tissues if he wished to cause a worthwhile degree of upbuilding. He selected one part of his body, his arms, and every day went through a tremendous amount of movements. Needless to say, his efforts netted him nothing.

Another pupil followed a similar line of reasoning. That is, he is a pupil but decided to disregard the instructions we gave him and follow a scheme of his own. He had been exercising two or three months when he reported the plan he had followed during the entire period. His routine consisted of exercising every day and on each day he repeated an exercise schedule several times. His plan was something like this; practice the Two Arm Curl, also the Two Arm Press repeating each six times, and during the evening return to each of these exercises ten times and repeat the full number of repetitions. Not only did he practice the Two Arm Curl and the Two Arm Press on this plan but altogether included about a dozen exercises for all parts of the body and repeated each one in the same way. We don't understand how he managed to survive such a strenuous and tiresome program for so great a length of time. A very well-trained bar bell man of husky build may be able to stand a program similar to either of the above for considerable time with apparently no harmful results.

There can be no sensible reason for training along such lines. Overwork, in the form of exercise, may not be attended with noticeable harmful results. One may be overworking the body continually, month after month, and never be aware of the fact, as no unpleasant effects may be noticed. The only visible sign of such overwork may be a lack of progress in strength, development and physical abilities. To exercise or train steadily for several months or a year without noticeable improvements must certainly be a sign that something is wrong. To determine what is wrong may call for careful observation of the case by an experienced expert, still be believe a careful study of the present volume will make it possible for any intelligent student of physical exercise to diagnose and correct any condition in his own case.

It must be pointed out that overwork may not be the underlying cause of one's failure to improve consistently, and all factors involved must be given due consideration. Theoretically, one who continues regular progressive exercise of the proper sort should continue to improve almost indefinitely, or at least until the age of physical decline sets in. In this particular instance, our thoughts will be centered upon actual weight lifting as well as exercises of weight lifting nature. We have stated that theoretically improvement should be continuous. However, practically, we are apt to find that the majority of lifters and bar bell physical culturists do not continue to improve steadily according to our theory. We have often stated that continuous improvement over an indefinite period cannot be expected, as at sometime in life one must expect to reach the pinnacle of his achievements, and from that point a gradual decline must be expected, though added effort may result in being able to more or less preserve the ultimate abilities for some time. Granting the accuracy of this qualification of the theory of continuous improvement, we must point out the weak point in applying it to the individual case. Just when can we expect the individual to reach the pinnacle of his physical abilities? In some sports, the average athlete seems to be at his best between twenty-one and twenty-five, while in other sports the average may be considerably higher. Although we are sure to meet with the rare exception, it seems logical to expect the average man to reach the peak of possible improvement around the age of forty. Please understand that our remarks apply to the man who has been training since a youthful age, and not to one who has only started physical training in his late thirties. In a case of the last mentioned kind, where the individual has been in either a weak or only fair condition up to his late thirties, he may continue to improve for many years. But, a man who became interested in physical improvement at that late date would never know the true possibilities born in him. These remarks also apply to a man of a more advanced age, up the time when actual old age has set in. Many men may improve physically as late as sixty, but he degree of improvement which is to be expected depends upon many factors. This will be discussed at another time in this book.

Our remarks for the present will deal with the athlete in the flush of manhood; for instance, a young man of twenty-five to thirty who has been exercising and training for a number of years. It is only in such instance that really worthwhile observations can be made. Having studied rather closely the comparative abilities and improvements of weight lifters who perform in public competitions, we have observed here and there an instance of an athlete continuing to improve at a rate comparable to the rapid advances made by the science of weight lifting in general. Whereas the majority of competing athletes seem to reach a certain peak in their abilities and then either hold such abilities over a period of time or lose some of their speed, strength or agility, certain others improve with each passing year.

