Thursday, October 9, 2008

ENDURANCE by Earle E. Liederman - Author and Publisher, (1926), - Chapter 4

Diet has a very important effect upon one's endurance, strength and nervous energy. The one who does not look after his diet will find his powers of endurance sadly slackening. Plain, wholesome food should be eaten at all times, and care should be taken as to the quantities and mixtures of certain foods that go into one's stomach. I am not going to completely discuss diet within these pages, for in one of my other books, Here's Health, the reader will find a complete table of food values, as well as complete advice on food, hygiene, and physiology.

I am a firm believer in fruit juices for the benefit of the stomach. Anyone who has experienced drinking orange juice has found that considerable energy is derived from such a drink. It has been proven that vegetarians and those who eat plenty of fruit have more energy and endurance than meat eaters. The proper diet will keep the bowels in condition, and if their elimination process is functioning properly one will have greater powers of endurance that one would have if one were troubled with constipation or gases in the intestines or other disturbances resulting from defective elimination or other digestive disorders. In a following chapter I will present a further discussion of diet.

I am a firm believer in daily exercise, and I put this belief into practice. In my years of experience with training I have found that the best period for exercising is in the afternoon; but one cannot always take that time for his exercise period. Being just as busy as anyone else, I am forced to give up this best period for my work and to take my exercise in the morning upon arising. It sometimes is not easy to jump out of bed and begin a strenuous twenty minutes or so of exercising; but I have formed the habit of jumping under a cold shower to wake me up, so to speak.

After this cold bath, which I take winter and summer, I feel so pepped up that it is a pleasure to go through my exercises. This shower acts as a natural stimulant; and although I recommend it to those who can endure it and react from it, I would not recommend it to those who have a weak heart, especially an organically diseased heart, or to whom it would prove too much of a shock to the nerves. Some milder form of natural stimulant, therefore, would be better; and I suggest rubbing the body vigorously with a coarse towel and getting the blood into circulation in this manner. As soon as the blood is in brisk circulation the muscles will feel more alive and more like undertaking an exercise drill.

Only the other day a fellow asked me what I thought of stimulants to awaken the body before exercising, referring to artificial stimulants. He asked me what I thought of the use of coffee to whip up the nerves to get more force into movements, in other words using coffee as a stimulant. He claimed that when he first wakes in the mornings he does not have as much force to do his movements as after he drinks a cup of coffee. About fifteen to thirty minutes after having the coffee he feels like exercising. He claimed that drinking coffee at night affected his nerves to such an extent that he could not sleep, and, naturally, he was interested in knowing what effect the morning cup would have upon the muscles. I told him the effect of coffee would be on the nervous system and not on the muscles. Of course, if you stimulate your nerves to react more strongly than ordinarily, the muscles will respond better for a short time; by how about the reaction? I told him he reminded me very much of the circus strong man, whom I have mentioned in a previous chapter, who thought he simply had to do a movement a certain number of times every day. With him it was a sort of disease; and in spite of the fact that his muscles grew tired he had to keep on with the exercise until he had done each of his particular movements a certain number of counts. Naturally, he was forced to use a nerve stimulant in order to create the activity; and instead of improving in size, his muscles grew smaller and smaller because of the gradual exhaustion of his reserve nervous energy.

While I agree that a cup of coffee will stimulate you and keep you awake and enable you to exercise better, there is always a reaction or after-effect. Some authorities claim that a stimulant, if not overdone, will not harmfully effect you, but if overdone it positively will create a detrimental after-effect. However, the extent of the reaction in two different people is not the same. For instance, in a book on diet it relates how experiments with coffee were made upon two people. One of them after drinking a cup of coffee needed a physician to bring him back to health. Therefore, it readily can be seen that the nervous constitution of the person has to be taken into consideration. If a muscle is forced by a stimulant it will grow smaller eventually, for you cannot disregard nature's laws.

Recently I asked a friend of mine how he warmed up in the morning—did he take a cold shower upon arising, did he eat breakfast first to get his body in condition to exercise an hour later, or did he massage himself with a towel as I have previously suggested? He stated that when he got up in the morning he did not feel like exercising; in fact, he found it hard to even get up. Therefore, he started doing sit-ups in bed. After doing ten or twelve of these he was awakened enough to do his leg work, first in bed and then out. By this time he was fully awake and able to stay out of bed and continue with the heavier work.