At times we were tempted to form the conclusion that certain known limits of lifting ability must be set as the ultimate point of improvement which may be reached by any athlete. The main factor determining this being a high average of existing records in the bodyweight class of the athlete. Many times we have nearly reached the point of accepting this conclusion as final, only to notice a man here and there passing all known standards of strength possibilities, basing strength upon the lifting ability. And, following on his heels, we find dozens of other athletes passing the previous limitations. We are now about willing to conclude that a limit really does not exist, so far as either strength or lifting science are concerned. This conclusion, we believe, may also be applied to all forms of athletics. This conclusion must, of course, be made with reservations, as no one would hardly be so foolish as to say that athletes of the future will be capable of doubling or trebling the strength or speed of the present day athlete. What we mean when we refer to the non existence of a limit is that such a limit is at a point far beyond present day capabilities. For years there has much speculation concerning developing "nine second men" in sprinting the hundred yard dash. The most authentic record of speed over this distance seems to be 9-2/5, and I believe some professional has tried to lay claim to either 9 or 9-1/5 seconds. Any claim such as the latter must, at the present time, be regarded as gross exaggeration; but we are sure the day will come when nine second hundred yard dashes will be as common as 9-9/10 or 10 second dashes during recent years.

A better understanding of training methods, physical conditioning, and running science will result in faster running time. Just as in weight lifting; not so many years ago it was considered extremely exceptional for a man to succeed in Snatching with one hand a weight equal to his own bodyweight. Now, it is nothing uncommon for lifters to Snatch far in excess of bodyweight with one hand, and many can do so with either hand. For years the evident limit in single handed Snatching was around two hundred twenty pounds, for the heaviest and strongest men. Likewise a weight of three hundred has long been regarded as most exceptional for a one hand lift even when the slow and scientific Bent Press was resorted to. A few men succeeded with slightly over three hundred pounds in the Bent Press, but a quick lift of that poundage has remained as practically an utter impossibility. However, a young Frenchman, Charles Rigoulet, has lately been improving by leaps and bounds on the one hand Snatch and recently set a new mark of 254 pounds. To us it seems with the realm of things possible to say that three hundred will some day be accomplished in the one hand Snatch. This is true of practically all modern lifting and will be discussed later.

We may seem to have digressed somewhat from our observations on overwork as applied to physical exercise. However, it has been our desire to impress upon the mind of the reader certain obviously logical and related matters pertaining to continual wasting of the energies. If we reach a logical conclusion that physical improvement should be continuous up to a certain age, then any physical stagnation or failure to improve rather indefinitely should be considered as a sign of incorrect training methods. Generally, if one over-exercises for any length of time we would expect certain signs of overwork to be plainly evident. These signs might include a continual feeling of languidness throughout the day, inability to thoroughly recuperate through sleep, repeated stiffness of the muscles, extra susceptibility to colds, a lack of the feeling of well being, and loss of the desire to train or exercise. We would expect, however, that the individual would recognize danger signals so plainly evident as these. Furthermore, it is quite likely very few individuals would continue training if so distressed. So, our discussion should more properly pertain to those muscle culturists who are evidently in either fair or seemingly excellent condition and still fail to make continuous progress at an age when such improvement should rightfully be expected. Much discussion has attended the matter of daily exercise. For some time, recognized authorities on bar bell exercise have contended that daily exercise with heavy weights was far too strenuous, and that better results could be expected if a program was followed of exercising on alternate days or only three times a week. Some physical culture instructors have taken exception to this advice, and a few men of high standing in the bar bell field have likewise seen fit to disagree with any rule which did not prescribe exercise for practically every day in the week.

A like controversy has been carried on concerning whether or not we should continually strive to handle heavier weights, or regularly practice with moderate weights and attempt the limit only occasionally. To us, these are two of the most important points to be decided, and we might call them the key-notes of proper training. The ideal amount of exertion is the question all instructors and athletes would like to have answered to their entire satisfaction. In the entire scope of physical training, that is probably the most difficult question to decide. Knowledge of physical education will be nearly complete when a definite solution to this problem is arrived at. In lieu of exact knowledge, applicable to every case, we can at least proffer the advice that in case of doubt it is best to under exercise slightly than to risk the chance of over exercising. We can definitely establish this fact that during extremely rigid training, little or no reserve energy is stored by the body.

Iron Nation

Super Natural Strength

Thursday, August 25, 2011

PHYSICAL TRAINING SIMPLIFIED - The Complete Science of Muscular Development - (circa 1930) - CHAPTER 25, Part 2 - SANDOW, SAXON, ET AL., FURTHER DISCUSSIONS ....(Continued) - By Mark H. Berry

A question may enter the minds of many. Are men as strong today as in days of old, and are the strongest and best built men of today on a par with the best men of other days? We will first give our replies and then do some explaining by way of making ourselves thoroughly understood. We believe that among the active strong men of the present day will be found stronger men and a greater number of stronger men than at any time in the history of the world. With the exceptions of Arthur Saxon and his ability at the Bent Press and Louis Cyr at Back Lifting, the strong men of today are capable of doing anything within the capabilities of old timers. The real reason, we believe, why the records of both these men stand, is because the lifts are unpopular and not properly encouraged. The majority of lifting records are held by the men of Continental Europe, and while records are continually soaring on those lifts which are popularized, the Bent Press stands as a discredited lift in the mind of the modern European lifter. We have already discussed the Back Lift. We are firmly convinced there are more well developed men in the world today than at any other time in modern history. With the exception of Eugene Sandow, we believe the most shapely men of today are at least the equal of the best models of all other times.

Permit us to elucidate. Perhaps you noticed our references to modern times in connection with well developed men. It is rather a moot question as to whether or not the average man of today, or rather of modern times, is as rugged and well developed as the average man of ancient times. When considering the average run of men, the majority of whom are not athletic, we might be inclined to believe the man of ancient times better built and stronger than the average Mr. Citizen of recent years. But, as to health, it is quite possible the people of hundreds of years ago were less healthy than the people of today. Mainly due to sanitation, hygiene, a more learned healing fraternity, etc. The regular visitation of scourge, pestilence, epidemic, famine, and so on, reaped a tremendous harvest among the inhabitants of the earth in years gone by, and countless numbers were maimed, weakened, and invalid among those who safely evaded the call of the grim reaper. We firmly believe people live longer today on the average than at any time in the history of the world. Life was hard enough on even the young inhabitants of early times, but must have been altogether too rough for those advanced in years. Nowadays there are many helps and aids to prolonging the life of the aged, but in ancient times a person was in the way and defenseless as soon as it became necessary to rest from the everyday struggle for existence.

Comparing average men, the above pretty nearly sums up the situation, but we believe the athletic and physical culture populace of today to be far more physically efficient than the toil worn man of ancient days. Likewise, due to the advancement of physical training, we believe there are far more physically efficient men (and women) in the world today than at any previous time in history. Looking back over the number of heavyweight strong men who were famous twenty-five to fifty years ago, in Europe and America, on may be led to believe there were more strong men and stronger men than during the past few years. During those years, people had fewer means of diversion, and but a small percentage of the populace took part in athletics or sports of any kind. It is only in late years that participation in sports has become so widespread. At the same time, outdoor athletic games such as baseball and football, (European and American) have become extremely popular, regularly drawing many thousands to witness the players. Boxing and wrestling also enjoy an amount of popularity and prosperity never dreamed of in the days just mentioned. Furthermore, professional strength performances formerly enjoyed a high place in the show world, whereas today very little attention is paid to the professional strong man by the public. While there are a greater number of lifters and strength enthusiasts in the world today, very few are professionals, and for that reason less attention is paid to professional stunts; the majority of modern lifters practice the recognized bar bell lifts and a number of body building exercises. It is no doubt true that we would hear of more sensational heavyweights and the strength game would even be farther advanced today, if it were not for the fact that so many husky young men become interested in the popular branches of sport. They are thus lost to the strength game, where any fine natural athlete would likely become proficient.