It seemed to me to be another good suggestion. Most people find it easier to start exercising slowly and warm up the muscles before attempting the heavier work, and I believe the majority of physical trainers consider this the more satisfactory method. But I have found just the opposite to be easier. I prefer to perform a few heavy movements, for after these heavy movements my muscles seem to be in condition to do anything. This, of course, may be an effect of the cold bath which I take before any exercise. An argument against my method is that there is a danger of straining a ligament by beginning the exercising with heavy work. It all depends upon the amount of resistance you are to work against and the capability of your muscles. I would not recommend anyone to lift a heavy weight, for instance, which was all he could lift when in his best condition for such work. If you are capable of lifting overhead one hundred and fifty pounds with tow hands you never should make this lift the first thing upon arising, but rather should limit it to at most one hundred pounds. In other words, two-thirds of your capability should be sufficient if you prefer to begin your morning exercise period in such a manner.

One's feelings or desire for exercise and activity differs greatly on different occasions, and the physical culturist who has experience with exercising will know this only too well. You may take the best of care of yourself, retire at the same time every night, be careful of your diet, and yet on the following day you may not possess the energy and vitality that you experienced the day before. Atmospheric conditions play an important part in this fluctuation of bodily forces. When the weather is rainy or humidity high, we do not feel as energetic as we do in more favorable weather conditions.

I admit that when one is continually striving to perfect some physical accomplishment it is provoking to receive set-backs for no apparent reason. I recall my own experience in hand-balancing. I have been doing the exercise of standing on my hands ever sine I can remember, and am always sure of performing a handstand in all of its variations of press-ups, etc., under almost any condition; but it took me a long, long time to master the one-hand stand. Just when I thought I had it and felt confident I could perform it, I found on the next day that I was all out of balance; I could not for the life of me seem to perform it half as well as I did on the day previous.

This has happened on numerous occasions in the past, and, undoubtedly, was due to the condition of my stomach which in turn reflected upon my vision, and also from the lack of proper coordinative balance in my muscles for this extremely exacting sort of exercise. Should there be the least bit of fermentation in the stomach it is apt to interfere somewhat with the sight, and eyesight in a one-hand stand, in my estimation, plays an important part, as the eyes must be focused on one spot continually. Of course, after one perfects the art of hand-balancing so that it can be done by muscular feeling only, he may perform it blind-folded; but this ability comes only after years of practice, and until it is developed the balance is very uncertain when the vision is uncertain.

Why is it that a golf player who, after becoming proficient in that pastime and who can break one hundred almost at will, will perform rather amateurishly once in a while? I, myself, have found it to be very provoking that on certain days when I feel that I can duplicate my previous game I play like a dub. Gymnasts also frequently have their off days.

These experiences will occur repeatedly in any athletes or physical culturist's life, and when they occur it is best not to attempt one's full program for that day but wait until the next day or the day after, when one again feels in A1 condition. I really believe that many boxers lose their titles because they ignore this fluctuation of energy and box on days when they are off form. Boxers who have beaten their opponents on previous occasions sometimes will be knocked out in turn by the same opponents. This, of course, may come from over-confidence and carelessness, yet I believe that in most cases it happens simply because the boxers experience the off day that anyone will experience occasionally in his athletic career.

Peace of mind and harmony play an important part in endurance. If there be cares or worry upon the mind it is impossible to accomplish what ordinarily can be done when the mind is carefree. More nervous energy can be wasted by worrying or brooding than by any other drain upon the body. I remember reading, years ago, about Joe Gans, the colored lightweight champion, who publicly announced his secret of lowing weight in order to make the lightweight limit. In short, he just worried about losing. Whether this be practical or not remains to be seen. I know, however, that anyone who worries will become thinner, and if the worry is continued nervous exhaustion very likely will result.

If one desires to develop endurance, he must develop organs and nerves capable of withstanding enduring or continued activity. This necessitates the avoidance of every influence that will weaken the organs or lessen the store of nervous energy, and every influence that hinders normal functioning of the organs, normal response of the muscles, and normal transmissions or energy, over the controlling nerves when the energy is required. Not only must worry and adverse thoughts be avoided, but every physical health-promoting and health-sustaining factor must be adopted and a rational program adhered to. Furthermore, a definite goal must be kept in mind, efforts must be always in the direction of that goal, and nothing must be allowed to bring doubts or at least to continue doubts of ultimately reaching that goal.
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