Just imagine the number of great athletes absorbed in professional baseball in the United States. It is logical to assume that the great ball players would have been equally great in one or more other lines of sport or athletics if their attention and specialization had been directed into other channels. I hold an opinion or theory, or whatever else you may choose to call it, which may or may not be original with me. Neither have I the slightest idea as to whether or not you will be inclined to agree with me. I hold the belief that any athletically inclined American youth would prefer to excel at one of the more popular branches of sport rather than at some sport which enjoys only a small amount of publicity. For instance, the popularity and public acclaim of athletes like Babe Ruth and Jack Dempsey, must result in our youth preferring baseball and boxing to other branches of sport, providing it were possible for them to make good. If a youth can't become a great ball player or boxer, he inclines toward some other game at which he might succeed. There are a number who do not choose baseball or boxing because of intellectual, professional, or business ambitions, even though they could excel at the games. Some of the recruits to amateur athletics are enlisted from among men who have higher ambitions in an intellectual way.

The theory I started to propound could be summed up something like this. An exceptional ability as a strength athlete is made or developed, the man with natural athletic ability should have an excellent chance of developing into an outstanding performer; but as practically all great natural athletes are absorbed by the more popular branches of sports, and thus lost to weight lifting, we must look among those who are developed, to find our strength champions. Maybe the world discovers the men with the greatest strength propensities, but I believe a great number of men who could become equally as famous for strength are never known to the strength game.

Strength enthusiasts of today should feet a debt of gratitude towards Eugene Sandow, who thrilled audiences in Europe and America during the last decade of the nineteenth century with his wonderful showmanship and the remarkable shapeliness of his physique. Witnessing the perfection of his muscular development and apparently super human strength undoubtedly caused more men and boys to become interested in the improvement of the human body than the efforts of any other single human. Many who thus became enthusiasts in the cause of physical culture later contributed in no small measure by passing on the inspiration to others through the medium of teaching, writing, and by personal appearance in the theater. The mortal Sandow has passed to his reward, but the immortal Sandow will live for ages in the memory of those who have been inspired by the beauty of his physique, whether they had the pleasure of witnessing him in the flesh or on photograph.

He was born in Konigsburg, Germany, in 1867, his real name being Frederick Mueller. It was in the city of Brussels, Belgium, whither he had gone to escape service in the German army, that young Mueller met a group of former schoolmates in a café. Knowing of his enthusiasm for feats of strength, these friends told him of a great strong man who was conducting a gymnasium across the street from the café. It was in this way that young Mueller was first introduced to the man who was to initiate him into the art of professional showmanship, without which training he would probably never have attained such remarkable proficiency and world wide honors and a degree of distinction seldom bestowed upon any individual. The great master whom he met in Brussels was Professor Attila, who had been acclaimed in every part of Europe where he had toured. Frederick Mueller requested employment of Attila and was given part time work, the best the Professor could afford at the time. In order to make ends meet, the youth posed wherever such part time employment could be had. For three years, Attila trained him in the secrets of the strong man game, and when ready to take him on the stage said, "Henceforth, I'll call you Sandow, Eugene Sandow. Work hard and be advised by me, and that name will not merely make you famous, but will get you a fortune."

They traveled together for a while and then separated, young Sandow going to Italy, where he posed for artists and sculptors and wrestled to keep himself. But he fared badly in trying to manage himself haphazardly. Sometime later, or in 1889, Professor Attila summoned Sandow to go to London to defeat some strong men who were exciting a great amount of comment. Sandow, who was in Italy, wrote that he was unable to afford the trip, and requested traveling expenses of the Professor. Arriving in London, Sandow was given special instructions for the occasion by Attila, and succeeded in vanquishing the renowned Sampson and his pupil Cyclops, both of who were powerful men. At another time, this man Charles Sampson officially lifted 4003 pounds with a Harness Lift, and Cyclops (Franz Bienkowski) was probably the best man the world has known at bending and breaking coins. From that time on Sandow was lionized as the greatest of strong men, and the most perfect physical specimen among mortal men. Coming to America, he had the good fortune to be managed by Flo Ziegfield, now famous as the producer of musical shows and folly girls. He appeared all over the United States for a considerable length of time, and later settled in England, where he opened schools and gymnasiums, remained until his death a few years ago. Sandow was denied admittance to his native land, owing to having run away from military duty; otherwise he could have made a fortune by appearing in all cities of Germany where the populace was eager to see him.

With great honor being justly due Eugene Sandow for his part in the popularization of weight lifting and the cultivation of a superb physique, we must owe an equal debt of gratitude to the man who brought him to the fore, his teacher and inspiration, Professor Louis Attila. Besides having served in that honorable capacity, the great Professor likewise was instructor and the physical inspiration to a host of others, prominent in all walks of life. To name a few, among well known strong men and athletes, Warren Lincoln Travis, Lionel Strongfort, George W. Rolandow, H. W. Titus, Anthony Barker, Bobby Pandour, Louis Cyr, Horace Barre, Arthur Dandurand, Adolph Nordquest, and James J. Corbett all served under his instruction for some length of time; likewise the famous French physical training authority Professor Edmund Desbonnet; among those of high social standing, J.P. Morgan, Jr., Alfred Vanderbilt, Lord Lonsdale of England, and Baron Rothschild of France; Sousa of Band leading fame, and among theatrical men, Klaw, Erlanger, Hammerstein, Ziegfield; among the royalty of Europe, the pupils of Professor Attila included King Edward of England, when he was Prince of Wales, and the six children of King Christian of Denmark, some of whom later became royal heads of European countries; to name them by the title which they were later known, Crown Prince Fredercik, future king Haakon of Norway, King George of Greece, the Duchess of Cumberland, Queen Mother Alexandra of England; also Princess Dagmar, later Empress of Russia, and mother of the late Czar Nicholas.

Professor Attila was born in the year 1844 at Karlsruhe, Germany, and died at the age of eighty in New York City. He was extremely active and preserved a great deal of his strength until near the end. Attila was responsible for the introduction of many of the feats of strength we know today, such as the Roman Column, the Roman Chair, supporting feats in the human bridge position, tearing packs of playing cards; he likewise originated the hollow globe ended bells we know today. Many bar bell and dumb bell exercises in use today were also originated by the Professor.

The Attila Studio was founded in New York City about 1894, and after the demise of the founder, was carried on for some time by Siegmund Klein until he opened his own studio four years ago.

Undoubtedly the most famous team of strong men the world has ever known was the Saxon Brothers, their real name being Hennig; Arthur, Herman, and Kurt.

Herman Goethe is also known in this country by the name of Herman Saxon. A few years ago, this athlete visited several cities throughout the country, calling himself by his most distinguished name. Quite a furor was raised in some quarters, as it was claimed the man was an imposter. However, after running the thing down, we find the man really had a right to use the name, for reasons we will now disclose for the first time in print. When the Saxon Brothers first came over, the original Herman was one of the trio. Unfortunately he has suffered an injury and found it necessary to leave the act in Ringling Brothers Circus. As several weeks had still to be played, Arthur signed Joe Lambert to fill in for the balance of the season. The following year, when Arthur and Kurt came over, they had another man taking the place of their younger brother, who was then identified by the name Herman Saxon. His true name was Herbert Goethe, the athlete to who we have referred. Although not quite as large nor as strong as the original Herman Saxon or Hennig, nevertheless, he was a first class performer, a capable lifter, and worthy of a place among the famous Saxon brothers.

In case anyone should consider this an odd thing to do, that is ring in another man as one of the Saxon Brothers, or as actually happened, two men, (Goethe and Lambert) it may be worth noting that the Saxon Trio was greatly shifted about during the existence of that particular strong man team. Briefly this is its history. The trio was brought into being by Arno Saxon, no relation to the "Saxon" Brothers or Hennigs. He joined forces with an Oscard Hilgenfeldt and a nineteen year old youth (later famous as the genuine Arthur Saxon); then Oscard left to be replaced by a man named Somerton, was also replaced by an Adolph Berg; and then with Arno Saxon out, the seventeen year old Herman Hennig joined the trio, and later Kurt Henning took the place of Berg, but the latter returned at one time when Herman went out on his own for a while. These changes all took place in England, whence the original trio had been enticed by the fame and fortunes of Eugene Sandow. When the Saxon Trio first visited America, it consisted of the three Hennig Brothers, up until the changes occasioned by the injury to Herman, when his place was taken in turn by Joe Lambert and Herbert Goethe. So you see, in the final analysis, this last named man had a very good right to be traveling the country in recent years under the name of Herman Saxon.

To return to the happenings in England, as we said, the Saxon Trio journeyed to the tight little isle to cash in on the popularity stirred up by Sampson and Sandow. The latter had suddenly appeared in London to defeat Sampson, and was to realize the feeling of chagrin himself at the hands of the nineteen year old Arthur Hennig. At that time Arthur could Bent Press 267 pounds, and when Sandow tried to duplicate the performance he ran into a clever piece of t rickery. Arthur always Bent Pressed his bell with the bar running level, but having noted that Sandow tilted the bell, the 267 pounder was prepared for the trial by partly filling the bar with quick silver. Thus when the handsome Eugene tried to press it, he was bound to meet with failure when the bell was tilted. As he grew older, Arthur Hennig became a great deal stronger, far surpassing Sandow in strength.

As to which country has the strongest men or has produced the greatest number of strong men in the past, that is a moot question. The patriotic citizens of each of several countries can point with pride to a long list of names of famous strength athletes, claiming the title for their country on the basis of many stellar performers. It is difficult and perhaps unfair to state that any one country has a majority of stronger men than any other country; after all, it is impossible to determine the actual truth concerning such a proposition. We in the United States, for instance, do not care to acknowledge that the men of European nations are more powerful and rugged than our own young manhood.

Even in the face of positive figures showing the evident superiority of European weight lifters, we do not wish to accept it as a conclusion that our young men are fundamentally weaker than the men of other countries. We may argue weight lifting is an unpopular sport over here; hence our best natural prodigies of strength are absorbed in other and more popular sports. However, basing our calculations in actual figures, we must bow to Continental Europe as the majority of recognized champion strong men have been born and raised over there.

At the present time, the strongest man when judged by International weight lifting rules, is a Frenchman, Charles Rigoulot; the next best are Germans, Herman Gorner, Karl Moerke, and Henry Steinborn. Gorner is the only one of this trio who has been active so far as record making is concerned, within the past few years. Ernest Cadine, another Frenchman, is of high rank and at the present time probably superior to either Moerke or Steinborn. Several other countries can boast of high class men, especially among the amateurs. In this class, at the recent Olympic Games, Germany took first place as a team; four years previously, France took the honors, but Germany was barred from entering; at the Olympics previous to that, or in 1920, Italy won first place.

The present Olympic champions in each class are: Heavyweight, Germany; Light Heavyweight, Egypt; Middleweight: France; Lightweight: tie Germany and Austria; Featherweight, Austria; Austria can lay claim to the citizenship of quite a few of the strongest men the world has known; Joseph Steinbach, Karl Swoboda, Wilhelm Turek, Graf, and a host of others. Germany has produced besides Gorner, Moerke and Steinborn of recent times, Saxon, Sandow, Sampson, and others.

The present amateur heavyweight champion is a German, Strssberger, who won the title at the Olympics of 1928. France has give the world a long list of famous and outstanding champions: Apollon, Francois, Vasseur, Bonnes, Roumageon, Cadine, Batta, etc. Switzerland, the famous Deriaz Brothers.

Canada had Louis Cyr, who was probably the strongest at all around strength in his time. The United States has produced the Back and Harness lifter, Warren L. Travis, and Joe Nordquest as the only real record holders among the heavyweights. Nearly every country of Europe can point to some athletes who might be considered among the strongest of men; Russia to Hackenschmidt and Lurich; Poland to Zbyzsko, etc.

Iron Nation

Super Natural Strength

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

PHYSICAL TRAINING SIMPLIFIED - The Complete Science of Muscular Development - (circa 1930) - CHAPTER 25 (Part I) - SANDOW, SAXON, ET AL., FURTHER DISCUSSIONS ON THE SUBJECT OF STRENGTH - By Mark H. Berry

The wave of popularity upon which the doctrine of muscular development has ridden for some years has often been attributed to the rise of Eugene Sandow, and his contemporaries, to fame. To delve into the matter at some little length will convince us that Sandow and his fellows were merely fortunate to appear during a certain period. As we might put it in other words, they were actors with parts in a great play. Sandow first become known in 1889; quite a number of very good strength athletes preceded him during a period of ten years or so. These athletes comprised but one side of the rising consciousness of the necessity of physical education in the life of modern civilized humans. The great strong men of that day represented the purely physical side. The other side could more aptly be referred to as being purely mental, represented by educators, physicians and scholars who began to make a scientific study of the problems of physical education. Some of these men introduced systems of physical exercise, ranging all the way from a simple group of calisthenic movements up to the most complete and complicated systems embracing the use of all forms of gymnasium apparatus.

If we were to delve into the subject, intent upon finding some cause for the increasing interest in physical education, we might arrive at a conclusion similar to the following brief hypothesis. The age of machinery was rapidly advancing in all parts of the civilized world. Men were finding less reason to employ physical strength in the performance of the world's work. Is it not reasonable to surmise that some urge within man, inherited from toiling ancestors, prompted the adoption of some means of substitution for the physical activity lacking in their occupations. The scholar, with plenty of time at his disposal for thinking, probably observed the physical decline of the urban populace, resulting from insufficient exertion. The urge within the blood of man, coupled with the observations of the scholar, undoubtedly accounted for the interest in physical education. It would take an entire book to follow this hypothesis to a satisfactory conclusion. However, a little thought will convince you of the truth of the assertion that the lack of wearying toil in the necessary work of the world has a close relationship to the present day popularity of athletics and active games of diversion. Furthermore, modern machinery gives us the leisure time to engage in such games.

The beginning of weight lifting as we now know it is rather remote, and its early history is most indistinct. Certain it is that ancient man must have at times held some form of impromptu contest to determine the strongest man in the tribe or village. Such a contest, most likely would have consisted of the lifting of cumbersome rocks. Just what sort of tests would be included in the contests we can only imagine; it seems that men of that ancient date would have been impressed by the lifting of a huge rock from the ground more than by the overhead lifting of stones with either one or two hands. We are inclined to believe that one hand over head lifting is the most modern of all styles as more science and study of the subject was necessary before methods were perfected.

Without the employment of some science, it is impossible to lift a stone or other cumbersome object of any size with one hand. Primitive man, if he engaged in any contests to determine the strongest man ( without engaging in physical combat) would have confined such efforts to the lifting of the largest stone from the ground, and the throwing of large stones with either one or two hands. The shouldering of heavy objects must have held the interest of men of ancient times, when the subject of strength was discussed. Such tests would have a practical application to his regular life. It might at times be necessary for a man, unaided, to lift or roll a rock of large size; it might also prove a matter of life or death to be able to throw or hurl a large stone at an animal or adversary; and, throughout most of history, it has been of immense practical value to be able to shoulder and carry a heavy load.

Just when, or why, dumb bells were originated it is impossible to tell. The earliest employment of a lifting apparatus in the form of a bar bell probably was the use of an axle and two wheels in a lifting contest. That would have been ages before a dumb bell or anything like a dumb bell was thought of. Exhibiting strong men appeared in public only during the past few hundred years. They would lift familiar objects to be found anywhere, such as casks, kegs, barrels, large stones, and with the aid of harness might also lift a horse or cow. Scale weights of solid iron could also be easily procured for single arm feats like muscling out a weight at arms' length or lifting a weight in the teeth. Sometime during the past two centuries, some instructor in physical exercise conceived the idea of holding handy pieces of iron in the hands as an aid to the effectiveness of the prescribed exercises. Besides observing hat different weights were required for individuals of different degrees of strength, it was also soon noticed that a greater degree of strength and development could be obtained by exercising with slightly heavier weights than they had been accustomed to handling.

In time, impromptu lifting contests with the heavier bells created a demand for bells of still heavier weight. After impromptu contests developed considerable interest in lifting as a sport, even though of no more than local importance in certain communities, some of the more clever men struck upon the idea of a longer handled dumb bell for two-handed lifting contests. This in brief outlines the evolution of the bar bell up to its most crude state, a solid piece of iron on each end of a long bar. That stage was reached something over a hundred years ago. Since that time, various changes have taken place in the design of bar bells, in order to add an efficient means of making them progressive. Progressive graded weight exercise, as we know it today, with bar bells and dumb bells and kettle bells has been known for a relatively short time. Probably it would not be so easy to prove exactly where, when, or by whom it originated, as undoubtedly very strong claims might be advance in favor of men of different nations. Professor Edmund Desbonnet, of Paris, began along modern lines in 1885. Various changes have been brought about from time to time, but the fundamentals have remained the same, wherever the system has been adopted. Professor Louis Attila, an athlete with a wide European experience, opened a physical culture studio in New York City in 1894 and was instrumental in proving to American athletes the value of heavy exercise. The system, however, was known to American athletes previous to the advent of Attila, through the visits of European strong men to gymnasiums in our leading cities. Eugene Sandow did a lot to popularize lifting exercises when he toured this country in 1893.

In spite of all these preliminary efforts at introduction, the public in general did not begin to recognize the value of heavy exercise until the Milo Bar Bell Company came into existence. It was then, in 1902, that the progressive graded weight system of physical culture was introduced in a thorough manner to the American public. The subsequent establishment of STRENGTH magazine has undoubtedly proven a greater influence in the popularization of heavy exercise than any other factor.

In America, the bar bell and weight lifting movement can be said to be purely of a physical culture nature. In Europe, bar bells are used chiefly as a means of indulging in the sport of weight lifting, while in the United States, but a few of those who follow progressive weight exercise become interested in weight lifting as a sport. In the United States there are undoubtedly a few hundred thousand men who have exercised to some extent with bar bells. As to the number of men actually interested in the sport of weight lifting in an active way, there are probably as many as five thousand. These figures are purely hypothetical, it must be understood, but we believe that we are qualified as much as anyone to make a fairly accurate guess. Truly, a large percentage of the non-lifters among the bar bell users practice some of the lifts occasionally, or at least they have at odd times tried their hand in at the game, as we might say. Proficiency at any thing, however, only attends the efforts of those who are persistent over a considerable length of time, and as greater number of men and youths are interested in muscular shapeliness and physical proficiency than in exhibiting strength publicly, more time is devoted to developing exercises than to lifting practice. Many mistaken impressions are current concerning bar bell exercise and weight lifting.

One of the most mistaken of all these faulty impressions is the belief that strong men and their followers are to be classed as rough necks; or if the use of that particular expression seems too strong, we might state it more mildly by saying popular belief classifies those who practice strength feats and muscle developing exercises among laborers and truck drivers. There is no intention here to malign men who make their living driving trucks, but I trust you know as well as I the popular use of the term "truck driver" when hard work is mentioned. Having personally had different ideas of those who are followers of the "iron game" as it is called by enthusiastic devotees, I have kept a close check for a long time on the occupation, as well as the ages of those who enroll as my pupils. This check has proven that only about one-fourth of those who enroll in a bar bell course are to be classed as not belonging to white collar occupations. This would include farmers, mechanics, machine operators, laborers and all men who follow what might be termed ordinary jobs. This one-fourth would also include policemen, soldiers, railway and street car employees, and many other lines of work. Another fourth we find consists of college and high school students, with the largest percentage among the former. One half of the total enrollment, we find, belongs among office workers, clerks, and many others employed in white collar occupations, or as they are sometimes called, pencil pushers, who are not called upon to perform any amount of physical work. Of the remaining one-fourth, we find fifteen percent belong to the class of higher salaried men, small business men, office executives, school teachers, etc. Ten percent of the total number are from the professions, mostly as physicians, clergymen, lawyers and dentists, with some few big business executives. When you consider the relative number of average citizens employed in the classes listed above and compare them with the enrollment figures you can appreciate the high occupational standard of those interested in bar bell exercise. The reader may then readily understand how mistaken the impression is that bar bell users are comparable to the class mostly associated with pugilism or as they are otherwise known, "rough necks."

Iron Nation

Super Natural Strength